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Ann Kathleen Otto

Yours In A Hurry

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Historical Transitions

June 15, 2017

When you're writing a novel about a period of rapid change, it's sometimes hard to tell if you're using the right terminology. That's the case for Yours in a Hurry which takes place between 1908 and 1912. Here are some examples of choices that had to be made.

"Addison stood in line outside of his hotel waiting for a hack to take him to the airfield." 

Hack, Carriage, Cab? The mode of transportation was changing. In 1909, one had the choice of a horse-drawn carriage or hack, or a taxi, a new word at the time meaning an automobile for hire. Our character chose the hack because it was much cheaper. Of course, many referred to the motorized vehicles as the horseless carriage, but most of the autos on the road at that time were a Ford Model T, referred to as "tin Lizzies". 

"This is Addison Hartle, who I told you about, my chum from back home."

Today you might label your best friend on social media as your BFF, but if you read any book from the 1910's in America or even much later in the UK, you will likely see the word chum commonly used for friend, especially among youth.  

The Aviation Issue

It's difficult to decide what terms to use during the invention and development of the airplane. First, one has to understand that lighter-than-air machines are those like balloons or dirigibles. Airplanes are heavier-than-air. 

In the beginning, the heavier-than-air vehicles were called flying machines, as in the popular song of the time, Come Josephine in My Flying Machine. As France became the leader in aviation prior to 1910, their term, aeroplane, was adopted. The term derives from two Greek words meaning 'air' and 'wandering'. Over time that changed to airplane, and now, we usually refer to them as just planes.

And then there is the issue of who controlled the machine. They were first referred to as flyers. In the early 1910's as the profession began to emerge and licenses became common, they were referred to as pilots and aviators. 

"You know I can't sit in the dark during the daylight. I don't know what you women see in the flickers. Daisy is always after me to go, too."

From 1905 to 1915, nickelodeons were popular around the country. You paid a nickel at these small store front theaters to see projected moving images. As the film industry grew, and the movie houses became larger, these became known as moving pictures or motion pictures, unless one didn't like the new entertainment or just liked to use the slang of 'the flickers'. We soon shortened that to the movies.  You can read more about the early movie houses like the one below in an earlier blog.

 

Truth is, some changes take years to become the norm. In rural areas and small towns, horses were still a common form of transportation well into the 1920's or 1930's. If you walk the streets of England today, you may still hear someone refer to a chum. 

What terminology have you had to research in your writing or work? What have you had to change in your vocabulary recently?  

 

Memories of Great Dining

May 25, 2017

There’s no question that Americans love food. Major and minor life events, as well as lively discussions, are often remembered by where we were, and maybe what we were eating or drinking. Our Yours in a Hurry characters were no different. Here are three examples with excerpts from the book.

John’s Grill, San Francisco                                                          

Addison and Anna Hartle are in San Francisco in 1908 to see Purl off on Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet.

They stepped into John's Grill. "What a lovely place!" Anna said.

Taking notice of Purl's uniform, the maître d' gave them a prime table near the window on the first level and handed each a menu. The dark paneled walls and globed ceiling lamps created an elegant atmosphere. The restaurant buzzed with excitement, understandable given the number of uniformed men. One could barely hear above the tinkle of silverware and the noise of plates banging.

A waiter dressed in a white jacket arrived. "I must apologize for the noise. It's usually much quieter. So much enthusiasm! We hear that President Roosevelt may come later.”

John’s Grill was one of the first restaurants to open in 1908 after the great earthquake. Known for steaks and fresh seafood, the  restaurant today looks quite the same back then- dark oak paneled walls, original period furniture, and white globed ceiling lights. Full of atmosphere. And fortunately for visitors like the Hartle’s, it was within easy walking distance of Union Square and the cable cars line.  

Philippe’s, Los Angeles                                                                                           

Fiance Martin, and friends Lucy and Pete take Anna to Philippe’s restaurant for dinner on her birthday.

The couples went for a light dinner at the new Philippe's restaurant on Alameda Avenue after the motion picture show.

"Happy birthday, Anna!" Lucy gushed as they were seated at one end of the long, communal tables.

"Thank you! I read that the food is good here," Anna replied.

Martin glanced in the direction of the counter. "They have plenty of corned beef for the Irish holiday!"

They perused the menu that listed a variety of meat dishes. "Let's try them all." Pete said. Lucy ordered lamb, Anna pork, Pete beef, and Martin, blood sausage.

Philippe The Original is one of the oldest in Southern California, established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, of French heritage. Later Philippe’s was sold to the Martin family from Kansas, and they operated the restaurant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until World War II. When the new Hollywood-Santa Ana 101 freeway came in 1951 Philippe’s relocated to a former machine shop with a hotel on the second floor where it is still a popular attraction.

Sherry’s, New York City                                                                                 

Harriet Quimby selected an elite restaurant to meet old friend Dorothy Gibson, an actress and Titanic survivor.

Shortly after her return, Harriet was curious to get Dorothy Gibson's first-hand account of the Titanic disaster. Dorothy arrived at Sherry's in a high-waisted black and white stripped dress, trimmed with black lace piping and transparent lace from elbow to wrist. Her large white hat with a black underside anchored flowing black plumes, with abundant auburn curls seeming to burst from underneath.

After they ordered, Dorothy commenced her story, her large expressive eyes focused on Harriet's.

Canadian Louis Sherry opened his first New York venue, a small ice cream and confectionary shop at 6th Ave on the south side of 38th Street in 1881. During the 1880’s he catered large public and private events, quickly becoming a New York institution.

He had an ongoing competition with Delmonico’s, so when Delmonico’s moved uptown  in 1897, Sherry followed and opened across the street  in the south-west corner of 5th Ave and 44th street. in a new Stamford White built twelve story building. For the next twenty years, the restaurants existed side by side. One season Sherry’s would be the rage, the next Delmonico’s and then the Waldorf. However, Sherry’s future became secure when Mrs. Astor gave a ball at Sherry’s, and subsequently some of the most important public dinners of the period were held there.

Sherry’s closed in 1919 due to prohibition and what Sherry called ‘war-born bolshevism’ of waiters that lowered the quality of service. However, many felt that the real cause was the passing of the prestige of 5th avenue as the fashionable flocked to new venues on Madison and Park avenues.

Isn't it fortunate that we can still visit two of these iconic restaurants today? Bon appètit!

Sources:
Sherry’s: Read more: http://www.jazzageclub.com/venues/sherrys-restaurant-new-york/#ixzz4i14MtgO2 
Sherry’s Photo: James R. Osgood and Company, Boston - American architect and building news plate 1204 (photo is on two pages) Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46934369

Aviatrices of the Silver Screen

April 27, 2017

Actors in the silent era appeared in aeroplanes, but pioneer aviators Harriet Quimby and Blanche Stuart Scott were both actors and script writers. Once the public saw photos of them flying, it didn’t take the movie makers long to discover that they could draw crowds by appearing on film or writing scripts about their experiences.

Script writers of the early silent shorts were paid between $10 and $30 per scenario. The films typically ran 18 minutes. The scripts were approximately thirty pages long, and narrative in style with vague plot details. The quotes below from Yours in Hurry suggest that the work wasn't always glamorous.

Influential Friends  

“Harriet looked in the hallway mirror. Her eyes were puffy. She was glad that her friend arrived from Los Angeles late the night before to help her with the scenario she owed Biograph Studios. Linda Arvidson was recently separated from D.W. Griffith. The pretty blonde was shorter than Harriet, and at this point in the morning, better functioning.”

Harriet began her career as a stage actress in California with her friend, Linda Arvidson and Linda’s soon to be husband, David Wark Griffith. Harriet quickly learned that writing was a better career for her than acting. She excelled as a journalist in California and later New York City.

Griffith was later known as D. W. when he became a popular American director, writer, and producer. But he didn’t forget Harriet, and in 1911, she is credited with seven Biograph scripts including Fisher Folks, in which Linda starred, and Harriet made a brief appearance. Others are: The Broken Cross; His Mother’s Scarf; In the Days of ’49; A Smile of a Child; The Blind Princess and the Poet ; and, Sunshine Through the Dark. Film historians report that only one of these films still exists, a copy of His Mother’s Scarf, and it’s at UCLA.

Harriet never mentioned her script writing in any way, and she sometimes used an alias. It’s thought she felt it would harm her credibility as a legitimate journalist for Leslie’s Illustrated WeeklyHarriet appreciated the stage and films, and wrote in 1909, "The Value of moving pictures as an aid to historians can not be overestimated." (Leslie's Illustrated Weekly) 

Blanche Stuart ScottTomboy of the Air

"Lee plays the aviator and Bill the auto driver," Blanche explained. "Can you believe? Many of my friends call me Betty, as I'm not keen on Blanche. My character's name in the story is Bertha—worse yet."

Blanch Stuart Scott ended her piloting career  at the start of World War I. She was disappointed at being refused the opportunity to fly in the war. She also realized that women wouldn't be given the opportunity to be engineers. After a stint as a test pilot, she left for Hollywood where she had earlier made two movies, starring as an aviatrix in both:  The Aviator’s Success and  The Aviator and the Autoist Race for a Bride.  Over the years, she worked as a script writer, film producer and radio broadcaster in Hollywood, California.

And she didn’t stop there. In the 1930s Blanche worked as a scriptwriter for several major studios. She also wrote, produced and performed on radio shows aired in California and in Rochester, her girlhood home where she retired.

Both Harriet and Blanche were naturals for moving pictures. They were self promoters and knew how to excite an audience.

Photos: Library of Congress

Sources:

The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP newsletter, January, 1971, Number 7

The Harriet Quimby Scrapbook, Giacinta Bradley Koontz, 2003

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blanche_Scott

Titanic Survivor Dorothy Gibson

April 15, 2017

It's the 105th anniversary of the international tragedy, the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. Those who have read Yours in a Hurry know that the date also had significance for Harriet Quimby. Walter Lord's  A Night to Remember may be the most popular novel about the event, but my Dorothy Gibson story is based on her testimony from the nonfiction The Story of the Titanic as Told by its Survivors edited by Jack Winocour. We don't know if Harriet and Dorothy were acquaintances, but it would be likely given that they were both actresses and scenario writers in New York.

Titanic Survivor Dorothy Gibson

Following is an abbreviated account of their meeting after the tragedy taken from Yours in a Hurry.

 

Shortly after her return, Harriet was curious to get Dorothy Gibson's first-hand account of the Titanic disaster. Dorothy arrived at Sherry's in a high-waisted black and white stripped dress, trimmed with black lace piping and transparent lace from elbows to wrist. Her large white hat with a black underside anchored flowing black plumes, with abundant auburn curls seeming to burst from underneath.

After they ordered, Dorothy commenced her story, her large expressive eyes focused on Harriet's. "To this day I don't know how many were in the lifeboat with me. Ours was one of the first lifeboats to be lowered after the iceberg struck just before midnight. There was no advance warning. Some remembered feeling more vibration than usual on the ship. It probably depended on where one was at the time. But when the motors stopped, we became concerned. It was some time before the crew came to tell us all to go on deck with our life jackets. Many thought it was a drill."

Harriet leaned in further toward Dorothy. "What was it like after you all realized what was happening?"

"Well, the crew kept shouting 'women and children first,' but there appeared to be no order. Mr. Ismay was helping to direct people to lifeboats, and crew members were assigned to each boat to row and to keep order. Some passengers started changing into other lifeboats after we were in the water, mostly over disagreements on whether or not to row back and pick survivors out of the water."

"We were all freezing. Someone wrapped a sail around two of the others. No one minded that a woman had her Pomeranian with her, given that our boat wasn't full."

"Yes. I read that some of the lifeboats were less than half full."

"In some ways, I understand. Once terror sets in the mind, we don't always think rationally. I was told on the Carpathia that many feared the sea worse than staying on the ship, and in the beginning, few wanted to risk leaving. That way of thinking changed as events worsened.

"I never experienced such sadness as on the Carpathia—so many people in one place who had lost loved ones. The trip home was slower than expected due to ice, fog, and rough seas. Thank goodness for the wireless. At least we had contact with the world."

"Some of that didn't help," Harriet replied. "Rumors started. At one point it was reported that the Titanic was being towed to port and another that all had been saved. Later the survivor lists were incorrect, leading to more confusion and anxiety. I was still in England. It was sad there, especially in Southampton, since four of every five crew members were from there."

Dorothy gazed out the window. "I can still see the thousands of people standing in heavy rain when the Carpathia docked. Everyone wanted to help us, but anyone who was not a New Yorker just wanted to go home by the fastest means possible."

"What will you do now?" Harriet asked.

Dorothy continued without a beat. "My film, The Lucky Holdup, was released while I was on ship, so there are engagements around that. And, can you believe, I started working on a film this week titled Saved from the Titanic. I helped with the scenario." She placed her hands on the table and leaned toward Harriet. "They even want me to wear the sweater I wore that night."

"Is that in good taste?"

"Harriet, have you read the survivor's interviews? Telling our stories has been cathartic. They want to start filming next week so it will be out as soon as possible. The Germans are making a film about the disaster, and the studio hopes ours will be first."

Reading Historical Novels

David McCullough has said that Walter Lord, author of a Night to Remember and Day of Infamy about Pearl Harbor  ". . .knows how to do research and how not to use all the research he found. . ." What you just read about actress Dorothy Gibson is taken from the sources mentioned in the introduction and newspapers I read from the period . We can learn much about history from reading historical novels, especially the more human aspects. That's why so many of us love reading and writing them. 

Find out more about Dorothy's life and film career at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Gibson 

Ann Kathleen Otto is the author of  Yours in a Hurry, a historical novel of 1908-1912. Her next novel will include stories based on Ohio's  Little Cities of  the Black Diamonds in the 1920's.

When Miss Katherine Stinson Flew

March 26, 2017

While reading materials for an earlier blog on Frank Terrill I noticed female pioneer aviator who came after Harriet Quimby, Katherine Stinson.

The Flying Schoolgirl

Katherine was born in a small town in rural Alabama in 1891. When she became the fourth woman in the United States to obtain her pilot’s license, the media couldn’t believe that the small, eighty-five pound, twenty-one-year-old with the long curls hanging over her shoulders wasn’t a teenager.

By the time Terrill met her, she was in San Antonio and already famous for her daring flight maneuvers. Three women—her, her mother and sister—developed the Stinson Aviation School where they trained hundreds of students, including many Royal Canadian Airforce members. They eventually designed aeroplanes, some of which still fly. The school closed in 1917.

One of the first to fly at night with lights ablaze, Katherine was a gifted performer, and traveled the world. But when she tried to persuade General John Pershing to let her join the military flyers, first at the Mexican border and later at the front in World War I, he refused.

New Opportunities

The country did use her services—as a U.S. air mail pilot. But as the country entered the war, Katherine wanted more involvement. She was given clearance to fly her personal aeroplane continuously around the country to fund raise for the Red Cross, breaking distance records and raising two-million dollars for the cause. However, she wanted at the war front, and become a Red Cross ambulance driver in France.

Unfortunately, she contracted influenza, which then turned into tuberculosis in 1920. Her flying days were over and she spent nearly ten years recuperating.  In 1928, she married a former airman she had met in France, Miguel Ortero from New Mexico. She became an architect, and built many Santa Fe homes which still stand today. Katherine died in 1977 at the age of 86.

You can see Katherine’s story and early flying films on the excellent COLORES New Mexico PBS program Katherine Stinson: Her Story at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDrbAl_tnhU                                                                          

Sources:

Information on Frank Terrill and Katherine Stinson was found by Brian Burch  in newspaper clippings courtesy of Newsbank Database accessed through Akron-Summit County Public Library; other facts from the PBS program noted above.

 

Reading Rooftops

March 12, 2017

Here’s a trivia question: Why did people read rooftops in the early 1900's?

I  recently asked some of my readers for stories relating to Yours in a Hurry. Shirley Riemenschneider of the Rootstown Ohio History Society replied that she recently came upon a story about New Milford, now an unincorporated community near Rootstown.

Arrows Show the Way

From the late 1800’s until around 1970, New Milford was a busy industrial and commercial area, with a railroad station, grist mill, and its own U.S. Post Office. In the early 1900’s, Reese's Auto Service garage on County Highway 18, now called Tallmadge Road, had a huge red arrow painted on its flat roof, and it is thought that it was for the benefit of pioneer aviators. Shirley wonders if many town folks even knew it was there, and if there is any history about the locations of these rooftop arrows. I turned to Kevin Gray and Darlene McKenzie of the Reed Memorial Library in nearby Ravenna, Ohio, the county seat, for assistance.

Important Rooftop Markers

Gray found that these rooftop markers were common and important in the early days of aviation. A town couldn’t be listed on aeronautical charts unless it had one. The markers pointed either north or to the nearest airport. You can see El Paso’s below.  He found the history of the markers in Roger A. Mola's article in the September, 2006 Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine.


For years pilots had requested navigation markers. According to Mola, before 1926, pilots relied on familiar landmarks, but it was easy for pilots to get lost in unfamiliar terrain. That year the government charged the Works Progress Administration, the Civil Air Patrol, the Civilian Conservation Corps, civic volunteers, scouting organizations, and the Ninety-Nines organization of women pilots with the air marking project. It was considered a job program, a scout merit badge, a city advertisement, and a boon to women in aviation.

Every aspect—letter size, paint type, distance between markers—was regulated. The Department of Commerce promoted the program by pointing out that an air-marked roof was an inexpensive advertisement:“The town may appear as a good place for a vacation, a home or a business. The air marker puts the town on the map.”

By 1941, 13,000 markers had been painted on buildings; but after December 7, 1941, the government decided that all air markers within 150 miles of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts should be eliminated for obvious security reasons, and no new ones would be added to the program during the war. After the war, some Ninety-Nines gals painted air markers on roofs in Indiana and Ohio. Sophia Payton of Florida, who helped, said, “It was a lot of fun, a lot of work; it was...productive.” She noted that in 1956 Colonel C.E. Fulton of the U.S. Air Force reported that when he was flying toward St. Louis, the weather deteriorated. He emerged from clouds in Shirley, Indiana, to read the 10-foot SHIRLEY atop a canning company.

We’ll have to take the word of the Rootstown historians that there was a roof top arrow on Reese’s Auto Service. The only way to verify if New Milford had a marker would be to look at the early charts produced by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. They’re available, but not online; you’d have to look them up at the National Archives.

I hope you’ll go to Mola’s article to read more about the history of both the government’s and women’s role in the air marker project.

Photo: Courtesy of the National Archives

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Escape to America

February 18, 2017

In last week's blog, Steve Bauer shared some of his Hungarian roots which would eventually lead his family to America. Steve's story continues with details of the family's political problems and escape from Hungary.

Hungary 1956

By 1956 dad was a foreman at an Army Weapons Command Center. I remember as a five-year-old seeing the Russian soldiers marching two by two on our streets with rifles on their shoulders. From adult conversations, I knew they did not belong. Students and factory workers, an unusual partnership, united to overthrow the government in Budapest. (James A. Michener’s book, The Bridge at Andau, is a good book to read on this topic.)          

The Hungarian freedom fighters were winning the first week. The local Russian soldiers did not even want to fire upon the Hungarians. Many friendships were forged because the soldiers were there for years living in peace together. It was only after the Russians sent in their out of town tanks and soldiers that the freedom fighters were defeated.

It is important to note that it was not about Russians against Hungarians but communism against some form of democracy or government by the people. Many Hungarians also became communists after WWII. Therefore, it was animosity between Hungarians (communist vs. non-communist) and animosity toward Moscow’s strong arm.

Escape

Many people started to escape Hungary in 1956 when the freedom fighters failed. My dad was asked to join the Communist Party at his factory. He said he wanted a couple of days to think about it. Within a week, we left for Austria. When we crossed the border, we did a lot of walking through farm fields, hiding behind hay lofts when convoys of Russian troops or Hungarian Avos were near. In the winter, we walked through wet, cold farm fields. The rheumatic fever, typhus and frost bite dad had experienced in the Siberian prison camp had damaged his heart, so travel was difficult.

On a cold November day, we arrived at the Austrian border. We’d traveled by bus, train and on foot with the clothes on our backs, cash and some jewelry. We were in a group of about twenty When we got within 5 or 10 miles of the border, our group of twenty was helped by guides who knew the area to take us to the border. They were paid and then went back to get more of the many others who waited to leave.

Traveling at night we were caught at the border. The German Shepherds started barking, the flood lights came on, and the border guards fired warning shots in the air. We were released, and I later found out that it was because our group gave the guards all their valuables. We had to escape because people who were “useful” to society were kept. Old or sick could leave because the government did not want to support them anyway—the beauty of communism.

Not only were we stopped at the border but we were separated from my mom in the dark. We were picked up by a Volkswagen bus in Austria by individuals speaking German. We were taken to a Red Cross processing center and given warm clothes and food and water. My mom was actually in the same center but we did not know it. The next day we had a happy reunion when we found her.

America at Last

We left Hungary in November, 1956 and arrived in America in February, 1957. It seemed like we were on the ship for two weeks. It was very scary. For days and days, we saw nothing but water. Through many storms, it looked like we would be swallowed up by the waves. Children under eleven stayed with their mothers. The men were in the bottom of the boat. We got to see my dad every few days. When we ate in the cafeteria (if we had an appetite) the plates slid across the table as the ship rocked. Every day we came out for drills with our life jackets and instructions just in case we needed them.

We stayed on a U.S. Army base for Christmas. My mom and dad were vetted through Interpol. We spent time at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey a few miles from New York City. I remember swallowing Juicy Fruit Gum, and I didn’t know it was gum. I remember 5-cent Coca-Cola.

From there we went to Cleveland. As Ann mentioned in Part 1, my grandpa Bauer came to America to seek his fortune in the early 1900s. My aunt and uncle were born here so they were automatically U. S. citizens. When the farm started failing in Bakony-Csernye grandpa went back to Hungary, but Joe and Rose came back to America when they were teenagers and settled in Cleveland.

We spoke Hungarian growing up, and my parents had to go to night school to learn English. I picked it up very quickly in school, and I still speak, write and read Hungarian. Since my mom died in 2009, I have no one to speak with, so I read Hungarian books aloud to hear myself and keep my pronunciations.

My parents are my heroes. I know they could have lived out their lives in Hungary, but they wanted a better life for me. I often tell my kids and grandkids that if my parents hadn’t had the courage to act, I wouldn’t have my lovely wife Claudette and our many children and grandchildren.

I became a citizen through my parents when I was fifteen, and I am very grateful to be an American!

Steve and his parents in their first new home.

Ohio Hungarian Heritage Part 1

February 12, 2017

In organizing material for my next novel, I found that many Hungarians were among the immigrants working in Ohio’s Appalachia in the early 1900’s. A friend, Steve Bauer, offered to share the story of how his Hungarian family took root in Ohio. Although they settled in the greater Cleveland area, Steve’s story of more recent immigrants illustrates their tenaciousness and love of America.

Steve’s paternal grandfather came to the U.S. in 1910. He had to take the family back to Hungary when the farm over there failed. But Steve’s uncle Joe and aunt Rose, who had been born here, returned when they were in their late teens. That was fortunate for Steve and his family in 1956 when they had to escape communism. Steve is a good storyteller, so I’m letting him tell the story, starting with his parents.  At right is a photo of Steve's maternal grandmother and her sister.

Hungary World War II

Hungary was one of the countries that became Communist after World War II. In the way of background, my parents married in 1940. They met in a Christian club, and were excellent ball room dancers. My mom was born in Pest. For those not familiar with Hungary, Buda and Pest are two cities divided by the Danube River.

Mom excelled in gymnastics and basketball, and was also a talented seamstress. Dad grew up in Bakony-Csernye, a farming town about 40 miles west of Budapest. He apprenticed with a tool and die maker from the age of 13.

During WWII the Germans and Russians both invaded Budapest. My parents worked in Pest. Every day they would walk across a certain bridge to go home to Buda. One day my mom said, "Let’s take the other bridge today." While they were crossing, the bridge they usually took was bombed and fell into the water. They considered it divine intervention.

Dad, a member of the Hungarian Army Bicycle Corps, was taken captive by the Russians and sent to a prison camp near Siberia. 

 

Family Life in Hungary 1956

I remember that when I was six years old we lived at 80 Walnut Tree Street, Rakos Szent Mihaly, in a suburb of Budapest. I looked on line recently and the dirt roads and driveways are now paved. We lived in the back of our house in two rooms—a combination living room, bedroom and a kitchen. My uncle and his family lived in the front of the house.

We had no refrigeration or plumbing which meant we had an out-house, and we walked to the corner for water to drink or to sponge bathe. We had no drinking water because our well was full of lime. I remember going out on winter mornings to “wash” in the snow. Mom was a homemaker and a good seamstress. She usually had to stand in line daily for bread, milk, and other necessities. I remember going to the corner store for yellow suckers shaped like roosters and burnt peanuts with sugar. I recall the wonderful smell of tobacco, and watching the men roll their cigarettes.

Two pigs were slaughtered every year for meat. The meat was smoked, cured, and placed into a “cold” room off the kitchen. We raised fruits and vegetables to can, and bought lard by the bucket to spread on bread. We had a pot belly stove for heat and cooking. Mom and dad bought a 32oz beer every Sunday to split. I remember when dad pulled the last pear off the pear tree and we ate it together.

Dad rode his bicycle to work or took a train when the weather was bad. I liked to go to my dad’s village at harvest time. I loved the smell of grapes, and my dad lived next to the local baker so it always smelled wonderful. My uncle was the town barber, and my grandpa was a wagon wheel repairman. Dad became a tool and die maker since wagons were a thing of the past.

Next time: Steve’s story continues- The Bauer family’s political problems and escape to America

 

Iconic Los Angeles Spaces

January 15, 2017

On a recent Los Angeles visit, I stopped by some of my favorite locations from Yours in a Hurry. Some buildings still stand; others are gone. But all are early California icons. I’ve added quotes from the book to explain why.

The Hollywood Hotel

“Anna could see why the Hollywood Hotel was Ida’s favorite place to lunch. Small, round white-clothed covered tables filled the room. Ferns hung from the ceiling along with round, globed chandeliers. Rather modern, she thought. Windows at two levels, some showing the street, and smaller ones near the ceiling disseminated light throughout the rooms. A fresh flower bouquet adorned each table.”

 

The Hollywood Hotel opened in December 1902. It was built along the electric trolley route on the west side of Highland Avenue. The elegant Mission Revival style building fronted on unpaved Prospect Avenue. The hotel sat among lemon groves at the base of the Hollywood Hills. Prospect Avenue was renamed Hollywood Boulevard in in 1910.

In 1906 the heiress to the famous chocolate company, Almira Hershey, took a buggy ride to see the hotel that was being advertised. She was so impressed that she bought it. Soon the hotel expanded from 16 rooms to 250 and became well known. Beginning in the 1910's, legends and stars of the early movie industry stayed at the hotel, dined there, and congregated on the broad verandas. In 1922, Almira lost a breach of contract dispute with an employee and sold the hotel.

The Hollywood Hotel had fallen to disrepair by 1956 and was razed and replaced by a twelve-story office building for a bank, a shopping center, and parking lots. In 2001 those were demolished, and a shopping and entertainment complex was built on the site. including the Dolby Theater, the current home of the Academy Awards ceremony.

The Beverly Hills Hotel

“The grand opening of the Beverly Hills Hotel is the event of the season!” Ida said.

Anna, Ida and Philo attend the opening of the Beverly Hills Hotel in May of 1912. Opening invitations announced the property as situated “halfway between Los Angeles and the sea.”

Before Beverly Hills was a city, developer Burton Green bought land once owned by the Mexican government in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. He built a sprawling hotel in Mission Revival style on 12 acres, with white stucco exterior and terra cotta-colored roof tiles, and named it after Beverly Farms, his home in Massachusetts.

By 1914, Beverly Hills had attracted enough residents to incorporate as a city, and movie stars began building homes there, transforming the bean fields surrounding The Beverly Hills Hotel into prime real estate.

In 1995 the completely renovated Beverly Hills Hotel reopened. It’s still prime property—rooms start at $595 per night.

The Bungalow

"Aren't you glad you chose a bungalow?" Ida continued. "It's Frank Lloyd Wright's influence—such a wonderful blend of Oriental and the simple Arts and Crafts. It's a common dwelling in India, the Bangala, as the British call it.”

If you travel Los Angeles neighborhoods, you can still see many of the early bungalows. What’s a bungalow? The Hindi term literally means “of Bengal.” It refers to a one-storied house, usually surrounded by a veranda which, in warmer climates, allows a refreshing breeze. The Craftsman house type became popular in the United States during the first quarter of the 20th century, and Americans adapted it to their own tastes. Here it usually has one and a half stories, a widely- bracketed gable roof, and a multi-windowed dormer and a front porch.  

Examples like the photo (right) can be seen throughout Los Angeles in places like the Highland-Camrose Bungalow Village  or in the Historic District, South Los Angeles.

I still love the friendly look of a bungalow and am glad that in the 21st century it is becoming a popular style for cluster home developments.

The next time you visit Los Angeles and its Hollywood and Beverly Hills suburbs, think about the life Anna and the other Yours in a Hurry characters experienced there.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_Hotel

https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/los-angeles/the-beverly-hills-hotel/hotel-services/hotel-history/

Depression and Loss

December 30, 2016

"Purl saw a light in the parlor and entered. Anna was sitting on the sofa, motionless. Only a flicker from the oil lamp lighted the room. I can't go to the reunion today," she said. He looked down at her and placed his hands in his pockets, helpless that she should be so sad. So little had changed since May."

Whenever I stop to reflect on Anna Hartle's early life in Yours in a Hurry I am saddened by all of her losses and disappointments. A psychologist mentor of mine from the medical school I used to work for is very adept in many subjects, and he's often asked about grief and depression. I asked for his thoughts about Anna's many painful experiences.

A Reader's First Look

I was asked to comment on Ann Otto's historical novel, Yours in a Hurry. This story, or more accurately, these stories, take the reader in many directions…following the many adventures of three of the siblings of a family of eight, orphaned when their prosperous parents die suddenly. Three of the eight move to California after they come of age and live exciting, while very different lives. Addison, the author’s great-uncle, becomes an aviation pioneer; Purl, her grandfather, loses his inheritance and joins the military; but it is Anna’s life that is of most interest to me.

Loss Changes Us                      

As a psychologist, I recognize how melancholy haunted Anna throughout her life…and with just reason. Sadness, melancholy, and depression have as their roots, LOSS. And if the reader follows Anna’s life, she certainly experienced more than her share of loss: the most obvious of these are (p. 237) right after she witnesses Addison's death, and the chapter where she and Purl go back to Ohio for the family reunion starting (p. 255). Her losses/important life changes include: her parents death in 1901; her move to Los Angeles from a small village in 1908; her marriage in 1909 to a man who manipulates her; the loss of their child through adoption (1910); witnessing Addison's death (1911); and, the death of a younger sister and one of the aunts who raised them (1912).

Ann Otto explores these losses and how they impact her great aunt. We often try to hide the blemishes of family members who are long gone, but Ann realizes how important these issues are to her family's story.

Meet the Blog Contributor           

Dr. Glenn Saltzman is a retired professor and popular professional speaker. Please go to his website postings at www.drglenn.net which are both educational and entertaining.

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Historical Transitions

June 15, 2017

When you're writing a novel about a period of rapid change, it's sometimes hard to tell if you're using the right terminology. That's the case for Yours in a Hurry which takes place between 1908 and 1912. Here are some examples of choices that had to be made.

"Addison stood in line outside of his hotel waiting for a hack to take him to the airfield." 

Hack, Carriage, Cab? The mode of transportation was changing. In 1909, one had the choice of a horse-drawn carriage or hack, or a taxi, a new word at the time meaning an automobile for hire. Our character chose the hack because it was much cheaper. Of course, many referred to the motorized vehicles as the horseless carriage, but most of the autos on the road at that time were a Ford Model T, referred to as "tin Lizzies". 

"This is Addison Hartle, who I told you about, my chum from back home."

Today you might label your best friend on social media as your BFF, but if you read any book from the 1910's in America or even much later in the UK, you will likely see the word chum commonly used for friend, especially among youth.  

The Aviation Issue

It's difficult to decide what terms to use during the invention and development of the airplane. First, one has to understand that lighter-than-air machines are those like balloons or dirigibles. Airplanes are heavier-than-air. 

In the beginning, the heavier-than-air vehicles were called flying machines, as in the popular song of the time, Come Josephine in My Flying Machine. As France became the leader in aviation prior to 1910, their term, aeroplane, was adopted. The term derives from two Greek words meaning 'air' and 'wandering'. Over time that changed to airplane, and now, we usually refer to them as just planes.

And then there is the issue of who controlled the machine. They were first referred to as flyers. In the early 1910's as the profession began to emerge and licenses became common, they were referred to as pilots and aviators. 

"You know I can't sit in the dark during the daylight. I don't know what you women see in the flickers. Daisy is always after me to go, too."

From 1905 to 1915, nickelodeons were popular around the country. You paid a nickel at these small store front theaters to see projected moving images. As the film industry grew, and the movie houses became larger, these became known as moving pictures or motion pictures, unless one didn't like the new entertainment or just liked to use the slang of 'the flickers'. We soon shortened that to the movies.  You can read more about the early movie houses like the one below in an earlier blog.

 

Truth is, some changes take years to become the norm. In rural areas and small towns, horses were still a common form of transportation well into the 1920's or 1930's. If you walk the streets of England today, you may still hear someone refer to a chum. 

What terminology have you had to research in your writing or work? What have you had to change in your vocabulary recently?  

 

Memories of Great Dining

May 25, 2017

There’s no question that Americans love food. Major and minor life events, as well as lively discussions, are often remembered by where we were, and maybe what we were eating or drinking. Our Yours in a Hurry characters were no different. Here are three examples with excerpts from the book.

John’s Grill, San Francisco                                                          

Addison and Anna Hartle are in San Francisco in 1908 to see Purl off on Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet.

They stepped into John's Grill. "What a lovely place!" Anna said.

Taking notice of Purl's uniform, the maître d' gave them a prime table near the window on the first level and handed each a menu. The dark paneled walls and globed ceiling lamps created an elegant atmosphere. The restaurant buzzed with excitement, understandable given the number of uniformed men. One could barely hear above the tinkle of silverware and the noise of plates banging.

A waiter dressed in a white jacket arrived. "I must apologize for the noise. It's usually much quieter. So much enthusiasm! We hear that President Roosevelt may come later.”

John’s Grill was one of the first restaurants to open in 1908 after the great earthquake. Known for steaks and fresh seafood, the  restaurant today looks quite the same back then- dark oak paneled walls, original period furniture, and white globed ceiling lights. Full of atmosphere. And fortunately for visitors like the Hartle’s, it was within easy walking distance of Union Square and the cable cars line.  

Philippe’s, Los Angeles                                                                                           

Fiance Martin, and friends Lucy and Pete take Anna to Philippe’s restaurant for dinner on her birthday.

The couples went for a light dinner at the new Philippe's restaurant on Alameda Avenue after the motion picture show.

"Happy birthday, Anna!" Lucy gushed as they were seated at one end of the long, communal tables.

"Thank you! I read that the food is good here," Anna replied.

Martin glanced in the direction of the counter. "They have plenty of corned beef for the Irish holiday!"

They perused the menu that listed a variety of meat dishes. "Let's try them all." Pete said. Lucy ordered lamb, Anna pork, Pete beef, and Martin, blood sausage.

Philippe The Original is one of the oldest in Southern California, established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, of French heritage. Later Philippe’s was sold to the Martin family from Kansas, and they operated the restaurant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until World War II. When the new Hollywood-Santa Ana 101 freeway came in 1951 Philippe’s relocated to a former machine shop with a hotel on the second floor where it is still a popular attraction.

Sherry’s, New York City                                                                                 

Harriet Quimby selected an elite restaurant to meet old friend Dorothy Gibson, an actress and Titanic survivor.

Shortly after her return, Harriet was curious to get Dorothy Gibson's first-hand account of the Titanic disaster. Dorothy arrived at Sherry's in a high-waisted black and white stripped dress, trimmed with black lace piping and transparent lace from elbow to wrist. Her large white hat with a black underside anchored flowing black plumes, with abundant auburn curls seeming to burst from underneath.

After they ordered, Dorothy commenced her story, her large expressive eyes focused on Harriet's.

Canadian Louis Sherry opened his first New York venue, a small ice cream and confectionary shop at 6th Ave on the south side of 38th Street in 1881. During the 1880’s he catered large public and private events, quickly becoming a New York institution.

He had an ongoing competition with Delmonico’s, so when Delmonico’s moved uptown  in 1897, Sherry followed and opened across the street  in the south-west corner of 5th Ave and 44th street. in a new Stamford White built twelve story building. For the next twenty years, the restaurants existed side by side. One season Sherry’s would be the rage, the next Delmonico’s and then the Waldorf. However, Sherry’s future became secure when Mrs. Astor gave a ball at Sherry’s, and subsequently some of the most important public dinners of the period were held there.

Sherry’s closed in 1919 due to prohibition and what Sherry called ‘war-born bolshevism’ of waiters that lowered the quality of service. However, many felt that the real cause was the passing of the prestige of 5th avenue as the fashionable flocked to new venues on Madison and Park avenues.

Isn't it fortunate that we can still visit two of these iconic restaurants today? Bon appètit!

Sources:
Sherry’s: Read more: http://www.jazzageclub.com/venues/sherrys-restaurant-new-york/#ixzz4i14MtgO2 
Sherry’s Photo: James R. Osgood and Company, Boston - American architect and building news plate 1204 (photo is on two pages) Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46934369

Aviatrices of the Silver Screen

April 27, 2017

Actors in the silent era appeared in aeroplanes, but pioneer aviators Harriet Quimby and Blanche Stuart Scott were both actors and script writers. Once the public saw photos of them flying, it didn’t take the movie makers long to discover that they could draw crowds by appearing on film or writing scripts about their experiences.

Script writers of the early silent shorts were paid between $10 and $30 per scenario. The films typically ran 18 minutes. The scripts were approximately thirty pages long, and narrative in style with vague plot details. The quotes below from Yours in Hurry suggest that the work wasn't always glamorous.

Influential Friends  

“Harriet looked in the hallway mirror. Her eyes were puffy. She was glad that her friend arrived from Los Angeles late the night before to help her with the scenario she owed Biograph Studios. Linda Arvidson was recently separated from D.W. Griffith. The pretty blonde was shorter than Harriet, and at this point in the morning, better functioning.”

Harriet began her career as a stage actress in California with her friend, Linda Arvidson and Linda’s soon to be husband, David Wark Griffith. Harriet quickly learned that writing was a better career for her than acting. She excelled as a journalist in California and later New York City.

Griffith was later known as D. W. when he became a popular American director, writer, and producer. But he didn’t forget Harriet, and in 1911, she is credited with seven Biograph scripts including Fisher Folks, in which Linda starred, and Harriet made a brief appearance. Others are: The Broken Cross; His Mother’s Scarf; In the Days of ’49; A Smile of a Child; The Blind Princess and the Poet ; and, Sunshine Through the Dark. Film historians report that only one of these films still exists, a copy of His Mother’s Scarf, and it’s at UCLA.

Harriet never mentioned her script writing in any way, and she sometimes used an alias. It’s thought she felt it would harm her credibility as a legitimate journalist for Leslie’s Illustrated WeeklyHarriet appreciated the stage and films, and wrote in 1909, "The Value of moving pictures as an aid to historians can not be overestimated." (Leslie's Illustrated Weekly) 

Blanche Stuart ScottTomboy of the Air

"Lee plays the aviator and Bill the auto driver," Blanche explained. "Can you believe? Many of my friends call me Betty, as I'm not keen on Blanche. My character's name in the story is Bertha—worse yet."

Blanch Stuart Scott ended her piloting career  at the start of World War I. She was disappointed at being refused the opportunity to fly in the war. She also realized that women wouldn't be given the opportunity to be engineers. After a stint as a test pilot, she left for Hollywood where she had earlier made two movies, starring as an aviatrix in both:  The Aviator’s Success and  The Aviator and the Autoist Race for a Bride.  Over the years, she worked as a script writer, film producer and radio broadcaster in Hollywood, California.

And she didn’t stop there. In the 1930s Blanche worked as a scriptwriter for several major studios. She also wrote, produced and performed on radio shows aired in California and in Rochester, her girlhood home where she retired.

Both Harriet and Blanche were naturals for moving pictures. They were self promoters and knew how to excite an audience.

Photos: Library of Congress

Sources:

The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP newsletter, January, 1971, Number 7

The Harriet Quimby Scrapbook, Giacinta Bradley Koontz, 2003

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blanche_Scott

Titanic Survivor Dorothy Gibson

April 15, 2017

It's the 105th anniversary of the international tragedy, the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. Those who have read Yours in a Hurry know that the date also had significance for Harriet Quimby. Walter Lord's  A Night to Remember may be the most popular novel about the event, but my Dorothy Gibson story is based on her testimony from the nonfiction The Story of the Titanic as Told by its Survivors edited by Jack Winocour. We don't know if Harriet and Dorothy were acquaintances, but it would be likely given that they were both actresses and scenario writers in New York.

Titanic Survivor Dorothy Gibson

Following is an abbreviated account of their meeting after the tragedy taken from Yours in a Hurry.

 

Shortly after her return, Harriet was curious to get Dorothy Gibson's first-hand account of the Titanic disaster. Dorothy arrived at Sherry's in a high-waisted black and white stripped dress, trimmed with black lace piping and transparent lace from elbows to wrist. Her large white hat with a black underside anchored flowing black plumes, with abundant auburn curls seeming to burst from underneath.

After they ordered, Dorothy commenced her story, her large expressive eyes focused on Harriet's. "To this day I don't know how many were in the lifeboat with me. Ours was one of the first lifeboats to be lowered after the iceberg struck just before midnight. There was no advance warning. Some remembered feeling more vibration than usual on the ship. It probably depended on where one was at the time. But when the motors stopped, we became concerned. It was some time before the crew came to tell us all to go on deck with our life jackets. Many thought it was a drill."

Harriet leaned in further toward Dorothy. "What was it like after you all realized what was happening?"

"Well, the crew kept shouting 'women and children first,' but there appeared to be no order. Mr. Ismay was helping to direct people to lifeboats, and crew members were assigned to each boat to row and to keep order. Some passengers started changing into other lifeboats after we were in the water, mostly over disagreements on whether or not to row back and pick survivors out of the water."

"We were all freezing. Someone wrapped a sail around two of the others. No one minded that a woman had her Pomeranian with her, given that our boat wasn't full."

"Yes. I read that some of the lifeboats were less than half full."

"In some ways, I understand. Once terror sets in the mind, we don't always think rationally. I was told on the Carpathia that many feared the sea worse than staying on the ship, and in the beginning, few wanted to risk leaving. That way of thinking changed as events worsened.

"I never experienced such sadness as on the Carpathia—so many people in one place who had lost loved ones. The trip home was slower than expected due to ice, fog, and rough seas. Thank goodness for the wireless. At least we had contact with the world."

"Some of that didn't help," Harriet replied. "Rumors started. At one point it was reported that the Titanic was being towed to port and another that all had been saved. Later the survivor lists were incorrect, leading to more confusion and anxiety. I was still in England. It was sad there, especially in Southampton, since four of every five crew members were from there."

Dorothy gazed out the window. "I can still see the thousands of people standing in heavy rain when the Carpathia docked. Everyone wanted to help us, but anyone who was not a New Yorker just wanted to go home by the fastest means possible."

"What will you do now?" Harriet asked.

Dorothy continued without a beat. "My film, The Lucky Holdup, was released while I was on ship, so there are engagements around that. And, can you believe, I started working on a film this week titled Saved from the Titanic. I helped with the scenario." She placed her hands on the table and leaned toward Harriet. "They even want me to wear the sweater I wore that night."

"Is that in good taste?"

"Harriet, have you read the survivor's interviews? Telling our stories has been cathartic. They want to start filming next week so it will be out as soon as possible. The Germans are making a film about the disaster, and the studio hopes ours will be first."

Reading Historical Novels

David McCullough has said that Walter Lord, author of a Night to Remember and Day of Infamy about Pearl Harbor  ". . .knows how to do research and how not to use all the research he found. . ." What you just read about actress Dorothy Gibson is taken from the sources mentioned in the introduction and newspapers I read from the period . We can learn much about history from reading historical novels, especially the more human aspects. That's why so many of us love reading and writing them. 

Find out more about Dorothy's life and film career at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Gibson 

Ann Kathleen Otto is the author of  Yours in a Hurry, a historical novel of 1908-1912. Her next novel will include stories based on Ohio's  Little Cities of  the Black Diamonds in the 1920's.

When Miss Katherine Stinson Flew

March 26, 2017

While reading materials for an earlier blog on Frank Terrill I noticed female pioneer aviator who came after Harriet Quimby, Katherine Stinson.

The Flying Schoolgirl

Katherine was born in a small town in rural Alabama in 1891. When she became the fourth woman in the United States to obtain her pilot’s license, the media couldn’t believe that the small, eighty-five pound, twenty-one-year-old with the long curls hanging over her shoulders wasn’t a teenager.

By the time Terrill met her, she was in San Antonio and already famous for her daring flight maneuvers. Three women—her, her mother and sister—developed the Stinson Aviation School where they trained hundreds of students, including many Royal Canadian Airforce members. They eventually designed aeroplanes, some of which still fly. The school closed in 1917.

One of the first to fly at night with lights ablaze, Katherine was a gifted performer, and traveled the world. But when she tried to persuade General John Pershing to let her join the military flyers, first at the Mexican border and later at the front in World War I, he refused.

New Opportunities

The country did use her services—as a U.S. air mail pilot. But as the country entered the war, Katherine wanted more involvement. She was given clearance to fly her personal aeroplane continuously around the country to fund raise for the Red Cross, breaking distance records and raising two-million dollars for the cause. However, she wanted at the war front, and become a Red Cross ambulance driver in France.

Unfortunately, she contracted influenza, which then turned into tuberculosis in 1920. Her flying days were over and she spent nearly ten years recuperating.  In 1928, she married a former airman she had met in France, Miguel Ortero from New Mexico. She became an architect, and built many Santa Fe homes which still stand today. Katherine died in 1977 at the age of 86.

You can see Katherine’s story and early flying films on the excellent COLORES New Mexico PBS program Katherine Stinson: Her Story at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDrbAl_tnhU                                                                          

Sources:

Information on Frank Terrill and Katherine Stinson was found by Brian Burch  in newspaper clippings courtesy of Newsbank Database accessed through Akron-Summit County Public Library; other facts from the PBS program noted above.

 

Reading Rooftops

March 12, 2017

Here’s a trivia question: Why did people read rooftops in the early 1900's?

I  recently asked some of my readers for stories relating to Yours in a Hurry. Shirley Riemenschneider of the Rootstown Ohio History Society replied that she recently came upon a story about New Milford, now an unincorporated community near Rootstown.

Arrows Show the Way

From the late 1800’s until around 1970, New Milford was a busy industrial and commercial area, with a railroad station, grist mill, and its own U.S. Post Office. In the early 1900’s, Reese's Auto Service garage on County Highway 18, now called Tallmadge Road, had a huge red arrow painted on its flat roof, and it is thought that it was for the benefit of pioneer aviators. Shirley wonders if many town folks even knew it was there, and if there is any history about the locations of these rooftop arrows. I turned to Kevin Gray and Darlene McKenzie of the Reed Memorial Library in nearby Ravenna, Ohio, the county seat, for assistance.

Important Rooftop Markers

Gray found that these rooftop markers were common and important in the early days of aviation. A town couldn’t be listed on aeronautical charts unless it had one. The markers pointed either north or to the nearest airport. You can see El Paso’s below.  He found the history of the markers in Roger A. Mola's article in the September, 2006 Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine.


For years pilots had requested navigation markers. According to Mola, before 1926, pilots relied on familiar landmarks, but it was easy for pilots to get lost in unfamiliar terrain. That year the government charged the Works Progress Administration, the Civil Air Patrol, the Civilian Conservation Corps, civic volunteers, scouting organizations, and the Ninety-Nines organization of women pilots with the air marking project. It was considered a job program, a scout merit badge, a city advertisement, and a boon to women in aviation.

Every aspect—letter size, paint type, distance between markers—was regulated. The Department of Commerce promoted the program by pointing out that an air-marked roof was an inexpensive advertisement:“The town may appear as a good place for a vacation, a home or a business. The air marker puts the town on the map.”

By 1941, 13,000 markers had been painted on buildings; but after December 7, 1941, the government decided that all air markers within 150 miles of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts should be eliminated for obvious security reasons, and no new ones would be added to the program during the war. After the war, some Ninety-Nines gals painted air markers on roofs in Indiana and Ohio. Sophia Payton of Florida, who helped, said, “It was a lot of fun, a lot of work; it was...productive.” She noted that in 1956 Colonel C.E. Fulton of the U.S. Air Force reported that when he was flying toward St. Louis, the weather deteriorated. He emerged from clouds in Shirley, Indiana, to read the 10-foot SHIRLEY atop a canning company.

We’ll have to take the word of the Rootstown historians that there was a roof top arrow on Reese’s Auto Service. The only way to verify if New Milford had a marker would be to look at the early charts produced by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. They’re available, but not online; you’d have to look them up at the National Archives.

I hope you’ll go to Mola’s article to read more about the history of both the government’s and women’s role in the air marker project.

Photo: Courtesy of the National Archives

If you find this story interesting, please share it on social media: http://www.ann-otto.com/blog  




 

Escape to America

February 18, 2017

In last week's blog, Steve Bauer shared some of his Hungarian roots which would eventually lead his family to America. Steve's story continues with details of the family's political problems and escape from Hungary.

Hungary 1956

By 1956 dad was a foreman at an Army Weapons Command Center. I remember as a five-year-old seeing the Russian soldiers marching two by two on our streets with rifles on their shoulders. From adult conversations, I knew they did not belong. Students and factory workers, an unusual partnership, united to overthrow the government in Budapest. (James A. Michener’s book, The Bridge at Andau, is a good book to read on this topic.)          

The Hungarian freedom fighters were winning the first week. The local Russian soldiers did not even want to fire upon the Hungarians. Many friendships were forged because the soldiers were there for years living in peace together. It was only after the Russians sent in their out of town tanks and soldiers that the freedom fighters were defeated.

It is important to note that it was not about Russians against Hungarians but communism against some form of democracy or government by the people. Many Hungarians also became communists after WWII. Therefore, it was animosity between Hungarians (communist vs. non-communist) and animosity toward Moscow’s strong arm.

Escape

Many people started to escape Hungary in 1956 when the freedom fighters failed. My dad was asked to join the Communist Party at his factory. He said he wanted a couple of days to think about it. Within a week, we left for Austria. When we crossed the border, we did a lot of walking through farm fields, hiding behind hay lofts when convoys of Russian troops or Hungarian Avos were near. In the winter, we walked through wet, cold farm fields. The rheumatic fever, typhus and frost bite dad had experienced in the Siberian prison camp had damaged his heart, so travel was difficult.

On a cold November day, we arrived at the Austrian border. We’d traveled by bus, train and on foot with the clothes on our backs, cash and some jewelry. We were in a group of about twenty When we got within 5 or 10 miles of the border, our group of twenty was helped by guides who knew the area to take us to the border. They were paid and then went back to get more of the many others who waited to leave.

Traveling at night we were caught at the border. The German Shepherds started barking, the flood lights came on, and the border guards fired warning shots in the air. We were released, and I later found out that it was because our group gave the guards all their valuables. We had to escape because people who were “useful” to society were kept. Old or sick could leave because the government did not want to support them anyway—the beauty of communism.

Not only were we stopped at the border but we were separated from my mom in the dark. We were picked up by a Volkswagen bus in Austria by individuals speaking German. We were taken to a Red Cross processing center and given warm clothes and food and water. My mom was actually in the same center but we did not know it. The next day we had a happy reunion when we found her.

America at Last

We left Hungary in November, 1956 and arrived in America in February, 1957. It seemed like we were on the ship for two weeks. It was very scary. For days and days, we saw nothing but water. Through many storms, it looked like we would be swallowed up by the waves. Children under eleven stayed with their mothers. The men were in the bottom of the boat. We got to see my dad every few days. When we ate in the cafeteria (if we had an appetite) the plates slid across the table as the ship rocked. Every day we came out for drills with our life jackets and instructions just in case we needed them.

We stayed on a U.S. Army base for Christmas. My mom and dad were vetted through Interpol. We spent time at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey a few miles from New York City. I remember swallowing Juicy Fruit Gum, and I didn’t know it was gum. I remember 5-cent Coca-Cola.

From there we went to Cleveland. As Ann mentioned in Part 1, my grandpa Bauer came to America to seek his fortune in the early 1900s. My aunt and uncle were born here so they were automatically U. S. citizens. When the farm started failing in Bakony-Csernye grandpa went back to Hungary, but Joe and Rose came back to America when they were teenagers and settled in Cleveland.

We spoke Hungarian growing up, and my parents had to go to night school to learn English. I picked it up very quickly in school, and I still speak, write and read Hungarian. Since my mom died in 2009, I have no one to speak with, so I read Hungarian books aloud to hear myself and keep my pronunciations.

My parents are my heroes. I know they could have lived out their lives in Hungary, but they wanted a better life for me. I often tell my kids and grandkids that if my parents hadn’t had the courage to act, I wouldn’t have my lovely wife Claudette and our many children and grandchildren.

I became a citizen through my parents when I was fifteen, and I am very grateful to be an American!

Steve and his parents in their first new home.

Ohio Hungarian Heritage Part 1

February 12, 2017

In organizing material for my next novel, I found that many Hungarians were among the immigrants working in Ohio’s Appalachia in the early 1900’s. A friend, Steve Bauer, offered to share the story of how his Hungarian family took root in Ohio. Although they settled in the greater Cleveland area, Steve’s story of more recent immigrants illustrates their tenaciousness and love of America.

Steve’s paternal grandfather came to the U.S. in 1910. He had to take the family back to Hungary when the farm over there failed. But Steve’s uncle Joe and aunt Rose, who had been born here, returned when they were in their late teens. That was fortunate for Steve and his family in 1956 when they had to escape communism. Steve is a good storyteller, so I’m letting him tell the story, starting with his parents.  At right is a photo of Steve's maternal grandmother and her sister.

Hungary World War II

Hungary was one of the countries that became Communist after World War II. In the way of background, my parents married in 1940. They met in a Christian club, and were excellent ball room dancers. My mom was born in Pest. For those not familiar with Hungary, Buda and Pest are two cities divided by the Danube River.

Mom excelled in gymnastics and basketball, and was also a talented seamstress. Dad grew up in Bakony-Csernye, a farming town about 40 miles west of Budapest. He apprenticed with a tool and die maker from the age of 13.

During WWII the Germans and Russians both invaded Budapest. My parents worked in Pest. Every day they would walk across a certain bridge to go home to Buda. One day my mom said, "Let’s take the other bridge today." While they were crossing, the bridge they usually took was bombed and fell into the water. They considered it divine intervention.

Dad, a member of the Hungarian Army Bicycle Corps, was taken captive by the Russians and sent to a prison camp near Siberia. 

 

Family Life in Hungary 1956

I remember that when I was six years old we lived at 80 Walnut Tree Street, Rakos Szent Mihaly, in a suburb of Budapest. I looked on line recently and the dirt roads and driveways are now paved. We lived in the back of our house in two rooms—a combination living room, bedroom and a kitchen. My uncle and his family lived in the front of the house.

We had no refrigeration or plumbing which meant we had an out-house, and we walked to the corner for water to drink or to sponge bathe. We had no drinking water because our well was full of lime. I remember going out on winter mornings to “wash” in the snow. Mom was a homemaker and a good seamstress. She usually had to stand in line daily for bread, milk, and other necessities. I remember going to the corner store for yellow suckers shaped like roosters and burnt peanuts with sugar. I recall the wonderful smell of tobacco, and watching the men roll their cigarettes.

Two pigs were slaughtered every year for meat. The meat was smoked, cured, and placed into a “cold” room off the kitchen. We raised fruits and vegetables to can, and bought lard by the bucket to spread on bread. We had a pot belly stove for heat and cooking. Mom and dad bought a 32oz beer every Sunday to split. I remember when dad pulled the last pear off the pear tree and we ate it together.

Dad rode his bicycle to work or took a train when the weather was bad. I liked to go to my dad’s village at harvest time. I loved the smell of grapes, and my dad lived next to the local baker so it always smelled wonderful. My uncle was the town barber, and my grandpa was a wagon wheel repairman. Dad became a tool and die maker since wagons were a thing of the past.

Next time: Steve’s story continues- The Bauer family’s political problems and escape to America

 

Iconic Los Angeles Spaces

January 15, 2017

On a recent Los Angeles visit, I stopped by some of my favorite locations from Yours in a Hurry. Some buildings still stand; others are gone. But all are early California icons. I’ve added quotes from the book to explain why.

The Hollywood Hotel

“Anna could see why the Hollywood Hotel was Ida’s favorite place to lunch. Small, round white-clothed covered tables filled the room. Ferns hung from the ceiling along with round, globed chandeliers. Rather modern, she thought. Windows at two levels, some showing the street, and smaller ones near the ceiling disseminated light throughout the rooms. A fresh flower bouquet adorned each table.”

 

The Hollywood Hotel opened in December 1902. It was built along the electric trolley route on the west side of Highland Avenue. The elegant Mission Revival style building fronted on unpaved Prospect Avenue. The hotel sat among lemon groves at the base of the Hollywood Hills. Prospect Avenue was renamed Hollywood Boulevard in in 1910.

In 1906 the heiress to the famous chocolate company, Almira Hershey, took a buggy ride to see the hotel that was being advertised. She was so impressed that she bought it. Soon the hotel expanded from 16 rooms to 250 and became well known. Beginning in the 1910's, legends and stars of the early movie industry stayed at the hotel, dined there, and congregated on the broad verandas. In 1922, Almira lost a breach of contract dispute with an employee and sold the hotel.

The Hollywood Hotel had fallen to disrepair by 1956 and was razed and replaced by a twelve-story office building for a bank, a shopping center, and parking lots. In 2001 those were demolished, and a shopping and entertainment complex was built on the site. including the Dolby Theater, the current home of the Academy Awards ceremony.

The Beverly Hills Hotel

“The grand opening of the Beverly Hills Hotel is the event of the season!” Ida said.

Anna, Ida and Philo attend the opening of the Beverly Hills Hotel in May of 1912. Opening invitations announced the property as situated “halfway between Los Angeles and the sea.”

Before Beverly Hills was a city, developer Burton Green bought land once owned by the Mexican government in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. He built a sprawling hotel in Mission Revival style on 12 acres, with white stucco exterior and terra cotta-colored roof tiles, and named it after Beverly Farms, his home in Massachusetts.

By 1914, Beverly Hills had attracted enough residents to incorporate as a city, and movie stars began building homes there, transforming the bean fields surrounding The Beverly Hills Hotel into prime real estate.

In 1995 the completely renovated Beverly Hills Hotel reopened. It’s still prime property—rooms start at $595 per night.

The Bungalow

"Aren't you glad you chose a bungalow?" Ida continued. "It's Frank Lloyd Wright's influence—such a wonderful blend of Oriental and the simple Arts and Crafts. It's a common dwelling in India, the Bangala, as the British call it.”

If you travel Los Angeles neighborhoods, you can still see many of the early bungalows. What’s a bungalow? The Hindi term literally means “of Bengal.” It refers to a one-storied house, usually surrounded by a veranda which, in warmer climates, allows a refreshing breeze. The Craftsman house type became popular in the United States during the first quarter of the 20th century, and Americans adapted it to their own tastes. Here it usually has one and a half stories, a widely- bracketed gable roof, and a multi-windowed dormer and a front porch.  

Examples like the photo (right) can be seen throughout Los Angeles in places like the Highland-Camrose Bungalow Village  or in the Historic District, South Los Angeles.

I still love the friendly look of a bungalow and am glad that in the 21st century it is becoming a popular style for cluster home developments.

The next time you visit Los Angeles and its Hollywood and Beverly Hills suburbs, think about the life Anna and the other Yours in a Hurry characters experienced there.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_Hotel

https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/los-angeles/the-beverly-hills-hotel/hotel-services/hotel-history/

Depression and Loss

December 30, 2016

"Purl saw a light in the parlor and entered. Anna was sitting on the sofa, motionless. Only a flicker from the oil lamp lighted the room. I can't go to the reunion today," she said. He looked down at her and placed his hands in his pockets, helpless that she should be so sad. So little had changed since May."

Whenever I stop to reflect on Anna Hartle's early life in Yours in a Hurry I am saddened by all of her losses and disappointments. A psychologist mentor of mine from the medical school I used to work for is very adept in many subjects, and he's often asked about grief and depression. I asked for his thoughts about Anna's many painful experiences.

A Reader's First Look

I was asked to comment on Ann Otto's historical novel, Yours in a Hurry. This story, or more accurately, these stories, take the reader in many directions…following the many adventures of three of the siblings of a family of eight, orphaned when their prosperous parents die suddenly. Three of the eight move to California after they come of age and live exciting, while very different lives. Addison, the author’s great-uncle, becomes an aviation pioneer; Purl, her grandfather, loses his inheritance and joins the military; but it is Anna’s life that is of most interest to me.

Loss Changes Us                      

As a psychologist, I recognize how melancholy haunted Anna throughout her life…and with just reason. Sadness, melancholy, and depression have as their roots, LOSS. And if the reader follows Anna’s life, she certainly experienced more than her share of loss: the most obvious of these are (p. 237) right after she witnesses Addison's death, and the chapter where she and Purl go back to Ohio for the family reunion starting (p. 255). Her losses/important life changes include: her parents death in 1901; her move to Los Angeles from a small village in 1908; her marriage in 1909 to a man who manipulates her; the loss of their child through adoption (1910); witnessing Addison's death (1911); and, the death of a younger sister and one of the aunts who raised them (1912).

Ann Otto explores these losses and how they impact her great aunt. We often try to hide the blemishes of family members who are long gone, but Ann realizes how important these issues are to her family's story.

Meet the Blog Contributor           

Dr. Glenn Saltzman is a retired professor and popular professional speaker. Please go to his website postings at www.drglenn.net which are both educational and entertaining.

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Hi Linda. I know Carolyn. Are you the person who was presenting on Clara in our area about one year ago? If you are ever around here, I'll try to attend. I'm not writing about Clara, but about another Ohio family of the same era (as you can see by the many posts about the book in my blogs) who left and went to California. Echo was nice enough to correspond with me. I used some ideas about how she set her book up to help me with mine.
Best,
Ann

Anne, I am Clara Wolcott Driscoll's 4th cousin (related to Carolyn Mackey in addition to a plethura of other Wolcotts across this country). And I do presentations about Clara - have done 87 of them so far in the past 8 years from upstate NY to Palm Beach. Someone said you were writing a book about Clara? Echo Heron and I are friends and she said she had communicated with you. Just curious what you are doing.

Yes, and I've seen her present. Also loved Girl With the Pearl Earring.

i see you like Tracy Chevalier. Have you read Remarkable Creatures? a historical novel about two women archaeologists.