Oliver Hardy

Wacky Wednesday

PepBoys.jpg

Times change and, with the times, so do styles.  There are fashions that people wear today that they could have never gotten away with fifty or sixty years ago.  Heck, there was a time when a woman who exposed her ankles in a dress might have gotten her arrested. Now, wearing a dress is unusual!  Well, one style that has definitely gone in the other direction is men wearing facial hair.  During the 1990's, the goatee was the big thing.  Today, it's full beards.  Back in the 1920's, it was Chaplin mustaches, as worn by Emanuel Rosenfeld in his larger-than-life presentation as one of the Pep Boys, the yellow-shirted car mechanics who to this day adorn many of their garages across the country and, notably for us, welcome tram riders in our car display in the Toy Box.

Emanuel, affectionately known as Manny (as in Manny, Moe and Jack) has a close cropped "toothbrush mustache," cropped on the edges and only extended about two or three inches over the upper lip. This conservative style was first introduced in the United States in the late-19th century, a symbol of the rigidity of industrialization and uniformity (no, we here at the blog didn't make this up, someone else may have, though). It swept the nation and Europe, and became hugely popular after Charlie Chaplin and Oliver Hardy wore them in their comedic movies. Alas, the toothbrush mustache lost its popularity during World War II, because of the close association it had with another proud wearer of it:  Adolf Hitler.  Now, we don't recommend wearing one anymore.  Unless you have silly Coke-bottle glasses and wear a yellow shirt with a big "P" on it.  Then, maybe....

Laurel & Hardy - May 19, 2014

If you have had an opportunity to visit the American Treasure Tour, you probably have a good idea of just how many photographs and records are on display throughout the tour.  The "Faces of the Tour" series, on this blog, has gone into depth with the actors, musicians and athletes whose faces have been placed on plaques throughout the Toy Box.  There are still plenty more celebrities yet to come from that series, but today, we are going to diversify just a little, and discuss some of the images hanging in the Music Room.  Along with the record albums, there are hundreds of pictures of actors, including silent era film stars, men and women representing the golden age of film, and artists of today.  Don't worry about us, we have plenty to talk about!

Today, we are going to spend a little time with one of the most popular comedy duos between the late-1920s and the mid-1940s.  Englishman Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy from Midgeville, Georgia both had long resumes in front of the camera prior to joining forces in 1926.  Their first film as a duo, Putting Pants on Phillip, was released the next year.  Laurel had already been in over fifty films, Hardy in five times that.  The veteran comedians proved popular from the start, and they made over one hundred films together as well, including silents, short films, and twenty-three full length features. They tended to follow a formula:  dimwitted and innocent Laurel goofed up a project, which his pompous friend Hardy then tried to fix but often only intensified. The last film they starred in together was 1951's Atoll K.

QUESTION:

Which of the following is NOT a literal translation of foreign nicknames given to Laurel & Hardy?

a)  Flip and Flap

b)  Silly and Goofy

c)  The Whole and the Half

d)  Thick and Stupid

e)  Fat and Skinny

Answer Below

HISTORY TODAY:

There is simply not enough time in a school year for teachers to teach everything about American history.  We mention that because we do not want you to judge yourself too harshly if you have never heard of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.  It was ratified by the government of Mexico on this day in 1848, and it officially ended the Mexican-American War, very much in the favor of the United States.  In fact, Mexico gave up almost the same amount of land at the end of the war from 1846 to 1848 as Napoleon sold to the States in 1804 - for the same price.  The U.S. government paid out fifteen million dollars in both cases.  Of course, the dollar was probably worth less in 1848 than it would have been in 1804, and 1848 was also the year that gold was discovered in the newly-American California mountains....

From 1848 to 1884, big things happened on May 19th.  Today, five of the seven Ringling Brothers opened their own one-ring circus in Baraboo, Wisconsin with fellow performer Yankee Robinson.  Prior to today, they toured the state of Wisconsin doing juggling shows and skits. But now they quickly expanded and took their show on the road.  Robinson passed away the same year, so it was up to the brothers to keep things going, and they did!  By 1907, they were successful enough to buy up the Barnum & Bailey Circus. They merged the two twelve years later and the circus continues on to this day.

BIRTHDAYS:

We at the American Treasure Tour blog like answering riddles almost as much as we like asking them.  Today, we are going to tell you why our birthday honoree is named Johns Hopkins (rather than John Hopkins).  First, he was born in 1795 into a wealthy family.  In fact, he did quite well with the money and added substantially to it.  A devout Quaker, he used his wealth for many philanthropic causes, most notably founding a hospital, a university, a school of nursing, and a school of medicine.  The main stipulation he gave in founding these venerable institutions was that no person in need would ever be turned away based on their race or gender.  In 1873, that was an exceptional decision.  Oh, and Hopkins' great-grandmother's name was Margaret Johns.  She married a man named Gerard Hopkins.  Their son got the name Johns Hopkins, and he was named after his grandfather.  Mystery solved.

Another May 19th birthday call-out goes to journalist, essayist, writer, director and producer Nora Ephron.  Born in New York City in 1941, but transplanted to Beverly Hills as a young girl, Ephron was surrounded by creative people.  Her parents and siblings all dabbled in screenwriting, although hers arguably became the best-recognized name in the family.  She wrote the screenplays for many exceptional films - including Silkwood and When Harry Met Sally... before she moved behind the camera.  She directed some pretty famous movies, too, including Sleepless In Seattle, You've Got Mail and Julia, Julia, her last film before she passed away in 2012 from complications brought on by leukemia.

QUOTE:  Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. - Nora Ephron

Answer:  b)  Silly and Goofy.  People can be mean!