Thursday, April 23, 2015

Early Menominee Lawyers

Menominee County Courthouse (1875)

Dear George,
There’s such an abundance of information available online about the early years of my hometown of Menominee and other Upper Peninsula Michigan communities.  Lately I’ve been interested in tracking down biographical information about Menominee’s lawyers from about 1850 to 1910.  My dad spent his career as a  lawyer in Menominee, and several of his good friends stemmed from family lines that went back two or three generations of lawyers locally. 

The times were so drastically different in the 1800’s, and consequently people’s lives were drastically different too.  In 1850 the area that was to become Menominee and Marinette was largely a wilderness.  The Menominee River logging industry was just getting its start.  The first frame house in what was to later become the village of Menominee was constructed in 1852.  In 1859, when Eleazor S. Ingalls, Menominee’s first lawyer, settled across the river in Menekaunee, the population of Menominee County was only 500 people, most of them men working in logging camps.  By the 1890’s, however, Menominee and Marinette had become the world’s largest logging center, and Menominee County’s population had grown to over 25,000.  As you’ll see from the biographical information below, Menominee’s early lawyers played significant roles in the community’s growth.

I think that I’ve identified most or all of the lawyers that practiced in Menominee between 1860 and about 1900.  For some there’s very little information available, and for others there’s a lot.  Alvah Littlefield Sawyer’s comprehensive work, “A History of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan and its People” (1911) is a particularly rich source, as is the “Memorial Record of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan” (1895), published by the Lewis Publishing Company of Chicago.  I’ve provided summaries for the various individual lawyers, but there are often further details available in the original references (see numbers in parentheses for sources listed at end). 

Judge Ingalls

Judge Eleazer S. Ingalls
Eleazer Stillman Ingalls was the first lawyer in Menominee County.  He was born at Nashua, New Hampshire in 1820.  At age 18 he left New Hampshire for Chicago, driving by ox team and accompanied by another teenager.  Ingalls settled at Antioch, Illinois, where his father was a farmer.  Eleazer learned blacksmithing in Nashua and studied law, eventually entering practice in Antioch.  He married his childhood sweetheart, Martha Maria Person, in 1844, and they subsequently had three boys and five girls.  Only three survived to 1911 including Mrs. Alvah L. Sawyer of Menominee.  The same year that he married, Ingalls, at age 24, founded one of the earliest newspapers in the Midwest, “The Prairie Hen, Jericho Jingle, Land of Nod Loophole and Antioch Pill.”  It sold for $1.50 per year.  In 1850 Judge Ingalls organized a caravan and crossed the plains with a caravan of four horse teams to California.  After two years there he returned east with a plan of bringing his family back to the Gold Rush.  However, he changed his mind, and in 1859 he arrived at the Menominee River on the steamer Fannie Fisk, pitched his tent in Menekaunee on the Wisconsin side of the river, and after a few days was “fully satisfied that Menominee had a bright future” (Ingalls, 1876).  In 1862 he moved across the river to Menominee, built a small house in the woods that was later to become the village, and quickly became a prominent member of the community.  Menominee County had a total population of 496 persons in 1863, most of them engaged in logging and living in logging camps.  There was an effort to establish a county seat a few miles from Menominee and have the county known as County Bleeker.  Ingalls was sent to Lansing, and he vigorously fought and defeated this attempt, establishing Menominee as the county name.  The original town of Menominee was the size of the state of Rhode Island, sixty-one miles long and thirty miles wide.  Ingalls was the first Judge of Probate in the new county, serving in this position for several years.  He also started the Menominee Herald in 1863 (later the Herald-Leader) and was its first editor,  the early issues being printed with a hand press.  Ingalls was active in railroad construction interests, and he secured a contract from the state to build the Green Bay and Bay De Noc State road within Menominee County.  He was instrumental in obtaining state funding for the first bridge across the Menominee River.  Ingalls built and operated two saw-mills on the Menominee River, both of which were destroyed by the Peshtigo Fire in 1871, and he played a major role in extending the Menominee branch railroad to the Iron Range.  Shipments of iron ore were begun in 1878.  Judge Ingalls was a member of the Constitutional Convention of Michigan and was a Representative in the State Legislature.   According to his biography, Judge Ingalls "was very widely known and universally respected."  Ingalls wrote a history of Menominee County called “Centennial History: and published in 1876.  He died in Menominee on Nov. 1,1879, at the relatively young age of 59, and is buried in Riverside Cemetery.  The community of Ingalls in Menominee County is named after him.  Judge Ingalls’ daughter Josephine, who married Alvah Littlefield Sawyer, was the grandmother of my father’s Menominee law partner, Richard A. Sawyer.  (3, 6, 8, 11, 14)

Thomas B. Rice
Thomas Rice was the second lawyer to come to Menominee.  He was born in Franklin County, Vermont, in 1842,  He began his legal studies in Glens Falls, N.Y., in 1858, and he graduated from the Albany University Law School on March 4, 1864.  He conducted a law practice in Morris, Ill., for two years, then practiced in Aurora for two years, and as a clerk in the Chicago law office of Higgins, Swett & Quigg for three years.  In 1871 Rice came to Menominee, where he established his practice in the Post Office Block on Main Street.  Rice was the Menominee Prosecuting Attorney for four years and then Judge of the Probate Court for eight or more years.  (4) 

Benjamin J. Brown, Prosecuting Attorney
Benjamin Brown was born on July 8, 1833, at Mt. Vernon, Ohio. His grandfather was a builder of the Ohio canal.  His father, Benjamin S. Brown, was an eminent lawyer and highly regarded orator who was a partner of a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Brown was educated at the Sloan Academy in Mt. Vernon, spent a year at Kenyon College, and was admitted to the practice of law by the Supreme Court of Illinois in 1855.  After stints in Chicago, Green Bay, and Oconto, he moved to Saginaw and joined the Michigan Bar.  He and Eliza Hart of Oconto married in 1862, and the couple had seven children.  Brown came to Menominee in 1873 where he spent the major part of his professional life.  As of 1876, his office was on Brown’s Block at the corner of Main and Quimby Streets.  Brown was a leading member of the bar in Menominee County and was well known throughout the Upper Peninsula.  He served as City Attorney of Green Bay and Prosecuting Attorney for Menominee County.  He took many cases to the Michigan Supreme Court where he was deeply respected.  Brown died at Menominee on Jan. 9, 1905.  His lawyer biographer says, "Resolved, that the Bar of Menominee County, whose members have been associated with Mr. Brown so long and so pleasantly in the labors of the profession, and in the duties and responsibilities of a common citizenship, and who from their association with him have learned to respect, admire and love him, deploring his loss."  (6, 13)

William A. Franklin
William Franklin came to Menominee in March of 1876, and he and E.S. Ingalls formed a partnership that year.  The Ingalls and Franklin law office was located on Main Street near Ogden Avenue.  (11)

Lewis D. Eastman
Lewis D. Eastman was born on Oct. 18, 1851, in Lisbon, New York, one of nine children of Reverend Morgan L. and Hester (Thorpe) Eastman.  Rev. Morgan's family was of English origin and traced back to the colonial days in New England.  The family moved to Royalston, Wisconsin, in 1868, where Lewis continued his education in the public schools.  He graduated with his Bachelor of Laws degree from Northwestern University in 1888 and was admitted to the bar.  He moved to Menominee in 1889 where he served four terms as city attorney.  He was appointed circuit-court commissioner and completed two terms in that office.  A. L. Sawyer (1911) observes that Eastman "has gained a high reputation as a trial lawyer and as a counsellor well fortified in the minutiae of the science of jurisprudence."   Eastman married Clara Baker of Trumbull, Ohio, and, as of 1911, they had three children, Evelyne, Sidney L., and Alice May.  Eastman died on Aug. 11, 1927, and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Lowell, Michigan.  (14)

John Lane Buell
John Lane Buell was born to Ann and George Buell at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, just outside of Cincinnati, on Oct. 12, 1836.  He studied in the Lawrenceburg public schools, then attended the Norwich Military Institute in Vermont for two years.  He moved to Leavenworth, Kansas in 1857 and was one of a small band of youth that were the first from there to travel overland for Colorado.  The group settled on the Platte River, near the present site of Denver, and Buell surveyed and platted the present city of Boulder, then engaged in mining at the present site of Leadville.  In 1860 Buell travelled to New Mexico, then to Texas which had seceded from the union.  Escaping by night, Buell reached the gulf and travelled by ship to New York City.  In August 1861 he was appointed a second lieutenant in the U.S. Infantry, stationed at Fort Columbus, New York.  He took part  in the second battle at Bull Run and had command of two companies at Antietam.   He lost 13 of 27 men to rebel fire.  After Antietam Buell resigned from the army and returned to Lawrenceburg, serving in the Indiana militia.  He entered Harvard College in 1863, studying law for six months, then returned to Lawrenceburg where he married Ruth B. Ludlow, the granddaughter of the first sheriff of Hamilton County.  Because of ill health, Mr. Buell sought a change of climate and moved to Menominee in 1866.  He practiced law for five years in Menominee as opportunity allowed, operated the Jones mill on the Green Bay shore, farmed, and published the Menominee Journal.   In 1871 Buell visited the area later known as the Menominee Range and was the first person to discover iron ore there, naming it the Quinnesec Mine.  Buell founded the village of Quinnesec and served as its postmaster, being paid about $300 a year.  He was elected to the state legislature in 1872, serving as the representative from Menominee, Delta, Schoolcraft, and Chippewa counties for two years.   He introduced the first ten-hour labor bill ever submitted, as well as the Marquette and Mackinaw Railroad bill.  John Buell died at home on Oct. 24, 1916, at Quinnesec in Dickinson County in the U.P. (2, 14)

W. H. Phillips

William H. Phillips
W. H. Phillips was born in Lenawee County in southeastern Michigan, on Aug. 7, 1839.  He worked on his father’s farm there until age 21.  As a young child he walked a mile and a half through the woods to a little log schoolhouse where he sat on a crude slab bench to do his lessons.  In 1860 he went to Oak Grove academy where he rang the bell and swept the building to pay his tuition.  He studied science at Adrian College for two years and studied law in his spare time.  Phillips and Amy R. BeDell married in 1867, and the couple had two children, Etta and Harry.  Phillips continued his studies in a law office in Adrian and was admitted to the Michigan Bar in 1879.  After practicing for a year in Adrian, he moved to Menominee and became partners with local lawyers named Weter and Thompson.  After three years, he practiced alone.  In 1882 Phillips was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Menominee County, and in 1888 he was elected to a three-year term as City Attorney.  In 1894 Phillips was again elected Prosecuting Attorney.  He was also a member and Treasurer of the Menominee School Board and President of the Menominee Gas Light & Fuel Company.  The family were members of the Presbyterian Church, and Phillips was one of the most prominent Masons in the state, serving as the first King and as High Priest of the Menominee Chapter for three years.   His biographer notes, “Few citizens of Menominee are better known or more highly respected than is W. H. Phillips.”  Phillips died on Feb. 13, 1906, and is buried in Riverside Cemetery.  (2, 6)

Byron Sylvester Waite
Byron S. Waite was born at Penfield in Monroe County, New York, on Sept. 27, 1852.  His ancestors had settled in Massachusetts from England during the colonial period.  The family moved to Livingston County in Michigan 1n 1856, and Byron grew up there, doing farm work and attending the public schools.  He graduated from the Baptist Seminary at age 18, then was the principal of public schools at Rochester, Michigan, saving money for college.  He entered the Literary Department at the University of Michigan in 1876 and graduated with his B.A. in 1880.  He sawo attended Law School lectures and read the required textbooks.  Waite was admitted to the Bar at Ann Arbor in 1879.  He became a junior partner in a law from in 1881 in Wayne County, then moved to Menominee a year later and became joined a partnership with Alvah Littlefield Sawyer in the firm Sawyer & Waite.  Sawyer & Waite was the largest and most lucrative law firm in Menominee at the time, and they argued important cases at the Supreme Court of Michigan.  Waite was Circuit Court Commissioner and United States Commissioner at Menominee in 1884-85, and he was elected as Menominee County's representative to the State Legislature in 1888.  He was highly popular and regarded as an important leader in the Legislature.  His partnership with Sawyer continued for thirteen years until 1895, whereupon Waite accepted a position as Assistant Prosecuting Attorney of Wayne County and moved to Detroit.  He was a Circuit Judge from 1898 to 1900, and, appointed by Theodore Roosevelt, was a judge for the United States Custom Court from 1926 to 1930.   One of his judicial colleagues wrote: "Byron S. Waite is considered one of the brightest lawyers that ever practised in the Northern Peninsula...As a citizen he is public-spirited, and while at Menominee was constantly endeavoring to advance the interests of that city."  Byron Waite died at home in Yonkers, New York, on Dec. 31, 1930.  (9, 13)

A. L. Sawyer

Alvah Littlefield Sawyer
The first American representatives of the Sawyer family arrived from Birmingham, England, in 1648, initially settling in Massachusetts.  Alvah Sawyer’s father Hiram and his wife Barbara moved from New Hampshire to Dodge County, Wisconsin, in 1845, becoming among the earliest pioneers in the area.  Hiram Sawyer was a farmer and elected member of the Wisconsin legislature.  They had twelve children, including three who came to live in Menominee: Mary S. Childs, Ransom, and Alvah (the fourth son).  Alvah studied law in his brother's office at Hartford, Wis., was admitted to the bar in 1877, and came to Menominee in 1878 to practice in the office of Judge E.S. Ingalls.  Sawyer married Miss Josephine S. Ingalls, daughter of Judge Ingalls, on Apr. 13, 1880.  The Sawyers had five children: Kenneth I., Gladys, Meredith, Wilda, and Irma.  Sawyer and Byron S. Waite established a partnership in 1882, and, with the addition of W. F. Waite, the firm expanded to Sawyer, Waite & Waite in 1893.  When Menominee was incorporated as a city in 1893, Sawyer was elected city attorney, a position he held for five years.  Sawyer was also a member of the Menominee school board, president of the Spies Library Board, chairman of the Democratic county committee, secretary of the Shuswap Lumber Co., was involved in U.P. mining operations, in farming, and was an expert horticulturist with a passion for flowers.   Sawyer authored the three volumes of “The Northern Peninsula,” a comprehensive history of the U.P., and his wife Josephine, a prolific writer in her own right, collaborated with him on those works.  G. I. Reed (1897) wrote: "Mr. Sawyer is a man loyal to all community in which he lives, enterprising and active in support of all measures of a character to advance the general interests and welfare...His beautiful home (at 1701 State St.) is adorned with works of art and furnished with one of the finest private libraries in Northern Michigan...His wife joins him in the entertainment of friends and the exercise of a liberal hospitality."  Alvah Sawyer died in Menominee on Feb. 5, 1925, and he is buried in Riverside Cemetery.  Alvah Sawyer was the paternal grandfather of my father’s Menominee law partner, Richard A. Sawyer.  (2, 6, 8, 13)

Michael J. Doyle
Michael J. Doyle was born in Memphis, Tennesse, on Oct. 1, 1854, the son and only child of William and Bridget Doyle, both natives of Ireland.  William Doyle, a contractor,  died at 32, and Bridget Doyle died in childbirth at 28.  Michael studied at De LaSalle Institute and Osgoode Hall in Toronto, graduating from the latter with his Bachelor of Law in 1879.  He first practiced in Detroit (1879-1887), then moved to Sault Ste. Marie (1887-91), Iron Mountain 1891-94), Menominee (1894-97), and Green Bay (1897-1903).  He represented the Chippewa District in the Michigan state House of Representatives in 1891-92.  He returned to Menominee in 1903.  He was elected prosecuting attorney of Menominee County and served for two terms (1906-1910).  He was chosen as chairman of the state Democratic party in 1909, and he was elected Mayor of Menominee in 1918.  He was also president of the Menominee school board for two terms, custodian of alien property in northern Michigan, city attorney for Menominee and Iron Mountain, and supervisor of the U.S. census for Michigan’s twelfth district.    He was a candidate for state Supreme Court justice in 1922 and for Lieutenant Governor of Michigan in 1924.  Doyle married Marie Benedicta Fitzpatrick of Hamilton, Ontario, in 1880, and they were the parents of seven children: Helen, Gerald, Gladys, Kenneth, Thurman, Wilford, and Meredith.  A talented author, Doyle published two works of fiction, "Swan Swanson" (1895) and "John Poorfellow" (1898).  Michael Doyle died from heart disease at his home in Menominee on July 2, 1928, and is interred at Riverside Cemetery.  Doyle’s sons Kenneth, Thurman, and Meredith were Menominee attorneys when my father began his practice there and were colleagues for several decades.  Michael J. Doyle was the maternal grandfather of my parents’ close friend, Menominee attorney and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael Daniel O’Hara.  (7, 8, 10, 12, 14)

Fabian Joseph Trudell
Fabian J. Trudell was born in Green Bay, Wisc., on Dec. 29, 1859, the youngest of ten children of Olive and Theodulph Trudell.  The family moved to Menominee about 1869, and Fabian attended the public schools there.  He worked as a printer for the Menominee Herald from 1875 to 1878, sold farm implements in Minnesota for one year, and worked for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Co.  Having taken up law studies, he returned to his parents' home in Menominee and entered the law office of William H. Phillips.  He then graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Michigan in 1884, was admitted to the state bar, and became the first attorney in Iron Mountain.  He became city attorney there, played a central role in the incorporation of the village and the city, was Dickinson County's first prosecuting attorney, and was elected to two terms as mayor of Iron Mountain.  In 1898 Trudell returned to Menominee, forming a partnership with Benjamin J. Brown.  He married Mary Josephine Foster of Pennsylvania in 1889, and the couple had two daughters, Olive and Margaret.  A.L. Sawyer, wrote of Trudell, "He controls a large and representative practice and is distinctively one of the leading members of the bar of this section of the state.  Trudell was appointed Menominee's city attorney in 1907.  He died in 1945 and is buried at Riverside Cemetery   (14)

William F. Waite
William Fuller Waite was born in Tyrone, Michigan, in Livingston County on Aug. 4, 1860, the sixth in a family of seven children.   The family, of English descent, had settled in Massachusetts well before the Revolutionary War.  Waite attended school in the winter but worked on the family farm the rest of the year.  He received his higher education in the Literary Department of the University of Michigan, attending law lectures as well.  He was admitted to the bar at Howell, Mich., on Jan. 18, 1888, and, after prospecting for a while, he located as Escanaba where he practiced law until April 13, 1893.  He then moved his practice to Menominee where he joined the firm of Alvah Littlefield Sawyer and his older brother Byron S. Waite, the firm name becoming Sawyer, Waite & Waite.    He served as Prosecuting Attorney of Menominee County and then as judge of the Municipal Court of the city of Menominee.  Waite married Miss Helen Osgood of Ann Arbor on Jan. 15, 1891, and the couple had two sons, Leslie Osgood and Gordon Tarbell.  Mrs. Waite was the class poet at Michigan.  According to one biographical statement (13), William Waite "has the care, the application, the disposition and natural ability essential to success."  Waite died at Menominee on Oct. 21, 1918.  (13, 14)

John Michael Opsahl
John M. Opsahl was born in Christiania, Norway, on Feb. 7, 1863, the son of Michael C. and Louise C. Opsahl.  The father moved to Menominee in 1870, and Opsahl, his sister Agens, and his mother joined Mr. Opsahl in 1872.  John Opsahl attended public schools in Menominee, earned a Bachelor of Philosophy degree at the University of Michigan, and matriculated in the department of law there as well.  He was admitted to the state bar in 1886 and returned to Menominee to begin his law practice.  Specializing in real-estate and commercial law, Opsahl's Main Street office was  "one of the finest and best equipped offices north of Milwaukee" (Memorial Record, 1895).  In 1903 Opsahl married Anna Hansen, and the couple resided on Ogden Avenue.   Opsahl was elected Circuit Court Commissioner for Menominee, justice of the peace, and municipal judge.  He was also secretary and treasurer of the Menominee Land & Investment Co., an organizer of the Menominee Electric & Mechanical Co., and U.S. Commissioner for the Western District of Michigan.  He was one of the founders of Menominee's first military organization, the Third Regiment of Michigan State Troops, in which he served from 1885 to 1887.  He also organized the benevolent association, "Sons of the North," to assist fellow Scandinavians and was a prominent member of the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Uniform Rank.  Opsahl died in 1925 in Contra Costa, California.  (6, 14)
George Barstow
George Barstow of Stephenson, Mich., was born on Sept. 6, 1882, in Algoma, Wisconsin, the third of ten children of blacksmith Adolph Barstow, a Hungarian immigrant, and his wife Margaret.  Adolph Barstow came to Menominee County in 1886, establishing his blacksmith trade there.  George spent his summers as a teenager in pound-net fishing, received LL.B. degrees in 1905 from Valparaiso University and in 1906 from the Detroit College of Law, practiced in Detroit and was admitted to the bar in 1906, and located in Stephenson in Menominee County in 1907.  According to A. L. Sawyer's (1911) account, he "is fast winning for himself a lucrative practice and an honorable name in the legal profession."  Barstow married Bessie Woessner of Stephenson in 1909.  He moved to Menominee in 1917, joining the firm of Doyle and Barstow.  Among other clients, Doyle and Barstow were attorneys for the Bank of Stephenson, the Daggett State Bank, and the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.  According to A.L. Sawyer, "Politically Mr. Barstow is a sound Republican, and fraternally he belongs to the Menominee Lodge of Knights of Pythias."  George Barstow died in 1960.   He and his wife were the parents of Menominee lawyer Steven Barstow, one of my father's friends and contemporaries, and it turns out that the legal management of our family property in Menominee County continues to be done by the firm founded in 1925 by George Barstow. (1, 14)

(1) _____.  The American  Bar.  J. C. Fifield Co., 1921. 
(2) _____.  Find a Grave, “John Lane Buell,” “William H. Phillips,” “Alvah Littlefield Sawyer”. 
(3) _____.  The genealogy and history of the Ingalls family in America. 
(4) _____.  History of Northern Wisconsin, Containing an Account of Its Settlement, growth, development, and resources.  Chicago: Western Historical Co., 1881.  (Menominee, pp. 601-611, with history and short biographies.)
(5) _____.  The Ingalls Inquirer, “Ingalls in America.”
(6) _____.  Memorial Record of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan, Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1895.
(7) _____.  Michigan Biographies, Including Members of Congress. 
(8) _____.  Political Graveyard, “Doyle family of Michigan.”
(9) _____.  Wikipedia, “Byron Sylvester Waite.”
(10) Burton, C.M., Stocking, V., & Miller, G.K. (eds.), “The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, Vol. 4. 
(11) Ingalls, Eleazer S. (1820-1879) Centennial History of Menominee County.  Menominee, Mich.: Herald Power Presses, 1876.
(12) Moore, Charles (1855-1942).  The History of Michigan.  Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1915.
(13) Reed, George Irving [Ed.], Bench and Bar of Michigan: A Volume of History and Biography. Chicago: Century Pub. and Engraving Co., 1897. 
(14) Sawyer, Alvah Littlefield. A History of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan and its People.  Chicago: 1911.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Findlay Market

Dear George,
My sister-in-law Ami recently came to visit from New York City.  Though time went by too quickly, we had lots of fun.  Among our many excursions we went to Findlay Market, Cincinnati’s largest outdoor food market.  We haven’t been there for a while, though we’ve gone many times over the years.  It’s always an adventure.  People come from all over the city – poor and rich, white and black, young and old, suburbanites and inner city residents.  The indoor market has great booths -- fish, meat, cheese, bread and pastries, and other staples.  The vegetable and flower merchants are mostly outdoors, and they’re joined by a wide variety of artisans.

Findlay Market was built 163 years ago in 1852.*  It's the oldest surviving municipal market house in the state of Ohio.  It gets its name from General James Findlay (1770-1835), a former mayor of Cincinnati, and his wife Jane Irwin Findlay (1769-1851).  The Findlay estate donated the land to the city shortly after Jane’s death.  By the time of the Civil War the city of Cincinnati was operating nine municipal markets, but Findlay is the only one of the nine remaining today. 

Originally Findlay Market was an open air pavilion.  However, because of urban pollution and health concerns, the enclosed market house was constructed in the early 1900's, and plumbing and refrigeration were added.  The market underwent a major renovation in 1973-74, then was renovated and expanded again in 2002-03.  I’ve been meaning for some time to take photos at Findlay Market.  Here are some from our recent trip.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks

Dear George,
The task in our Poetry Writing Workshop this week was to write a poem about a famous work of art.  It didn't take me too long to settle on Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.  It's mysterious, open to multiple interpretations, and conducive to story-telling.  Hopper finished the painting in January 1942.  He was 59 at the time.  His wife Jo was the model for the woman, and Hopper, using a mirror, was the model for both men.  Hopper's long-time studio was on Washington Square in Greenwich Village, and he said that he used a diner on Greenwich Avenue where two streets merge as the inspiration for the picture.  Nobody’s been able to pinpoint the exact location.  Jo created the title for the painting (originally "Night Hawks"), and her notes suggest the name was connected to the beak-like nose of the man in the painting.  Hopper sold the painting to the Chicago Art Institute for $3,000, and it's still there today.  I guess it's now worth a few hundred million.  I can see why.  Here's the current version of my poem.


The city streets were empty and dark
Twelve thirty on a Saturday night
Joe’s Diner was brightly lit but stark
A refuge for night hawks in flight

Three customers lingered at this late hour
A lone man and a middle-aged pair
The woman and man looked brittle and dour
Her scarlet red dress matched her hair

The couple had come from the late late show
They’d seen Joan Fontaine at the Strand
The woman’s tears had continued to flow
The man found it hard to withstand

The diner would prove the end of their date
But neither could find much to say
She picked at her food but she barely ate
They had waited so long for this day

The stranger watched the two from afar
His wife had died five years before
He knew what grief and loneliness are
Surviving each day was a chore

The counterman offered them cherry pie
He hoped that they’d leave, then he’d close
The man just shook his head with a sigh
The woman was immersed in her woes

They were married for thirteen up and down years
But now they’d been six months apart
Coming together renewed all their fears
They both knew they’d never restart

Joe’s Diner was a suitable place to end
It symbolized their loss and their plight
There might come a time when they could be a friend
But for now these hawks vanished in the night

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Movie Queens of the Forties

Dear George,
We’ve always been ardent movie fans.  I’m going to guess that, between theater showings and TV reruns, I’ve seen about 5,000 movies in my life.  Movies provide us with culturally meaningful depictions of the world, and, in doing so, they incorporate subtle and not-so-subtle messages about how societal members should and should not think and behave.  Over the years, I’ve become convinced that the most pervasive themes in movies have to do with gender roles and relationships.  Movies teach children and adults constant lessons about what women and men “ought to be like” in terms of cultural norms.   By and large, most Hollywood creations draw upon and reinforce traditional stereotypes and, by contemporary standards, are blatantly sexist.  Thus, when we think of legendary male movie stars over the years (e.g., Brando, Cagney, Clark Gable, Bogart, Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood), we think of characters who embody so-called “masculine” traits of power, independence, courage, capacity for aggression, and emotional control.  In particular, men spend a lot of time killing one another.  Female actors are more likely to play subordinate roles as love and/or sexual objects for the male hero.  For the most part, legendary cinema actresses (e.g., Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Sophia Loren) were physically beautiful, sexually appealing, and played romantic partners to their dominant male counterparts.  It’s hard to over-estimate the impact of these media images on our ways of viewing the world.  I’m often struck that I’ve spent more time over the years, at least symbolically, with Johnny Carson, Joan Rivers, John McEnroe, Elizabeth Taylor, etc., than with most friends or family members.  We can still see plenty of traditional gender roles when we go to the Cineplex in 2015, but stereotypes were more blatant in Hollywood pictures in my youth in the 1940’s.  I do have to admit that my heart still speeds up when I see a photo of Lana Turner or Rita Hayworth.  Here are some of the most popular Hollywood actresses from those bygone days.  They led extraordinary and often tragic lives.  

Lana Turner
Lana Turner (nee Julia Jean Turner) was born in Idaho in 1921 to an Alabama miner and his 16-year-old wife.  Her father was murdered after a craps game when she was 9, and her mother worked 80 hours a week as a beautician in L.A. to support them.  According to legend, Turner was discovered at age 16 when she skipped her Hollywood High School typing class to get a coke at the Top Hat Malt Shop on Sunset Boulevard.  She soon became a glamorous star in teen-oriented films.  The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) provided Turner’s breakthrough role, and she followed it with big successes in Homecoming (1948), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), The Merry Widow (1952), Peyton Place (1957), and Imitation of Life (1959).  Lana Turner was married 8 times to 7 different husbands, including bandleader Artie Shaw and actor Lex Barker (Tarzan).  She had a long struggle with alcoholism.   She became lovers with L.A. gangster Johnny Stompanato in 1957, and her 14-year-old daughter Cheryl Crane killed Stompanato with a kitchen knife during a violent argument between the couple.  Turner died of throat cancer in 1995, leaving the majority of her estate to her long-time maid and companion, Carmen Lopez Cruz.

Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth (Margarita Carmen Cansino) was born in Brooklyn in 1918.  Her paternal grandfather and her father were Spanish dancers, and her mother performed with the Ziegfeld Follies.  Rita was seen dancing in her father's stage act at age 12 by a Fox executive which led to her film debut at 16.  Following a series of minor roles, her dancing with Fred Astaire in You'll Never Get Rich (1941) made her a star.  Gilda in 1946, which featured Hayworth's legendary one-glove strip tease, made her a superstar and, along with Betty Grable, one of Hollywood's most popular actresses and "pin-up girls" of the war years.  Hayworth appeared on the cover of Life Magazine five times, and an image of her face and the name Gilda were glued onto an atomic bomb dropped on the Bikini Atoll during a test in 1946.   Hayward married and divorced five times, her spouses including Orson Welles, Prince Aly Khan, and singer Dick Haymes.  Having struggled with alcohol throughout her life, Hayworth died from Alzheimer's disease in 1987. 

Betty Grable
Elizabeth Ruth Grable was born in St. Louis in 1916.  Her mother, determined to make her daughter a star, enrolled her in dancing school at age 3 and moved with her to Hollywood when Betty was 13.  Lying about her daughter’s age, the mother obtained minor movie roles for her in 1929 and 1930, but it wasn't until Down Argentine Way (1940), Sweet Rosie O’Grady (1943), and Coney Island (1943) that Betty Grable became a star.  She was the most famous pinup girl of World War II, as well as the highest paid movie star in America at $300,000 a year.  Her famous pinup pose, in a bathing suit with her back to the camera, was taken that way because she was pregnant.  Her legs were insured with Lloyds of London for a million dollars.  Grable divorced band leader Harry James in 1965 after 22 years of marriage.  Reflecting on her career, Gable said, "I'm a song-and-dance girl.  I can act enough to get by.  But that's the limit of my talents."  Centered on her family, her life was devoid of the scandals that plagued many Hollywood stars of the times, and she died of lung cancer in 1973.  

Dorothy Lamour
Dorothy Lamour (nee Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton) was born in New Orleans in 1914.  Lamour quit school at 14 and worked as a secretary to support her mother and herself.  After winning a beauty contest as Miss New Orleans in 1931, she moved to Chicago to become a professional singer.  After a stint as a department store elevator operator, she joined Herbie Kay's band as a vocalist and also performed with Rudy Vallee and Eddie Duchin.  Moving to Hollywood in 1936, Lamour played a couple of minor roles before gaining stardom in The Jungle Princess (1936).  Her wrap-around sarong was a big hit, and she repeated it in the highly successful Bob Hope/Bing Crosby "Road" comedies for Paramount (e.g., Road to Singapore, 1940).  A highly popular pinup girl during the war, Lamour earned the nickname "The Bombshell of Bombs" because of her success in selling U.S. government war bonds to the public. Lamour sang in many of her films and introduced numerous standards, including "The Moon of Manakoora" and "I Remember You."  She was married to Herbie Kay and later to advertising executive William Ross Howard III.  She reportedly had a brief affair with J. Edgar Hoover.  Lamour’s last film was Creepshow in 1987, and she died in L.A. in 1996.  

Gene Tierney
Gene Tierney was born in Brooklyn in 1920, the daughter of a very successful insurance broker and a former teacher.  She had a lavish childhood, was educated at the finest schools on the East Coast, and her father set up a corporation to promote her theatrical pursuits.  Performing on Broadway by age 18, Darryl F. Zanuck spotted her in a stage performance and signed Tierney to a contract with 20th Century Fox.  She was nominated for a Best Actress Ocar for her role in Leave Her to Heaven (1945), and she followed that with an outstanding performance in The Razor's Edge (1946).  Her best-known role was as murder victim Laura Hunt in Otto Preminger's Laura (1944).  The pressures of a failed marriage, the birth of a mentally retarded child, and several failed love affairs, including liaisons with John F. Kennedy and Prince Aly Khan, resulted in Tierney being hospitalized for depression and receiving extensive electric shock treatment.  She was talked down from jumping from a building ledge on Xmas Day in 1957.  Having begun smoking to lower her voice in her early career, she died of emphysema in Houston in 1991.

Veronica Lake
Veronica Lake (nee Constance Frances Marie Ockelman) was born in Brooklyn in 1922.  Her father, an oil company ship worker, was killed in an explosion when she was 10.  Her mother and stepfather moved to Beverly Hills in 1938, enrolling her in an acting school, and Lake had a bit part in her first movie, Sorority House, in 1939.  Lake's breakthrough film was I Wanted Wings in 1941, and by 1942 she had top billing as Ellen Graham in This Gun for Hire.  Paired with Alan Ladd because they were both short, the two made four films together.  A World War II pinup queen, her "peek a boo" hairstyle became highly popular (though she changed it because the style endangered the hair of female workers in the wartime armaments industry). Paramount miscast Lake in a series of weak movies in the mid-1940’s.  By the late 40's she was drinking heavily and residing in Skid Row hotels.  She was found working as a bartender in an old hotel in 1962.    Married and divorced four times, Lake died of hepatitis on July 7, 1973, at age 50 in Burlington, VT. 

Linda Darnell
Linda Darnell, one of five children of a postal clerk and his wife, was born in Dallas in 1923.  Beautiful as a child, she began modeling at age 11, claiming to be 16, and was acting in local theater at 13.  She became the youngest leading lady in Hollywood history at age 16 with Hotel for Women (1939), followed by starring roles with Tyrone Power in The Mark of Zorro (1940) and Blood and Sand (1941).  Other leading men included Jack Oakie, Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, and Cornel Wilde.  Critics praised her work in Forever Amber (1947), Unfaithfully Yours (1948), and A Letter to Three Wives (1949).  Darnell suffered from alcoholism throughout her career and was married and divorced three times.  She died at age 41 in a house fire in a Chicago suburb shortly after watching one of her earliest films, Star Dust, on TV.

Susan Hayward
Susan Hayward (nee Edythe Marrenner) was born in Brooklyn in 1917.  Growing up in poverty, she graduated from a commercial high school and intended to become a secretary, but her work as a part-time model in NYC led to a Hollywood screen test and a bit part in 1937.  She started receiving roles of more substance in the early 1940's and went on to receive five Academy Award nominations for Smash-Up (1947), My Foolish Heart (1949), With a Song in My Heart (1952), I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955), and her Oscar winner, I Want to Live! (1958).  Many experts regard the latter as one of the finest film performances of all time.  Hayward loved sport fishing and owned three ocean-going boats.  Her first marriage was turbulent, and she attempted suicide after divorcing.  She then married a former federal agent and lived with him in rural Alabama.  A two pack a day smoker with an alcohol habit, she died from brain cancer at age 57 in Hollywood.

Hedy Lamarr
Hedy Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in 1913 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, the only child of assimilated Jewish parents.  Her father was a successful bank director, and her mother was a pianist.  She began her career in Czech and German films, causing an international sensation when she appeared nude and simulated orgasm in Ecstasy (1933).  Married to a munitions manufacturer with ties to Hitler and Mussolini, Lamarr reportedly disguised herself as her own maid and fled to Paris.  Because of her notoriety, Louis B. Mayer cast her in a series of exotic adventure epics.  Many critics regard her as the most beautiful actress to ever appear in films.  Lamarr's biggest success was as the temptress in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (1949).  Lamarr was also a talented mathematician who co-invented an early technique for spread spectrum communications, a key to forms of wireless communication up to the present day.  After starring with Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy (1951), Lamarr's career went into decline. She married and divorced six times.  She retired to Florida where she died on Jan. 19, 2000.

POSTSCRIPT: This has been only a partial list.  Other prominent movie actresses of the 1940s included Lauren Bacall, Ava Gardner, Vivien Leigh, Joan Fontaine, Ingrid Bergman, Ginger Rogers, Jennifer Jones, Katharine Hepburn, Carole Landis, Lucille Ball, Ann Sheridan, Olivia de Havilland, Judy Garland, Jane Wyman, Ella Raines, Teresa Wright, Barbara Stanwyck, Margaret Sullivan, Bette Davis, Greer Garson, Joan Crawford, Maureen O’Hara, Loretta Young, Joan Leslie, Mary Astor, Claudette Colbert, and Jean Arthur.

SOURCES:  Wikipedia; IMDb (Internet Movie Data Base);