Radio in the Roaring 1920’s


Silent Movies didn’t start talking until 1927 when Warner Bros. released “The Jazz Singer.”  The film ran 89 minutes and grossed almost four million in the U.S. and another three million worldwide.



Radio, on the other hand, had been going strong for years.  By 1923, some three million Americans owned radios, although most of them were crystal sets with earphones.  Programming was mostly: baseball, news, music, and advertising.

Crystal Setscrysradio3



Pretty Girl

Sugar Foot

Five Foot Two

Henpecked Blues

[If you don’t have time to listen now, Bookmark this page on your Browser, and revisit sometime when you have fifteen minutes and a cup of coffee.]


Tube Radio Radio


In 1922, President Harding became the first President to be heard on radio.  It was not a political message but a dedication to the composer of the “Star Spangled Banner” Francis Scot Key.  The first political message came three years later from President Coolidge.


In 1927 radios started appearing in cars



The Marconi Transmitting Station, Marin County California

Marconi Bolinas Transmit Site 1913

In 1914, the stations in Bolinas (transmitting) and Marshall (receiving) could receive messages from New Jersey and retransmit them to Hawaii.

The novel Midnight Run 1932 fictitiously uses this facility in its bootlegging activities.


And last but not least, 



Al Capone’s 1928 Cadillac was equipped with a police band receiver.


Al Capones car

John Dillinger’s Last Movie

Johnnie was a lucky guy.  Two beautiful girls accompanied him to “Manhattan Melodrama” starring Clark Gable.


The price of admission was twenty-four cents but he threw down a dollar and had enough leftover for three sodas and a bag of popcorn.  Money was nothing to him.  In 1934, a doctor earned just over $3,000 a year, a department store model $900, and an airline pilot $8,000.  Congressmen made $8,663.  When he could find work, Johnnie received close to $2,000 a day after splitting with his co-workers.  It was dangerous work, but he loved it.

Johnnie’s  favorite girl, Billie, wasn’t available that night


so he took Polly

Polly Hamilton

and Ana.

Ana Cumpana

The movie started and the new hit song “Blue Moon” played.  Both girls snuggled down in their seats.  Polly rested her head on his shoulder and he gave her a kiss.  Ana put her hand on his knee.  Outside, it was a hot summer night but the theater advertised “refrigeration” and inside it was pleasant.

Ninety-three minutes later the movie ended and the house lights came up.  The movies goers leisurely made their way out of the theater into the warm night air.  The sidewalks were crowded with pedestrians window shopping or just taking a stroll.  Johnnie and his two ladies bumped shoulders as they left.  It was a romantic movie.  As they walked, three men fell in behind them.  The men were uncomfortably close within arms’ reach.  At the end of the block, two more men moved toward the trio.

Johnnie and the women turned toward the alley where four additional men waited.  Johnnie was shot in the back and fell face down.  He was shot three more times in the head.  Two were gutter wounds creasing his cheek, and one bullet went into the back of his skull and exited below his eye.  Overall, twenty-two men, mostly in pairs, had staked out the street in front of the theater and participated in the murder.  They were never prosecuted.

Footnote:  The Coroner’s Autopsy Report for Johnnie (aka John Dillinger) went missing for over fifty years.


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August 3, 1934:   “I am sending Agents a memorandum relating to the shooting of John Dillinger in Chicago Illinois on July 22, 1934 which summarizes the information in the Bureau’s files relating to the question of (1) whether Dillinger had a gun on his person at the time he was shot by Bureau Agents, and (2) relating to the instructions which were issued in the Chicago Office as to whether or not Dillinger should be taken dead or alive.”  Signed E.A. Tamm, Assistant to the Director J. Edgar Hoover.

S.F. Paddle Wheel Ferry circa mid 1930’s

The history of San Francisco Ferry service(s) began in the 1840’s (before the Gold Rush aka: 49’ers) and continued between San Francisco and Marin until the Golden Gate Bridge was opened in 1937.  The North Pacific Railroad ran the ferry line between San Francisco and rural Marin; but for many the history of San Francisco ferryboats is about Juanita Munson and Charles Van Damme.

Juanita Munson

Juanita Munson was a wild woman and Charles Van Damme was a very wealth man.  Juanita, according to some, was Sally Stanford’s sister.

Charles Van Damme was a self-made man who operated the Richmond San Rafael ferry.  Van Damme was born in Little River, and the Van Damme State Park in Mendocino is named after him.  He probably never met Juanita, but their names are linked because of the Charles Van Damme Ferryboat.

VD ferry 1

Built in 1916, the Van Damme was a sidewheel ferry used to transport cars, cattle, and people between Richmond and San Rafael before it was beached in Sausalito and became the home of  “Juanita’s Galley.”

J Galley

J Galley 2Juanita a little bit older but still having fun.

The Galley was loved by all, including the highly acclaimed San Francisco restaurant critic Herb Caen.  Patrons included: “The Hell’s AngelsRobert MitchumSterling HaydenJoseph CottenNoel Coward and other celebrities, as well as lawyers, judges and politicians who were regular hangers out at the Galley. The Smothers Brothers, Shelley Berman, the Kingston TrioJonathan Winters and Bill Cosby found their way across the Golden Gate Bridge following late-night performances in San Francisco.”  By Styrous.

Now you are invited to take a ride on a ferryboat.  Note the era, mid 1930’s, and the last scene with cars having the right-of-way in pedestrian crosswalks.



Sadly, this is all that’s left of the Charles Van Damme ferry and Juanita’s Galley.

J. Galley 3

The novel Midnight Run 1932 fictitiously uses the San Francisco-Marin ferry in its bootlegging activities.

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FOOTBALL 1905 to 1995

Football 1905

College football was a popular but violent and deadly game.  There were 18 fatalities nationwide that year, including three college players (the rest were high-school athletes).  President Theodore Roosevelt made it clear he wanted reforms.  Many wanted to abolish college football.

Therefore, in December representatives of 62 schools met in New York to change the rules and make the game safer.  The changes included: banning the “flying wedge,” (there was no “set” they just ran in a mass formation at each other often causing serious injury).  A neutral zone between offense and defense was created, and first downs went from 5 yards in three plays to 10 yards in three plays.  [My Great Uncle played for the University of Minnesota in the era of the “flying wedge.”]

The biggest rule change was to make the forward pass legal, but it was nothing like today.  Back then, an incomplete pass resulted in a 15-yard penalty, and a pass that dropped without being touched meant possession went to the defensive team.  These rules were considered “sissy.”

For the first year (1906) teams shunned the “sissy” forward pass.  In 1907, Glenn Scobey (Pop) Warner coached the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, a team he’d built into a football powerhouse in 1899, through trick plays and deception.  He liked the pass.

In 1907, Warner invented the single wing, where a player could run, pass, or dropkick without the defense knowing the play from the formation.  The forward pass was a “trick play” Warner loved.  In 1907, Carlisle outscored their opponents 148–11.

Warner’s “trick”plays included: the end around, reverses, the flea flicker, and a play that required deceptive jerseys. 

Warner had elasticized bands sewn into his players’ jerseys so that after taking the kickoff, they would huddle, hide the ball under a jersey, and break in different directions, confusing the kicking team.  –Source Jim Morrison, Smithsonian Magazine

The Rose Bowl

These games were like East-West games and the winner was declared the National Champion.  In 1901, the score was so lopsided 49-0 that Stanford quit after the third quarter and the games were discontinued.  In 1916, the games resumed, and in 1923, the Rose Bowl Stadium was built (modeled after the Yale Bowl in New Haven).

The 1924 Rose Bowl Game:  A small Catholic school from Indiana ventured west to play in their first National Championship game.  They called themselves “the Four Horsemen” and “The Seven Mules.”  You probably already guessed that the backs were the horsemen and the linemen were the mules.

The Four Horsemen

The Four Horsemen

Crowley: 5’ 11” – 162 lbs.

Layden: 6’ 0” – 160 lbs.

Miller: 5’ 11” – 160 lbs.

Stuhldreher: 5’ 7” – 151 lbs.

Their Coach

Knute Rockne

Knute Rockne


Versus: the Stanford “Indians” with Ernie Nevers coached by Glen “Pop” Warner.

Ernie Nevers

Ernie Nevers


Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner

Glenn Scobey “Pop” Warner


Notre Dame won the game 27 to 10 and became the National Champions.

Professional Football

Professional football began in 1892 when Yale’s All-American “Pudge” Heffelfinger was paid $500 to play a game against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club.  In 1920, the American Professional Football Association (which renamed itself the NFL in 1922) was formed.  A franchise membership cost $100.

"Pudge" Heffelfinger

“Pudge” Heffelfinger


The Super Bowl

The first Super Bowl Game was in 1967.   Green Bay beat Kansas City 35 to 10.  In 1970, Kansas City beat the Minnesota Vikings 23 to 10, and in 1995, the San Francisco 49’ers beat San Diego 49 to 26.


Reg Carolan

Reg Carolan

Reg Carolan played on the 1970 Kansas City Super Bowl Championship team.

Brett Carolan

Brett Carolan


His son, Brett Carolan played on the 1995 Forty-niner Super Bowl Championship team.

There have been 206 father/son professional football players.  The first father/son to play in Super Bowls were Reg Carolyn and Brett Carolyn who were also the first to both play on Super Bowl Championship teams.   Bob Griese (Miami) and his son Brian (Denver) were the only other father/son to be on winning Super Bowl teams.  

[Footnote: Reg Carolan played quarterback on our 1957 Drake High (San Anselmo, CA) football team.  His 1957 high school shot put record of 56’7″ still stands.]

Father and Sons on Super Bowl Teams:

Father: Julius Adams, DE New England (XX.L)  Son: Keith, LB Philadelphia (XXXIX.L)

Father: Reg Carolan, TE Kansas City (IV.W)  Son: Brett, TE San Francisco (XXIX.W)

Father: Frank Cornish, DT Miami (VI.L)  Son: Frank, C Dallas(XXVII.W, XXVIII.W)

Father: Tony Dorsett, RB Dallas (XII.W, XIII.L)  Son: Anthony, CB Tennessee (XXXIV.L), Oakland (XXXVII.L)

Father: Bob Griese, QB Miami (VI.L, VII.W, VIII.W)  Son: Brian, QB Denver (XXXIII.W)

Father: Manu Tuiasosopo, DT San Francisco (XIX.W)  Son: Marques, QB Oakland (XXXVII.L)

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Equal Rights for Women

The following is my take on Equal Rights for Women in the United States. 

Timeline 1769:  The colonies screwed it up from the get-go by adopting the British system which did not allow married women to own property or keep their own wages. 

In 1878, Susan B. Anthony drafted a Constitutional Amendment giving women the right to vote.  That took guts!

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony 2

Isolated progress, 1891, Marie Owens was hired as a policewoman in Chicago.

Marie Owens

By 1900, all the states finally passed legislation allowing women to own property in their own name and keep their wages. Some states had dragged their feet allowing ownership only if the husband was incapacitated.  Another ploy was not to allow women to manage the property held in their name.

1900 + Still unable to vote:

pic 1

pic 2

In the 1920’s, the Flappers arrived on the scene and kicked the doors down with: smoking, dancing, short hair, lipstick, short dresses, driving cars, and kissing.

flapper 1

flapper 2

flapper 3

flappers 3


TADAAAAAAAA!  The 1920’s woman had emerged from her corset.


In 1920 the 19th Amendment, drafted by Susan B. Anthony 42 years earlier, was ratified and women could vote.


1941: Rosie the Riveter



1943 to 1954: All-American Girls Professional Baseball League



2014, if there is any doubt left about women’s right to equality, watch this 38 second video, that a friend of mine since kindergarten (author of Pampas Cat) sent to me.  



Women’s Rights in the United States have come a long way, but there is still work to do, not the least of which is the gender wage gap.

The gender wage gap still exists. Women receive 77 cents while men receive one dollar.

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Model “A” & Model “T” Fords


You start with a Model “T” …


Model T


Strip it down and have some fun with it…




However, you’re getting older, and it’s time for a change.  Your Model “T” has barely 20 horsepower, a top speed of 45 mph, but it cost only $260.  You want a car with 40 horsepower, a top speed of 65 mph, and so what if it costs $385 this is 1928 and the economy is booming.  


The Model “A” Ford is right for you.



Here’s the chassis coming down the line…

images (1)


Then they put in the engine…



Add a steering wheel and instruments 

Model A Ford


Almost done…

Model A


And there you (and two million other people) have it.  A new 1928 Model “A” Ford automobile.   (And you don’t have to crank it.)


John Dillinger also had a Model “A” Ford


In 2010, Dillinger’s 1930 Model “A” sold for $165,000


John Dillinger never really owned the Model “A” pictured above.  It was stolen (borrowed, he asked if he could use it) to make his escape from the Little Bohemia shootout on April 23, 1934.  


Earl Butler and Baby Face Nelson were also at Little Bohemia, but made other travel arrangements.


1933 Buick

During the Brainerd Bank robbery Oct. 23, 1933, described in the novel Midnight Run 1932, Earl Butler, Baby Face Nelson and others (Dillinger not present) used a 1933 Buick 8 cylinder 7-passenger sedan (like the one above) to make their escape. 

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