The Golden Age of Radio

 

In the 1930’s people found an escape from their difficult times as they listened to the radio. Most families had radios and it was their favorite pastime. It became a family tradition for them to gather around the radio and enjoy their favorite shows. They used their imagination and entered a different world from the sadness of the Depression. Imagination can be a very powerful method to use your mind. You can see and hear things you might have missed if you only watch television. You can cry, laugh or smile as you return to a different time. Remember the days of old-time radio doesn’t mean you’re old. 

 These shows consisted of exciting adventures, comedies, and mysteries. A radio show “War of The Worlds” even caused panic in the nation. It sounded so real that people thought the world was invaded by aliens. That’s the power of the imagination. 

The public’s favorites were: The Jack Benny ShowThe Shadow, Flash Gordon, The Goldberg’s, The Marx Brothers, The Lucky Strike Radio, Bing Crosby and Judy Garland. Many performers started in Vaudeville, then radio and then some became popular on television and in movies.

Chuck Schaden, a broadcaster and old-time radio historian hosted the radio show Those Were The Days from 1974 to 2005 when he retired. Steve Darnell is the current host and publisher of the Golden Age of Radio. He also writes about his favorite subject Old-Time Radio in the Nostalgic Digest Magazine  You can listen to Steve Darnell every Saturday live from 1 to 5 pm on WDCB 90.90 FM in Chicago and nationwide.  

Some of these shows are available at your local library. If they don’t have them librarians may be able to order them through Inter-Library Loan. This is a service where libraries can search other libraries that might have what you want. Groups of performers entertain at libraries so you can listen to them read scripts of your best-loved shows. Today’s technology allows you to learn interesting facts about the programs and the performers on podcasts. Podcasts are like videos without the pictures. Some retail stores also sell Old Time Radio CD’s or cassette tapes. You can also purchase them online or on Ebay. If technology isn’t “your thing” that’s okay just listen to the radio show I mentioned.

So sit back and relive your memories. Introduce these shows to your children and grandchildren and share your life with them. Maybe they will enjoy this new form of entertainment and spend less time watching television or texting. You might be surprised children might even learn to enjoy the shows. If they don’t like them find joy in them yourself.

Cynthia Florsheim

 

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The Social History of the 1930’s

 

Aunt Vicky in the 1920’s

Vicky in the 1930′s

I haven’t written a blog post in a long time because I have been working on my novel. Now, I want to change directions and write about the cultural history of the 1930’s. This is the decade I when my Aunt Vicky was a pilot. I will write about the cultural trends of women, men, children, fashion, entertainment, transportation, living conditions, and leisure activities during the Depression. I will not write about the changes every year but the general changes of the entire decade. When they left that world they also changed.

 I wish I knew my aunt in that era but I wasn’t even born then. I rely on her memorabilia and believe that she would have easily adapted to the new norms. So many others in every field learned that change is not always bad sometimes it is good. How can that be true? People were without jobs, losing their homes and had a difficult time surviving. Maybe, the Depression might have made families closer together. They needed each other like never before.

 Those who lived through the Depression probably think I am definitely wrong. I did not live in that era and my parents never talked about it in front of me. I only remember a few things that they mentioned but the comments were sparse. I am a “baby boomer” so I knew very little about the Depression. As I researched I found glimmers of hope in this horrible time.

 I will not be talking about the sad depression but the way people escaped into a happier place for a short time. Not all people were standing in line “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.”

 The women pilots of the 1930’s wore flying attire but after they stopped flying some went back to a more normal life. Some married and had children and some went to work.

 Vicky must have been aware of the fashions she saw in magazines, newspapers and on the screen. Maybe Vicky and so many other women felt it was a time for a change in their lives. They wanted to look like the movie stars that they saw on the screen and in magazines. These influenced women to want to be different and live differently. Now life was more sedate than the excesses in the 1920’s.

 Some women’s fashions had stayed the same as in the 20’s but other fashions changed radically. Women wanted the look of elegance but finances prevented the average women from achieving it but they could enjoy the look from afar.

 Read and enjoy a glimpse of life in the 1930’s. If Vicky were here today we would possibly see a woman who embraced change. I am not asking you to embrace it but to learn about the social history you might not know. I hope your parents or grandparents shared stories about this important time in our country. I never had that opportunity so now I am reliving it with you.

 

  

 

                

 

 

 

Marion Florsheim: No Relation To Me

  Marion Foster Florsheim was a pilot in World War 11 but was not related to me or the Florsheim Shoe Family. It was believed she might have been an actress going by the name Foster and nicknamed “Faster Florsheim.” “Faster” maybe, because she was a pilot. I found her name when I was doing research for my blog about women pilots. Of course, her name caught my eye so I decided to learn about Marion.

  She married a businessman named Harry “Mickey” Florsheim. Marion’s, Harry was not the founder of Florsheim shoes. Another Harry Florsheim was the founder and he wasn’t related to my family either. 

  Marion was a member of the Women’s Flying Training Detachment that was merged into the WASPS. No one knows why she left the training program.  After being discharged Marion continued to fly as a private pilot.

 Besides being a pilot Marion raised, exhibited and judged Afghan Hounds. In my aunt’s memorabilia, I found a picture of a lady with an Afghan Hound. Maybe that woman could have been Marion. The picture was taken on the grounds of Raymere the estate of William C. Durant.  The women in the picture is more likely Catherine Lederer Durant my aunt’s sister-in-law. 

  She exhibited these dogs in many kennel shows and was photographed with an Afghan next to her plane. Marion brought a Fairchild Cabin plane and flew on a two-month tour of kennels and shows with her mascot Afghan Hound. Marion opened the window when the dog begged to stick his head out. 

  In September 1942 The Afghan Hound Club of America held a fundraiser for the United Nations War Relief in Darien, Connecticut on the estate of Harry and Marion Florsheim. The sanctioned match Afghan show rings took place near Florsheim Lake.  

 I started researching about my Aunt Vicky in 1987 and I found the address of Anne Lindbergh in a local public library. I wrote her but I never expected to receive an answer but her nurse said that she did remember my aunt. The return address was Darien, Connecticut. I mention this because it was also the hometown of Marion Florsheim. I don’t know if any of this is connected but my mind drifts to thoughts that Marian and Anne Lindbergh knew each other. Different eras but the same toney community where people might have been aware of their famous neighbor.

 Marion was a follower and a fundraiser for the activities of Meyer Baba, an eastern mystic. She helped arrange his speaking trips in the United States and meetings with many celebrities like Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, and Mary Pickford. She often asked him about funds for events but he usually replied that he’d talk about finances at another time.              

  Marion was a very unusual woman who hid her work as an actress, her real name, age and even her reason for leaving the WASPS. Maybe, she was terminated from the service because she lied about her age. Today, society rules have changed somewhat but age discrimination still exists as it did when Marion was in the WASPS.

 

  

 

Edna Gardner Whyte

 

   Edna Gardner Whyte was a name I found in my Aunt Victorine Florsheim Lederer memorabilia. My aunt was a pilot in the 30’s and so was Edna. I found the right address and wrote her not expecting to hear from her.

  I want asked if she remembered my aunt. She said she did and that and that she knew she was the only Jewish woman pilot. She said that her memorabilia was stored away and she couldn’t get to it. She wanted to help me more but just couldn’t. She wished me luck and hoped that I would be able to find more information from other pilots.

  •   With her letter, Edna sent a long profile of herself. In this post, I will acquaint you with a very unusual woman.
  •    Edna was born in 1902 but didn’t receive her pilot’s license until 1930. My aunt received her’s in 1931 so they might have known each other.
  • She joined an organization called the Betsy Ross Corps. It was formed to use the airplane in order to help people in emergency situations.
  • In 1933 she received her transport license
  • Entered 1933 the All Women’s Air meet.  This race was named for the pilot Annette Gibson
  • 1934 she participated in the first women’s national air meet
  • 1935 she applied to fly for Central Airlines but was turned down because she was a woman
  • 1938 profiled in “Look” magazine for being earning the most  flying time of a woman pilot…2,888 hours  

    1940 Edna applied for being a pilot for Braniff airlines. Again she was turned down because she was a woman

  When I received her letter in 1987 she was in her late 80’s but flying every day. She owned an airport in Roanoke, Texas. She named it Aero Valley. Edna won more than 80 different aviation awards. Her greatest honor was the Charles Lindbergh Lifetime Achievement Award. Incredibly, Edna won 130 air races and flew 30,000 hours.

  I started my research on women pilots in 1987 and wished I had met this exciting woman. She died in 1992. Edna faced discrimination because she was a woman but continued to aim for the sky. All this information about Edna convinced me that she is a woman you should know.

Tiny Broderick

         Parachutist Tiny Broaderick  

Tiny Broderick was a unique women who was became the first woman to parachute out of an airplane.she was a extraordinarily brave women and lead to many other stunt pilots of future decades. One of the most famous today is Patty Wagstaff. Maybe she channelled Tiny Broadwick. One of her most famous stunts she performed was Tiny hanging from a trapeze-like swing under an airplane manufacturer Glenn L. Martin. She was below the wing of the plane. She performed this stunt about 2,000 feet’s over Los Angeles. Incredibly, she lifted a lever to make a seat drop from under her. This stunt was so dangerous because her parachute was attached to the plane by a string and opened automatically which allowed Tiny to float safely the the ground.  Next Tiny was the first woman to parachute into a lake…Lake Michigan. The army contacted her to help men to learn to jump from a plane. A stunt didn’t go well and she became the first person to use a type of “ripcord” for free fall to the ground. This stunt became very important for pilots in World War 1 to be able survive after their plane was hit. Ordinarily the soldiers died when their plane was hit.

                             Other Accomplishments:

  •  She demonstrated parachutes to the United States Army.
  • Retirement from jumping in 1922 and had made over 1,100 jumps.
  • Member of Early Birds of Aviation even though she wasn’t a pilot
  • First woman to parachute into water in 1914
  • First to jump out of a hot air balloon
  • Tiny appeared on You Bet Your Life November 10 1955
  • Appeared on To Tell The Truth on March 30, 1964

           

Flyin’ Jenny

 

                                             Flyin’ Jenny

In 1939 the adventure comic strip Flyin’ Jenny was the first one that featured a girl. Up till Flyin’ Jenny the comics were dominated by strong male pilots. Now there was a strong girl named Jenny Dare. The strip became an instant hit with girls who never thought that they could fly.

 It was illustrated by Russell Keaton, and distributed by Bell Syndication from 19-1946. Jenny Dare was a pretty blonde girl featured at Flyin’ Jenny. She was a test pilot for the fictional Starcraft Aviation Factory. She became involved in murder, intrigue, and of course romance. As the United States entered World War 11 Jenny flew missions for Army Intelligence and was involved in combat missions in Europe.

 Unlike other comic strips Flyin’ Jenny featured paper dolls once a month. This Sunday title was called Jenny’s Style Shop.

 Flyin’ Jenny attracted young girls interest in aviation. This was a man’s world that girls thought they now had a chance to enter.

  There is a interesting history of Flyin’ Jenny.

  •  Flyin jenny (ginny, jinny, or jinnier) was used for amusement rides like the merry-go-round where the riders seemed to fly around in  a circle.
  • A World War I bi-plane became know as a Curtiss JN-4 or “Jenny.”
  • Keaton one of the illustrators of the comic strip became flight instructor.
  • In 1921 Lee De Forestin made a short film called “Flying Jenny Airplane.” It included the sound of the plane.

 This post is a look at the culture of the aviation world in the 30’s and 40’s. I love everything about aviation so I thought I would write about this subject. I hope it is interesting to you.

                           More information on Flyin’ Jenny

  • The Aviation Art of Russell Keaton by Kitchen Sink Press…1995
  • Don Markstein’s Toonopedia

 

 

Ruth Nichols

Ruth Nichols:

1st. airplane radio broadcast

Ruth Nichols was a pilot during the Golden Age of Aviation. She was named the”Flying Debutante” because of her wealthy upbringing. Her family disapproved of her interest in flying but she went ahead to earn a name for herself in aviation.                                                      Accomplishments:

  • Her first flight was in 1919 and through her career she flew more than 140 different planes. Ruth flew gliders, auto-gyros, transports, seaplanes and even biplanes. 
  • She was the first women to earn three simultaneous international records for distance, speed and altitude. 
  •  Flew in the First All Women Air Derby.
  • One of the first women to compete in the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race in 1931. 
  • Helped form the 99’s to support women in the field of Aviation
  • Co-founded the Aviation Country Club. She flew all over the country to publicize this unique place. The clubs were supposed to be in many different states but The Depression caused the demise of these clubs.
  • Developed Relief Wings… a humanitarian organization that used private planes to help with disaster and emergency work
  • Became a Lieutenant colonel in the Civil Air Patrol
  • Founded Sportsman Pilot magazine 
  • Round the world plane tour for UNICEF
  • First woman to land in all 48 contiguous states  

Ruth deserves to be more well known and that is my intention for all the women pilots that I profile. She never received the success of Amelia due to many crashes. She wanted to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic but she never fulfilled that wish. She believed that her failures were due to mechanical problems not her ability to control the plane. I hope that after you read this story you will be able to say There’s More Than Amelia. 

 Read more about Ruth Nichols unique life in her autobiography, Wings for Life: The Story of the First Lady of the Air.” The forward was written by Richard E. Byrd the American aviator and polar explorer. The book was published in in 1957 by J.B. Lippincott and is available on Amazon.