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Dear Reader #157

Dear Reader,

I’m excited to introduce a new project, Tula, a novel set in the 1920s. Tula is an actress who has climbed from the gutter to become a major star in Hollywood. However, as the story opens, she is in an asylum. How did she get there? 

Tula believes that the recent death of her father triggered her emotional collapse. However, as she chronicles the first twenty-four years of her life, she discovers the true trigger for her breakdown.

This story might sound dark, but light arrives in the shape of Tula’s determination to escape from poverty, and her strength in facing up to and overcoming her emotional problems.

Continuing my research into Eva Marie Saint’s ancestry using public records. I’m looking to answer two questions: was Eva’s talent the result of nurture, or nature? And why am I drawn to her as an actress? Can I find the answers to these questions in her roots?

Today’s record is the 1930 census. This census confirms that Eva was born in New Jersey, that at the age of five she was attending school and literate, and that she lived with her older sister, Adelaide, and her parents, John and Eva. John was a credit man for a rubber company, Eva Senior was a housewife.

Eva’s family rented a home on 81 Street, Queens, New York. Most of their neighbours were born in New York. However, their parents came from Austria, Russia, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Ireland. They were merchants, bookkeepers, salesmen, secretaries, photographers and hairdressers. 

This was an immigrant area, not the poorest, not the richest. Unlike some actresses, Eva did not enjoy a gilded path to fame and fortune; she had to work for her success. That is something I can relate to, and it partially answers one of my questions. 

However, for the full answers, I need to explore Eva’s parents’ records. More, next time.

***

In the seventeenth century, London’s doctors qualified through an apprenticeship. They set bones, tended injuries and bled patients. Physicians represented a different branch of medicine. They qualified through universities and advised on diet, exercise and drugs.

Treatments centred on purging, sweating and bleeding in an attempt to restore the balance of a patient’s body. 

Physicians charged a fee, usually between 10 and 20 shillings, which placed them well out of the reach of many Londoners.

For day-to-day medical treatments, Londoners visited barbers. Along with offering a haircut and a shave, a barber would bleed a client and draw his teeth. 

Medicines were sold by apothecaries, who developed into pharmacists. These medicines were derived from herbs, plants and vegetables and sold for a penny per dose.

Many of the treatments were ineffective, which led to challenges by ‘new scientists’ like Nicholas Culpepper, pictured. The establishment hated Culpepper because he challenged their cosy cartel, stated that high medical fees were ‘un-Christian’, and because he treated London’s poor.

Caledonia – It’s Worth a Fortune! Series 1, Episode 11 of The Rockford Files. All writers have standby plots. One of John Thomas James’ standby plots was ex-cons looking for hidden money. In Caledonia, JTJ delivered a neat twist at the end.

This episode was directed by Stuart Margolin, a talented actor/director. While Margolin’s direction was always crisp, his greatest contribution to The Rockford Flies was his portrayal of Angel, one of the great support characters of American television. James Garner’s interactions with Stuart Margolin were always a delight to watch.

We are eleven episodes in but Angel, Beth and Becker are yet to appear as regular characters. Even Rocky has only made fleeting appearances at this point. The Rockford Files always had a strong sense of direction, but the series grew in strength when the support characters became regulars.

Stuart Margolin

Len Allchurch, born 12 September 1933, enjoyed a distinguished footballing career, which spanned nearly twenty years. During that time he represented Sheffield United, Swansea Town and Stockport County. 

Born in Swansea, and the brother of the legendary Ivor Allchurch, Len also won eleven caps for Wales and was a member of his country’s 1958 World Cup squad.

In 1950, at the age of seventeen, Len began his professional career with Swansea Town. In March 1961, for a fee of £18,000, he signed for Sheffield United. Len scored six goals in eight games and helped his new club to clinch promotion. 

Over the following three seasons, Len scored 37 goals in 140 appearances for Sheffield United before, in March 1965, transferring to Stockport County. His transfer fee: £10,000, making him the most expensive signing in the club’s history.

Eventually, Len’s career turned full circle and he ended his professional days at his home club, Swansea Town.

Len enjoyed many highlights during his long and distinguished career, but perhaps this remains the most remarkable fact: he did not receive a single caution or booking throughout his entire Football League career.

Len Allchurch 📸 BBC

I’m researching the life of Clara Bow, a superstar in the 1920s. However, before exploring Clara’s life, where did the Bows come from? The answer is England. Like many of their generation, they set sail for America in the 1600s and became planters in Hartford.

The early American Bows were wealthy men and women. However, by the time Clara was born in New York in 1905, the family fortune had long gone. Indeed, Clara’s father Robert flitted from one humble occupation to another, and between 1905 and 1923 the family lived at fourteen different addresses.

Clara Bow was a superstar in the 1920s, yet her birth was not even recorded. Piecing the facts together from various records, a birthdate of 29 July 1905 looks the most likely candidate. Why wasn’t Clara’s birth registered? There were several reasons.

One, Clara’s father, Robert, was often absent from the family home. Two, Clara and her mother, Sarah (pictured), were ill after the birth, and their illnesses were exacerbated by a New York heatwave. Indeed, Sarah was in such poor physical, and probably mental, condition that a doctor warned her not to become pregnant.

Clara was Sarah’s third child. Her first daughter, Alene, was stillborn on 25 June 1903 while her second daughter, Emily, was born and died on 13 May 1904. Given this background, it was a minor miracle that Clara made it to 30 July, let alone beyond.

***

In this month’s issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads…

Multi-award winning author/poet Jessica Bell interviewed by Wendy H Jones. Plus, Author Features, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Recipes, Short Stories, Young Writers, International Country Music Day, and so much more!

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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