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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #166

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s fifth movie was Grit, a silent drama produced in the summer of 1923 in New York, and released on January 7, 1924. Adapted from a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Grit featured Clara as a sexy street urchin, Orchid McGonigle.

Clara impressed director Frank Tuttle, especially with her ability to produce emotion at will. He said, “This dynamic and erratic whirlwind was a joy to her director.”

Grit was a tale of cowardice and revenge set on New York’s Lower East Side. Fitzgerald said of the film, “The whole picture is sordid, showing disgusting scenes of immorality and crime.” The censors demanded cuts, and they were duly made. Despite those cuts, Grit was still banned by the British Board of Film Censors.

Clara saw Orchid as the embodiment of herself. “A little roughneck and a tomboy like I was.” The critics panned the film. However, Variety added, “It is Clara Bow that lingers in the eye after the picture has gone.”

Joint Highest Grossing Movie of 1925, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

Ben-Hur was a silent epic drama that starred Ramon Novarro as the title character. Production costs rose to $3,900,000 ($60,260,000 today) compared to MGM’s average for the season of $158,000 ($2,440,000 today), which made Ben-Hur the most expensive film of the silent era. The movie earned $10.7 million at the box office.

Ben-Hur became notorious for its egregious animal abuse: a reported one hundred horses were tripped and killed merely to produce the set piece footage of the major chariot race. A ‘running W’ device was used on the set to trip the galloping horses. Ten years later such devices were frowned upon in Hollywood.

The extras at the chariot race read like a who’s who of Hollywood at the time. They included: John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Marion Davies, Douglas Fairbanks, Lillian Gish, Samuel Goldwyn, Harold Lloyd, Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy and Mary Pickford.

Just by Accident, Series 1, Episode 21 of The Rockford Files, is a curious episode. It was actually the last episode filmed for the first season (22 episodes), and the last episode produced by Roy Huggins.

Written by a new team, Charles Sailor and Eric Kalder, my impression is this was a generic private eye story adapted for Rockford. The Becker role was filled by a lookalike, David Spielberg as Lieutenant Tom Garvey. This episode gave the impression that the hirer, Louise Hartman, was a long-standing friend of Rockford’s, but the nature of their friendship was never explained.

As someone who loves genealogy, I loved the premise of this episode, which was based on birth certificates. A great answering machine message too. Kooky voice: “This is Thelma Sue Brinkley. It’s about the research I called you about – the family tree. Did you talk to your daddy? We may be kin!”

In this month’s issue of our #1 ranked magazine…

Interview with Publishers Weekly #1 author Dani Pettrey. Plus, Author Features, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Short Stories, Young Writers, National Veteran and Military Family Month, and so much more!

Clara Bow Quotes. Having achieved her movie breakthrough with Beyond the Rainbow, Clara was keen for her friends to see her on the silver screen. “I assembled all the children for blocks and borrowed enough money to purchase tickets for those unable to pay for their own admission.” 

However, Clara did not appear in this version of the picture; the director had decided to cut her role. “I bolted from the theatre, ran all the way home, locked myself in my room and sobbed as though my heart would break. This was the end. How could I ever face my friends again?”

Intertitle #6

Coming soon, our new magazine, The Golden Age of Hollywood, available from all leading Internet outlets. Here’s a preview of the cover.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

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

For Authors

#1 for value with 565,000 readers, The Fussy Librarian has helped my books to reach #1 on 32 occasions.

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #154

Dear Reader,

Find Me If You Can, Series 1, Episode 8 of The Rockford Files opens with an intriguing premise: a client, Barbara, hires Rockford to find her. She offers him no information about herself, so the task looks difficult. However, Rockford rises to the challenge.

Paul Michael Glaser, pictured, is suitably dark as the villain, while the overall theme of the story is noir-ish. Indeed, Chandler’s Marlowe would have felt at home on these mean streets.

Lots of great dialogue in this one. Rocky (Rockford’s father) on observing a cut near his son’s left eye, “Look at that gash – two inches to the right, and you’d have been missing that eye.” Rockford, “Two inches to the left and he would have missed me completely.”

📸 Wikipedia

By 1700 London was becoming the hub of an empire. This was reflected in the grand buildings and squares that developed in the West End. The population grew and inns sprang up to profit from the traffic that travelled between the city and the provinces.

London was also becoming a city of contrasts. While some people lived in masons with halls, parlours, dining rooms, bedrooms, chambers, and servants, others made do with two rooms and possibly a stable, while the poorest of the poor resided in cellars.

By 1720 London no longer resembled its medieval roots. The major developments were still taking place north of the River Thames. However, around this time the expansion of Southwark and Westminster started in earnest.

🖼 A view of London from the east in 1751.

In this month’s issue of our #1 ranked magazine…

Author Libby Klein interviewed by Wendy H Jones. Plus, Author Features, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Recipes, Short Stories, Young Writers, Book Lovers Day, and so much more!

Welsh Football Legends

William David Davies, popularly known as Dai, was born on 1 April 1948 in Glanamman in the Amman Valley. Football was in the family genes because his father played at amateur level and had trials for Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Dai’s talent as a goalkeeper was recognised early. Aged 12 he represented his village under-18 team and aged 15 he played for Ammanford Town. 

A good all round sportsman, Dai also played rugby. However, with football making ever-more demands on his time, he quit rugby to concentrate on his goalkeeping. This decision paid off when, in 1969, he turned professional, aged 21.

By this stage of his career, Dai had also qualified as a physical education instructor. However, the lure of Swansea Town was too strong and he opted to place his PE career on hold and play for the club.

Swansea Youth, with Dai in goal, enjoyed an excellent run in the English Youth Cup. An Everton scout spotted him and in December 1970 he signed for the Football League champions. His transfer fee: £40,000. It was a great move for Dai and he played for Everton for seven seasons.

In 1977, Dai signed for Wrexham. His first season with Wrexham was a great success. The club experienced their lowest number of defeats in a season and they won the Football League Division Three title. 

Spells at Tranmere Rovers and Bangor City followed, along with second spells at Swansea and Wrexham. In total, Dai played 199 games for Wrexham and while at that club he made the majority of his Welsh team appearances – 28 out of 52 games.

Dai made his international debut on 16 April 1975 against Hungary. From that point, he enjoyed a consistent run missing only six out of 57 Wales games. His final appearance for his country occurred on 2 June 1982 versus France.

Dai enjoyed a varied life after his professional career. He published his autobiography, first in Welsh, Hanner Cystal a’ Nhad (‘Half as Good as My Father’), the title offering a tribute to his father. The English translation was titled ‘Never Say Dai’.

Dai had a financial interest in a Welsh book and craft shop, commentated on football for S4C, worked as a supply teacher, and ran a natural healing centre in Llangollen, which focused on  herbal medicine, massage, Pilates and reiki. 

Proud of his Welsh heritage, Dai was also a Druid and in 1978 he was initiated into the Gorsedd of Bards. He died on 10 February 2021, aged 72.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

#1 for value with 565,000 readers, The Fussy Librarian has helped my books to reach #1 on 32 occasions.

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #149

Dear Reader,

The Countess, Series 1, Episode 3 of The Rockford Files saw another solid story from John Thomas James enlivened by crisp dialogue from Stephen J. Cannell. Joe Santos as the long-suffering Sergeant Becker appears in this episode. 

In a phone call with Rockford, Becker implies that his wife’s name is Nancy. However, when that character appears later in the series, played by Pat Finley, her name is Peggy. Incidentally, she is one of my favourite side-characters in the series.

Mistakes in long-running series are inevitable. It’s hard enough for writers to keep track of events in real life, let alone in a fictional universe. The fact that fans notice any errors is a compliment to a series, I reckon; it highlights their deep commitment.

Susan Strasberg, ‘The Countess’. 

The Dissolution of the Monasteries (1535 – 40) created great wealth for some, and more modest opportunities for others. The great religious land carve up started in London. With an influx of people from other parts of Britain, and abroad, the city grew from 150,000 inhabitants in 1580 to 500,000 by 1660. 

The ‘Copperplate’ map of London, produced from a survey conducted between 1553 and 1559, is the earliest true map of London. Sadly, only three of the original fifteen printing plates survived – the Moorfields plate, the Eastern City and the Western City.

From the Copperplate Map of London, 1559, St Paul’s Cathedral. 

St Paul’s lost its spire when it was struck by lightning in 1561. 

The printed word was seen as a threat to the Establishment (because people could form their own opinions). Nevertheless, by 1550, St Paul’s became the national centre of the book trade.

Education, Tudor and Stuart London. In ‘petty schools’ children learned the alphabet and the Lord’s Prayer. However, they were not taught how to write. Teachers were often invalids and paupers, seeking means of support.

Grammar schools, for boys, taught Latin and Greek, but not English. In theory, these schools were free, but most levied fees that went beyond the budget of the poor. City companies, such as brewers and coopers, also established grammar schools. 

Adults attended lectures on astronomy, divinity, geometry, law, music, physic and rhetoric. The upwardly mobile studied history, music and dancing. These subjects prepared them for their move into the ‘right’ social circles.

What have immigrants ever done for us? From the late sixteenth century, women escaping religious persecution in Europe established schools in London and taught girls. Consequently , female literacy increased from 16% in 1590 to 48% in 1690.

St Paul’s School, c1670. Wellcome Images.

With 28 bookshops encircling its churchyard, St Paul’s Cathedral became the centre of literacy in Tudor London. In 1599 they even removed the ‘common privy’ to make way for a new bookshop. 

William Caxton established the first printing press in Westminster in 1476. Other presses followed, in Dowgate, Fleet Street, and St Dunstan’s in the West.

Wynkyn de Worde (his real name) was the most prolific printer and publisher in early Tudor Britain. He acquired Caxton’s impress and published bestsellers such as The Golden Legend and The Chronicles of England. 

Branching out, de Worde published marriage guidance manuals, children’s books, medical treatises and romances. By the time of his death in 1535 his catalogue listed over 800 books.

St Paul’s Cathedral with bookshops crammed between the buttresses. John Gipkyn, 1616.

In the early 1600s the rich and poor of London lived side-by-side in timber and brick houses. Gardens were common, while some buildings were six storeys tall. The larger houses had lead cisterns to collect rainwater. All properties shared community wells.

Around 1630 the wealthy moved to the suburbs. Tradesmen lived in two-up, two-down houses with their shops occupying the ground floor. The poor lived in one-up, one down houses while those in extreme poverty lived in cellars.

By 1640 the united city had divided along class lines. And with each new decade and century those divisions increased.

A plan of timber-framed houses drawn by Ralph Treswell, c1600.

Welsh Football Legends

George Latham MC and Bar was born in Newtown, Powys on 1 January 1881. As a footballer, he played for Newtown, Cardiff City, Liverpool, Stoke City and Southport Central. He was also capped, ten times, by Wales.

As a military man, George served in the Second Boer War and the First World War. He received the Military Cross for his bravery in Gaza, Palestine and Turkey, 1917-18, and the Bar for his courage in Beersheba, 1918. George completed his military career with the rank of captain.

George was also a successful coach. He coached Cardiff City during their halcyon period, 1911 – 36, when the team won the FA Cup, 1927, and narrowly missed out on the league title, denied by goal difference.

George’s origins were humble. The fifth of six boys, his parents were William, a labourer, and Esther, a laundress. He attended New Road School then trained as a tailor in Market Street.

As a teenager, George played for Newtown as an inside forward and achieved modest success. However, in 1900 he volunteered to serve in South Africa during the Second Boer War. He joined the Fifth South Wales Borderers, who were stationed in Newtown.

In fourteen months George saw action in a number of places, including Brandfort and Potchefstroom. He rose from private to the rank of corporal. He played football in South Africa, for a team named the Docks. After the Boer War, George also played for the South African side, the Caledonians.

George’s footballing career in England was, initially, patchy. He joined Liverpool, but had to wait three years before his debut, on 8 April 1905. Never a first team regular, he made only nineteen appearances in seven years. Moves to Southport and Stoke followed before George joined Cardiff City as player-coach in February 1911.

In George’s first season, Cardiff City won the Welsh Cup, defeating Pontypridd 3 – 0 in a replay. George replaced the injured Bob Lawrie in the replay, but presented his winner’s medal to him after the game.

George was a squad player at Cardiff City, filling in for injured players. Nevertheless, he won ten caps for Wales, making his debut on 6 March 1905 in a 3–1 victory over Scotland. George’s tenth and final cap, on 18 January 1913 v Ireland was notable: due to a lack of fit players, as coach George joined the team. Wales won, 1 – 0.

In footballing terms, George’s main skill was as a coach. Working alongside Fred Stewart, he guided Cardiff City to the FA Cup final on two occasions. Cardiff lost 1 – 0 to Sheffield United in 1925 before tasting victory against Arsenal in 1927 in a famous match that ended 1 – 0.

During his spell with Cardiff City, George arranged annual charity matches with his hometown club Newtown to rise money for the Montgomery County Infirmary. After George’s death at the infirmary in 1939, Newtown named their ground Latham Park in his honour.

You can read more player profiles here https://hannah-howe.com/sixty-four/

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

Author Caroline Dunford interviewed by Wendy H Jones. Plus, Author Features, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Recipes, Short Stories, Young Writers, National Picnic Month, and so much more!

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

#1 for value with 565,000 readers, The Fussy Librarian has helped my books to reach #1 on 32 occasions.

A special offer from my publisher and the Fussy Librarian. https://authors.thefussylibrarian.com/?ref=goylake

Don’t forget to use the code goylake20 to claim your discount 🙂

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #146

Dear Reader,

My latest translation, the Italian version of Operation Broadsword, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE, book three.

This week, I started rewatching The Rockford Files. Most of the regular cast appeared in the pilot, including Stuart Margolin as Angel. Jamie Farr of M*A*S*H was considered for the part, and would have done a fine job, but Stuart Margolin made it his own. He portrayed the character so well with just the movements of his eyes. Around this time Margolin also featured in an episode of M*A*S*H.

The answering machine messages at the start are iconic. In the pilot, Luis Delgado (who appears as ‘himself’ in a marriage scene later in the episode) said, “Billings, L.A.P.D. You know, Thursday is Chapman’s 20th year, and we’re giving a little surprise party at the Captain’s. I think you should come. By the way, we need five bucks for the present…” Cue the equally iconic theme music…

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

Writer and historian Mary W Craig interviewed by Wendy H Jones. Plus, Author Features, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Recipes, Short Stories, Young Writers, Nature Photography Day, and so much more!

Do you have one of these, a Princess Mary Christmas Gift Box? As you can see, I have two, from both sides of my family, one in better condition than the other.

Each box was decorated with an image of Mary and other military and imperial symbols and typically filled with an ounce of tobacco, a packet of cigarettes in a yellow monogrammed wrapper, a cigarette lighter, and a Christmas card and photograph from Princess Mary. Some contained sweets, chocolates and lemon drops.

The boxes were distributed to all members of the British armed forces on Christmas Day 1914, although some servicemen had to wait until 1920.

Most baptism records tend to be scrawled, but for some reason many in the West Country were recorded with a neat hand. Here’s the baptism record for my 5 x great grandfather, John Bick.

Many of my Bick ancestors were baptised in St Mary de Lode Church, Gloucester. It is believed that St Mary’s was built on the site of the first Christian church in Britain. Certainly, it was built on top of two Roman structures, possibly temples.

Photo: Wikipedia

In honour of the Wales football team and their World Cup qualifying achievement, I intend to feature pen-portraits of past players on Twitter and my website. I will feature some ‘big names’, but the majority will be ‘unsung heroes’ from the 19th and 20th centuries. 

I’m starting with Alf Sherwood because he used to visit my great grandmother. For more details, read on…

The son of Herbert Sherwood, a labourer and coal miner from Wiltshire, and Alice Maud Williams, a labourer’s daughter from Aberdare, Alfred Thomas Sherwood was born on 13 November 1923 in North View Terrace, Aberaman, a stone’s throw away from his hometown football club. 

In 1939 Alf was an apprentice wagon painter. Then, during the Second World War, he was drafted into the coal mines to work as a ‘Bevin Boy’.

Scouts recognised Alf’s footballing prowess at an early age and he gained caps at youth level for Wales. He was also an accomplished cricketer. 

In 1942, Alf joined Cardiff City from Aberaman Athletic. A wing-half at Aberaman, he switched to full-back at Cardiff. He was so impressive that he made that position his own for the rest of his career.

When the Football League returned for the 1946–47 season, Alf missed just one match for Cardiff City. That season the club gained promotion as champions of Third Division South. In the 1951–52 season, Alf was appointed club captain and under his leadership Cardiff City gained promotion to the First Division.

Alf’s senior international career began on his 23rd birthday in a match against England in the British Home Championship. The score: 3 – 0 to England. However, on 22 October 1955 in the British Home Championship match played at Ninian Park, as captain Alf led Wales to a famous 2-1 victory over England.

In total, Alf won 41 Welsh caps. He earned a reputation as ‘the king of the slide-tacklers’. Indeed, Stanley Matthews described him as “the most difficult opponent he ever played against.” Students of the game reckoned that Alf’s main qualities were outstanding pace, sound tackling and a wonderful positional sense.

Alf also served club and country as a stand-in goalkeeper. On 17 April 1954 in a match against Liverpool, he saved a penalty taken by Scottish international Billy Liddell, which ultimately condemned Liverpool to relegation.

After an illustrious career, Alf worked for the National Coal Board. He also worked as an insurance agent and during the course of this work he called on my great grandmother, Edith, to collect her monthly insurance premiums and chat.

Alf died on 12 March 1990.

You can read more player profiles here https://hannah-howe.com/sixty-four/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

#1 for value with 565,000 readers, The Fussy Librarian has helped my books to reach #1 on 32 occasions.

A special offer from my publisher and the Fussy Librarian. https://authors.thefussylibrarian.com/?ref=goylake

Don’t forget to use the code goylake20 to claim your discount 🙂