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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve - 1944 in Holyoke, Massachusetts

Should auld acquaintance be's where you can spend New Year's Eve 1944, at a "Gala" party featuring Maxine King and her All-Girl Band.  "All-Girl" was not necessarily a novelty, but a necessity during wartime when your male trumpet player has been drafted. 
With a cover charge from $1.50 to $ 3.50, and dancing until 4:00 a.m., along with six (count 'em, six!) New York stage acts, you can't beat this evening the Valley Arena Gardens in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
But remember that gas rationing, and raise a glass to the new year of 1945, when hopefully, the world might be at peace.  Just like they wished for last year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

All the Who's Down in Easthampton, Massachusetts

Congratulations to the recent Easthampton, Massachusetts "Whoville" flashmob celebration.  For those of you out of the loop, it is reckoned by fans of Dr. Seuss that the town of Easthampton, or at least the view of it over the craggy top of Mt. Tom, was the inspiration for Whoville in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Maybe so.  Certainly looks like a lot of "whos" turned out this night.  Must be true.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gee Bee Christmas Ornament

This Christmas, Hallmark offers a new ornament for aviation buffs and fans of New England history.  Here is the new addition to the Skys the Limit series of ornaments, the Gee Bee Super 1931 Sportster Model Z.

Aircraft pioneers the Granville Brothers established their fledging aircraft factory in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1929, turning an old farmer's field into a ramshackle airport near Liberty Street and St. James Avenue.  Here they designed, built, and tested their remarkable planes, which broke speed records.

We'll have more on the Granville Brothers and their Gee Bee planes later on in the New Year, but for now, this flashy little tree ornament is a splendid souvenir of days gone by.  It measures 3 and 3/8 inches wide wingspan, 2 inches long, and 1 inch high.  It is a replica of the "City of Springfield" plane, the city's pride and namesake.

Have a look here at Hallmark's website for more information. 

For a little more background on the Gee Bee, in a different way of telling it, here's my one-act play on the Granville Brothers and their airplane factory written as part of a project to educate Springfield school children on their city's history.  It's called Soaring in the City of Springfield.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Myths of the Modern Man giveaway...

As announced last week on my Another Old Movie Blog, I'm holding a giveaway for a paperback copy of my time-travel adventure Myths of the Modern Man. Just send me an email to with the message: I WANT THE BOOK, and I'll throw your name in the hat. I'll pick the winner this Thursday, December 12th, and then I'll email the winner for the address to send the book. Nobody's email or mailing address will ever be published on this blog.

Now for a little synopsis:

A late twenty-first century time traveler battles bards, druids, warrior queens, and Roman cohorts for survival during the Celtic rebellion against the Romans in Britannia, 60 AD.

Time traveler John Moore’s fate is determined by four women: the Celtic warrior queen Boudicca; Tailtu, a gentle slave purchased from another clan; Dr. Eleanor Roberts, a severe, jealous and brilliant woman who spearheads the time travel mission; and enigmatic Dr. Cheyenne L’Esperance, herself a time traveler from an even more distant future. Moore’s mission to survive three battles against the Roman legions coincides with survival tactics and backstabbing in the modern government department. The savage past clashes swords with the desperate future in a time continuum of treachery.

The interesting (or irritating, depending on your point of view) quirk about this novel is that the chapters alternate between first person narration -- when the time traveler goes back to Britannia, and third person -- when we see the future world from where his mission is being run, and possibly being betrayed. To show you what I mean, here's a couple samples from the book. This part here is in first person. The time-traveler is telling his version of the story:

We did not speak. They wanted to kill me now that we were far from the tribe and they were free to do it, but that would no longer serve their purpose and none of them could return to the Iceni if they did. For my part, I was here because I was a liability to the Queen now that I had shamed her, so she had to get rid of me, and yet she must have felt that I was the most potentially useful member of this diplomatic corps because of my ability to see in the future. I could impress and scare Cartimandua into joining the Iceni, in a way Dubh, nor Nemain, nor Cailte would be able to impress or frighten. Boudicca was that vindictive, and that brilliant.

And now we were going off the script. Boudicca, history tells us, did not achieve an alliance with Cartimandua. History does not record that she ever sought one. But, here we were, and how much of this was due to me?

When we were approached, disarmed, and brought to the queen’s tent under guard, Dubh strutted like a man who was about to get his terms.

Three guys bigger than him pushed the moron to his knees before the queen. I smiled. Nemain dropped to his knees quite voluntary and stared obediently at the ground. Cailte and I stood quietly, calmly looking around like we were going to buy the place, and then both of us slowly knelt as casually as if we had nothing better to do. A little more solemnity by either of us and it would have appeared we were jointly kneeling to receive our marriage blessing. It sickened me to discover how much alike he and I could be sometimes.

Now I had to take something into account. If for some reason I did not get myself to the correct quadrants within southern Britannia by the end of October, which I would know because of the celebration of the Samhein, then Eleanor could not bring me back. I would be stuck here. There was a geographic element to the successful machinations of gravitational time travel, even if you were sent to a time with no atlases. Getting hung up far north of where I was supposed to be would seal my fate and keep me here for the rest of my life.

Not that I really wanted to live the rest of my life in the late twenty-first century either, where survival fell into the hands not of the fittest, but of only those who could afford it. At least here, I stood as good a chance at living as anyone else here did. We all have to die sometime. It’s how you fill up your hours in the meantime that’s the big deal.

And this bit here is in 3rd person in the futuristic lab where all this larger-than-life science/sociology is being concocted:

Dr. L’Esperance ordered Eleanor, gently but firmly, to take off her clothes.

Eleanor’s growing sense of panic reduced her ability to think clearly, and her near-hysteria took the form of a sudden helpless resignation to take orders. Eleanor undressed, wondering what she would say if General English suddenly entered the lab, but almost wishing he would, anything to delay or stop this. Dr. L’Esperance looked pleased with the tunic she lifted from the satchel in which it had been secreted to the lab and as she examined it, spoke again of Milly’s efficiency, which Eleanor again grudgingly acknowledged to herself was the truth. She had never given Milly enough credit for being a good administrative assistant. Now Eleanor was being sent to hell, otherwise known as 60 A.D., because of it. This is what happened to people who were not kind to their staff.

Dr. L’Esperance slipped the long, saffron-colored tunic of some coarse linen over Eleanor’s naked body, and gave her a gentle hug to comfort her, because Eleanor was shaking. She fastened a plaited leather belt around Eleanor’s waist to draw the baggy tunic in close to her slender waist. Dr. L’Esperance then draped a woolen cloak around Eleanor’s shoulder, and fastened it with a thin silver brooch.

“They were quite vain, weren’t they?” Dr. L’Esperance said, “They loved their finery.” She placed a torque of twisted silver around Eleanor’s neck, to mark her as noblewoman and not peasant.

“Sit down,” Dr. L’Esperance said, and Eleanor, weak with anxiety, lowered herself to a lab stool. Dr. L’Esperance cupped Eleanor’s face in her hand and began to remove Eleanor’s makeup.

“My hypothesis about the staging area for captives is based on reports from this agency,” Dr. L’Esperance continued, “For you see, after your mission failed and Colonel Moore was not returned, as a way of deflecting public outcry against the agency, a follow-up mission occurred to save Colonel Moore, to attempt to retrieve him. Of course, you did not have the electromagnetic tracking technology then, so your operative’s mission was to remain for roughly half a year and manually search out Colonel Moore or information about his final status. His return was to be accomplished through a synchronized rendezvous point, in a similar arrangement to what you had with Colonel Moore.”

Eleanor glanced up into the luminous green eyes as Dr. L’Esperance delicately wiped Eleanor’s lips.

Eleanor found her voice again. “What happened?”

“Alas, the second attempt was also unsuccessful. That operative was also lost.” Dr. L’Esperance then brushed Eleanor’s hair, and the slow, soft stroking relaxed her to the point of recalling briefly her mother and her sister in the trailer park, the only other two important women in her life, and how she hated them, wishing now it were not so.

Mesmerized, she quietly replied, “The…the only other candidate qualified at this time is Colonel Yorke.”

“Yes. Brian K. Yorke was also lost.”

“I am responsible for two deaths.”


Good luck!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Forbes & Wallace Department Store - Eighth Floor Restaurant

Image Museum website

Views of the old restaurant on the eighth floor of the, now long gone, Forbes & Wallace department store in Springfield, Massachusetts.  A place to rest your feet and put down your packages, especially if you shopped on every floor on your way up here.   The holiday rush is on.

Here's an earlier post on the Forbes & Wallace building.

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