Hi-De-Ho

We’ve written only two posts so far about Hugh Morton’s jazz photographs, so it seemed like a good time for another post.  Here goes . . . and if you promise not to bust your conk, I’ll promise not to beat up my chops!

Among the unidentified jazz negatives are three that I suspected from the music stands (and later confirmed) are from a Cab Calloway performance.  We can’t say where the frolic pad for the show was, so please beef us if you are hep to that.  If you were there, then I’m sure it must have been a real killer-diller with plenty of mitt pounding, so please slide your jib about it with the rest of us.  If not and you dig research, get in there!

In the photograph above, Calloway looks dicty, in a fine vine, with two buddy-ghees wearing some hard drapes.  Actually, all three gates are togged to the bricks!!!  One photograph only shows an unknown canary, a fine dinner donning flowery dry-goods that may be Calloway’s older sister Blanche . . . but that’s just a guess.

And the third photograph depicts Calloway and the chirp above hittin’ some Armstrongs.

Just having these negatives is a real mezz, but their condition is sadder than a map.  The 127 format roll film negatives are on an acetate base, and antihalation layer deterioration has caused them to have a splotchy blue discoloration. (And that’s not jive talk!)  Scanning the negatives in grayscale eliminates the blue discoloration, but the images still retain a splotchy look.  Despite that bring down, they are likely from the late 1930s and I suspect fairly rare.

If you got all that, then you are a hep cat that’s got your boots on!  If you are unhep, you may want to consult the bible, The New Cab Calloway’s Hepster Dictionary: Language of Jive [an online list; the 1944 edition of his dictionary is an appendix in Calloway's autobiography, Of Minnie the Moocher & Me (1976).]

Pheeewww!  I think I’ll head home now and guzzle some foam!

20 thoughts on “Hi-De-Ho

  1. I know you are wondering why there are so few negatives of the big bands since you’ve been told by many people that my father saw and photographed all of the big names many, many times.

    Most of his collection was destroyed when his mother’s house burned. All of the early images, taken when he was in high school and college – and when the musicians were in their primes, were lost.

  2. Stephen,

    It’s possible that the photo was taken during the recording of Calloway’s live radio show Quizzicale somewhere in NC somewhere between 1940 and 1942. I remember a reference to Calloway recording the show in NC (maybe Raleigh or Greensboro?) in the Doug and Hazel Storer Collection.

    See the finding aid: http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/s/Storer,Doug_and_Hazel_Anderson.html

    The collection also contains an original 1944 edition of the Hepster’s Dictionary, live recordings of Calloway’s show in Detroit and Cleveland, and some contracts between Calloway and his agent Doug Storer.

  3. There is a chapter in Hugh’s 1988 book, “Making A Difference In North Carolina,” titled “Great Swing Musicians Performing in North Carolina.” In it Hugh talks about attending concerts over the years. The chapter can be found on pages 68 – 75 and on page 71 there is a Morton photo of Cab Calloway. This particular picture, however was taken at the Azalea Festival and shows an older Calloway than the one in your post, Stephen.

    I spoke via e-mail with Chapel Hill author and historian Roland Giduz and he says he is “confident that Cab & band played for dances in the old Tin Can in the 1930′s…

    Also to follow up on Noah Huffman’s post. Calloway’s popular radio show, “Quizzicale” was first broadcast on the Mutual Broadcasting System starting on 7/6/41; then on 2/18/42 the broadcast changed over to the NBC Blue Network. During the NBC days, the show was done from a different city each week. So it could have very easily been done in a North Carolina city between 2/18/42 and 8/11/42.

    Quizzicale Air Dates

    Quizzicale Timeline

    Finally here is a picture of Blanche Calloway for comparison.

  4. Thanks, Noah, for the lead about “Quizzical” and Calloway in the Storer papers. I saw Quizzical mentioned in Calloway’s autobiography, but he looked a bit older in the photograph of him with some of the cast members (all male).

    I looked at the Storer collection files today and there are some clues referencing a Quizzical show held in Raleigh at the “city auditorium.” 4,700 people saw the show, and there were “2,000 people outside who could not get in.” There is a letter from a contestant on that performance, Clarence I. Sawyer, dated 11 November 1941, in which he wrote to Calloway saying that his participation “last Sunday night” was “one of the greatest thrills of my life” and that the broadcast was “the talk of the town.” The talk, however, seems to have eluded the newspapers; I did some digging this afternoon and came up empty handed. The air dates and timeline mentioned above by Jack, however, do not include November 9th, so perhaps it was recorded and broadcast later.

    Morton photographs of Sadie Hopkins Day festivities on campus on November 10th appear in the Daily Tar Heel on November 11th, so we know he was in town!

  5. This is a very interesting post with pictures I’ve never seen before.
    But first, let me introduce me: I’m French and I run a website dedicated to Cab Calloway, his music and his musicians. I in direct contact with Cab’s daughter, Cecelia Calloway and I’m currently working on a book about Cab’s itinerary day by day.
    So you might figure out how that kind of discover excites me!

    Seeing the pictures, I would say that they were taken before late October 1941 because the sax (2nd photo, on the left) who appears definitely looks like Chu BERRY (who died after a car accident in Ohio on October 28th).

    I’m not sure that the lady is Cab’s sister, Blanche even if they’ve worked on stage together (but that was more between 1930 and 1932). When we get the exact date, I’ll be able to identify the lady and the 2 kids.

    Would it be possible for you to contact me offline because there are many interesting files in the Storer Collection (Quizzicale for instance) that I would be very happy to learn from.

    For people interested in Quizzicale, an english translation of my article about this radio show is available here:
    http://otrrpedia.net/getsynopsis.php?item=3923

  6. Oops, I forgot to mention some dates forCab Calloway’s concerts in North Carolina:
    in July 1932, first tour to South, Cab went to Morehead City, Charlotte, Rocky Mount and Raleigh.
    In March 1933 the concert at a Tobacco warehouse in Durham was stopped by a riot.
    Cab also went in NC in October 1945 in Durham, Raleigh, Columbus and Charlotte.

    This is work n progress, so apologize any ommission or mistake.

    Thank you.

  7. Pingback: In the Blogs « Ephemeral Archives

  8. I would almost swear that the Cab Calloway picture was taken at Lomina Ballroom on Wrightsville Beach where the great performer  entertained more than once, I think. Probably the late 30s. There is a slim chance Hugh took the pictures in Washington, DC when he was at Episcopal High School. His love of jazz was nurtured by the greats  who performed at the – could I be right, it was befoe my time – Gayiety Theater there. Hugh would go to the all black theater when special musicians were playing there, and when he could leave the EHS campus, and he said he was always welcome.And his camera was always with him, of course.

  9. Lumina Ballroom – sorry I mis-typed earlier. Lumina was the last stop of the streetcar line which transported beach-goers from Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach before the causeway was built for automobile traffic. Lumina was a pavillon with everything from dressing rooms to bowling alleys, shops, snack bars, and the very popular Ballroom which showcased many famous big bands in its day. David Brinkley worked there summers when he was a high school student renting beach umbrellas and things like that.Mr. Hugh MacRae built Lumina (and the streetcar line ) which survived, unscathed by all the storms, ’till it was torn down some years after WW II to make way for “progress”. Hugh took many a picture there. After all, he got to ride on the streetcar free.

  10. The two fellows who flank Cab Calloway in the first photo are the comedy and tap team of Stump and Stumpy–James ‘Stump’ Cross and Harold ‘Stumpy’ Cromer.

  11. Thanks, Jean-François! I’ve not seen other photographs of her through Web searches, but I did see several advertisements for her appearances with Calloway.

  12. Thanks Jean-François, for the link to the “sepia prima donna” article. My wife speaks and reads French (rusty, though!) and she translated the beginning paragraphs last night after dinner. It seems Andrews’ time with Calloway is between the North Carolina concert dates you posted above a few years ago. Have you discovered more North Carolina concerts since that post?

    This morning I found a small advertisement in the Wednesday, 3 October 1945 Durham Morning Herald newspaper for Cab Calloway’s show at the Durham Armory on Saturday, 6 October. No mention of other performers is on the advertisement.

    Here’s the text of the advertisement:
    Lath Alston Presents
    [graphic of Cab Calloway]
    Sat., Oct. 6
    8:00 P.M.—TILL
    Durham Armory
    Limited Number Advance-Sale Tickets For Dancers and Spectators
    Dancers’ Tickets, Biltmore Hotel
    White Spectator Tickets, Levy Bros.

    Interesting side notes about the ad: In the 1943 Durham city directory, Lathop Alston was the manager at the Biltmore Hotel Grill. The following year he purchased the hotel with a co-investor. The Biltmore Hotel billed itself as “The South’s Finest Colored hotel.” Levy Brothers was a confectioners shop.

    You can see photographs of the armory at http://endangereddurham.blogspot.com/2007/03/city-market-armory.html

    Of the Biltmore Hotel at http://endangereddurham.blogspot.com/2008/09/biltmore-hotelgrilldrugstore.html

  13. More clues . . . Calloway played the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday, 3 October 1945 with his Hi. De. Ho. Orchestra featuring Dottie Salters and The Cab Jivers—that from an advertisement in the 29 September issue of the black newspaper The Carolinian. The ad is larger than the ad in the Durham Morning Herald. It also mentions separate reservations for white spectators.

    One of the advertisements from 1944 in the article by Jean-François lists Andrew and Salters on the same bill in San Francisco, so we cannot rule out a date based upon the presence of one singer and not the other.

    Time to speculate a little bit. Julia Morton mentioned above that slight possibility that Hugh may have seen the show while in Washington D. C. while going to high school in Alexandria, Virginia. The Cab Calloway negatives are 127 format negatives; there are also 127 format negatives in the collection of the United States Capitol made at night. I wonder if these are from same time period, in the mid to late 1930s, when he used a camera with the smaller 127 format negative? Morton’s photograph of Ella Fitzgerald at the Howard Theater in Washington circa 1935 was also on 127 film. Morton’s camera was stolen shortly after he arrived at UNC in September 1939, and negatives from about February 1940 are a larger format.

  14. Hi Stephen, Thank you very much for the October 1945 dates you provided.
    Still in order to put a date on those pictures, remember we have Stump and Stumpie on the same bill.
    On the clips in my files, Avis Andrews and the duet appear together while Cab Calloway’s orchestra is on tour on:
    > March 1938, NYC
    > April 1938, in NYC
    > April 1938, in Pittsburgh
    > May 1940, NYC
    > August 1940, in NYC
    > August 1940, in Quebec, Canada

    In November 1940, Stump & Stumpy are replaced by Moke and Poke. They will be back with Calloway in November 1947 for a few gigs.

    Concerning the Lumina concert (cf. Julia Morton’s comment), there’s a date on August 13, 1941, organized by the Alpha Omega Fraternity. Neither Avis Andrews nor Stump and Stumpie appear on the bill or are cited in the newspaper.

    Now, if the Washington DC dates are possible, here are the engagements:
    > April 8-14, 1938, Earle Theatre
    > January 24, 1940, Lincoln Colonade
    > April 1-7, 1940, Howard Theatre

    Well, the case is not closed. But we get closer, don’t we?

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