James Brown’s funk-fomenting recording session at Arthur Smith Studios in Charlotte has been painstakingly analyzed, but what about another musical innovation, one that upgraded jukeboxes across the land?
Yes, I’m talking about the printed title strip. Until 1949 jukebox titles were individually typewritten. “The average typist can only type 250 to 300 title strips per hour,” the president of Star Title Strip Co. told the trade paper Cash Box. “The [jukebox] operator can now buy, under our new plan, 300 neatly printed title strips for only 30 cents. Surely, anyone’s time in this day and age is worth a lot more than 30 cents per hour.”
Star Title Strip remained in business at least into the 1980s, but today’s surviving “juke ops” (in Cash Box speak) can easily generate title strips on the internet.
“In the wake of Pearl Harbor and America’s subsequent entry into World War II, Asheville prepared for the threat of additional foreign strikes on American soil….
“At 10 p.m. Aug. 10, 1942, the mountains went dark for 30 minutes. ‘The blackout test was almost 100 per cent effective,’ The Asheville Citizen wrote. ‘Excessive cigarette lighting by persons in the downtown area was reported from one town. Carelessness by autoists was reported from another.’
“A lighted window on the top floor of the building on the corner of North Market and East Walnut streets ‘offered a perfect target, until an air raid warden got busy,’ the paper explained.
“The newspaper concluded its account of the blackout with a gruesome anecdote: ‘A group of boys and girls tied a dead mouse to the doorknob of the Battery Park avenue store which did not observe the black-out. One of the boys borrowed a lipstick from a girl and scribbled this on the glass door. “You had better black out next time.”'”
— From “Air raid warnings sound in WNC, 1942” by Thomas Calder in Mountain Xpress (Nov. 29, 2020)
“When my Dad went broke mining coal in the early 1950s he moved his wife and two youngest sons from Gadsden, Ala., to Charlotte, where he had managed to hang on to his syrup plant.
“I worked there when I was a boy, starting when I was 13 or 14 years old, making Dixie Dew Syrup, an excellent honey flavored syrup….
“The plant where he manufactured syrup and, later, clothes hangers, was in the basement of a building on Graham Street in what is now part of the parking lot of the stadium where the Carolina Panthers football team plays…”
— From “The Sweat Shop” by Pat Stith at the Final Edition
“According to legend in Calabash, N.C., comedian Jimmy Durante and his troupe passed through the little Brunswick County town sometime in the 1940s. While there, he made friends with a young restaurant owner.
“Brunswick County historian Susie Carson says that woman was Lucille ‘Lucy’ Coleman, a claim repeated in Theresa Jensen Lacey’s ‘Amazing North Carolina.’ Soon afterward, Durante adopted his trademark sign-off — ‘Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!’ — for his radio show. According to Coleman’s daughter, Clarice Holden, and others, it was Durante’s anonymous tip of the hat to her mother, who died in 1989.
“Not everyone accepts this theory, though….”
— From “Who is Mrs. Calabash?” by Ben Steelman in the Wilmington Star News
“He endured his share of critical and commercial setbacks during a fallow stretch in the middle of the decade, but by the end of the ’70s James Taylor was undeniably one of the biggest rock stars on the planet – and he capped his remarkable run on July 31, 1979, when he played to a packed crowd during a free concert in New York City’s Central Park.
“The show, held to help raise funds and awareness for a campaign to restore the park’s Sheep Meadow to its former glory, came in the midst of a summer tour to promote Taylor’s ninth LP, Flag….”
— From “When James Taylor Played to 250,000 in Central Park” by Jeff Giles at ultimateclassicrock.com (July 31, 2014)
“At the start of the twentieth century, [historian Andrew W.] Kahrl writes, shorelines were the South’s ‘most forsaken and forgotten lands.’ They were unsuited to most agricultural purposes, prone to violent storms, and covered in forests where dangerous animals lived. But developers were beginning to see the promise in creating seaside getaways.
“One barrier standing in their way was Black farmers, many of whom had been relegated to the less-fertile land near the ocean. By the 1920s, nightriders were burning Black-owned homes across the coastal South and warning African Americans to sell their land. Local jumps in real estate values were accompanied by increased racial terrorism.
“Some Black locals responded with their own development plans. In 1923, a group of Black doctors, lawyers, and ministers bought Shell Island, North Carolina, and turned it into a resort.
“ ‘After three successful seasons, it suffered a series of fires “of undetermined origin” that eventually forced investors to cut their losses and abandon the property, thus restoring the “color line” in North Carolina’s coastal real estate market,’ Kahrl writes.”
— From “How the Beaches of the South Got There” by Livia Gershon at JSTOR Daily (July 6)
“Among the most determined opponents of the child labor amendment [to the Constitution] are the newspaper publishers. The newspapers have always enjoyed a cheap circulation system, based on child labor. The publishers successfully resisted amendments to their code strengthening the provisions regulating child labor in the sale and delivery of papers. These additions to the code would have set a 14-year minimum for newsboys, an 18-year minimum for girls, with, an exemption in favor of boys of 12 already employed. They would have forbidden work before 6 a.m. and late in the evening for boys under 16; and required badges issued by a public agency under the U. S. Department of Labor for children in the newspaper trade.
“At a code hearing circulation managers testified that boys were ‘no good’ for newspaper distribution after the age of 14 because they ‘became interested in girls.’ Under questioning, that was repeatedly broken down into an admission that the older boys were not attracted by the low rates of pay.”
— From “Children Wanted” by Beulah Amidon, in Survey Graphic, (January 1937)
The child labor amendment was passed by the House and Senate but never ratified by the required three-fourths of states. North Carolina was a quick no.
I’ve been frustrated in finding details on North Carolina’s regulation of newsboys, but they did wear this sturdy badge.
“The arguments [made in the Sons of Confederate Veterans Heritage Defense manual, 2016] are drawn exclusively from… ‘The Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern states and the War of 1861-65,’ published by Samuel A. Ashe in 1935. Ashe served in the Confederate army, was elected to the North Carolina state house in 1870 and was vice president of the SCV’s forerunner organization, the United Confederate Veterans.
“The document follows Ashe in arguing that the war was not primarily about slavery, but driven by anger at taxes imposed by a Congress dominated by Northern politicians, and a fear not about the dissolution of slavery per se, but because emancipation would ‘devastate the capital infrastructure’ in the South.”
— From “Manual advises how to stop removal of Confederate statues: don’t mention race” by Jason Wilson in The Guardian (July 4)