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Sunday, December 22, 2013

College Grade Inflation Since 1960

College grades have apparently inflated since my college days. A's are now the most common college grade, according to an article published last year by Professors Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy:
- In 1960, 15 percent of all college grades were A's.  The most common grade was a C.
- In 2012, an A was the most common grade given nationally (43 percent). A's and B's together now account for 73 percent of all college grades at public universities and 86 percent of all private school grades. 
Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and former president of Columbia's Teachers College, similarly found:
- In 1969, seven percent of students reported an A- grade-point-average or higher. 
- By 2009, that number had risen to 41 percent. 
Even at Harvard? The Harvard Crimson earlier this month says yes. In "Substantiating Fears of Grade Inflation, Dean Says Median Grade at Harvard College Is A-," it reports that at Harvard, the "most common grade is A." The story has 504 comments as of today; I read a sampling of them.

Rojstaczer and Healy say that student engagement has fallen and the average amount of study has declined from 24 hours a week in the '60s to 15 hours a week today.

Some universities including Columbia and Dartmouth, have begun issuing "honest transcripts", disclosing not only the letter grade the student received for each class, but also the average grade that the professor gave the entire class, thereby putting each grade in context. Thomas Lindsay reports this month (mindingthecampus.com) that a bill in Texas would require honest transcripts for students at Texas universities. .

Comments:

The "honest transcript" program has been championed by Republicans, presumably because they don't like liberal elites, even though the careers of both Bushes were assisted by these elites.

Also, teachers are highly unionized and focusing on grade inflation can be seen as showing up collective laziness among students and faculty.

However, I don't know why it is or should be a partisan issue. As it stands, recent graduates from colleges with inflated grades can virtually all present themselves above average among their college peers. However, honest transcripts are not a panacea:
1. Some classes are selective. The professor interviews you and decides who can take the course. In this situation, the presumption is that all the students deserve higher grades than in a less selective introductory class.
2. Some universities are more selective than others. A Harvard student is presumed to be better prepared than a second- or third-tier college. Should Harvard students be graded the same way as an unselective college?
3. Some departments are more likely to grade on a curve than others. Science and engineering, where knowledge is more easily measured, tend to grade more strictly.
4. In professional schools - business, law, medicine - grade inflation is less of a problem because professors know that the grades are directly related to a person's career and the task of sorting out the best students is taken very seriously.
What other considerations should be on the table?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Emily MacDonnell Boissevain - Irish Rose among the Tulips


I have been going back, fascinated all over again, reviewing my notes on the life of my mother's mother's mother, Emily MacDonnell Boissevain. Her life reveals much of the culture and concerns of her times, especially relations between the Netherlands and Ireland, and the Netherlands and Indonesia.

Emily was an Irish woman who married a Dutchman and lived her life in Holland. Her letters provide a unique cross-cultural window on Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and Indonesia, with a few interesting sidelights on the United States.  The letters especially show how much of Ireland she brought with her to Holland.

Like Trojan Aeneas settling in the area that became Rome, Emily brought with her the household gods of Protestant Dublin. She was proud of her Irishness and spoke English to her 11 children during her long years as the wife of Dutch newspaper editor Charles Boissevain, although she learned enough to write a few letters in Dutch.  After the death of Charles she lived alone with the family governess, Polly, meeting separately with visitors based on Emily’s higher status.  Yet she bonded like a Viking conqueror with the country in which she settled.  Emily never traveled alone, and only visited where she had relatives.

Emily’s Father: Hercules MacDonnell

Emily’s parents were Judge Hercules Henry Graves MacDonnell and Emily Ann Moylan; we have letters from Judge Hercules MacDonnell to his granddaughter Olga.  Emily’s family on her father’s side can be traced back to Somerled, the first Lord of the Isles in the 12th century (see genealogy).  Her grandfather Rev. Richard MacDonnell was Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and was a solid Provost during an uneventful period, according to the history of the college.
                                               
Judge Hercules MacDonnell had an even better-known brother, Sir Richard, who became  Britain’s Governor-General (or equivalent) of five British colonies -- Gambia, St. Vincent and Lucia, Nova Scotia, South Australia and Hong Kong.  Following that he was knighted and retired to the south of France.  His wife was called Blanche.  Any map of South Australia will show the MacDonnell range of mountains at the northern extremity, near Alice Springs, named after Sir Richard.  Some ports and rivers are also named after him and his wife Blanche. A desert plant is also named after him. In Hong Kong, Sir Richard was oine of the first to build a house high above the city.[1]   

The MacDonnell family can be traced back to Alastair Carrach, grandson of the 1st Lord of the Isles in Scotland, who founded the Keppoch branch of the great Clan Donald.  In 1431, part of Keppoch lands were forfeited and given to the MacIntoshes, causing a feud between the MacIntoshes and the MacDonnells of Keppoch.  The MacDonnells were warriors and the 9th chief of the clan, who was exiled for most of his life, served in the Swedish army.  The 12th chief of the clan was murdered along with his brother in 1663.  Coll, the 15th chief of the clan, was noted for his fierceness and was called “Coll of the Cows;” he resisted by the power of the sword MacIntosh attempts to retake his lands.   His son Alexander, the 16th chief, died fighting for the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden.  At some point the MacDonnells emigrated to Ireland where they became part of the Protestant (Presbyterian or Church of Ireland) ruling gentry. 

The motto of the MacDonnell family was “toujours prêt” (always ready).  In Dutch, a word pronounced like “prêt” means “fun” and this meaning of the word is more descriptive of the flavor of the atmosphere in the home that Emily MacDonnell made with Charles Boissevain.  “Fun” is a good description of the goal of Olga Boissevain, their third daughter, according to her daughter [interview, 1996].  Another MacDonnell family motto was “per mare, per terra”, which has a military association because it was adopted as a motto by the U.S. Marines.

Emily’s Mother: Emily Ann Moylan

Hercules MacDonnell was a lawyer (a barrister, arguing in court) when he married Emily Ann Moylan, who was referred to in the press at the time as the niece of Lady Jodrell.  Since his religious father did not approve of the marriage to Miss Moylan (either because she was too young or was not Church of Ireland; the stories do not say), the two eloped to London via Liverpool, whence they traveled via “horseless carriage” on the just-completed railway line connecting the two cities.  They were said to be the first couple in history ever to use the horseless carriage as a vehicle for elopement. 

Coincidentally, Lady Jodrell’s daughter eloped at virtually the same time, because her parents considered her too young to marry, so that the Moylan-Jodrell cousins’ elopements were covered by the press at the same time, as in the clip shown on the previous page.

Emily Héloїse MacDonnell


Emily Héloїse MacDonnell was born in Dublin in June 1, 1844. She grew up in a Dublin suburb and Sligo Bay, the daughter of Judge Hercules Graves MacDonnell and Emily Ann Moylan.

Emily met Charles when he was a young journalist visiting Dublin to cover an international exposition.  Charles Boissevain was two years older than Emily, having been born in Amsterdam on October 28, 1842. While in Dublin, he became ill. A sponsor of the exposition, Dublin attorney Hercules MacDonnell, invited Charles to recuperate in his home.  His daughter Emily tended to Charles and they fell in love.  Charles returned to Holland with his fiancée, and Emily married Charles Boissevain in Southampton [Woolston?] on June 27, 1867. [Stamboek van der Boissevains, entry for Charles Boissevain, p. 143.]

For the rest of her life, Emily’s main contact with Ireland seems to have been from visiting her Jameson and Crichton and Phibbs relatives at Sligo Bay in the northwest of Ireland.  She died at Het Houten Huis near Drafna in Blaricum on January 26, 1931, surviving Charles by about four years and the British-born family governess Polly by about two years.

Robert Boissevain [who left his wife and six children in Holland and emigrated to America to the voiced disapproval of all but his mother] said to his sister Hilda: “ I never feared opening a letter from my mother.  Never were there reproaches in it.” [Interview, 1996.]




[1] Randal Marlin researched Sir Richard’s life in Dublin in the 1990s. An Australian desert flower is named after Sir Richard. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16 - Day that "In Search of Lost Time" Was First Self-Published

Madeleines de Commercy
Today in 1913, 100 years ago, the first volume of a novel by Marcel Proust (1871-1922), "A la recherche du temps perdu" ("In Search of Lost Time", aka, before 1992, "Remembrance of Things Past"), was published.

Proust began it in 1909, after eating a piece of a madeleine dipped in tea. He uses this experience as a central theme of his book, describing the involuntary remembrances he had of eating madeleines with his aunt in his childhood. (Julia Childs's recipe for them is here.)

Proust's book was turned down by several publishers. Garrison Keillor says that the editor of a prestigious French literary magazine advised Proust that it not be published because of syntactical errors, and he quotes another editor as responding to Proust:
My dear fellow, I may be dead from the neck up, but rack my brains as I may I can't see why a chap should need 30 pages to describe how he turns over in bed before going to sleep.
Proust put up his own money to self-publish the book, paying Grasset to print it. He worked on the subsequent six volumes the rest of his life, 1.5 million words, until he succumbed to a fatal illness. His brother published the final volumes based on manuscripts Marcel left behind.

Edmund White says that the book is "the most respected novel of the 20th century."

Justice Stephen Breyer
Associate Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has an interesting interview in the latest (November 7) New York Review of Books. It is an English translation of an interview in La Revue des Deux Mondes that he had with a French journalist.

Breyer says he used Proust to learn French when he was a legal intern in Paris for an American law firm, and the Recherche was the first book he read in French.  He describes Proust as "the Shakespeare of the inner mind".

The interviewer asks Breyer why he likes Proust so much. Here is his answer:
It’s all there in Proust—all mankind! Not only all the different character types, but also every emotion, every imaginable situation. Proust is a universal author: he can touch anyone, for different reasons; each of us can find some piece of himself in Proust, at different ages. For instance, the narrator of the Recherche is obsessed with the Duchesse de Guermantes. To him, Oriane embodies a slice of the history of France and glows like a stained-glass window, wreathed in the aura of her aristocratic lineage. Now, however different the situations may be, we have all of us—in our childhood, our adolescence, or later in life—admired from afar someone who has dazzled us for this reason or that. And when we read Proust, we get a glimpse of ourselves.
For more comments by Justice Breyer, click on this link.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 9 - Kristallnacht, the Public Start of Hitler's Holocaust

The morning after Kristallnacht... Hitler's murderous
Holocaust was now without fear and in full view.
Today is the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht (Crystal-night, "the night of broken glass"). In 1938 the Nazis coordinated an attack throughout Germany on Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues - as Garrison Keillor has reminded us in The Writer's Almanac.

My brother Randal Marlin has just issued a second edition of his book on Propaganda, and I was interested to see how the Kristallnacht attacks as outlined by Keillor follow the Propaganda playbook.

1. The attacks were inspired by the murder of a German diplomat by a Jew in Paris. When Hitler heard the news, he decided to use the event to stage a mass uprising in response. (Playbook: Milk events for propaganda purposes.)

2. He and Joseph Goebbels contacted storm troopers throughout Germany and told them to attack Jewish buildings, making the attacks look like spontaneous demonstrations. (Playbook: Stir up public resentment, or fake it.)

3. The police were told not to interfere with the demonstrators, but instead to arrest the Jewish victims! (Playbook: Accuse the victims.)

4. Similarly, firefighters were told only to put out fires in any adjacent non-Jewish properties. (Playbook: Do not protect the victims.)

Everyone cooperated. In all, more than 1,000 synagogues were burned or destroyed. Rioters looted 7,500 Jewish businesses and vandalized Jewish hospitals, homes, schools, and cemeteries. Many of the attackers were neighbors of the victims.

To pile injury on injury:

1. The Nazis confiscated any compensation claims that insurance companies paid to the Jews who lost their property.

2. They imposed a huge collective fine on the Jewish community for the crime of having incited the violence by the murder of the diplomat.

3. They barred Jews from schools and most public places, and forced them to adhere to new curfews.

4. In the days following, thousands of Jews were sent to concentration camps. Kristallnacht was the opening shot of the Holocaust. Before that night, the Nazis killed people secretly. Afterwards, the Nazis persecuted and killed Jews openly, because the propaganda ensured that public opinion would be against anyone who tried to stop them. I contacted my brother for his views on Kristallnacht. He said:
What a terrifying time it must have been to be Jew at that time, recognizing that you had no protection from lawless violence. What needs attention is the original statement of Nazi party principles. They made it quite clear that Jews were not citizens of Germany and were without civic standing regarding voting and other civic rights that we today take for granted. That was back in the early 1920s. The moral for us today is to wake up and see what is happening with respect to erosion of the principle of rule of law, and not to allow it to decay any further.
To document what my brother says about the Nazi party origins, I found a timeline used in schools for teaching about the Holocaust. It shows that the Nazi principles were developed in 1923-25.
  • In 1923, the Nazis attempted to take over Munich and failed. In a 24-day trial, Hitler gained the sympathy of the judges and some of the public, and his fellow Nazis were given a light sentence. At this point, the Nazis were a small group on trial, and no one feared them. In prison, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, which laid out the Nazi principles of German pride, and enmity to Jews and Bolsheviks in Germany and worldwide.
  • In 1925, Hitler's book was published after he emerged from prison and started reconstituting the Nazi party under his sole leadership.
  • In 1928, Hitler's party got 2.6 percent of the vote. 
  • In 1929, the worldwide crash occurred, followed by the Great Depression. This threw the German government into confusion and provided an opportunity for Hitler to exploit public distress. 
  • In 1930 Hitler's support leaped to 18 percent of the vote.
  • In 1932, Hitler got 37 percent. 
  • In 1933, President Paul von Hindenburg -- reelected the previous year, but aging and at his wit's end -- appointed Hitler as Chancellor. The Nazis moved in, establishing a police state, step by step. Albert Einstein was in USA, decided not to return to Germany after his German residences were ransacked. 
  • In March 1938, Hitler annexed Austria without bloodshed. 
  • In October 1938, having threatened Neville Chamberlain's Britain with war, the Western powers looked away as Germany marched into the Sudetenland and carved up Czechoslovakia.
  • In November, convinced by now that Western governments were paper tigers, Hitler initiated the Holocaust with Kristallnacht.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

HALLOWEEN | NYC Timetable and Empire State Bldg. Light Show

Empire State Building today.
This ain't white (compare with
moon). Photo by JTMarlin.
A web site supposedly tells you what color the Empire State Building is every day. But today (Sunday, October 20)... it lies!

This evening it was supposed to be white according to the website, but the photo from where I live shows it to be purple. Check my color perception via the photo at left.

I say this as a pre-Halloween warning. The Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT), which owns the ES Building, assures us that they and Clear Channel Media and Entertainment will together honor Halloween by synchronizing the ES Building's million LED tower lights to Halloween-themed music.

The music will allegedly be broadcast on Clear Channel’s radio stations Z100 and 103.5 KTU at 8:30 p.m. EST, on Halloween, i.e., Thursday, October 31, 2013. A light show is promised, designed by Marc Brickman, to a Halloween-inspired soundtrack. Now let's see if it all happens as promised.

The CEO of ESRT, Anthony E. Malkin, says this is the first-ever Halloween LED tower light show. So glitches could occur.

The light and music show will also be featured during the 40th anniversary of New York’s Greenwich Village Halloween Parade (website here):
  • Parade (in costume) forms on 6th Avenue from Spring Street to 16th Street  from 7:00pm to 10:30pm.
  • It will be covered on WPIX Channel 11 from 7:30pm to 9:00pm.
  • It will be on NY 1 from 8:00pm to 9:30pm.
Following the live performance, anyone can watch the video of the entire light show on the ES Building’s YouTube page. Individuals are invited to take part in the showcase by utilizing the hashtag #ESBoo on twitter etc.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

GW | Oct. 19–Cornwallis Surrenders at Yorktown

Admiral de Grasse defeats the British
Navy in early September. General 
Washington opts to march 400 miles
to defeat Lord Cornwallis.
Today is the anniversary of the surrender that ended the American Revolutionary War. Since this year it is also the weekend after the (we hope not temporary) end of the Tea Party shutdown of the U.S. government, maybe a comparison of the two capitulations is in order.

The shutdown has not been as hard as it was on George Washington and his troops, whose clothing was tattered and food and other supplies were depleted. But the shutdown has affected more people. Washington learned that the British army under Lord Cornwallis were building a naval base on the Yorktown Peninsula in Virginia. He decided impulsively to march his army from NY to Virginia to try to trap the Brits. He feinted toward NY to tie down the Brits there, then undertook the bold–and very risky–400-mile march to Washington.

The mid-October siege of Yorktown 
lasts just a few days.
The equivalent for President Obama was taking the step of announcing he would not (unlike President Clinton vis-a-vis Speaker Gingrich in 1995-96) negotiate with the Tea Party, given their doomsday tactics. What negotiation occurred took place among women Senators of both parties.

Both of the two risky gambles paid off. Even though Lord Cornwallis had advance word of Washington's march, he stayed put because he assumed he had time to wait to be evacuated by the British navy. He seems not to have known that British navy had been dispersed by a French fleet from the south under Admiral de Grasse and would not be coming to anyone's rescue while the French were in the York River.

So Washington, and an allied French army under General Rochambeau (a debt to the French that we would should remember when France-bashers get going), surrounded Yorktown and bombarded the city with siege cannons brought by the French.
Washington accepts surrender of Brits.

After several days of this with no naval relief, Cornwallis sent word he would surrender. Washington told the British to march out and give up their arms, and the surrender began at 2 am today in 1781, five years after the Declaration of Independence. Cornwallis sent his sword to General Rochambeau, signalling that the British had been defeated by the French, not the Americans.

But for whatever reason, England didn't have the money or stomach for another army, and they appealed to the United States for peace. The Treaty of Paris was signed two years later, and the Revolutionary War was won.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 17 - Einstein Moved to the USA

Einstein, 1921
In 1933 on this day, Albert Einstein officially moved to the USA to teach at Princeton University.

A German-Swiss physicist and Nobel laureate, Einstein is best known for his special and general theories of relativity and for his bold hypothesis concerning the particle nature of light. He is widely viewed as the most famous scientist of the 20th century. He was born in Ulm, Württemberg, in March 1879.

As a youth in Munich, he showed an intense curiosity about nature and an ability to understand difficult mathematical concepts. In high school, he excelled in mathematics but failed utterly in the classics. At 16 Einstein moved away from his family to Switzerland, where his good performance in mathematics barely got him into a technical college in Zurich. He did not enjoy it and skipped most lectures, preferring to play his violin or to study physics in the library. He graduated in 1900 but his professors did not recommend him for a place in university. Instead, he secured a junior position in the patent office at Bern. In the year 1905 he published four papers, for which the year is named the "annus mirabilis":
1. The first paper, published June 9, dealt with the photoelectric effect and the nature of light; applying Planck's quantum theory, which had been proposed five years earlier and was quietly forgotten. The paper, "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light", proposed the idea of energy quantaThis paper won him the Nobel Prize in physics 16 years later.
2. The second article, published July 18, "On the Motion of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid, as Required by the Molecular Kinetic Theory of Heat", offered a stochastic model of Brownian motion.
3. His third paper, published September 26, was “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” and had the most profound effect on modern physics. It contained Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity. Einstein proposed that it was meaningless to speak of one body moving and another body being still. Bodies can only be thought of as moving in relationship to each other. All motion is relative to some frame of reference, and the laws of nature apply unchanged, whatever that frame of reference. In particular, this means that the speed of electromagnetic radiation (such as light) is always the same, no matter the frame of reference. In subsequent years, results predicted on the basis of his theory were confirmed over and over again, and the Special Theory of Relativity eventually revolutionized how scientists viewed matter, space, time and all the things that interact with them. 
4.On November 21, 1905, Annalen der Physik published a fourth paper, ("Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?"), in which Einstein developed an argument for arguably the most famous equation in the field of physics: E = mc2. 
In 1909 Einstein was given a chair in theoretical physics in Switzerland, but he returned to Germany five years later to take up a specially created post as director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute in Berlin, where he developed his General Theory of Relativity, recognizing that mass and energy are two sides of the same coin, leading to the famous formula E=mc2. The new theory made bold predictions about the interaction of light and gravity that had not yet been observed and which were at variance with Newtonian physics.

After the war ended, in 1919, scientists used a total eclipse of the sun to confirm that light from distant stars was indeed deflected as it passed through the influence of the sun's gravity, exactly as General Relativity predicted. Einstein became internationally renowned.

When Hitler took over as chancellor in 1933, he had been in California working as a visiting professor. Einstein's apartment in Berlin and his summer cottage in the country were raided, his papers confiscated, and his bank accounts closed.

Einstein was smart enough to get the message right away that he was unwelcome. He returned to Europe and handed in his German passport. He considered many offers, from places like Paris, Istanbul and Oxford, eventually deciding on Princeton, which offered him an attractive package teaching at its Institute for Advanced Study.

He had hesitations about Princeton. It had a secret quota system allowing only a small percentage of the incoming class to be Jewish. The Institute's director, Abraham Flexner, was worried that Einstein would be too directly involved in Jewish refugee causes, so he micromanaged Einstein's public appearances, trying to keep him out of the public eye. He even declined an invitation for Einstein to see FDR at the White House without telling the scientist. When Einstein found out, he personally called Eleanor Roosevelt and arranged for a visit anyway, and then complained about the incident in a letter to a rabbi friend of his, giving the return address as "Concentration Camp, Princeton."

In 1938, incoming freshmen at Princeton ranked Einstein as the second-greatest living person. First place went to Adolf Hitler.

(Thanks to Garrison Keillor and the Writer's Almanac, from which this is mostly adapted.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Life among the Gypsies - Before WWII

"Kids in Wagon" - one of 34 photos
in exhibit of Gypsy Life.
The Center is presenting through the end of 2013 a collection of black and white photographs by Jan Yoors (1922-1977), a middle-class Belgian who lived for years with a band of Romanies and documented scenes from their daily lives. 
Yoors's 34 photographs constitute one of the few first-hand representations of Romani culture, which was one of the first targets of Adolph Hitler's regime.
The Anne Frank Center will exhibit the photographs 10 am to 5 pm through Jan. 3, 2014. Access to the exhibition is included with general admission to the Center. The Center is closed on Sundays, Monday, and holidays.
Hilda van Stockum wrote a fictionalized story about Romani life in Ireland around the same time, under the title Penengro

Sunday, October 13, 2013

WOODIN | 9A. Musician (Updated Mar 11, 2017)

Will Woodin and guitar, Cuba. Photo courtesy
of Anne Gerli, granddaughter of Will Woodin.
Right now one chapter is allocated to Will Woodin's music and collecting. But it may take two chapters. I am therefore calling this chapter on Woodin's music chapter 9A. The second half, on his coin and book collecting is called chapter 9B.

Woodin's Method of Composing

Will Woodin's love of music was genuine and strong – he had a good musical ear and played the guitar and piano all his life, though he rebelled against his piano teacher and stopped taking formal piano lessons at 7.

He seems to have picked up a wish to compose in Europe. He went to Vienna at 18 for a throat operation and then returned to Europe soon after his marriage, ostensibly to cover the Armenian war. He came back from his long second visit to Europe with a love of gypsy music.

He composed many tunes. He picked them out on his guitar and transcribed only the notes of the melody. Someone else would fill in the harmonic arrangements.

Woodin's opus can be sorted into four groups:
  • The Raggedy Ann Sunny Songs, which he composed with Johnny Gruelle.
  • Gypsy and Mediterranean music.
  • Asian music, which he did late in his life.
  • Raggedy Ann's Sunny Songs by Johnny
    Gruelle and Will Woodin (1930).
  • Marches, including the FDR inaugural march; many of his marches were played by the Navy and Marine bands.
Raggedy Ann Songs, with Johnny Gruelle


Johnny Gruelle in his cartoon makes fun of his partnership with Woodin.
Will Woodin got serious about his music starting in early 1930. It appears that Woodin's musical compositions were first performed in February 1930 and were an immediate success.

He said in 1930 that he had previously never taken his musical work seriously and looked at it simply as a diversion, an escape from the stress of business.

Some time that summer, Will Woodin started to partner with Johnny Gruelle, who had written a series of books about Raggedy Ann that had become a big hit.

Gruelle's daughter Marcella loved her doll, Raggedy Ann.
Marcella died tragically in 1915. Her distraught father wrote about the doll that his daughter loved, a rag doll with red yarn for hair and a triangular nose, and he decided to remember his daughter by promoting her doll.

Johnny Gruelle received US Patent D47789 for his Raggedy Ann doll on September 7, 1915. The character was introduced to the public in the 1918 book Raggedy Ann Stories

When a doll was marketed together with the book, both the book and the doll flew off the shelves. A sequel, Raggedy Andy Stories appeared in 1920, introducing the character of her doll brother, Raggedy Andy, dressed in sailor suit and hat. 
Johnny Gruelle and Will Woodin

The original Raggedy Ann Sunny Songs were written by Johnny Gruelle and Will Woodin and published along with sheet music in 1930 to great success. 

They were followed in 1931 by a series of 45 rpm records. 

Charlie Miner told me on July 31, "When the Raggedy Ann music was on records, everybody liked the music."

A set of the records can be purchased today for $200 or less, based on their condition, according to an online appraiser. 

The doll has been in production ever since 1915, and is said to be the oldest doll in continuous production. Take that, Barbie! 

Gruelle's Raggedy Ann story books feature "The Gruelle Ideal" - That books for children should contain nothing to cause fright, suggest fear, glorify mischief, excuse malice or condone cruelty. They are called "Books Good for Children".

Although Will Woodin is credited with the music for “Raggedy Ann’s Sunny Songs,” and Johnny Gruelle with the lyrics, the two collaborated closely.

There is some evidence that many lines and even songs were created by Will Woodin - for example, the character of Little Wooden Willie.

Will Woodin's Raggedy Ann music.
You might think these 1930 songs would be by now lost forever, but a 1944 movie featured one of the songs, "Heavenly Days".

In 2014 I met someone (Wilson Stone) who knew by heart all the words - and music - to at least one of the songs, "Little Wooden Willie."

There have been several postwar Raggedy Ann song recordings such as Jody Reynolds and Allen Reynolds (1963) and subsequently with Little Jimmy Dickens and Mindy Smith.

There was a Raggedy Ann movie that began promisingly but seems to have been prematurely released because the producers ran out of money.

I have looked up the Raggedy Ann books at the East Hampton Library, which has a superb and growing Children's Section. The library in 2013 had two of the Raggedy Ann books available, with others circulating. See photos.

The librarian in East Hampton knew exactly where the available books were and went straight for them. That could be because Johnny Gruelle and Will Woodin were such friends and Woodin was an East Hampton resident.

Johnny Gruelle's birthday is on Christmas Day. Will Woodin gave out to his friends the Raggedy Ann Sunny Songs books for Christmas 1930 and the records for Christmas 1931.

The 45-rpm records. They came as a set and
can be purchased for  $70-$200 online.
Raggedy Ann doll lovers include Princess Grace of Monaco (Grace Kelly to her movie fans), Margaret Truman, Caroline Kennedy and Bob Hope (who took them on tour with the troops).

Woodin was similarly multi-talented. He and Gruelle worked on songs together, on both the lyrics and the music.

His favorite musical instruments were the violin and the guitar, but he also played the piano by ear, having refused to continue piano lessons as a child.

Charles Miller, Librettist/Publisher

Woodin mainly composed the music, working only on the melody, leaving the rest to harmonizers or librettists.

Charley Miller was a librettist. For 15 years he was music editor for Harms Company - and previously Warner Brothers - and set up Miller Music, Inc. largely, it seems, to publish songs and other musical compositions whose melodies were invented by Will Woodin and the rest of the chords or orchestrations were worked out by Miller.
'
The threesome were very close. John Gruelle suggests humorously in a 1930 birthday letter to Will Woodin that if they purged the world of all the undesirables that they could collectively identify, there might be left only the three of them.

Each of the threesome had a specific objective from their relationship. 

  • Johnny Gruelle wanted to write the words to songs and make a living from them. 
  • Charles Miller wanted to arrange and publish the songs and make a living from that. 
  • Will Woodin wanted to create melodies and help his friends make a living.
Various stories attest to Woodin's being a demanding client for both of them. 

The cartoons at right show how the Woodin-Gruelle duo looked from the Gruelle perspective.

To get Miller's perspective, all we need is the May 1931AP story by Richard G. Massock: 
William H. Woodin, big-time captain of industry, is also a tune composer […] He composes on the guitar and often in bed. A few weeks ago he telephoned to his music publisher, Charles Miller. It was 3 o’clock in the morning and Woodin said he was sitting up in bed, unable to sleep. A theme had come to him, which he could neither get out of his head, nor set down on paper properly. Miller took a pencil and music paper, listened awhile and then copied down the notes as they came over the phone. Then Miller was unable to resume his slumber, so he began arraying the tune. The next day he gave it to a radio organ recitalist and the following Sunday night it was played over the air.
The modus operandi of the group can be conveyed by two telegrams sent by Charles Miller 15 months apart: 
  • December 13, 1930. Telegram from Miller to Woodin, c/o Terafa, Havana. “Dear Will, Book [Raggedy Ann's Sunny Songs] published yesterday.  Sent first copy to Mrs. Woodin. Orders coming in by mail and telegraph. Outlook most encouraging.
  • February 3 1932. Telegram from Charles Miller to W.H. Woodin c/o ACF, “Arrived New York this morning. Hope you are well. Reviews of Sunday’s concert beyond all expectations. Congratulations, Best Wishes.
The Legacy of Raggedy Ann

My older sisters Olga and Brigid grew up in the late 1930s and 1940s and they remember the Raggedy Ann dolls, but not the song books.

I remember seeing the dolls at other people's homes but not our own. Brigid says that Mom didn't approve of Raggedy Ann for some reason - maybe because Johnny Gruelle gave her a "candy heart" which the U.S.  Catholic Church of the time may have found objectionable because a candy heart is not a soul. Brigid says that a neighbor in the Chevy Chase area of Washington, DC, Lois Dean, had a Raggedy Ann doll. My two sisters would go play with the doll at the Deans' house.
Collection of Raggedy Ann Stories.

At a singalong party with the Harvard Din & Tonics in East Hampton in August 2013, several of the Raggedy Ann songs were sung by Ray Warner, accompanied by Christine Cadarette. Here are  the lyrics of the first two stanzas of the title song, "My Raggedy Ann":
Raggedy Ann is a very old doll,
She lay in the Attic for years.
She lived in a trunk there for 50 long years,
With her legs doubled over her ears.
And that's where I found her, my Raggedy Ann,
And grandmother gave her to me.
So I love every wrinkle in Raggedy Ann,
And that's why she's smiling at me
Woody Rowe, grandson of Will Woodin, remembers the Raggedy Ann songs from his childhood:
By day, I toted around a small but heavy blue Victrola. You had to wind it up with a silver crank so it would play two or three records, comically distorted as the mechanism ran down. When I was three or four, it amused my parents when I said: “Shall we have a little music?” I don't think I knew it, but the music I played was by Grandpa Woodin: the Raggedy Ann and Andy Songs.
Top to bottom: Will Woodin, Nan Woodin
Libby Woodin Rowe, Bill Rowe. Photo 
courtesy of Woody Rowe.
My favorite was “Snoop-Wiggy, Snoop-Wiggy, runs upon four feet, you see. Green his head, hair is red; looks like a dunce does he!” Woodin’s capacity to entertain made him a good salesman and a business success.
While Will Woodin’s main contribution to the Raggedy Ann franchise was to create the music for the songbooks, he was not above writing his own lyrics.

For example, Woody Rowe writes:
Mother [Elizabeth Woodin Rowe] told me that a popular rhyme of her day was: “Father, father, may I go out to swim?” / “Yes, my darling daughter. / Hang your coat on a hickory limb, / but don't go near the water.” Grandpa sent the following to Life Magazine: “Father, father, may I go out to fly?” / “Yes, my dear, but beware. / Hang your coat on a hickory limb, / but don't go up in the air.” Life Magazine paid Grandpa $5 for that creation.
For comparison, $5 in 1928 would be worth $68 in 2013, according to the BLS inflation calculator.

Mar 11, 2017—I just found out that the Raggedy Ann song was included in the Fibber McGee wartime movie Heavenly Days. The actors in the movie are praised, and the music, but the script was not written by the writer who made Fibber McGee famous and reviews noted the propagandistic feel to the dialog.

Notes

Will Woodin's Musical Ability: Wayne Homren, "William H. Woodin's Political Journey And Musical Talent", Coinbooks.org. December 16, 2007.

The Woodin Appreciation of Music: Emails from Woody Rowe.

Telegrams from Charles Miller - Original copies from Bill Phipps, Red Album.

Charles Miller as Librettist - From clipping in Glendale, Calif. News-Press, May 19, 1931. In Bill Phipps, Red Album.

References

Woodin, William H. and Johnny Gruelle,  A Raggedy Ann Song Book.

Woodin, William H.,  A Raggedy Ann Song Book - Easy Piano Arrangements, by John Lane, 1971.

Woodin, William H. FDR Inaugural March. Music of Marines. United States, Royal and Merchant. By United States Merchant Marine Academy, Regimental Band Music CD - 2001?

© John Tepper Marlin 2013-2015. For permissions or other information, contact the author at john@cityeconomist.com.

Friday, October 11, 2013

DEATH | Oct. 12– Robert E. Lee

"The education of a man is never completed until he dies," Robert E. Lee reportedly said. In which case his education was completed this day in 1870. 

Lee was born on January 19, 1807, at his family's Stratford Hall plantation in Westmoreland County, Va. After West Point, where as a second-year student in 1827, Cadet Robert E. Lee appears on a list of assistant professors at the academy (Letters received by the Adjutant General, 1822-1860O).

He distinguished himself in the Mexican-American War and years latercommanded the Confederate army. In the last years of his life, he served as president of Washington College, now Washington and Lee University. 
When Virginia voted to secede from the Union on April 17, 1861, Lee felt obligated to fight for his home state and signed a resignation letter three days later. In his new position, he wrote a letter to General McClellan regarding an exchange of prisoners on July 24, 1862. Confederate Amnesty Papers contain applications of former Confederates for presidential pardons and, while there are many post-war oaths of allegiance to the USA by former Confederate officers like General George E. Pickett and Lee's nephew Fitzhugh Lee, General Lee's request and pardon are not among them.

General Lee died in Lexington, Virginia, at the age of 63, five years after the end of the U.S. Civil War; when he headed the Army of the Confederate States. He is buried near Arlington House, residence of the Lee and Custis families for decades, and now part of the Robert E. Lee Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.

After his death, Robert E. Lee's legacy strengthened in both the South and the North. He is remembered as a brilliant military leader, a devoted family man, and a great American.

October 11 - Elmore Leonard birthday

Novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1925. In 1949, he went to work as an advertising copywriter, a job he hated. He would write fiction in the mornings before work, or, as he said: "Sometimes I would write a little fiction at work, too. I would write in my desk drawer and close the drawer if somebody came in." In 1951, he published his first short story — a Western, and in 1953, his first novel, The Bounty Hunters. Over the next 10 years, he published more than 30 short stories and five novels, including Escape from Five Shadows (1956) and Hombre (1961). His first crime novel, The Big Bounce,came out in 1969 after being rejected by 84 publishers. Since then, almost all of his books — including Fifty-Two Pickup(1974), Get Shorty (1990), Out of Sight (1996), and recently, Djibouti (2010) — have been critically acclaimed best-sellers.

Two other birthdays and an anniversary (today's entries all abbreviated from Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac):

It's also the birthday of  Eleanor Roosevelt, born in New York City in 1884, who said, "A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water." She began a secret courtship with her cousin FDR. During World War I, she went off to Europe and visited wounded and shell-shocked soldiers in hospitals there. Later, during her husband's presidency, she campaigned hard on civil rights issues — not universally popular in the 1930s and 1940s. After FDR died in 1945, she moved from the White House to Hyde Park, New York, and taught International Relations at Brandeis University. As anti-communist witch-hunting began to sweep the U.S., she stuck up for freedom of association. In 1947, a couple years before the McCarthy Era had reached full swing, she announced, "The Un-American Activities Committee seems to me to be better for a police state than for the USA." She once said, "We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together and if we are to live together we have to talk." And, "You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do."

It's the birthday of physicist-psychologist Lewis Fry Richardson, born in Northumberland, England (1881), who was the first to apply mathematical techniques to predict the weather accurately. During WWI, Richardson served as a driver for the Friends' Ambulance Unit in France. During the intervals between transporting wounded soldiers from the front, he manually computed the changes in pressure and wind at two points. From this information, he wrote his 1922 book, Weather Prediction by Numerical Process. The problem with his theories was that it took him about three months to predict the weather for the next 24 hours. His system did not become practical until the advent of electronic computers after WW II.

This date in 1962 Pope John XXIII convened the first session of the Second Vatican Council, aka Vatican II, with the goal of bringing the church up to date with the modern world. More than 3,000 delegates attended, including many of the Catholic bishops from around the world, theologians, and other church officials. As a result of Vatican II, Catholics were allowed to pray with Protestants and attend weddings and funerals in Protestant churches; priests were encouraged to perform mass facing the congregation, rather than facing the altar; and priests were allowed to perform mass in languages other than Latin, so that parishioners could finally understand what was being said throughout the service.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September 8 - New Amsterdam surrenders to the British, who rena med it New York

This sign was still up on September 24, 2013 at a
restaurant on Fifth Avenue and about 19th Street
(Brooklyn). Photo by JTMarlin. 
Today in 1664, Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant surrendered New Amsterdam, the capital of what was then called New Netherland, to an English naval squadron under Colonel Richard Nicolls. Stuyvesant didn't even get back the $24 Peter Minuit paid in 1626 to the local Manhattans (Algonquin-speaking Indians) for the island, Battery not included.

Since Stuyvesant was unpopular, his Dutch subjects failed to rally around him to resist the Brits. Following capture, New Amsterdam's name was changed to New York, in honor of the Duke of York, who organized the mission to capture the city.

The Manhattan Indians didn't realize they had sold to Peter Minuit their right to be on inhabited parts of the island. Beginning in 1641, a war was fought between the colonists and the Manhattans. When New Amsterdam passed to English control, English and Dutch settlers lived together peacefully except for 1673 when English rule was interrupted by a Dutch raid.

In 1674, New York was returned to the English, and in 1686 became the first city in the colonies to receive a royal charter. After the American Revolution, it became the first capital of the United States. Today, New Yorkers say that Albany is the capital of New York State, Washington is the capital of the nation, and New York City is the capital of the world.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

BALLOONING | Sept. 21–"Free Life" Ends (Updated Mar. 26, 2016)

The lift-off party for the "Free Life" balloon, 1970. That's Accabonac Harbor in the background.
This day in 1970, an attempt to cross the Atlantic in a hot-air Roziere balloon was abandoned by the balloonist team of three. They announced on a radio transmission to the Gander, Newfoundland air- traffic-control center that they were ditching the balloon.

A week-long search by multiple teams found pieces of the ditched balloon but no trace of the bailed-out balloonists, who were actress Pamela Brown, 28 (daughter of Kentucky Congressman John Y. Brown Sr. and sister of Kentucky Fried Chicken CEO John Y. Brown, Jr.), her husband Rodney Anderson, 32, and English balloonist Malcolm Brighton, 32. It was Brighton's 100th balloon ascent, and, of course, his last.

"The Free Life" balloon was four years in planning. The gondola and contents were assembled at a home on Springs Fireplace Road near Old Stone Highway that now has the number 771 and is where Alice and I stay in the summertime, so it makes this a personal story. The gondola and balloon were then moved on a makeshift cart to George Sid Miller's horse farm, and the balloon took off on September 20, 1970 with 1,500 well-wishers, as shown in the photo at top.

A one-hour movie about the project was prepared by LTV (#17218) and in honor of the lost trio, my wife Alice and I watched it this evening. It has comments from many people in the East Hampton community, including Willem De Kooning and Clarence Barnes, who ran the Barnes store near to assembly site and provided food for the crew assembling the balloon. Pamela's father, Congressman Brown, has an appearance in which he says that the balloon trip would be a gamble, but then so was KFC, her brother's successful investment.

Book about the attempt to cross the
Atlantic in a balloon.
On the northwest side of Ashawagh Hall – on the green where Old Stone Highway divides as it meets Springs Fireplace Road – a tree was planted in memory of the balloonists, with a plaque honoring "The Free Life".  Ashawagh is an Indian word meaning "where two roads come together".

Anthony Smith wrote a book, The Free Life, about the aborted flight. The cover is shown at left. The book suggests, with hindsight, that the 1,500 well-wishers made it difficult for the balloonists to stop the take-off in light of a tear in the balloon.

The book also stresses that while Malcolm Brighton had made 99 prior balloon flights, his substitution for the previous navigator – who withdrew with little notice – meant that much of the knowledge acquired in the four years of preparation was not on hand as the green light was given to the departure.

The first American-based balloon aeronaut was Charles Durant, who went aloft from Battery Park in Manhattan in 1830 - 140 years earlier – amidst a carnival-like send-off similar to the one in East Hampton. Durant had a modest objective – 25 miles to Perth Amboy – and he was successful.

Second Failed Attempt to Cross the Atlantic

The Anderson-Brighton attempt was achieved eight years after the "Double Eagle II" balloon failed to complete the voyage across the Atlantic. This balloon was named after the $20 gold coin last minted in the early days of the FDR administration when Will Woodin of New York City and East Hampton was Secretary of the Treasury.

Genie Henderson, Kentucky-childhood friend of Pamela
Brown, showing the balloon lifting off on the 40th
anniversary of the launch of "The Free Life", 2010.
As mentioned, Pamela Brown was the daughter of a long-time state legislator, Speaker of the state assembly and one-term Kentucky Congressman Brown.

Her brother John Y. Brown Jr. purchased Kentucky Fried Chicken from Colonel Harlan Sanders in 1964 and turned it into a world-wide brand at a huge profit in 1971.

He went on to be nominated twice by the Democratic Party for Governor of Kentucky, and was its Governor from 1979 to 1983. He remarried and named another daughter Pamela Ashley Brown, who became a successful television anchor. His son John Brown III was Kentucky Secretary of State from 1996 to 2004.

Genie Henderson, childhood friend of the Pamela Brown who perished, keeps the memory of "The Free Life" flight alive. Former President of LTV, the East Hampton television station, her duties today include maintaining the valuable library of archival tapes and DVDs of the station.

A tree was planted in front of Ashawagh in memory of "The Free Life", with a plaque in front of the tree. On September 20, 2015 another commemoration of the event was held, led by Genie Henderson, and a video was made for LTV. The next big anniversary of the balloon attempt will be the 50th, on September 21, 2020, the month after the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which recognized the right of women to vote.

Related Post: Charles Durant

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September 19 - President Garfield dies of assassin's wound

President James A. Garfield
President James A. Garfield died of blood poisoning in 1881 from a lingering wound created by an assassin's bullet on July 1. 

He had served since March 4 of the same year. He had previously served nine terms in the House. 

In the history of the presidency, four presidents have died from assassination. Another six were the subject of assassination attempts. 

Here is a description of each assassination and attempt.

Garfield was close to President Lincoln's Treasury Secretary, Salmon Chase. He was an aggressive Republican, impatient with some of Lincoln's military leadership. He favored more civil rights for newly enfranchised black voters. During his brief term as President, he initiated civil service reform that was carried through by his successor.

Monday, September 16, 2013

U.S. NATIONAL ANTHEM | Sep. 14–"Star Spangled Banner" Written by Francis Scott Key

Francis Scott Key, sunrise,
Baltimore, Sep. 13, 1814.
Today in 1814 Francis Scott Key, an attorney and poet, wrote the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner," after the British attack on Fort McHenry, at the mouth of Baltimore Harbor.

British troops three weeks before captured Washington and set fire to the Capitol, the Treasury, and the President's house. The President, James Madison, fled the city. Americans feared the British might invade other big cities.

Key served in the Georgetown Light Field Artillery and when the British took prisoner his friend Dr. William Beanes, Key went to Baltimore to help negotiate Beanes's release. British ships were located along Chesapeake Bay. Key and Colonel John Skinner obtained Beanes's freedom.

On Sep. 13, the three at sea watched the day-long assault. The British used their new rockets, adapted from Chinese technology. Francis Scott Key watched at night, with little hope that the American fort would withstand the attack. But just after sunrise, he saw it, still flying–the American flag, sewn by Mary Young Pickersgill at the request of fort commander Major Armistead. It was one of the largest flags then in existence – 42’x30’.

Francis Scott Key started writing a poem about the experience. The British ceased their attack and left the area. Key continue composing at an inn the next day. The work was called "The Defence of Fort McHenry" and was printed in handbills and newspapers, including the Baltimore Patriot. The poem was later set to the tune of a drinking song by John Stafford Smith, "To Anacreon in Heaven," and came to be called "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The battle at Baltimore was the turning point of the war and also in the extent of veneration of the flag. Before the war, the American flag was of little sentimental significance for most Americans–it was just the way to identify military units. After publication of "The Star-Spangled Banner," even non-military people began treating the flag as something sacred. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered "The Star-Spangled Banner" played at official events. On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover and Congress declared it the U.S. national anthem.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

BALLOONING | Durant 1st American Aloft

Book by Durant on his flights.
This date in 1830, the first American aeronaut, Charles F. Durant, completed his first balloon flight – from Castle Garden in Battery Park at the lower tip of Manhattan to Perth Amboy, N.J., 25 miles.

(Thanks to Garrison Keillor for noting this historic trip. My comments below on Durant are based on Keillor's story and other sources.)

Americans were late to ballooning. The first manned balloon ride was in Paris in 1783, almost half a century before Durant. A year later, in 1784, a group crossed the English Channel.

The first balloon flight in America was in 1793, observed by a crowd including President Washington. But the aeronaut was French.

So when Durant took off in 1830, he was the first American.  Ballooning still seemed new and exciting in the USA. The New York Post declaimed:
The spectacle drew many persons to the Battery, which was literally covered with an immense multitude of every age, sex, condition and color, whose faces were all turned upwards. It is estimated that upwards of 20,000 persons were collected to see a man risk his neck for their amusement and for their money.
Durant wore a top hat and tails. From the balloon, he dropped copies of poems praising the joys of flight. He was aloft for about three hours, and he landed in a farm field, surprising a New Jersey farmer by the name of Johnson.

Three years later, in May 1833, Durant published a letter in the Journal of Commerce called "A New York Balloon Ascension":
Here burst upon my sight one of the most imposing views I have ever beheld. Call it majestic, splendid, or sublime, — invoke a Shakespeare's mind to describe, or a painter's to portray it, — they, and even thought must fail to conceive the rich downy softness and white fleecy accumulation of clouds piled in waves as far as the eye could reach, covering the earth, and closing to my sight the land, water, and everything, animate or inanimate, that I had so long and often viewed with delight. Above me nothing but a clear, cerulean expanse, — the golden sun-beams spreading over the vast ocean of clouds, and extending through immensity of space where sight is bounded, and from whence even thought returns, unable to traverse the confines of the vast field beyond. 
This gaga writing about flight and open skies continued for a century through Antoine Saint-Exupery in his Vol de Nuit and Little Prince.

The commercial airlines, particularly since the security checks became intrusive, have since taken some of the romance out of flying. But still in 1969 in East Hampton, NY a group of three people – two men and a woman – set off to cross the Atlantic in a balloon called "The Free Life". A book was written about their failed attempt:
Theirs was to have been the first balloon crossing [of the Atlantic] in history. Two of the three, Pamela Brown and Rod Anderson, were inexperienced adventurers who sought a daring route to money, fame and thrills; the third-the pilot-was Malcolm Brighton, a well-known British balloonist intrigued by the challenge. The author (The Dangerous Sort), Brighton's friend and a balloonist himself, here tries to reconstruct what happened from fragmentary records and interviews with friends and family. It becomes clear that in their zesty determination the two amateurs ignored warnings about the balloon's faulty construction, and that Brighton evidently knew the vessel was imperfect but trusted his skills to compensate for its defects. A moving meditation on risk-taking, luck and folly.
A tree and a plaque have been dedicated to them on the lawn outside Ashawagh Hall, where Old Stone Highway runs into Springs Fireplace Road. LTV, whose officer Genie Henderson was a close friend of Pamela Brown, put together a video about the attempt.