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, W├╝rttemberg, 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.


Will Woodin's Musical Ability: Wayne Homren, "William H. Woodin's Political Journey And Musical Talent", 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.


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

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.