Thursday, August 7, 2008

May 16, 1929

Time Magazine, People section, May. 27, 1929:

"Names make news." Last week the following names made the following news:

John Pierpont Morgan, yachtsman, has made his last voyage on his huge, black-hulled Corsair. Last week the Corsair beat United Cigar Store Tycoon George J. Whalen's Warrior across the Atlantic. In Manhattan the Corsair's officers announced that she would be turned over to the U. S. Geodetic Survey. Mr. Morgan will not stop yachting. A two-million-dollar successor to the Corsair is being built in Bath, Me.

In 1929, my great-grandfather was living with his family in a mud hut out in the Mojave Desert. They owned a car, but it didn't work. Legend says Great-Grand spent a long time tinkering with it, even inventing a new part that wouldn't require you to crank the car to start it. I've seen pictures of this device, it's real. Had Great-Grand decided to patent it, we might be billionares.

John Coolidge once bought a saxophone for $230, tooted it in the White House. His father objected. Son John sold the horn. Last week one Arnold Zahn of Brookline, Mass., obtained what was represented as being the Coolidge saxophone, at a Boston pawnshop, for $15.

While we never got rich, his tinkering did start a chain reaction that resulted in a whole bunch of mechanics. He got a job as a mechanic, and all his sons became mechanics. My Dad and his brothers all became mechanics. Never owned a shop, mind you. That would have been too ambitious for my relatives. They liked to play it safe.

Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, grandson of the onetime Kaiser, lately engaged to German Cinemactress Lili Damita, is listed as "Louis Ferdinand," student-laborer, in the Ford assembly plant in Los Angeles. He eats his lunches from paper bags. Last week he said he liked his job. Said he: "I'm just goofy—you understand that?—about it, although I do not know what my parents will do when they find out."

My Dad, however, didn't care about passing it on. He didn't want his kids to be trapped by family tradition. If I had a question about cars, he'd tell me, he'd show me the insides and talked about how they worked, but only if I asked. He never went "Here, take this screwdriver and come with me."

William Marion Jardine of Washington & Kansas, onetime Secretary of Agriculture, was last week elected board chairman of Investment Corp. of North America, succeeding the late Lyman B. Kendall.

And I still don't really care about cars. I never ooed and awed over the classic hotrods and the latest in minivan technology. I'm happy as can be with my beat-up 80s Taurus. And as a kid, the mechanics of it all just bored me to death.

Mrs. Harry Ford Sinclair neared a nervous breakdown last week, was taken from Washington to a sanatorium at Battle Creek, Mich.

No. What I was interested in was movies.

Edsel Ford dug the first turf last week for a new Ford plant in Degenham, Essex, England. So manfully dug he that he bent his silver spade. The factory, to be finished in less than three years, will employ 15,000, make 300,000 Fords yearly.

The most I ever wanted to know about cars was how they got the time machine to fly in Back to the Future Part II.

Edward Gordon Craig, famed British stage designer, son of the late Actress Ellen Terry, announced last week that next fall he would make an extensive U. S. lecture tour. His last U. S. visit was in 1885.

I made my first movie at the age of five. It was five minutes long and was a mock news report about things going on around the house. I later made fan-scripts for episodes of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and did comics adaptions of my favorite Mickey Mouse cartoons. My favorite movie was Escape From Witch Mountain.

Thomas Tunney, Manhattan detective, brother of retired fisticuffer James Joseph ("Gene") Tunney, went last week to squelch a conference of policy game promoters, scuffled with a large Negro, wrested a revolver from his hand.

When I was 12, I experimented with stop-motion. I did several one-man Christmas plays (Please don't ask how I made Frosty The Snowman into a one-man play. That was a nightmare) and I got other kids from around town to do plays with me too. I shot most of my family's vacation videos with a huge clunky VHS camera that weighed ten pounds. My favorite movie was Jurassic Park.

James Joseph ("Gene") Tunney, has been twanging a harp during his stay on the Adriatic isle of Brioni. Last week he was in no mood for twanging. Reason: it was reported that Mrs. Tunney, convalescent from an appendicitis operation (TIME, May 20) must soon undergo another for stomach trouble.

In high school, my senior project was a documentary on the private life of teachers. I also did docs for science class on the stages of matter and of the different types of rocks. My favorite movie was Memento.

At Yale's annual Tap Day (senior society elections), held last week, the first man chosen by Scroll & Key was Woodruff R. Tappen, junior varsity stroke oar, tapped by Paul Mellon, son of the Secretary of the Treasury. The seventh man chosen by Skull & Bones was Waldo W. Green, football captain-elect, tapped by George Harris Crile, son of Dr. George W. Crile, famed Cleveland physician whose clinic was last week a scene of catastrophe (see p. 15).

I took one film school class. We watched the South Park movie. My favorite movie was The 400 Blows.

Paul Louis Charles Claudel, poet, novelist, French Ambassador to the U.S., spoke in Manhattan last week to the Catholic Actors Guild. Said he: "I am sure [you] are all good Catholics and very good actors. As for myself, if I try to be a good Catholic I am not at all sure to be a good actor on that very catholic scene of Washington diplomacy, where ambassadors have to play their part in a kind of international revue and all-day performance before a tolerant but slightly bored public."

I'm currently making a documentary on the churchs around town. My favorite movie is F For Fake.

The late Melville Elijah Stone, longtime Associated Press General Manager, gave, like the late great John Wanamaker, most of his money to his family before he died. Last week, it was announced he left an estate of "not more than $2,000."

And now, god help me, I'm watching every movie possible that was nominated for an Academy Award.

Douglas Fairbanks, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, presided in Los Angeles last week when the Academy's annual prizes were awarded. Among the winners : Acting — Janet Gaynor (Seventh Heaven) ; Emil Jannings (The Way of All Flesh, The Last Command) ; Directing — Frank Borzage (Seventh Heaven) ; Engineering Effects — Roy Pomeroy (Wings) ; Outstanding Picture — Paramount Famous Lasky Corp. (Wings). Charles Chaplin was specially rewarded for being writer, actor, director, producer of The Circus.

1 comment:

radical royalist said...

Prince Louis Ferdinand must have enjoyed his time as a Ford worker. He wrote fondly in his memoires about his three years in the USA.