Tuesday, November 27, 2007
- 1947 Crosley convertible cruising the streets of Staten Island (after two hefty guys pick up the car's rear end and bounce it up and down. Lots of detail.)
- Another Crosley convertible (needs a muffler)
- 1955 Crosley Shelvador (it reached 38 mph!)
Friday, November 23, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
This photo is from the late 1930s, and that's world traveler Lowel Thomas at the mic.
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
You may have wondered what the fuzes looked like inside. The photo above (click for larger image) shows a breakdown of a 3-inch projectile.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Robert Butts worked on several projects, one of which is shown in the photo. I'll let him describe it: "An interesting project was the design and construction of a portable remote broadcast pickup unit consisting of a high frequency (HF) transmitter mounted in a Dodge car with reinforced springs and a generator in the truck for power. It was used for remotes of all sorts, parades, soap box derbies, and even driven aboard the Island Queen for moonlight dance cruises. A receiver atop the Carew Tower was always on to pick up the HF transmissions and relay them to the studios by telephone line." (Note: The Island Queen was a paddlewheel riverboat that regularly cruised between downtown Cincinnati and the Coney Island amusement park.)
"Another remote broadcast device," Butts continues, "was a backpack HF transmitter used primarily for interviews, notably 'Fans in the Stands' with Dick Bray at Crosley Field." The photo (taken at the Indianapolis 500 race) shows Robert Butts, Dave Conlon, and Bob Booth. Conlon is holding the backpack transmitter.
I'll be sharing more from Robert Butts in future postings. Thanks, Robert!
P.O. Box 175, Oxford, OH 45056
Thursday, November 8, 2007
(Perhaps Armstrong would have taken a dive from a skyscraper anyway, but with what Sarnoff pulled on him, one can't help but wonder if Sarnoff was the last straw.)
Sarnoff also beat Philo Farnsworth out of his television patent. And he tried to knock Crosley out of the radio business--but failed. When RCA lost its lawsuit against Crosley Radio, the suit claiming that Crosley was using the Armstrong patent without license--when Crosley really owned a license and was paying royalties per the standard schedule--it must was one of the greatest failures of Sarnoff's career.
With his ego, Sarnoff must have been mortally offended. But there was more. Crosley had not only "stolen" form Sarnoff and outmaneuvered him in the halls of justice; he had succeeded where Sarnoff failed. Seven years before Crosley introduced the Harko, the radio that sparked the radio revolution in 1921, David Sarnoff had tried to get his superiors at RCA to bring out a low-cost radio and do what Crosley ended up doing.
But Sarnoff was rejected. And so while Sarnoff was worrying over phonograph sales and juggling patents, Crosley was fulfilling the role of the Prometheus of radio that Sarnoff had wanted. Hence, it was Powel Crosley and not David Sarnoff who started the radio revolution.
To add insult to injury, Crosley was the reason that the radio patent pool was established--leaving Sarnoff bereft of something he had stolen.
But there was nothing David Sarnoff could do about it--or was there? How is it that Powel Crosley, Jr. almost disappeared from history? Crosley, the man who built the most powerful commercial radio station in North America? The creator of one of the first 100 radio stations in the U.S., a man who consistently led in breaking the barriers to higher power for more than a decade, and who almost single-handedly established the market for radios and touched off the broadcast industry.
It makes no sense that a man of such achievement could simply be forgotten. But neither Crosley nor his creations are mentioned in most radio histories. Historians seem to ignore Crosley's accomplishments, including his place as the biggest radio manufacturer in the world. Powel Crosley, Jr. inventor, ace marketer, pioneering broadcaster, automaker, and so much more is referred to as an inventor in a garage in the most celebrated chronicle of the Radio Age, Empire of the Air, by Tom Lewis. And Crosley is not mentioned at all in the Ken Burns documentary based on that book. (I do recommend the book; the diminuation of Crosley's importance aside, Empire of the Air is a book that every technology and history enthusiast ought to read.)
Not that I blame Tom Lewis, or Ken Burns. I believe that they, like other historians, were not aware of Crosley's importance. This and Crosley being ignored by others may well be an after-effect of David Sarnoff's revenge. Sarnoff, well-known for his ego and today for rewriting history, may well have "helped" Powel Crosley, Jr. disappear from the rolls of radio history--until the beginning of the 21st Century, when I began writing Crosley.
How could Sarnoff have anything to do with it? Well, he was firmly ensconced at the center of the media industry--New York. He outlived Crosley by a decade, and he had the contacts to persuade journalists and book writers to omit Crosley from history. It is easy to see him squeezing out revenge for Crosley having bested him.
The image above is a center spread from a 1941 "Special W.L.W. Issue" of Muzzle Blasts, the journal of the National Muzzle-Loading Rifle Association, or NMLRA. The W.L.W. Issue was an honor to Crosley and WLW for their continuing support of the NMLRA. One of WLW's early stars, Maurice "Boss" Johnston, arranged many of the NMLRA's national shoots, and served as President of the organization more than once. Johnston also talked Powel Crosley into sponsoring those shoots, providing Crosley radios, Shelvadors, and other appliances for prizes. There was also a Crosley Muzzle-Loading Rifle Championship, with a handsome sliver trophy. The Crosley competition continues to be hosted by the NMLRA today, 70+ years after the first one.
Among the WLW notables in the image are Powel Crosley, Jr. (beneath the "Jr." in his name), WLW Farm Directory George Biggar (top row, under "Boosters"), James Shouse, WLW General Manager (immediately below Crosley) and Boss Johnston, the rugged, square-jawed man just right of Shouse. Several of these Crosley Broadcasting staffers were champion shooters in their own right--a designation that had more meaning then than today.
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
So it should come as no surprise that Crosley was a pioneer in outfitting new luxury watercraft with radios. The accompanying ad (click the image for a larger view) for a Chris Craft Yacht (Model 123) is from 1930. It features an optional battery-powered Crosley Screen-Grid radio, complete with decorative cabinet. The ad notes that this setup is "... not as costly as other similar installations," but at yacht prices, who cared?
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Thanks to wearing a Cincinnati Reds jersey with CROSLEY on the back, I found myself in Sunday's edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer. I also got a T-shirt with the "Books by the Banks" logo.
More than that, I collected more Crosley memories, such as stories of decades-ago trips to Crosley Field that the lady in the Enquirer photo with me shared. Click the logo to learn more about the event, which wasn't named after me, but the banks of the Ohio River.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Pinecroft, owned by Mercy Franciscan Health Partners, is adjacent to Mercy Franciscan Hospital in northwest Cincinnati. You can see it from the hospital parking lot (look south), and if you ask someone will tell you where Kipling Avenue is. It's a short street and the mansion is easy to find. I'm not sure what the current visitor status is, but in the past one could contact a hospital security guard for a tour. That may change as efforts to get Pinecroft on the National Register of Historic Places, so have a look if you can. I expect that in the next five years or so the 18,000-square foot building will be the site of a number of fund-raising events, and when it has been sufficiently restored it will probably be rented out for events.
The image above is part of a 1934 magazine ad for Iron Fireman automatic coal stokers. Pinecroft was equipped with two furnaces, and two stoker systems. The Crosley mansion was important enough at the time (as was Powel Crosley himself) that bragging rights for working on it were significant. I'll be posting more information about Pinecroft in coming weeks.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Waller was fired and for many years the story was that he was fired over his drinking. One version, propounded by newspaperwoman Mary Wood, held that he left empty gin bottles around the studio. (Those who thought it made a cuter story said the bottles were hidden behind the organ console, and interfered with the instrument's operation.) Oh, Fats--you devil!
Another tale was that he left of his own accord because his manager had gotten him a three-movie deal in Hollywood.
Now emerges a new story, from the late Bill Angert, Sr., Lewis Crosley's best friend. Lewis revealed to Angert that Waller, who was black, was fired because he was trying to make time with a white woman--a secretary at WLW. Whether Lewis or Powel made the decision is unclear, though Lewis was more responsible for the day-to-day operations. When you consider that the manufacturing side of the Crosley enterprise, the Crosley Corporation, had only one African-American employee from 1922 through the middle of World War II, the story takes on a semblence of reality. Such were the times. And, like so many other talented performers who worked for WLW, Waller went on to greater things.
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks
Friday, November 2, 2007
Click here for more information: http://www.booksbythebanks.com/
Sources include all sorts of books, and everything from car magazines to The Saturday Evening Post, Time, Business Week, Radio Broadcaster, and more. The Bibliography also lists stories from scores of newspapers around the world. Covering 1911 through 2007, The Crosley Reference contains:
- 379 books with Crosley information
- 683 Crosley newspaper stories
- 496 magazine articles that reference or feature Crosley
That's a total of 1,558 Crosley references. This can help you find those great old articles with photos of Crosley cars and other items you won't see elsewhere. And when you see some article clipped out of a magazine for sale on eBay for too much money, this will identify it and let you find a copy of the whole magazine, for less! This list will help you find original articles and photos available through Web archives, too. Along with the listings, you get a brief, specially written biography of Powel Crosley's automobiles. It contains info not found elsewhere. To get a copy of The Crosley Reference (30+ pages, 4th Edition), send $12.50 to: Michael A. Banks P.O. Box 175 Oxford OH 45056
Or pay with PayPal, sent to the address