Sunday, December 28, 2008
Haldeman-Julius was an unusual publisher, a socialist activist who began publishing classic literature in 1919, intent on educating Americans. His press turned out the works of writers like Voltaire, Poe, Jack London, Balzac, and Oscar Wilde under the imprint of “Little Blue Books” and sold them for five or ten cents each. He also published non-fiction books written by experts on a wide variety of subjects, with titles like Typewriting Self-Taught and The Case for Birth Control. They were immensely popular; more than 100,000,000 Little Blue Books were sold in the 1920s alone. (He wrote a bestseller about his marketing techniques, The First Hundred Million, for Simon & Schuster.)
Powel, a voracious reader, had seen many of these editions and knew that they received wide distribution. Haldeman-Julius routinely solicited new works (even though most of his titles were reprints), and Powel contacted him about publishing The Simplicity of Radio. Powel reasoned, correctly, that radio being a new subject of great interest, Haldeman-Julius would want to publish his booklet.
As published by E. Haldeman-Julius, The Simplicity of Radio, by Powel Crosley, Jr., carried the subtitle The Little Blue Book of Radio, and was 32 pages in length. It was one of the few Little Blue Books that did not list Haldeman-Julius as copyright owner. Instead, the copyright notice read “The Crosley Radio Corporation, Powel Crosley, Jr., President.” Powel had learned enough about intellectual property from patents to know better than to give away a copyright.
There were a couple of specific benefits in having Haldeman-Julius publish the booklet. First, the Crosley Radio Corporation could buy copies of The Simplicity of Radio for less than it cost to have them printed locally. Second, the book was a great promotional device, as it featured Crosley radios and parts. It was also a sales tool; anyone who wanted a copy could request one free. And it was serialized in any newspaper that would have it, at no charge.
Powel may or may not received a royalty on sales; if he did, it was inconsequential, amounting to perhaps a fifth of a cent per copy. The important thing was that The Simplicity of Radio went through at least 20 editions between 1923 and 1929, each edition reflecting advances in radio technology. The final count on copies printed was probably several hundred thousand.
If the number of copies in the holdings of various city libraries was any indication, the book was popular. The New York Public Library, the Public Library of Cleveland, and the public libraries of Chicago and Los Angeles each counted more than 50 copies of the book among their holdings in 1925. I have three different versions of this, and Charlie Stinger has at least one more. You can find The Simplicity of Radio on eBay for five bucks or so.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Another pair of post cards was for radio buyers to send to friends, inviting them to a radio party. Each illustrated card announced that the sender had just bought a new Crosley radio receiver, and invited the recipient to a radio party in celebration. A dozen cards in all came with each set, inserted in the envelope that contained the set’s operating instructions. (Click on the image above to see large versions of all four types of Crosley applause cards.)
It was an ideal promotion, with Crosley radio buyers helping sell Crosley radios. This went right along with data from recent marketing surveys, which showed that more buyers of new radios were influenced by their neighbor’s radio than anything else.
Friday, December 26, 2008
That was a direct link between the Steam Age and the Electric Age. The photo here connects two even more disparate technologies: animal power and radio. Near the bottom of the photo, to the right of the WSAI building, you can see the dark shape of two mules. (The new transmitter building is going up on the right)
Click on the photo to view a larger version. You'll see that the mules are hitched up to a wagon. A couple of laborers are in the picture, too. It looks as if the wagon had just been emptied of its load--perhaps lumber.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Here's the URL for the film:
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
- For radio fans, here's a video about the Crosley Pup single-tube receiver from 1925.
- And here we have close-up video, inside and out, of a 1948 Crosley wagon.
- This video is a tour of a De Forest/Crosley Model 51 receiver, from 1924.
- A Crosley Special, labeled Joe Graves' Crosley, wrecked in 1959, back in action. It has a Cobra-like nose. The engine sounds great!
- Tour of a 1950 Crosley Hotshot, owned by Edgar & Edna Schumann.
- 1952 Crosley Super Sport, was for sale on eBay.
- Crosley Dash Gauges.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Quite a bit has been written about the proximity fuze, over 20 million of which were produced in the Crosley Corporation's Cincinnati factory during World War II. However, there's more than a little of the fuze's history that has not been made available to the general public.
To complete the missing info in Crosley, this and ensuing installments will describe the origins and development of the fuze. This includes the details of experiments with the proximity fuze in pre-war England as a "bomb to bomb bombers."
The most-publicized information to date has had to do with the proximity fuze's applications in four different anti-aircraft shells in the Pacific, against Japanese aircraft. Lesser-known are the original aerial types of the proximity fuze, and the use made of it in place of ground-burst shells.
The first proximity fuzes grew out of a British Air Ministry "bomb the bomber" program in 1938, when it was discovered that the only way Britain's obsolescent biplane fighters could successfully attack fast monoplane bombers was to get above them and drop contact-fused bombs. This meant that drops had to made connect with with the target--a rare occurrence. It was decided then that it would be worthwhile to develop other kinds of detonators, able to set off bombs when they reached close-enough proximity to do damage to an aircraft.
Two kinds of proximity fuzes were initially developed: acoustic and photoelectric. The acoustic fuzes were engineered in both high-frequency and low-frequency models. The challenge of course was to create a fuze that would not detonate a bomb because of the ambient noise created by being dropped. Many trials and errors resulted in a bomb with a piezoelectric(PE) microphone in its nose. Sounds at a certain frequency--as created by a large monoplane--would activate the fuze, which would close a circuit to a relay and electrically detonate the bomb. Both high- and low-frequency models were built.
The acoustic fuzes were a bit sensitive to nearby (up to 2,000 feet) airbursts, as well as vibration from their own arming. So work was done on a photoelectric fuze that would detonate in response to a change in ambient light, nearly always the result of the presence of an aircraft.
The photoelectric proximity fuze been developed before the British Air Ministry began its fuze program. In 1935 a Swiss engineer developed and later patented a concept for an antiaircraft shell fuze that would be detonated by sensing the presence of an aerial target through a change in ambient light. Hence, the fuze was far from being an American invention, and was in fact in use in Britain before American authorities knew of it.
--To be continued in a later post--
Friday, December 5, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The title was originally scheduled for October (I completed the manuscript several months ago). But the publisher has decided to wait until May, in order to allow more time for production and promotion. So, the book will be released on Mother's Day, though you can order it now.
As noted in the past, the book has quite a bit of information about Miss Lyons that has never been published. A good number of photos will be in the book, a number of them not previously published, as well.
My apologies to those of you who had planned on it being published last month. And thanks to those in Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, West Virginia and southern Michigan for your patience!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
That's a pretty good collection. But this photo is equally interesting. Taken in 1939 at Crosley's Cincinnati estate, Pinecroft, it displays the all-new Crosley automobile, along with Crosley's Fairchild 45-A (which he soon got rid of because he bumped into a center-cabin support too often)--all part of a publicity/advertising photo shoot. It's early spring, and that's Page Crosley standing on the wing root, her friends modeling the latest fashions.
Pinecroft had a grass landing field (standard for those days), but the car and the airplane on on a paved surface. It's probably the loop drive that runs by the main mansion yet today. Click on the image to see a large version.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The details are in news reports, but one can't help but wonder whether they would be a successful import in America, if properly marketed. It might save GM or Ford to buy Yugo with their coming windfalls.
That sounds good, but when did a mega-corporation ever do anything smart? (Digression: Ford and GM and Chrysler continuing to turn out massive gas hogs for all these years proves something I've been telling people for years: too much money makes you stupid!)
Naturally we think, "Bring back the Crosley!" A Japanese company was ready to close on a deal to license the Crosley design and buy the tools and templates in 1954, but that deal went away. Probably for the same reasons the Crosley went away: few people were interested in the novelty or the high gas mileage. It was no longer the only new car available.
But the basic design could be upgraded. The automotive rights are probably vested in whatever company Aerojet General became (not in some trumpeting descendant). But that won't happen, either; it's easier to draw up a new car from scratch, or buy the Yugo and upgrade it.
Still, what would it take to update the Crosley as we knew it to meet 21st Century safety and performance standards? Brakes, for sure! Any thoughts?
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Click the image to see it full-size. It's interesting to think that these were made in Cincinnati or Toronto and shipped over. Today, I imgine they'd be manufactured in China!
Both stations were operating at 500,000 watts at the time (WLW at 700,000 watts on occasion--and probably RV-1, as well).
Dr. V.A. Bailey, of the University of Sydney, points out that both stations were capable of producing small auroras with that much power. "But," Dr. Bailey adds, "a million kilowatts, a power not out of reach, would light ten thousand square kilometers of sky equal to the full moon." The light, he said, would be visible for 30 miles around either station.
Click on the article image above to read the entire story.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Right: An unliklier pair to appear in a header there never was. Powel Crosley was a staunch Republican and anti-union, which would have put him in line with Ayn Rand's philosophies. But Powel probably loathed the woman and most of her philosophies because he often ignored facts. And I think his misogony would have put him at a point where he loathed her for being a woman who not only had such philosophies, but expressed them in a popular novel. All of which makes it funny that Crosley is caricatured in Rand's The Fountainhead. I may be wrong, though.
I didn’t notice this the caricature I first read the book, over 30 years ago. But a recent re-reading finds Powel Crosley, Jr. thinly disguised as newspaper baron Gail Wynand. Wynand is an aviation enthusiast who spends a ton of money on the latest and best private aircraft. It is used to set a transcontinental speed record (as was Crosley's Vega), after which Wynand gives it to “… an enchanting aviatrix of twenty-four.” Shades of Ruth Nichols! Wynand's physical description matches that of Crosley, as well.
Rand also lampoons the controlled crash-landing Nichols made in a Pennsylvania field when she tried to set a Cincinnati-to-New York record. In the Wynand version, it is presented as an orchestrated publicity stunt, designed to draw the press--who were waiting there even as the aircraft approached from the west. (Crosley is also echoed in the radio and refrigerator manufacturer who is diversified beyond logic.)
Of course, the Wynand character is a composite of several people, with some original twists. (However, it's not quite the same as the portrayl of William Randolph Hearst in Citizen Kane.) For the writer, The Fountainhead serves as a good model of how to work contemporary figures into a work of fiction without actually using their names.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
If you pick up a copy, you'll note an absurd advertisement stuck in the back for a non-existent book titled Cincinnatisu (I misspelled it). The book was several years in the making because I made fun of the plot as "Lewis Crosley gratuitously winning World War II." The theme changed twice, and now this bit of fiction is being presented as fact to the media.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
He's holding it for the photograph, which gives you an idea of the scale. More to come!
As you can see, Richard has finished painting the pilot, and added true-to-original "white rubber tyres." They're actually balsa as this point, but will be white. The nose and cowling covering are completed, too.
Click on the image to see a large version. More photos to come!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Do these names bring back memories? If so, you'll really like my newest book, On the Way to the Web. Ditto, if you're a fan of technology history. As with Crosley, this is a book I'd been waiting for; it never came out, so I wrote it.
On the Way to the Wev: The Secret History of the Internet and Its Founders is a history of the Internet before the Web, and includes ARPAnet, CompuServe, DIALOG, GEnie, BIX, DELPHI, PLink, PC-Link, Promenade, AppleLink, eWorld, and all the rest--including online services before ARPAnet. I also cover Videotex and teletext in Europe and the U.S. Prestel, Mintel, et al.
"This is a thorough, entertaining, informative, useful history of how our world was transformed during my adult life." --Orson Scott Card
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
Copyright © 2002, 2006, Michael A. Banks
I. THE DRIVER
Johnny Aitken loved his job, which fact was one of the reasons people called him “Happy Johnny.” He was paid to drive—fast. The National Motor Vehicle Company gave him the munificent sum of twenty-eight dollars per month to demonstrate their cars to customers, drive them in races, and incidentally keep them and the garage where they were stored clean.
Though he had a tendency to get too “happy” at local bars, Aitken knew his business. He had won eight out of 12 races last year, and finished second or third in the rest—not bad for an old man of 45. The wins had all been in a 1910 National 40, and he was determined to drive this year’s Model 40 in the International 500-Mile Sweepstakes. His boss, Arthur Newby, had argued against this, wanting instead to build a special for the race. But Aitken convinced the automaker that winning or placing would be far more impressive in a production car than a race car.
Not that this automobile would be exactly like the Nationals sold to customers. Aitken had spent most of the past three months tuning the big six-cylinder engine, tinkering with the carburetor, and fine-tuning the chassis and steering. The results were gratifying, and the way the car burned up the track added to the fun of showing it off for spectators.
And there were always spectators. Lots of locals, but sometimes newspaper or magazine writers and photographers came to watch him and other drivers do test laps—that happened more and more often as the date of the race approached. Other times National engineers, salesmen, or customers turned out. Newby came by every Wednesday morning, usually with some VIP.
Today Aitken planned to take his friend Crosley for a few laps around the track. Originally a Cincinnati boy, Powel Crosley had worked for National as a salesman and publicist for most of 1910, but now worked for Inter-State over in Muncie, where he had some sort of family connection. He showed up at the Speedway three or four times a week, hanging around and talking with anyone who was there—drivers, mechanics, the press, whomever. You couldn’t miss him; he was tall and rangy, and never shut up. He constantly offered opinions and advice—some of it worthwhile, according to Fred Duesenberg, whom Crosley had helped out with some sort of gimmick for balancing crankshafts. For a guy in his mid-twenties, he did know a lot more about some things than you might expect.
When Crosley wasn’t telling people how to do things, he was begging to be allowed to drive a few laps around the track. Whose car it was didn’t matter. Crosley would drive anything, as long as it was faster than his Ford. His not-so-secret ambition was to become a racing car pilot, and he gloried in the few opportunities he’d had to show off his ability to handle an automobile at high speed.
Ernest L. Moross, a racing promoter and the Speedway’s publicity manager, had taken a particular liking to Crosley and helped him with introductions and advice. It was probably thanks to Moross that the brash young man was even tolerated at the Speedway—Crosley having managed to annoy or piss off half the owners, drivers, and mechanics at the track.
Crosley had recently told Aitken that Moross, who managed Eddie Rickenbacker and Barney Oldfield, was interested in managing his own driving career. But the fact was, Crosley didn’t have a racing career. Meanwhile, Newby had warned Aitken to never allow Crosley to drive a National, saying that Crosley was reckless. But all race pilots were reckless. Aitken figured it was something personal between the two, and maybe the fact that Crosley worked for a competitor.
Crosley had approached him early that week, wanting to go for a high-speed ride so he could write about it for the newspapers. Aitken wondered whether Crosley’s employer might object, but the young man had told him it was no problem, that he was using a pen-name to make extra money.
Crosley could easily have fabricated a story, but, as he told Aitken, he was a stickler for authenticity, and he wanted a ride worth writing about. “Take her out and show me what she can do,” he said. “Let’s see if you can break eighty-five!”
Never one to turn down a challenge, Aitken had agreed to meet the young man at 8:00 AM on Friday, when no one else would be on the track. So here he was, sitting at the inside of turn four, the National’s green paint gleaming in the weak sunlight and its distinctive radiator pointing at the mile-and-a-half straightaway stretching south. He had just swung the car around and raised his goggles when he saw a black Model-T Ford coupe bumping across the collection of potholes and dirt clods that was called the parking lot. That would be Crosley.
Breezing by the paddock entrance, the Model T gained the brick track just north of turn one and sped along the straightaway toward Aitken. He watched as the car accelerated, counting off the seconds. Doing forty-five, at least, Aitken guessed. Less than two minutes later, the black coupe slowed and lurched to a stop on the berm next to the National roadster. The door opened and a tall, thin young man in a starched white shirt, coat, and black bowler hat stepped out and unfolded himself.
“Morning, Stretch,” Aitken greeted him.
Crosley grinned, which had the effect of making his long face even longer. “Are we ready?”
“Ready as we’ll ever be, I reckon.” Aitken gunned the engine, its unmuffled roar shaking the ground.
Crosley placed his hat on the Model T’s bench seat, then climbed into the mechanic’s seat on the left side of the National. This being a stripped-chassis car—the only kind Aitken drove—the seat was bolted directly to the frame rail. The cockpit was completely open. The only enclosed space was the cowling around the engine. Crosley donned a cap and goggles laying on the floorboard. Aitken adjusted his goggles.
Crosley gripped the hand-hold to the left and below his seat, nodded, and Aitken throttled up. Crosley heard the roar of the engine and the scraping sound of the rear tires slipping on the worn bricks, and then they were hurled forward, leaving Crosley feeling, as he would later write, “as if the earth were being jerked out from under me.”
A minute later, they swung into turn one at sixty-five miles per hour. Crosley leaned left as the big National ran up the slope of banked track to within a foot of the edge. Aitken laughed and guided the car through the quarter-mile straightaway and the inside of turn two. Crosley glanced at the speedometer. The needle was approaching seventy.
“Hang on!” Aitken yelled, barely audible over the big engine’s roar. Coming out of turn two, a jarring vibration shook the vehicle twice, then smoothed out. Now doing seventy-six miles per hour, they were barely a third of the way through the back straightaway.
Crosley grabbed the second hand-hold, attached to the back of Aitken’s seat, and hunched down behind the cowling. They were going faster than he had ever driven. The sensation was exhilarating, but at the same time a bit discomforting since he wasn’t the one behind the wheel.
The acceleration finally let up as the car swooped through turn three, inches from the inside wall. Now Crosley leaned right, lest he come into contact with the blurred concrete surface. Dust flew and grit stung his face.
Coming out of turn four, Aitken poured on the coal again. The speedometer needle crept to eighty and hung there, quivering. Crosley glanced at Aitken, who stared fixedly ahead, his body rigid. There was a final burst of speed and Crosley felt the car “laying into the groove,” almost as if it was settling closer to the ground. The rumbling of the tires took on a deep bass note.
As they headed back into turn one, Crosley thought about tires. He thought about Cedrino. Cedrino, the ace driver who had been tossed to his death on this very turn when a tire failed and burst, turning his beautiful machine into a nightmare pinwheel.
“—qualified!” Aitken shouted.
“What did you say?” Crosley looked over at Aitken’s now-grinning face.
“I said I qualified. I passed seventy-five miles an hour and held it. That’s the qualifying speed for the race. All I have to do is do it again from a running start next Thursday, when I do my qualifying run. Should be a cinch!”
Aitken had let up on the throttle as they came out of turn one for the second time. Now the car surged as Aitken accelerated through the short straight. Crosley glanced at the speedometer, expecting it to see it rise back to eighty. But the needle was pegged at zero. The speedometer was broken and Aitken hadn’t noticed.
II. THE PROMOTER
Carl Graham Fisher stood pompously—the only way he was capable of standing—and glared past his cigar at the partially-completed timing stand in the oval track’s infield.
“God damn it, boys! Have you been sitting on your asses all day?” He removed the cigar to spit, then eyed the dark clouds rolling in from the northwest. “It’s looking like rain again, and you haven’t even started on the damned roof!”
The crew of carpenters and helpers scowled back at Fisher, who now stalked toward them, his expensive two-tone shoes making squelching noises in the mud. “Who the hell is in charge here?” he squawked. “Dammit—just who the hell is in charge?”
The foreman, a stocky man with a short, curly beard, nodded. “That’d be me, Mister Fisher. I’m sorry we ain’t got to the roof yet, but we been workin’ inside while we’re waitin’ on shingles, so as not to waste your time and money.”
The wind expertly taken out of his sails, Fisher squinted through comically thick glasses, spat out the chaw of tobacco in his mouth, and stuck in a fresh one. “Well, then, who in blazes didn’t deliver the shingles?” he demanded.
“That’d be the supplier,” he drawled. “Portman’s lumber yard.”
“I’ll burn that son-of-a-bitch,” Fisher muttered, then turned abruptly and marched back across the infield. Crossing the brick surface of the track, he stamped his feet to remove the mud from his shoes, which effort was rewarded by splatters of mud on his sky-blue slacks. He didn’t notice.
The big yellow 1911 Cadillac Model 30 was idling on the other side of the brick track outside the paddock entrance where he’d left it. Jane Watts Fisher sat quietly beneath the canvas roof, eyes resting on the slightly rolling Indiana landscape to the east. Trees, corn, and the occasional barn were visible in the distance, the scene distinguished from a painting only by the stirring of stunted cornstalks in the brisk May breeze.
Nearer was the timing tower, which reminded her of the pierhead light outside Michigan City at the Dunes, only square instead of octagonal. Just beyond that she could see Grandstand C, about three-quarters of a mile away. Several men shoveled a pile of something into a wagon next to the structure. A mule stood unmoving in a harness attached to the wagon.
The car leaned and creaked as Carl Fisher stepped up on the right-side running board. “Dumb bastards!” he said, shoving his bulk behind the huge steering wheel. He spoke as if he were announcing dinner.
“Who, dear?” Jane asked.
Fisher put the car into reverse and advanced the throttle. “All of ‘em, just all of ‘em. There’s not a man who can get a job done without being reminded of what he’s supposed to do. I swear, I don’t know how the world gets by.
“Five days, Jane—only five days until the race, and the grandstands aren’t painted.” He finished backing the car around to point it in the direction of the drive that led south to the highway. “The God damned mud is everywhere, and Newby’s complaining about the tickets, and—” he paused to turn his head and spit into the breeze, “and the lumber yard can’t find half the materials it was supposed to have here last week!”
Jane looked away for a moment as he wiped “tobacco juice” from his cheek with a stubby finger. “It will come together in the end, dear.” She patted his arm. “Everything you do comes together. It’s just that it takes you to make it happen, and I know that’s hard on you.”
The heavy car lurched over the rutted, tree-lined drive that led to the highway. Fisher slowed as they approached the Speedway entrance, which was framed by an eight-foot high green-and-white picket fence. He waved at the man watching the gate, and noticed that his cigar had gone out. He stopped the car, fished in his coat pocket for a match and struck it on the Cadillac’s dashboard, incidentally scarring the polished wood surface for the hundredth time.
As he puffed the cigar alight he mumbled around it, “Well, I’ll damned well make it happen, or know why. You can take that to the bank!”
They rode the rest of the way into Indy in silence, the car’s suspension fighting bravely to smooth out the bumps and dips of 16th Street. Roads, Fisher mused, now there’s something else that needs done.
But his ideas about roads—wide paved roads running south to Florida and west to California—would have to wait. For now, the race consumed nearly every waking moment. And as usual it looked like he was going to have to do everything. Allison and Wheeler had put up more money but begged off managing the new construction at the track, pleading business pressures. Business? Hell, he was in business with Allison—they owned the Prest-O-Lite Company, and made headlamps for just about every car that rolled off an assembly line, from Fords and Cadillacs on down to John North Willys’ Overlands. Though how much longer they would be doing that was debatable.
Partners—why did he bother? They left it to him to hire and supervise contractors, deal with track management and the manufacturers who wanted time at the brickyard, and handle just about everything else to do with the coming International 500-Mile Sweepstakes. Here he was, lining up last-minute publicity and confirming drivers and a thousand and one other things that a man in his position ought not to be bothered with. And on top of that, Arthur Newby was trying to slip out of paying for the tickets because he hadn’t okayed the printer.
Fisher turned south on West Street, silently appreciating the now-smoother road surface. At Washington Street a quick left aimed them at Monument Circle—the most confusing street in America, for Fisher’s money. It was a simple roundabout, but for some reason it induced manic confusion in local and out-of-town folks. But that was one of the things that made Indy its own city: rather than a town square, it had a town circle.
Fisher turned right onto Monument Circle, edging into the counterclockwise traffic flow while cursing the driver of a Buick who seemed intent on forcing him up on the sidewalk. Before Fisher could damn the driver to Hell a second time, the Buick sped up and got out of the way. He drove three-quarters of the way around the roundabout and turned north onto Meridian Street. His goal was the Fisher Automobile Agency, whose sign loomed over the building four blocks away.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he announced, out of nowhere.
Jane Fisher was accustomed to her husband speaking without referents, sometimes picking up a conversation from the day before. “About?” she prompted.
“About the Star. They want me to take out a whole signature—a four-page advertisement for the race, to run Monday. I just don’t know that I should buy another damned advertisement. The King of Siam himself must have heard about the race by now. What is another advertisement going to do? Nothing.”
He drove across the concrete apron that fronted the Fisher Automobile Agency and into the building’s cavernous garage, sounding the Cadillac’s new electric horn in case no one noticed him. He shut off the motor and climbed out, nodding to a shop hand to take care of the car as he stepped around the front to help Jane down from the running board. He paused to look down the length of the garage, wide enough for three ranks of autos, with mechanics at work on a half-dozen in the light from the big windows on the building’s north side. At a glance, he picked out several new Cadillacs, as well as Oldsmobiles, REOs, and an Apperson. Coupes, phaetons, sedans, runabouts—nearly every style of automobile made.
Jane waited patiently for him by the door to the offices. At 17, she had an infinity of patience when it came to her husband, largely because she had yet to learn that she couldn’t change him. But they had only been married for two years; that sad realization would come later. In the meantime, she was content to be the supportive wife of a mad genius businessman.
Satisfied that nothing he had to handle was afoot in the shop, Fisher spun on one heel and headed for the twin doors to the offices. He pulled open the right-hand door, held it for Jane and followed her in. Ahead of them was a long hallway that led to a showroom, with several office doors on either side. Immediately to the right was a staircase, then a wide counter behind which a neat young man operated an adding machine and made notations in a ledger. The walls were covered in dark wainscoting that rose halfway to the ceiling, white plaster filling in the rest. The ceiling itself wore painted tongue-and-groove paneling. Criscrossing it were new electrical conduits that supplied lights up and down the hallway.
Seconds after the door swung shut behind Fisher and his wife, heads began popping out of the office doors while others peered down the length of the hall from the showroom, as if a silent alarm had gone off.
They all rushed him at once. The salesmen wanted to talk with him, as did the sales manager, the office manager, and the shop manager. Fisher held up his hands, shook his head and darted up the dark staircase to his private office, Jane at his heels.
Copyright © 2002, 2006, Michael A. Banks
Monday, May 5, 2008
The museum itself is well worth a visit (as is its Web site)! It's just outside Columbus, Ohio and--yep--they had Crosley televisions, along with examples of just about every other brand. Kits, too; I was especially interested to see the 3-inch phospher-tube kit set that NRI provided back in the 1940s.
Hundreds of televisions, cameras and accessories are on display. There's also the Dave Johnson Cathode Ray Tube collection, and for the con a mobile unit (truck) from the early 1950s was on display.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Watching people admire Tom Miller's 1948 Crosley station wagon (that's Tom holding the Crosley's door) at various signings and talks, this slogan came to me. I think it could have been used to sell new Crosley automobiles:
Get a Crosley: The Conversation Piece You Can Drive!
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Cropyright © Michael A. Banks 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Ruth always turned out for Opening Day. And some will remember her singing "Rally 'Round the Reds" on the 50/50 Club.
Dayton Daily News columnist Chick Ludwig has collected memories of Ruth Lyons and Opening Day at his blog Chick at Large. Click here to see Chick's tribute to Ruth Lyons.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
Richard builds small-scale free-flight models for indoor flying (a wonderful hobby--you don't have to chase them far!) I've shared some photos of the original Flying Flea with him, and I think I may try building it in a few months. (A switch from model rockets.)
Click on the photo to see a larger version of the fuselage. There will be more photos of the Crossley-Crosley Flying Flea here as the work progresses.
Friday, February 8, 2008
In the interview, Chris notes that, "I do my best thinking via my blogs." Here are quotes from a few other bloggers I interviewed for the book:
* "For me, the future of journalism is blogging."-- Mary Jo Foley, All About Microsoft
* "One of the true beauties and powers of blogs is that they can give voice to people who are not heard."-- Frank Warren, PostSecret
* "When I look out at the blogosphere, I don't see lots of inconsequential blogs. I see lots of possibility."-- Gina Trapani, Lifehacker.com
I'll be sharing some photos of early Crosley television activities over the next couple of weeks.
Crosley's initial experiments with television began in 1939, with TV demos at the Carew Tower and inside the Crosley Pavilion at the Chicago World's Far. (Crosley was partnered with DuMont at the time.)
For info, call: 888.388.2009 Or go to http://www.dtv2009.gov/ and apply online.
Download a mail-in coupon at https://www.dtv2009.gov/docs/Coupon_Program_App_en.pdf
Or write: TV Converter Box Program, P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208.
Remember: The coupon expires 90 days after it's put in the mail to you, so don't request one until you're ready to buy.
I think Powel would have come out with a converter box that would undersell all the rest, even with coupons. "Buy CROSLEY! No coupon necessary!"
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Or so they thought. The house Lewis Crosley and his wife bought was originally built by Mr. Wood for his mistress. Then he found his mistress in bed with one of his drivers.
He threw her out of the house. She packed up and left, but on her way out she took a hatchet to the walls. Wood's workers apparently did an excellent job of repairing the damage; the Crosleys thought the house had never been lived in. Incidental to this, Wood had planned on putting in a pool. This explained the larger-than-necessary water service put in for the property, on which they blamed their high water bills. The water bills aside, the story was always a source of great amusement for them.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
MacDonald was also an adventurer, backing the Macmillan/Byrd polar expedition (and providing radio support) and participating in underwater archaeology in the Great Lakes. In addition to these interests, MacDonald was deeply interested in the possibility of mental telepathy and other parapsychological phenomena, and sponsored a national research program via radio broadcasts, in cooperation with Dr. J.B. Rhine.
As might be expected, Eugene F. MacDonald would make an interesting subject for a biography. Radio historians Harold N. Cones and John H. Bryant have taken on MacDonald’s story, in part, in Zenith Radio: The Early Years: 1919-1935. (This happens to be the period of Crosley's ... Zenith, so to speak.) If you enjoyed CROSLEY, you’ll want to add this book to your library, because the two men's stories intersect and because MacDonald is fascinating in his own right. Recommended.
Monday, January 14, 2008
The photo was taken at the grand unveiling of the Crosley at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 3, 1939. The cars and the crowd they drew are located on the track in front of the pagoda-like timing stand.
Friday, January 11, 2008
It's a cartoon that reminds us of the Crosley Shelvador. Crosley made a "Tri-Shelvador," but it didn't have this many doors! If Crosley was still making Shelvadors, they just might look like this one. Thanks to Jim Bollman for the link.