Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Real Story Behind the Woman in the Crosley House

Recently I had the fortune to talk with someone who was very close to the Lewis M. Crosley family, and get the full story about the rumors of Lewis Crosley supposedly having kept a mistress in a house on Loiswood Drive in College Hill. As it turns out, someone did keep a mistress in the house--but it wasn't Lewis Crosley.

The house was part of a development built by a Mr. Wood. (Hence, the name Loiswood Drive, and the other streets in the development that end in "wood"--Hollywood, Elmwood, etc.) The neighbors occasionally made funny remarks about the house that didn't quite make sense to the Crosleys. All they knew was that they had bought the house new from Mr. Wood.

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

Recommended Reading: Zenith Radio History

Lt. Commander Eugene F. MacDonald was one of the founders of Zenith Radio, and served as the company's President until his death. He was also a good friend of Powel Crosley, Jr. The two carried on good-natured competitions (as when Zenith brought out the world's largest radio, only to be one-upped by Crosley's WLW Model Super Power Radio Receiver). Like Powel Crosley, MacDonald was a yachtsman. He was a frequent guest at Crosley's Florida Sea Gate mansion, and owned an island near Crosley's Nissaki on the Canadian shore of Lake Huron.

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

Crosleys in a Crowd

Just for fun, here's a photo you won't find in a newspaper or magazine. It's just too "busy." But if you look closely you should be able to pick out three 1939 Crosleys, the door of a fourth, plus a bare '39 Crosley chassis. (Click the image for the large version.)

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

The Tri-Shelvador!

Check out this Web page:
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.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Crosley War Production: The Mark 14 Gun Sight

Quite a bit of attention has been focused on Crosley's involvement with the Radio Proxmity Fuze, a device that enabled Naval gunners (and others) to blow enemy aircraft out of the skies with deadly efficiency. Crosley's role was not inventing the device, but manufacturing it and increasing the efficiency of manufacture.

I'll write more about the Proxmity Fuze in a future post. (I was able to hold a couple of these in my hands while traveling recently.) Here I want to focus on another vital Crosley element of the war effort, the manufacture of the Mark 14 (or Mark XIV) gun sight. This gun sight (properly written as two words when it was in use) also increased the accuracy of gunners. A mechanical device, it compensated for gun mount movement, parallax, and other variables to help line the gun up with the target by angle and azimuth. The modern counterpart is the laser sight.
The Mark 14 was used with 20-mm, 1.10-inch, and 40-mm guns. The image above is from the Mark 14 gun sight's Operating Bulletin for gunners and range setters.