Monday, November 9, 2009

The Secret of the Spiral Chimneys

What with writing four more books and some magazine articles, it's been a while since I've had time to post the new Crosley material I've been turning up. This latest has to do with Crosley's mansion, Pinecroft.

You may remember that the chimneys for the working fireplaces of the 1928 structure are spiral in construction (color photo, right). They are a beautiful sight, but I believe it turns out that they are more than that, if the caption accompanying the other photo from a 1934 issue of Popular Mechanics is no exaggeration. Pinecroft's chimneys may be fire hazard nowadays, but it appears that they were designed to blow trails and streamers of smoke--and even smoke rings.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Crosley Bio Corrections Addendum

In several places, the National Air Tour organized by Edsel Ford is referred wrongly to "the National Air show." It was officially known to the press and participants as the "National Air Tour."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Recreating a Crosley Broadcasting Program

In an earlier note, I talked about recreating "The 50-50 Club," which Crosley Broadcasting transmitted from its television stations in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and Indianapolis in the 1950s and 1960s. That was for the April 29 launch of Before Oprah: Ruth Lyons, the Woman Who Created Talk TV. There were two events that day, one at 11:00 AM, the other at 6:00 PM. You can see a portion of the morning event (which included WLWT announcer Bill Myers, singer Colleen Sharp, Ruth's former secretary Mickey Fisher, and producer Dick Murgatroyd) here:

There's a partial interview with me in that segment, too. A lengthier video of the reenactment of "The 50-50 Club" that we did for the evening signing is here:

The actress who portrays Ruth Lyons is Shelley Bamberger Bailey. Her performance was outstanding!

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Station that Crosley Built: Final Analog Broadcast

WLWT (or, as many of us grew up knowing it, WLW-T) is among the television broadcasters wrapping up their analog activities tonight--Friday, June 12, 2009--at Midnight.

Bill Myers (shown in in WLWT's studio in the picture) kindly sent along the URL for the final broadcast, already archived ahead of time. Click here to view the program. There's a commerical, of course; just wait patiently. Bill is the announcer, and the video includes a whirlwind overview of Cincinnati TV, with shots of Paul Dixon, Bob Braun, Ruth Lyons, the Cincinnati Reds and Pete Rose, Jerry Springer, and more.

"What fun we had!" Bill wrote in the note that accompanied the above photo. "We were lucky to be a part of it. As Pete Grant would say, 'Goodnight. Time's up! Goodnight, all.' "

Friday, May 29, 2009

Crosley Broadcasting's "The 50-50 Club" is Back!

Remember Ruth Lyons and Crosley/AVCO Broadcasting's "The 50-50 Club?" Broadcast daily on Crosley television stations in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and Indianapolis from Noon to 1:30 PM, the live show was a mainstay of Midwest television beginning in 1949. It reached an audience of 7 million.

In conjunction with the launch of the biography of Ruth, titled Before Oprah: Ruth Lyons, the Woman Who Created Talk TV, publisher Orange Frazer, actress Shelley Bamberger Bailey, and I did a reenactment of "The 50-50 Club" to kick off the book's launch. This was on April 29, at Joseph-Beth Bookstore in Cincinnati. We repeated the show at a number of other signings. You can watch part of the show by clicking here (it's on Youtube and Orange Frazer's Web site). Or, click on the image above.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Crosley Broadcasting Network's Biggest Star in New Book!

John Kiesewetter penned an excellent article about Ruth Lyons for the Cincinnati Enquirer's Sunday, April 12, issue. Lyons' 50-50 Club was the top-rated show on the Crosley Broadcasting Newtork in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky during the 1950s and 1960s. Not incidentally, it talks about my biography of Miss Lyons, Before Oprah: Ruth Lyons, the Woman Who Created Talk TV (Orange Frazer Press, April 15, 2009).

The story (and the book) includes several previously unpublished photos.

The book is now available from Orange Frazer and Amazon.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Before Oprah: Ruth Lyons biography is now available!

Now Available!

You can now buy Before Oprah: Ruth Lyons, the Woman Who Created Talk TV, direct from the publisher, Orange Frazer Press, or The 260-page hardcover is available at a discount from both (use the promo code RUTH at the publisher's Web site).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Interesting Twist on Advertising by Crosley...

I don't have the date handy, but I have a copy of a paycheck form the Evansville (IN) Courier that carries an advertisement for Crosley radios. I believe it was in late 1939 ... probably a good strategy: hit 'em when they've got money!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Powel Crosley's Bird Dogs

In Powel Crosley, Jr.'s heyday--the 1920s and 1930s--it was fasionable for wealthy men to hunt birds (among other animals), often with horses and always with specially bred dogs. The men considered themselves experts in their fields, though in truth they probably weren't as expert in using and caring for a rifle or shotgun as men who depended on guns for their supper. (And there were plenty of those in rural areas.)

Dogs were typically trained by specialists, the owner learning enough to command and work with a dog. (The training was intensive enough that most industrialists would not have had the time to go through the process; hence the specialists.) When he got into the sports in the 1920s, Powel Crosley, Jr. was referred (perhaps by "Boss" Johnston) to a trainer in Jennings County, Indiana. That's what brought him to the area where he built his nature preserve (today the Crosley Fish & Wildlife Area(.

One of his prize dogs was a bitch named Lady Manitoba, handled at shows and meets by W.J. Wilson. Placed at the Sixteenth American Field Futurity held in Sparta, Illinois, on November 4 and 5, 192. Somewhere I have a photo or two of Powel and his dogs. As soon as I can find one, I'll scan and share it here.

There is No "Sole-Surviving Descendent of the Crosleys"

This subject comes up yet again because once again the press is throwing around the statment that G.W. Mcclur is "the only surviving descendent of Lewis Crosley." They were saying that Mac was the "sole surviving desecendent of the Crosley brothers," but I think one or more of the many living descendents of Powel Crosley, Jr. objected.

And there are more descendents of Lewis Crosley, alive and quite well. Nor is Mac the author of the book. He did pay for printing and all the billboards. (Besides all that, what is the descendent supposed to have "survived?")

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Crosley Camera: "Vaporware?"

The "Crosley Camera Press Jr. Model" was mentioned in the Crosley story as a product that had been put on the market and lost a lot of money.

My source on that was unreliable, unfortunately. The tale of loss was a fabrication. The Crosley Corporation announced the camera, but never got it into production. It began as an idea presented by someone outside the company. It was going to be a camera with everything, and--in the manner of nearly all Crosley products--it would have something different. In this case, the product would look different. The back would be convex, touted as enhancing the focal length of the lens.

The 35mm camera would, according to Crosley announcements, come with a bunch of extras, including a flash reflector, "steadying handle," built-in flash bulb socket, built-in flash synchronization, built-in receptacle for flash (hot shoe), and more. In the Crosley tradition, one or two "extras" weren't exactly extras. (Rather like an ad in the Cincinnati Enquirer touting WLW's grand opening broadcast as "Absolutely Free!")

The Camera magazine pretty much summed up the situation: "The Crosley camera, much touted in advance ballyhoo, has been removed from this year's market, may appear next year instead ..."

Why didn't the camera make it to the market? Like the Xervac and Reado, the Crosley Press, Jr. Model Camera got lost in the shuffle of the war.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Water-Burning Carburetors

In 1921 and 1922, Crosley’s Americo operation (American Automobile Accessories Company) offered carburetors that “burned” water—the miracle that’s still with us today!

The aftermarket accessories were offered in newspapers and magazine like Popular Mechanics. Do you supposed they stopped selling the gas-saving devices because the oil industry paid them off, like all the others? Anyway, it’s a safe bet that neither Powel nor Lewis Crosley used them with their respective Fords and Cadillacs.