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This Day in My History

  Our Town Revisited
Friday Five

 Piñata People
2004:  Need-to-Know Basis

Joe Btfslpk

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"Lord, the Gospel According to Biff"

"Jimminy Grasshopper"

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Flash version is here.

Master list of links to (most) videos
by Mefeedia

My Favorite Video Blogs

29 Fragile Days
Bicycle Sidewalk
Carl Weaver's Video
Dan and Jen's Animal Friends

Drive Time
Josh Leo's Video
Kitchen Arts
Living with the Fallas
Minnesota Stories
PJK Productions
Randy Wicker Reporting
Walk Los Angeles
White Guy Eats Foreign Foods

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Toys for Tots

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Support liberty and justice for all

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Tee-Hee Moment:

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Bill O'Reilly about David Letterman, February 2001"Mr. Letterman is a smart guy who can spot a phony with telescopic accuracy and expects his guests to bring something to the table. If a guest begins to sink on this show, the bottom is a long way down."

David Letterman to Bill O'Reilly, January 4, 2006"I have a feeling that about 60% of what you say is crap."

Note to Linda in E. Texas:  I'd like to write to you, but I can't find your e-mail address


5 January 2006

I'd like to put together a video about my grandparents, my father's parents, because I have all this information about them, which is in bits and pieces and even I can't make a coherent "history" of them from it.  My grandfather left scrapbooks.  My godfather (my grandfather's brother) left scrapbooks, but much of those books rely on the viewer actually knowing what s/he is looking at in order to make a coherent "history."

My grandparents, as I have stated before, met in vaudeville.  Grandpa (Al West) was an Irish tenor, member of a group called "The Columbia Four" (among others).  My grandmother was a chorus girl.  It kills me, at my age, to know that they had this rich show business history that I never knew, much less asked about.  My mother tells me my father was ashamed of his mother because she had danced in the chorus.  I didn't even know that until this year.

My grandmother put my grandfather down all of my life, ridiculing him on those very rare occasions when he would sing, still having the strong voice that he had when he stood on stage.  I only remember two times when he sang in all the years I knew him, and my grandmother rolled her eyes in exasperation.  Easy to see why that part of their past life was never discussed.

But as I go through these scrapbooks, I get hints of what life was like, not only for them, but for others in the family.  It's absolutely fascinating. 

Here, for example, is a newspaper article about my grandparents and others in the quartet (the photo is from a different article)

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"No love-making," says Boss; "We're married," replies pair.

With three of his prize chorus girls gone, victims to Cupid and the love-making of his own male quartet, Manager Ben Dillon of Dillon and Kint's Musical Comedy Company has the remaining member of the quartet under lock and key and has issued an order that the next chorus girl seen so much as stealing a glance at the love god is "fired."

It all happened when the company arrived in Oakland yesterday.  Dillon called his company together.  He explained that he couldn't allow actors to have girls in the company as "steadies."  He looked right at the quartet, having heard before of certain love affairs.  Then came the surprise.

"We're married," said Joseph F. Chambers and "Billie" Vandal.

"We're going to be next week!" declared Clarence Wurdig and Mabel Fitzpatrick.

"Yes, and so are wek," said Al West and Pearl Legler.

Dillon looked at Grover Clark, the last of his quartet.

"Well, how about you?" he asked.

"Not yet!" said Clark.

"Get into the office, then," ordered Dillon.  Clark did and Dillon locked the door.  "I'll have one man in the company who can work, anyhow," he declared.

The marriages and engagements of the chorus girls in Dillon's company means dismissal for the feminine ones although the husbands will still be employed.  The rule is that no married pairs shall remain in the company.

"It means that three of my best chorus girls are gone," declared Dillon.  "And good chorus girls are scarce.   It's a lucky thing my stage hands and musical director are married or I suppose Cupid would still be working."

The male quartet has been a feature of the Dillon and King Show for more than a year.  The girls are well known to local theatregoers.

In another article, I very nearly didn't read, I found this:


While walking to school with one of his playmates this morning, nine year old Louis Barlow, son of Frederick Barlow, a molder living at 1201½ Octavia St., was run over and killed by a heavy delivery automobile at the corner of Golden Gate Ave. and Franklin St.

The chauffeur in charge of the machine, whose name is unknown, stopped long enough to see the unconscious lad picked up and carried to the Central Emergency Hospital in the arms of Al West of 408 London St. and then speeding up his automobile escaped before the arrival of the police.

My grandfather--the hero, apparently!

The scrapbooks detail mostly countless shows, concerts, fund-raisers, and fame for the groups with whom my grandfather was associated.  I also found other surprising articles about other members of the family in that generation, which I'll write about tomorrow.

Makes me wonder if, 50+ years from now, there will be someone who wishes s/he could have asked questions of Walt or of me before it was too late and all of our stories died with us.

Of course, with this journal hanging around in cyberspace forever, that's hard to imagine!

Sheila/Kimba update:   With Latte gone, things are gradually returning to normal.  There have been no further attacks on Kimba, though Sheila remains on leash.  This morning Kimba got out of bed for the first time in 2 days.  As I write this, Sheila is lying at my feet with a toy, her head next to Kimba's body under my desk, just like it used to be.


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Pearl Legler and Al West


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