WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN APRIL 1948
 
 
 

Manana (Is Soon Enough For Me) is the top song in America, enjoying a nine week run at #1 on the Billboard Pop Charts.

Somewhat surprisingly for the era in question the artist, pop vocalist Peggy Lee, wrote this herself along with her husband, guitarist Dave Barbour, a rarity in the 1940’s when most material was culled from outside sources. Sadly far more typical for the times however is the fact that while the country was perfectly willing to enjoy a Latin-themed song they were still uneasy about listening to them actually performed by people of Hispanic origin.

Instead Lee, who was born Norma Egstrom in North Dakota of Swedish and Norwegian decent, about as far away culturally and geographically from Latin America as possible, adopts a stereotypical accent to deliver lines that are in fact humorously ridiculing the very people she’s singing about. Catchy though it may be it’s amazing that nobody seemed to realize it was naïvely disrespectful and frankly rather insulting.

Peggy Lee was a tremendous singer – something not really applicable with this fluffy piece – and a very solid songwriter who had a long and varied career, but the social ignorance of the era was so ingrained in America that these things were all too commonplace.
 

 
 

The ABC Television Network debuts, becoming the third of the Big Three Networks that would dominate the medium for the rest of the 20th Century.

ABC was created as a result of FCC’s breakup of NBC’s near-monopoly in radio of the 1930’s when it had two national radio networks (NBC Red network and NBC Blue network) which along with the other dominant player CBS was preventing the Mutual Broadcasting System from breaking into certain markets. The FCC ordered NBC to divest itself of one of its networks and Edward Nobel purchased NBC Blue in 1942, renaming it the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and began to slowly build their own programming and audience.

But when its competitors NBC and CBS aggressively moved into television with their much larger war chests in the hopes of cornering the market on that field as well the smaller, less profitable ABC lagged behind. Fearing being left out altogether they submitted applications for securing channels across the United States and on April 19th ABC aired their first network TV program, On The Corner, ironically having to be shown in New York on the rival DuMont network because their own flagship station, WABC, was not even operational at the time.

For the first decade of its existence ABC would languish well behind NBC and CBS, and even for a time the smaller, less well-funded DuMont until that network went off the air in the mid-50’s. By then ABC had made a few key changes which would soon spark their turnaround, most notably merging with movie operator United Paramount Theaters giving it an influx of cash as well as connections to film, most notably the partnership between Walt Disney – who needed financing for building his theme park Disneyland – and ABC, which needed creative programming. In 1954/55 Disneyland (the program) gave ABC their first Top Ten series since 1950.

By the late 1950’s ABC had fully broken through thanks to a string of westerns (Maverick, The Rifleman, Sugarfoot, Cheyenne, and The Life And Legend Of Wyatt Earp), followed by flashy shows as 77 Sunset Strip, violent sensationalistic programs like The Untouchables, and comedies in The Real McCoys, all major hits.

Though it would take until 1970 for ABC to score their first ever #1 rated program for a season (Marcus Welby MD), by the late 70’s they were the top network on the air with a parade of shallow sitcoms and action shows that featured heavy doses of sex to capture viewers attention which critics derisively dubbed “jiggle TV”.
 
 
 
 
 

From 1941-1976 New York City had a contest for Miss Subways whose face would adorn posters in the subway cars each month. Though on the surface the idea of a beauty contest to promote public transit seems rather crude and archaic, the fact is this promotional pageant wound up being the first of its kind that was truly integrated in America after lobbying by various ethnic groups to move past the white W.A.S.P.-only choices they made early on which was hardly reflective of the cultural melting pot that was New York City. The initial breakthrough came in 1946 when the contest announced its first Jewish selection.

In April 1948 Thelma Porter, a psychology major at Brooklyn College, became the first African-American winner. The event became national news as her face adorned magazine covers, such as the NAACP Crisis magazine, Ebony and as late as 1952 she appeared on the cover of Jet magazine.

The first woman of Asian decent followed in 1949 and shortly before the contest ended Dominicans saw their first winner in 1974. The promotion may have been a fairly shallow one in concept, but for all of its models and the communities they came from it was a source of pride and over time it showed the true diversity of New York.
 
 
 
 

Perhaps realizing they would get an increase in passengers to see Porter’s achievement, the NYC subway fare doubles from 5 cents to 10 cents.

The subway system had to change all of the turnstiles which had been made for nickels to now accept dimes as well. When the fare was raised to fifteen cents in 1953 they began using specially made tokens which remained in use until the switch to Metro Cards in 1994. The tokens were phased out completely by 2003 by which time it cost more than a nickel or a dime, or even both together, to ride the subway.
 
 
 
 

The Marshall Plan is signed into law by President Truman, establishing aid to rebuild Europe after World War Two with bipartisan support in Congress.

Initially conceived as a way to prevent the rise in harsh socio-economic conditions that followed World War One which led to the growing hostilities that resulted in World War Two, the idea was promoted heavily by Secretary Of State George Marshall as being vital in curtailing the spread of Communism which might flourish if Europe wasn’t economically strong.

The United States initially pledged $5 billion in aid but at the end of its four year implementation in 1952 nearly $13 billion was given to 18 European countries, allowing for the fastest rate of growth and the greatest increase in standard of living in European history over the plan’s brief lifetime.

 
 
 
 
 

Drunken Angel, one of the defining films of the Twentieth Century, makes its debut in Japan before eventually getting a worldwide release to great acclaim.

The film was the first collaboration between director Akira Kurosawa and actor Toshiro Mifune, one of the greatest and most prolific teams in history. The movie features Mifune as a shallow, flashy tuberculosis ridden petty criminal, Matsunaga, who befriends Takashi Simura’s idealistic alcoholic doctor who treats his wounds after a gunfight only to have the release of the reigning crime boss from prison complicate matters.

The brilliant, sometimes surrealistic violent ballet combined elements of American noir with Japanese yakuza motifs and put Kurosowa on the map for an increasingly international movie fan that was emerging at the time. Drunken Angel also marked the birth of a post-war modernism in Japanese cinema that drew heavily from Western style and films while retaining its own cultural worldview.
 

Dr. Sanada – You’re the most violent patient I’ve ever had.

Matsunaga – That woman who came in while I was strangling you… I’ve seen her before.

Dr. Sanada – You’re fast… but keep your hands off her.

 
 
 
 
 
 


The Louisiana Hayride
makes its debut on KWKH radio from Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana. Among the performers on the initial telecast were future star Kitty Wells and headliners Bob Willis and His Texas Playboys.

Unlike the more established Grand Ol’ Opry, which featured established stars, The Louisiana Hayride focused largely on unknown performers who were just starting out and as such it became one of the most important stepping stones towards achieving national recognition. Over the years those whose careers were effectively launched through The Louisiana Hayride included Hank Williams, George Jones, Faron Young, Hank Snow and Elvis Presley, whose appearances on the program while still on Sun Records exposed to him to his widest audience before signing with RCA.

Though the radio program was immensely popular the rise of rockabilly music thanks to Presley’s appearances marked the beginning of the end of the show’s distinctive niche appeal. With the older audience preferring traditional country music but the growing buzz coming from the wilder rockabilly sounds, the Hayride couldn’t satisfy both constituencies simultaneously and it left the air for good in 1960.

Its name and format have been revived over the years but it was the initial run of The Louisiana Hayride that provided one of the most vital forms of exposure for a music still on the outskirts of mainstream appeal.
 
 
 
 

Planning on settling down and getting married soon? If so make sure to check your wallets or credit rating before you do.

Engagement rings will run between $125 for the basic model for the simple unassuming girl you can proudly take home to meet your mother, to as much $750 for the gold digging showgirl hussy you met after too many cocktails who is looking for a meal ticket.

The average price of Keepsake’s Diamond Engagement Rings is just over two hundred dollars, which if you’re married for fifty years comes to just about four bucks a year which is quite the bargain… for a ring or a girl.
 
 
 
 
 
 
RECORDS REVIEWED FOR APRIL 1948
 
THE VELVETONES: Roberta, Get Out Of That Bed
PAUL WILLIAMS: The Twister
JOE MORRIS: Boogie Woogie Joe
WYNONIE HARRIS: Love Is Like Rain
WYNONIE HARRIS: Your Money Don’t Mean A Thing
THE FOUR BLUES: It Takes A Long Tall Brown Skin Gal
EARL BOSTIC: Temptation
BIG JOE TURNER: That’s What Really Hurts
THE FOUR TUNES: Confess
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Pretty Mama Blues
TINY GRIMES: That Old Black Magic
 
 
 
 
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