WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN DECEMBER 1947
 
 

Civilization (Bongo Bongo Bongo) was a dreadful novelty song that in just three minutes manages to offend virtually every civilization on the planet OTHER than dull-witted white folks who get a kick out of mocking others to cheerily confirm their perceived superiority and who naturally made it one of the hottest songs in America at the end of the calendar year.

Sung by Danny Kaye with The Andrews Sisters this is the type of record that was deemed perfectly acceptable by the mainstream which no doubt helped fuel the rise of rock ‘n’ roll as a necessary reaction by those who found themselves marginalized and segregated, culturally as well as musically.


 
 
 
 
 
 

A Streetcar Named Desire premieres on Broadway. The steamy melodrama about a delusional southern belle Blanche DuBoise who is eventually raped by her brutish brother-in-law Stanley, in a star making role by a still unknown Marlon Brando, becomes the most talked-about play of recent times. The ultra-realistic performances directed by Elia Kazan led many to believe that Brando was simply hauled off the street to play the slovenly king of his run-down castle in New Orleans invaded by Blanche who’s seeking refuge after losing the family’s home and being run out of town for sexual exploits with an underage student.

Despite the shocking sexual frankness and brutality it portrays the play won its author Tennessee Williams the Pulitzer Prize for drama and lead actress Jessica Tandy a Tony Award, and on opening night it received a standing ovation which lasted a half an hour.

STANLEY:
There isn’t a goddam thing but imagination! And lies and conceit and tricks! And look at yourself! Take a look at yourself in that worn out Mardi Gras outfit, rented for fifty cents from some rag-picker! And with the crazy crown on! What queen do you think you are?

BLANCHE:
Oh-God …

STANLEY:
I’ve been on to you from the start! Not once did you pull any wool over this boy’s eyes! You come in here and sprinkle the place with powder and spray perfume and cover the light bulb with a paper lantern, and lo and behold the place has turned into Egypt and you are the Queen of the Nile, sitting on your throne and swilling down MY liquor! I say – Ha-ha! Do you hear me, HA-HA-HA!

 
 
 
 
 
 
The transistor is invented at Bell Laboratories. This tiny device will replace the bulky and fragile vacuum tubes in radio thereby allowing for small portable radios to be produced.

The new technology inadvertently provides rock ‘n’ roll with an ideal way to be heard in the future by teenage audiences on the go without having to commandeer the family’s living room radio amid protests from their parents. With the increased economic power of the younger demographic thus being established radio stations soon have little choice but to program music that appeals more to their sensibilities granting rock music a bigger platform than ever to be heard.
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
Most families still spend evenings sitting around the living room radio however, with 65 million in use. A floor model Philco radio in a mahogany console featuring a built-in phonograph that can handle up to twelve records at a time sells for $179.95.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

By comparison an RCA table model television set costs $325 (plus $55 installation fee!) for just a 6 ½ x 8 ½ inch screen (though their ads boast 52 square inches the rest is simply the bulky wooden compartment it’s housed in).

For those shocked at the high price your dealer will reassuringly tell you that television receivers are more expensive than radio because they have “more parts”, including the costly cathode ray tube! But you could go to an even smaller screen (SMALLER???!?!) and get a Motorola set for $180, the cheapest model television available, although the added expense of seeing an optometrist for your resulting eye strain would probably negate the savings.

Thus the RCA model is the most popular brand available and their growing appeal to the consumer soon push those old-fashioned radios aside on their way to becoming the new focal point in home entertainment, all to be able to watch a handful of poorly produced shows which air only a few hours each day. How did this contraption ever catch on?
 
 
 
 
 

Only 122,000 television sets are in use in a country of 144 million people, ten thousand of which are in New York City bars. There are only 17 stations in operation nationwide, almost all of which are located in major eastern cities and you need to be within 45 miles of the station’s transmitter to receive the picture. But despite these limitations the total number of television sets sold have risen almost a hundred thousand in just three months. You still aren’t likely to know someone who has one but they are now the hottest topic when it comes to creating a buzz.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Puppet Playhouse debuts on NBC television with host Buffalo Bob Smith and a puppet named Elmer. The program was so popular right from the start that the network quickly abandoned its plan to have three rotating hosts and expanded the show from just Saturdays to six days a week. The poorly designed Elmer was soon replaced by a red headed cowboy puppet named Howdy Doody which was taken from Smith’s opening line, Howdy doody, boys and girls!

The on-camera innocence masked more deviant real life activities, as one of the featured actors Dayton Allen was notorious for propositioning, if not sexually harassing, any female on the set and was fond of having the puppets he voiced, including Mayor Phineas T. Bluster and the indescribable Flub-A-Dub (which was made from a pig’s tail, seal’s flippers, dog’s body and giraffe’s neck) performing lewd sex acts off-camera.

Meanwhile the beautiful young actress Judy Tyler, who’d later go on to co-star with Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock and who played the sweet Indian Princess Summerfall Winterspring on the show was a nymphomaniac whose sexual exploits off the set required payoffs to keep the news from reaching the papers.

For these reasons and more the network always wanted to cancel it yet when word of its imminent demise reached the parents of children viewers the news would be met with storms of protest that inevitably led to it being renewed.

All of this for a lead character in Howdy Doody who was a wimpy freckle faced cowboy with absolutely no personality, their breakout star was a real-life clown named Clarabelle who never spoke, while Smith himself was a shameless huckster who happily hawked one product after another in character to the gullible kids watching at home.

Despite these obstacles the show was such a success that the waiting list for the studio audience was three years causing pregnant women to write for tickets before their children had even been born so they could have a chance at seeing the program in person when they came of age. Though it went off the air in 1960 and didn’t have a presence in the syndicated market after that, the characters are still moderately familiar even well into the 21st Century and some of the terms they invented – such as the “peanut gallery” referencing the kids in the audience and “cowabunga” which they used in place of profanity – have long since entered the popular lexicon of American culture.
 
 
 
 
 


The day after Christmas the biggest blizzard in New York history hit The Big Apple. Over the next twenty-four hours more than 26 inches of snow fell in the city, effectively shutting down the entire region.

Because the storm didn’t originate in the west and move eastward, but rather began over the Atlantic Ocean, there was no advance warning and the forecast during the day called for only “occasional flurries”. Cars and buses were stranded in the middle of the street, there were twelve hour delays in the subways and no place for city to dump the snow, with drifts as high as ten feet and snow banks made from plows as high as twelve feet. In all seventy people died due to the storm and because the winter that followed was unusually cold all of the snow didn’t melt until the following March.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Thinking of taking a tropical vacation this winter to get away from all that snow? Once you manage to get to the west coast it’s now just a convenient twelve hour flight from Los Angeles to Hawaii on Pan American’s Flying Clipper and no more than a day and a half away from any major airport on the continental US!

These luxury planes boasted nothing but first class accommodations for passengers with couches that converted to beds, a separate lounge and personable attendants who were the first to be called “stewardesses”.
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
A package of five Gillette razor blades costs twenty five cents which may be why men of this era were constantly clean-shaven.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Singers and movie cowboys Roy Rogers and Dale Evans are married on New Year’s Eve, 1947. Rogers was voted the most popular Western movie star for ten years running, from 1943-1952, always playing himself. He was paired with Evans for the first time in 1944 and their marriage three years later took place on The Flying L Ranch where they’d recently shot Home In Oklahoma.

Rogers was one of the first performers to realize the power of licensing his image and over the years his name, face, and that of his famous horse Trigger adorned all types of action figures, comic books and toys, and later Roy Rogers Restaurants, all of which made him one of the wealthier actors in America. This commercialism combined with the B-movie quality of his films (and those sequin shirts) tended to overshadow his acclaimed singing career which preceded his entry into motion pictures, with such songs as “Cool Water” and “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” which are considered cornerstones of emerging country music, while Evans herself wrote their TV theme song for the 1950’s, “Happy Trails”.

The two were married for fifty years until Rogers death in 1998, after Rogers had achieved an unexpected measure of modern recognition for being referenced in 1988’s hit film Die HardYippie-Ki-Aye…”
 
 
 
 
RECORDS REVIEWED FOR DECEMBER, 1947:
 
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Don’t Be No Fool, Fool
IVORY JOE HUNTER: San Francisco Blues
CLARENCE SAMUELS: Lolly Pop Mama
CLARENCE SAMUELS: Boogie Woogie Blues
THE RAVENS: Searching For Love
PAUL WILLIAMS: Thirty-Five Thirty
PAUL WILLIAMS: Come With Me Baby
ANDREW TIBBS: Union Man Blues
ANDREW TIBBS: Bilbo Is Dead
COUSIN JOE: Sadie Brown
COUSIN JOE: Evolution Blues
DAVE BARTHOLOMEW: Dave’s Boogie Woogie
JOE LUTCHER: Shuffle Woogie
CROWN PRINCE WATERFORD: Move Your Hand, Baby
CROWN PRINCE WATERFORD: Weeping Willow Blues
PAUL GAYTEN: Peter Blue And Jasper Too
PAUL GAYTEN: In The Evening When The Sun Goes Down
THE SCAMPS: Solitude
PERCY MAYFIELD: Jack, You Ain’t Nowhere
EDDIE CHAMBLEE: Last Call
ROY BROWN: Mighty Mighty Man
ROY BROWN: Miss Fanny Brown
 
 
 
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