WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN FEBRUARY 1949
 
 
 
 


Boogie Chillen’ tops the Billboard Race charts for a lone week, helping to usher in a raw downhome blues sound to the charts alongside rock ‘n’ roll, the two rival forms of black musical expression vying with one another for commercial dominance for the next few years before rock drastically outpaced it.

John Lee Hooker’s sparse debut set the course for his entire career, a relentless one chord boogie in which he speaks/sings over the churning groove as his foot stomped out an accompanying rhythm, the combination of which created a hypnotic effect on listeners.
 

The lyrics provide a unique first hand look into the thriving Hastings Street scene in Detroit’s black community and was a reflection of the southern migration to factory cities up north that began in World War Two which made Detroit and Chicago thriving markets for the transplanted sound.

However local label Sensation Records mysteriously leased Boogie Chillen’ to Modern Records of Los Angeles without ever issuing it themselves thereby costing the label a much needed hit that might’ve been able to open up avenues for distribution nationwide rather than remaining strictly a local entity. Hooker went on to a legendary career with arguably the most singularly identifiable style in the history of the blues. Meanwhile the record which launched his career became a touchstone for the careers of not only countless bluesman but future rock guitarists who were drawn to the simple but effective sound.


 
 
 
 
 
 
Death Of A Salesman opens on Broadway starring Lee J. Cobb. One of the most acclaimed plays of all-time, it won Tony Awards for Best Play, Supporting Actor (Arthur Kennedy), Design, Producer, Author and its Director (Elia Kazan), as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
 


 

Arthur Miller’s American tragedy tale of Willy Loman, a delusional Brooklyn salesman who dreams of success he can’t live up to, telling his two sons “A salesman’s got to dream, boys, it comes with the territory”, but frustrated in his attempts and having lost the respect of his eldest son and seeing his life as a failure he kills himself in order to let his family have the insurance money.

Death Of A Salesman runs for nearly two years and 742 performances and has been revived to great acclaim in the years since with a wide array of legendary actors in the starring role, from George C. Scott to Dustin Hoffman. In 1966 Lee J. Cobb himself would return to the character that made him a star in a televised performance which also brought original co-lead Mildred Dunnock back in the role of his wife.
 
 
 
 
 

The tubeless tire goes on the market, drastically transforming the automobile in the process.

Primarily the invention of Frank Herzegh, a low-level project engineer at a B.F. Goodrich plant in Ohio who spent six years, much of it on his own impetus, perfecting the innovation which does away with the inner tube which was extremely vulnerable to punctures which had caused the entire tire to deflate at once, commonly referred to as “blow outs”.

Herzgegh worked on improving the outer tire itself to be able to do both jobs, hold the air that inflates it while also being strong enough to handle the road with all of its bumps and friction at high speeds and turns, as well as supporting the weight of the automobile itself.

By using butyl rubber as the first ply on the inside of the tire it was capable of holding the air without leaking, but the bigger obstacle was how to attach it to the rim without breaking the seal. Finally by creating interlocking ridges which when the tire is inflated makes it (literally) airtight the latter problem was solved. Though flat tires aren’t eliminated entirely when punctured, the leaks are slow enough to prevent sudden loss of control and the self-sealing additive allows you to drive safely to the nearest service station for repairs.

For his revolutionary design requiring four new patents Herzegh received all of $4, or one dollar for each patent as is B.F. Goodrich’s bonus, in addition to his regular salary.
 
 
 
 
 

Louis Armstrong becomes the first Jazz musician to appear on the cover of Time magazine and one of the few black faces to adorn its cover up to that time.

Their praise for him within the accompanying article was genuine but even so came with the caveat that Louis has wrung raves even from longer-haired critics, as if that elitist blessing of him was some sort of final vindication for his artistry.

Considering jazz itself had been commercially and artistically dominant for three whole decades by that point before it was deemed fit to be featured so prominently in America’s most respected periodical it speaks well that it took rock ‘n’ roll just under twenty years before it made the cover of Time with a montage featuring The Supremes and The Beach Boys in 1965.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The brutal winter weather of ’49 continues across the western states with some areas of Nebraska buried under 87 inches of snow leaving more than 25,000 people cut off from civilization, some stranded in their homes since before Christmas, left to burn anything made of wood including their own furniture in an effort to keep warm.

Seventy six people across the region died as a direct result of the storm. The fierce wind across the open prairies intensified the whiteout conditions all winter with many dying simply because they were unable to find their homes which were within view during normal conditions. On top of it all food and medicine were scarce, communication was cut-off, roads were impassable and steam engines on trains froze solid stranding countless travelers in towns without the means to house them, forcing people to sleep in hotel lobbies or in shifts in the few hotel rooms or private homes that could take them in.

The train tracks themselves required around the clock maintenance to remain open to allow shipments of over a thousand bulldozers and other snow removal equipment to get through. Much of the focus of farmers was in trying not to lose most of their cattle and sheep as the Air Force were called in to drop baled hay across the region to feed the snowbound herds, many of which froze to death or had to be put down later due to frostbite, though months later a pig was dug out of a snow bank still alive.

The three month siege went down on record as the worst blizzard of the 20th Century.

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

In California the citrus crops are destroyed from sub-freezing temperatures and snow.

Luckily there’s still Florida to provide you with orange juice, ten million gallons of which is available in cans (those must be big cans!) which can not only be stored frozen to get you through three months buried under snow, but also promises to bring Florida sunshine into your home to melt that snow.

 
 
 
 
 
 
RECORDS REVIEWED FOR FEBRUARY 1949

IVORY JOE HUNTER: In Time
JOE MORRIS: Weasel Walk
DEE WILLIAMS: Bongo Blues
DEE WILLIAMS: Dee’s Boogie
THE RAVENS: Leave My Gal Alone
SONNY THOMPSON: Blues On Rhumba
SONNY THOMPSON: Blue Dreams
WYNONIE HARRIS: Grandma Plays The Numbers
WYNONIE HARRIS: I Feel That Old Age Coming On
THE ORIOLES: Please Give My Heart A Break
THE ORIOLES: It Seems So Long Ago
EDDIE GORMAN: Telephone Blues
EDDIE GORMAN: Beef Ball Baby
PETE JOHNSON: Skid Row Boogie
PETE JOHNSON: Half Tight Boogie
PAUL GAYTEN: Gayten’s Nightmare
HAL SINGER: Beef Stew
HAL SINGER: One For Willie
JOHNNY OTIS: Alimony Boogie
JOHNNY OTIS: Hog Jaws
ANNIE LAURIE: Annie’s Blues
EARL BOSTIC: Blip Boogie
 
 
 
 
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