WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN JULY 1948
 
 

The Woody Woodpecker Song by Kay Kyser tops the Billboard Pop Charts the whole month, delighting the simple minded while driving casual listeners to insanity.

The cartoon bird was created for Universal Pictures short films in 1940 and evolved from a crazed troublemaker to a more restrained character over the next eight years. When a theme song was written for the shorts it quickly was covered by Kay Kyser, a very popular swing era bandleader. With insipid lyrics sung by Gloria Wood and featuring the Woodpecker’s distinctive laugh voiced by the band’s regular vocalist Henry Babbitt (mimicking the original cartoon version done by Mel Blanc) – the song was the type of cutesy novelty record that was so popular during the era.

The Woody Woodpecker Song however exceeded anybody’s wildest expectations, not only becoming a massive hit but being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song! Blanc himself covered it along with The Sportsman Quartet with whom he appeared weekly on The Jack Benny Show on radio and theirs was the second best selling record of the month. The Andrews Sisters with Danny Kaye handling the lead chores also notched a Top Twenty version and even Frank Sinatra sang it on radio, trying to make light of it while silently fuming at whoever talked him into embarrassing himself publicly.

But listeners couldn’t get enough of the tune and in the process it helped to transform Woody Woodpecker from a fairly popular cartoon to a pop culture sensation. Fan clubs emerged, boys began getting Woody Woodpecker haircuts(!), and with television on the horizon ensuing generations would have the song drilled into their heads throughout their childhood.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Democratic National Convention is held in Philadelphia and the public clash centering on the opposing views of two of its long-standing dominant factions, liberal Northerners and poor Southerners, winds up reshaping the loyalties in American politics in the latter half of the Twentieth Century.

The landmark event came about when future Vice President (1964-1968) Hubert Humphrey issues a passionate call for greater civil rights legislation declaring, “For those who think we are rushing the issue of civil rights, I say we are 172 years too late!

The plea by the then Mayor of Minneapolis is enough to get a plank in the party’s platform calling for an end to segregation in schools and other basic measures of equality, but in turn it divided the Democratic party as 35 delegates from Mississippi and Alabama walked out in protest, then formed the Dixiecrat party in an attempt to sabotage the Democrats chances at keeping the White House, their hope being that a huge loss would convince the party to abandon any future civil rights issues.

It didn’t as the Democrats won the Presidency, with Dixiecrat candidate Strom Thurmond finishing a distant third, while Humphrey was elected Senator from Minnesota. Within twenty years the south would shift to the Republican Party which adopted the “state’s rights” cause as a coded attack on black Americans.

 
 
 
 
 

Legendary Negro League pitcher, Satchel Paige, makes his debut in Major League Baseball.

Paige is perhaps the greatest pitcher in baseball history, his career lasting decades as the top draw in the Negro Leagues as well as on post-season barnstorming tours pitting Negro League All-Stars against white Major League All-Star teams, frequently headed up by Dizzy Dean, and in later years Satch’s future teammate on the 1948 Indians, Bob Feller.

Paige’s many feats could never be properly conveyed by mere statistics, which often were incomplete or imprecise in his glory days. His wide array of pitches combined with a variety of pitching deliveries, including a famed “hesitation pitch”, his uncanny control and his blazing speed were legendary, but even more so was his colorful personality. He’d frequently have his teammates sit down in the field while he was pitching, thereby providing him with no defense should the batter make contact and then he’d calmly strike out the side.

On his 42nd birthday he signed to finally play in the Major Leagues, which had only been integrated the previous year, and won six games down the stretch for Cleveland in a heated pennant race against only one loss, including pitching in front of a remarkable 78,000 in August when he shut out the White Sox. That October he pitched in his only World Series and along with teammate Larry Doby became the first black players on a World Championship club.

Despite making All-Star teams for the St. Louis Browns his final two seasons – 1952 and 1953, the latter at the age of 46, he was forced to return to barnstorming when no Major League team was interested in his services at his advanced age following that. Yet after dominating in Triple A in the late 1950’s when he was past 50 years old, he made a one game comeback for the Kansas City A’s in 1965, pitching three shutout innings against Boston, giving up just one hit to future Hall Of Famer Carl Yastrzemski. Paige, who’d first pitched professionally forty-one years earlier in 1924, was 59 years old at the time of his final big league appearance. He was elected to Baseball’s Hall Of Fame in 1971.

 
 
 
 

For just $49.50 you can buy a pocket-sized Keystone 8MM movie camera allowing families to take home movies of their summer vacations.

Relive every backyard barbecue when Dad was mugging for the camera and let the hamburgers burn to a crisp. Try to capture an elusive shot of your wife without having her look away as she puts her hand up over the lens because she doesn’t want to be seen “looking like that”. Enjoy watching the kids spending their idyllic childhood afternoons playing in the yard before the innocent action quickly turns into a violent bloody fight between the perpetually feuding siblings.

All of these family memories and more can now be preserved forever!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Bob Howard Show debuts on CBS television making it the first program to have an African-American host.

The fifteen minute show which ran each weeknight featured Howard singing and playing the piano while in between songs he’d talk and promote other network programs. The show lasted thirteen weeks.
 
 
 
 
Television sets in America reach 350,000, roughly ten percent of the population. There are only 27 stations across the country however and most still only air programming for part of the day.
 
 
 
 
 

Hare Devil Hare a Looney Tunes short feature is released to theaters starring Bugs Bunny and featuring the debut of Marvin The Martian and his Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator.

 
 
 
 
 
 
President Harry Truman signs Executive Order 9981 desegregating the United States Armed Forces.

This was a monumental step towards equality that sent shockwaves throughout the country, white and black alike. The old guard of racial separatism were seeing the first challenges to that belief in nearly a century since the slaves were freed. Opponents argued the morale of the white servicemen would be at risk, but after just having fought a war to stop one madman preaching racial superiority it became harder to justify America clinging to the same beliefs Adolf Hitler had espoused.

The gains being made in the late 1940’s on civil rights imbued young black Americans with a sense that within their lifetime the onerous stench of racism would be done away with, however the deep-seated insecurities of those who felt their own perceived status was in danger of slipping away if they had no segment of society to artificially feel superior to wouldn’t be so easy to eradicate.

In June 2017 a report was issued that stated from 2006-2015 black servicemen were twice as likely to be disciplined than their white counterparts and as much as 71% more likely to face a court martial.

The Pentagon issued a statement saying it will “study” the report, while officials in the respective branches claimed ignorance on the findings while calling them “concerning”. The military of course has had these figures in front of them all along and only when called out on it publicly does anybody pay lip service to the problem, which begins with the culture of the military, where only 8% of officers are black, despite making up 18% of the total ranks.

Harry Truman, who died in 1972, had no comment on these figures.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Key Largo debuts in theaters, the last big-screen pairing of real-life husband and wife Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

The classic film noir co-stars Edward G. Robinson in his final gangster role reminiscent of the type that brought him to fame in the early 1930’s.

The action takes place almost entirely in a Florida hotel run by Bacall’s father in law, wheelchair-bound Lionel Barrymore, while Robinson’s Johnny Rocco, exiled to Cuba in a government crackdown on organized crime, has snuck back into the country and is plotting a comeback. Bogart’s arrival as the Sgt. who served with Barrymore’s son in WW2 and a looming hurricane causes Rocco to take them prisoner to wait out the storm as the tension mounts with Bogie’s Frank McCloud engaging in a battle of nerve and will against the increasingly unraveling Rocco.

Frank McCloud (Bogart): You don’t like it, do you Rocco, the storm? Show it your gun, why don’t you? If it doesn’t stop, shoot it.

Key Largo was acclaimed for John Huston’s tense direction, brilliant performances by all of the leads, with Claire Trevor winning Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her turn as Rocco’s disgraced moll.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
In case you wondering it costs 7 cents to ride the New York City bus.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
RECORDS REVIEWED FOR JULY 1948:
 
 
THE TRENIER TWINS: Convertible Cadillac
BIG JIM WYNN: Fat Meat
CROWN PRINCE WATERFORD: Strange Woman’s Boogie
CROWN PRINCE WATERFORD: L.A. Blues
THE RAVENS: Once In Awhile
PAUL GAYTEN: Women These Days
PAUL GAYTEN: Back Trackin’
THE ORIOLES: It’s Too Soon To Know
THE ORIOLES: Barbra Lee
TODD RHODES: Toddlin’ Boogie
 
 
 
 
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