WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN SEPTEMBER 1950
 
 

The top song in America is Goodnight Irene, a folk ballad originally written and performed by Lead Belly, with multiple versions now reaching the charts from every field of popular music. Pop stars Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford and Dennis Day, country acts Moon Mullican, Ernest Tubb and Red Foley and rocker Paul Gayten all scored big with it over the summer.

But the biggest winner by far was the folk group The Weavers who topped the charts with their rendition. Though the lead credit on the record was given to arranger Gordon Jenkins who whitewashed the song with an extensive string section and vocal choir overwhelming the more traditional instrumentation, it was the earnest vocals of the group which sold the song.

Despite The Weavers reputation as devout folk purists, the group which included founders Pete Seeger and Lee Hays along with Fred Hellerman and the sole female member Ronnie Gilbert, had been advised by their manager to not be explicitly political for fear of blacklisting and as a result they excluded some of the lyrics to not just Irene, but other songs they helped to popularize during their two year run as a commercial entity. This decision led to charges from their core fan base that they’d watered-down the material for mainstream consumption, something they didn’t deny but felt was worth the trade off to get folk songs in the mainstream.

The Weavers decision wound up doing little to spare them from blacklisting however as the ominous pall of McCarthyism led to their downfall when Seeger and Hays were named as Communists by an FBI informant. Refusing to answer the charges in front of Congress the group’s fortunes abruptly ended as Decca Records dropped them from the label and stopped pressing their old records even though they were still in demand.

Prevented from being played on radio and with venues refusing to to book them because of the controversy, the group broke up in 1952, although a one-night reunion in 1955 at Carnegie Hall was sold out and led to their signing with maverick independent label Vanguard Records as the power of McCarthyism began to wane as the decade wound down.
 


 
 
 

Ralph Bunche becomes the first African-American to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in mediating the Israeli-Palestine conflict as the United Nations representative.

Having served first in the Office Of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War Two and then in the State Department beginning in 1943 Bunche was the highest ranking black official in the country when he was tasked with helping to form The United Nations as the war wound down.

As the chief aide to UN negotiator Folke Bernadotte of Sweden, Bunche was thrust into the lead role when Jewish factions assassinated Bernadotte in September 1948 and over the next year he worked tirelessly to put together the delicate armistice agreement for which he was then awarded the Nobel Prize.

Though ultimately peace in the Middle East did not hold, broken first in 1956 and to this day still not achieved in any lasting manner – Bunche’s legacy was far from reliant on one treaty. He was appointed as the United Nation’s prime negotiator for all political affairs in 1957, was awarded the Medal Of Freedom by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and was appointed Under-Secretary General Of The United Nations in 1968, a position he held until his death in 1971 at the age of 67.
 
 
 
 

The daily comic strip Beetle Bailey makes its debut on September 4th in twelve newspapers nationwide.
 


 

The first seven months of the strip featured Beetle as a lazy college student but with the Korean War dominating headlines creator Mort Walker decided to have Bailey get drafted figuring it’d make for an interesting new setting full of topical humor. Walker himself had served during World War Two and based a lot of the characters after people he’d served with and made sure to keep Bailey out of military action so the strip wouldn’t become political in nature.

The lazy college student became a lazy private seeking to avoid any strenuous activity, incurring the wrath of Sgt. Snorkle, his main adversary at Camp Swampy. The Army backdrop proved so popular with readers that even after the Korean War ended he remained enlisted for what seems like an eternity, as the comic was overseen by Walker until his death at the age of 94 in 2018 after which his sons, who had been writing it since Walker scaled back his involvement, officially took over.
 

 
 
 

The laugh-track makes its debut on television bringing artificial “canned” laughter to the airwaves to inform the home audience that what they were watching with stone faces was actually intended to be humorous.

The otherwise forgettable Hank McCune Show had begun as a local program in Los Angeles in 1949 and took a popular radio premise of a show within a show to the small screen, as McCune played a variety show host whose off-screen predicaments around the show was the focal point of the comedy.

Because it was filmed without a studio audience however they needed a way to ensure that the home viewer “got” the comedy and so they used a laugh track, a device wherein an audience’s actual laughter that had been recorded from another show or performance was inserted into the soundtrack to replicate a live response. The practice had begun on Bing Crosby’s radio show as Bing was one of the early proponents of tape recording which allowed for greater recording flexibility.

Over time, as studio audiences became less common, the laugh track became ubiquitous for American sitcoms, all using a vast library created by sound engineer Charley Douglass who had a monopoly on the process well into the 1970’s. By then however with the rise of socially conscious programs which refused to include fake responses because it cheapened the stories, while others brought back live audiences for a more authentic response, a former Douglass employee, Carroll Pratt, created a new subtler mix of artificial laughter which became the industry go-to device from 1977 on.

By the the Twenty-First Century however producers found that single-camera audience free shows without a laugh track were the most natural and cinematic method for filming and that home viewers could be trusted to laugh on their own if the situation warranted.

 
 
 
 

The children’s book Henry Huggins is published kicking off one of the longest careers of any author in history and in the process showing the publishing industry that there was a viable market for intelligent but entertaining books for kids.

Throughout the 1940’s while working as a librarian in various towns in the Northwest countless children had asked Beverly Cleary for books they could relate to and she quickly ran out of recommendations that filled their needs. Distressed over the lack of quality books for those just beginning to discover the joys of reading Cleary set out to write her own stories that would reflect the lives of the kids she encountered every day at her job.

The books centered on a middle class neighborhood and the kids within it who were enjoying fairly typical childhoods. Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy were the focus of the first book which introduced two other characters, Beezus and Ramona Quimby who’d go on to be among her most popular creations in their own books.

Longer than most kids books at the time, with stories told in chapters rather than just one short narrative straight through, they were written from the perspective of the kids and treated their worldview as one that required no explanation. They were funny without making fun of kids, had engrossing plots without being unrealistic and allowed the characters to be seen as three dimensional, not simplistic portrayals for easier jokes.

For the next half century Cleary wrote some of the most beloved books in history, continuing the stories of Huggins and the Quimby sisters, but also introducing Ellen Tebbits (Cleary’s second book) and her primary antagonist Otis Spofford who got a book of his own in 1953.

In the 1960’s she tried her hand in a make-believe realm with the introduction of Ralph S. Mouse in The Mouse And The Motorcycle who would go on to a lengthy series of adventures of his own. In 1983 she tackled more modern problems with an older teenage protagonist in Dear Mr. Henshaw about a child of divorce learning about himself through letters to a favorite author.

Cleary published her final book in 1999 at the age of 83. She died in March 2021 just three weeks shy of her 105th birthday, her literary legacy ensured by generations of children who grew up on her tales.

 
 
 
 

After the federal government slapped former heavyweight champion Joe Louis with a massive tax bill, the greatest heavyweight champion in history is forced back into the ring to try and fight his way out of debt with all of his earnings being paid directly to the IRS.

Since Louis’s retirement two years earlier Ezzard Charles had won the title from Jersey Joe Walcott (whom Louis had defeated twice late in his career) and was a formidable opponent having won his last nineteen bouts, 13 of them by knockout.

Now 36 years old and having fought thousands of rounds in professional bouts and exhibitions for the U.S. Army during World War Two (for which he put his own career on hold and wasn’t paid a dime for his efforts at boosting morale at Army bases around the world) Louis’s reflexes were gone and he had to rely only on his strength and experience to try and fend of the younger aggressive champ. He went the full 15 rounds but was badly cut and lost a unanimous decision, just his second ever defeat as a pro.

Because the gate for the fight at Yankee Stadium wasn’t as large as they were hoping – just over 22,000 people – Louis was able to earn just a hundred thousand for his return. Since that counted as new income it was taxed at 90%, meaning he could pay off only $10,000 of his half million dollar tax bill which was still being charged interest for each month it went unpaid. Because of this Louis had to continue fighting without any real hope that he’d ever be out of debt to the country he did so much for.

 
 
 
 

Clean teeth, saving money and eating well are three things that are universally recommended, but leave it to Listerine to find a way to bring all of these things together in promoting their new thrift-pack of toothpaste.

Rather than pay 45 cents for one tube of toothpaste, as is the going price on the market, they’re offering you two of them for just 59 cents, a savings of thirty-five percent.

By their math that means you’ll save three whole dollars every year if you buy toothpaste in bulk and they remind you that you’re free to spend that money any way you want, maybe invest it in the stock market or put a down payment on a new house… the choices are endless with that kind of dough.

In case you want a suggestion though they’re happy to give you another option: Buy soup… thirty cans of it!

Maybe they really do care about the health of your teeth and figure that since eating soup doesn’t require chewing your choppers won’t wear down as fast. Or for those who are more cynical about the corporate world it’s possible they have insider information that soup stains your teeth which means you’ll need to buy more of their product to get them clean again.

Or maybe they just like soup.

 
 
 
 

RECORDS REVIEWED FOR SEPTEMBER 1950:

ROY BYRD (PROFESSOR LONGHAIR): Hadacol Bounce
THE DRIFTERS: Wine-Head Woman
THE DRIFTERS: I’m The Caring Kind
FRANK CULLEY: Mona Lisa
JIMMY LIGGINS: Saturday Nite Boogie Woogie Man
JIMMY LIGGINS: Sincere Lover’s Blues
ALMA MONDY: Miss Lollipop’s Confession
ALMA MONDY: Street Walkin’ Daddy
WYNONIE HARRIS: Rock Mr. Blues
WYNONIE HARRIS: Be Mine My Love
BILLY WRIGHT: ‘Fore Day Blues
BILLY WRIGHT: Empty Hand
PANAMA FRANCIS: Scrambled Eggs
BIG JOE TURNER: Love My Baby
BIG JOE TURNER: Lucille
RUTH BROWN: Teardrops From My Eyes
LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD: Hit The Road
LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD: Trouble Around Me
CLARENCE GARLOW: Jumpin’ For Joy
THE ROBINS: You’re Fine But Not My Kind
THE ROBINS: I’m Through
HARRY CRAFTON: Let Me Tell You, Baby
HARRY CRAFTON: It’s Been A Long Time, Baby
DAVE BARTHOLOMEW: Going To Chow
DAVE BARTHOLOMEW: Ah Cubanas
THE ORIOLES: I Need You So
THE ORIOLES: Goodnight Irene
PERCY MAYFIELD: Please Send Me Someone To Love
PERCY MAYFIELD: Strange Things Happening
TINY GRIMES: Flying High
JIMMY PRESTON: Potato Salad
JIMMY PRESTON: Let’s Hang Out Tonight
FATS DOMINO: Every Night About This Time
FATS DOMINO: Korea Blues
CROWN PRINCE WATERFORD: Time To Blow
CROWN PRINCE WATERFORD: I’m Sweet On You
FLOYD DIXON: Play Boy Blues
FLOYD DIXON: Baby Come Home
SYLVIA VANTERPOOL: Sharp Little Sister
PAUL GAYTEN: Gold Ain’t Everything
PEPPERMINT HARRIS: Oo-Wee Baby
PEPPERMINT HARRIS: Reckless Lover
ARCHIBALD: She’s Scattered Everywhere
ARCHIBALD: My Gal
TINY BRADSHAW: I’m Going To Have Myself A Ball
CLARENCE SAMUELS: Somebody Gotta Go
CLARENCE SAMUELS: Hey Joe
ROY BROWN: Cadillac Baby
ROY BROWN: ‘Long About Sundown
MICKEY CHAMPION: I’ve Got It Bad
MICKEY CHAMPION: Everybody Knew It But Me
CECIL GANT: My Baby’s Changed
FREDDIE MITCHELL: Roll ‘Em Boogie
FREDDIE MITCHELL: Louise
SONNY THOMPSON: Blues For The Nightowls
BIG JOE TURNER: I Want My Baby (When The Rooster Crows)
BIG JOE TURNER: Midnight Is Here Again

 
 
 
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