Saturday, August 28, 2010

Comfort Food

About once a year I get a craving for a baloney sandwich.

It has to have the right kind of bread.
One slice of baloney.
And real mayonnaise.

But it never tastes right because it is missing the sand.

Kay and Cele

When you went to the beach you drank cold water out of a thermos cooler like the one above.

Ben, Moe and Biff
You took a bunch of sandwiches and beer for the grown-ups.

Who?, Moe, 2 Peggies, Tommy, Who?, Bud and who in front?

The sandwiches were of two kinds:

And liverwurst.
I have never gotten a craving for a liverwurst sandwich.

The third possibility was egg salad but it was well known that many people died of egg-salad-sandwich food poisoning every year.

Another well known fact was that children who ate lunch and went swimming within an hour would automatically drown.

Barbara, Joan, Pat, Maureen, Susan behind Jane
This is where we learned to tell time, waiting till the hour was up.

If we didn't complain too much we might get an Eskimo Pie---after swimming.
If you ate it mid-afternoon you'd have to start the hour wait all over again.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


In 1943, about 23 years old

Dorothy Gertrude was born in 1920, the eighth daughter, between Ann and Kay.

June, 1938
Dot, at 18, graduating from High School
Jack, four years younger, graduating from grade school (?)
The only reason Jack is taller than Dorothy here is that he is standing on a step.

Ann and Dot

April, 1944
Cele, Dot and Kay behind Pat B. and Ben

Dorothy was the tallest girl, an attribute considered quite attractive today, but it may be she was often advised to wear flats.

August, 1939 at Peggy's wedding

On Jack's copy of this photo he wrote
"Vitamin Pills"

Pat and her Aunt Dorothy
Christmas in Queens Village, 1945

What a head of hair!
(That might be something my mother would have said.)

Dorothy married Edward Koch (NOT the mayor) in 1946.
Here she is in 1946 with her sister Billie in the center and Billie's husband Buddy.

Uncle Eddie about 1950

They had three children. Above Eddie in 1957
Below Cathy and Eddie in 1962

Dorothy with her sisters in the 1970s. Peggy in the center;
Kay on the right

Singing with Kay.
Ann is playing the piano.
Biff is enjoying the show.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Uncle Lew on the air

Police Commissioner Lewis J. Valentine. 1938
 (center in civilian clothes)

Grandma McNally's brother Lew Valentine was Police Commissioner of New York City from 1934 to 1945. He moved up from patrolman to chief inspector to Commissioner under Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

Above a photo of him in 1925 from the Brooklyn Eagle. He is on the right in the derby hat with a star.

Above is some publicity about his move to Chief Inspector from the New York Times.

Watch a few short video clips of the Police Commissioner from 1939 by clicking here:  
In the center with LaGuardia on the left

This article from Time magazine in September 17, 1945, summarizes his career:

"Radio: Gang Buster"
Lewis Joseph Valentine has a sweet-sounding name, but he is a tough man. He joined New York's Finest in 1903, at 21, and quietly became an outstanding cop for his day: he was honest. As a result, Valentine's lot was not a happy one.

He pounded a beat for ten years. Then he did such a good job on the "shoofly" squad, routing out grafters among his fellow cops, that he won promotions and made many a political enemy. Not until 1934 did his stubborn honesty pay off; then reforming Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia made him the $10,000-a-year Commissioner of New York's 18,000-man police force.

In his first six years in office, icy-eyed Commissioner Valentine fired some 300 men, officially rebuked 3,000, fined 8,000. He was even harder on the crooks.

Once he took offense at a natty, well-manicured prisoner in the police lineup, issued a famous order to the 200 detectives present: "He's the best-dressed man in this room. . . . Don't be afraid to muss 'em up. Blood should be smeared all over that velvet collar." Under Valentine (and, of course, with the help of LaGuardia and Tom Dewey) the slot-machine gangs, gambling rings, white-slavers, "popes and rabbis" (meddling politicians) were largely driven out or undercover. New Yorkers boasted, for the first time in memory, of the most honest police force in the land.

Last week hardboiled, honest Lewis J. Valentine at 63 was entitled to his reward. He stepped down from the police force and announced that, starting Sept. 15, he would become "Chief Investigator-Commentator" for radio's Gang Busters Salary: $25,000 a year. Said Mayor LaGuardia, an old dragonslayer on the radio himself: "Busting gangs on the microphone, Lew, is going to be real easy. . . . Give them the works."

Gang Busters was a weekly radio program in which actual cases were recalled and dramatized. Uncle Lew retired to become the announcer who introduced the program and interviewed the lawman (or an actor playing the lawman) from September, 1945 to December, 1946. A quote from the New York Times:

“This is not just a story program,” he said in explaining the move. “It has authentic facts. I feel this will serve as part and parcel of my continuance to serve the people of these United States to the best of my abilities on this nationwide radio program.”
During his career as radio announcer he also went to went to Japan under the direction of General Douglas MacArthur as a post-war advisor to help the army reorganize the Japanese police, fire and prison systems in March, 1946.  His health was failing and he soon returned to New York. After his death on December 16th the radio program broadcast a memorial with a dramatization of his life.

Many episodes of Gang Busters are available online. Listen to replays of those featuring Uncle Lew as narrator. He had an impressive voice that seemed perfect for radio.
Click here:
Scroll down to "The case of Henry 'Red' Beaver" and "The Case of Al Simione."

Try this site:
Click on
"The Case Of The Red Evening Dress".
"The Case Of John K Giles, Escape Artist"

I could not find a copy of episode #83434, the memorial program from December 21, 1946, which also included Fiorello La Guardia and the Benedictine Choir.

Gang Busters was adapted to the movies, television, comics and Big Little Books.

Here a list of Gang Busters programs with Lewis J. Valentine listed as announcer.

50421. September 22, 1945. Program #400.  "The Case Of The Red Evening Dress".
83831. September 29, 1945.  "The Case Of John K. Giles, Escape Artist".
11850. September 29, 1945. Program #401.  "The Case Of John K. Giles, Escape Artist".
81092. December 22, 1945. Program #413. "The Case Of Al Simeone".
81093. December 29, 1945. Program #414.  "The Case Of Red Coleman".
81094. January 5, 1946. Program #415.  "The Case Of The Rumbold Vault Robbery".
81095. January 12, 1946. Program #416. "The Case Of The Texas Killer".
81091. December 14, 1946. Program #464.  "The Case Of The Elusive Bandits".
83434. December 21, 1946. Special memorial to Lewis J. Valentine with dramatization of his life.
Includes... Fiorello La Guardia, The Benedictine Choir.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cece in the Newspaper

Cece, a professional singer and actress, was recently interviewed for the Weekly Valley Vantage in her home town. For those who don't subscribe we have pirated some excerpts and added a few photos.

How did you first get involved in singing/when did you know it was what you love to do?

Cecelia and her grandmother

I knew from a very, very young age that I was fascinated by the mechanics of singing. I listened over and over to the records my older brother and sister brought home from the time I was 5 or 6, imitating every nuance I could of each individual singer, trying to knock off their styles, accents, everything. I listened to the Broadway recordings of musicals like South Pacific, Funny Girl, Jesus Christ Superstar, anything I could get my hands on, over and over ad nauseum! I’m sure it drove my siblings insane.

About 10

From them, I inherited my obsession with all the Beatles albums, and the Beach Boys’, and learned all about harmony. I lived and breathed that stuff. It got me through a lot of adolescent angst, like many of us, I guess. I had a good ear to begin with, and really fine-tuned it by constant attention to detail.

Two piano-playing aunts with saxophone playing uncle: Jack, Vera, Ann

I also came from a very musical family on my Mom’s side (she had 12 brothers and sisters, and I had around 60 first cousins), and we had big family gatherings where people played instruments, sang and danced. My aunt used to drag me up to the piano to sing from the time I was pretty small, although I was terror-stricken by it, most of the time. I preferred to sing alone in my room.

My parents had an enormous old stereo system in a huge hutch cabinet in the living room, and I would sit in front of one of the huge speakers and pull the cabinet doors around me on either side so I could listen and sing along in my own little world, when nobody was around....

Do you have any musical inspirations? People, places, objects, memories?

I remember seeing my first live play at about age 9, a high school rendition of “Carousel,” and feeling transfixed, literally floating out of the theater in a state of suspended animation. Or maybe it was arrested development - I’m not sure. But it was transformative. It wasn’t til almost 5 years later that I had the chance to audition and get cast in a high school play of my own. I think they only cast me because I was LOUD-which was a plus in those days. But I was hooked. I had finally found my niche. Unfortunately, that niche was in New Hampshire, not exactly the center of the entertainment universe.

Later, during my freshman year at college, I worked for a concert promoter, and was assigned to be Ella Fitzgerald’s dressing room attendant during a series she did at my school. I don’t think I appreciated her fully at the time, but I learned to, fast. That was incredible - to sit and listen to the best of the best, up close and personal. I have so many memories of great artists with whom I was privileged to hang out. I worked with local bands in college, and we had some great people coming through town.

After I moved to LA in '76, I ended up going on the road pretty quickly with a French artist named Veronique Sanson, whom I met through my then-boyfriend, who was working with Stephen Stills, Veronique’s then-husband. She is a hugely popular artist in Europe, and we toured every city, town and village for months. That taught me a lot, and opened a lot of doors to me.

Back in LA, I was lucky enough to work closely with Tori Amos in the early days of her career, singing on her first LP. I toured for several years with Rita Coolidge, also working with great folks like Connie Stevens, Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers, Eddie Money, Cheap Trick, Diana Ross, Olivia Newton-John, Jude Cole, Poco, Mick Fleetwood, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Mike Trampp, Timothy B. Schmitt, Bob Cowsill, either touring or recording, or both.
You'll have to refer to the Weekly Valley Vantage for more. It may have been foolish of Cece to send the article to the editors of the McNally Family Album, who are always looking for copy. But we (the editorial we) think her cousins will enjoy knowing more about her career.