November 30, 2009

Favorites of the week Nov. 24-Nov. 29, 1930

No Journal was published Sunday, Nov. 30, 1930. Once again, a collection of my favorite items of the week. These aren't a representative selection but just the ones that made me smile or take notice.

Nov. 29:

[Note: Thank goodness executives no longer try and get regulatory relief by saying disaster threatens.] While rail executives painted a bleak industry picture in asking for legislative relief, it's worth noting “the carriers have no effective way of promoting their cause before legislative or regulatory bodies except to emphasize their disadvantages to the utmost”; their only way to get substantial relief is to show “disaster threatens.”

[Note: Two independent elevator cars in the same shaft - what could possibly go wrong?] Committee on revising NY building code proposes changes to make 100-story buildings more practical, including increasing limit on elevator speed from 700 feet/minute to 1,200 feet/minute, and operating two independent elevator cars in the same shaft.

[Note: Extremely strange casting dept.] Scarlet Sister Mary - Ethel Barrymore's long-deferred return to Broadway was an occasion, even more so because it was also the New York debut of her daughter, Ethel Barrymore Colt. “And the fact that the return of the one and the debut of the other were in black-face made it an occasion twice over.” However, the play's characters aren't well developed, and though they're sympathetically approached, “the time seems to have passed when black-face makeup and rhetorical inflection, however sympathetic, will make for a complete illusion” in a realistic drama, especially given the success of black actors playing black parts in the past few years. Plot: Sister Mary weds July, who then leaves her for “the serpentine Cinder, who knows the wicked ways of the city.” While this desertion is a severe blow, Mary recovers and, “in defiance of the church which has expelled her, she lives according to her own law for 20 years, bestowing her great affections on many men, having many children and radiating an earthy strength and personal agreeability in so many ... directions that her life is almost legendary.” Death of her firstborn child causes Mary to see new meaning in life and death, return to faith.

Nov. 28: No Journal published following Thanksgiving.

Nov. 27:

[Note: Perils of knowing what the “important interests” are doing dept.] Good scale support has come into the market in the past few days; buying has come “from important interests that had taken profits at or near the highs, apparently because they did not desire to have the market move ahead too rapidly.”

[Note: Strange entertainment I would like to have seen dept.] Angna Enters - creator of “many striking costume-pantomimes in dance form” offers her annual series of performances; her “forte is mimicry of an unusually satiric nature.” Numbers this year include a burlesque reminiscent of the Isadora Duncan school of dancing, and two Elizabethan dance creations - “Shaking of the Sheets” and “Daunce We Praunce We.”

Nov. 26:

[Note: Interesting way of putting it.] G. Frank, Univ. of Wisconsin pres., says current depression not an indictment of the “machine order” (“array of processes by which we make goods and produce wealth”) but of the “economic order” (“array of policies by which we use goods and distribute wealth”).

[Note: Tariffs and restrictions on immigration seem to have been in the air.] Pres. Hoover says agrees fully with Senator Reed's proposal to suspend immigration for 2 years after July 1 to relieve unemployment; points out that recently tightened visa procedures on his orders have already reduced immigration from 24,000 a month to about 6,000 in Oct.

[Note: Perils of knowing what the “important interests” are doing dept.] Market movements in standard stocks in past 2 weeks “have been under the domination of some of the most important and powerful industrial and financial interests. Their efforts have been directed toward stability, not only in the stock market, but also in various other directions.” While these interests don't desire any spectacular movements, they do believe a reasonable advance in stock prices is warranted.

[Note: Purely coincidental.] Pres. Hoover says no new Federal laws needed to cover “racketeering” activities of gangsters; can be adequately dealt with using existing state laws. Frankie Dunn, “racketeer and late leader of the North Jersey beer-runners” leaves estate of $413,558, mostly in stocks and bonds.

[Note: Thank goodness they took care of that dept.] New Chinese language “Pei-Hua” invented to consolidate hundreds of existing dialects; mixture of Mandarin and other Northern dialects. Language is compulsory in every public school; use is “expected to abolish the language trouble after a generation or two.”

[Note: Elastic biscuits are usually a bad sign.] Biscuit makers generally have reported good 1930 earnings; attributed to “inelastic demand,” brand recognition, efficient distribution, and lower raw material cost.

Nov. 25:

[Note: Interesting to note the sharp drop in Bank of US after the announcement - not sure if this was due to fear of bad merger terms or to rumors of trouble.] Merger announced among four large NY City banks: Public National, Bank of United States, Manuf. Trust, and Int'l Trust. New bank's chair. to be J. Herbert Case, currently chair. of NY Fed.; bank will be fourth-largest in NY with over $700M of deposits, 1M depositors and almost $1B of resources. Following announcement, Public and Manuf. were up sharply, but Bank of US “dropped perpendicularly” 6 1/2 points to all time low of 15 1/2 bid; other leading bank stocks closed only slightly changed. Merger considered very constructive, “calculated greatly to strengthen and stabilize the general banking situation at this center”; the new bank will apply to join the NY Clearing House Assoc. Merger terms “have been tentatively agreed upon,” but “are still subject to modification in one particular.”

[Note: Sheer Genius Dept.] New car features to be exhibited at the 26th Annual NY Automobile Salon Nov. 30 at the Hotel Commodore: a recessed side vanity “illuminated by a tiny lamp and giving all the conveniences of a boudoir table”; and, for the back seat driver, a rear instrument panel including speedometer, clock, altimeter, and radio set.

Nov. 24:

[Note: Rule 1 of banking crisis - there is no banking crisis dept.] Atlanta Fed. Reserve Bank Gov. Black reassures on “fundamental situation” of Southern banks; they have $10B in reserves, tangible wealth of South over $80B.

[Note: Perils of historial precedent dept.] W. Persons, formerly of Harvard and Amer. Statistical Assoc. pres., gives “convincing array of evidence” that “business recovery is in prospect and should be in progress by spring.” Argues that level of economic activity 20%-25% below normal, as observed in previous depressions, is “bed-rock below which depression did not go.” Careful survey of conditions shows “the stage is fully set for a business recovery.”

[Note: Strangely familiar Dept. Also interesting that apple selling by the unemployed was already widespread enough to be joked about.] Editorial: W. Johnson has pointed out the huge growth in govt. payrolls to where they now include one of every 10; “Reducing the thing to an absurdity one might visualize the day when each and every one of us would be a govt. employee.” While Mr. Johnson's suggestion of reducing govt. payrolls by 25% may seem badly timed, he's undoubtedly referring to “holders of the so-called 'gravy' jobs”; these wouldn't need to “take to apple-selling. They could exist on their surplus fat.”

[Note: Strange entertainment I would like to have seen dept.] Sweet and Low - revue presented by Billy Rose. Some good music and acting, though “most of the comedy is of the low order.” “Fannie Brice is best in a Spanish-Jewish song 'I Knew Him Before He Was Spanish,' accompanied by dancing with castanets.” George Jessel appears as a foreign professor showing a series of stereoopticon slides of American advertising slogans. Paula Trueman acts amusingly in “Ten Minutes in Bed,” referring of course to “those last few moments in the morning before a girl dashes off to work.” High point for many will be Borrah Minevitch's harmonica band.

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