Old News – Telephone Upgrade

Some technology news from the past. This story tells of having dials added to a telephone so that a person could connect to another without the use of an operator.


Thursday, November 5, 1914


Federal Telephone Traffic More Than Doubled by Use of New Wonder Instrument and Both Business Men an Housewives Show a Distinct Preference for it.

ad-1914-11-05The Automatic Telephone service has convinced Buffaloians that the Federal Telephone and Telegraph Company has made a tremendous advance along the lines of simplifying and facilitating business by the adoption of the Automatic system.

The first half day of service 112,000 call flashed through the various exchanges, a number that has grown steadily every day until now upwards of 400,000 calls are completed daily. This is twice the number ever handled in one day by the old manual service the company recently discarded for the Automatic. This would seem to prove a distinct public preference for the industrious little mechanical operator, over the old way.

Apart from the superb service the system affords, the instantaneous calls and disconnects and the sharp, clear reproduction of voice tones, what has impressed the Buffalo public more than anything else is the nervelessness and mystery of it all.

To touch a little dial and instantly hear the voice of the very person you want is surely a unique experience. Being a machine, of course, it does not make mistakes; it doesn’t know enough to make a mistake. It affords the same sort of service, which is perfect service, at all times of the day or night. It never tires, never grows ruffled or discourteous and isn’t subject to whims or caprices of persons or weather.

The method of operation, we are told, is very simple. First the caller finds the number of the person desired. Even the Automatic directory is an improvement on the old one, and a unique arrangement of names, numbers and addresses hastens the work of looking for numbers very materially.

Assume that the number wanted is 44327. The subscriber first removes the receiver from the hook, puts the finger in the aperture over the figure “4”, then pulls down; then the same operation on 4-3-2-7 and the call is complete. Almost instantly the number desired answers. If perchance the called party is slow in answering, there is no uncertainty so far as the subscriber is concerned; the subscriber can hear the vibrations and knows the bell is ringing at intervals of seven seconds.

In the case the line is busy when a call is made, a mechanical device so informs the caller by means of the “busy buzz,” a persistent but not unpleasant buzz in the receiver.

Every possible contingency is provided against in this new system. For example, if a person calls a number that has been discontinued, his call goes automatically to a supervisor who says, “You are calling a number that has been discontinued.”

In case of trouble the location and nature of the trouble is shown on a battery of lights in the switchroom and the trouble is remedied nine times out of ten before the subscriber knows his line is in trouble.

In all the large department stores large automatic exchanges have been installed and they promise to revolutionize shopping for Buffalo women. The Automatic is so flexible that the housewife can sit in her own home, dial four figures and figuratively be in the midst of all the rush and excitement of the buying center. A skilled saleswoman answers her and takes her order or discusses requirements.

The first day this system was in operation at the Wm. Henegerer && Co store, four times the usual number of calls were recorded, which indicates that the Automatic is firmly established among the housewives of Buffalo.

It is plainly a triumph of mechanical art and marks a great advance in the telephone business in Western New York.

National Archives Genealogy Fair 2014

na-fair-2014Last week Tuesday through Thursday the US National Archives held a virtual genealogy fair online. Over the three day they presented 17 hour long sessions highlighting some of the things that you can find in the collection of the National Archives. If you missed any of theses sessions, you can now view them at your leisure. Each day’s worth of sessions have been placed on YouTube as one long video. You may have to scroll through parts of the long video if you only want to see an individual session.

Each day’s video starts out with a series of informational screens without sound that last from 10 to 15 minutes. You can easily skip those.

The presenters are mostly National Archive employees that work with the records every day. So they are very knowledgeable so what the speak about.

Handouts and the presentation slides for all of the sessions  are available on this web page.

Day 1 video on YouTube includes:

  • “Introduction to Genealogy” by Claire Prechtel Kluskens
  • “Preserving Your Family Records” by Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler
  • “When Saying ‘I Do’ Meant Giving Up Your U.S. Citizenship” by Meg Hacker
  • “Overview of American Indian Records and Resources on Archives.gov” by Jessica Hopkins

Day 2 video on YouTube includes these sessions:

  • “Great Granny Eunice came from Ireland, Grandpa Fred was in the War, Can Access to Archival Databases (AAD) Help Me?” by John LeGloahec
  • “The Genealogical Significance of the World War I Draft Registration Cards” by Zina Rhone
  • “What’s New at Ancestry from the National Archives” by Quinton Atkinson
  • “Finding the Correct Ancestor: Civil War Soldiers and Homesteads” by Jean Nudd
  • “National Archives Records Online at FamilySearch” by Carol Petranek
  • “Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Exclusion and Deportation files at the National Archives” by Zack Wilske
  • “Wagons West: Land Records at the National Archives” by Rick Martinez

Day 3 video on YouTube includes all of these sessions:

  • “FBI and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): 20th Century Family Research” by Britney Crawford &
    Netisha Currie
  • “Discovering Your Family’s Past in Military and Early Veterans Administration Personal Data Records and Selective Service Records” by Stephen A. Smith, Daria Labinsky, & David Hardin
  • “Individual Deceased Military Personnel Files (IDPFs)” by Bryan McGraw
  • “Vets and Feds in the Family Tree Military and Civilian Personnel Records” by Theresa Fitzgerald
  • “Friend or Foe? Documenting Alien Ancestors during Times of War” by Elizabeth Burnes
  • “Patently Amazing: Finding Your Family in Patent Records” by Christopher Magee

Top Songs of 1964; #18

Oh,_Pretty_Woman_Single_CoverThe next song to hit the top of the record charts in 1964 was “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison. The song was written by Orbison and Bill Dees. It would be become the largest selling song by Orbison selling over 7 million copies.

Orbison was known for wearing black clothes and dark sunglasses making him appear mysterious. He had string of hit songs in the 1960s but his career languished in the early 1970s. Then other artists starting recording his songs and that gave him a reason to start touring again. In 1980 he and Emmylou Harris won a Grammy for their duet “That Lovin’ You Feelin’ Again.” In 1988, he joined the group Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne and also released a new solo album. He died of a heart attack in December that year of a heart attack.

Oh, Pretty Woman” was the number one song on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box record charts for the weeks of Sept. 20 – Oct. 10, 1964.

Download (for a small fee) Roy Obison songs from Amazon.com.

Old News – Bicycles at Night

More news from the past. Hard to believe that bicycles were such a problem 100 years ago.


Thursday, October 29, 1914


Bicyclists Should Carry Tail Light at Night for Self Protection.

ads-1914-10-29“Ever motorists,” says Mitchell May, secretary of state, “is painfully aware of the fact that the bicyclist is one of the chief trials of driving by night, because of the difficulty of distinguishing him. It is only recently that a law was passed compelling him to carry a rear lamp, or even a device for revealing his presence by reflecting the rays of lamps from the overtaking car, while his front lamp is often so feeble that the patch of light it throws on the ground is not visible except at close range.

“Inasmuch as the rear lamp on bicycles are enormous help to other drivers and valuable safeguards to the bicyclist himself, it is an interesting speculation why they are not more frequently adopted, even since there is a legal obligation to carry them. Sometimes the reason would appear to be a lack of imagination–the same reason which leads some motorists to take risks that are a constant source of anxiety to the drivers of other vehicles, as making of erratic movements in crowded thoroughfares, or darting immediately in front of a heavy truck it is a physical impossibility to stop quickly.

“Sometimes the reason, it is to be feared, is a sort of defiant self-assertiveness; the bicyclist, riding the weakest vehicle upon the highway, feels that he is free to use the road as he chooses; and that it is the business of other vehicles to keep clear of him whatever he may do. This attitude. of course, is entirely incompatible with what may be called the economy of road use. It is not, however, confined to bicyclists; drivers as a whole are prone to think too much of their rights and too little of their duties and too few of them seem to ise to the conception that each should co-operate with each other in the spirit of give and take to the end that the road may be used to the best possible advantage of all.”

Hello, again

I’ve been sick. I spent 5 weeks in the hospital. It seems like most of the time was spent waiting for doctors to decide what to do to fix me up. Then for the last two and a half weeks I have been sitting at home just been trying to get better.

I missed a bunch of genealogy events. It may take a while to get back into keeping up with what’s happening.

Lecture and Songs of the War of 1812

ruch-daveOn Tuesday, Sept. 9th,  the Greece Historical Society will present a lecture and concert by Dave Ruch. He presents a fascinating portrait of the War of 1812 through the songs and stories of the people themselves. Ruch has dug deeply into archival recordings, diaries, old newspapers and other historical manuscripts to unearth a wealth of rarely-heard music which, alongside some of the classics from the war, offers a rounded and fascinating picture of this “second war of independence.” Special emphasis is given to New York State’s important role in the conflict.

Dave Ruch is a special musician and performer from Buffalo, NY widely noted for his ability to engage audiences of all kinds. He is equal parts historian, entertainer, educator, humorist and folklorist.  He last performed for the Greece Historical Society in Sept 2011

This program is at 7:00 pm at the Greece Public Library. It is free and open to the general public. It is made possible through the Speakers in the Humanities program of the New York Council for the Humanities with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

New TV Shows of Fall 1964 – NBC

NBC-logoA lot of the returning shows on NBC had been running for a few years. So they had the fewest number of new shows. There are a couple of shows that hardly anyone can remember seeing. NBC ended up the the number TV show of the year in Bonanza.

  • Profiles in Courage; Sunday at 7:00. A historic documentary style drama based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Pres. John F. Kennedy.  It just lasted one season. Watch the first few minutes on YouTube of an episode about Daniel Webster.
  • The Rogues; Sunday at 10:00. This drama revolved around three former conmen that used their talents to help people. It starred David Niven, Charles Boyer and Gig Young. Niven and Boyer were part owners of the company that produced the show. The series won a Golden Globe award but was still cancelled after the one series. View the opening credits on YouTube.
  • 90 Bristol Court; Monday at 7:30. This was actually three half hour comedies that were tied together by all taking place at the same apartment complex. Two of the segments; Harris Against the World and Tom, Dick and Mary were cancelled in January 1965. That left the other segment Karen, about a 16 year old girl to finish the season. View the opening to Karen on YouTube with theme song by The Beach Boys.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.; Tuesday at 8:30. James Bond had become very popular so NBC gave us this spy drama. At first the stories were serious but as time went on they became more fantasy. Before it was cancelled in January 1968, it did spawn the spin-off The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. View a long opening from season one on YouTube.
  • Daniel Boone; Thursday at 7:30. The story of the American pioneer. Fess Parker starred in the title role. He had previously been seen as Davy Crockett on the Disney series. This first season was in B&W. This turned out to be the longest running series of the new NBC shows running 5 seasons (165 episodes). Watch episode 2 from the first season at the bottom of this post.
  • Flipper; Saturday at 7:30. Based on the successful film from the year before, this was the story of a dolphin and his human family. Flipper would come to the rescue in almost every episode. It lasted 3 seasons with 88 episodes.. View the opening theme on YouTube.
  • The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo; Saturday at 8:00. The animated, nearsighted Mr. Magoo is involved in various historic and legendary tales. Only lasted one season with only 25 episodes being made. View the opening on YouTube.
  • Kentucky Jones; Sunday at 8:30. A drama of a horse trainer turned veterinarian who was also running a ranch in California. He also was the foster father to a Chinese orphan. Starred Dennis Weaver. Only lasted one season.

Sources used in this series of articles:

  1. The Complete Encyclopedia of Television Programs; 1947-1979 (1979) by Vincent Terrace.
  2. The Complete Directory to Prime Time and Network and Cable TV Shows; 1946-Present (1995) by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh
  3. Wikipedia

New TV Shows of Fall 1964 – CBS

CBS-logoCBS had solid rating for the previous year. In fact, 9 out of 10 of the top rated shows for the 1963-64 season were on CBS. Still, CBS had 11 new shows on the fall 1964 schedule. Most successful were a couple of half hour comedies. The biggest flops were a couple of new dramas.

The links in the titles are to Wikipedia to where you can find more information on each show. These were the new shows that aired (All times Eastern Time Zone):

  • My Living Doll; Sunday at 9:00. A comedy about a psychiatrist (Bob Cummings) who is given care of an android that looks life a beautiful girl (Julie Newmar) but doesn’t quite understand how life works. It made it through one season with 26 episodes made. View the intro on YouTube.
  • Many Happy Returns; Monday at 9:30. A comedy about the manager (John McGiver) of the complaint department at a large department store. There were 26 episodes made but none on after April 1965. View intro on YouTube.
  • Slattery’s People; Monday at 10:00. A drama about James Slattery (Dick Crenna) politician, lawyer an minority leader in a state legislature who crusades against injustices. Only lasted one season (30 episodes). View opening credits on YouTube.
  • World War I; Tuesday at 8:00. A half hour documentary using films from the war to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the war.
  • The Munsters; Thursday at 7:30. A ghoulish comedy. Herman (Fred Gwynne) looked a lot like Frankenstein’s monster. Grandpa reminded us Count Dracula. Eddie was a junior wolf-man. Niece Marilyn was what we call normal but was thought of by the family as unfortunately ugly. It’s hard to believe that the series only ran two seasons because it was repeated in syndication for many years. View the season one opening on YouTube. Also view the intro to an unaired pilot with some different cast members.
  • The Baileys of Balboa; Thursday at 9:30. A comedy about the owner (Paul Ford) of a charter boat that was in the ritzy community of Balboa, Cal. The first mate of the boat was played by Sterling Holloway who was best known as the original voice of Winnie the Pooh This series lasted just one season with 26 episodes being made. It is on some lists as one of the worse TV comedies ever.  View the opening credits on YouTube.
  • The Entertainers; .Friday at 8:30. A variety show that should have worked as it starred Carol Burnett, Caterina Valente, and Bob Newhart plus guest stars. Newhart dropped out before the end of the year and the show closed down in March 1965. Burnett and Newhart would go on to much better shows.
  • Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.; Friday at 9:30. People already knew Gomer (Jim Nabors) from his role on The Andy Griffith Show. Now in this comedy, Gomer joins the Marine Corps where he runs up against Sergeant Carter. (Frank Sutton). This became the 3rd most popular show of the 1964-65 season and then the 2nd most popular show the next year. All-together, the show ran 5 seasons with 260 episodes being made. Watch the entire first episode (below) and there are many more full episodes on YouTube
  • The Reporter; Friday at 10:00. A drama about a reporter (Harry Guardino) at a NY daily newspaper. It only ran for 13 episodes. View the opening credits on YouTube.
  • Gilligan’s Island; Saturday at 8:30. What is to say about the castaways that everyone doesn’t already know? Critics hated the show. People loved it. The first season was in B&W but has been colorized. The series ran for 3 season with 98 episodes that are still be shown today. View the opening for the pilot without the familiar song.
  • Mr. Broadway; Saturday at 9:00. A drama about a public relations (Craig Stevens). This series just lasted 13 episodes. View opening credits on YouTube.

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New TV Shows of Fall 1964 – ABC

ABC-color-logoIn the fall of 1964 ABC added 15 new shows. Like every new TV season some failed and some ended up running for a few years Most of the Monday night shows were new to the ABC schedule. This was also the first season that ABC broadcast some of their shows in color.
See how many of these shows from the fall 1964 schedule that you remember from that time or have seen in syndication. (All times Eastern Time Zone) The links in the titles are to Wikipedia to where can find more information on each show.

  • Broadside; Sunday at 8:30. This was a comdey from the producer of McHale’s Navy that was a success the year before. In this series, a group of WAVES during WWII are led by Lt j.g. Anne Morgan that is transferred to an island in the South Pacific to run the motor pool to replace sailors for combat duty. Their male Commander felt that having women was disruptive He tried everything he could to get the WAVES sent to the US. There were just 32 episodes made of this series that last for one year. The title of the series wouldn’t be appropriate today. View opening credits on YouTube.
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; Monday at 7:30. A sci-fi series set in the nuclear submarine “Seaview” that had a large glass front. This series and the 1961 movie of the same name were produced by Irwin Allen. Some, but not all, episodes involved monstrous creatures of the sea. This first season was in B&W. In the second season they added a mini flying sub called the “flying fish.” The series last 4 seasons. View a season one promo on YouTube.
  • No Time for Sergeants; Monday at 8:30.  Originally a novel that was turned into a play (1955) and a movie (1958) that starred Andy Griffin. This series starred Sammy Jackson in role of the bumpkin that joins the Air Force and causes trouble  for everyone, especially his Sergeant. That this series was on opposite The Andy Griffith Show didn’t help. It only aired one season (34 episodes). View opening credits on YouTube.
  • Wendy and Me; Monday at 9:00. In this comedy, Wendy (Connie Stevens) was a scatterbrain but very loveable. She and her husband live in an apartment building owned by George Burns. George would watch what Wendy was doing on the TV in his apartment and comment on what was going to happen. This series is very similar to The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show in which Mr. Burns starred with his wife. I really liked this show but it only lasted this one season (34 episodes). View opening credits on YouTube.
  • The Bing Crosby Show; Monday at 9:30. A comedy in which Bing as a former singer/musician turns to a career as an electrical engineer. Meanwhile his wife is trying to break into show business. They also had two teenage daughters. Bing was the producer of the show so he managed to find a way for a song in each of the 28 episodes. Another show that was only on one season. View first 10 minutes of an episode on YouTube.
  • The Tycoon; Tuesday at 9:00. A comedy about Walter Andrews (Walter Brennan) an eccentric millionaire that was chairman of the board of Thunder Corp. Walter wants to do things his way and the younger executives struggle to operate the company, Another series that lasted just the one season (32 episodes). View promo on YouTube.
  • Peyton Place; aired on Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30. A prime time soap opera based on former novels and films. This was a hit for ABC but no without controversy. Some groups criticized the series for the sexual themes. A couple of the break-out stars were Mia Farrow and Ryan O’Neal. In June 1965 the series was expanded to 3 half-hours per week. The series ended in June 1969 with 514 episodes having been produced. View the first few minutes of an episode on YouTube.
  • Shindig!; Wednesday at 8:30. A music song with DJ host Jimmy O’Neill. It featured all the popular acts of the time including some of the groups of the British invasion. (See The Beatles on Shindig!, below) The series lasted until January 1966. View opening medley from a show on YouTube.
  • Mickey; Wednesday at 9:00. A comedy starring Mickey Rooney as a retired businessman, inherits a luxury hotel in Newport Beach, California, and decides to run it. He finds that the hotel was deeply in debt. The series only aired until January 1965 with only 17 episodes. That makes it the biggest flop for ABC of fall 1964.
  • ABC Scope; Wednesday at 10:30. A current affairs and documentary series. Lasted until March 1968.
  • Bewitched; Thursday at 9:00. The comedy series about a witch that marries a human was in B&W for its first season. Just the same it became the second most popular series of the 1964-65 season. The series was able to last 8 seasons in spite of having two men playing Darrin Stevens and two women as Gladys Kravitz.
  • Jonny Quest; Friday at 7:30. An animated adventure series about a boy with his scientist father, a  bodyguard an Indian friend a Jonny’s dog, Bandit. It only had 26 episodes which ran in prime time for a year. After that the series ran on Saturday morning for many years. View opening credits on YouTube.
  • The Addams Family; Friday at 8:30. This ghoulish comedy was based on the comics characters created by Charles Addams. Everyone in this family was strange and had a hard time dealing with the outside world. This series only lasted two years but it spawned a couple of animated series, 3 feature films and another series in 1998 called The New Addams Family. View the opening credits on YouTube and sing along.
  • Valentine’s Day; Friday at 9:00. A comedy starring Tony Franciosa about a playboy that is an editor in a publishing firm. It only managed to last one season (34 episodes).
  • Twelve O’clock High; Friday at 9:30. After Combat had been a hit for ABC the two previous seasons, they decided to try another war series. This time with a crew of bombers in England during WWII. Watch the entire first episode on YouTube.

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Old News – Monroe Co. Fair

More news from the past. This one is a story about the upcoming Monroe County Fair that at that time was in Brockport


Thursday, September 3, 1914



Monroe County Fair Some Fast Race Horses in Abundance

ad-1914-09-03The mobilizing of all forces and the enlistment of all hands able to drive a tent stake or decorate a booth made Tuesday and Wednesday at the Fair grounds fairly rival the excitement encountered in the seats of war, and the Monroe County Fair Grounds now is ready, not for battle, but for the royal entertainment of the visitors.

Never in all the history of Brockport fairs have there been so many enteries in all departments as this year. Every building is full to overflowing and although the dining hall has been moved to the extreme right of the entrance, giving more room to the midway and tent exhibits, it has been necessary to utilize every bit of the additional space to accommodate the unusual number of attractions. Concessionists began to arrive on Friday of last week, an unprecedented occurrence and the managers have had their hands full taking care of the small army of people with side shows, razzle dazzle, merry-go-round, ferris wheel, motordrome, etc.

In the live stock department, the cattle sheds and three tents are crowded with the best blooded cattle of the country and some are even hitched to the posts. The horse barns are all full and it has been necessary to find accommodations for from twenty-five to forty horses in the barns around the town. Warren Conkling would be glad to know of persons about town having box stall accommodations that could be used for the racing horses. The sheep barns and a tent are also full. Sunday was a record breaking day in the chicken department, eight carloads arriving that day and twice since. Exhibits in fruit, flowers, vegetables, fancy work, china and all other departments are much larger than usual and many new names are noticed among the entries.

Among the many new features noticeable this year are the school exhibit tents and the large tent devoted entirely to Brockport business houses exhibits. In the school exhibits, the support of this new departments was enthusiastic that the two tents have been necessary to accommodate the specimens sent in. Many fine exhibits have been sent in from district schools as well as from the schools of the town. Parents of the children should not miss such an opportunity of seeing the good work done by the students. The entries in the domestic science department are also of great interest as are those from the Brockport Training School garden.

The grandstand attractions are all on hand and to judge from the practice work being done, they will be different from the usual line and extremely interesting. The wonderful horses will be seen this year, Amos K., the guideless wonder with a record of 2:00½, and elsewhere on the grounds, Col. Fred, the educated horse who will actually entertain with musical instruments. The race entries number 114 and some of the best races ever held in Brockport will be pulled off.

The free for all race now has twelve entries with some of the best horses on any half mile track. Twenty-five dollars is offered for every heat in which the track record is broken.

Saturday will probably be one of the biggest days of the fair as Governor Glynn is to speak from the grandstand at two o’clock. Prayers are being offered up for fine weather, which if answered will insure Brockport one of the most successful of fairs.