From our archives . . .
As many tourists will tell you. One of the most recognizable landmarks of Hollywood (besides the Hollywood sign and the Chinese Theater) is the round Capitol Records building. It opened on April 6, 1956. That evening a red light on the tip of the spire atop the building at 1750 Vine Street (a couple blocks north of Hollywood Boulevard) began spelling out H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D in Morse code.
Then Capital president Alan Livingston ordered the light be added as a symbol that the Capitol Record label was the first with a presence in Los Angeles. Except for the years 1992 when the light blinked out C-A-P-I-T-A-L 5-0, celebrating Capitol Records fiftieth anniversary and 2016 when it flashed C-A-P-I-T-O-L 7-5 for the company’s seventy-fifth anniversary, the red light atop the spire continues to flash the original message.
World famous singers and musicians made Capitol Records their label, including: Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Judy Garland, Dean Martin and many more.
Even the most casual observer can see that the wide curved awnings over the windows on each story and the tall spike emerging from the top of the building resembles a stack of records on a turntable. But, Lou Naidorf, the building’s designer, didn’t have that in mind at all.
While Hollywood has undergone a lot of changes, this landmark has held its ground. Even in the 21st century, while many well known artists are recording music in a digital format. Turntables and vinyl LPs have regained popularity. Perhaps the meaning of the Capitol Records building’s design will once again be connected with the entertainment capitol of the world.
This iconic building was featured in several movies, including the 1974 movie “Earthquake,” 1997’s “Volcano” and 2004’s “The Day After Tomorrow” where it met an undignified demise. Despite these cinematic disasters, the light atop the building blinks out its H-O-L-L-Y-O-O-D message to this day.
We are starting a new series of murder mysteries taking place in the1960s. To make the story real we must research what life was like in that decade. After all we do have to dress our characters!
The 1960s fashions for women showed a major change from the 1950s strait-laced, conservative styles to the relaxed, youthful, even unisex styles of the 1960s. In other words, wardrobes had a major overhaul in just one decade.
Skirts changed from the swing skirt in the early 60s to straight (pencil) to A line shape by the end of the decade. And the hemlines were raised drastically as the decade continued.
Casual dress became more and more popular. Women were more comfortable wearing Capri’s, bell bottoms and shorts even at social events.
Couples wore matching clothes or unisex clothes which sprang up in the mid to late 60s. Teenagers to young adults jumped on the unisex look.
The little black dress came into fashion for cocktail parties while the evening/ball gowns started with a layer of lace ending the decade with classy one-layer dresses with stylish decoration.
Bell-bottoms became fashionable for both men and women in Europe and North America. They flared out from the bottom of the calf and had slightly curved hems and a circumference of 18 inches (46 cm) at the bottom of each leg opening. They were usually worn with Cuban-heeled shoes, clogs, or Chelsea boots.
The Empire waist style dress became very popular, reflecting the less strict social mores of dress from the 1950s (cinched waist). The 1960s women’s fashions considered women’s comfort and individual style as opposed to the earlier decades.
An interesting note: Capris’ acceptance in the United States was influenced by the 1960s television series The Dick Van Dyke Show. The character Laura Petrie, the young housewife played by Mary Tyler Moore, caused a fashion sensation by wearing snug-fitting capri pants.
What’s the fun of being a writer? Everything!
And part of that includes the fact that writing is always there. It becomes part of you. At least it has with me. Everything I do, everywhere I go, my writerness is part of it. And yes, that’s an unusual word although when I Googled it, other people have apparently used it, too.
I was on a cruise to Alaska last week with family and friends. It was lots of fun. We sailed near land going north, then south through the Inside Passage, visited several cities, took a few tours, and enjoyed the onboard food and entertainment. That entertainment sometimes included dogs, and you can imagine how much I liked that.
I particularly enjoyed the wildlife we saw, including young and adult bald eagles, other birds including those that flew over and sometimes dived into water like marbled murrelets, a few bears on the shoreline in the distance, some spouting whales, including humpbacks, and small breaching dolphins.
We got to wade in the water in the middle of a river—because, as you might surmise, that river wasn’t full of water.
We visited Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and took a tour that included visiting a formerly private castle.
And, oh yes, I did some writing and editing . . . and came up with an idea for another mystery series.
Will I ever write it? Who knows? But plotting and researching it will definitely be enjoyable. Plotting is who I am, and my subconscious is always at work.
And yes, that’s part of the fun of being a writer.
A simple Internet search can become a journey down the rabbit hole. A phrase or a word catches my eye, I click and find myself wondering down a path light years from the original intent. I was looking for info on clay pot cooking and got entranced by all the entries about things people are in praise of. Not sure how I got there, it’s a Google thing, but I couldn’t look away; all those heart felt testimonials extolling an incredible array of individual passions.
I was delighted by a man’s elegant praise of Velcro (who could argue with that?), an oratory on the simplicity of the ten penny nail (it really is an elegant and useful item), a poetic discourse on the play of sunlight on soap bubbles in the kitchen sink (I’ll take her word for it). The essays in praise of the rubber band, the sound of a child’s heartbeat in a quiet moment, the meditative smell of a crackling fire on a cold night all touched a universal human note—and I asked what I am in praise of.
Answer: writers. I write in praise of writers. I work with authors. I know something of the blood, sweat and tears invested in the books that are my passion to read. Writers are people with such a strong drive to tell stories they dive into unchartered waters and do it—despite the requirements of life. Writing is a full time occupation for a rare few. For most, the act of putting pen to paper is precious time carved out between client conferences, parenting, shift schedules, basic survival—the business of life. Amazing, praiseworthy.
Every book began as a spark in the mind of a writer. Might be an event, or a word overheard or grandmother’s lace collar that ignited the spark. With trial and error that spark becomes a premise to be populated with characters and action and goals. With more trial and error a burgeoning universe grows into a draft. More trial and error—okay, call it what it is—revisions and rewrites. Then more of same. Finally, a deep breath and first cautious preview. Writers group, spouse, beta reader, editor; it doesn’t matter who, the writer bears their soul. Feedback is absorbed (emotionally, technically, inspirationally), and it’s back to revise and rewrite, until the whole tough process results in the best effort of the writer.
That journey from idea to finished book is praiseworthy enough. That it’s just the beginning of a new sweaty effort is a fact. A book isn’t alive without readers. Reaching those readers is the next act. Even with a traditional publisher every writer has to promote their work — a fact even more vital for Indie authors. How else can the reader find your book among the 1100 new postings per day? Nothing makes me sadder than to have a client hang up their keyboard after publishing because sales are few to none. These are wonderful books, I know they are, but the author made no effort to promote. No one found the work. That wonderful book never stood a chance.
The investment of writing a book is a labor of love. Promoting and selling the book is just hard work. The effort begins with well-chosen genre categories and killer key words. An educated approach to pricing techniques, a website, blog and social media are promotional gold. Reviews are essential; consistency is key. Every author must invest the sweat equity needed to allow people to find their book. Fortunately, hundreds of Indie pros share promotional know-how, experiences and techniques on line, a lot of it free.
When I have found that ‘just right’ book I can snug up the Velcro on my slippers, hang my troubles on the ten penny nail, drain the supper dish soap and with the kid sit before the fire and travel wherever those pages take me. I am in praise of writers.
By: Denise M. Colby
Since my post is set for the day we celebrate Veteran’s Day and I love history, I thought it would be fun to celebrate my family in the military and do a bit of research. I don’t have a long list of family members in the military, nor do I have a lot of stories passed down from generation to generation. What I do have are snippets and a few photos.
I will start with my great-great-great-grandfather James Clyman, who I wrote about a few months ago. He wrote down information in his journal and it is here that I learned he enlisted as a private in a company of Mounted Volunteers on June 16, 1832. He was in the same company with Abraham Lincoln for a month (and together they fought in the Black Hawk War). He is quoted in James Clyman, Frontiersman (quoting a quote from another book by R.T. Montgomery, “Biographical Sketch of James Clyman”) of saying “We didn’t think much then about his ever being President.”
He was then commissioned as a second lieutenant of Mounted Rangers, and later appointed as assistant commissary of subsistence for the company. It’s here that several of the receipts and inventory papers he signed are in the Huntington Library. I was able to go through these papers and take photos a couple of years ago, which was an amazing experience. And finally, I get to use them in something I’ve written.
Clyman transferred to the First Dragoons and nine months later sent in his resignation, which was accepted on May 31, 1834. He wanted to get back to his farm and business and, according to the Frontiersman, after he returned home, “he was besieged with accounts from the Commissary General of Subsistence at Washington, requesting the return of vouchers and abstracts of ration issues made during campaigns in the field, some of which were dated back to the time of his predecessor in 1832. Clyman stood charged on the books with over $400.” I’m interpreting this as basically the government sent bills to pay for the vouchers and ration issues made while he was in the field.
I believe that my grandfather, Carroll W. Marsh, Sr. was in the military, but I don’t have any specifics on him. As I’m writing this, I realize I need to ask and find out something. We have lots of details on my grandmothers side of the family, but not my grandfathers.
Next on my list is my father, Carroll W. Marsh, Jr., who left the National Guard long before I was born, so I didn’t know him in that capacity. Nor, was his service really talked about. He didn’t fight in any wars that I’m aware of, nor did he have any big stories that were shared to me as a child. My dad passed away over twenty-one years ago and the information I have on my dad and his stint in the Army National Guard is actually very small. But, I decided to find out more.
It’s amazing to be able to research via Google. This large company photo has a title above it that says “Local Boys In Sonoma County’s National Guard Company”. One of the men holds a banner with 579HQ on it. I was able to search up the number. The 579th was an Engineering Battalion, based in Petaluma and still exists today. My dad turned 18 in 1950. I don’t know how many years he served, although I do know he was still in when my parents were married, which would’ve been beyond 1952.
My nephew, Jason Burrows, just retired from the Navy earlier this year after twenty-four years of service. We are close in age, raised more like brother and sister. I’m quite proud of him. He’s been all over. Italy, Japan, Florida. On the Atlantic and the Pacific. The few times our families have gotten together, I have loved hearing his stories. The little things, that as nation we have no visibility to. The inside scoop. I remember staying on the U.S.S. Midway with my family for a scout event and finding how tiny the bunks were for even myself. I couldn’t imagine how they were for him for six months at a time given he’s 6’4”. He said when on ship he’d jog for exercise but would have to duck to clear the doorways. I loved every minute of my twenty hours on board, feeling closer and gaining an understanding of where he was and what he did.
I remember when my dad was sick and close to passing, email was new. Hard to believe now, but given my corporate job at the time, I was the only one in the family that could communicate with Jason and keep him updated so that he could be flown off the ship when the time came to come home.
As I’ve written this, I realize I have much more information than I thought I did about my family and their military history. I’m very thankful I have the ability write about it and an audience to share it with. Thank you for joining me in learning more about my family and its military roots.
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