item 1 >>> Topsfield Fair starts tomorrow, and inquiring minds can’t help but wonder, is it really America’s Oldest, like it claims? Well gosh, I don’t wanna get anybody mad at me, this blog has few enough readers as it is, so guess what? I won’t even try to answer that question. But for you history buffs, here’s a little history: the first Essex Agricultural Society Cattle Show was held in 1818 (some sources say 1820), eventually evolving into the Topsfield Fair, at its current location since 1910. But prior to that, its venues were scattered all over the county; for example, it was at Emerson Park in Peabody 1985-1909. Nor has it been continuous, missing 3 years during the Civil War, and another 3 during WWII. But that’s just history…
item 2 >>> And I must say this: there are other county fairs that claim to be the oldest, lead by the York, Pennsylvania’s, started they say in 1765. I was surprised to find that in my neck of the woods, Watertown, NY claims to have the oldest continuous fair, never missing a year for now the 193rd. But I refuse to do the research…just get out there and have a good time. Hey, this year Chubby Checker, the Canadian Mounties, and wicked cool compost!
item 3 >>> Speaking of Ernest Evans, the story goes that he got the name Chubby Checker because Dick Clark’s wife thought he looked like a thinner Fats Domino. You mean it could have been, what, Tubby Backgammon? As they say, this is a story too good to check. And early on in his career, he would do singing impersonations, including Fats…check out his 45 “The Class.” Its on YouTube, along with a couple of his other weird ones: “Let’s Do the Freddie” from 1965, a completely different song than Freddie & the Dreamers’, and from 1976 “The Rub,” a dance that consists pretty much of rubbing together (“Rub me, baby!”) Sounds like a joke, I know, but the song’s done completely straight, and it isn’t that bad, just weird. Wonder if he’ll do those at the Fair? Yell ’em out, what could it hurt?
item 4 >>> Jose Bautista is having a fine season with 52 home runs…how would you feel if he had hit 206 this year? Well, that’s pretty much the way baseball fans must have felt in 1920 when Babe Ruth hit 54 homers. Next best in either league was George Sisler’s 19. What’s more, the Bambino had more home runs, by himself, than any team in the Majors, except the Phillies (64). As of Tuesday, the Blue Jays had 244 as a team, Red Sox second with 205. So imagine Bautista with 206, and get a true taste of yesteryear.
item 5 >>> Update from a bit ago…that Frank Zappa song is “Camarillo Brillo” (thank you, brain) from LP “Over-Nite Sensation” 1973. What he says near the end is: “Is that a real poncho?…I mean, is that a Mexican poncho or a Sears poncho?”
item 6 >>> Another update, on the “Real McCoys”…the daughter was named Hassie, and in one episode Grampa Amos explains the origin of that name: they got a post-card from Tallahassee, and just liked the sound of it.
item 7 >>> And still another update…it was Oliver Wendell Holmes who called Boston the “Hub of the Solar System” (not Universe), and I hasten to add he wasn’t being complimentary. Some one else once pointed out (Mark Twain?) that the Hub is the slowest moving part of the wheel.
item 8 >>> Was it just me, or did other kids wonder about what connection Mattapan might have had with Peter Pan?
item 9 >>> An instant update on today’s item 4…1920 was Babe Ruth’s first season with the Yankees, hence the Curse. It was also his first season as a full-time outfielder…in 1919 with the Sox, he both pitched and played outfield, and set the major league record for home runs in a season with 29. And speaking of curses, less well-known is the Curse of Willie Mays…yup, he could have been a Red Sox, a story I’ll have to tell one of these days. Can you imagine Teddy and Willie in the same line-up?
item 10 >>> Swastikas on an American airplane? Sure, it was done during WWII, to mark the number of “kills.” One was displayed recently at the Beverly Airport.
I mentioned him a while back, but maybe you didn’t believe me. He was a relative johnny-come-lately in the 1960s, among spacemen, adventurers, detectives and pilots. Earlier in pulps, comics books, and movies you had Blast Bennett, Breeze Barton, Blaze Barton, Wing Brady, Slam Bradley, Streak Sloan, Spark Stevens, Punch Parker, Crash Parker, Dash Dillon, Grit Grady, Prop Powers, Hop Harrigan, Clip Carson, Cloud Curtis, and the one dude who maybe goes Drift Marlo one better: Spurt Hammond. I mean think about it: “We’re in big trouble…only Spurt can save us now.” And no, you can’t make this stuff up, tho in cases like this I always try…mine include Crack Campbell, Slope Slauson, and Zip Norton.
Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and http://thewholething.podbean.com
Daily blogs at http://stolf.wordpress.com and https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com
More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi
Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi