Thursday, March 31, 2016

Some Phonoscope sections, and picture guesses

From going back through many of my record books, books on recording, and Rag-Time books, I have come to really wonder how some of these things we know of were passed on through generations of record collectors. Many of these yarns are very hard to track correctly, as some were just told to me through geeks I know who aren't exactly record collectors, and just friends of mine. I wonder where some of those Hylands stories came from...
It's one of the major problems with The Phonoscope, you don't really know what to believe or not. Toward the beginning of the magazine, it was very candid about everything it had in its issues, but as the months went on, it began to change slightly, with new people in the business coming from everywhere, and strange things happening all around. What should we fully believe? Take this thing for example:
Hmm. I have always had suspicion around this one. It sounds like typical Spencer, truly, being one of the most highly educated members of any recording staff at that time(but not exactly naturally intelligent if you know what I'm getting at). Hmm, a lady friend? What slight scandal... It's a very odd thing really, that we want to believe everything we read in The Phonoscope because it's by all definition a primary or first-hand source, just as much as Len Spencer's notebook is. It's a very unusual specimen of primary source though. If you know anything about the people who began this magazine, you know why I'm saying this. Of course, there are also sections like these here:
(still makes me laugh every time I see it ^ )

Well, we get a sense of how they thought of and how they treated their pianist. Some words from the man himself certainly helps. These sections were specifically put in there for comedy, as they were both sections in their General News column. Well, one of them was actually the third thing listed on the news page after the beginning column. Well, they made me laugh when I read them, so that means they do exactly what they're supposed to, even 118 years later. Though of course, it needs to be noted that the first section above was the first thing about Fred Hylands mentioned in The Phonoscope, and it would seem that the last section about him is here:
That's fantastic, but who was there while he was gone? Hmm(he was probably gone for only two weeks). Clearly it's the Phonoscope people reporting this, so he clearly was still working for Columbia, but not as often, as I had expected from him around 1900. Though as we know, he returned to working there much more often in 1901 to 1903(especially 1902 and 03!). Now among the travels I have been having in looking through the 1900 issues of The Phonoscope(which the May, 1900 issue is where that section above came from), I found this curious thing here from the same page:
Oh! the terrible fights! How they were real.
That is pretty much the funniest thing I have found in The Phonoscope. It really doesn't get any better than this. Imagine it! It's fantastic. I can see any three of these studio stars fighting for them, either slyly or openly. 
 I can see Hylands coming in to the exhibition hall, looking around for one, and rather quickly taking one, dragging the wire on the stairs, hoping Len Spencer is not anywhere. But just as soon as he gets up the stairs to the big room----there's Len.  No fan for Fred. 
It's one of the best things to imagine really, you can think of any one of these studio regulars, and it would work regardless. There are times where not all of these situations would apply to all the artists, but this one does! Especially since there was this thing here:
(some of you might have caught that the scene being described here is an exhibition at their big hall on the ground floor)

107 degrees! whew! Yep, that sounds about right. 
It actually is a very good thing to know, because I was often wondering about this sort of thing after reading that 1898 section just above. But as Ryan Wishner and I have discussed before, we wonder about any sort of heater or furnace in the winter, which they did have, but it is not really likely they would have used it very much, due to any sort of racket it made. That was not wanted when making records. 

Now to move onward to the second part of this post, some guesses for that amazing picture from last evening. Here is that picture once again:
(I'm going to be using this picture an awful lot now...)
Still amazing. 

Now I had some guesses as to who I thought that man might have been when I first took a look at the picture, but it's not like the exhibition picture where everyone can be identified reasonably well. I still cannot believe that this is that  street corner that was so highly spoken of in The Phonoscope and in local newspapers. Of all the Columbia stores and headquarters, this is the one where all of those brown wax cylinders were made from January 1897 to about the end of 1905. One of the many questions I have about this picture is:

Where is everyone? This place was said to have been one of the busiest places in New York in 1898(around the time that this was taken obviously). If they're all crowded behind the camera, I swear....
Who is that there? Is that one of the studio artists? It looks like someone with the body type of Billy Golden, or maybe even one of the Spencer's(or Fred Hylands? Ooh, I hope not). I swear, if that's Fred Hylands...

There's so much to ponder when looking at this stupendous picture, though it would have been better if they took the picture like the 42 Edison artists picture here:
(Banta's no. 35!)
That very picture of the Columbia studio could easily have been taken in a similar fashion to the Edison picture from 1900 just above. That would have been amazing. Think of all the forgotten faces that would be seen there. 
They easily could have gotten everyone to stand in a long row in front of the building(because it was an immense structure!). Don't know how many people would be there, but somewhere a little less than 42 would sound about right. I bet we could pick out people really quick just like in the Edison picture above, if Columbia took one of those pictures on their street corner. What's funny is that you'd see a lot of the same people, you'd see Quinn, Denny, D'Almaine, Watson, Albert Campbell, Marguerite Newton(Watson), Geo. W. Johnson, J. J. Fisher, William Tuson, and Fred Hager. Wait a minute! I just noticed a mistake in identification here!  You see numbers 10 and 11:
Yep, them. 
I just noticed that the list of identification states this:
10; M. Guiarini, Tenor
11; Wm. Tuson, Clarinet
Wait, that can't be right. No. 10 is Tuson, not 11. Here's my evidence:
That's Tuson! Damn.  Never noticed how tall he was...The person who wrote out the identification mixed them up. The thing that really gives it away is the whiskers, the ears, and the intense and expressive gaze. Wow, did not come to notice that before. 
Anyhow, if Columbia took a picture like the "42 Edison artists picture", many faces we don't normally see would be there. These include; George Schweinfest, both Spencer's, Vess Ossman, Steve Porter, Tom Clark, David Dana, Edward Issler,  Charles Prince, Fred Hylands(notice I put three pianists here), Minnie Emmett, Russ Hunting, George Graham, Roger Harding, Edward Easton, Victor Emerson, J. W. Myers, Will C. Jones, George Gaskin, Charles P. Lowe, John Yorke Atlee and who knows who else. 
Well, I can't really figure out who that chap is standing there in that picture, but it was certainly not John Atlee, Vess Ossman, Dan Quinn, or George Watson. i am leaning more toward Will F. Denny, Billy Golden, or Fred Hylands. *Leave comments on this post on who you think it might be!*

I hope you enjoyed this! 

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