He was also a composer of songs about subways. Having read this and even recited it (to myself, softly, when nobody else is home), I can definitely say that it is … heartfelt. I leave further artistic judgments up to you, dear readers.
Long Island Daily Press, Jamaica, N.Y., April 1940:
“Ex-Beer Champion Pens ‘Van Wyck Subway Song’ ”
A father in Yorkville said on Sunday morn,
“Come Mother and children, get ready for the shore,
“I’ll show you something new that never you did see
“The Eighth Avenue Subway to Rockaway.”
The father smiles, the mother laughs, the children too,
And little Freddy swings his flag, red, white and blue.
But father starts to sighing, the big express was flying
And stopped on Van Wyck Avenue.
Three times in, four times out, we don’t care,
The whole trip to Rockaway is only five cents fare.
And little Freddy with his flag, was first to leave the train,
He cried: “That trip to Rockaway was nothing but a dream.”
And the mother, Fred, and Annie said, “Papa will you say,
“Papa will you say which is the shortest way.”
And the mother, Fred, and Annie said: “Papa will you say,
“There is no Eighth avenue subway down to Rockaway.”
And father said: “I know, myself, there is no such train,
“We’ll have to wait till Jimmy Walker is mayor once again,
“He and President Joe Coyle, they tried, and very hard,
“But when Mayor LaGuardia came, the subway was forgot.”
And little Freddy raised his flag, with colors red white and blue
He looks his father in the eye, “God help your wish come true,
“The best intention of two good men, should never be so spoiled,
“Three cheers for Jimmy Walker and hurrah for Joe Coyle.”
The article: The upcoming debut of George’s song rated two columns at the top of the local news page. Here is the accompanying story:
The Van Wyck Subway Song, with words and music by George Rudroff, former beer tester for a brewery, will have its premiere at a meeting of the Dunton Civic League Thursday night in Masonic Hall. The song was dedicated by the 70-year-old composer to the league and its president, Joseph A. Coyle, fiery veteran of half a hundred South Side civic battles.
Rudroff, who lives in Richmond Hill, became famous in his salad days for his beer-drinking capacity, and recently was the subject of a Believe-It-Or-Not cartoon.
Every day for eight years, Rudroff drank 90 glasses of beer a day. That was before prohibition. It was just about this time, too, that Rudroff composed a war song, “The Pride of Uncle Sam.”
His latest effort is inspired by the civic league’s campaign to win an extension of the 8th Avenue subway from Queens boulevard southward under Van Wyck boulevard to the Rockaways.
Rudroff also courts the Muse on behalf of ex-Mayor Jimmy Walker, who, he believes, could get the new subway built with a minimum of delay if he were back in City Hall.
The subway issue: Uncle George and the Dunton Civic Association were referring to a proposed expansion of the IND Queens Boulevard Line under Van Wyck Boulevard. I’m working my way through accounts of the subway system’s development in this area and era, and it is complicated.
George appears to have been waxing eloquent about an expansion that was under discussion (and a big political football) in one form or another between 1929 and 1940. There is a lot of information here, at the nycsubway.org site. But please feel free to chime in with any additional insights!
George, who died in November 1940, did not live to see many changes to come on the IND line, including an expansion to Rockaway in the 1950s. The song, however, endures.
The clipping: This was viewed as a digital image at Old New York Newspapers (http://www.fultonhistory.com : accessed 17 June 2013). The scan did not include the page number or edition date. Judging from references in other articles on the page, it seems likely this article ran in early April 1940. A calendar of events in the Brooklyn Eagle for 11 April 1940 (page 24, col. 3) mentions a meeting of the Dunton Civic League as taking place that night, and 11 April was on a Thursday.
As I just said, I’ve spent a few hours reconsidering and reorganizing my links section here, which meant looking — I mean, REALLY looking — at my bookmarks. I don’t want the links sidebar to become Godzilla, but that meant leaving out some neat bookmarks. Hence:
Today’s Spotlight is a beautiful little Google map of Brooklyn Catholic Churches.
This was created by Google user patatie in 2009, and lists a couple of dozen Brooklyn R.C. parishes, along with the dates they were established. I am not entirely sure that it is comprehensive, but it is a nice, quick glance at parishes in Brooklyn, and will certainly give you a good idea of just how localized Catholic identity can get in this neck of the woods.
I have a number of these little tools and snippets hanging around my bookmarks, and I’ll continue to highlight some of the more interesting ones.
What I really should be doing is some actual washing of woodwork, but it is much easier to clean up the blog.
I’ve been wanting to revamp my links section for a while, ever since I changed into my new shiny theme. The link area was getting unwieldy and uncategorized, and therefore not particularly useful.
So I got into organizational mode (yes, stop the presses) and cleaned it up, with a greater emphasis on resources I’ve found handy over the last few years. If you’ve read me at all, you know I come of a 50-50 Irish/German mix. This is now duly categorized, along with my main U.S. areas of New Jersey and New York.
The Family History section, I admit, is a bit of a mixed bag. That’s because I think that when we write up our research, at least some of us will want to include touches that personalize our ancestors — what they ate, how they amused themselves, how they got to work every day. So sure, I’ll put in links about old movie theaters or vintage cookbooks, et cetera, along with some of the national sites for established genealogical organizations. I suppose this category could split again into “Genealogy Organizations” and “Cultural Stuff” and “Writing Stuff”, but one has to call a halt somewhere.
A couple of links were broken — ugh, sorry about that. I hate broken links. I think that’s all cleaned up now, but if you find something that doesn’t work, let me know.
On my last morning in California, I was walking around Altadena in the company of my sister-in-law and her adorable little terrier mix Jack, admiring the flora and getting it all wrong. She and Jack were being lovely and patient about it.
“No, actually that’s lantana,” my sister-in-law said. (Well, it did look like this variety of cosmos, a little bit. And a few yards later, someone was actually growing some. So there.)
“Ooooh, what’s that? It looks like wisteria.”
“No, that’s jacaranda.”
At least I knew a boat when I saw one.
Funny thing about Southern California, though: For all the hard-to-identify plants and ruthlessly speedy drivers, it has a way of making you feel at home very quickly. As my oldest kid said once on a previous visit, staring up at the starry night sky over the mountains: “I think I see what this California thing is all about.”
As I mentioned, I had never been to the Southern California Genealogical Society’s remarkable Jamboree before this year. Yet it felt like I’d been there a dozen times before — everyone running around organizing things was just so nice. I will admit that I winced upon being issued a “First Timer” ribbon for my conference badge — what is this, Pledge Week? — but nobody made me do pushups or carry their backpacks or anything like that. They just kept things running smoothly and, despite what must have been a fiendish amount of work, smiled and laughed more than any East Coaster ignorant of local plant life had a right to expect.
So, despite my newbie status, I could relax and wander the exhibit hall …
… and parachute in on any number of interesting presentations. Beyond the extremely worthwhile talks on methodology and sources, Jamboree offered some interesting glimpses of genealogy-related products and services. (Conferences in general are a relatively painless way to sample these, I must say.) A recurring theme in lectures and casual conversation was linking up genealogy to a generation raised on Twitter and Tumblr. I found some generalizations on this topic to be, well, generalizations. For instance, there seems to be a well-entrenched idea floating around out there that kids don’t read and write anymore, whereas to judge from my daughters’ experiences with Tumblr and online fiction-writing forums, the new age is giving them opportunities to express themselves in this department that I would have killed for, back in the day.
Then again, maybe that idea is floating around out there, too. I heard Tammy Hepps (above) of Treelines demonstrate a system of sharing family stories and pictures that seemed to be pulling in a lot of what I’ve noticed in the way my kids read and write and share online — visual interest and flexibility in how much and what you write being biggies. I have not yet actually tried Treelines myself, but I’m going to give it a whirl and report back.
Back on the learning and development front, I found Dr. James Ryan’s lectures on Irish sources very valuable. Saturday, he talked about land records in illuminating detail; Sunday, he frequently had us in stitches during his talk on “Strange And Unusual Sources for Irish Family History” (trust me, it can get strange, strange, strange). And Paula Stuart-Warren’s Sunday session on developing step-by-step research plans included hands-on, audience-participation examples that proved to me, once again, that I must never assume I am incapable of being surprised on the genealogy front. Also, it gave me lots to do on the flight back East as I scribbled notes for all the tweaks I am now making on what I once thought were comprehensive research plans.
Thanks for the memories, SCGS, and congratulations on your 50th-anniversary year. Hopefully I won’t be a stranger anymore. And I promise to take a better picture of the Hollywood sign next time. Honest.