october 1958

In 2011, a small selection of letters that Fred Astaire and Hermes Pan had written to Ginger Rogers over several decades were published by Roberta Olden in an exhibition entitled, The Ginger Rogers Collection. Here are some excerpts: 

January 1936  telegram from Fred to Ginger:
“Hope you have a nice vacation. Grab a few steps here and there. We will be needing them.

Early-1950 handwritten letter from Fred to Ginger:
“If you like, I’ll get a hold of the great Hermes one of these days pretty soon and we’ll all have dinner someplace.
Best love, Fred”

October 1958 handwritten letter from Fred to Ginger:
“Isn’t T.V. cute? Reminds me of a space operation or something.
Love, Fred”

May 1959 handwritten letter from Fred to Ginger:
“So long sweetie, and have a wonderful trip,
As ever, Fred”

December 1974 handwritten letter from Fred to Ginger:
“I didn’t know where you might be…
Best love, always, Fred”

December 1979 handwritten letter from Hermes Pan to Ginger:
“I loved seeing you, and you look fantastic. We will definitely get together real soon, and I’ll whip up a little spaghetti or something. I’ll call you and we’ll set a time.
I love you,

My life in books

Dear Dr. Stopes - Sex in the 1920s

My lovely MFMM friends will know this little scene

But do you also know one of the first “fighter” for Birth control?  Marie Charlotte Carmichael Stopes (15 October 1880 - 2 October 1958) palaeobotanist turned author and advocate for birth control, eugenics and women’s right. 

In 1921 Marie Stopes and her (second) husband of three years, Humphrey Verdon Roe, founded the Mothers’ Clinic for Constructive Birth Control at 61 Marlborough Road, Holloway, North London; it was the first birth control clinic in England.

After she published her first books Married Love and Wise Parenthood in 1918 she also became the first person to whom a large numbers of men and women wrote freely about their sexual and marital problems. Naturally, the correspondence was limited to the book buying public, overwhelmingly middle class. But after the opening of the clinic in 1921 and the wide coverage given to her sensational libel action in 1923, her influence spread to all classes of society. She now got desperate letters for help from women in the London slums as well as disapproving deckle-edged comments from episcopal places.

As much of a forward thinker Marie was in regards of women / birth control rights and fulfilled sexuality, she also was a woman of her time with views we would find questionable today. She did not condone abortion, but was a strict support of eugenics. She condemned sex before marriage and homosexuality.

Dear Dr. Stopes contains a variety of letters sent to her from 1918 to 1928 (roughly).

The book is divided into chapters according to social class (lower class, upper class, clergy, medical profession, armed services, overseas etc.) rather then topics. Which gives you an interesting insight into how different the mind set of the classes really were.

Only the letters addressed to Dr. Stopes are published not her answers to the addressors, with some interesting exceptions.

Those letters gives you a great view into the lives of women in the 1920s. Some are heart-breaking, some are disturbing and some are heart-warming. It also makes you see behind the curtain of  the British class system of the time. The upper class always knew about how to prevent pregnancy while the women of the lower class struggled with pregnancy after pregnancy. Most  letters of the lower class made me tear up for those poor women. They didn’t know how to feed another child, had very serious health issues due to the large numbers of pregnancies and injuries during birth. Some women couldn’t even sit without being in pain. The doctors would only tell them they should not get pregnant again, but didn’t inform them how they could do it. 

As much as I’m “in love” with the 20s, I’m very happy to live today.

Overall it was an interesting read. I would have enjoyed it a little more if I could have read the answers of Dr.Stopes and her team too. Even without them, I would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of women’s rights and birth control. It also gives you a very different view of the 20s compared to MFMM.

The Pollock Twins

On May 5th, 1957, Jacqueline (6)and Joanna (11) – the two daughters of John and Florence Pollock–were taken away from them when they were hit by a car and killed instantly (along with one of their friend).

Some time passed and Florence learned that she was pregnant with twins. October 4th 1958, Gillian and Jennifer were born. Florence noticed that Jennifer had a line across her head, very simialr to Jaqueline’s scar from a bike accident. When he checked the baby’s leg she also located a birthmark identical to Jaqueline’s birthmark. Soon the family moved out of Hexam and didn’t come back until the girls were four.

When they came back to Hexam the twins would point at places they had claimed to have been to before. They would accurately recall the names of stuffed toys that once belonged to their long gone sisters. They started playing sinister games in which they re-inacted a car accident.

When the girls turned five, their strange memories vanished over-night. The parents stick to their claim that they never mentioned their dead daughters to the Gillian and Jennifer.

On this date, October 28, 1958, two Black boys, 7-year-old James Hanover Thompson, and 9-year-old David “Fuzzy” Simpson, were among a group of children in Monroe, North Carolina, none more than 10, none younger than 6, were playing as young children do without much pattern or apparent direction. Most of the children were white.

One of the girls, Sissy Sutton, kissed Hanover on the cheek. When her mother overheard relaying the day’s events to her sister, she became livid. She called the other white parents, armed herself, gathered some friends, and went out looking for the boys. She intended to kill them. 

Mrs. Sutton went to Hanover’s home with her posse, not only to kill the boys but to lynch the mothers. They arrived almost at the same time as six carloads of police – nearly the entire police force of Monroe. Fortunately, no one was at home. 

Later that afternoon, a squad car spotted the two boys pulling a little red wagon filled with pop bottles. The police jumped from the car, guns drawn, snatched the boys, handcuffed them, and threw them into the car. One of cops slapped Hanover, the first of many beatings he would endure. 

When they got to the jail, the boys were beaten unmercifully. They were held without counsel and their mothers were not allowed to see them.

For several nights the mothers were so frightened that they didn’t sleep in their own house. Gunmen in passing cars fired dozens of shots into the Thompson home. They killed Hanover’s dog. Both women were fired from their jobs as housekeepers. Mrs. Thompson was evicted from her home. The Klan held daily demonstrations outside of the jail.

On November 4, 1958, six days after taking the boys into custody, local authorities finally held a hearing. The boys had still not seen their parents, friends, or legal counsel. At the hearing, the judge found the boys guilty of three charges of assault (kissing) and molestation. He ordered that the boys be incarcerated in an adult facility for black prisoners, and told the boys that if they behaved, they might be released at age 21. 

The state NAACP director didn’t want anything to do with the ‘sex case’ as he called it. Roy Wilkins, of the national NAACP, also declined to get involved. Eventually, it was the communists, the Socialist Workers’ Party, that came to the rescue. 

Joyce Egginton, a reporter for the London News-Chronicle traveled to Monroe, she sneaked into the prison where the boys were held, under the pretense of being a social worker. She also sneaked in a camera. On December 15, 1958, a front page picture of Hanover and Fuzzy in the reformatory, along with an article, appeared all over Europe. 

News organizations in England, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, all carried the story. The United States Information Agency received more than 12,000 letters expressing outrage at the events.
An international committee was formed in Europe to defend Thompson and Simpson. Huge demonstrations were held in Paris, Rome and Vienna and in Rotterdam against the United States. The U.S. Embassy in Brussels was stoned. It was an international embarrassment for the U.S. government.

In February, North Carolina officials asked the boys’ mothers to sign a waiver with the assurance that their children would be released. The mothers refused to sign the waiver, which would have required the boys to admit to being guilty of the charges.

Two days later, after the boys had spent three months in detention, the governor pardoned Thompson and Simpson without conditions or explanation. The state and city never apologized to the boys or their families for their treatment.

Video games

(Atari - Pong: 29 November 1972)
“We never realise”

(Nintendo Gameboy - Tetris: 14 June 1989)
“How far we’ll go”

(Super Nintendo Entertainment System - Contra 3: 28 February 1992)
“Until we take a moment”

(Nintendo 64 - Mario 64: 23 June 1996)
“To look back”

(Playstation 2 - Tony Hawk’s Underground: 28 October 2003)
“And see just how many”

(Playstation 3 - Red Dead Redemption: 18 May 2010)
“Steps we’ve taken”

(Nintendo Switch - Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild: 3 March 2017)
“To get to where we are today.”

(Oscilloscope - Tennis for Two: October 18, 1958)
“But it’s always important to remember where you began.”


March 29th 1947: Malagasy revolt begins

On this day in 1947, Malagasy nationalists began an uprising against French colonial rule in Madagascar. The island became a French overseas territory the previous year, which prompted the establishment of the pro-independence political party Mouvement Democratique de la Renovation Malagache (MDRM). In March 1947, Malagasy (the primary ethnic group of Madagascar) nationalist tribesmen revolted in the eastern part of the island. The revolt rapidly spread across Madagascar, seizing one third of the island. However, once French soldiers received reinforcements, they were able to quicky quell the rebellion. The suppression was swift and bloody, with Malagasy people subject to torture, rape, and mass execution. By the time the rebellion ended, in December 1948, tens of thousands of Malagasy people (estimates range between 10,000 to 90,000), had lost their lives. While the poliitcal leaders of the MDRM denied responsibility for the revolt, the party was outlawed by the French. Twenty military officials were executed for their role in the uprising, followed by thousands of further convictions. While the uprising was officially suppressed, Malagasy nationalists continued to wage a guerilla war against the French. In 1958, France allowed the people of Madagascar to vote on their future, and they decided to become autonomous within the French community. The country became a republic in October 1958, and fully independent in 1960.

The Godfather of Soul…..James Brown  (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006)

James Brown - Try Me  

Released in October 1958…got to #1 on the R&B charts…and #48 on the pop charts….James Brown’s first appearance on the Billboard Top 100 charts.


October 2, 1958 ▸ Elvis being interviewed during a press conference in the Enlisted Men’s Canteen, Friedberg, Germany.

Thank you very much. I would just like to say, ladies and gentlemen, that it’s really a privilege to be in Europe. It’s something that I’ve looked forward to for some time. I consider it a privilege to be assigned to such a fine outfit as the 3rd Armored Division. And I hope that I can live up to everybody’s expectations of me, and I will do my very best to. I only regret that I can’t do some shows and different things while I’m here. But I will be looking forward when my army hitch is over. I would like very much to come back on a regular tour. I was very surprised at the reception. I wasn’t expecting anything quite that big. And I only regret that I didn’t have more time to stay there with them. But maybe someday I can come back, when my army tour is up, as an entertainer, and then I’ll have more time and maybe I’ll have an opportunity to kind of make myself at home over here. Arrivederci! No, that’s Italian isn’t it?