Ruth Handler and Barbie

Ruth Handler’s Barbie doll was introduced to society at the New York Toy Fair on this date in 1959. Born Ruth Marianna Mosko in 1916 in Denver, Colorado, Handler was a child of immigrant parents from Poland. Her creation of Barbie (named after her daughter, Barbara) was designed as a quantum leap in how preadolescent girls approached doll […]

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Danny Kaye from Brownsville

Actor/comedian Danny Kaye (David Daniel Kaminsky), a marvelous song-and-dance-and-everything man, died on this date in 1987. Kaye was born in 1911 in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NY, to Ukrainian immigrant parents who called him “Duvidelleh.” After getting his start as a Borscht Belt entertainer, he would go on to star in seventeen movies, including The Secret […]

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Topps Baseball Cards

Sy Berger, who revitalized baseball cards after World War II by introducing Topps cards in 1951, died at 91 on this date in 2014. The first cards were packaged with taffy inside instead of bubble gum, a nearly disastrous marketing error because the taffy ended up tasting like the varnish on the cards. But the […]

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Opposing Segregation in Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas began to integrate its public schools on this date in 1959 while segregationists rallied at the State Capitol and then marched to Central High School, where police arrested twenty-one of them. This followed the “Lost Year” of 1958, in which Governor Orval Faubus closed the public schools to avoid federally-ordered school integration; to head off a […]

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The Short Season, Part 2

HUSTLING FULL-TIME IN THE CATSKILLS by Elliot Podwill   To read Part 1, click here.   THE SOCIAL DARWINIAN universe we inhabited filtered down to adolescent social mores. A friend in high school was on several occasions turned down for dates by girls because his family car was dingy. (No subways or buses ran in South Fallsburg.) […]

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The Short Season

HUSTLING FULL-TIME IN THE CATSKILLS by Elliot Podwill   MY PARENTS BLUNDERED badly in 1945, a year after I was born. They lived in what is today the South Bronx, and my father made the long commute to Brooklyn to work in the huge Navy Yard. The war years brought him prosperity as a welder of […]

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Gold in Oklahoma!

The soundtrack to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! became the first album certified as gold by the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) on this date in 1958. The musical was the first written together by the Broadway team and earned them a Pulitzer Prize in 1944. The original production opened on March 31, 1943 and ran for 2,212 performances before becoming an Oscar-winning […]

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The Lyric Soprano

Renowned classical singer Judith Raskin, who brought her fine lyric soprano voice and acting skills to audiences throughout America through innovative uses of television as well as by promoting local opera companies, was born in Yonkers, New York on this date in 1928. Raskin’s singing talent blossomed when she was an undergraduate at Smith College, […]

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