Try This Cherry and I’m in Heat!


Sample of Gong Show Acts

Sample of Gong Show Acts

On This Date in History:

  Some of you may remember The Gong Show.  People came on the show and the judges would give them a score.  If the acts were really bad, a judge would stand up and bang a gong that meant the act was off the show.  I think the winner of the show got something like $32.98 or some such odd, low number.  America loved it for awhile as they loved to watch the stupid, crummy acts, not the good ones.  We love competition but sometimes we seem to gravitate to the most preposterous or bad performances.  One of NFL Films most popular team biopics is on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that lost 26 games in a row and every game in a season…the only team to do so in modern times until the Detroit Lions joined them this year.  And of course, there is American Idol and the infamous William Hung.  He is probably more well known than most of the winners.

This is not new with America.

William Hung

William Hung

Before the Gong Show and the Buccaneers and William Hung, there was the Cherry Sisters.  They were so bad, they became a smash hit.  The Cherry Sisters first took to the stage on this date in 1893 in Marion, Iowa.  They received $250 for a one hour show.  Pretty good money.  In Marion, the folks must have been kind because it was in Marion that they got their only good newspaper review.  When they took their act to Cedar Rapids, the local Gazette referred to their performance as “ultimate gall.”  The paper also mentioned that people threw overshoes at the ladies.  See…Iraqis did not invent the act of throwing shoes at people on stage.  Not to outdone by their neighbors, the people of Dubuque tossed a tin wash boiler, turnips and sprayed them down with a fire extinguiser.  I’m not sure what a tin wash boiler is but, who brings turnips to a show?  The newspaper in Davenport, Iowa issued a warning to would be concert-goers.  Rocks larger than two inches would not be allowed in the theatre!  I guess Constitutional rights only go so far….one inch rocks were okay but two inches? Forget it!

Addie and Effie (One In Middle Not Jessie)

Addie and Effie (One In Middle Not Jessie)

Eventually, the act was so bad, it became popular and the “The Celebrated Cherry Sisters” made their way to the big time of the Big Apple.  Yup…they went to Broadway in 1896 under the guidance of none other than Flo Ziegfeld himself.  People came to the theatre in droves just to hurl insults and garbage at them.  Much like the Blues Brothers, the stage manager stretched a fishnet across the stage to protect them from hurtling objects.   But, it finally went too far.

These ladies were indeed modern women determined to move ahead the process of jurisprudence when they did a very late 20th century thing.  They sued.  The Des Moines Leader wrote a review that called “Addie” a “capering monstrosity of 35” and sister “Effie” “an old jade of 50 summers.”  Not true…Effie lived until 1944.  It was kinder to “Jessie” referring as a “frisky filly of 40.” The truth

Hideous Creatures?

Hideous Creatures?

is that Jessie died of typhoid in 1903 at age 31.  It also called the sounds the sisters made “were like the wailings of damned souls.”  I don’t know why they sued the Leader because Billy Hamilton of the Odebolt Chronicle in western Iowa called the ladies “three hideous creatures surpassing the witches of MacBeth.”  I guess being a hideous creature and people throwing rocks and garbage was one thing but telling the public that Effie was 50 was too much.  So what did the judge do?  He had them perform in court and the case was closed.  He ruled in favor of the newspaper saying that “Freedom of discussion is guaranteed by our fundamental law.”  This was not just any court though…it was the Iowa State Supreme Court and, while the Sister’s act may be long forgotten, the case has become a textbook standard citation of First Amendment law under the moniker, the Cherry  Case.  I don’t know how much money the ladies made but if they pocketed $250 in Marion, Iowa they must have done pretty good in New York.  Nevertheless, I doubt if they planned on being remembered in history for a lawsuit against a newspaper that ridiculed them unmercilessly.  Another case of unintended consequences.

NAM Midday Friday SFC Temp 1.23.09

NAM Midday Friday SFC Temp 1.23.09

No More Cold Nights...Finally

No More Cold Nights...Finally

Weather Bottom Line:

So, wouldn’t you know it…I finally have a new heater and the temperature is going to rise.  Sorta like getting a car wash which is a sure harbinger of rain.  We’ll start gradually warming up as we head toward the end of the week.  The NAM is going so far as to take us toward 50 by midday on Friday.  We chill back to probably the 30’s for the weekend and then we get a little system from the west that will be problematic.  Still tough to make a call at this point but it looks to me like we will be under at least the prospects for rain or freezing rain for the early part of next week.  I sure hope not.  I don’t want an ice storm.  But wouldn’t that be fitting. I finally get a heater and then watch the power go out.  Maybe I should hold on to these crummy space heaters.  But, for now, the home is happy again as my kitties, Nit and Wit are warm and cozy and no longer causing a fuss and I won’t be inclined to stay under the covers all morning long.


3 Responses

  1. Glad that you, the missus, and the felines have heat again. One thought: When the electricity is out then space heaters won’t work! I’ve got a kerosene heater for back-up heat at my house. Thankfully, I’ve never had to use it in the 13 plus years I’ve been at my house. I do use it in my garage whenever I have to work out there in the winter months. It works well, I must say.

    I do wonder where you come up with this stuff, Mr. Symon! The Cherry Sisters and The Gong Show. Well, I do remember The Gong Show anyway. Sometimes they “gonged” some pretty good acts, in my memory. I’d be curious to know if any of the “gonged” acts eventually went on to fame and fortune later. That would be an interesting bit of trivia.

    Well, your blog is always a mixture of interesting and eclectic stories. That’s what keeps us coming back!

  2. I thought it was interesting that this nutty story about the Cherry Sisters made it into case law. I believe that the precedent set wasn’t really modified by any subsequent decisions for about 60 years…but I’m not a lawyer. I dunno about any acts making it bigger after the gong show but the unknown comic shows up from time to time. What ever happened to that woman, Jaye P. Morgan. Never did know what she did that made her a celebrity. I guess they had a B list of acts and a B list of celebrities.

  3. Jaye P. Morgan was a singer who had some hits back in the fifties. She has her own web site believe it or not:

    Apparently she’s still alive and kicking. She released an album in 1976 and did some theatre in the 80’s. What? You don’t remember the album??? I think maybe Ronco released it. OK, now I’m just being mean!

    I was listening to Marc Weinberg this morning on WDRB and he was talking about Monday’s potential storm. (Hey, I can’t watch you any more so I gotta watch somebody!). He said that in this type of overrunning weather situation that unless the precipitation arrives within 24 hours of the cold there is normally not a big snow / ice event. So, because the cold is arriving Saturday and the moisture on Monday this storm will be a dud in all likelihood according to Mr. Weinberg. He may be right, of course, but I was wondering if that was his observation or a well-known meteorological “rule-of-thumb”. I’d never heard it before and I wanted to get your most learned opinion.

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