The Original Little Orphan Annie Did Not Match Her Broadway Image
August 5, 2010

The Original Little Orphan Annie Was a Far Cry From An Obnoxious Little Girl Screaming/Singing "Tomorrow"; In this Episode from the 1930's She was Rescued From Kidnapping

Gray

Gray

On This Date in History: Harold Gray had been toying with an idea he had regarding a comic strip. He had sent several to Captain Joseph Medill Patterson, who was the founder of the New York Daily News. Patterson liked one of the ideas in 1924 and called Gray into his office. The main character in the strip was a boy named Otto. While Patterson liked the concept, he wasn’t enthused with the main character and thought that Otto was a mistake.

Wonders What it would be like to be Otto

Wonders What it would be like to be Otto

Seems that there were already 40 other strips that featured a boy. Beyond that, Patterson also thought that Otto looked pretty effeminate. Now, the paper had from time to time taken to reprinting a poem by James Whitcomb titled “Little Orphan Annie.” That gave Patterson inspiration. The story goes that Patterson told Gray, “put skirts on the kid and call her Orphan Annie.” Artists don’t always succomb to management pressure when it comes to their art, but I suppose that Gray needed the gig. So, he did what Patterson suggested and on this date in 1924, the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip first appeared.   Comic strips of that time were different from today in that adventure strips ran a single story that lasted for months, if not for an entire year.  On Sunday’s a single comic might take up an entire page.  Little Orphan Annie was different too.   Little Orphan Annie is regarded by some as one of the most violent comic strips ever to hit the news pages. 

Nazi Admiral is Made to "Disappear"

Her adventures took her into the realm of crooked politicians, gangsters and do-gooders.  She even took time out to do battle with Nazis.   The “life” of Annie also was not the stuff of which the now famous song was made but instead was filled with violence.  The original Annie went months at a time without seeing her father, her house was burned down numerous times, she lived in run down flop houses, was kidnapped and even tortured.  She seemed to walk endlessly with the threat of murderer lurking behind her every move.   The strip also had a touch of the supernatural as, at times, it featured leprechauns and ghosts.  A character that appeared from time to time was “Mr. Am” who had lived for millions of years. 

Daddy Warbucks and Annie Were Often Depicted as Poor

Gray continued to produce the strip until his death in 1968. The correction of Gray’s mistake of Otto by Patterson most likely resulted in one of the longest running and most recognized comic strips of all time. For some reason, I don’t think “Little Orphan Otto” would have been so endearing as the revised version.  But, the revised version has skewed far away from Gray’s creation.  “Little Orphan Annie’ continued after Gray had died but it’s popularity faded as the writing was considered by many to be poor and lacked the creativity and relevance of Gray’s work.  The artwork also did not meet the standards set by Gray.  In the late 70’s, the Broadway play Annie had gained great popularity and so Leonard Starr revived the old strip on December 3, 1979 under the moniker of “Annie.”   However, that version of the strip was cancelled in 2010 with further plans to once again revise what is now considered a “franchise.” 

Annie Comes Upon Kids Looking for Food

Tribune Media Services, the syndicator, says that it wants  “to  go where this new base of Annie fans finds their entertainment.”  The repackaging will be an effort to make Annie to a global, cross-over audience of children and adults.  In other words, they want to be the next Harry Potter.  I wonder how Gray would like the way his little girl has changed over the years?   Seems that the message and story that made the original Little Orphan Annie so popular has now been clouded by marketers and profit motive.   Gray wrote a book, Arf! The Life and Times of Little Orphan Annie and a synopsis of Little Orphan Annie in the form of a book review draws a good picture of how far Annie has come, for better or worse.

Weather Bottom Line:  Fortunately, my great idea of there being a much better risk for rain came about on Thursday morning and even came through better than I imagined.  My sunflowers loved it.  There were some big thunderstorms on Wednesday night up near Seymour that I could see from my house.  I was called by a family member who claimed he could see the northern lights.  There has been a huge solar storm going on but reports of the Aurora being visible have mainly been from Southern Canada and the northern states.  He was disappointed when I told him the frequent flashes he saw from various spots in the sky was nothing more than a distant thunderstorm.  Well, its all behind us as are the extreme temperatures as we go into the weekend.  Look for highs in the upper 80’s on Friday and Saturday before we heat back up into the 90’s starting on Sunday.

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Mistakes Can Lead To Genius; Louisvile Flooding Photos
August 5, 2009

Louisville Flooding

Louisville Flooding

Peter Hodgson

Peter Hodgson

On this date in History:   During World War II, true rubber was a difficult commodity to come up with for the war effort, since many of the rubber plantations were in control of the Japanese.  Part of the effort at home was to have tire drives, where people turned in old tires so that the rubber could be recycled for the war effort.   Uncle Sam needed to find something to substitute for rubber. So, stateside chemists went to work to find an alternative to rubber.  General Electric engineer James Wright was working on the project when his efforts came up with a gooey substance that could be molded like clay, stretched, snapped and shattered when struck with a hammer.  If you took a piece and pressed it to news print, it picked up the ink.  Wright dropped it and he found that it bounced.  None of this seemed too practical for his project, but the boys in the lab had a lot of fun with it.  The only use GE had for it was to sell it as a molding material or caulk.

Getting Silly with Putty

Getting Silly with Putty

Enter Peter Hodgson.  GE had a bunch of the stuff on hand and wanted to get rid of what seemed to be a product without much of a market.  So, Hodgson borrowed $147 and bought a bunch of it, put it in plastic eggs that were placed in egg cartons.  He went on the road and sold Silly Putty.  He put it in the 1949 toy store catalog of the toy store owner who first told Hodgson about the invention.  It became an instant best seller.  In 1961, his son took up the marketing reigns and went to Russia for a bunch of expositions, including one in Gorky Park where Silly Putty was introduced to thousands.  As he traveled,  he utilized various forms of transportation.  He even rode a motorcycle to Kiev and the Caucasus.  On his way home, he married a Swede! 

Worthy of Not so silly study

Worthy of Not so silly study

Two years later his introduction of Silly Putty to England coincided with the debut of The Beatles.  Still the salesman in 1976, he tied a promotion to the Tour de France.  Peter Hodgson, Jr remained active until his father’s death that same year.  But, the mistake of James Wright continues to intrigue kids of all ages to this date.  An interesting side note,  a physicist used Silly Putty as the basis of experiment to show the usefulness of a microscope.  This stuff can do anything!

Gray

Gray

Harold Gray had been toying with an idea he had regarding a comic strip.  He had sent several to Captain Joseph Medill Patterson, who was the founder of the New York Daily News.  Patterson liked one of the ideas in 1924 and called Gray into his office.  The main character in the strip was a boy named Otto.  While Patterson liked the concept, he wasn’t enthused  with the main character and thought that Otto was a mistake. 

Wonders What it would be like to be Otto

Wonders What it would be like to be Otto

Seems that there were already 40 other strips that featured a boy.  Beyond that, Patterson also thought that Otto looked pretty effeminate.   Now, the paper had from time to time taken to reprinting a poem by James Whitcomb titled “Little Orphan Annie.”  That gave Patterson inspiration.  The story goes that Patterson told Gray, “put skirts on the kid and call her Orphan Annie.”   Artists don’t always succomb to management pressure when it comes to their art, but I suppose that Gray needed the gig.  So, he did what Patterson suggested and on this date in 1924, the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip first appeared.  Gray continued to produce the strip until his death in 1968.  The correction of Gray’s mistake of Otto by Patterson most likely resulted in one of the longest running and most recognized comic strips of all time. For some reason, I don’t think “Little Orphan Otto” would have been so endearing as the revised version.

Green: 1-2.5"; Lt. Yellow 2.5-3.5; Dark Yellow 3.5" -5"; Red 5" to 7"

Green: 1-2.5"; Lt. Yellow 2.5-3.5; Dark Yellow 3.5" -5"; Red 5" to 7"

Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs

Weather Bottom Line:  Here are some details about the flooding in Louisville.  We’ve heard politicians and tv reports that Louisville had 8-12 inches of rain. We’ve also heard the a public official first say Louisville had 6 inches in an hour and 15 minutes then 6 inches of rain in an hour and  finally 6.5 inches of rain in an hour.  At my house I had 4 inches this morning.  The airport reported 3 inches in one hour and “4.5 inches all day.  However, the doppler rain estmates above do indicate in areas  of red 5-7 inches of rain.  Some parts of the country could handle this but in this area, there are rocks pretty close to the surface.  The soil is also fairly saturated from a bunch of rain in the last several weeks.  What places like The Weather Channel failed to tell viewers is that many parts of Louisville are on hills.  It was the downtown area that got the flooding and it was pretty bad, but it wasn’t the whole city, so The Weather Channel’s description as “Louisville: Under Water, Under Seige” was a bit dramatic and misleading.  But, if you were in the flooded areas, it was no fun and possibly

I-65 Good for Sculling

I-65 Good for Sculling

expensive.  The photos associated with this section are courtesy of the National Weather Service in Louisville.  You can find more photos at this link to the Louisville National Weather Service.  (find a more complete report at the bottom of this post)

Now a cold front is slipping through and so rain chances may be lingering for the first part of Wednesday, but nothing too significant is expected.  We’re dry for Thursday and Friday with temperatures in the mid to upper 80’s.  Over the weekend, we should pass the 90 degree mark for the first time in over a month, though scattered t’storms may reduce the heat in the afternoons.

It was an interesting situation today.  A short wave was passing  North of Louisville.  When it got just west of the Ohio River, it turned almost due South.  It looked like it was moving out of the area when in fact, it was just starting.  Technically, I’m not sure if that would be backbuilding, but that’s what I would say was happening.  I believe floodstreetthat as the sun rose, a rapid expansion of the convection took place and so storms just kept erupting over Jefferson County. 

It moved out and another shortwave developed and started to across Illinois and Indiana.  The strongest stuff was over Indianapolis with a line extended into western Indiana.  It looked like the worst would pass.  But, I’m thinking that there was some sort of regional flow issues going on because as the main storm moved ESE out of Indianapolis, they suddenly dove in  a more southerly direction in almost the exact same area that the shortwave of earlier in the morning did a right hand turn.  This wouldn’t be a “right turner” that happens often with a strong t’storm because it was the entire complex that turned.  Because it happened twice in the same area, I’m led to believe it was a larger scale situation.  So, Louisville got hit again from the North.  This time, the storms produced pretty high winds of about 40-50 mph but rain totals were limited as I suspect the atmosphere had given up much of what it had to give in the morning.  A third shortwave out in Missouri and Illinois developed but it slipped south through Western Kentucky and down toward

Ominous Clouds near the NWS on Tuesday Morning

Ominous Clouds near the NWS on Tuesday Morning

Tennessee. 

I suspect that this little event will be researched in the future.  John Gordon at the NWS office in Louisville I”m sure would be very interested in the results of such a project.    The photo to the left was a shot taken from the NWS office early Tuesday before the rain came.  If you look at the clouds, you notice the sagging, pouch-like clouds.  They are called cumulus mammatus.  That name derived from the Greeks, I suppose, who observed that the clouds resembled mammaries.  All I can do is speculate because I don’t have any clue about the time or what the conditions were at the time of this photo.  Nevertheless, mammatus clouds are associated with t’storms and indicate quite a bit of turbulence.  However, typically they are found under the anvil of a t’storm and quite often come after a storm has passed.  With that in mind, I suspect that this photo was taken when the initial surge of storms came own from the north and these are the anvils of those storms.  I bet that shortly after this photo was taken, the expanion of the storms began..what I

HWY 362 near Pee Wee Valley

HWY 362 near Pee Wee Valley

called backbuilding…and the heavens then really opened up.