20th Century, Americana, Food, History, Minnesota, music, Uncategorized, women

“Hormel Girls”

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The Hormel Girls, hormelfoods.com

1948
The “All GI Girls Spam Post 570” drum and bugle corps becomes the Hormel Girls—a 60-woman troupe of multi-talented entertainers. They star in a network radio show and hit the road in a 35-car caravan, making music and leaving cents-off coupons across the U.S.A.*

To properly put the Hormel Girls in context, one has to define their raison d’être; Spam. Though many of us now associate the term with unwanted solicitations and advertising on our electronic devices, it was and is an incredible food product. So what is Spam?
It’s a brick of spiced ham, sealed over by an edible gel, and then vacuum packed into a compact tin. **

Allegedly, the tinned meat was birthed out of necessity and Midwestern ingenuity. Hormel foods had tons of pork shoulder that would go bad. An employee had the bright idea to pre-cook spices, broth, and the leftover ham and sell it in a tin. Their frugality and common sense started a revolution; a meat product that seemed to keep forever.

As we entered World War II, Hormel already had the right answer at the right time. Over 150 million pounds of Spam were consumed by U.S. forces during it alone. *** In addition, Spam sustained millions around the post-war world through the “Lend-Lease Act”. ****

The incredible success of the Allies in WWII, as well as for Hormel Foods, brought new challenges and convictions to the mind of Jay Hormel. He wanted every vet to have a job and community upon return. Many of these veterans were women who had honorably served their state and nation as: WAC’s Women’s Army Corps, WAVES Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, and SPARS Women’s Coast Guard Reserves (Acronym derived from “Semper Paratus” Latin for “Always Ready”). To this end, Hormel created the all-female American Legion Spam Post 570 in Austin, Minnesota. Post 570, in turn, birthed the idea of the “Spamettes”; an all-female drum and bugle corp that would be an attractive and wholesome promotional tool for his company. *****

Locals, however, were less enthused. After three weeks, neighbors “filed a motion for a temporary injunction to stop the rehearsing.” ******* Maybe the fault was Hormel’s generous incentives to the young women. Given that they started with a base pay of $50/week, (they were only paid $50 a month in the service), they were offered a $100 bonus if recognized for leadership traits, another $100 each if they placed in a contest, and still another $100 if they won first place!?! ****** All their hard work paid off, placing them at 13th of 49 entries; a very respectable showing considering the men’s groups had been together for years. *****

Wanting to capitalize on the goodwill these young women created, Hormel sought to give them wider exposure through radio. Under the tutelage of choir director Richard Wendelken and orchestra director Eddie Skrivanek, the five dozen Hormel Girls landed on a big band sound with safe arrangements of familiar songs of the day. Many likened them to Sammy Kaye or Kay Kyser; hip but palatable for a wider audience. The first broadcast of “Music with the Hormel Girls” aired on a single radio station, KHJ in Los Angeles, on Saturday, March 20, 1948. *****

From this starting point, the group eventually garnered a nation-wide audience broadcast over 227 ABC radio stations. ***** To enhance their visibility, the group played local shows and made in-store appearances coast to coast driving 35 identical white Chevy sedans. Such a long entourage combined with the posters and promises of coupons, samples, and prizes by an advance team more than piqued local interest in the Hormel Girls, and by association Hormel Foods.***** Nearly sixty years later, World War II Veteran and Hormel Girl member Eleanor Jones recalled that “we really did connect with the housewives. They would flock around us and ask for our autographs.” *******

Lord, thank You for being an inventor. Intrinsically, each form of life is a masterful combination of so many refined systems working in balance. Extrinsically, each individual life balances within a framework of relationships within it’s ecosystem. We can be classified by species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, and kingdom, yet we retain the possibility of adaptation. Everything in Your creation seems to point us towards this paradox; we are individuals that operate as a unity. You are Eternal Father, embodied Messiah, and Holy Spirit. Will You guide us to ponder such inward and outward relationships as we remember the Hormel Girls?

To modern ears it may sound like sarcasm, but today we truly thank You for the invention of Spam; this hardy food helped millions outlast bitter times of war and scarcity! We thank You for the unnamed author or authors of it’s recipe. Will You bless the creativity and diligence of our food scientists’ in the present and future of Minnesota? Will You bless all at Hormel Foods from top to bottom? Will You bless the hog farmers, factory workers, truckers, longshoremen and shippers of Spam? We commend their hard work and overtime in an age of such incredible demand! Will You bless our present and future food industry workers to meet and surpass the needs of multitudes like they?

We thank You for Jay Hormel; survivor and Veteran of the Great War (WWI)! We thank You for the sympathy and empathy for all veterans seared into his soul through that experience. We remember and applaud his acknowledgment of the service and sacrifices of these heroic women!

Where others who had made vast fortunes considered its’ female employees a drain on the bottom line, he increased their pay four times! Then gave them bonuses!
Where others displaced female vets, he saw fit that they had their own place in Post 570!
Where others pushed women out of the factory, he mentored them out of the factory into the spotlight!

Sadly, Jay Hormel seemed to be the exception to the rule. War propaganda that taught our sisters and mothers to be “Rosie the Riveter” now pushed them go home. Dear Lord, for some, this about-face worked, but for others life had permanently changed. We have opposed those we could have lifted. We closed our ears and ears to their talents. We broke faith with them. Forgive us where we offended and wronged Your Image by sinning in these same specific ways against: the WAC’s, the WAVES, the SPARS, and all the women who worked the home front.

We thank You for each and every Spamette and Hormel Girl! We thank You for the lessons they absorbed during their time of service that prepared them for this opportunity. We thank You that they said “Yes!” to so many challenges: to the rigors of travel, the discipline of refining their individual talents, learning to perform for a live or radio audience, learning how to sell to a huge variety of people, learning how to professionally present themselves, gaining skills in representing a company, and symbolizing what is possible for the “girl next door”!

Will You bless all female veterans present and future to: take chances, think big, make mistakes, learn from mistakes, and retain such adaptability to go beyond their classification? Will You give them the same spirit of balance in relationships; to exercise moments of individual greatness while remaining a unity? Will You give them the same sense of humility to recognize Your moments’ for them; even if it’s disguised as an everyday, quotidian tin of Spam?
“The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.” I Samuel 2:7 ESV *********

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.foodwine.com/food/egg/egg0798/slth0798.html
*** Smith, Andrew (May 1, 2007). “The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink”. Oxford University Press. pp. 559–60.
**** Howard Yoon (July 4, 2007). “Spam: More than Junk Mail or Junk Meat” (npr.org).
***** Sullivan, Jill and Keck, Danelle D. “The Hormel Girls”. pp.282-308 https://www.public.asu.edu/~jmsulli/documents/FINAL_Hormel%20Girls.pdf
****** “It’s A lot of Noise Shippan Point Says: All-Women Drum and Bugle Corps, Seeking Legion Title, Arouses Community’s Ire,” New York Times, Aug. 24, 1947, p5.
******* Jones,Eleanor. telephone interview with Jill Sullivan, April 5, 2007. Cited in “The Hormel Girls”.
******** Want to give the Hormel girls a listen? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-4Ok5qI7J4 “Tater Pie by the Hormel Girls”. ArchiveMan78. YouTube. May 7, 2018.
********* https://biblehub.com/1_samuel/2-7.htm

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20th Century, History, music, Uncategorized

Andrews Sisters: Singing Sensations

Sholom-Secunda-with-the-Andrews-Sisters-87

1941
The up-tempo harmonies of the Andrews Sisters (Patti, Maxene, and LaVerne) are some of the biggest hits on wartime juke boxes. The Minneapolis trio will sell 60 million records before LaVerne dies in 1967.*

“There were just three girls in the family. LaVerne had a very low voice. Maxene’s was kind of high, and I was between. It was like God had given us voices to fit our parts.” ** Patty Andrews Weschler 1971

““They sing too loud and they move too much.” ** Olga Andrews, the trio’s mother 1937

“The Andrews Sisters were an American close harmony singing group of the swing and boogie-woogie eras. The group consisted of three sisters: contralto LaVerne Sophia (July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967), soprano Maxene Anglyn (January 3, 1916 – October 21, 1995), and mezzo-soprano Patricia Marie “Patty” (February 16, 1918 – January 30, 2013). Throughout their career, the sisters sold over 75 million records (the last official count released by MCA Records in the mid-1970s). After the death of Patty in 2013, the new recount of the group’s total sales was 90 million records sold worldwide, making them the best-selling female group of all time. Their 1941 hit “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” can be considered an early example of rhythm and blues or jump blues. Other songs closely associated with the Andrews Sisters include their first major hit, “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (Means That You’re Grand)” (1937), “Beer Barrel Polka (Roll Out the Barrel)” (1939), “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar” (1940), “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)” (1942), and “Rum and Coca Cola” (1945), which helped introduce American audiences to calypso.” For a more comprehensive listing of their discography, please see link. ***

It is difficult to find closer harmonies than when family members sing together. There are some logical reasons for this: they share the same regional dialect and inflection, they have listened to the same voices to learn how to speak and therefore they share any unique vocal idiosyncrasies, and they have an intimate familiarity with each other personally. Perhaps this last point, knowing each other in a relational context, is the underpinning of a successful music group.

If one thinks of a successful music team over the past 100 years, be it songwriters, performers, or musicians, those that stick together make a long-lasting impact. Why could this be true? Music is a sport of the heart first, and the head second.

At least in much of the history of American pop music, we love those who touch us, not those who execute a series of notes perfectly. We seem to relate best to artists whose perfect imperfections and authenticity convince us of a genuine portrayal of emotion. As a musician and performer with 39 years experience, the author humbly offers this maxim; “If the artist believes in the song, the audience believes in the song”.

Now, we turn to You, and ask to observe this era of the Andrews Sisters with You. We thank You for Your creation called music. If we were born without ears, it would have been sufficient, but You chose to create this pleasure for Your glory and our enjoyment!

We recall that we live in a spoken universe. Let’s recount how many times You spoke, and then invented in the Creation story.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light…
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters, to separate the waters from the waters.”…
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered into one place, so that the dry land may appear.” And it was so…
11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants and fruit trees, each bearing fruit with seed according to its kind.” And it was so…
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to distinguish between the day and the night, and let them be signs to mark the seasons and days and years…
20 And God said, “Let the waters teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the sky.”
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, land crawlers, and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so…
26Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.”…
We see a clear pattern repeated six times as You created; You spoke and an act of creation took place.

Will You indulge my line of thought further, Adonai? Our greatest thinkers and scientists know much about Your universe, though many may not be able to even entertain these meditations. If the universe and the known elements are made of matter, then what is the commonality of all matter?

To my limited knowledge and recollection of science, all matter exists at a frequency. (See MIT video) ***** If this is true, then it would follow that all matter and known elements are a pitch or note value. Granted, this universal keyboard would be much longer than a piano and beyond the perceptions of our ears, but theoretically are tones.

Could this be, at least in part, an explanation of a spoken universe? Did the utterances of Your voice create the frequencies of the elements? Was it literally the note values of Your voice that created the musica universalis; the Music of the Spheres?

All this to say that no one can comprehend, or can make music like You! We love You for so many reasons, but today celebrate Your love of music. Will You guide us further?

We thank You for Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne! We thank You for their Greek father Peter, and their Norwegian mother Olga. We thank You that Minnesota was a place with conditions hospitable for their parents to fall in love. We thank You for the unalienable freedoms You have given all humanity, but were expressly codified in American law!

We thank You that these familial and regional flavors gave influence to the sound and excitement of the Andrews Sisters! We thank You that their first hit, “Bei Mir Bistu Shein”, helped familiarize our state and nation with Yiddish culture of lyricist Jacob Jacobs and composer Shalom Secunda.****

We thank You for their songs of tenderness that soothed the pains of the Great Depression, the heartaches of World War II, and the jubilance of the Baby Boom! We thank You for their example, though human, that sisters who worked together could create something great! Will You, in turn, bless the present and future musicians, artists, and performers of Minnesota in their artistry and in their families?

Lastly, we give You thanks for their interpretation of the universal language of music! We thank You for the good memories “spoken” to us through their music! We thank You that You ordained our universe of music, and that it helps us better know the universal music of the heart! Amen!
* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://ew.com/article/2013/01/30/patty-andrews-dead/
*** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Andrews_Sisters
**** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bei_Mir_Bistu_Shein

***** Zwiebach, Barton. “MIT 8.04 Quantum Physics I, Spring 2016”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_qvO8bKGus

 

 

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Awe, Faith, music, Uncategorized

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Wordwise Hymns submitted an article that really stirred me up today. Though mostly about hymns and John Newton, the author questions our sense of wonder of G-d at the end of his article. Where is the passion of the Church in its songs? Why don’t we invite our heart (and maybe brains?) to Church or Synagogue? Below, I took a stab at one idea that may limit us. What do you think limits passion towards G-d?

 

HOW TO USE THIS BLOG 1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day. 2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the […]

via Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder — Wordwise Hymns

“I believe the wonder of the modern expression of the Church is quenched through decades of passivity, or maybe a failure of curiosity.
My spiritual heritage ranges from observant to belligerent, from the first pagan Swedish converts of Ansgar to atheistic Swedish socialists, from Polish Catholics to Polish Orthodox Jews to atheistic Jews. All this inheritance from Europe was then crunched and compacted into smaller boxes of American Protestantism: Episcopal, various Lutheran synods, Baptist Fundamentalism, Assemblies of G-d, the Vineyard (Non-denominations), Messianic Jewry.
I am surely not condemning the Church that I know and love, but am aware of how effective our common enemy is at lulling us to sleep.
Many of us only know Church history as told to us through secular scholars. We don’t know the backstory of the hymns or their authors. How many of them suffered for the privilege to worship G-d in Spirit and Truth?
We have disconnected from the Old Testament, in some cases, almost entirely. We don’t connect with its’ Feasts and Holidays so we are limited in relating to the founders of the Church and our Savior.
Surely, He loves us whether we read the newspaper or Herodotus, but it seems plain to me that one who remembers only 75 years of the Lord’s faithfulness may experience less passion than those who draw on the memories of Israel and the Church over the past 5775 years. May we be ever curious and ACTIVELY meditate on our King of Kings, and his unmerited favor shown through the stories of the faithful throughout history!” PTH

Do you ever wonder about G-d?

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20th Century, Americana, History, Minnesota, music, Uncategorized

WCCO Noon Hi-Lites

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Minnesota.cbslocal.com

1933
Piano player Norvy Mulligan, announcer Doug Baldwin, Cowboy Jim, and the WCCO Noon Hi-Lites are a midday hit on Minnesota radio.*

In this era, WCCO became a famous local radio station owned by Washburn Crosby Company. Initially, the radio station was a tool to promote Betty Crocker, (a fictitious personification of their company), who in turn sold their fine flour and other baking products. The Noon Highlights show had six half-hour shows a week, and were sponsored by the Hormel meat company.**

Thankfully, these giants of the food industry acquired the talents of announcer Doug Baldwin, who recognized the considerable talents of a local jazz great; Norvy Mulligan.
In the 1920’s, Minnesotans favored the sounds of Dixieland, but Mulligan sought to move the needle forward.

Local music aficionados compared Norvy to the iconic ragtime and jazz piano stylings of Fats Waller. More specifically, he played the same type of left-hand tenths with his thumb. He also favored playing the melody with his right hand while inventing a counter-melody with his left.**

Consequently, the combination of a quality music, a solid announcer, and a cast of fun personalities made for interesting and memorable radio that impacted the Midwest and regions of Canada!

We remember the Noon highlights with You today Lord. We are grateful that You masterfully lined up these creative forces for our enjoyment and benefit! You are the maestro of causes and effects, and condoned the unorthodox combination of: baking, meat-packing, cowboys, housewives, and jazz.

Will You bless WCCO and its inheritance and legacy in Minnesota? Will You inspire our musicians to go further out like Norvy Mulligan? We bless the impact of radio on our state, and its ability to give the previously unknown joys of connection to our peoples!

We ask for Your imagination in our present forms of communication. Illuminate us to cross-pollinate our imaginations, and shirk selfish boredom. Give us an open hand with our talents and inventions, our businesses and pleasures. Move us to accentuate the highlights of life, and remember the good we know today! Amen.
* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** Goetting, Jay. “Joined at the Hip: A History of Jazz in the Twin Cities”

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19th Century, Americana, Boys, Girls, History, music, Uncategorized

The Wise May Bring Their Learning

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hymnary.org

 

Written by an unknown author, this hymn was likely American in origin, and aimed towards children. It is from an 1881 hymnal titled “The Book of Praise for Children”. In it, I hear the simple yet profound voice of Christ. May we ever treasure the innocence of children, and remember its value to our Maker!

“The wise may bring their learning,

The rich may bring their wealth,

And some may bring their greatness, And some bring strength and health;

We, too, would bring our treasures

To offer to the King;

We have no wealth or learning:

What shall we children bring?

 

We’ll bring Him hearts that love Him;

We’ll bring Him thankful praise,

And young souls meekly striving

To walk in holy ways:

And these shall be the treasures

We offer to the King,

And these are gifts that even the poorest child may bring.

 

We’ll bring the little duties

We have to do each day;

We’ll try our best to please Him,

At home, at school, at play:

And better are these treasures

To offer to our King,

Than richest gifts without them;

Yet these a child may bring.” *

 

 

 

* The One Year Book of Hymns. Ed. Robert K. Brown and Mark R. Norton. Tyndale. Wheaton, IL. 1995

 

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20th Century, Culture, History, Minnesota, music, Native Americans, Prayer, women

Densmore Begins Recording Indian Music

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1907
Red Wing native Frances Densmore embarks on a life-long study of Indian music and culture. From a single recording of a performance by Kitchimakwa (“Great Bear”) at White Earth, she eventually collects thousands of songs of the Ojibwe, Dakota, and 10 other tribes. By the time of her death in 1957, Densmore will have also written 22 books and over 100 articles on Indian life.*

What a fascinating woman, Lord! I love the paradox that Ms. Densmore studied piano, organ, and harmony at Oberlin, and found joy in music of the people. Perhaps she is a testimony of her school’s philosophy?
Father, I’m grateful that by chance she read a book, that led her to her first experience with Indian music, that led into a passion.** I’m grateful that she took delight in listening, which is an inherent quality of great recording engineers, musicians, and producers. One adds a personal statement while listening to other players.
Will You bless Frances and her generations with her love of music and culture? Will You bless all the tribes she recorded with appreciation for her remarkable gift? Will You bless the all non-Native Minnesotans with ears to hear the importance of their voice in our common history?
As Plato said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” May we listen to the music of each culture of this state, and so be enlivened! Amen!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Explore more about Densmore at MPR feature “Song Catcher”. http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/199702/01_smiths_densmore/docs/index.shtml

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19th Century, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, music

Dvorak Composes at Falls

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1893
Antonin Dvorak, the renowned Czech composer, visits Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. Inspired by the beauty of the scene, he composes a melody on the spot, writing the music on his starched shirt cuff. The “Minnehaha Theme” is featured as a violin line in Dvorak’s Sonatina in G Major, opus 100.*

Master, first name You describe Yourself with in the scriptures is “Elohim”, which means something akin to “Artist” or “Strong Creator”. Your signature is in, around, and through all creation. You have created living art that is capable of reproduction, yet each “copy” is a unique masterpiece?! Whether we view the nano particle level through microscopes, observe with our own eyes, or with powerful telescopes, we are in awe of Your handiwork!

It is no wonder that Dvorak saw an inspiring scene at Minnehaha Falls. It’s beauty has been renowned by Minnesotans for generations. What is a wonder is his response; that this beauty is so valued that it is worth recording immediately without thought to practicality or cost. Thank You that Antonin instantly responded to the beauty presented to him!

Will You bless him, his family, and the nation of the Czech Republic? Will You bless his indirect generations of artists, composers, writers, and simply those who listen and respond to greatness? Will You bless this place and those who visit it in perpetuity?

Will You forgive us the judgments we as a people make on those who follow instinct? Will You forgive our judgments of those who pursue their visions, no matter how absurd or irrational they may appear? I believe it was the Celts who likened the Holy Spirit to the wild goose. Will You give us wisdom and discernment to support those on “a wild goose chase”?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

** Read more about Dvorak’s visit to these lovely falls? http://www.classicalmpr.org/story/2014/07/24/the-music-of-minnehaha-falls
*** Learn about a “wild goose chase”? http://thewildgooseisloose.com/why-wild-goose/

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