Tag Archives: Will Rogers

‘Lady Lorraine': Mystery solved

31 Jan

In a column my father published Feb. 10,  1934, he devotes the last paragraph to a young girl he refers to as “Lady Lorraine.” In honor of her ninth birthday, Ebenezer waxed on about her “ladylike qualities,” her accomplishments in the classroom and her big feet. He wrote that she “threatens to outGarbo Garbo’s legendary feet.” How rude, particularly considering that Lorraine was his landlord’s daughter.

Initially, when I posted that column, I was rather curious about who Lorraine was and whether she was some long lost half-sibling. Then I remembered that the 1930 Census record I found a few months ago lists my father as a “lodger”  in the home of Glantis Harris, his wife, Edith, son Harcourt and daughter Lorraine. She was five at the time of the Census, so turning nine four years later makes it all add up.

They lived at 434 St. Nicholas Ave. in New York. The rent for the entire place — I assume it was an apartment since there were other families listed at that address  — was $80! In addition to my father, the other lodgers included Irving Hines, also a printer from Barbados, and a Philip Carrera, who is listed as a musician from Trinidad.

(By the way: He would later marry a woman who sported a size 11 shoe, and two of his three daughters  — not including yours truly  — had feet like their mother.)

‘We have come with no selfish purpose’

17 Jul

So “we’ve” gotten off the subject of Will Rogers and his reference to “darkies,” and now back to the “tiff” between American born and immigrant blacks. This column, published April 7, 1934, takes a circuitous path to get to the point, touching on Mussolini, the reluctance of black folks to hire the services of Negro lawyers and the fact that black people are barred from eating in Washington, DC’s government-owned restaurants. He mentions Dr. Godfrey Nurse a physician born in Guyana who served on  the New York State Electoral College. He quotes James S. Watson, a Jamaican-born municipal court judge.

The New York Age, April 7, 1934

Letter to the editor on Will Rogers and Mr. Ray

16 Jul

Apparently, my father’s columns on the Will Rogers affair - Rogers referred to black people as “darkies,” an offense that resulted in some community members calling for a boycott of Gulf gas stations – did not sit well with this reader. Although my father did not condone Rogers’ use of the term, he felt strongly that as long as “Negroes” continued to refer to themselves in derogatory terms, arguments that others should not use them were  shaky. BTW Gulf Refining Company was the sponsor of the television show on which Rogers appeared. The letter below is from a reader who thought m father’s views were off base.

The New York Age, March 3,1934

The Will Rogers boycott

10 Jul

The New York Age, February 17, 1934

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 663 other followers

%d bloggers like this: