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YOU KNOW YOU'RE OLD WHEN...

by Rose-Mary Rumbley


You know you're old when you remember Eleanor Roosevelt's column, MY DAY, the comic strip, THE KATZENJAMMER KIDS, and Ripley's BELIEVE IT OR NOT.

From 1935 to 1962 Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a daily column titled MY DAY. She missed only 4 days in 1945 when her husband President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died. She wrote of her activities, of her views on social and political issues, and of historical events. Everyone read MY DAY including my father. He never missed her column. Do you know of any first lady whose activities would capture the reading public? This honor falls only upon Eleanor. She was involved in everything--the world and the country, and everyone's business. Toward the end of Franklin's fourth term, he was very, very weak. She was strong, so it was business as usual at the White House, thanks to Eleanor, and she told it all in her column, MY DAY.

Then there was the comic strip, THE KATZENJAMMER KIDS, created for William Randolph Hearst's New York paper by cartoonist, Rudolph Dirks, The KIDS were Hearst's answer to Joseph Pulitzer's strip, DOWN IN HOGAN'S ALLEY. Pulitzer's cartoonist created the first comic strip and Hearst had to get even. The two newspaper giants did not like each other to say the least. The unusual thing about the KIDS is that the comic strip had Germans as the major characters and it ran from 1912 to 1949--that's through two World Wars with Germany, and no one said a word. Everyone thought they were funny! Dirks also created the "speech balloons ." His characters spoke.

Then there was Ripley's BELIEVE IT OR NOT. Ripley was not a very good looking man and he had a hard time expressing himself. But he could draw and with this talent, he became a true celebrity in the 20's, 30's and 40's with his cartoons and stories of the weird and exotic. After all, he was odd, so he went after the stories of odd and unusual people and things. I was particularly taken with this story. He announced in his cartoon on November 3, 1929, AMERICA HAS NO NATIONAL ANTHEM. Congress had refused to endorse THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER, because the melody was based on a vulgar English drinking song written in 1780 by a men's club that honored Anacreon, a Greek poet who wrote erotic poems.

Letters poured in to the paper demanding that Congress adopt the anthem, so on March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed the public law that made THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER America's national anthem.

Thank you Robert Ripley.

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