That Old Black Magic on Wheels

  For the last several months I’ve been preoccupied with planning a move across the U.S.A. to the East Bay. (Obviously not with writing posts on this blog. That should change soon.)  Both of my daughters and grandsons are permanently in California. So I’ll start a new adventure living in Oakland near Lake Merritt in…

A Glamour Girl Hooked on Murder?

It all began when I sang parts of a grizzly ballad to my grandsons who are into gory stuff at almost 7 and 9. We wondered where the verses came from, and what the rest of the lyrics were.   I wasn’t even sure how to spell the name of the Wratten family, but the tune…

A Burning Question: Skin Color and Social Class in 1937 and 2017

“What interests you most in this Cosmopolitan world of today?” the magazine asked in September 1937.  The answer could be found in another question: Is a person’s social standing to be “gauged by his complexion”? Columnist, cartoonist, and frequent contributor to the New Yorker and several other magazines, Weare Holbrook (d.1985), tackles this subject– and…

“The Shape of Things to Come” — Winter 1939

In 1939 Jane Hall was hard at work as a screenwriter at MGM. Eight months later she would be on the cover of Cosmopolitan. I collected dozens of old Cosmos while working on Such Mad Fun. And though it does not contain any of Jane’s stories, the February 1939 issue of the magazine is fascinating. The…