This post commemorates the centenary of Orson Welles as well as the 1946 blinding of US WWII veteran Isaac Woodard.
In 1946, Isaac Woodard was discharged from the US military, after serving in WWII. Hours later, while still in uniform, police asked him if he was still active military or discharged. When he replied he was discharged and going home he was beaten severely and blinded in both eyes. He was then thrown in a jail cell and denied medical treatment. He was brought before a judge and fined $50. They took all the cash he had in his wallet and were disappointed that he could not sign over his discharge paycheck to the court. He was dumped at a hospital the next town over and days later found by his family, before being taken to a veterans hospital.
Orson Welles made an issue of the case in a powerful presentation on his radio program Orson Welles Commentaries, following up on it for weeks until the policeman was found and named. Soon after, Orson Welles Commentaries was cancelled by ABC radio. Welles revisited Woodard in 1955 for a television program produced by the BBC.
Woody Guthrie wrote a song titled “The Blinding of Isaac Woodard.” Guthrie said, “I sung ‘The Blinding of Isaac Woodard’ in the Lewisohn Stadium one night for more than 36,000 people, and I got the loudest applause I’ve ever got in my whole life.”
The first coverage by Orson Welles:
Chronology of coverage on Orson Welles Commentaries (Wikipedia):
July 28, 1946 Orson Welles reads an affidavit sent to him by the NAACP signed by Isaac Woodard, a black veteran who was beaten and blinded by South Carolina police hours after he had been honorably discharged from the U.S. Army Welles promises to root out the officer responsible and makes the case a major focus of his weekly show.
“Welles took up the cause, having always been outspoken on issues of racism and turned the event into a scathing attack on postwar racism and ingratitude.” (Bret Wood)
47 August 4, 1946 Second program related to the Isaac Woodard case.
Welles remarks on world peace negotiations and Congress.
48 August 11, 1946 Third program related to the Isaac Woodard case.
Welles reads from his July 1944 editorial, “Race Hate Must Be Outlawed.”
49 August 18, 1946 Fourth program related to the Isaac Woodard case.
Welles reads and responds to a letter from a white supremicist, and reads from his December 1943 editorial, “The Unknown Soldier.”
50 August 25, 1946 Fifth and last program related to the Isaac Woodard case.
“The NAACP felt that these broadcasts did more than anything else to prompt the Justice Department to act on the case” (Museum of Broadcasting)
51 September 1, 1946 Welles is told in September that ABC is unable to continue his sustained program after the October 6 show.
This incident caused US president Harry Truman to give a speech about civil rights to the NAACP in 1947, introduce a comprehensive civil rights bill in 1948, and desegregate the military.
This incident puts the 2015 murder of Freddy Gray, at the hands of the police 69 years later, in historical perspective.
In 1940, the team [George Burns & Gracie Allen] launched a similar stunt when Allen announced she was running for President of the United States on the Surprise Party ticket. Burns and Allen did a cross-country whistlestop campaign tour on a private train, performing their live radio show in different cities. In one of her campaign speeches Gracie said, “I don’t know much about the Lend-Lease Bill, but if we owe it we should pay it.” Another typical Gracie-ism on the campaign trail went like this: “Everybody knows a woman is better than a man when it comes to introducing bills into the house.” The Surprise Party mascot was the kangaroo; the motto was “It’s in the bag.” As part of the gag, Allen (in reality, the Burns and Allen writers) published a book, Gracie Allen for President, which included photographs from their nationwide campaign tour and the Surprise Party convention. Allen received an endorsement from Harvard University, and went on to receive 42,000 votes in the general election in November 1940; only six other female United States presidential and vice-presidential candidates have received more votes in a presidential election.
Within the entertainment industry itself, George Burns’s love for Gracie was legend. After her passing, Burns made arrangements for flowers to be brought to her grave site daily, and made weekly visits in person, without fail, for the rest of his life.
The most Revolutionary of the US Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, a key figure in the US and French Revolution and author of Common Sense (1776), Rights of Man (1791), and The Age of Reason (1807), among others.
He advocated Universal Suffrage, A Guaranteed Minimum Income, and the Abolishment of Slavery.
Only six mourners came to his funeral, two of whom were black, most likely freedmen. The writer and orator Robert G. Ingersoll wrote:
Thomas Paine had passed the legendary limit of life. One by one most of his old friends and acquaintances had deserted him. Maligned on every side, execrated, shunned and abhorred – his virtues denounced as vices – his services forgotten – his character blackened, he preserved the poise and balance of his soul. He was a victim of the people, but his convictions remained unshaken. He was still a soldier in the army of freedom, and still tried to enlighten and civilize those who were impatiently waiting for his death. Even those who loved their enemies hated him, their friend – the friend of the whole world – with all their hearts. On the 8th of June, 1809, death came – Death, almost his only friend. At his funeral no pomp, no pageantry, no civic procession, no military display. In a carriage, a woman and her son who had lived on the bounty of the dead – on horseback, a Quaker, the humanity of whose heart dominated the creed of his head – and, following on foot, two negroes filled with gratitude – constituted the funeral cortege of Thomas Paine.
After his death, Paine’s body was brought to New Rochelle, but the Quakers would not allow it to be buried in their grave-yard as per his last will, so his remains were buried under a walnut tree on his farm. In 1819, the English agrarian radical journalist William Cobbett, who in 1793 had published a hostile continuation of Francis Oldys (George Chalmer)’s The Life of Thomas Paine, dug up his bones and transported them back to England with the intention to give Paine a heroic reburial on his native soil, but this never came to pass. The bones were still among Cobbett’s effects when he died over twenty years later, but were later lost. There is no confirmed story about what happened to them after that, although throughout the years, various people have claimed to own parts of Paine’s remains, such as his skull and right hand.
I hand picked these for you. Note the exquisite visuals in both of these selections.
Folklore in the United Kingdom is told that blackberries should not be picked after Old Michaelmas Day (11 October) as the devil (or a Púca) has made them unfit to eat, by stepping, spitting, or fouling on them. There is some value behind this legend as wetter and cooler weather often allows the fruit to become infected by various molds such as Botryotinia which give the fruit an unpleasant look and may be toxic.
The bathroom at the ice cream store features fine art on black velvet.
I joined the Vegetarians of Washington and was handed a folder full of coupons. One was for Seattle Salads. Seattle Salads is a small place that serves Salad and Soup. Both the Salad and Soup were good. I had the Kale Lemon Tahini salad. It had carrots, avocado, and more in it. I also had the Curry Coconut Garbanzo soup with quinoa.
Later in the day I used a coupon for Full Tilt Ice Cream, which has non-dairy ice cream made from coconut milk.
I lost my emotions in a previous decade.
Coincided with a war, I think.
I simply put them somewhere and they disappeared. I can only assume someone took them. And somebody is out there right now, you see, playing with my emotions.