Fox 12 viewer unites man who found 1955 diploma with its owner


By Kelsey Watts
kelsey.watts@kptv.com

VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) -
It's a story even Sheldon Wagner and Janet Smith can't believe.
Their two families were brought together over a 60-year-old diploma  that Wagner just found Tuesday, in an old box that had been tucked away for decades in the Vancouver home of a family member who recently passed away.
They don't know how it got there, but when Wagner turned to Fox 12 for help  in finding its owner, he got it.
“Most people would have probably thrown it away, there's no telling where it would have gone,” Smith said.
As luck would have it, Smith's long-time friend Willie Sanders was watching our newscast Wednesday and saw our story about Sheldon Wagner's discovery.
He immediately recognized a photo  of Smith's late mother, Emily Marie Smith – the woman the diploma belongs to.
“He said, ‘Where did your mom graduate ?' I said, ‘Grant High School, 1955,' and he said, ‘It's her,'" Smith said.
That connection led them both to Sheldon Wagner, and to the box he discovered filled with their old memories.
“God all these, wow,” Smith said, looking through them all. “This is my grandmother's house, this is the house right here I was raised in.”
Janet's mother, Emily, passed away 10 years ago. She grew up in NE Portland with her husband and two children, and later moved to Vancouver . She would go on to have 6 grand kids and 10 great-grandchildren.
Some of them got to meet her in person, others will now have the chance through old photos discovered by a man  who is no longer a stranger.
“I'm glad I could help you with this,” Wagner told them as they met for the first time Thursday.
“I'm glad we were watching the news,” Smith responded.
KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation.






It’s awful not to be loved.

“It’s awful not to be loved. It’s the worst thing in the world. Don’t ask me - even if you could - how I know that. I just know it. It makes you mean, and violent, and cruel.”—   

                                                                                                       Abra, East of Eden 1955

Deadly crash near Murder Creek, 1955


Deadly crash near Murder Creek, 1955 By Mark Graczyk mgraczyk@batavianews.com 
On the evening of June 18, 1955, spectators filed into Civic Stadium in Buffalo to watch the weekly stock car races.
Auto racing was a popular attraction at the facility — later renamed War Memorial Stadium — in the days before the Buffalo Bills started play there in 1960.
Robert and Barbara Ann Sanders of Court Street, Batavia, were among those in attendance on that warm Saturday evening nearly 60 years ago. They were joined by another Batavia couple, John and Wilma Jean Weiland of Harvester Avenue.
After the races ended, the two couples headed back to Batavia in Mr. Sanders' vehicle.
They never made it.
As Mr. Sanders' vehicle approached the Murder Creek curve on Route 5 in Pembroke, it was hit broadside by a car driven by Walter R. Beechler, 34, of Indian Falls, according to Daily News reports.
It was 1:25 Sunday morning.
Both vehicles sustained major damage.
Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Milton Nachtrieb, who resided near the accident scene, called Pembroke Fire Department along with ambulances from both Genesee Memorial and St. Jerome hospitals. He also called Genesee County coroner, Dr. S.L. McLouth, a Corfu resident.
Robert Sanders, 28, driver of the Batavia car, died within minutes of the crash. He had suffered a fractured skull, fractured right hip and other injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Dr. McLouth.
His wife, Barbara Ann Sanders, 26, was rushed to Genesee Memorial Hospital with head and internal injuries and lacerations. She was listed in critical condition. As far as I can tell from newspaper accounts, she eventually recovered.
John and Wilma Jean Weiland, who were in the back seat, were admitted to GMH with serious but not life threatening injuries.
Walter Beechler, who was alone in the other vehicle, was rushed to GMH with severe internal injuries, lacerations and contusions. He lingered for more than 24 hours before dying of his injuries at 5:45 a.m. Monday.
Because of his grave condition, police were not able to interview him about the crash.
It marked the second such tragedy for the Beechler family in less than a year. Mr Beechler's brother, Claude Beechler, had been killed in an explosion at the Chapin Manufacturing Company plant in Batavia on July 23, 1954. (See previous ''Hidden History'')
Witnesses told police that Walter Beechler's car left the right side of the highway before careening back over to the left side and skidding sideways into the path of the Sanders' vehicle.
The Beechler vehicle was cut nearly in half by the impact.
Both men were veterans of World War II. Mr. Sanders was employed at U.S. Gypsum Co. in Clarence Center. Besides his wife, he left behind two children, his parents, four brothers and two sisters.
Mr. Beechler worked as a truck driver for the Alex C. Smith Trucking Company in Akron. He was survived by his wife, two daughters, his parents, five sisters and two brothers.
It was one of several multiple fatal accidents in Genesee County during 1955. A total of 31 people were killed in Genesee crashes during that year, an all-time record that has only been matched by the 31 traffic fatalities in 1964.
A few months prior, three Batavia men were killed in an Easter Sunday crash on Route 5, just a few miles from the Murder Creek curve.
Then, in late August, five members of a Livingston County family were killed in a horrific two-vehicle crash on Route 20 in Pavilion.
The so-called ''fabulous ’50s” are often remembered as a prosperous, carefree time. In 1955, at least, that image was tinged with tragedy.
*******

(Daily News managing editor Mark Graczyk writes a weekly column called ''Hidden History,'' which looks at interesting, unusual or offbeat aspects of local history. Mark welcomes comments either on the website or by e-mailing him at mgraczyk@batavianews.com)

Noted in passing



Frank Mazzola (79) one-time tough kid from Hollywood, the hot-tempered leader of a street gang called the Athenians. Mazzola staged the famous knife fight in Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean’s landmark 1955 film about violent, disaffected, middle-class youth; he also advised Dean and director Nicholas Ray on gang talk and dress. Later an accomplished film editor, Mazzola developed Alzheimer’s disease and disappeared from his West Hollywood home for four days last June. He died in Woodland Hills, California on January 13, 2015.


History Lessons: The devastating 1955 Udall tornado


 By Jaime Travers 

UDALL, Kansas – One of the most devastating tornadoes in Kansas history hit Udall on May 25, 1955.
80 people were killed and 250 were injured.
There are many similarities between the Udall and Greensburg tornadoes; both were F5s, both hit around 10 p.m at night, and both basically wiped out an entire small town, but the technology of 1955 left little warning for Udall.
The primitive weather radar in 1955 did not make clear how serious the situation was.
In 2007, we saw very clearly that there was a powerful tornado on the ground, headed straight for Greensburg.
The Udall tornado did spur change in the meteorological community, leading to changes in how we issue warnings that have now helped protect countless lives.


Twice-Told Tales: Development comes to Brentwood in 1955



Contra Costa Times
60 years ago

A plan for 200 new Brentwood homes in 1955: News of a mult-million dollar development company coming to East County might be run-of-the-mill in 2015, but in 1955, plans to build 200 new homes in Brentwood took the area by storm.
The plan was scheduled for the Bridgehead area, and included more than 115 different dwellings intended to produce 200 residences. When news of the development project appeared in the Brentwood News, the land had already been annexed, and most of the hurdles to begin the project had been cleared.
The subdivider had already taken the area into the water district too, and were petitioning to have the area incorporated into other service districts.
Steps had been taken some time before to get the subdivision under way, but were abandoned when the subdividers and the water and sanitary district commissioners were unable to agree on the financing of water, sewer and drainage systems.
25 years ago
Liberty High win costs wrestling coach his hair: After Liberty High wrestlers fulfilled their end of the bargain by winning the North Coast Section championship in March, 1990, it was time for coach Greg Chappel to live up to his.
Chappel had promised his wrestlers that if the team won the annual tournament, he would have the side of his head shaved, matching the team look.
So, the Monday after his team's win, with wresters and assistant coaches laughing and cheering him on, the coach sat down in a makeshift barber's chair to face his fate.
"You look like a killer now, Chaps," one wrestler said. "It doesn't look that bad," chimed in another.
"Yes it does," a third member of the team rebutted.
Chappel said he made the deal with his team to motivate them, but chalked up their success to six or seven years of hard work. He took the head-shaving with dignity, but reported that there was a little static in the air when he broke the news of the haircut to his wife, Vicky.


The 100 best novels: No 75 – Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

 Nabokov’s tragicomic tour de force crosses the boundaries of good taste with glee 



Robert McCrum introduces the series

In 1962, almost a decade after its first appearance, Nabokov told the BBC that “Lolita is a special favourite of mine. It was my most difficult book – the book that treated a theme which was so distant, so remote, from my own emotional life that it gave me a special pleasure to use my combinational talent to make it real.”
The author’s passion for this erotic tragicomedy is part of its charm and its appeal. Nabokov knows he is crossing boundaries of good taste but he exults in his truancy from convention anyway. Everything, and everyone, is up for grabs. From the famous opening line, Lolita is the work of a writer in love with the potentiality of the English language: “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” Nabokov’s novel is both a comic tour de force and a transgressive romp. As Martin Amis, a devoted advocate, has written, Lolita is “both irresistible and unforgivable”.
Subtitled “the confessions of a white widowed male”, the novel is an intoxicating mix of apologia, prison diary and urgent appeal to the members of a jury by a 38-year old defendant, Dr Humbert Humbert, a professor of literature. Humbert, who is obsessed with “nymphets” (Nabokov’s coinage), girls on the edge of puberty, has been charged with the murder of Clare Quilty, a playwright. As Humbert’s confession unfolds, in two unequal parts – the latter a travelogue that prompted Christopher Isherwood to joke that it was “the best travel book ever written about America” – the reader discovers that his defence is “crime of passion”: he slaughtered Quilty out of love for Dolores Haze, his “Lolita”.
Although we see him drugging the love object of his dreams, Humbert is hardly debauching an innocent. In a twist that makes for uncomfortable reading in the context of contemporary anxieties about child abuse, Nabokov establishes that Lolita is sexually precocious already. When it comes to the moment when she and Humbert are “technically lovers”, it was, in Nabokov’s brilliant and clinical reversal, “she who seduced me”.
A note on the text
Nabokov’s mother tongue was Russian, just as Joseph Conrad’s was Polish. But, like Conrad, he takes his place here as a master of the English (and American) language. Nabokov’s own retrospective account, dated 12 November 1956, “On a book entitled Lolita”, provides the essential narrative of his novel’s gestation.
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He writes that “the first little throb of Lolita went through me late in 1939, or early in 1940, in Paris.” At the time, he says, he was “laid up with a severe attack of intercostal neuralgia”. The upshot of this “little throb” was “a short story some 30 pages long”, written in Russian. But Nabokov was displeased with this preliminary sketch and says he “destroyed it some time after moving to America in 1940”.
But the fever-germ of his masterpiece was lodged in his imagination. In 1949, he continues, “the throbbing, which had never quite ceased, began to plague me again”. Now writing in English as a would-be American, he began a new version. Progress was painfully slow. “Other books intervened,” he writes, but still he could not reconcile himself to consigning his unfinished draft to the incinerator.
Meanwhile, the exiled Nabokov, a distinguished lepidopterist, could never resist the lure of errant butterflies. “Literature and butterflies,” he once said, “are the two sweetest passions known to man.” Every summer he and his wife would head out west to Colorado, Arizona or Wyoming in pursuit of Variegated Fritillaries and Polyommatus blues. It was there, out in Telluride, that he resumed writing Lolita “in the evenings, or on cloudy days”. By the spring of 1954 he had completed a longhand draft and “began casting around for a publisher”.
It was now that the fun started. The immediate response of the four American publishers to whom it was submitted (Farrar Straus, Viking, Simon & Schuster and New Directions) was that they would not touch it with a bargepole. One editor, a timid soul, exclaimed “Do you think I’m crazy?” Others expressed fears about prosecution, and hinted darkly at the risk of prison. In despair, Nabokov turned to publication in France with Maurice Girodias’s Olympia Press, an imprint specialising in what has been described as a list of “pornographic trash”. Nabokov duly signed a contract with the Olympia Press for publication of the book, which would not appear anonymously (as had been mooted in America) but came out in volume form (two volumes, actually) under his own name.
Lolita was published in September 1955, as a pair of green paperbacks littered with typographical errors. Nevertheless, the first printing of 5,000 copies sold out, though virtually no one had reviewed it. Then, towards the end of 1955, Graham Greene, choosing his books of the year for the Sunday Times, described it as one of the best books of the year. This statement provoked a reaction from the Sunday Express, whose editor called it “the filthiest book I have ever read” and “sheer unrestrained pornography”. The novel became a banned book, in a manner unthinkable today. For two years, copies of Lolita were proscribed by the authorities and hunted down by British customs. Eventually, the young publisher George Weidenfeld saw his chance. In 1959 he brought out a British edition, challenging the law. After a tense standoff, the attorney general decided not to prosecute. Weidenfeld made his first fortune, and Lolita entered British literary mythology. In America, the first US edition was issued by Putnam’s in August 1958. The book went into several printings and it is said that the novel became the first since Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind to sell more than 100,000 copies in its first three weeks.
One of Lolita’s first supporters, the great critic Lionel Trilling, addressed what is perhaps a central issue at the heart of this controversial novel, when he warned of the moral difficulty in interpreting a book with such an eloquent narrator: “We find ourselves the more shocked when we realise that, in the course of reading the novel, we have come virtually to condone the violation it presents… We have been seduced into conniving in the violation, because we have permitted our fantasies to accept what we know to be revolting.” Time and format do not permit this entry to explore the many fascinating literary critical reactions to this book. It will never cease to horrify some readers and delight others. De gustibus non est disputandum.
Looking back, Nabokov declared Lolita to be a record of his “love affair with the English language”. His private tragedy, he declared, tongue in cheek, was that “I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammelled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses – the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions – which the native illusionist, frac-tails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage his own way.”
Second-rate ? We should be so lucky.


I’m perfectly capable of fixing my own breakfast.

“I’m perfectly capable of fixing my own breakfast. As a matter of fact, I had a peanut butter sandwich and two whiskey sours.” Richard Sherman (The Seven Year Itch)

The Effects Of Japan's 1955 Poison-Milk Coverup Persist To This Day



Esther Inglis-Arkell

In 1955, Japanese babies began getting sick. It took a long time — inexcusably long — for the danger to be publicly announced, and as a result, Japan had over ten thousand victims of arsenic poisoning, and over 100 deaths.

The Morinaga Milk Babies

In late July of 1955, parents in western Japan began taking their babies to the hospital. The children, for no reason that the parents could understand, suddenly began vomiting and having diarrhea – a dangerous condition for young children who need to put on weight and can dehydrate easily. The babies also had swollen, tender stomachs, and dark, almost blackened skin. After enough parents had come in, and enough doctors had asked questions, they found that the babies were all bottle-fed, and bottle fed with milk from the Morinaga corporation. By August 5th, it was clear to everyone that Morinaga MF Milk was causing sickness, and doctors began demanding tests and announcements.
The tests were begun, but no one made any announcements. One reason for the delay was the fact that the milk was tested, and no impurities found. Still, only Morinaga milk drinkers were coming down with the mysterious condition. One journalist, whose own child got sick on August 12th, was quietly told to switch milk brands. He noticed that babies with similar illnesses had a letter "M" on their charts – a note that doctors used to keep track of the victims that drank Morinaga milk – but when he printed the story, the name of the company was edited out of his article.
At last, Morinaga revealed that they had been using sodium phosphate as a stabilizer for the milk, which had not been among the milk additives initially tested. It was contaminated with arsenic. The announcement that Morinaga milk had arsenic in it wasn't made until the 24th of August; by then, there were 13,000 victims, adults and children, 6000 serious cases, and 100 deaths.
At the time, the victims were treated with the BAL protocol. The British Anti-Lewisite system was developed as a counter to Lewisite, an agent of chemical warfare that contained arsenic. After working with Lewisite for some time, researchers found that it bound to certain enzymes, which is part of what makes arsenic so dangerous. To reduce the danger, scientists needed to find a chemical that bound to the arsenic more readily than the enzymes. The result was Anti-Lewisite, otherwise known as dimercaprol. It was less than ideal, since it was also poisonous, so it couldn't be taken as a precautionary measure. However, if a person already had arsenic in their system, it was a good way to reduce exposure.
The babies who were affected by the milk poisoning are now entering their 60s. A study of them in 2006 showed that many of them still suffered chronic health problems. Arsenic is neurotoxic, so a disproportionate amount of them had developmental delays, epilepsy, and lower IQ scores. They were also below average height.
The victims and their families had a long legal fight to get financial restitution from the company. A committee was formed to demand financial assistance with hospital bills, ongoing pensions for those who suffered from chronic medical conditions, and more testing and transparency in food products. Despite their efforts, little was actually accomplished. It was only when the babies were nearing 15, and the medical problems they suffered were obvious, that a new committee managed to make some accommodations with the company.


UNSOLVED MURDER FROM 1955 STILL NAGS PINELLAS DETECTIVE



Laura C. Morel, Times Staff Writer

The box for case No. 55-352 had not been opened in years when Pinellas sheriff's Detective Michael Bailey removed its cover, revealing crumbling rice paper, typewritten witness statements, and handwritten notes by detectives from more than half a century ago. • The brittle pages chronicle what may be Pinellas County's oldest unsolved murder: On Feb. 8, 1955, an avid gambler and married father of five was shot dead in front of his slaughterhouse, a butcher's apron still tied to his waist. • Sixty years later, Bailey said there's only one thing that could possibly close the case.
• • •
Although one of his sons warned him not to, Henry Shelton, 56, always carried rolls of bills, sometimes up to $30,000, in his pockets. A survivor of the Great Depression, he didn't trust banks.
Besides running the family business, Shelton's Slaughterhouse, he was a tobacco-chewing dog track bettor and card player, known for gambling at the store for food on his grocery list.
The four Shelton boys helped him at the slaughterhouse, north of Park Boulevard where a mobile home park stands today.
"He was a worker. He'd get up at 4, 5 o'clock and go to work," said James Shelton, 78, his father's only living son. "Us boys would want to lay in bed and he'd come wrestle us out about 7 or 8."
He and his younger brother, Ronnie, 18 and 14 at the time, were sleeping in a cabin several yards away from the slaughterhouse the morning of Feb. 8, 1955.
A knock on the door jolted them awake. It was 16-year-old Frank Gazzo, their father's assistant.
"I just had on my socks," James later told detectives. "Me, Ronnie, and Frankie ran over to where he was and I knew he was dead when I saw him."
A medical examiner determined he had been shot once in the chest, the bullet exiting his back, records state. With Shelton's money and brown leather wallet missing, detectives believed the motive was robbery.
The Pinellas sheriff, Pinellas Park police chief, and state attorney got involved. Detectives interviewed dozens of people, among them a dairy owner, a mail carrier, gamblers, an Orlando man who reportedly gave Shelton a bad $700 check, and several poker players. They recovered a shell casing near Shelton's body. His family offered a $1,000 reward.
A bloodhound picked up a trail that led investigators to fresh tire tracks. Crime scene photos show detectives making castings of the tracks.
Three witnesses said a gray Cadillac was seen near the slaughterhouse that morning.
"Now, you see a tremendous amount of cars coming and going," Bailey said. "But at that time, you would see one car and then sometime later you could see another car."
A tire shop worker said a man came in to replace the new tires on a Cadillac. He took the first set of tires with him.
Detectives tracked the Cadillac to a man that Shelton had done business with. He admitted to investigators that he did get his tires replaced, but no longer had the original ones, records state.
"He was interviewed extensively," Bailey said. "There was not really anything linking him to the crime except circumstantial evidence."
The Shelton family eventually sold the slaughterhouse and Shelton's wife took a job at a laundromat and later at a factory packaging frozen pizzas, James Shelton said.
Within a few years, momentum in the case halted.
• • •
At the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Bailey, a veteran homicide detective, began reviewing the agency's 37 cold cases more than a decade ago.
He remembers opening the box containing the Shelton files for the first time. Bailey scanned the documents and crime scene photos into a computer and stored the tire castings in property and evidence.
Then he visited the only person of interest in the case: the man with the Cadillac. In 2007 when Bailey spoke with him, he was in his 80s and still living in Pinellas County.
"He wasn't shocked to see us," Bailey said. "He said, 'I know you're here about that murder.' "
The detective told him that if he ever wanted to talk, the Sheriff's Office wanted to hear from him.
Bailey is retiring in May and said he'll miss the cold cases the most. These are the murders he loved to investigate: the ones with the degrading evidence, the lack of DNA, the conflicting statements from witnesses long dead. Many of these murders can only be closed with a confession.
"These are extremely problematic. That's why I like them," he said. "They deserve to be solved."
Times staff researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Laura C. Morel at lmorel@tampabay.com or (727)445-4157. Follow @lauracmorel.







Looking Back: Source of mysterious 1955 fireball finally solved


Looking Back: Source of mysterious 1955 fireball finally solved By DOUG McDONOUGH

For almost two weeks in early 1955, the source of a mysterious fireball that briefly illumined the night sky over west Plainview on the evening of Jan. 11 kept the community scratching its head.
That’s until a Wayland student stepped forward with the rest of the story.
Speculation that the firewall over west Plainview could be either a meteorite or something extraterrestrial began almost immediately after it was spotted during the early evening hours on Tuesday, Jan. 11. Dozens of witnesses testified that it lit up the night sky as it rose and then slowly began falling back down the earth. Another bright light was seen about 30 minutes later, moving west in the night sky.
Ten days later, Wayland student John Schoolfield stepped forward with a logical explanation, duly reported in the Friday, Jan. 21, 1955, edition of the Plainview Evening Herald.
Schoolfield came to the Herald with a stand he said was used to fire a flare, along with a parachute which he said held the flare aloft after it was fired. Schoolfield said the stand was found in a vacant lot west of Wayland, while the chute was discovered in a nearby yard.
According to the student, two visiting students from Portales, New Mexico, were behind the fireball mystery. They were in Plainview because the Wayland Pioneers were hosting Eastern New Mexico that night at a basketball game.
Schoolfield said that about 11 p.m., the two students walked over to a vacant lot directly west of the Wayland campus, and north of the residence belonging to Mrs. Henry Robertson, 511 Raleigh.
According to the Herald account, the students placed an object on the ground and then lit the fuse. Seconds later, a huge fireball roared into the air. As it reached its apex, a parachute opened, and it drifted gently toward the east, borne by a 7 mph southwest wind.
Moments later, it burned itself out before reaching the ground.
The parachute eventually dropped into the yard of Mrs. James B. Wallace, 1400 W. Seventh.
Schoolfield, a Wayland student from Pampa, helped add the missing pieces to the fireball riddle by bring in the launching stand for the rocket.
“I was standing about 50 yards from where it went off,” he told the Herald. “It was set off on a tennis court across from the college. It made a terrific explosion and went off over the dorm (McDonald Hall).
“The whole area was lit up. The next day I went out where it was launched, and found the stand.”
Another Wayland student, Scotty Scott of Portales, added, “I knew the boys. I think they said they got the rocket at an army surplus store.”
When the journalist asked the two Wayland students about a second fireball, also possibly a flare, that went off about 11:30 p.m. that night, they responded, “They only had one. I’m sure of that.”
That part of the mystery remained unresolved.





Happenings in 1955


1955 film 'Timberjack' makes reappearances in Bonner, Polson
Kim Briggeman
The Bonner Milltown History Center and Museum will host a fundraising showing of the 1955 movie “Timberjack” on Friday in the Bonner School gym. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and a short program before the movie begins at 7:15 p.m. Raffle items and popcorn will be available. A donation of $5 for adults is suggested.
A showing of “Timberjack” in Polson is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, at the Miracle of America Museum, 36094 Memory Lane. Call (406) 883-6804 for information.
Pencils of brilliant blue light traced the snowy night skies over Missoula. Some of Hollywood’s more recognizable stars were greeted by flashbulbs and microphones as they arrived at the Fox Theater for the world premiere of “Timberjack.”
It was the climax of Timberjack Days in the Garden City, a joint celebration with the U.S. Forest Service’s golden anniversary that included a massive afternoon parade down Higgins Avenue.
There has not been a scene like it in Missoula in the 60 years since that night of Feb. 4, 1955.
The stars are all dead now, and locomotive No. 7 that was brought out of retirement to co-star in the movie is back at rest at the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. But every once in awhile “Timberjack” itself returns.
For unrelated reasons the 90-minute feature film will be shown twice in the next few weeks in western Montana, first at Bonner School on Friday night, then at the Miracle of America Museum in Polson on Feb. 12.
The Bonner showing is a fundraiser and, organizers hope, a community-builder for the Bonner-Milltown History Center and Museum. The center will use the proceeds to purchase a one-of-a-kind collection of "Timberjack" posters and memorabilia from Missoula publisher and collector Stan Cohen.
In Polson, the movie is the February program for the Miracle of America’s monthly Night at the Museum launched last fall. The October program featured the 1952 film “Red Skies of Montana,” which like “Timberjack,” was filmed in western Montana. That drew a large crowd, said museum founder Gil Mangels.
“We kind of polled them about what else they’d like to see and ‘Timberjack’ seemed to be the favorite,” said Mangels.
Neither he nor the folks at the Bonner museum knew of the other’s plans when they scheduled “Timberjack,” and they say they didn’t have a 60-year anniversary party in mind when they did. But they tucked their respective showings neatly around that milestone.
***
It would be impossible, of course, to recapture the excitement of 1955. The cast and production crew had been in Montana the previous summer to shoot scenes in the Bonner-Blackfoot area, in Polson and in Glacier National Park. The locals, including Bonner School students, mingled with the stars, generating memories that will be relived at both venues.
Star Sterling Hayden didn’t return to Montana for Timberjack Days, for unknown reasons. Neither did Hoagy Carmichael, one of the top jazz composers of the age, who played the part of piano-playing Jingles in the movie. A native of Indiana, Carmichael had spent most of a year, circa 1910, in Missoula as a boy, attending Lowell School and slipping into the red-light district not far from his family’s tiny home on West Pine Street to listen to the piano players.
Carmichael sent a telegram to Missoula Mayor James Hart expressing his disappointment over his no-show due to a serious illness.
“Let it be known,” the wire said, “that I just now stood up in bed and toasted all of you from my teacup. P.S., maybe I should have stayed in the healthy country.”
The Missoula entourage included co-star Vera Ralston, a former Czech Olympic figure skater, and her husband Herbert Yates, president of Republic Pictures, "Timberjack’s" producer. Others were David Brian, the villainous Montana lumber baron Croft Brunner in the movie; Adolphe Menjou, a World War I veteran whose film career had started in the silent movie era before the war, and Chill Wills, the gregarious and colorful character actor who played good-guy Steve Riika in “Timberjack.”
Also along to lend his name to the promotion was Rex Allen, the singing Arizona cowboy who was at the pinnacle of his fame in the early 1950s.
***
They arrived on Wednesday and spent the next two days making appearances at luncheons and banquets from “'Timberjack' headquarters” at the Florence Hotel. They were joined by Dan Cushman, who drove over from his home in Great Falls. Cushman wrote the 1953 novella that the movie was based on. Though he grew up and still lived in Montana, he’d set his “Timberjack” in the woods of Canada. Cushman would have a seat of honor with Ralston in one of the lead convertibles in the Friday afternoon parade.
The winter parade had more than 100 entries beyond the stars in cars. They included Forest Service trucks carrying saws, axes, picks and shovels from the old days, and chain saws and other mechanized equipment from the modern era. A pack train of white mules clopped down the street in front of a “mechanical mule” – described as “a one-wheeled power device used to haul material on mountain trails.”
The Grizzly marching band was joined by half a dozen high school bands from around the region, including one from Polson, 75 members strong, that would return home for another “Timberjack Day” parade the following day.
Then came the climax: the premiere showings of “Timberjack” at 6:20 p.m. at the Fox, on the northwestern end of the Orange Street Bridge, and at 7:25 p.m. at the Roxy on South Higgins. In a scene straight from Hollywood (except for the snow) the arc lights criss-crossed the dark skies and fireworks exploded when the stars and executives arrived at the Fox.
Allen emceed a short program at intermission and sang a few numbers, including Carmichael’s “Lazy River.” When they finished at the Fox, the entourage drove over to the Roxy to do it all over again.
Then it was over. The Hollywood crowd flew back to California and Cushman went home to Great Falls.
Missoula had hosted the premiere of “Red Skies of Montana” four winters earlier, and must have figured it would become a regular occurrence. It didn’t. The town has not been selected for a world premiere of a Hollywood feature film since.
***
What’s left behind are the memories and memorabilia – posters, lobby cards, sheet music, photos and an original program for the Feb. 4 premiere. Cohen figures it’s been eight or 10 years since he started his "Timberjack" collection, adding it to his vast holdings at Pictorial Histories Publishers. Much of it, he said, came from an antique shop in Hot Springs, including the centerpiece “six sheet” – a huge 7-foot-by-4-foot "Timberjack" poster. He guesses he could sell that alone for $1,000.
It’s a time in his life when he needs to start finding other homes for some of his historic items, Cohen said. The "Timberjack" memorabilia is included in the Missoula collection he’s bequeathed to the Historical Museum at Fort Museum when he dies.
But his first choice, he said, was for it to wind up where it’s most treasured.
“It belongs in Bonner. That’s why I gave them first crack at it,” Cohen said.
He offered the "Timberjack" collection to the Bonner history center for roughly the money he put into it – $2,100. The little museum next to the Bonner Post Office turns five this winter and is bursting at the seams. Cohen’s offer was something the center’s all-volunteer staff couldn’t turn down, said Judy Matson.
“I think we’re really fortunate to be able to bring these items back to Bonner,” Matson said. “So many people here have fond memories of the filming of the movie, and I think it really helps to give a sense of place to the new people who are here.”

Lady and the Tramp first appears in theaters.
June 22, 1955 • 

Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier first appears in theaters.
May 25, 1955 • 

The Girl Next Door
1955 in Chicago, Illinois • 
Playmates populated the pages of the magazine from the second issue onward. But their gatefold legend wasn't really established until July 1955 when Janet Pilgrim, an employee in Playboy's subscription department, posed for the magazine. She became a national sensation and the ultimate Playmate ideal--a god-given gorgeous, intelligent woman who feels confident enough in herself and her sexuality to pose nude.

Sylvia Plath continues correspondence to her mother, later to be published in the book, 'Letters Home'.
1955 in Newnham College • 

1955 •  Roos Brothers is the first store to open at the Stanford Shopping Center. Income from land leases will help pay for faculty salaries and sales tax receipts become a major revenue source for the city of Palo Alto. Photos courtesy of Stanford University Archives

February 1955 •  In February of 1955, Gabrielle Chanel launches the iconic 2.55 quilted handbag, naming the style after the date of its creation. Combining leather with a gold chain, she invents a supple new style of shoulder strap that is uniquely strong and light, and that allows a woman's hands to remain free.





January 19, 1955: Red letter day as hit US board game Scrabble arrives in the UK


Scrabble, the words-and-letters board game that had taken America by storm, became an international success as it went on sale in the UK.
 
By Rhys Lewis 
Hit board game Scrabble went on sale in the UK on this day in 1955, but far from being an overnight success, the US words-and-letters game had taken 17 years from its invention to cross the Atlantic.
Unemployed New York architect Alfred Butts invented the game in 1938 having set out to create a game that combined skill and chance with the fad for anagrams and crossword puzzles.
The first sets of the game he called Criss-Crosswords had only letters and no board. Only when Butts (below, in 1974) gave up trying to find a distributor and sold the rights to entrepreneur James Brunot did the new owner create a board, add the bonus squares and trademark the game.
In 1948 Brunot came up with the name ‘Scrabble’, meaning ‘to grope frantically’, and, in a converted school house on Connecticut, he and his wife produced the first 2,400 sets, but lost $450 in the process due to poor sales.
But word of the word game got round and a big order from Macy’s secured Scrabble’s future – supposedly after the company president played it on holiday and couldn’t find a copy in his own department stores.
By 1952 Brunot had to license a nationwide game maker to market and distribute the game, and it was such a success in the US that in 1954 JW Spear acquired the overseas distribution rights, with UK and Australia players the first outside North America to pit their word knowledge against friends and family.
Some 150 million sets have been sold worldwide since, and 53% of UK homes are said to own a Scrabble set.
Do you still play Scrabble with friends, on your PC or online? Let us know if it's your favourite game in the Comments section below.
Scrabble – Did you know?
o          As well as Criss-Crosswords, Alfred Butts' early names for the game were Lexiko and, bizarrely, It.
o          Butts decided on the various letter values by analysing how many times each letter appeared on the front page of the New York Times.
o          The values have remained ever since, despite frequent calls – backed up by computer analysis – to make the values reflect modern usage.
o          The original carved wooden tiles were changed to flat plastic tiles during the 1950s so that players couldn’t feel for high-scoring letters when they drew new tiles from the bag.
o          Scrabble is now available in 41 different languages including Esperanto, Latin and Basque. Each one has its own tile distribution and points system. In Polish, for instance, Z is worth just one point, while the Malaysian version has 19 ‘A’ tiles - almost a fifth of the 100-tile set.
o          There are Scrabble World Championships in English, French and Spanish.
o          QI is the most commonly played word in Tournament Scrabble. It’s pronounced ‘chee’ and means ‘life force’ or ‘energy’ in Mandarin.
o          In 1998 the Army and the Navy played a game of Scrabble on the Wembley Stadium pitch to mark the game’s 50th anniversary. The board (pictured above) measured 900 square metres and each two-metre-square tile had to be put in place by two people. For the record, the Navy won.
o          A Welsh edition, launched in 2005, contains individual tiles for the language’s characteristic LL, TH and DD sounds. There is no Z or Q in Welsh, so two other combinations, NG and RH, constitute the game’s 10-point tiles.
o          In 2008, current owners Hasbro tinkered with the idea of adding apostrophes and hyphens to the game to permit contractions such WON’T, DOESN’T and SHOULD’VE, as well as possessives such as HOUSE’S. The idea was eventually rejected.
o          Scrabble had a role in the creation of another best-selling board game. It was over a game of Scrabble in 1979 that Chris Haney and Scott Abbott devised question-and-answer game Trivial Pursuit.