Donna and the Balalaika – 1926

Donna Darling Collection – Part 5

Treasure Chest Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Item #5 of the Donna Darling Collection is a photograph. Actually, it is two photographs of Donna with a stringed instrument that I consider one item. One of the images was torn badly. The other had some sticky gunk on it. One had writing and printing on the back; the other one did not. For the image below, I set the color to black and white then auto-set the contrast and brightness. Finally, I brought the sepia up and saved it as a web-sized image.  I did not touch it up.

Photo of Donna Darling with Balalaika
Donna Darling with Balalaika – Donna Donna Revue: Princess and the King – 1926

The back of the picture was stamped, “DONNA DARLING & SAMMY CLARK” as well as (in smaller block print, it is stamped “THE PRINCESS AND THE KING.” Handwritten on the back is “Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark.”  The front of one of the photos says “DAVIES – PORTLAND, ORE.” This one does not.  So between the two photos, I have two stories.

Newspaper photo of Donna (Montran) Darline.
Source: The Independent Record (Helena, MT)  28 Nov 1926, Page 6.

The photo shows Donna playing what appears to be a six-string prima balalaika. The prima balalaika is a Russian instrument.  That fits with Donna’s costume of what looks to me as a “shabby sheik” Eastern European looking outfit. (Hopefully, someone will comment and provide me with exactly what kind of clothing she is wearing.)

I had seen this image before. It was in several newspaper articles during late 1926 associated with “The Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark.”  In 1925, Donna was still performing “Donna Darling and Girls,” So, I am sure this photo was taken in 1926 sometime before the picture was used in advertising in Helena, Montana in November 1926.

FOLLOWUP

The University of Oregon, UO Libraries, Knight Library, 2nd floor North, has several photographic collections.

See: https://library.uoregon.edu/speccoll/photo/abstracts.html

Among those collections is one containing photographs of George W. Davis, who operated the Davies Studio from 1901 until 1925.

I should see if my sister, one of her kids, or my cousin who lives in Oregon, might be interested in stopping at the library and see if they have any photographs from 1926 showing Donna or Sammy in their collection.

Grandma Donna’s Chili Rice

Donna Darling Collection – Part 4

Treasure Chest Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.My grandmother, Donna, was a good cook. My mom says that Donna didn’t let her into the kitchen much and Donna never taught my mother how to cook. Consequently, I am sad to say, my mom is one of the worst cooks I’ve ever known.  She cooked a turkey once and didn’t remove the giblets bag before cooking.

However, Donna was a good cook and generally cooked “comfort food.” I remember eating a lot of “hot dish” as a kid. Even if it wasn’t in a casserole bowl, the meat, vegetables, and starch were all cooked together into a single dish – Things like chicken & dumplings, Hungarian goulash, and, of course, chili-rice. No recipes were passed down that I know of.  However, the recently found Donna Darling collection had one handwritten recipe for her chili rice.

I forgot that she used tomato juice often when cooking. She cooked rice and elbow macaroni in a mix of tomatoes and tomato juice often. I hadn’t heard of the “Mexene chili powder” used in this recipe until I looked it up and found that it is a brand name and is still available.

I think it is interesting that her recipe calls for a tablespoon of fat. They must have had really lean hamburger in those days. Anyway here is Donna’s recipe:

Grandma Donna’s Chili Rice

  • Handwritten Recipe of Donna's Chili Rice
    Recipe – Grandma Donna’s Chili-Rice

    2# Hamburger

  • 1 Tablespoon fat
  • ¾ cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup        “        onions
  • 1 cup        “        gr peppers
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • ¾ cup rice
  • Mexene chili powder
  • 1 can tomato juice
  • Kidney beans

No directions were with the note, but I think it is just a put it all together and cook until the rice is eatable. I guess use the Mexene Chili Powder to your personal taste.

Anyway, I’m going to have to make up some of Grandma Donna’s Chili Rice and see if taste memories kick in.

Please, if you makes some, I’d love to see a picture of your finished product and your comments about it.

Cambridge Elementary School – 1957

My Life
Those Places Thursday
By Don Taylor

I attended Cambridge Elementary School for about half of my second-grade school year.

1928 photo of the Cambridge State Hospital.
My mom worked at the Cambridge State Hospital in 1957. Photo c. 1928 courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

We moved to Cambridge during the summer of 1957. My mother had gotten a job at the Cambridge State Hospital. We lived several miles outside of town in a place almost ideal for a seven-year-old boy.  It was an old farmhouse, about a quarter of a mile off the road. There was fallow farmland surrounding the house and woods, with a creek, behind the house, maybe an eighth of a mile away. I would go down to the creek and play with the turtles and other critters I found there. We had an electric pump for water indoors, an eight-party telephone line where our ring was two longs, a short, and a long, and an outhouse. An old hand pump was still there for a backup, but we didn’t use it much. We did keep a jug of water to prime it just in case.  We had yellow-jackets in the attic; luckily, they didn’t seem to come into the house too much.

I didn’t have any friends to play with there.  I remember there were a couple of kids who lived in a farmhouse about a mile or so away. So, Cambridge was a place where I learned to play by myself. My mom went to work to bring home a paycheck, and my grandmother did the housekeeping.

Photo of Cambridge Elementary School
Cambridge Elementary School – Photo Credit: Cambridge Isanti Schools

After a summer of being mostly along, I was excited to meet other kids at Cambridge Elementary School. I remember walking a couple hundred feet to the farm parameter road then down to the school bus stop at the paved highway. The school was an old brick building.  I recall it had a huge school-yard for kids to play in.  While there, we were playing tag and some kid tagged me too hard; I fell, hitting my shoulder and breaking my collarbone. The collarbone didn’t heal properly and was growing wrong. As I recall, they said in another few weeks the bone would grow out of the skin. Anyway, a month or so after the initial break I went into the hospital, had the bone rebroken and then set surgically. I think I spent most of my time at Cambridge Elementary in a sling.

That fall, my grandmother, Donna, was sitting in the outhouse when a snake came crawling out from down below.  She freaked out totally.  The yellow-jackets in the attic were bad, but snakes in the outhouse were just too much (even if it was only a garter snake). My mother got a job at Anoka State Hospital, and we moved to Anoka. Thanks to a journal found in the Donna Darling Collection, I learned that we were definitely in Cambridge by June 1957, so I know we spent the entire summer of ’57 there. I also learned that the house rent was $35/month.

 

William Freeman – Patriot

Sometimes I’m reminded that when I’m away from home, I need to be extra careful to document my work so as to be able to cite my sources properly.  Sadly I can’t do that with today’s treasure.

Back in March of 2013, I went to the Family History Center in Powder Springs, GA.  While there I found some fascinating things and I failed to document where I got them. One of the most interesting items was a letter to Mrs. E. B. Freeman, in response to a letter from her. I don’t know if the reply came from NARA, the War Department, or where but was signed by A. D. Hiller, Assistant to Administrator.  Anyway, it provides details about William Freeman, a Revolutionary War patriot, his service and his family. As such it is a treasure to have found.  I only wish I had properly documented my source for the document.


WASHINGTON               October 5, 1931

Mrs. E. B. Freeman
826 Bellevue Avenue
Dublin, Georgia

Dear Madam:

Reference is made to your letter of September 19th, relative to William Freeman, a soldier of the Revolution.

The data furnished herein are obtained from papers on file in the Revolutionary War pension claim, W. 10042, based on the military service of William Freeman.

He was born October 26, 1759, in Bertie County, North Carolina.

While a resident of Bertie or Martin Co., he enlisted and served as private with the North Carolina troops as follows: in 1776, three months in Captain Andrew Oliver’s Company in Colonel Hogun’s Regiment; from July 20, 1778, nine months in Captain Child’s Company in Colonel Hart’s Regiment; in 1781, three months in Captain Taylor’s Company in Colonel Eaton’s Regiment and was in the battles of Guilford and Camden.

He was allowed pension on his application executed July 23, 1832, at which time he was a resident of Burke County, North Carolina.

He died January 27 or 28, 1838, in Greene County, Missouri, where he had moved in 1835.

While a resident of Martin County, North Carolina, William Freeman married in that county about 1786 Mary Bryan, the daughter of Robert Bryan.

Said Mary died November 5, 1845.

————— Page 2 ———————

In 1850 reference was made to the following children of William and Mary Freeman:

Reddick Freeman, aged about fifty-six years and a resident of Caldwell County, North Carolina.

John Freeman, aged fifty-four years.

Larry, aged about fifty-two years and resident of Owen County, Indiana

Lemuel H. Freeman, Aged forty-nine years.

Elizabeth and James (Twins) aged about forty-seven years; she was wife of Isaac Smith and a resident of Caldwell County, North Carolina, and he, James Freeman, was resident of Owen County, Indiana.

Nancy, aged about forty-five years and the wife of Greene Austin.

Frances, aged about forty-one years and the wife of Jacob Painter.

Rachel, the daughter of William and Mary Freeman, married John Austin and they had a daughter, Asenath.

        Very truly yours,

A. D. Hiller

                             Assistant to Administrator


William Freeman was the son-in-law of my wife’s fifth-great-grandfather Robert Bryan. (Husband of my wife’s fourth-great-grand-aunt.)

My First Grade – Emerson Elementary

My Life
Those Places Thursday

By Don Taylor

Westminster Presbyterian Church – I lived in the apartment building to the right of the church.

We must have moved back to Minneapolis during the summer of 1956 because I don’t remember changing schools during the school year that year.  We lived at 1221-½ Nicollet. It was an old hotel, right next door to Westminster Presbyterian Church, that had been converted to apartments. It had fire escapes on the front of the building that was really cool at the time. Once we popped popcorn and went out on the fire escape to watch the Aquatennial Parade go by. It turned about a half a block away (on 12th Street) but we could see it just fine from our perch on the 3rd floor.  My mother told me that we lived in the same building a couple years earlier, but I don’t remember that.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary, Minneapolis, MN – Photo from “Minneapolis Public Schools History”

I attended Emerson School, named after Frank Waldo Emerson, about four blocks away. I remember walking to school with a girl. I think we were the same age and just watched out for each other. On the walk to school, we crossed Nicollet Ave, one of the busiest streets in the city in those days. We only lived there for a couple months, as I recall. Then we moved to a place on Spruce Place, only about a block from the school.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School was originally erected in 1886. It was demolished and a new building was erected in 1925. An addition was added in 1926.[i]

A 1963 study indicated that the school attendance had 663 students in 1952 and only 223 students in 1963. The decline was mostly due to infrastructure changes in the neighborhood, particularly the building of Interstate 94 through the city. (I-94 runs 4 blocks to the west and 2 blocks to the south of the school.) Additionally, the report cites change of land use in the area.[ii]  I had seen the shift over the years too.  The apartment I lived in on Nicollet Avenue was demolished and made into a parking lot in the late 1950s. Likewise, the building we lived in on Spruce Place was torn down and a wing to Eitel Hospital was built.

The school was smaller than I remember.  That same 1963 study indicates the school had 7 classrooms plus a Kindergarten as well as four special education rooms and one special use room for use by K-6.  I guess things just seem so much larger when you are only six-years-old.

My Soup Disaster

One of my most traumatic school events ever happened at lunch at Emerson.  I, like most kids in those days, brought my lunch. I had a new thermos and it was filled with my favorite soup – Chicken Noodle. I poured out about half of it and it was all broth, and that was okay. Then I poured out the second half of it and it too was all broth.  I couldn’t get the noodles to come out of the thermos. I was frustrated and cried a bit. Why wouldn’t the thermos release the best part of my “Chicken Snoodle Snoop.” Finally, a teacher came over to me and was successful in getting the thermos to release the noodles. I only brought tomato soup after that.

What happened to School

I am surprised to learn that the school building is still there, 91 years later. Today it is “The Emerson Spanish Immersion Learning Center.” It provides a language immersion program for native English and native Spanish speaking students serving students Pre-K – 5th grade. Students learn to read and write in both languages.[iii]

 


Endnotes

[i] Minneapolis Public School History – Schools & Facilities – K-8 – Emerson http://mpshistory.mpls.k12.mn.us/emerson 

[ii] Minneapolis Public School History – Emerson – Planning for the Future – http://mpshistory.mpls.k12.mn.us/uploads/pff-1963-emerson.pdf

[iii] Internet:  Emerson Spanish Immersion Learning Center Bienvenidos/Welcome page. http://emerson.mpls.k12.mn.us/