Monday, May 13, 2013

Sweethearts, Rediscovered

For those of you still following this sporadically-updated blog of mine, I wanted to let you know that the project which has been taking so much of my energy and focus has just launched part 1.

I may have mentioned before that my great-grandaunts were radio pioneers in the 1920s, and that they recorded for Edison.  Not just the Edison Recording Company, but for Thomas Friggin' Edison himself.  Seems the old guy had a soft spot for Hawaiian music, and insisted on engineering a couple of their songs when they were recording at the New York studio.

In any case, the MacDowell Sisters (we're not sure where the Mac came from, since they'd gone from Mac to Mc during the previous generation and were McDowell on all official records) were known by the nickname "Sweethearts of the Air" and at their zenith were the #2 radio variety act in America.  And in 1930, they finally put their memoirs on paper - the history of everything they'd done to get to be the #2 radio variety act in America.  Including: their early lives as the middle sisters of seven children, the sons and daughters of literal pioneers in the backwoods of Ohio and the sandy dirt farms of Kansas; putting themselves through business college to be able to provide for themselves and help the family finances; going into business for themselves as public stenographers; traveling the country by rail and making their living in each new city by setting up shop and providing steno services for local businesses; working as secretaries to Congressmen and war correspondents for the Daily Oklahoman during WWI; traveling to Hawaii and falling in love with native music - then learning to play said native music and help bring it to the mainland at the beginning of its heyday as the dominant popular music in the States.

Yep, these gals were wicked cool.  There was no such thing as too great a setback, too large a challenge.  Though their reign was short, their history is fascinating.  And now it's here.  In their own words.  Only 80+ years in the making.