MIM: Musical Instrument Museum

A history lesson

What do Elvis, Pete Townsend, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Cash, Ray Orbison, and Carlos Santana, have in common? Well, their famous electric guitars are in a featured exhibit at the Musical Instruments Museum in Phoenix.  Our family spent the day there yesterday. It was very impressive; we felt like we had traveled the world when we were through. The museum features all instruments from around the world. It’s massive. So let’s play a little game, guitar enthusiasts. From the guitar greats listed aforementioned, who belongs to the famous guitar?

ONE
TWO
THREE
FOUR
FIVE
SIX
SEVEN

Focusing on random guitars, here are more random shots. 

1938 Electric Model M Hawaiian Guitar
1950s Quad Stringmaster electric steel guitar
Not a guitar, but Ravi Shankar’s sitar.

 

1. Pete; 2. Johnny; 3. Elvis; 4. Elvis; 5. Santana; 6 Roy; 7. Stevie Ray 

 

 

Ninety-Nines & a Nazi Spy

It’s taken six years, but my second novel is off for publishing by a small press called DartFrog Books. It should be out on book store shelves and available on Amazon and Kindle by August. Yahoo!

Here’s a bit of recent research I thought I’d share. 

 

I was delighted to learn about the Ninety-Nines. This female group of aviators established themselves in 1929. The first president was Emelia Earhart. Not a big surprise since she was the leading female aviator in the country. Soon, her solo Trans-Atlantic flight on May 20, 1932, would make her hugely famous. Emelia and other fellow pilots sought to recruit ninety-nine women to join the club. They wanted to document their flying achievements and show the world that women were strong and smart enough to endure the rigors of flying.

After establishing the group, shortly thereafter, in 1933, the Ninety-Nines was assigned by the government the job of marking the airports. Funded by the WPA,  each state was divided into sections of 20 square miles. “Where possible, a marker with the name of the nearest town was painted on the roof of the most prominent building at each 15-mile interval. If the towns were far apart, white painted ground markers, such as rocks and bricks, were used.”  You can read more about this endeavor in Air Marking Program on the ninety-nines.org site. I had never heard about this program. The painstaking goal of marking every state with this grid design sounds daunting and impressive to me. Image result for ninety nines female pilotsI also discovered one of the more unusual females in U.S. History. Her name was Laura Ingalls. No, not the writer of Little House on the Praire fame, but the aviator. Turns out she was a distant cousin to the writer. Laura Ingalls the aviator was friends with the writer’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. Anyway, the aviator was a record-breaker and a pioneer in women’s aviation. What did she do?

  • Longest solo flight by a woman (17,000 miles)
  • First solo flight by a woman from North to South America
  • First solo flight around South America by man or woman
  • First complete flight by a land plane around South America by a man or woman
  • First American woman to fly the Andes soloImage result for image laura ingalls aviator

In the shadow of Emelia’s fame and popularity, not many have heard of aviator Laura Ingalls. A strange sidenote–her brother married the daughter of J.P. Morgan.  Aside from wealthy relatives and aviation achievements, it was the other side of Laura’s personality which thwarted any fame she might have earned and raised my eyebrows with surprise.

Laura Ingalls was convicted as a Nazi spy in 1942 for two years in prison.

She had been paid for her efforts to promote the Nazi cause by Baron Ulrich von Gienanth who was head of the Gestapo in the U.S. and second secretary to the German Embassy. She was applauded as a fine orator propagating the Nazi agenda to the America First Committee. She was followed by the FBI and eventually sentenced to a woman’s prison in West Virginia.

She was paroled in 1944 and lived out her life in obscurity in California into her seventies. You can read more about her found HERE.

I tried to imagine a woman like Laura Ingalls who led a contradictory life. On one hand,  she was an admirable pilot. On the other hand, she had reprehensible political affiliations. That contrast in one woman had me put her in my novel as a bit part to one of my principal characters. Truthfully, I’m surprised no one has thought to make a movie about her. What an unusual person.

More importantly,

Happy 90th birthday, Ninety-Nines.

1 Shot Wednesday: Frida Kahlo

When a traveling exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s paintings, drawings, and costumes came to Phoenix, it was a no brainer to visit. Do you find wherever you live, you are caught up in the day-day-to-day routine of life? But then someone comes to visit, and you seek out like a tourist entertaining things to do? My Mom came to visit. We both love art and museums. The Phoenix Art Museum has world-class visual arts and impressive traveling exhibits. We had a great morning wandering around the galleries and absorbing the colors and passionate life of Frida Kahlo. I never would have gone to the museum if she hadn’t come to see me.

Frida Kahlo self-portrait, 1943

This particular self-portrait was painted in 1943. I read that she was teaching at that point in Mexico City but her health worsened and she was forced to teach in her home. Her class trickled down to four. The loyal students sat by her bed. It has been suggested that the “Los Fridos” monkeys represent her four students. I like her eyes.

 

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