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Here Come the Girls: 1953

Here Come the Girls: 1953

Dec. 29, 1953. "New York City views. Times Square at night." Let's meet at the Brass Rail. 4x5 acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.


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Vaudeville And The Movies

While I never caught the show at the RKO Palace I did catch shows in my hometown of Baltimore at the Hippodrome up until about 1950 or so.

One of the first shows I remember seeing was Glenn Miller's Band under the direction of Tex Beneke plus the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands. Mom was a fan of big bands as I am still to this day.

For some reason I also remember the comedian Herb Shiner and the silly Harmonicats.

Once I even got on stage when a rolling skate act ask for volunteers from the audience and I and three other kids became part of the act for about 5 minutes.

All the above were fine but for a youngster of the 40's the all time favorites I saw were Abbott & Costello and on another day The Three Stooges.

'Twas a fine time to be eight years old.


In the 1954 photo, the statue of Father Francis Duffy of the "Fighting 69th" is seen in front of the Pepsi Cola sign (partly obscured by the traffic light in the foreground). Father Duffy was so highly thought of by both the soldiers of his regiment those higher in the chain of command that his divisional commander, Douglas MacArthur, once recommended him for the post of regimental commander. The Duffy statue was erected in 1937, five years after the priest's death.

In 1957 a second statue was erected in the square, forward of the Duffy statue. This is the statue of George M. Cohan which is the only statue visible in the 2009 photo.

Indelible memories

I believe the last part of the human brain to die is where ever jingles are stored. It's been 45 years since I lived near NYC but I could still sing the jingles for Castro Convertibles, Palisades Amusement Park, Man-o-Manischewitz kosher wine, and "It pays to save at the Bowery...".

Regarding the photo, classic GM coach! The Public Service ran about a million of them in north Jersey, each with a miniature cash register type machine that spit out a small fare receipt.

Virgins of Bali

Virgins of Bali is a 1932 documentary directed and filmed by Colorado native Deane H. Dickason. The only reason an old social anthropology movie was being screened in 1953 Times Square was because the two main characters, the "firmly and harmoniously developed" sisters Grio and Tagel, appear in unabashed comfort while being filmed in their traditional topless Balinese dress.

A few links:


To all those who shared my Ralph Kramden observation: All Great Minds Think Alike!

This picture is worth

1000 pages, not 1000 words. Looking at what is here and going on in this one you could write a novel and never leave the block.

Amazing. 4x5 cameras rule!


I'm absolutely sure that's Ralph Kramden driving the bus.

Held Over

As a young Brooklyn boy in 1953 I remember this version of Times Square well. At the Embassy I wouldn't know a thing about the sensational "Virgins of Bali," but "Indo-China Aflame" caught my eye, as it was still burning when I got there 15 years later as a young Marine when the place was known as Vietnam.

The Convertibles

Unlike today, the only foreign (and that's a stretch) neon sign that I can spot is the Canadian Club behemoth that brags about it being imported. Castro Convertibles were not automobiles but sofa beds. Early TV commercials shows a child, a young girl, pulling the bed out of the couch. She was Mr Castro's 6 year old Daughter, Bernadette, later the Parks Commissioner of New York State. Bernard Castro, her father, was credited as being the inventor of the modern sofa bed.


Is that Ralph Kramden behind the wheel of Gotham Bus Company coach 2761?

How I First Saw It

When I was nine, my grandmother married a retired NYC cop. His last job before retiring was escorting Manhattan merchants to the bank with their daily receipts. It seemed like everyone on the island knew and loved him. Their wedding reception was at Mamma Leone's, we met the man himself at Dempsey's, had comps at Radio City Music Hall. The Brass Rail was just one place where I heard a variation of "Put your wallet away, Mac. Your money's no good here."

No. 8 bus, 7th Avenue Line

Through the windshield, look closely -- it's Ralph Kramden.

No business like show business

It was a bit of a surprise at first to see the vaudeville pitch on the Palace marquee. My thought was that vaudeville had gone the way of the dinosaur long before the sophisticated early/mid fifties. Then I remembered that several hit television shows from that period were nothing more than warmed over vaudeville, so there must have still been a market for it. Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle, The Jimmy Durante Show, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and Your Show of Shows all come to mind. Note the sign under the Marquee: "Only Stage and Screen Show on Broadway."

Castro Convertible

Who was the first to conquer space?
It’s incontrovertible,
The the first to conquer living space
Is the Castro Convertible!

Who conquers space with fine design?
Who saves you money all the time?
Who’s tops in the convertible line?
Castro Convertible!

I could climb into this picture, so well do I remember the remnants of this from the late sixties before it sank into decrepitude. There is something innocent yet tawdry about this photo.

Ralph Kramden

Seated behind the wheel of the "Old Look" General Motors bus.

The Stars

Bob Hope, Tony Martin, Arlene Dahl and Rosemary Clooney. And
I didn't even have to Google it. Old coots rule.

Times Square memories

I spent some time here in the mid-'60s while in the military. Made a few trips to the Brass Rail and saw Gene Krupa playing drums in a little bar on Times Square (must have been toward the end of his career). It had not been too long since the Cuban Missile Crisis and as a kid from the sticks, after seeing the Castro Convertible sign, wondered why Fidel was allowed to sell cars in NYC.

Poor Mr. Peanut

One of my first memories is of some college boys grabbing a person wearing a metal Mr. Peanut costume who was in front of a store and rolling him down the sidewalk to the bottom of the hill.

The poor Mr. Peanut slowly got to his feet after this experience and was staggering around so much that the college boys ran down the hill to keep him from stepping into traffic. This was about 1955, I guess, and the Mr. Peanut person was lucky that Tallahassee didn't have very high hills.


Below is the same view from May of 2009.

Here comes the bus.

I have such a warm feeling when I see that GM bus. That was the bus in Springfield, MA that picked up the high school kids. In the winter, it was so nice to see it coming down the street.

Mr. Peanut

I don't spy the person so costumed who used to stroll around in front of the Planter's store, but below the Pepsi sign is Castro Convertibles' neon. That firm had become a public nuisance by the early '60s, their radio jingle ("Who was the first to conquer space?") being a tune that, once stuck in the mind, abides until senescence. I still sing it in the shower every now and again.

This view, which predates both Times Square's descent into Sodom and its more recent Disneyfication, shows a place of honest, if slightly tawdry, popular entertainment. A steak, a couple of shots of Four Roses, a movie and vaudeville's last gasp at the Palace, and then, if all goes well, a $4 room at the Taft.

Give my regards to Broadway

To be more specific, it's Father Duffy Square, the north triangle of Times Square. Now home to TKTS and a statue of George M Cohan.

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