Interesting People in the American Scene (May, 1942)

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Interesting People in the American Scene


ROBERT OSCAR BLOOD is one public official who looks after the physical as well as the political needs of his constituents. Besides being Governor of New Hampshire, he is a practicing physician, and often keeps a committee waiting in the state capitol at Concord while he dashes over to the hospital to deliver a baby or perform an appendectomy. This dual life keeps him hopping. Starts his hospital rounds at 8; works as governor from 10 to 1; receives calls in his doctor’s office from 2 to 4; and winds up his official day at 5:30 to call on his patients, as he’s doing in our picture. The youngster is Robert Bruce Davis, whom the Governor brought into the world.

(Bob will be able to vote for him in 1960.) A Republican, Blood was elected in 1940. Plans to run for re-election this fall, when opponents will probably begin describing him again as “bloodless Blood” (that’s because he’s unemotional) and his friends will revive the slogan, “New Hampshire needs a Blood transfusion.” Born on an Enfield, N. H., farm, he earned his way through Dartmouth Medical School driving a milk wagon. Recently a political opponent fainted on the floor of the legislature while arguing against one of Blood’s pet bills. The Governor revived the fellow so successfully that ten minutes later he was back arguing against the bill again.


Mitchell Leisen, Hollywood producer, is one of the world’s busiest men. Producing and directing movies would be a full-time job for most people, but Mitch is also artist, sculptor, architect, interior decorator, dancer, dress designer, aviator—to mention just a few of his side lines. Found time hanging heavy on his hands not long ago and decided to open a tailor shop; the business cleared $12,000 the first year. If a friend wants a new wing on his house, Mitch dashes off the plans. When he’s producing a picture, technicians and workmen enjoy a holiday. He turns out blueprints by the sets, and when they’re finished he swarms all over the lot, whacking nails and splashing on paint. Son of a Michigan beer manufacturer, he started out as an architect, but quit when he heard that Cecil B. De Mille needed a costume designer. Whipped up 35 dresses in 48 hours and landed the job. When Leisen filmed I Wanted Wings with Veronica Lake, he learned flying and directed from the clouds. Current hobby is taking kids who haven’t clicked in films, putting them into “packaged” revues which he sends to night clubs across the country. Below, he demonstrates a new dance step with Carmen Bailey.

Betsy Ross.

WHENEVER you salute a U.S. Army Hag, you can thank Mrs. Bertha McAnally, of Philadelphia, Pa., that “our flag is still there.” With 300 seamstress assistants, working on a 24-hour schedule, she turns out all the U.S. Army flags, from 38-foot Old Glories to the tiny pennants that flutter from official cars. Her official title is Supervisor of the Flag Manufacturing Section of the Quartermaster Corps, but officers invariably call her Betsy Ross. Today her organization turns out flags at the rate of nearly 2,000 a week. Sewing has always been second nature with Mrs. McAnally. As a youngster, she made all the clothes for her dolls, and her first job was stitching fancy baby caps. Moved into the Quartermaster Corps to work on uniforms, and sewed up her present job in 1909, when the Army started making all its own flags and picked her, as the best seamstress, to boss the department. Stars and stripes still have to be sewn on patiently by girls operating sewing machines, but Mrs. McAnally has invented a speed-up technique which she is showing, in the picture above, to an assistant, Sarah Campiglea. When General Douglas Mac-Arthur refused to lower the garrison flag during the siege of Manila, Mrs. McAnally beamed proudly: “We made that flag, and we’re making another one right now to run up in its place.”

Dream Girl.

HOW TO GO to sleep is a problem that bothers most of us only at night; Martha Alden, of Cleveland, Ohio, thinks about it all day. That’s her business. The nation’s busiest slumber specialist, she teaches the fine art of snoozing to 250,000 people a year in clubs, stores, and schools over the country. Figures her advice puts thousands of Americans to sleep every night. For bed-tossers, she prescribes: Grab the headboard of your bed, stretch muscles taut, then relax; that helps quiet war-weary nerves. Don’t curl up in a ball; that cuts down circulation, strains muscles, eventually sets you tossing. Lie on your right or left side, but not on your back or stomach. Make sure your bedroom is really dark; even a dim light can filter through your eyelids. Calm down emotionally before bedtime; don’t read thrillers or think about the day at the office just before you turn off the light. Curiosity about sleep kept Martha awake when she was studying Home Economics at Purdue University four years ago. Clocked the sleepless twists and turns of her sorority sisters, experimented with hot drinks and cold showers, and studied sleep psychology. After graduation, talked a sheet manufacturer into hiring her as a sleep consultant. Today, she practices what she preaches so successfully that the chatter of her three roommates never bothers her. Believes five hours’ sleep a night is enough if you follow a rigid pattern: same hours every night.


When scholars go fishing they usually run into trouble with the truant officer. But they can’t be charged with playing hooky if they study under Dr. Francois D’Eliscu, of Teachers College, Columbia University. A super-professor of fishing, Dr. D’Eliscu annually turns out scores of more or less complete anglers who go out and teach others how to outwit fishes. Shows his scholars how to cast a mean fly in the gym, and takes them on field-and-stream expeditions to put theory into practice. Admits there is no shortcut to finished fishing; says patience, practice, and persistence make expert pisca-toreadors. During his career as a professional fisherman, Dr. D’Eliscu estimates he has caught upwards of 2,000 fish. Landed the first one, a sucker, near his home town of Philadelphia, Pa., when he was 12. Since then, he has caught fishes bare-handed, with spears and harpoons, and the orthodox rod and reel. Incidentally, at Columbia, he prepares his fishermen against priorities: If equipment becomes scarce, they can make at home substitute lures from chicken and turkey feathers; live fish boxes from orange crates (lashed to the side of the boat); and nets from mop handles, wire suit hangers, and heavy twine (as he’s doing above).


TO BOOST her glamour quotient for Paris audiences, a stage-struck French schoolgirl decided four years ago to take an exotic American name. So Simone Roussel became Mike Morgan, thinking her new name tres, tres chic—until somebody informed her “Mike” was definitely masculine. Hastily compromised on Michele Morgan, and proceeded to crack French box-office records in movies with Charles Boyer and Jean Gabin. Received a bid from an American producer in May, 1940, just as the Nazis swept through France, and crossed into Spain one hour before it was too late. Promptly scored a hit in her first picture here, Joan of Paris, and Hollywood is convinced Michele is going places fast. Her main ambition, next to becoming an actress, is to be a dyed-in-the-wool Yank. Back in France she learned English from Wild West films and eavesdropping on American tourists. Today she has a 5,000-word vocabulary, double the average American’s, and her accent is more like that of Paris, Illinois, than Paris, France. Holds her first citizenship papers, and likes to dance with the draftees in California Army camps. She presents a paradox even stranger than being a Parisian actress named Mike—she’s exactly five birthdays old. Born February 29, 1920, she celebrates only in leap years.


RAY ARCEL is America’s No. 2 second. For the last five years, he has made a hobby of seconding contenders for Joe Louis’s heavyweight crown. He has swabbed, patched, and generally encouraged 12 out of the champ’s last 21 victims, including Braddock, Nova, and both Baers. That’s Ray’s way of putting into practice his enthusiasm for the underdog, but he also hopes some day to second a new heavyweight champ. As a sock doctor, he’s a recognized expert with cotton swabs and antiseptic solutions to clean cuts and stop bleeding. Calls one special solution “dynamite” and uses it only when a fighter’s whole future is at stake. The stuff hardens over a cut like a rock and has to be sliced off with a knife after the bout. A former lightweight, Arcel started fighting professionally in 1914. In 12 fights, he was never knocked out, but he never knocked anybody out, either. So he decided to go in for patching up other fighters. Since then has been in the corner for more champs and near-champs than any other second in the business. Trained 13 titleholders in various classes, including Benny Leonard and Max Baer. At his Flushing, N.Y., home he’s the unofficial family doctor—whenever his wife cuts a finger, Ray goes to work with his antiseptics as conscientiously as if she were a promising bantamweight. His most vivid ring memory concerns one boxer who was taking an awful pasting. Backpedaling frantically, he kept begging Ray to throw in the towel. Ray hesitated because he thought the kid still had a chance. But finally the fighter shouted, “Throw it in now. I won’t be around again.” He wasn’t.


ALTHOUGH Tony (“T. F.”) Roselle is just 10 years old, he’s a full-fledged inventor who has solved a major traffic problem. His traffic clock (right) tells pedestrians of his home town, Atlanta, Ga., how much time they have to cross an intersection before the light changes. Police recently planted four of “T.F.’s” clocks at a busy intersection as the start of possible city-wide installation, and officials in other cities are watching with interest to see whether they cut accidents. This is only one of the products of “T.F.’s” inventive talents. His family and teachers say, however, that he’s no longhaired genius, but a perfectly normal kid who’d rather play ball than study, and who often lets his mind wander in class. Ever since he could hold a hammer he’s been taking things apart and putting them back together. He’s the envy of his pals, because he always has the best scooter brake, the most efficient slingshot or model airplane engine—all conceived and built by himself. His grandfather, T. F. Roselle, his father, T. F. Jr., and his Uncle Joe are hat manufacturers who invent on the side; each holds a number of patents on machinery. “T. F. 3d” has a basement workshop with an electric lathe, drill press, and other power machinery, which keep him busy when he ought to be doing his homework. Chief household handyman, he keeps the family’s electrical equipment in shape, makes repairs on the car, and devised a yarn holder that’s the envy of Mrs. Roselle’s knitting circle. Got his idea for the traffic clock last summer, when he and his father, trapped at an intersection, barely escaped a crack-up. Now he’s cooking up a way to save crews of sunken subs by means of a hose which would be floated to the surface to siphon air to the ship.


Usually a sober scientist, Waldo Lounsbury Semon astounded his colleagues one day when they found him bouncing a ball in his laboratory in Akron, Ohio. However, it was no ordinary ball, but his first lump of synthetic rubber. In 1939, after a hunt that took 14 years and 5,000 experiments, Semon finally evolved the right chemical formula, a combination most simply described as consisting of petroleum, gas, air, and soap. His product, used in the first synthetic tires made commercially in this country, will help stretch Uncle Sam’s war-production lines when the $400,000,000 government-sponsored synthetic rubber industry gets under way.

Semon’s scientific genius first served his country during the last war. As a sophomore at the University of Washington, he solved the chemical secret of invisible inks used by spies. Met his bride, the former Marjorie Gunn, in freshman chemistry class. Today their Akron home includes a basement lab, where they get together with their three daughters to conduct experiments and analyze foods. The youngest, Constance Anne, 13, has confined her experiments to fudge-making so far, but she’s learning by helping Dad (above). Only 42 and a husky 6-foot-2, Semon looks more like an All-American tackle than a scientist with 200 patents to his credit.

Mrs. Sox.

FIRST LADY of baseball is Elizabeth Grace Comiskey, head of the Chicago White Sox and the only woman president in the major leagues. No absentee owner, Mrs. Comiskey takes her diamond duties seriously. Surveys rookies and veterans critically at spring training in California, always travels with the team on the road, often sits on the bench during workouts, and seldom misses a game (just one, in fact, last season). The players call her Ma, and she takes a motherly interest in their personal and professional lives. Born Grace Reidy, she made a reputation as a child violinist at the age of 12, and today she is almost as interested in Bach and Brahms as she is in batters and basemen. Our photograph shows her playing for her 16-year-old son, Charles, whose ambition is to be a star first baseman like his granddad, Charles A. Comiskey, founder of the Chicago Sox and co-organizer of the American League. The White Sox really constitute “Ma” Comiskey’s family. One of her daughters, Grace Lou, is a club director, and another, Dorothy Elizabeth, is treasurer besides being the wife of Pitcher Johnny Rigney. “Ma” has been a fan ever since she attended her first baseball game in 1912. There she met J. Louis Comiskey, and they were married a year later. She took over the club reins in 1940 after her husband’s death, and has carried on the family tradition with flying colors.

War Dogs.

Sergeant Robert Pearce is the only American soldier permanently assigned to the doghouse. But that’s an honor, not a disgrace, because he’s the trainer for the new “Canine Command” set up by Major Glen L. Miller at Fort MacArthur, California. Has already taught several hundred ex-pets how to carry messages (right), attack an enemy without barking, and haul supplies and small field guns. Pearce used to teach tricks to movie dogs, but now he won’t look at a trick dog. “They can’t forget their stunts,” he grins. “If an enemy approached, they’d probably sit up and beg or start walking around on their hind legs.” Finds shepherds and mongrels make the best war dogs. His first call for volunteers last September brought out hundreds of owners of all sorts of pups, all willing to enlist their pets for the duration. One woman insisted her Peke would make a perfect soldier because “he bit my Jap gardener last week.”

American Aces.

Here is the American home front in its most literal sense. With the coming of war, Homer Clayton Price and his family turned their 8-room cottage in Columbus, Ohio, into a parlor, bedroom, and bath arsenal. Set up power machines in their living-room, dining-room, kitchen, and basement, and started turning out vital pump parts for Martin bombers under two $30,000 sub-defense contracts. A former supervisor of convicts in the Ohio State Penitentiary machine shop, Price made most of his machines from secondhand material he picked up in junk yards. Now has 22 employees working 7 days a week on three 8-hour daily shifts. Among the most industrious is Mrs. Price, who takes her turn at a lathe between sweeping up and doing the dishes. She accepted the industrialization of her home quietly. For the duration she moved most of the furniture to the second floor, where the family eats and sleeps. Her daughter, Mrs. Howard Walsh, neglects her own housework to help on the home-production line. Other equipment besides that shown in the pictures includes a three-ton punch press, two grinders, a vertical milling machine, and a bench lathe. The last is mounted on a side-board in the ex-dining-room, with the motor atop an old-fashioned phonograph. Occasionally Price sighs that the vibration of the heavy machinery is causing the ceiling plaster to drop, but he’s sure the roof will hold up until the Axis is beaten. His part-time workers include teachers and students from near-by Ohio State University. Democrats all, they call the boss by his first name and don’t hesitate to tell him when they think he’s wrong. But they all agree that Homer Price is just as much of an American ace as a pilot of a fighter plane.

Cut-up DANIEL PEARCE, of Ripley, Tenn., is probably the only student in the U.S. who is clowning his way through college. A senior at Harvard, he’s the son of the famous circus clown, Danny McPride, and a regular quip off the old block. Makes up just like his dad and charges $15 a night for clowning at kids’ parties and faculty fetes, where he makes a particular point of popping balloons in his profs’ faces. In our picture, he’s boning up for an exam in thermo-dynamics while waiting to fill an engagement with his trick pup, Wiggy. Between antics, Danny is an honor student of mechanical engineering, stands in the top quarter of his class. Unlike other kids who have to go to the circus to laugh at the clowns, Danny always had an honest-to-goodness clown in his home. Used to laugh at his father’s private performances for his benefit, but when he was six he began to learn how to earn laughs himself; Once broke into his father’s trunk and outfitted all his pals for a circus parade through Ripley. His dad took the hint and took Danny Jr. along on his circus tour that spring. Now Danny spends his vacations clowning or working as a construction engineer.

  1. Charlene says: August 8, 201112:09 pm

    Michele Morgan returned to France after the war and continued her successful career as an actor there until the 1970s, when she retired from acting to take up painting full-time. What isn’t said here is that Morgan escaped France not because she had a film contract but because she was of part Jewish ancestry.

    While she was in America, she had a house built for her at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon; the house was later the site of the murder of Sharon Tate and her friends.

    Morgan is now 91 years old and still active as a painter. Her granddaughter Sarah Marshall is a very popular French model.

  2. bobby j says: August 8, 201112:12 pm

    On the “Brainchild” entry. In the last year or so they have installed digital countdown clocks at the crosswalks in Atlanta. What goes around comes around.

  3. Stephen says: August 9, 20115:27 am

    There seems to have been a fashion in mid-century American magazines for omitting the subject at the beginning of a sentence: “Starts his hospital rounds at 8; works as governor from 10 to 1; receives calls in his doctor’s office from 2 to 4; and winds up his official day at 5:30 to call on his patients, as he’s doing in our picture. …A Republican, Blood was elected in 1940. Plans to run for re-election this fall.” It’s intelligible, but I’m glad it went out of fashion.

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