Something New in Speakeasies (Dec, 1932)

Something New in Speakeasies

LEAVE it to Chicago to think up something new in speakeasies. The latest novelty in the line of whisperlows to make its appearance in the Windy City is a drinking fountain which gushes water when you whisper kind words into its mechanical ears. The inventor explains that the heart of the magic fountain is a photo electric cell which controls the mechanism. Externally the fountain resembles any other of its public brothers, the mechanism being concealed in the base.

  1. George says: October 29, 20107:32 am

    Typical news reporting of technology. You speak and the photo-electric cell turns on the water.

    1. approach fountain
    2. say “I’m thirsty”
    3. press button

  2. Don says: October 29, 20108:18 am

    Hmmmm . . . interesting: A photo electric cell that hears whispers. Technology has changed since the 30s . . . .

  3. TomB says: October 29, 20109:47 am

    Not having heard it before, I googled “whisperlow” and found a preview of a book – “The State of the Language” by Christopher B. Ricks and Leonard Michaels – that seems to imply the term was coined by Variety (along with palooka, scram, and a host of others.)

  4. Kosher Ham says: October 29, 201010:19 am

    I thought that the fountain could be used to dispense bootleg hooch.

  5. Firebrand38 says: October 29, 201010:29 am

    Kosher Ham: That’s what it sounded like to me. I agree with George and Don; who would write that a photocell “hears” and then with all the speakeasy and whisperlow jive it just dispenses water?

  6. DouglasUrantia says: October 29, 20108:48 pm

    I’m not too bright but the photocell understands language and words? Don’t photocells register ‘motion’?

  7. Firebrand38 says: October 29, 20108:53 pm

    DouglasUrantia: Actually they change resistance in relation to exposure to light.

  8. DouglasUrantia says: October 30, 20109:35 am

    thanks for the info, Firebrand.

  9. hwertz says: October 30, 201011:15 am

    Yeah, what’s up with the “Speakeasies” stuff? I assumed she was drinking Vodka until I read the article. I just had a thought — maybe these WERE truly being installed at speakeasies as a novelty (dispensing liquor), but the magazine just decided to say it was for “water”.. similar to how with the current prohibition, ads for head shops will say they are selling “tobacco water pipes” instead of bongs.

  10. Charlene says: October 31, 20101:47 pm

    It’s a clumsy pun. Speak and you’ll easily get water.

  11. Firebrand38 says: October 31, 20102:56 pm

    Charlene: I think you see a pun where none was intended.

    The fact that you don’t speak into a photocell makes me think that this is one of those articles that was probably written late on a Friday night and approved early on a Monday morning.

    As for the novelty theory this photo is obviously taken outside as evidenced by the car parked in the background. It’s a public water fountain and the writer wasn’t as clever as he thought.

  12. Anton says: November 2, 20107:03 am

    An optical device might have been used to detect the presence of a human whisper by detecting the movement of a medium tuned to the voice spectrum. Rather than by an ordinary microphone which uses induced electrical current or impedance generated by a medium’s movements produced by any sound. Yet, I’m inclined to believe, as others do, that the device directly detects a person within whispering distance or poised to drink, and NOT from the need to make the slightest sound. Maybe the inventor was thinking about Moses being directed to speak to bring forth water.

  13. Firebrand38 says: November 2, 20107:30 am

    Anton: Actually I’m sure the inventor had nothing to do with writing this article.

    And that “An optical device might have been used to detect the presence of a human whisper by detecting the movement of a medium tuned to the voice spectrum”, doesn’t make a bit of sense.

    By the way, it’s because Moses didn’t speak at the rock that he wasn’t allowed into the Promised Land (Numbers 20:6-11)

    “And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

    “And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts [also]. “

    In verse 12 we find God leaves no doubt as to why Moses and Aaron did not go into the promised land by stating the reason himself:

    “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me [proclaim my name holy] in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. “

    From http://www.biblestudy.o…

    Yeah, something tells me that one is a little too arcane to be the actual inspiration for this piece.

    Let’s give this one a rest; it was just a poorly written article.

  14. Michael, N5RLR says: November 7, 201010:56 am

    Given the electronic technology of the time [before transistors], I can only guess that the photoelectric cell triggered an electric water valve, one that required considerable voltage. It’d been disturbing to have [what we would now call] a ground-fault failure in the circuit, and for one to be “zapped” while getting a drink. :O

Submit comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.