Thursday, October 28, 2010

Alan J. Hubin & Victor Berch; Rolling Thunder; Sears

Ed here: Last night I thanked Steve Lewis for giving me the phone number of writer Charles Runyon who is, happily, still alive despite my presumption that he'd passed. I was remiss in not thanking two of the great chroniclers and researchers of the mystery field, Alan. J Hubin and Victor Berch. My apologies, gentlemen. Here's a note from Steve Lewis.


Re Charles Runyon. Credit Where Credit is Due Department: Al Hubin, Victor Berch and I spent yesterday morning swapping emails back and forth trying to track him down until Al decided that the direct approach was just that. was all it took!

-----------------------ROLLING THUNDER

I was also mistaken in saying that Rolling Thunder is available on DVD. It ain't. But it is available for free on Hulu. Thanks to Matt here's the link

I watched it last night and found it as powerful as ever. If you like revenge movies--and a timely look at America during the Viet Nam war--this is your movie. I got interested in Linda Haynes, the lovely fine actress who co-stars in the film. I didn't remember anything about her but I found it hard to believe that anybody with her looks and talent (she's really good in this) didn't go on to have at least a solid run. Not so. Some good performances in unremarkable films with the exception of the blacksploitation film Coffey.

When I Goggle a name I generally just start opening sites without paying attention to what I'm opening. Most of them are misleadingly titled anyway so you might as well try them all. Soon enough I ran into a site that claimed to be a site listing all the "bisexual actresses in Hwood." I tells ya the guy who put this list together seems to believe that virtually if not literally every Hwood girl-woman-dowager is/was bi-sexual including the Columbia Pictures logo lady holding the torch. As I scrolled down for Haynes I started laughing out loud and saying yeah, right. Yeah, right. Yeah, right. I believe the gentlemen was later swept away on an alien ship and sent to Venus to make a similar list of Venusian stars.

Linda Haynes gave up after eleven years and became a legal secretary. If you watch Rolling thunder I think you'll agree with me that she's as talented as she is beautiful.

---------------------------SEARS & ROEBUCK
As James Reasoner has pointed out, I try to depict in my westerns the everyday frontier rather than the mythic one. I own a facsimile edition of an 1880 Sears catalog and it's an invaluable tool. I'm partial to Sears because during the big war the local one put on some great liberty bond shows plus sponsored free Saturday afternoon cartoons in local theaters. Anyway I've always been fascinated by the fact that you could order a house from the Sears catalog. The example here is from the turn of the new century. But they were selling catalog houses for several decades previous.

$107 Sears catalog home, 1908 (assembly required)
Andrea James at 11:22 AM Wed
Andrea James is a Los Angeles-based writer and troublemaker.

Image: Click to embiggen. 1908 Sears mail-order house No. 115 for $725.

I used to write ads for Sears, and I always admired their influence in American DIY/maker culture. They had a huge influence on reducing local general stores' price-gouging practices, and they gave consumers access to goods that were hard to come by (they started when there were no cars and only 38 US states). Back when Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward were battling it out over who would be the analog version of Amazon, Sears offered increasingly ambitious and specialized catalogs. One of their most ambitious projects was mail-order homes, inspired by success of The Aladdin Company. Last year, Cory blogged about Thomas Edison's similar prefab concrete home venture. But Sears Modern Homes had huge success with their wood-framed homes from 1908 through the Great Depression. Their cheapest model was $107 in 1908 (about $2,000 today). Unlike a lot of modern prefab, these were made to last; you can still find these homes here and there around the country.



Ron Scheer said...

Enjoyed the Sears catalog house. Thanks.

Wallace Stroby said...

At the premiere of the documentary THE PROMISE at the Toronto FF in Sept., Bruce Springsteen talked about films of the '70s that had influenced his writing, and mentioned ROLLING THUNDER as one of them. Some of the imagery made its way into his song "Shut Out the Light":

Auntie Knickers said...

Ayuh, we have some Sears homes right here in Brunswick, ME; I think they'd go $250,000 or so now, they are in a nice neighborhood near the college.