Author Archives: David Boles

Columbia University in the City of New York 1931-1946

Columbia University in the City of New York was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of King George II of England. Columbia is the fifth oldest university in America and the oldest living school in the State of New York. As a graduate of Columbia, you never tire of reaching back into history to pull out instances of living and of educational memeing and of the loving of a life that remains to haunt you today — because way back when is always more perceptive and pleasing than the now and again.

I was delightfully fortunate to be able to purchase a large cache of genuine Columbia University photographs. Columbia has a certain reputation in the history of America as being a seat of unrest, and a center of the human protest against the status quo, while also trailblazing educational concepts for teaching and learning.

We begin our photographic tour in 1930 with this caption:

COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
New York — General view of the commencement excercises at Columbia University, showing the great assemblage of students listening to the address of president Nicholas Murray Butler of Columbia.  There were 861 diplomas and 4,895 degrees awarded during the ceremony.  More than 20,000 spectators witnessed the exercise. 6-3-30.

In you look closely, you can see a naked 115th Street from the Columbia green!  There’s no Butler library yet — named for Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler mentioned in the caption — Butler Library would rise along the North side of 115th Street in 1931 and would be dedicated in 1934.

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The Columbia University Strike of 1932

Many may remember the infamous, and violent, Columbia riots of 1968 — but few know about the strike two generations previous that overtook the Morningside campus in 1932.  This is that story — told in authentic, historic, photographs and captions — that I was able to purchase and share with you today.

COLUMBIA STUDENTS STRIKE
Protesting the expulsion of Reed Harris, crusading editor of the “Columbia Spectator”, undergraduate daily, a one day strike was called on April 4th, by more than a thousand students at a mass meeting in New York. The students applauded speakers attacking Dean Herbert E. Hawkes, who expelled Harris, and President Nicholas Murray Butler, Harris first gained recognition when he attacked the conduct of Athletics at Columbia University as “semi-professional”. The photo shows a general view of the thousands at the mass meeting. 4/4/32

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Brander Matthews: Father of Dramatic Literature

Brander Matthews was one of the purist theatrical geniuses we’ve had in, and around, the intellectual American Stage.  Brander rightly believed a play only existed in performance and that the performance and the text must be evaluated separately. He was also one of the first professors at an American University — Columbia University in the City of New York starting in 1892 — to promote, and foster, the idea that Dramatic Literature was just as important a field of study as any historic cave wall painting or artistic sculpture or aesthetic structure. He believed in the power of the Playwright to form the world.

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Liviu Ciulei and Marlon Brando: Recoiling the Mortal Coil!

The great international stage and screen director and designer, Liviu Ciulei, and the divine stage and screen actor Marlon Brando both share something disturbing as it is true: They both believed in bringing coiled drama into an explosion on the live stage. If the purpose of the Dramatic Arts is irrevocable change, they reasoned, then coiled detritus is the user agent that propels forward the story to the tragic, if not always cathartic, end.

I was fortunate to purchase authentic photographs of both Liviu and Marlon and I appreciate this moment of sharing them with you. Here’s the caption for Liviu’s photo:

International director Liviu Ciulei has been named Artistic Director of The Guthrie Theatre beginning Sept 1. 1980.  The 57-year-old former head of Rumania’s leading repertory theatre, the Lucia Sturdza Bulandra Theatre, has earned an international reputation as a stage and screen director, actor, designer, and architect. His directing and design credits include productions throughout Europe, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States.

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An Unredeemable Removal: William Jennings Bryan as the Magnificent Loser

William Jennings Bryan — known as “The Great Commoner” and “Keeper of the Faith” — was a Populist, religious, conundrum. He was for the people. He was against big money. He fought, testified, and prosecuted via the Bible — in utter infamy — during the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial and died five days after the trial ended. Defending his Faith killed him.

William Jennings Bryan was a good son of Nebraska who was nominated three times on the national Democrat ticket — and he lost each time — and his failure to find a national political footing beyond his deeply religious Nebraska grassroots haunted him until his death.

I was able to purchase this fascinating photo of William Jennings Bryan, dated September 18, 1924 — he would be dead 10 months later — the caption reads:

WITH THE COMMENDATION OF THE COMMONER

Photo shows William Jennings Bryan pinning a badge of allegiance (David-Bryan campaign stuff) to Rose Minto’s coat lapel. She is a popular motion picture star in Hollywood who is actively interested in politics.

What is most interesting about the photograph is the use of the black editorial pen on the image.  You can see the crop indices, but there are also black ink pen “lines of emphasis” added to Ms. Minto’s hat, Bryan’s lapels and face. You can see the dullness the pen makes when you move the glossy photograph in your hand in and out of reflective light.

At first wink, those added lines look like marks of defamation until you realize, after scanning the photograph for publication here, they must have been an important part of newspaper publishing in 1924 to help the highlights and shadows be more discernable in ink on paper.

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The David Boles Blogs 18-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review!

It’s time for Round 2 of the David Boles Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review! A month ago, we left you with 18-year-old The Macallan as King of the Vessel — and this round we are reviewing only 18-year-old batches of Scotch that have some tougher intra-competition for the top swallowing crown of the affected gullets! Janna and I taste-tested all of these single malts again — straight, no ice or water — hardcore drams all the way! Here’s what we discovered.

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Building a Boles Bookshelf

There is one undeniable delight in writing: You are able to preserve what you know, defend the facts of your knowing, reconcile the truth, and create your own bookshelf of your life’s work. There is a great moral duty and an ongoing human wondering in the task of the living author — one that must not be slighted in practice or disparaged in theory — even when the current events of the day and the damnation of history are upon us.

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