VA - Minimality Issue 6 (2018) | adobe flash player | Wes Chatham
 

Sept 5, 1786: Watch it with that Thing, You’ll Poke Someone’s Eye Out

Jonas Hanway who died on September 5, 1786, was well-know in several British spheres — a vice president of the Foundling Hospital, founder of Magdalen Hospital, revolutionizing London birth registration and in charge of “victuallizing” the Navy. On the other hand, he was also known for tirades against tipping and tea-drinking and his support for the concept of solitary confinement.

But what he is most remembered for is bringing the umbrella to Britain. Now the umbrella had been around for a long time. It was invented in China back in the 11th century B.C. It was popular in Greece and Egypt as a sunshade. It was also used in Rome, but when the empire declined and fell, so did use of the umbrella. It was finally reintroduced in the 15th century, and by the 17th century had become quite popular among sophisticated women in France and even some British women. But a man?

Hanway is credited with being the first male Londoner to carry an umbrella, much to the chagrin of hackney coachmen who thought it their proprietary right to protect Londoners from rainfall. For years, they jeered at him with vigor as being a feminine sissy and even worse, a French sissy. But by the time of his death, umbrellas were commonplace throughout London.

Brolliology is of course the study of umbrellas. Of course. Does anyone actually know a brolliologist? What inspires someone to become one? What are their conventions like? We will study the umbrella a little further on September 7, the date of another noted umbrella in history.

Animals House

The Beatles had already roiled the American music scene by the fall of 1964, but the British invasion had many skirmishes to go. Another assault came in the form of the Animals who, on September 5, 1964 grabbed the top spot on the U.S. pop charts with their bluesy hit about a New Orleans whore house. No bubble gum here.

“We were looking for a song that would grab people’s attention,” said Eric Burdon. “House of the Rising Sun” got people’s attention big time. The song originated many years before the Animals recording. Alan Lomax recorded an early rendition in the ’30s. Bob Dylan and various folk artists had also recorded versions.

The song is supposedly about a house on St. Louis Street in the French Quarter, said to be the original House of the Rising Sun brothel, run by a Madam named Marianne LeSoleil Levant between 1862 and 1874. The early version is a lament by one of the working girls:

There is a house in New Orleans they call the Rising Sun.
It’s been the ruin of many a poor girl and me, O God, for one.
If I had listened what Mama said, I’d be at home today.
Being so young and foolish, poor boy, let a rambler lead me astray.
Go tell my baby sister never do like I have done
To shun that house in New Orleans they call the Rising Sun.

 

Advertisements Share this:
Like this:Like Loading... Related