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"Didja Know? . . ."
Chapter 1. Didja know. . . that some of the very first movies were made in Jacksonville, Florida? It's a fact: though it is not well known. Thomas Edison and others filmed movies in Jacksonville long before Hollywood became the place associated with movie production! In fact, Oliver Hardy filmed his first movies in Jacksonville, and was married there. During the period from the turn of the century until just after the First World War, the movie industry filmed some 300 silent movies around the city. Also, a Jacksonville film studio, the Norman Film Manufacturing company, made films featuring African American actors at a time when mainstream films would not.
Follow these links to learn more about the Norman Studio:
Here is a glimpse of the Ragtime Era in Jacksonville:
Here is an interesting article about filming submarine warfare in Jax:
Here is a short history of Jacksonville:
Here is a short history of film in Jacksonville:
Chapter 2. Didja know... there really is a King street in Jacksonville? The model church used in the story is actually based on Riverside Baptist Church, which is at the corner of Park and King Streets in the actual neighborhood of Riverside! The description of the building is accurate except for the fact that the floors in the real church are tile, not wooden. This unusual and beautiful church building was designed by Addison Mizner and was built to look ancient even when it was brand new. A must see on any visit to Jacksonville, tours are available. The Pipe Organ was rebuilt and expanded by the Allan J. Ontko and Associates Company and Mr. Ontko has some very nice pictures and information about the organ and the church building on his website at: http://www.ontkopipeorgans.com/index2.html
look for 1994, opus 23, Riverside Baptist Church.
Didja know... that though pipe organ ranks are often named for orchestral instruments, they can also be named for an emotion or an idea? "Dulciana," meaning "sweetness" is a name for a stop that is very quiet and string-like in tone color. "Unda Maris" means "waves of the ocean" ("unda;" from the root word for "undulation" and "maris;" meaning "the sea") and is a stop that plays intentionally slightly out of tune, on the flat side, with other stops. When the Dulciana and Unda Maris are played together the resulting sound has a floating dreaming quality as if the sound was drifting weightless under water.
Didja know... "Papa" Franz Joseph Haydn wrote a sneaky symphony designed to wake up a prince who was always snoozing at Haydn's concerts? It was called the "Surprise Symphony" because, just when the music got soothing and peaceful, and the prince was sleeping, there was a loud "surprise" chord!
Read all about Haydn and hear some of his music at:
Chapter 9. Didja know... that there really was a big fire in Jacksonville? The Great Fire of 1901 devastated much of downtown Jacksonville. As with most cities at the turn of the century many of the buildings were made of wood so the fire spread quickly. There is a new book which tells in pictures and words the dramatic events. Find out more here:
Chapter 13. Didja know... that the Stephen Foster composition "Old Folks at Home," also known as "Way Down Upon the Suwanee River," is the Florida state song? To see the words and hear the music go to:
Stephen Foster probably never saw the real Suwanee River. He wrote songs which were sung in the minstrel shows of the 1800's. Many people feel that minstrel shows, in which white singers and dancers wore "black face" make-up to comically portray black people, were racist and demeaning. However, Stephen Foster, a white man who grew up under the positive influence of black slaves, wrote his songs from a heart of love for the people. There is a fitting tribute to the man located on the actual Suwanee river, not too far from Jacksonville, Florida. For more information go to:
Chapter 14 Didja know... that, even before they made Theatre Organs, the Wurlitzer Company of North Tonawanda, NY made many, many kinds of mechanical, automatic band organs that had pipes, percussions, and drums? In the days before phonographs could produce sounds loud enough to fill large spaces Band Organs made by Wurlitzer and other companies provided lively music for entertainment, Carousels (Merry Go Rounds), and Dance Halls. These organs did not have keys like a piano or organ, rather they used rolls of punched paper which moved slowly over a bar that had a row of holes which took the place of the keyboard. As long as the hole was open, air was sucked into the hole, and a note connected to that certain hole would play. These mechanisms, which were found on regular pianos, too, were called "vacuum players."
Want to know more? Here are some links, some of which have lots of pictures and sound files!
Everone loves Merry-Go Rounds! Here is a site about Carousel Music, complete with a Wurlitzer glossary!
Chapter 20 Didja know... that the first organs in Movie Theatres were very much like regular church organs? That is until an inventor from England, Mr. Robert Hope-Jones, joined the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. Mr. David C. Kelzenberg has written an excellent series of articles which detail this story. To read these well written and interesting articles go to the ATOS web site at:
Chapter 41 - Didja know...
That Charlie Chaplin, who was a comic genius by anyone's standard and a Silent Screen legend, starred in a movie called "The Kid." Also in that film was a young child actor, Jackie Coogan. In our story Mr. Mac proposes to Miss Mel on Friday, September 5th, 1924. In that month of that year "Little Jackie Coogan," who became a big star after appearing with Charlie Chaplin, was filming a movie in Rome, Italy. Being a famous movie star he got to meet the Pope, of course. Someone asked Little Jackie, then 10 years old, what he thought of making a film in Rome. He answered: "It's the best place in the world for shooting pictures, after Hollywood!" Find out more about Jackie Coogan by going to:
And more about Charlie Chaplin can be found here:
Chapter ? More to come!