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> What If..., an imaginary happeningl
Roseman
post Jul 3 2007, 01:48 AM
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What if.... a couple of stars from the past, through some mysterious phenomenon, came by and paid you a visit. Once you got over the shock and up off of the floor...What would you say to them? What questions would you pose to them? Would there be anything special you would want to tell them?

Using a borrowed idea from an old Steve Allen TV skit from the 60's, I pretended that I was visited recently by Ben Bernie and Annette Hanshaw. Here's a little of the conversation.

"Welcome to my home Ms. Hanshaw and Mr. Bernie, please come in and have a seat."

May I call you Annette? Thank You, Annette."

"Is it Ben or Mr. Bernie? ..oh, so Bernie was just the stage name and I can call you Ben. O.K., just call me Don."

"Well, I guess the best place to start is to say I don't understand all of this and you probably don't either, but you guys have arrived at my home just in time for the July 4th holiday in the year 2007."

"Yes, 2007. This is the 21st century. I guess that does sound strange to you. What's happened in the past 50 years? Man, you just wouldn't believe the things, if I told you."

"I would rather talked about you and your times and I have a few questions that I would like to ask."

"What's that?, Well Ben it's called a computer and it's sorta like a radio and tpewriter and a library all rolled up into one. I can see pictures on it and type messages and I can listen to your records with it. Where do I play the records? Well, I really don't have your records, someone else has them and has recorded them on this little silver disc and I play it. No, it doesn't use needles, it uses something called a laser. But let me get back to asking you something Ben......"

"Well yes, Annette, they do have your recordings on these discs too. Where did they get them? Well, you probably knew this, but the music you made back there in the 20's and 30's was just the best. There was some good music later, but you were a tough act to follow. In fact, some people just won't listen to anything else, except what you guys and others recorded."

"And a few people started collecting your records and then over many years, your songs were heard by lots of other people and just kept getting more and more popular. Now most of your songs are recorded onto these discs, we call them cd's, and they can be purchased from stores selling cd's. And even on-line, oops, let's not go there yet. I'll never get to ask my questions. Who's getting the money? Well I don't know the answer to that."

"But Ben, I want to ask you, Was that really just a put-on about you and Winchell? Well, that's what the historians have told us too."

"And I guess you saw it coming, when you were on the radio, the music starting changing and sort of evolved into a smoother swing style from those peppy songs you and those other bands did. This lasted for several years, but I won't mention this stuff they call music today. Thank you guys for leaving us something to listen to.

"Annette, I hope you don't think I'm being too personal, but you had such a great career going and then... you just quit, retired.. and at such a young age, what was it, 36? Where you really just tired of the whole thing, or just burned out, or what?"

"Oh, what's that hanging on my belt playing music? I apologize, It's called a cell phone, and someone was calling. Well yes, Annette, see what you can do with a cell phone is have it play music in lieu of ringing and that was one of your songs I had playing. What? You don't remember it? Well it's one of your earlier ones, Do you remember April, 1927, New York? It's called 'What Do I Care What Someone Said'?. Oh, now you remember, Yes, I like the intro too."

"..No, you two can't be going so soon, you just got here. Listen, stay for a little while longer. I have some friends that wish to see you and they may have a few questions. Please stay until... Great, it shouldn't be long, they'll be here soon."

"..and while we are waiting Ben, let me ask you, what in the heck does 'Yowsha, Yowsha, Yowsha' mean?"

"Annette, you really were a talent and great songtress, you should read what the historians have penned, 'You're one of the tops.' 'To put in our 21st century lingo', 'You Go Girl'."

"What's that ..., Where's a good cigar shop?" Ugh... smoking is not good for you Ben."

"Well, here's some friends coming in now, let's meet them and see what questions they have."



'What Do I Care" Annette Hanshaw 1927

This post has been edited by Roseman: Jul 3 2007, 01:53 AM
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dismuke
post Jul 3 2007, 07:01 AM
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QUOTE(Roseman @ Jul 2 2007, 08:48 PM) *
"Well yes, Annette, they do have your recordings on these discs too. Where did they get them?



Annette wouldn't be quite as baffled by it all as poor Ben would. She lived until 1985 so it is very likely she at least heard about CDs and very possibly listened to them. And she would have been aware of the earlier computers - though she certainly would not have been able to imagine all of the things that we do with them that have become such a major and important part of our lives in so many wonderful ways. I THINK cell phones came about in the very late 1980s but I believe they had mobile phones of sorts which were extremely expensive. She certainly would have been very familiar with the sewer that popular music fell into some 20 years before she died.

Ben, on the other hand, passed away in 1943. He never even saw the end of the big band era. He would have been familiar with television as NBC started its early broadcasts in 1939, I believe. But it was something that was more or less confined to the New York City area and came to an abrupt end once the war started. He never saw the LP record. And I am sure upon flipping through a modern FM radio he would wonder why the reception sounded so bad and terribly distorted - only to be told that is how it was SUPPOSED to sound.

I suspect that Annette would have been familiar enough with our world today that she could have been sufficiently impressed with all of the neat new technological gizmos. Ben, on the other hand, would probably feel he is in a very foriegn world and would be utterly shocked at the terrible noise that people listen to and how the vast majority of the population now goes around town dressed like utter slobs. The changes would be so great in so many areas that it might well overwhelm his ability to fully enjoy the neat things that have come along with the bad.

At least he would find out that busses would NOT look like airplanes in the future!
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Ian House
post Jul 3 2007, 09:06 AM
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What if..?

Well, I would NEVER pass up the opportunity to interview the lovely Miss Hanshaw unless, of course, my own favorite songbird was waiting patiently in the wings...

_ _ _

I am often asked by folks if I ever intend to write a biography of Lee Morse. I always answer in the same general way: First, biographies are written by authors and that is not my profession. But, more to the point, we simply do not have enough of Lee's biographical footprints to follow in order to write anything deeper than a nice set of liner notes. She did not keep any diaries or write any personal letters that we know of. And, she did not grant any known media interviews either. When her career faded, so did her public profile. Almost forever.

I have often thought that a "biography" of Lee Morse would need to be largely a work of fiction. Creative speculation would need to comprise MUCH of her story. Don's tantalizing visit with Annette inspires me to pursue this notion a little further ... and his format is exactly the same as the one that I've always thought would be the most effective, a personal fictitious conversation with a spirit from the past.

_ _ _


An intimate conversation with Miss Lee Morse.

Ian: Miss Morse-

Lee: Please, call me Lee.

Ian: OK, Lee! ... Actually, would you mind it if I called you Lena?

Lee: Lee, Lena, whichever you prefer. I answer to both! Although not many strangers have ever called me Lena before, just Taylor kin mostly.

Ian: Perhaps we'd both be more comfortable if I just called you Lee then?

Lee: You can call me Lena if you like. It's just that I haven't heard it in so many years.

Ian: Didn't Glen and Paul continue to call you Lena?

Lee: Oh s--t!, I have a feeling that you know more about me than I first thought. How do you know about my brothers?

Ian: Well, I've done a lot of research -as much as possible. I'm a huge fan of your singing and that led me to wanting to know more about you. You have the most incredibly distinctive and lovely voice! I still can't believe that you're actually sitting here with me ... Anyway, I've met your nephew and he gave me a lot of old photos and a detailed family tree-

Lee: My nephew? Which one?

Ian: Arod.

Lee: Oh, Christ! Is Arod still alive? He was always a little darling, one of my favorites. He was always jus' like a smaller version of Glen -right down to the spurs! And I remember that Glen gave him his own ukulele to play in the act. He could play it too! ... Where is he living today?

Ian: He still lives in California -and takes a lot of vacation trips to Hawaii. Lee, you had nine brothers and two sisters. You must have had dozens of nieces and nephews crawling all over the place?

Lee: That's right, too many to count. Dear, have you seen the waiter come by yet? I could use a Vodka. What are you drinking?

Ian: I'm sorry Lee, I'm not really that much of a drinker and, unfortunately, I don't keep anything on hand. I would have been more prepared but your visit was a complete surprise.

Lee: How old are you?

Ian: I'm 46.

Lee: 46?!! Christ, you're a 46 year old gentleman and you don't have a liquor cabinet in your home? Did they bring it back?

Ian: Bring what back?

Lee: Prohibition ...?

Ian: No, it's not that. It's just not my habit. Are you starting to feel a little tired?

Lee: I can manage jus' fine. How long are we going to talk for?

Ian: Perhaps, if you like, we can go out to a restaurant or someplace in a little while ... Lee, can I ask you something? Were you born in Cove, Oregon?

Lee: Yes, why do you ask?

Ian: Your current biography has you born in Portland, Oregon on Nov. 30th, 1897. It's a well established fact that I only discovered recently to be false. Another researcher just found a copy of a ship manifest of a return trip from England that you made in 1927, on the Leviathan. It says you were born in Cove.

Lee: Yup, it was Cove alright! That's what Mama told me. Papa had us movin' around so much from town to town. I grew up in the back of his wagon singing in front of those silver miners every place we stopped. And, we stopped plenty in those days. I was just a little thing so I don't remember much of that.

Ian: Yes, I know, Glen wrote in his autobiography about your first professional experience at the age of three! In Leadville, Colorado. Do you have any memories of it at all?

Lee: Not firsthand. No. Just what I was told about it years later from the family. I must have left some sort of impression with those miners! And my brothers because they never stopped telling that story.

Ian: And then, you guys ended up in Kooskia, Idaho. I've been to Kooskia twice now! I swam in the Clearwater at Maggie Creek right next to your old farm ... Actually, we are trying to save the old Opera House there for preservation. It's still being used as an opera house, did you know? You must have some memories of singing there -you were fifteen at the time.

Lee: -Christ Almighty! You can't be serious ...? I can't believe that old opry place hasn't fallen down yet!

Ian: But Kooskia is such a beautiful little town ...?

Lee: It's no place to find a career. Never was.

Ian: Did you ever return to Kooskia for a visit? After 1915?

Lee: No, I sort of left it behind me. It's not that easy of a place to get to. And not many of us stayed there anyway.

Ian: What do you mean?

Lee: I didn't have much family there after, say, 1922 or so.

Ian: Oh, I see.

Lee: And, by that time, I was on my way. If I went anyplace, it was for a job.

Ian: These were the years before Pathé so you went from California to New York City doing a lot of Vaudeville and Broadway work.

Lee: Ya, it was mostly Vaudeville dates. I had fifteen minutes by myself every night. The shows were all the top acts -nothing cheap. We sang mostly darky songs full of that old sweet plantation stuff.

Ian: That's right, during this time, you were mostly known for your African American and Southern routines, weren't you? But you weren't born in the South. How did you come to get the reputation as the "Southern Aristocrat of Song"?

Lee: Darky songs were big at that time. Really big! It was more of a business decision, I guess, than anything else really. And I had some kin in those parts, Kentucky and Tennessee ... You've heard of Al Jolson, haven't you? He dressed up as a colored. I always liked his act. He could always reach right into the back seats and shake 'em up some. That's what I remember.

Ian: Jolson? Who else influenced your singing? Who was your favorite singer?

Lee: My mama.

Ian: Yes, I remember reading that in Glen's autobiography. Ollie and you actually did a little private family singing together. I wish I could have been there! ... My friend, Don, was just paid a visit by Annette Hanshaw. What were your impressions of Annette?

Lee: Yes, she was one of the girls. And, of course, Ruth Etting was another.

Ian: And Sophie Tucker?

Lee: Of course, Tucker was the gold standard at that time.

Ian: Don was asking Annette about her recording of "What Do I Care" from 1927. You recorded the same song, didn't you?

Lee: Yes, I do remember that one. But, I didn't write that number -it was somebody else's.

Ian: Lee, it's a little difficult to explain, but this is known as a "hyperlink". It's a way for us to hear your recording on this computer by simply clicking on the title there. Use this and press down on the song title:



"(What Do I Care What) Somebody Said?" -Lee Morse 1927



Lee: Oh, heavens! Where is the sound coming from? That's mine though! Many years ago...

Ian: Oh, Lee, I just adore your scatty yodeling! This recording is just so fun and playful. This was one of your first sides on the Columbia label. I am so glad that you switched labels in 1927. Your electric recordings are vastly superior to those old acoustic Pathés, sound-wise that is. I assume that you were aware of the difference at the time?

Lee: Of course, I was thrilled to move to Columbia. It was just so new. They called those records "Viva Tone".

Ian: Viva-Tonal.

Lee: Yes, that's right, Viva-Tonal.

Ian: Did you prefer recording in the studio or singing on stage?

Lee: The money was in the records. I wasn't able to record enough of them! They went all around the world you know.

Ian: And you were probably less nervous in the studio as opposed to the stage?

Lee: I was always nervous wherever I was. It didn't matter none. I didn't like to be up so close to the audience -the evening spots were the worst for that!

Ian: But your happiest years, it seems, were in Ft. Worth. Wasn't that mostly nightclub work?

Lee: Yes, but I had family there. Not just kin family but all of our friends at the Sylvan.

Ian: And at the Blackstone? You'll be happy to know that it's still standing ... Well Lee, I'm sensing that you may be getting a little tired. I'd hate to wear out my welcome but I think I haven't even scratched the surface with all the things I'd like to ask you.

Lee: Perhaps we'll meet up again some other time then.

Ian: I would just LOVE that, of course. Are you feeling up to answering just a few more questions?

Lee: Well, I really think I should be getting on.

Ian: Certainly. I really appreciate your time with me. This has been a true honor and a privilege speaking with you.

Lee: Well, thank you dear, that's very kind of you to say.

_ _ _



At this point, our brief conversation came to an end. There were SO many questions left unanswered. This rare opportunity came and went in the blink of an eye. Sigh.


_ _ _



.


This post has been edited by Ian House: Jul 8 2007, 02:38 AM


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MathGeek
post Jul 3 2007, 08:36 PM
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Hey Ian,

That imaginary conversation with Lee was sure funny. Did you find any recordings she made during the time she was supposedly in England? How about that Lee Morse radio program that I vaguely recall your finding at the Library of Congress? Was there anything interesting on there? I'll be in NYC later this month so if you're still looking for a picture of Lee's old house from c1930 could you remind me of its address in NYC? I could try to go by there and email you a picture assuming the building at that address looks like it was there in 1930.

Regards,
-MG
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Ian House
post Jul 4 2007, 02:37 AM
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QUOTE(MathGeek @ Jul 3 2007, 02:36 PM) *
Did you find any recordings she made during the time she was supposedly in England? How about that Lee Morse radio program that I vaguely recall your finding at the Library of Congress? Was there anything interesting on there? I'll be in NYC later this month so if you're still looking for a picture of Lee's old house from c1930 could you remind me of its address in NYC? I could try to go by there and email you a picture assuming the building at that address looks like it was there in 1930.

Hi MG,

Lee's activity in England was a big mystery until just recently. We now have a list of the cities (and dates) that she toured through in May of 1927 and the Leviathan's returning manifest from Cherbourg, France to NYC (May 31-June 6th). So far, I have found no evidence that she actually made any recordings while in England. It looks like it was, primarily, a live performance tour.

I appreciate your kind offer. If you find that you have nothing better to do while in Manhattan (hehe :-), then maybe you can track down her old addresses with your camera (don't feel any obligations however).

1927 address:
67 Riverside Drive,
NYC 10024


1930 address:
58 West 55th Street,
NYC 10019



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MathGeek
post Jul 8 2007, 03:59 PM
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QUOTE(Ian House @ Jul 3 2007, 09:37 PM) *
Hi MG,

Lee's activity in England was a big mystery until just recently. We now have a list of the cities (and dates) that she toured through in May of 1927 and the Leviathan's returning manifest from Cherbourg, France to NYC (May 31-June 6th). So far, I have found no evidence that she actually made any recordings while in England. It looks like it was, primarily, a live performance tour.

I appreciate your kind offer. If you find that you have nothing better to do while in Manhattan (hehe :-), then maybe you can track down her old addresses with your camera (don't feel any obligations however).

1927 address:
67 Riverside Drive,
NYC 10024


1930 address:
58 West 55th Street,
NYC 10019



Hey Ian,

Thanks for the addresses. I'll try to go by the 55th St. address which is only 12 blocks away from my hotel but I'll be pretty busy so I can't make any promises, OK? Any plans to update leemorse.com with more of her recordings?

--MG
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Ian House
post Jul 8 2007, 07:06 PM
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QUOTE(MathGeek @ Jul 8 2007, 09:59 AM) *
Any plans to update leemorse.com with more of her recordings?


MG,

Since I changed my career path last year, I haven't had the same amount of personal spare time at my disposal. I'm afraid that my website maintenance has suffered a little due to the other priorities on my time. However, I consider this to be a failure of my mission statement: To share Lee ... so, I have designed a new short-term page for my site until I can justify the time to wipe off the dust with a new design upgrade. I am calling this transitory page the L.M.R.C, or the Lee Morse Resource Center (click here) ... This is a down and dirty, no-frills page of pure content (or, um, it will soon be :-) To get things started, I have provided a link to an mp3 ZIP file, although several new recordings have not yet been included. I will try to do this ASAP and let you know when it's updated ... Any contributions by others to this archive will be gratefully acknowledged at the bottom of the page.

_ _ _

Have fun in Manhattan!


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Ian House
post Jul 9 2007, 07:54 AM
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Hi Math Geek,

I took some time today to update the mp3 ZIP file above with the recordings that I have acquired since the last site update. There are now 167 songs in total, 17 of them are new, 5 of them upgraded. That leaves just 34 left to find until the catalogue is complete according to the latest known discography. The 22 new (or upgraded) recordings are as follows:


I Like Pie I Like Cake
Home
Dallas Blues
Rocking Chair Blues
What-Cha-Call-Em Blues
Only This Time I'll Be True
My Sweetie Turned Me Down
Daddy Your Mama Is Lonesome For You
In The Middle Of The Night
Mother And Dad
He's Still My Baby
Sad And Lonesome Little Pickaninny
Until Love Comes Along
Swingin' In A Hammock
Seems To Me
The Little Things In Life
Walkin' My Baby Back Home
I've Got Five Dollars
The Tune That Never Grows Old
One Hour With You Medley (with Eddy Duchin)
Paradise Waltz Medley (with Eddy Duchin)
Longing

_ _ _

The remaining 17 records are listed in this want list.



.

This post has been edited by Ian House: Jul 9 2007, 08:04 AM


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MathGeek
post Jul 11 2007, 07:17 PM
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QUOTE(Ian House @ Jul 3 2007, 09:37 PM) *
Hi MG,

Lee's activity in England was a big mystery until just recently. We now have a list of the cities (and dates) that she toured through in May of 1927 and the Leviathan's returning manifest from Cherbourg, France to NYC (May 31-June 6th). So far, I have found no evidence that she actually made any recordings while in England. It looks like it was, primarily, a live performance tour.

I appreciate your kind offer. If you find that you have nothing better to do while in Manhattan (hehe :-), then maybe you can track down her old addresses with your camera (don't feel any obligations however).

1927 address:
67 Riverside Drive,
NYC 10024


1930 address:
58 West 55th Street,
NYC 10019




Hey Ian,

I just sent you pictures of what I found when I passed by where 58 W 55th St should have been in Manhattan. It seems that the building Lee lived in is gone but I'll let you be the judge. Sorry to be the bearer of the apparently bad news

--MG
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Ian House
post Jul 11 2007, 08:35 PM
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MG,

You are so kind to go out of your way like that, I truly appreciate it ... but, um ...

I'm getting a sinking feeling that I may have inadvertently sent you on a wild goose chase ... You asked me where I got the address from. It was from Lee's own handwriting on the contract that she signed (dated April 11th 1930) for her short subject Vitaphone film, "The Music Racket" .

When I first read the address, it looked like "55th St" to me. The second "5", at first, seems to be written in a similar way as the first "5" ... but, the more I look at it now, I begin to see it as "58th St" I do apologize for this blunder. I hope you didn't waste too much of your time in Manhattan ... What do you think the address is? :






I feel like an idiot! ... Now that I've posted the image, it CLEARLY looks like "58th" ... I'm sorry friend.


Here's the entire contract permission page:




When I did a search for the address, 58 W. 58th St., it indicates the location of a modern condo building -although this current building does not look like it would date back to 1930. I believe that Lee was pretty well off in 1930 -perhaps the 1930 building was a well established swanky residential address which was simply replaced with a newer structure years later (but kept as a condominium). Obviously, I'm just taking wild guesses here :-)

(Update: I just phoned the office there. The person didn't know the exact year that the current building was built, but he was 100% confident that it was more recent than 1930...)

Here's a current 58 W. 58th photo that I found on the web:




This post has been edited by Ian House: Jul 12 2007, 03:12 AM


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Ian House
post Jul 11 2007, 09:08 PM
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Ha! I LOVE technology ...

I'm not sure if this following link will work or not -but here is a Google "Street View" 3d navigation view of 58 W. 58 in Manhattan (just one street south of Central Park)

58 W. 58th Street, NYC (click on the full-screen view and compare it to the photo in the above post)

I'm almost certain now that this was Lee's residence location in 1930.

This post has been edited by Ian House: Jul 11 2007, 11:59 PM


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Ian House
post Jul 11 2007, 09:53 PM
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If I can get some of my Dismuker friends to chip in a little ... and if I can raise 2 million dollars, I can buy one of the condos in the Corcoran building at 58w58 ... and have one of my BIG dreams come true, to live in Manhattan (and, as a bonus, live in the SAME location as Lee did in 1930)

Honestly, I don't think it's asking much. C'mon guys -whaddya say? ... At the time of this post, there are 542 registered members here. If each of you were to kindly PayPal me $3,690.00, I can get this thing started.

And, if you email me your snail mail address -if time permits, I will send you a thank you card.

Thanks, that's awesome!




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matto
post Jul 11 2007, 10:46 PM
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OUCH! blink.gif
2 million dollars for 1400 square feet?????

You can get a 3000 sf new home for a little over $200,000 in a very nice neighborhood in the DFW metroplex. And those are homes that are all brick with many windows and beautiful exterior and interior architectural detailing.

Pay 300,000 for the same size house on a 1/4 to 1/2 acre piece of property !

HECK I saw a sign while in Fort Worth last month for 1400-1500 square foot new homes starting at $90,000 .

This post has been edited by matto: Jul 11 2007, 10:50 PM


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Ian House
post Jul 11 2007, 11:57 PM
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QUOTE(matto @ Jul 11 2007, 04:46 PM) *
OUCH! blink.gif
2 million dollars for 1400 square feet?????

You can get a 3000 sf new home for a little over $200,000 in a very nice neighborhood in the DFW metroplex. And those are homes that are all brick with many windows and beautiful exterior and interior architectural detailing.

Pay 300,000 for the same size house on a 1/4 to 1/2 acre piece of property !

HECK I saw a sign while in Fort Worth last month for 1400-1500 square foot new homes starting at $90,000 .


Hmmm, maybe ... but, how long would it take you to walk to Central Park for your morning constitutional? That's a distance of 1,584 miles from FW! ... Lee only had to walk ONE small Manhattan city block -from 58th to Central Park South (59th) -while still being in the shadow of the Plaza Hotel!

That's what 2 mil gets you :-) ... Converted to 1930 dollars, Lee would have paid $162,768.00 for the same apartment. That was quite a chunk of change only one year into the Great Depression...


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