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> Come join us in Kooskia on July 28th, to celebrate the Lee Morse Homecoming
Ian House
post Jun 4 2006, 11:08 PM
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This is an invitation to all Dismukers -but especially to those of you living in Idaho- to join me for the first annual Lee Morse Homecoming event to take place during this years annual "Kooskia Days" celebration in Kooskia, Idaho.

..... Friday, July 28th 6:30-7:15pm.....

I have been working with Kooskia's Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the University of Idaho to establish an annual tribute event dedicated to the memory of Lee Morse in her hometown. The Chamber has shown an interest in this idea and has agreed to let us present a short 45 minute event for this years Kooskia Days celebration to "test the waters" for a more comprehensive annual event (starting next year). The future dedicated event will likely take the form of a Roaring 20's dance and costume contest using Lee Morse as the signature artist. However, this years trial event will be a simple introductory lecture with a modest tea dance to follow -total time = 45 minutes. We are currently communicating with members of both the Taylor family in California and the Morse family in Idaho to, hopefully, join us for this special celebration.





..... Click here for directions to Kooskia, ID

..... Click here to visit Kooskia.com








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Flapper Girl
post Jun 10 2006, 11:31 PM
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A nice presentation, Ian on your upcoming adventure to Idaho. The comparison photos of the street in Kooskia shows little change in its appearance in the past 100 years. Is that the main drag? I hope there may be some Dismukers up that way who will be able to attend. It is out of the question for me – just too many miles between here and there, but I hope the event goes well and the lecture generates interest to make it an annual event. The potential for a Roaring Twenties dance beginning next year sounds like fun – with authentic costumes, of course. Any luck in getting Taylor/Morse family members to attend in July?

Flapper Girl
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tferbe
post Jun 11 2006, 01:41 AM
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Good luck Ian. I would definatly be there if I lived anywhere within a hundres miles or so but it's just to dern far. It sounds like a lot of fun and I'm sure you will have a blast. biggrin.gif biggrin.gif biggrin.gif
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Ian House
post Jun 11 2006, 04:51 AM
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Thanks Flap, Thanks Ted !

I have no serious expectations for folks not living near Kooskia to attend this lecture/dance -it's only 45 minutes in length after all :-) It's really just a "seed planting" event for bigger and better things in the future.

Is there anybody on this message board living in Idaho??

_ _ _

Yup, that's the main drag in Kooskia -known as Main Street (aka Highway 13). In 1928, Lee recorded one of her own songs called "Main Street" which is, presumably, dedicated to this road...( I have no hard proof of this -but it's a reasonable assumption based on the lyrics). It will be one of the recordings played during the lecture.

I can't wait for July 28th; Just tonight, I finished creating the stage backdrop and decorations -basically a diorama of the above poster with a life-size cutout "standup" of Lee sitting on top of a tall art deco pedestal with long-stemmed roses, pinecones, etc... Behind her is a six foot title poster for the back wall. She will also be flanked on either side by two gigantic (30 inch) records (one Pathe and one Columbia) each accompanied by their own vintage sleeve. Both "records" are mounted on pedestal fans which I will turn on and off as the dance songs are played. Unfortunately, the fan speed at its lowest setting is still much faster than 78rpm -so I hope nobody in the audience calls me on it! ... All together, the visuals will, hopefully, look pretty attractive...

I have recently developed a friendship with Lee's nephew, Arod Taylor, who, as it happens, lives just 5 minutes away from me in Millbrae, Ca. Arod is the son of Glen Hearst Taylor, Lee's younger brother. Glen Taylor, the "Singing Senator", had a colorful career in politics and, before that, show business. Arod was born into the family business in 1935 and became the youngest member of the vagabond "Glendora Players", a Western vaudeville-style roadshow headed up by his parents. He still sings and plays the ukulele -maybe the last of a long line of talented Taylors to do so. If I can somehow convince him to make the trip in July, he has agreed to perform one of Lee's songs during the event... which, of course, would thrill me beyond all measure.

Both John and David Morse live in Moscow, Idaho -just a short trip to Kooskia... so I hope that they will both be in attendance...

Thanks kindly for the good wishes :-)

Ian


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Flapper Girl
post Jun 11 2006, 05:23 PM
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Ian,

I suspect you have had past experience in designing and creating sets? Were you a member of a theatre group at one time? My brother belonged to such a group during his college years and enjoyed it immensely. He was in charge of the lighting, but also worked on sets for their productions. I am trying to envision your stage set-up from the description you give. You will have to take a photo of it so I can see how close I came to it in my mind’s eye. Sounds really nice. As you are pouring your heart and soul into this event, I’m sure the Taylor/Morse family members must be very pleased and will be ready and willing to lend support in any way they can to make it a success. I do hope Lee’s nephew will attend and perform one of her songs. That would be really neat. I assume he is an older man, so perhaps the travel distance may be a problem for him?

I just took a tour of the Kooskia site and see that they have a link to your Lee Morse site there, as well. I meandered over to it and listened to her Main Street song. It does appear that the song must have been written about her own hometown and it seems she must have felt very comfortable there. As Kooskia’s population is only 675 residents now, I wonder what it was back in 1906? It is interesting to speculate and look back over the years to those times. Have you ever been there before or is this a first?

F.G.
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Ian House
post Jun 11 2006, 08:55 PM
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QUOTE(Flapper Girl @ Jun 11 2006, 11:23 AM)
I suspect you have had past experience in designing and creating sets?   

Nope. This has been my first such experience... but I've been having SO much fun playing around with it :-) ... All I could think about while working on the set design was that hilarious scene in Christopher Guest's movie, "A Mighty Wind" in which Jonathan Steinbloom is scrutinizing and criticizing every little detail of the set design. LOL :-) ...

QUOTE(Flapper Girl @ Jun 11 2006, 11:23 AM)
I am trying to envision your stage set-up from the description you give. You will have to take a photo of it so I can see how close I came to it in my mind’s eye.   

Hey Flapper, to prevent you from having to spend the $500 air fare, I can show you some video of the setup (from within the cramped quarters of my small apartment!). I have prepared these videos for the Chamber of Commerce in Kooskia to describe to them the ongoing progress; Unfortunately, everything has to be planned and organized from a distance.

video 1: overview
video 2: playing record

For some reason, the lighting in these videos makes the Columbia record appear to be brown -but rest assured gramophiles, the actual prop is jet-black!

QUOTE(Flapper Girl @ Jun 11 2006, 11:23 AM)
Have you ever been there before or is this a first?   

Yup, ... in 2003, I took a trip to Kooskia to research Lee's childhood for my website. I couldn't find many people there who were even aware of her career in the first place -which became the primary inspiration for this "Homecoming" event - I really want the people in Kooskia to learn more about her roots there. If you visit my site again, you can take a look at my photo journal of that trip (go to the "rescue" part of the "Search and Rescue" section...


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Flapper Girl
post Jun 11 2006, 10:41 PM
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Hey, Ian!
I like it! I like it! You surely have put a lot of thought, time and effort into this project and have come up with a pretty spiffy looking set. The life size image of Lee is wonderful and I also like the idea of the spinning 78’s. Who’s to know or care if they aren’t spinning at exactly the prescribed rpms. Very nice job and when you have a little more space to spread it out a bit more, it will be even better. I also checked out your website again and took a look at your trip to Kooskia. I had perused through your site a few times in the past, but didn’t remember reading about the trip. Very interesting and it seems you didn’t leave a stone unturned in retracing Lee’s life there – actually walked in her footsteps, so to speak. I find genealogy and delving into the past to be so fascinating. Bet you had a ball doing it!

Thanks for the sneak preview.

F.G.
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Greg H
post Jul 2 2006, 05:35 AM
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This is exciting news. I live in Moscow, ID and discovered Lee Morse last year. I'll definately be there for this event. Looks like you had a lot of fun putting it together. The set looks great! I have a vintage music radio program in Moscow on Thursdays and I'll be playing some Lee Morse and talking up the event the day before it occurs.

Ian, you mentioned that John & David Morse live in Moscow. What relation are they to Lee? Thanks for putting together an excellent website on Lee. Now I can go to Kooskia with a little sense of her history there.
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Ian House
post Jul 2 2006, 05:55 AM
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QUOTE(Greg H @ Jul 1 2006, 11:35 PM)
This is exciting news.  I live in Moscow, ID and discovered Lee Morse last year.  I'll definately be there for this event.  Looks like you had a lot of fun putting it together.  The set looks great! I have a vintage music radio program in Moscow on Thursdays and I'll be playing some Lee Morse and talking up the event the day before it occurs. 

Ian, you mentioned that John & David Morse live in Moscow.  What relation are they to Lee?  Thanks for putting together an excellent website on Lee.  Now I can go to Kooskia with a little sense of her history there.

Hi Greg,

First, welcome to the board! ... I am SO thrilled that you will be attending our event. GREAT news about your radio program -the PERFECT venue...

Let me answer your question: John Morse is Lee's adopted grandson and David is his first son (of 2). Lee's son Jack (her only child) could not have his own children with his wife Robbie -so they adopted John. John works in some capacity at the University of Idaho and David is studying law there as well. I met David a few years ago when he was working as an archivist at the International Jazz Collections office at the UOI. The Morse family donated half of Lee's personal collection to the University...

I have good news: I had a delightful conversation with John Morse earlier this week and he is planning to join us in Kooskia...

_ _ _

When in Kooskia, you can join me in my effort to save the Fenn building -it has been condemned since my visit there and, to be honest, it is not a very attractive prospect for investors... but it is the only remaining historical structure in Kooskia with a connection to Lee (it was her home during her brief marriage to Elmer Morse from 1915-1920) I have a photo of the interior on my site... I was lucky to get it before the building was shut down...

_ _ _

Greg, I have had a FANTASTIC couple of weeks research-wise which I will outline in a subsequent post. (It may take a while to write up!) Please consider this promised post as your formal welcome gift!

Ian


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Ian House
post Jul 2 2006, 09:28 AM
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OK Greg,

Here is your official message board welcome gift, a special sneak-peek at some never-before-published original photos, etc from Lee's past... I will be adding dozens of such photos to my site later this year -or early next.

As stated above, I have become close friends with Arod Taylor, Lee's nephew, who ( as INCREDIBLE good fortune shines down upon me) lives a mere 5 minutes away!! Maybe it was just meant to be :-) We are both on a MISSION FROM GOD to piece together the lost facts of Lee Morse history -and, trust me, the database on her is quite moth-eaten...

Lee's birth name was Lena Corinne Taylor (her first two names were acquired from her mother's two sisters) She was born on November 30th, 1897 (we think in Portland, Oregon) I can't go into the entire family history here but all of her elder brothers went into some sort of vagabond Vaudeville style of show-business. Lee herself started at the age of three in a mining town show where the miners threw $20 gold pieces at her feet during her first performance ($500 worth) She was an instant local phenomenon -and, she was HOOKED for life!...

I have a detailed account of this performance which was written by Glen Taylor for his autobiography "The Way It Was With Me" -but it was edited out of the final draft due to the length of the entire manuscript...

The Taylor family relocated to Kooskia, Idaho in 1908. I never dreamed that I would ever see an actual photograph of their homestead ... but dreams DO come true :-) Arod has been truly generous in allowing me access to the originals -and I can't begin to express my appreciation to him. Note: Lee's parents were named Pleasant John (PJ) and Olive (Ollie):




Please forgive me for the clumsy presentation. I am currently very tight on time (moving across the country on July 21st!!)... so I only had time enough to throw the photos on the scanner bed ... I'll pick up the pieces later when I get to Indiana. I will do a full digital restoration for each photo when I publish them to my site...What makes it worse (or BETTER :-) ... each time I visit Arod to return some material, he has uncovered more!! Yikes! I wish I could have met him 5 years ago!! Such is life... but I'll happily suffer the time crunch.

Anyway, probably the best set of photos is a series of 22 family reunion pictures never before seen. This reunion occurred at the Allen, Oklahoma home of PJ and Ollie in 1927 (at the zenith of Lee's career -she had just switched over to Columbia's Viva-Tonal) She poses with each family member in different combinations -and as a group. Here's a sampling:





The most endearing photos to me are the ones from her childhood. She seems like such a unique individual, often caught in her trademark frown -just like Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family! ... These are also the shots of her before she had any front bangs... Here's a family photo which will require a lot of restoration attention:





And finally, Arod phoned me just this morning (as I was packing up my scanner for the move :-)... and said "Hey, would you be interested in any of Ollie's old letters?" ... My jaw dropped, my scanner packing stopped, and my keys turned over the ignition (all within 6 minutes)... Here's just a taste of some of the ACTUAL letters ranging from 1895-1909:






An actual letter on Lee's birthday!! I still can't get over it :-) ... I just wonder how they celebrated on that day...?


_ _ _

One aspect of my website that I would like to develop is a Taylor Family message board. It would be a HUGE benefit to have a venue for the family to communicate with ... and to help us with all of the unknowns... That will definitely be explored when time permits.
_ _ _

Anyway, welcome aboard Greg. I can't wait to meet you in Kooskia...

regards,

Ian


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Flapper Girl
post Jul 2 2006, 12:22 PM
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What an incredible series of events, Ian. It seems the heavens have opened up and sent all these Lee Morse “goodies” falling into your lap. I can feel your excitement and enthusiasm as the event in Kooskia draws closer. I couldn’t believe my eyes to read the note from Greg and to learn he not only lives in Idaho and will attend, but that he has a radio program there and will publicize the event.

Any commitment from Lee’s nephew about attending and singing one of her songs? That would put the icing on the cake. Hope you will be taking lots of photos and giving us a complete report.

Flapper
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Ian House
post Jul 2 2006, 06:10 PM
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Thank you Flap,

Yes, I can hardly believe my own good fortune with the events of the last two weeks; Greg's post has filled me with great hope that the Kooskia event might be well-attended by some Jazz Age fans as well...

_ _ _

In regard to Arod's attendance, I am gently nursing along his enthusiasm... Every visit proves to be more encouraging as I throw out some subtle hints for a commitment. Presently, I think there's an 80% chance that he will be in Kooskia... At the conclusion of our first meeting, he told me -while playing a little air uke: "Ya, maybe I can play my ukulele and sing Lonesome Darlin'!" (a song Lee recorded in 1950 -maybe his favorite...?) I haven't brought up this "offer" since -and I'm beginning to fear that it was mentioned in jest... but Arod (b. 1935) was brought up in show-business himself so I don't think he would suffer from stage-fright necessarily. I really hope that he was serious but no promises should be made.


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Greg H
post Jul 2 2006, 11:01 PM
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Wow Ian, you really hit the jackpot with the new historical material. So nice to find information that has been buried for many years. I'm going to contact the Swing Devils, an organization here in Moscow that sponsers weekly swing dances. They might have an interest in hearing about the event. With your permission, I'll also print a few of your poster above and place them on the bulletin boards around town. Maybe it'll bring some of us Jazz Age fans out of the woodwork.

Good luck with your move. I hope to meet you in Kooskia. Will you be a part of the presentation so I'll know who you are? Thanks for the great welcome gift.
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Ian House
post Jul 2 2006, 11:09 PM
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Hi Greg,

You'll be able to recognize me. I'll be the guy who:

1. is setting up the stage backdrop...
2. is moderating and introducing the event...
3. is wearing a fedora...
4. is polishing Arod Taylor's ukulele...
4. has a big smile on his face...
5. has a big belly on his body...

Please do introduce yourself when you're there.
_ _ _

I would like to talk to you offline if possible (in regard to the swing dancers)... If you're willing.
Ian

This post has been edited by Ian House: Jun 10 2007, 07:54 AM


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Flapper Girl
post Jul 15 2006, 01:15 PM
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Well, Ian, I assume the countdown is on for your liftoff to Kooskia and beyond? You must be getting anxious to hit the trail. Do you have a firm commitment from Arod on doing the “gig”? Wish we could drop by and see how things go. I hope there will be a good turnout and that Greg H. has been doing his part towards that end. Could you give us an update?

I know it will be great fun and you will get to meet a lot of new and interesting people. Hopefully they will all be more sociable and fun than the company I have been entertaining over the past few days. It is said that fish and company stink after three days, but this company reeked the minute they walked into the door. You see, Mama Skunk and several offspring have decided to take up residence in an outbuilding in my back yard, getting in through a small opening under it. Needless to say, it has been a battle between man and beast (or woman and beast, as the case may be) and so far it is Skunks 5, Flapper 0. I have sent them an eviction notice, but they refuse to vacate and my next step is a Cease and Desist Order concerning their odoriferous activities. How do you evict a skunk? (and don’t say, “Very carefully!”) I believe I may need to enlist the aid of “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” to bring this to a conclusion. Wonder if it would work on skunks? Just love that song by Al Bowlly.

All my best wishes in Kooskia and have a safe and pleasant cross-country trip to Indiana.

Enjoy and take care,

Flapper
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