Effort Afloat to Bring Back the Jantzen Girl

 

Jantzen Girl
The Jantzen Girl hanging at the entrance to Stamie’s Smart Beach Wear

Since 1965 Daytona Beach has served as home to one of only six, twenty foot fiberglass Jantzen Girl statues. The statue/sign was a fixture outside of Stamie’s Smart Beach Wear since arriving from Miami. That all changed recently when the store located along the recently renovated boardwalk area closed with the retirement of second generation owner Irene Koutouzis.

The sign was never owned by the Koutouzis family but rather was still owned by Jantzen who has taken possession of the landmark piece with an apparent goal of rehoming it. The relocation will come with a price.

Despite a complete makeover in 2004 and regular coats of wax, recent hurricanes and the realities of being near the ocean will require over $10,000 worth of work according to building owner Louie Louizes.

Jantzen was formed in 1910 by co-owners John A. Zehntbauer and Carl C. Jantzen and was known as the Portland Knitting Co. By 1913 they were crafting bathing suits for the Portland Rowing Club and in 1918 the company name was changed to Jantzen Knitting Mills.

With business expanding in the 1920s a national marketing gimmick was needed. In stepped artists Frank and Florenz Clark who became inspired by Olympic tryouts for the 1920 women’s dive team. The red clad diving girl was born!

Throughout the years the image has evolved and in 1959 six of the fiberglass sculptures were created by a Los Angeles mannequin company, of which four are known to still be in existence. I am assuming two are in possession of Jantzen after having been in other, now closed, locations. A third is used for promotional displays in various stores selling Jantzen products. The Daytona Beach Jantzen girl, the last to be on display in a regular home, is currently in Washington state where the statue is receiving a complete restoration while plans for its future are decided.

Will that future include Daytona Beach? Maybe. Jantzen is currently weighing its options but is closely following the groundswell of support that Daytona Beach residents and visitors are showing. Support such as that shown at a new Facebook page “Bring Back the Jantzen Girl” can do nothing but help. And if by chance the statue goes elsewhere a page like this is a great historical record. If you have photos or memories of the Jantzen Girl please feel free to share them here in the comments section.

Perry Ellis International is the owner of Jantzen, having acquired the company in 2001.

 

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A Rant About Social Media

Recently I have noticed what I feel is a strange social media phenomenon on Twitter and Instagram. Why do people follow you only to wait for you to follow them back then unfollow you just days later? It seems like such a waste of time.

An example: my wife and I have three dogs and I had followed a Labrador retriever page on Instagram. When I post the occasional photo of one of my dogs I will use the hashtag Labradorretriever or labsofinstagram or something that many others do. All of a sudden I received probably five or six requests to follow from assorted lab pages. I approved them and followed them back, I love lab photos. So lo and behold within a few days they had almost all dropped me, I believe only two are still with me. Sure, I don’t overrun my pages with photos of my dogs so maybe I wasn’t of interest to them. Photos of my dogs are really only of interest to me but I enjoy sharing at times. I have the word historian in my profile, did you think there would be hundreds of dog photos?

Now my Twitter and Instagram accounts do not have large numbers of followers (yet, I suppose I should add) nor do I follow large numbers of people and organizations so I can tell when I get unfollowed. I have started tracking those who have recently followed me and it is almost always one of them who has unfollowed me. If I followed them back I will promise you I respond in kind with a quick unfollow.

Now there are times of course I have not followed back and maybe they got their feelings hurt. Maybe they didn’t like a post: I will post pro Civil Rights pieces on Twitter but then follow it up with a complaint against monument removal. If your skin is that thin I recommend leaving social media and crawling in a hole. For me the issue is, don’t try to run up your numbers and not reciprocate.

And as an FYI, my point is only being made about non famous/prominent individuals. I didn’t expect Stephen King to follow me back when I followed him on Twitter nor do I anticipate whoever runs the Mount Vernon pages to like mine when I follow them. If I follow I don’t really expect a follow back. It’s nice but not expected.

All that said, if you wish to follow me on social media, find the icons on this page and give them a click then like or follow!

8,000 Papers from Benjamin Franklin Now Available Digitally

The Library of Congress has made available its collection of Benjamin Franklin papers online. While transcribed versions have been available you can now see what the originals look like. While only a small portion of the available papers of Franklin, this is an important step in preserving and sharing the history of one of our countries great founding fathers. The majority of Franklins surviving papers are held by the American Philosophical Society and there are several other archives with significant holdings.

See an article discussing the papers here.

Visit the Library of Congress site to view the Franklin papers here.

You may learn more about the effort to publish Franklin’s papers by visiting the Yale University website here.

The Tatler of Society in Florida is Now Available Digitally

Courtesy of the Spring 2018 issue of the St. Augustine Historical Society newsletter. I used several articles from the Tatler in my book ST. AUGUSTINE & THE CIVIL WAR (Civil War Series) finding interesting tidbits on former Civil War Generals and when they were in town and what they were up to. It was not digital with an index at the time so I know I didn’t get the full use out of this fascinating reference.  Now if they can just get this source available online.

Hidden Treasures: The Tatler  Written by Bob Nawrocki

The arrival of Henry M. Flagler and the opening of his hotels brought wealthy winter tourists to St. Augustine by the train load. Before email, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media, the wealthy visitors used print publications to find out what their peers were doing.

Anna Marcotte, who previously worked on the St. Augustine News, started The Tatler of Society in Florida to document the comings and goings of wealthy visitors to St. Augustine; The Tatler was only published during the winter season. The Tatler offered a listing of who came into town, where they were staying, menus of specials events, descriptions of dresses and gowns worn to dances and ads for hotels and souvenirs.

The Research Library has the only complete collection of The Tatler in the United States. It is an invaluable resource for a researcher looking into the Gilded Age in St. Augustine. Until recently, the only way to find information in The Tatler was to read each issue until you found the information you needed. This took time and caused wear and tear to our only copies of The Tatler.

Thanks to the hard work of Marty Cawley, a Research Library volunteer, The Tatler is fully indexed. Ms. Cawley went through each issue and indexed the articles and photographs in each issue. The information was entered into Emily, our online catalog, and is available to anyone with access to the Internet. To access our catalog, visit oldesthouse.org and click on the Research Library button.

To protect our set of The Tatler, the entire run has been scanned and converted into a set of PDFs. To scan our bound set, it was necessary to use an oversize scanner. Matt Armstrong, Collections Coordinator of the University of Florida Historic St. Augustine Library at the Governor’s House, offered use of their library’s oversize scanner for this project. Chad Germany, Assistant Librarian, scanned the collection and organized the PDFs. The PDFs are only available in the reading room of the Research Library. The fragile original copies of The Tatler will be placed in secure storage where they will be in temperature and humidity controlled space, preserving them for the future.

Upcoming Appearance in Lake County

Lake County Courthouse
Lake County Courthouse in Tavares, FL

I have just today confirmed an appearance with the Lake County Historical Society at their Artists and Authors event taking place on Saturday, April 28, 2018 from 10-2p. I will have copies of all three of my books available for purchase. This should be a fun event. LCHS has some great volunteers and they usually attract a strong crowd. I missed their recent Museum by Moonlight event but heard it was a fantastic time.

 

The Lake County Historical Society operates the museum in the Lake County Courthouse located on the ground floor at 317 W. Main Street in downtown Tavares.  My dear friend Bob Grenier serves as Curator and has done a tremendous job. If you haven’t visited you are missing out.

I hope to see you there!

Controversial New Release from Fonthill Media

Today brought news of what is sure to be a controversial new release from Fonthill Media and distributed by Arcadia Publishing and author Phillip Thomas Tucker. The book is titled Blacks in Gray Uniforms: A New Look at the South’s Most Forgotten Combat Troops 1861-1865. Needless to say the title will no doubt come under some scrutiny as will the subject matter.

This is a subject that has hot feelings on both sides and some, including Kevin Levin, have almost made a career of arguing against the notion of black Confederate soldiers. In fact, he has a soon to be released book on the subject, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth.

Author Phillip Thomas Tucker has written widely on several historical themes including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Alamo, Custer’s Last Stand, and others, often with poor to mixed reviews, especially from authoritative sources.

As for whether there were black soldiers in the Confederate army you will have to make your own decision. The evidence, including findings I made working on my book ST. AUGUSTINE & THE CIVIL WAR (Civil War Series), shows there were black soldiers in the Confederate army. My small number of finds however were musicians and non combat soldiers. North Carolina historian Michael Hardy however has found record of several black Confederates who fought. These trace amounts do not lead to the claims many have put forth of large numbers of blacks fighting for the Confederacy but they should make us step back from the statement that there were NO black troops in the Confederate service.

While Arcadia is often very generous in supplying me with review copies I did not receive a copy of this title. Personally, while skeptical, I will withhold judgement until seeing the book and reviewing the notes and bibliography which I hope are included. Often times, with the space limitations imposed by Fonthill Media these are left out. For a title like this that would be a critical error in my view.

Press Release–New Ulysses S. Grant Biography

I received the following information from Westholme Publishing concerning a new release of theirs, scheduled for May 2018; The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant: Preserving the Civil War’s Legacy written by Paul Kahan.

A short, focused history of the politics of Reconstruction in a changing America:
On December 5, 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant transmitted his eighth and final message to Congress. In reviewing his tenure as president, Grant proclaimed, “Mistakes have been made,” though he assured Congress, his administration’s “failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent.” Until recently, scholars have portrayed Grant as among the country’s worst chief executives. Though the scholarly consensus about Grant’s presidency is changing, the general public knows little, if anything, about his two terms, other than their outsized reputation for corruption. While scandals are undoubtedly part of the story, there is more to Grant’s presidency: Grant faced the Panic of 1873, the severest economic depression in U.S. history, defeated the powerful Senator Charles Sumner on the annexation of Cuba, and deftly avoided war with Spain while laying the groundwork for the “special relationship” between Great Britain and the United States. Grant’s efforts to ensure justice for African-Americans and American Indians, however, were undercut by his own decisions and by the contradictory demands of the various constituencies that made up the Republican Party.

In The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant: Preserving the Civil War’s Legacy, historian Paul Kahan focuses on the unique political, economic, and cultural forces unleashed by the Civil War and how Grant addressed these issues during his tumultuous two terms as chief executive. A timely reassessment, The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant sheds new light on the business of politics in the decade after the Civil War and portrays an energetic and even progressive executive whose legacy has been overshadowed by both his wartime service and his administration’s many scandals.

Library Additions–February 2018 (2)

Thank you to Arcadia Publishing for sending along review copies of the following books. Both look like they will be very good. They both follow the standard Arcadia format; image heavy and less than 200 pages in length total. Both books contain end notes and index. Blount’s contains a bibliography while the longer book by Hardy did not have space but his notes are always thorough.

First up is Kirk’s Civil War Raids Along the Blue Ridge (Civil War Series) written by the prolific and award-winning North Carolina Civil War author, and friend of mine, Michael C. Hardy.

In the Southern Appalachian Mountains, no character was more loved or despised than Union officer George W. Kirk. He led a group of deserters on numerous raids between Tennessee and North Carolina in 1863. At Camp Vance in Morganton, Kirk’s mounted raiders showcased guerrilla warfare penetrating deep within Confederate territory. As Home Guards struggled to keep Western North Carolina communities safe, Kirk’s men brought fear throughout the region for their ability to strike and create havoc without warning.

Author Russell W. Blount gives us Wilson’s Raid: The Final Blow to the Confederacy (Civil War Series). In the closing months of the Civil War, General James Wilson led a Union cavalry raid through Alabama and parts of Georgia. Wilson, the young, brash “boy general” of the Union, matched wits against Nathan Bedford Forrest, the South’s legendary “wizard of the saddle.” Wilson’s Raiders swept through cities like Selma, Tuscaloosa and Montgomery, destroying the last remaining industrial production centers of the Confederacy along with any hopes of its survival. Forrest and his desperately outnumbered cavalry had no option but to try to stop the Union’s advance. Join Russell Blount as he examines the eyewitness accounts and diaries chronicling this defining moment in America’s bloodiest war.

Library Additions–February 2018 (1)

Thank you to my good friends at Arcadia Publishing for sending along copies of a couple of their new Civil War releases.

New Bern and the Civil War (Civil War Series) written by James Edward White III.

On March 14, 1862, Federal forces under the command of General Ambrose Burnside overwhelmed Confederate forces in the Battle of New Bern, capturing the town and its important seaport. From that time on, Confederates planned to retake the city. D.H. Hill and James J. Pettigrew made the first attempt but failed miserably. General George Pickett tried in February 1864. He nearly succeeded but called the attack off on the edge of victory. The Confederates made another charge in May led by General Robert Hoke. They had the city surrounded with superior forces when Lee called Hoke back to Richmond and ended the expedition. Author Jim White details the chaotic history of New Bern in the Civil War.

Wade Hampton’s Iron Scouts: Confederate Special Forces (Civil War Series) written by D. Michael Thomas.

Serving from late 1862 to the war’s end, Wade Hampton’s Scouts were a key component of the comprehensive intelligence network designed by Generals Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart and Wade Hampton. The Scouts were stationed behind enemy lines on a permanent basis and provided critical military intelligence to their generals. They became proficient in “unconventional” warfare and emerged unscathed in so many close-combat actions that their foes grudgingly dubbed them Hampton’s “Iron Scouts.” Author D. Michael Thomas presents the previously untold story of the Iron Scouts for the first time.