The next few days might be a let down for readers, but a bonus for me. Why, you ask? Because apart from Sunday, if you’re lucky, one blog will cover both versions! Tonight, because of the event, and next week, because of the holiday. But for now…
113 years ago today, in a small part of Pottawatomie county, Oklahoma Territory (as it was then, only became a state in 1907), a baby girl was born, to, I assume, a Mr and Mrs Johnson. They seemingly named her Clara Elaine, and the rest, in terms of Hollywood Chorus girl duties, and the like, are history.
Maybe one day, I’ll do more of a dig on Ancestry.com, and discover what her parents names were, and if there were any more brothers and sisters, as well as her. The only tentative suggestion (apart from the lack of birth control back then) that there was more than 1 child, was one of her actual film credits, when there was also a Peter Johnson listed in the cast. Of course, that might simply be a name coincidence, though her 1930 Los Angeles census record did mention 1 brother, so I am inclined to suspect it was probably him.
All I know of the early history is that she moved to LA from Texas in 1925, but when the move there, from Oklahoma, no idea. I need a long enough period of time to really work on Ancestry.com to dig into that sort of matter, and also I need the funds to buy a subscription for a few months at least, that I can get to really use to dig for info. So probably wont happen until I’ve finished working, whenever that is, but then… Even then, I suspect I’m only going to have the 1910, and 1920 census details, so unlikely to find exactly when the Texas moved happened is still going to be vague.
The other thing that needs a major digging through, is a list of marriages in the LA area in the late 30’s (most likely, as her work career seems to stop around 37/38), or perhaps the beginning of the 40’s, because for now, thats where my trail goes cold, with the lack of her married name. Given that her daughter she mentioned would now be in her 70’s, if still alive, it might be fascinating to follow the family tree from there. Probably grand children, and great grand children by now! I wonder if any know, or wonder what Grandma/Great Grandma did?
As I say, if I survive to retirement, and I’m mobile enough to still do it, I suspect it might be my post retirement challenge to try and find out more. I guess that nowadays, I could do a lot from the comfort of a computer at home, anyway?
I must admit, one thing I’d love to do, just once, especially at my age, is do the whole chorus girl thing. My dancing wouldnt be great, I’d probably look less than graceful in one of those flimsy outfits, but my attitude is, just once, I dont care, I want to do the whole Clara Johnson thing! I have 2 lovely friends who are trying to work on making that happen, so who knows, but I hope so?
Anyway, given this was the first year I actually have known her birthday, before the big day, I wasnt going to miss this chance. Its funny to think though, she had all the glamour of working in Hollywood, without any of the fame!
So, happy heavenly birthday, Clara Elaine Johnson, and hopefully, maybe one day, we can get to actually meet, though not in this world.
OK, video time. I have seen her dancing in numerous musicals of the late 20’s, and through the 30’s, including many of the famous ones. For all that, back then, unless they went on to make it, chorus dancers didnt normally get credits. One that Clara did, was a film named Strike Me Pink, though seemingly she was working under her middle name at the time, probably because Clara was a little ‘old fashioned’ name by 1936? Its also the best sighting of her, because she fills the screen between 4:13, and 4:17 in this clip
So fine, lets go from the sublime to the ridiculous! Last posting, I was suggesting going full flapper for an evening, probably showing some leg, and even in all likelihood, some knees too. Fine at 20, but at 60, should a lady be more modest in her style? Which leads on to this…
In truth, I couldnt afford to buy clothes at Marks And Spencer, way beyond my budget, and in truth, was even before I had to cut back to a 4 day week! So no, until I saw this article today, I didnt even know they had what they call a ‘Modest Clothing’ section nowadays. Would be great for me, if I could afford any of it, but seemingly, for others, the title seems to be an issue.
Maybe I’m too easy going, and open minded, but I dont see the issue with it, and to say that means that everything else is immodest is just plain crazy. But fine, there are some crazies about, so…? Personally, in the middle of British winter, I appreciate clothing that covers my wrists, and ankles, it helps to keep me warm! I cant vaguely imagine in this country (other than in certain religious groups, maybe?) that people who want to wear respectable, but not figure hiding clothing shouldnt be free to do so, they should be! And lets face it there is a whole difference between dressing like that, and not dressing modestly, in my opinion at least.
I know, maybe in ‘everyday’ mode, I am fairly modest in my clothing looks. Probably comes from my nature, and more so, my age, and also the desire to look neat, and pretty (well, as much as I can!) in what I wear. Oh lets make no bones about it darlings, in my time, I’ve worn short skirts, I’ve worn leather numerous times, and even latex on occasion. Thats all before you start on what I’ve worn when acting, and some of those outfits were definitely weird! No, not saying, not without a huge bribe lol!
Lets be fair, this line isnt aimed at youngsters, and twenty somethings, is it? Lets be honest, Marks and Spencers works to a more mature, generally reasonably wealthy market, and they are probably more modest in look!
So no, sorry, most of their target market wont see it as regressive and wrong, lets face it. And no, modest ladies, please dont take this as an opportunity to say that Ann Summers (and the like) clothing makes women look tarty, because then we’re just as bad as the people complaining about this. Each to their own, I say.
Me, generally I verge on modest, but I do have my moments, boop, boop a doo! Short flapper dress, anyone, for me to wear? 😉 Think I’ll pass on latex clothing nowadays lol!
OK, a video treat tonight, in more senses than one. Who used to wear less than modest clothing in Hollywood? Why the chorus line dancers, of course! And who was one of those, why, Clara Elaine Johnson. Tonight’s piece is actually from Strike Me Pink, one of her 2 credited films, this one as a Goldwyn Girl. Oh, and the girl, with Cantor, at 4:13 on this video, well…? 😉 Yes, Clara is definitely less than modestly dressed lol!
So, lets get to the last 4 months of the year now, when a few things might have happened!
To do it in strictly in chronological order, the first new experience in September, was being wheeled through an airport in a wheelchair! In truth, I possibly could have survived the security experience at Manchester Airport (especially as I would have got Fast Track routing as a premium economy customer), but there was absolutely no way I was ever going to stand in the Immigration queue at Boston, I went with the ‘full in’ option. So fine, at Manchester it didnt quite work as planned (twice, but more on that later), as I got wheeled through security, and to the gate, but no one ever appeared to take me to the gate! So in the end, I managed to get myself down, and aboard the plane, but ironically that meant I was last on, not first! Boston end, it worked perfectly, and I can safely say I have never got through Immigration so quickly in my life, even if you allow for the time I waited on the plane before I got off!
The first few days on Cape Cod was a delight (Saturday night in Boston, went down there on Sunday) with Kate, just relaxing, and giving my back a wonderful break. Then, on the Thursday, we both headed back to Boston, Kate to head off somewhere with her partner, and me to head to Mahopac, NY, via Stamford (c/o Amtrak) to go to a friend’s wedding. Initially I’d assumed I would be going as a guest, then told I was a bridesmaid, only to find out I was Maid of Honor! Thankfully for all the others there, I didnt catch the wedding bouquet lol! It was an amazing experience, thanks go to Stacie, and Eric for the honor of doing that for me. Also thankfully, I was relaxed enough over those last few days that I managed to lay off the painkillers for just long enough to be able to drink at the wedding reception. Fine, I made up for it that night, but anyway…
Flying back afterwards was entertaining. Firstly, for some reason best known to themselves, the airline staff at JFK started boarding people, before boarding me in a wheelchair. It seemed they realized pretty quickly, and sent me through, but it was an interesting journey through all these people who had no interest in giving way to a passenger in a wheelchair!
On arrival at Manchester, chaos ensued. As had shown at JFK, I was the only person who had booked a wheelchair. Therefore, on arrival at Manchester, one wheelchair arrived, for me. Thing is, 5 people suddenly decided they needed a wheelchair, and one woman (who had the physical strength to push me out of the way!) decided she was taking it! Anyway, in the end, after a bit of a delay, a few more wheelchairs arrived, though only 1 extra pusher, and we eventually got through, but after quite a delay, obviously. Not helped by the fact that one person clearly didnt have the right paperwork (not sure if she was from my plane, or a holdback from a previous flight?). In the end, I sort of got up, collected my case, and struggled through on foot (someone pushed my case, thank goodness) to where I was being met! I only hope Manchester Airport does better next May, we will see!
After that, its fair to say that the year settled into LGBT mode at work. A presentation to just over 100 people on working as a Transgender person in my Civil Service Department, and gaining a position on a committee dealing with LGBT issues within said Department are 2 of the delights that followed. Oh, and on top of that performance, was of course, the performance as an Elf very recently!
Lastly, on Christmas Day, on Facebook of all places, someone posted a picture in one of the groups, of a young lady, in Christmas mode, of an event that happened nearly 90 years ago (1929). Yes, an unknown lady, at a pre-Christmas event in Los Angeles, way back when. Except…she looked familiar to me. Comparison to a few pictures taken about 5 years later, and agreement from a couple of other people on the matter, that lady is no longer unknown, to a few of us at least. Yes, 99.9% certain its a certain Clara Johnson! Talk about dream Christmas present, especially as in total, there were 3 pictures! Oh fine, here’s one of them, of her, at 24!
And thats about it! Two more working days in 2017, Friday all day, and a half day on Saturday! Not expecting anything major to happen, but we will see?
The video, big clue in the title. A live version of the song, from 2012, which means no Kirsty MacColl, but the woman gives a decent, if clearly rather starstruck performance
Tomorrow, a look forward to 2018, and what might, or will happen
Now, normally when you do a review of the year, and you’re splitting it in two, you’d do two spells of 6 months, right? But when I looked back on my year, it took me about 30 seconds (if that long) to work out that apart from one event in May, not much happened for the first 8 months, then a hell of a lot happened in the last 4! So to avoid a 500 word blog tonight, and a 3000 word one tomorrow, I’m doing this on an 8/4 basis this year.
In truth, the highlights of the first 2 months were getting the news I’d passed probation period at work, and getting my first passport in my new name, and gender. I know, I’d lived about 7 years as a woman before then, but all the same, that was a special moment when it was made official. Oh, and around the same time, my first moments of DWP fame, in a transgender sense, with an interview from work, about life as a Transgender woman in the Department. Which of course led to something that will be mentioned in Part 2, but for now…
No, diplomacy means I’m not mentioning a certain event that happened in the US, in January, but you all know what I think of him, and his actions, so lets leave it there.
Of course, my first flight as a woman, was in May, going back to Hollywood, or more strictly, Los Angeles. Lets just say the whole apartment thing this time around wasnt the success of the previous trip, both in the sense of initially booking an apartment, and then the landlord deciding he wanted to decline the booking, because he hadnt put in his price rise for the New Year. Fine, I thought, until he told me it was done, and suddenly the price had risen by over 20%, nearly 25% in fact! So I started again, thought I’d found somewhere decent as a replacement, but it didnt live up to all its claims. Dont get me wrong, it was nice enough, just didnt have all the facilities it claimed it had.
The funniest moment was a delightful Thai takeaway I had found 18 months earlier, and the lady still remembered me the moment I walked in, despite that. Its sad to think that by the next time I visit, she will almost certainly be gone, as it will be a few years before I get there again (unless I get a role offer), and I doubt she was that young this year, so…but she was amazing!
The other big highlights that will stick with me, would be 2 Louise Brooks silent films, viewed at the historic Egyptian Theater, a guided Hollywood walk given by a wonderful lady that I like to see as a friend, a ‘better than I would buy’ seat at a Dodgers game, thanks to another friend, with the added bonus of it being a game that Kershaw pitched at! Lastly, there was a wonderful Harlow display at the Hollywood Museum, which was a delight to see. Oh, and thanks to the Metro, getting to Santa Monica far easier than ever before!
In truth, I have no idea when I’ll be back, unless I get an offer, which I would have to say is pretty unlikely. But never say never… Certainly, due to something that will be mentioned shortly, walking up the hill to where Harlow rests at Forest Lawn would probably be beyond me now, but anyway…
In July, 2 things happened, one good, one bad. The good one was, that knowing that Clara Johnson’s middle initial was E, and finding a few images of a chorus line dancer/Goldwyn Girl, and putting two and two together, when you find a dancing match, named Elaine Johnson, who has a career that seems to tie in to Clara’s, well I jumped on the issue, and joy, actually found 3 pictures of her from a credited movie promotion shoot. Of course I cant be 100% sure its one and the same, but enough coincidences for me to say it is. In fact, as you’ll find out tomorrow, this isnt the end of that story! Yes, a few new pictures, wow! I’d still love to find her married name, so I’d have a chance of paying my respects if, and when I get back to LA.
The bad thing, my back, after giving me support for about 59 years, decided it had had enough, and snapped. Quite literally, though not in too severe a way, fingers crossed. Yes, osteoporosis had taken its toll on me! Painkillers, and other meds (been tweaked a couple of times) keep it bearable, but yes, its fair to say old age is beginning to catch up with me. It eventually led to me cutting back to 4 days a week at work, with which I can just about get by financially, but holidays will need to be cut back on now, for sure.
August marked 1 year in the new job, and in truth, apart from a dream acting offer, I cant see me leaving before I get to retire in just over 6 years time. Yes, I really am that old lol! The rest of the year, and a few landmarks, tomorrow!
Right, the video. One of the few modern groups I have much time for, are The Killers. I now love them even more now I know that each Christmas, they record a song, and give all royalties to charity! This is the 2013 song, which is apt given where I was in May, and even more so when you see something I post tomorrow!
Well, here we go, now into the final week of build up to the big day, and in truth, if you believed the TV, and especially the adverts, its all about presents, and not the more significant event on December 25! I know, its a big time for the retail industry, and all that, both in shops, and online, but seriously, it almost feels like some significant event has been forgotten from what I can see!
You know the joke about all the sales running into each other? Well, a site I’m unlikely to ever buy goods from (due to the hassle of importing, and postage costs from the US) have been running various 20-25% off offers ever since the beginning of the summer, if not before! Yes, considering the NFL is meant to be a multi billion dollar industry, they seem to wish to inform you of these sales by email, about 3 times a day, minimum! Mind, at the grossly over inflated prices they sell stuff for, even with 25% off, they are probably pretty pricey, even if you live in the US! Bah, humbug, lol! 😛
Not that any of the other major sports dont also rip you off on the costs of items, but they seem to be the one who push it the most into my email box.
What would I like for Christmas? Being honest, beyond the one thing I know is coming, which is a pair of winter boots, who knows? Not sure I do, in all honesty, so grateful I didnt have to come up with a long list of ideas for people, in truth. I could come up with a whole load of unpractical ideas, like a new back, or a flying spacecraft, so that I dont have to pay air fares to the US, or even a full new body, a la young Clara (Elaine) Johnson, but none of those are likely to happen, lets face it. Neither do I seriously expect to be offered a movie, theater, or TV role of any note, under the circumstances, but thats still more likely than the 3 previous suggestions!
Talking of Clara, I’ve just noticed that a color picture I’ve found of her is actually available on a poster, reduced at the moment, at what I thought was a reasonable price, and then yeah, add on a third again, minimum, to get it to me! Still, if anyone wants to spoil me, ha ha…?
Not that I know what I’d do with it, but anyway… I will have to see if that movie is available on Amazon at some point, at a sane price! Not sure when I’d watch it, but…
Well, tomorrow is Elf working day, which will be fun for sure, though the outfit is above the knee, so even with tights, at my age… hmm? No, only wearing it at work, not for travel, definitely not in weather at present! Yes, Secret Santa day, when you dont know what you’re getting, and technically, who you’re getting it from! I’m sure there will be pictures, and if I get some, I will post them for your, err, delight.
Still, funny to think, this time next week, all the fuss will be done with, for another year!
OK, video time. In truth, I’d assumed I’d used this here, but cant find it, so the Christmas choice for tonight is a song made famous by Steeleye Span, though this is the far more recent Erasure version. In truth, despite the element of modern synthesizer, it probably has a similar sound to medieval times!
Yes, I know, its been a while, so, what would you like me to tell you about? Being wired up so I rode in a Davros type wheelchair, rather than being pushed in a standard one? That nice mad scientist I met who transformed me into my past life self, Clara Johnson, at the age of 25, with all her dancing skills (and seemingly she had plenty), so I’ve been dancing the nights away at delightful flapper style parties, darlings? Or the journey on that flying saucer that whisked me across the Atlantic, in about an hour, maybe? Flight diverted to Hollywood, so I could sign up for a big acting role? Or would you prefer the dull, actual, truthful version of events lol?
Oh, by the way, if anyone wants to set me up for any of those first 4 events mentioned, I’d love it! I know, I know, in my dreams, nothing more…but… 😉
OK, lets catch up on reality, before I get the full makeover, as mentioned above! Ooh, that would be fun, mind!
Saturday saw my first ride in a wheelchair for 50 years. I suspect it wont be the last holiday I need one at an airport, but we will see… It started off smoothly enough, as I got wheeled through security, and me, and my luggage checked over, without me actually ever leaving the chair. Then, after a slight delay on the flight (plane had to stop inbound, due to a medical issue, so was nearly an hour late leaving), I was wheeled down to the gate, and told someone would be back to take me down to the plane to board. Yes, fine, never happened, so eventually the Rep asked if the 2 of us were able to get to the plane under our own steam, so I went for it. Unfortunately, having taken the brace off, thinking I wouldnt need it again (its neoprene, and warm to wear for very long periods), I struggled the way with my hand luggage, and pulled it off. But yes, instead of having plenty of time to stow my bag, I was pretty much the last one on, but as I had a double seat to myself, I was able to get my bag stowed away anyway.
Arrival at Boston was good, and efficiently done. The two of us might have been the last ones off, but we were probably 2 of the Brits through first, all the same. Given I have a black, expanding suitcase, just like dozens of others, I need to get some pink, or rainbow tagging around the handle, so I can recognize it easier, even more so when you arent close to the conveyor belt, being in a wheelchair, and all that!
The rest of the day, just fine. After arrival at hotel (Kate had already booked us both in), we ended up calling out for food, chatting a lot, just having a good time.
Sunday afternoon, we came down to this glorious place we’ve rented on Cape Cod. Well, Kate did all the hard work booking it, I just paid a share of the costs really. Yes, its gorgeous! I’m sat in the living area, with a stunning view of the sea, typing this now. We ended up having pizza, watching NFL, just having fun.
Monday, being 2 ladies of reasonable leisure for the week, and given that neither of us are in the perkiest of health, we had a quiet day. Finished off for me at least, by getting my annual chance to swoon over Jon Gruden on Monday Night Football!
This morning, I had a couple of cups of coffee, sat outside, complete with a couple of muffins for breakfast, and just enjoyed the sun. Havent seen a lot of it in the UK this summer, so a real delight. Since then, just relaxed, and given my body the break it really needs. We’re here, somewhere near Mashpee, on Cape Cod, until Thursday morning, and I’m loving every minute of it. Might get another ride in a wheelchair at the 2 stations on Thursday, will have to wait and see. Or the next one, may be at JFK on Monday evening!
Yes, Thursday, I need to start getting into bridesmaid mode, but more on that later in the week. Thats when I could really do with that 25 year old, Clara Johnson makeover lol, especially if I’m expected to dance at the reception afterwards, as I currently have 2 left feet, in that sense. Where’s a good mad scientist when you need one, lol?
Right, video time. Yes, the blog title is a slightly tweaked version of that
Those who have been around a while, will know of the past life regression I did a few years back, and discovered I was a 20’s/30’s movie actress, though far, far less famous than Miss Harlow. Yes, that very modest actress, and dancer Clara E Johnson. Yes, for once I’m including that middle initial, because it may well hold a lot of significance.
No, I didnt find out that middle initial, or a few other details at the time of regression, but thankfully a chance to look at the census details for LA in 1930, managed to give me more than a few clues. So after that, I knew she was born in 1905, in Oklahoma, and came to LA in 1925, via Texas. Whether any more of her family travelled with her, no idea.
There are a couple of things that I didnt discover, one was her married name, so I have never been able to trace her last resting place. Nor have I managed to find out what the E stood for. Except, that maybe now…?
One of the Facebook groups included a number of women, who were part of the Goldwyn Girls dance troupe back then, and someone mentioned a list of the full troupe, who served over the years it existed. No, I didnt find a Clara Johnson there, before you ask. But what I did find, was an Elaine Johnson! Yes, that E! And guess what, typing that name into Google, bought up 4 pictures of the said Elaine Johnson. Oh fine, here’s a couple,
Cute, isnt she?
Fine, now the disclaimer, I have no literal evidence that this is my Miss Johnson, as it is possible there was another Johnson, with an E in her name, as a dancer, at the right time in history, but…for me, its a good enough match, thats my girl!
Agreed, I still have that annoying challenge of finding out her married name, and trying to trace her last resting place, but at least I now know how she ‘made a decent living’ as she quoted me, and what she looked like. So yes, to say thats a special moment for me, is putting it very mildly! No, Clara Elaine Johnson, until I find your last resting place, that search isnt finally over, but thats a massive step en route for me!
Video time came down to 2 choices. An old time dance number that might have had her in it, or the song given a massive clue in the blog title, and yes, its the latter. I’m sure if anyone had said Marc Almond, and Gene Pitney would work as a duo in the late 80’s, they’d have looked at you strangely. But yes, it worked brilliantly