Bonner had found Norman Jacobowitz among the names in Horace Grenell's world. He Googled the name and found my web page. He wrote to me to ask if I was related to Norman. I knew that Horace had been a partner with Norm in producing and pressing YPR records. We had many of them to take home. Grenell was a character. I remembered the phrase he used a lot, "One Swell Foop." He was charismatic and a charmer.
They later had a falling out. Norm was bitter that when Horace testified before HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) he 'took the Fifth' when asked to say whether Norm had been a member of the Communist Party, as Horace had been. Young People's Records was accused of being a Communist front, and it probably was. Bonner explained to me that it probably wasn't personal. If Grenell had said that Norm had not been a party member but had taken the Fifth on other names, that would have been damning for them. I didn't understand the dynamic until Bonner explained it; I just took Norm's interpretation.
The book release announcement is at Scarecrow Press.
Bonner offered me a copy, which I have started (Feb 2008). It is a well-written and detailed history of the recording industry, children's records, and vinyl. "Anyone with a press can produce a record." And they did.
I got a book about the Revolution in Children's Records. It is about Horace Grenell, a musician/teacher/entrepreneur who put together the first book-club style record clb for kids. They recorded folk music and other stuff that was not sweet Disney pablum. The progressive
movement hoped to treat kids as people and give them interesting music to engage with. Grenell taught at Sarah Lawrence in the 1940s and was a partner with your Grandpa Norman in the record pressing business until he bought out Abbey Records when Norm sold and bought Sound
Plastics and B&C Records on Long Island. David Bonner, the guy who wrote the book called me last year to ask if I was related to Norman Jacobowitz and if I remembered Horace. I did remember that he used the phrase "One Swell Foop." There was also this lingering bad taste. Norm
has been pissed at Horace because Horace did not take the 5th when he was asked by HUAC whether Norm had been a member of the Communist Party. He hadn't been, but Horace didn't confirm it. Bonner explained to me that had Horace answered for Norm but taken the 5th for everybody else, it would have been the 'kiss of death' for the others. I never appreciated that point
of view until recently.
I Googled Horace Grenell and found this at Hollins:
This bears investigation. Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight
It all connects at the Bank Street School, where Judith Sidorsky taught, influenced Horace, and later married him. There is this fascinating history of progressive education, social work, and
children's music. Bard is connected with the Bank Street School. I think there was a healthy exchange of faculty and students through the 50s and 60s.
Of course, Bard was Columbia's experiment in progressive college education. Before I was there, it was governed by a Community Council, made up of students, faculty, and administration. It didn't work to have the students with such a strong say. By my time, the Council no longer had any real power.