KC Public Library Blog

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1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

Gone With the Wind

Gone With the Wind. The Wizard of Oz. Stagecoach. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Wuthering Heights. What these great films have in common is the year in which they hit America’s movie screens.

Local History

Carrie Westlake Whitney and Carl Busch: "A Christmas Greeting to Kansas City Children"

Carrie Westlake Whitney

In 1932 a poem titled “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” appeared in the newspaper, written by a local poet. The first stanza and the fourth read: Do you remember way back when / (Say, thirty, forty years) You never saw your sweetheart’s limbs / But judged her by her ears?

Death of a Legend

Arthur Bryant

December 28, 1982: Arthur Bryant, who established one of the most famous barbeque restaurants in the world, dies of a heart attack at the age of 80.

Program Notes: The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

The Life of Emile Zola movie poster

The Life of Emile Zola is anything but a conventional screen biography. This Oscar winner for best picture could more accurately have been entitled The Dreyfus Affair, for that notorious case of military injustice is the film’s centerpiece.

Local History

Dusting Off Kansas City’s Cowtown History

What’s the saying? One man’s trash is another’s treasure? Lucinda Adams recalls the day, five years ago, when she was led into a converted storage room in the old Kansas City Livestock Exchange building in the city’s West Bottoms.

Library Life

Remembering Joan Fontaine & Peter O'Toole

Joan Fontaine and Gary Cooper at the Academy Awards in 1942

Hollywood lost two of its great ones this weekend.
Joan Fontaine, a major star of the ‘30s and ‘40s, died at age 96, and Peter O’Toole, who will forever be identified with his performance in Lawrence of Arabia, died at age 81.

Striking a Chord

Foundry near Leeds, MO. Photo credit Tom Davidson, Jr.

December 16, 1936: One thousand members of the United Auto Workers conduct a sit-down strike at the Fisher Body plant in Kansas City, giving early momentum to what will become known as the General Motors Strike of 1936-1937.

Program Notes: The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936)

The Story of Louis Pasteur movie poster

The work of scientists generally doesn’t lend itself to dramatization. The Story of Louis Pasteur is less about one man than it is about the bad old days of head-in-the-sand medicine.

Book Reviews

The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell

The Maid’s Version

Best known for Winter’s Bone, Missouri author Daniel Woodrell’s new novel, The Maid’s Version, contains all the elements that make his writing truly unique, powerful, and intriguing.

A Bone to Pick! : Book Review of Bone by Jeff Smith

Get ready to go an epic adventure with the Bone cousins in Jeff Smith’s graphic novel series, Bone.

Bone is the magical adventure of 3 bone-looking cousins — Fone Bone, Smiley Bone, and Phoney Bone — and their new misadventures living in the Valley, after Phoney gets them ran out their hometown of Boneville. All hope seems lost for the Bones, until Fone Bone runs into Thorn, a generous and kind human teenager who lives with her Grandma Ben on a small farm. Thorn and Grandma Ben eventually take in the Bone cousins, even against the Valley people’s wishes. Weird things begin to happen in the Valley upon the Bones arrival and no one knows who to trust. Word is that the evil Lord of the Locusts is back and for some reason interested in the Bone cousins. No one knows why, not even the Bones!

Coming Up

John Tibbetts and Stargazing

John Tibbetts and Jim Carrey

Journalist/educator John C. Tibbetts used to spend his weekends hobnobbing with actors and filmmakers on Hollywood junkets. But Tibbetts did something extra on these trips — He created portraits of the famous folk he interviewed, which now make up the Library exhibit Stargazing.

Forgotten, But Not Gone

Nelle Nichols Peters, Architect. Photo credit Jackson County (Mo.) Historical Society Archives

December 11, 1884: Nelle Nichols Peters, whose architectural skills will leave their mark on nearly 1,000 Kansas City apartment buildings and residences, is born in Niagara, North Dakota.

Program Notes: I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang movie poster

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is the greatest of all the social problem pictures Hollywood produced during the Depression. It's one of the few feature films actually responsible for a major change in government policy.

Holiday Crafts: How to Make Gingerbread Man Christmas Ornaments

Gingerbread man ornaments

I made some of these adorable gingerbread man ornaments with the kids and for our Christmas book displays. Gingerbread man crafts are very fun to make and they made great gifts for the holiday season. Joanna (in the photos below) gave one to Nancy Stegeman (our Central youth services staff) and one to her brother and sister.

Program Notes: Scarface (1932)

Scarface movie poster

Throughout the 1930s and into the ‘40s Paul Muni was considered America’s premier dramatic actor. Scarface was his breakout role, highly theatrical and bigger than life. Audiences found it wildly entertaining.