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Tag Archives: Denver

Unsinkable – the Molly Brown House Museum

Unsinkable post cardWith less than a month left before the 100th anniversary of the steamship Titanic’s maiden voyage, I was invited to participate in an event at the Molly Brown House Museum in Denver. “Women of the Titanic” told their stories to those who toured the house museum, while I conversed with interested visitors in the gift shop, formerly the carriage house, behind the Browns’ House of Lions. It was a delightful evening. As usual, the folks at the Molly Brown House, with storytellers in period clothing, hosted a wonderful time. Fans of the Titanic and the Molly Brown story cannot get enough of it. New information and various versions surface, the more the story is told and shared with others.

Joyce at MB House

Joyce Lohse signed books at the Molly Brown House Museum in March during the 100th anniversary celebration of the Titanic.

For people in the Denver area who wish to learn more about Mrs. Brown and her role as a survivor in the Titanic disaster, a visit to the Molly Brown House is a rare treat. Exhibits regarding the doomed ship are on display while the museum focuses on the anniversary. Special events and activities will be offered throughout the year. To learn more, visit their web site at http://www.MollyBrown.org, and be sure to take a tour of the house at 1340 Pennsylvania Street in Denver, a couple of blocks from the Colorado state capitol. As with most Colorado history, the stories you learn there are fascinating and should not be missed.

Joyce B. Lohse
author of Unsinkable: The Molly Brown Story
published by Filter Press
http://www.LohseWorks.com

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What’s in a name, Molly Brown?

Lady MargaretOne of the most remarkable facts about Molly Brown is that her name was not Molly Brown. How did it come about that such an iconic western heroine became known by a name that was not her own?

On July 16, 1867, Margaret Tobin was born into a large Irish immigrant family in Hannibal, Missouri, near the banks of the Mississippi River. The 1870 U.S. Census lists her as Maggy Tobin, age 3, with her family. In Leadville, Colorado, James J. Brown and Margaret Tobin were joined in marriage on September 1, 1886. After that, our subject was known as Mrs. J. J. Brown, or Margaret Brown. She was referred to as Lady Margaret in the Denver newspaper during the aftermath of the Titanic Disaster. In notes she wrote to her housekeeper in Denver, she occasionally simply signed “Brown” in her bold, scrawling script. Although long separated from J. J. Brown, Margaret never strayed from the Brown name.

Modern media is attributed with the popularity of the Molly Brown story, and to the nickname which stuck to its main character. In 1960, a frothy musical called The Unsinkable Molly Brown was introduced to Broadway theater patrons. The success of the play was followed closely by a movie production of the same name, in which Debbie Reynolds portrayed a singing and dancing Molly Brown. The feature motion picture film took broad liberties with the reality of her story in addition to the name change. Broadway and Hollywood supposedly changed the name from Margaret to Molly to make it more melodic for singing and dancing in the musical. As a result of broad success and a vast audience, the name stuck and was adopted as factual by many fans.

In reality, the name, Molly, was used in reference to Margaret Brown much earlier. When she died in 1932, an obituary by Jack Carberry of the Rocky Mountain News referred to Margaret as Molly Tobin, then Molly Brown, in a glib account of her story of growing up as a tomboy by the Mississippi River. The name “Molly” was meant as a slam to Margaret’s background as a poor Irish girl in an article full of legends and liberties. One such myth was that Mark Twain pulled “Molly Brown” from certain death in the riverbank during a fishing trip. The two characters probably never met, certainly not in Hannibal where they lived at different times, especially after Margaret acquired the Brown name.

The difficulty continues once you become aware of the facts surrounding Margaret’s name. The name Molly Brown is so wide-spread and well-known that it is difficult to avoid, even when doing research. The trick is to figure out how to bite your tongue when you hear her referred to as “Molly Brown”, or to find a way to politely correct and educate the offender about the truth and the correct usage of the name without committing additional offense. Chances are Margaret might not mind. After all, she was fond of saying, “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me, as long as they say something.”

Joyce B. Lohse
Learn more about MARGARET BROWN from my book,
Unsinkable: The Molly Brown Story
http://www.LohseWorks.com or http://www.FilterPressBooks.com

 

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Regrouping in Winter

Blue Goose

The Blue Goose - a favorite neon sign cowboys would try to ride back in the Yellowstone glory days

January has always been a time for me to clean out my desk and my brain as I turn the calendar and make plans for a new year. How timely that the Denver Woman’s Press Club invited Cynthia Morris to coach a group of us through the process of focusing on plans and writing notes to hold ourselves accountable for ideas which will make 2012 Our Best Writing Year Ever. The regrouping, re-evaluating, and re-purposing continues as the calendar begins to fill, and I begin to feel the creative juices flowing once again. Watch for magazine articles, presentations, and inclusion in a history compilation coming up very soon.

In the meantime, the search for fun continues during my quest for ways to reach out and touch Western history. The Western National Stock Show provided a step back into cowboy and cowgirl culture and an up close visit with some of the most beautiful livestock around. It was the perfect time to duck into Denver’s Buckhorn Exchange, established in 1893, for a truly decadent meal and a cold beer. Our heads swiveled to take in all of the artifacts surrounding us from the days when Buffalo Bill elbowed his way to the bar, which, by the way, boasts the #1 liquor license in Colorado. Vegetarians be warned. Animal heads of all sorts cover the walls, gazing with glassy eyes upon diners enjoying carnivorous delicacies from the menu. The third element of historic fun in the dead of Colorado winter can be found at the annual Post Card Show at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. The search is on for new images for future projects and re-purposed old ones, specifically an e-book from my original self-published book, A Yellowstone Savage. As my mental batteries recharge, everything is reevaluated. Useless baggage be gone as I move forward unencumbered with a new outlook and a clean(er) desk.

Joyce B. Lohse, 1/20/12
http://www.LohseWorks.com

 

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Colorado History Presentation

A History Presentation by Author Joyce B. Lohse:
“Mining for the Real Baby Doe Tabor”

at Historic Tattered Cover LoDo Bookstore
1628 16th St. at Wynkoop in Denver
Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.

Baby Doe Cover

A legendary pioneer woman, Baby Doe Tabor, provided us with one of the greatest rags-to-riches-to-rags stories in America’s western history. Award-winning biographer Joyce B. Lohse has written her biography set in Colorado’s days of boom and bust. The story appeals to a general audience and history buffs who appreciate the history of the West’s mining past. Her PowerPoint presentation includes historic photos, research stories, and Lizzie’s Cookies!

Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen, ISBN 978-0-86541-107-4, list price $9.95, is now available through your favorite bookseller, or from the publisher, www.FilterPressBooks.com . It is distributed for resale and libraries through BooksWest and Baker and Taylor.

See you there! — Joyce Lohse
http://www.LohseWorks.com

 
 

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She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain

Baby Doe Cover

Waiting for a book in production conjures up a combination of excitement and drama. After concentrating and struggling with many edits, it is hard watch the little bird fly from the nest as it wings its way off to the print shop. As the author, it is hard to let it go after a couple of years of concentrated effort, and it seems too soon to watch it fly away, out of reach and beyond further guidance and tender nurturing. It is, however, time to take a few breaths, ponder what is at hand, and switch gears and concentration to marketing mode. Fly little bird, fly.

For me, the transition was helped along when I was presented with a tough question by a fellow member of Women Writing the West. I am grateful to author Carolyn Niethammer in Arizona for her insightful and thought-provoking question, which made me collect my thoughts and express what I had accomplished and produced. I will share the exchange with you here.

Carolyn Niethammer wrote:
>
> Joyce, I’m curious about your new book.  Several other books have been written about Baby Doe.  What led you to do another one? What new information or new take on her do you have?  Any book of this type is an enormous undertaking and I’m sure you have good reasons to think you could do better — and I’m so curious what they were.

Hello Carolyn —

My take on Baby Doe and other characters is to go beyond myths and legends to reveal the truth and the “voice” of my characters. They are succinct reads that appeal to history buffs of all ages and tourists looking for a solidly researched historical perspective.

To find Elizabeth Tabor’s voice, I went places never before revealed. Visualize personal notes written among recipes in a favorite cookbook. I found those, along with home remedies. It was much like snooping through her cupboards and medicine cabinet. Good stuff!

If you are familiar with the work of Caroline Bancroft, my niche is a modern version of her format, except my nonfiction work is reality based. My combination of journalism and genealogy background for biography is somewhat unique. I seek primary sources for facts and I do not make up dialogue. This is the real deal, skillfully edited and crafted by Filter Press.

Good questions — thanks for asking — Joyce

P.S. Denverites: Come see me next Sunday, April 17, at the Englewood Public Library Author Showcase. With luck, Baby Doe will be with me!

I just heard that several copies are in the mail and will be in my hands for Sunday’s event. Then the fun begins!

Joyce Lohse, 4/13/11
LohseWorks.com

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2011 in Western history, Writing Life

 

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History in Your Home Town

True Denver

Allen True historic mural in Denver's Civic Center Pavilion with state capitol in background

Sometimes it is easy to become complacent and forget about the rich history in our own backyards. A walk on a sunny Saturday morning in Denver led us to Civic Center Park, where we stepped into the recently restored Greek Theater in the South Pavilion to enjoy a historic scene called “The Trapper”, a 1920 Allen True mural. Allen True was a local artist and illustrator who provided the city with public art, which we continue to enjoy in several locations, including the Colorado State Capitol and the Denver City and County Building. Beautiful architecture and serene artwork provided temporary shelter in the chilly early-fall morning for a couple of joggers, camera-toting pedestrians, and a man sleeping at the bottom of the stairs, a reminder of the edgy urban setting in contrast with the pastoral western wilderness image. After photographing the mural, we quietly moved on.

Joyce B. Lohse, 10/6/10
http://www.lohseworks.com

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2010 in Denver history, Western history

 

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Harvest Time

Chile Prep

A messy job

I love fall. When the morning air gets crispy, it is time to take a drive along Federal Blvd. in Denver, with the car windows open, to smell the aroma of roasting chiles. As if by magic, stands spring up along this busy city thoroughfare. A tent in a parking lot marks the spot where one can stop and buy produce from New Mexico. Before your eyes, Hatch chiles are thrown into a cylindrical cage, which is turned by a crank briskly over a propane fire to roast them to perfection, leaving them with blackened blistered skins.

The drive home is a little difficult. With the bushel of mild roasted chiles safely stashed in back of the vehicle in a tightly closed plastic bag, a beautifully distracting aroma wafts over us and overwhelms the senses. After the chiles rest and cool in the bag at home for a couple of hours, our work begins. Fortunately, my Hub and I are a formidable chile processing team. We spread the blistered beauties on the kitchen counter with cutting pads, bowls, and water. Handling them with care, the black blistered skin slides off, followed by a whack of the Sudoku knife to remove the top. When the messy process is completed, we pack our bounty in one pound sealed bags to store in the freezer for use during the winter.

Chile Prep 3

Beautiful results to enjoy all winter!

Although this subject is more foodie-oriented than history-oriented, one of my favorite ways to enjoy Western history is by connecting with agricultural produce and cooking items from the Rocky Mountain Region. You would be hard pressed to find anything finer than a chile rellenos casserole, or a bowl of Denver Green Chile in the stew pot, when the leaves turn gold and the temperature drops in Colorado.

Joyce B. Lohse, 9/10/10
http://www.lohseworks.com

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2010 in Denver history, Western Travel

 

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