Jerry Lee Lewis: “A Three-Ring Circus Without Any Help”

“After three days without sleep, two days of drinking, and an all-night show in Vinton, Louisiana, Jerry Lee gets in the mood to cavort before the camera at 6 A.M. beside his private jet, which had just landed at the Memphis airport.” And the three photos of Jerry Lee Lewis, taken on the tarmac that morning by Raeanne Rubenstein, are as great as you’d hope they’d be.

Step Right Up, Folks! — When Circus Promoters and Show-Folk Shopped the Pages of “The Billboard”

Whether you trod the boards in the theatrical world or slogged through the sawdust on the carnival circuit, “The Billboard” was essential reading for keeping up with news and employment opportunities in the show-biz world. Almost everything you needed could be found in the magazine’s classified and advertising pages. Check out some of the more interesting ads found in issues from 1904 and 1905.

Criss-Cross Letters

If you received a letter that looked like this, would you expect 1) it was written by a person with psychiatric problems, 2) it was written by a penny-pincher who was trying to save paper, or 3) it was sent to you in order to cause grave emotional trauma? All of these are possible, but there is one correct answer — and many letters like this were written and painstakingly deciphered. More inside.

The Tree Wireless — 1919

Using living trees as antennas was an important element of inventor Maj.-Gen George O. Squier’s system of telephony, which was developed for use during WWI as a way to intercept enemy messages which had been electrically transmitted, as well as to receive and transmit messages from just anywhere with a living tree nearby. More about Squier’s odd-sounding “tree wireless” inside.