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Santa Claus’s Creator Was a New Jersey Resident

Published January 21, 2013 by Maryanne

Santa ClausSanta Claus drawing by Thomas Nast

Yes, Santa Claus — the modern, most popular version as we know him, fat and jolly — was created by artist Thomas Nast, a German born American lived in Morristown, New Jersey, moving there with his family in 1870. (Which is across the street from the Macculloch Hall Museum. I went there yesterday for the second time and it’s just amazing!)

In addition to drawing Santa Claus, Thomas Nast was also famous for his political cartoons which were featured in Harper’s Weekly.

One cartoon that I’m especially intrigued with is his portrayal of Victoria Woodhull, an American leader of the woman’s suffrage movement.

Free loveThomas Nast drawing of Victoria Woodhull

Woodhull was an advocate of “free love” (freedom to marry, divorce and bear children without interference from the government). She was also into spiritualism and vegetarianism.

She was the first woman to start a weekly newspaper; an activist for women’s rights and labor reforms. In 1872, she was the first female candidate for President of the United States.

Pretty mind-blowing for the 1800s, right? This woman is one of my heroes!

But all these great ideas were considered controversial for the time, therefore some considered her satanic, as depicted in the above drawing by Thomas Nast.

Here is more information on the Macculloch Hall Historic Museum in Morristown, New Jersey (and if you visit, you’ll see the home Thomas Nast lived in, right across the street, but it’s private property for a resident, not open to the public): http://www.maccullochhall.org/

Thomas Nast homeThomas Nast home (photo swiped from Google)

An “Intimate” Evening with Smokey Robinson

Published November 17, 2012 by Maryanne

Smokey Robinson (photo swiped from Google, saw no credit)

Last night my husband’s brother Anthony (and his girl Lisa) treated my husband Dennis and I and his other brother Joe (and his friend Eileen) to a most wonderful early Christmas present — going to see Smokey Robinson at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown.

The show was billed as “An Intimate Evening With Smokey Robinson.” Sexy, right? But Smokey took the intimacy of a live performance to a whole new level. He actually conversed with his fans throughout the entire show!

Smokey hit the stage, sang a song, then throughout the rest of the evening, he picked out names from a basket (from fans who wrote their names earlier in the evening). Whoever was called got to ask Smokey a question and then tell him what song to play!

I was so glad my favorites were picked: “Just to See Her,” “Ooh Baby Baby” and “Crusin’.”

Hearing “Ooh Baby Baby” followed by “Just to See Her” gave my goosebumps goosebumps! I mean, each and every part of my body was moved! And as an added bonus, I had my handsome husband, who I love so much, sitting next to me being very romantic with me as we held hands, touched each others faces and kissed. Yes, it was that kind of evening!

Dennis said, “Smokey is getting the ladies all sexed up!”

I said, “No one is going to have a headache tonite!”

The sound was smooth, a real class act. It was interesting hearing the questions that the fans asked, which provoked many fascinating stories about how Smokey got his name, his work with the Temptations, hanging out with Stevie Wonder (who Smokey felt should be named, “Stevie WONDERFUL.”) etc. Very interesting to someone like myself who didn’t know much about him. But I will now. And I will start buying his work. I need some Smokey in my CD collection.

I was surprised no one chosen asked for his autograph or even to shake his hand. It was an older, more laid back crowd I guess. But what impressed me most was when one fan, before she asked her question, said to Smokey, “It is an honor to meet you.”

And he said, “It is an honor to meet you too” with all sincerity.

My jaw dropped open. You rarely get such unselfishness in this day and age. What an amazing man this entertainer is! I felt so happy for the fan. That was just way too cool.

He also did a little tribute to Michael Jackson by singing a Jackson 5 song, “The Love You Save.”

No encores. It was over way too soon. But how cool is it that I can just You Tube his songs all day!

We love you Smokey!