Posts Tagged ‘ history ’

Historical Cities-Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas now available

Historical Cities-Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas is now available for the Amazon Kindle and will shortly be available in the iBookstore and Nook Store.  This installment in the Historical Cities series explores the  metropolitan area of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.  Over 175 historic  points of interest are presented, along with reference maps for the  centers of the cities and GPS coordinates for all listed sites.  Sources include the American Guides series and local historical societies.  Retail price is $2.99.

DFW Title



Forgotten Landmark-Ward Nicholson Corner Store, Greenville (AL)

Ward Nicholson Store Parmer Street and Harrison Street Greenville AL (Photo from Google Maps Streetview 2012)

Located along the most prestigious street within the Methodist Hill African-American residential neighborhood, this store, built in 1885, reflects a general pattern of locating African-American businesses in an area which afforded access to a large number of potential customers. The stabilization of this business establishment and its success during the early 20th century is indicative of the local racial patterns which created and shaped a separate social and economic environment for African-Americans.[i]

[i] Multiple Resources of Greenville, Alabama; National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form; Shirley Quails, Michael Bailey, and Tom Dolan; July 18th, 1986.

Forgotten Landmark-McKesson & Robbins Building, 182 Winchester Avenue, New Haven CT

McKesson & Robbins Building (182 Winchester Avenue)

Constructed in 1935, this building once belonged to the McKesson & Robbins Company, an organization at the center of a famous accounting fraud in 1938.

The mastermind of the McKesson & Robbins fraud was Philip Musica. Musica’s criminal career began early. By his 30th birthday, he had been convicted of fraud twice. The first conviction was for avoiding import tariffs by bribing customs officials to record incoming shipments at a fraction of their true weight. The second conviction was for using forged invoices to obtain large bank loans. In 1919, after adopting the name Frank D. Costa to conceal his criminal record, Musica founded the Adelphi Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company. Adelphi manufactured high alcohol-content products such as hair tonic and cosmetics. Adelphi’s best customers were bootleggers who bought huge quantities of the company’s products and distilled out the alcohol to make booze.

In 1925, using the assumed name of F. Donald Coster, M.D., Ph.D., Musica used his bootlegging profits to buy McKesson & Robbins, a ninety-year-old company that sold milk of magnesia, cough syrup, and quinine. During the next twelve years, Musica/Coster built a pharmaceutical distribution network that rivaled national chains such as Liggett, Rexall, and Walgreen.

To inflate McKesson & Robbins’ reported assets while skimming cash into his own pocket, Musica enlisted the help of his three younger brothers. One brother, using the alias George Vernard, was placed in charge of a fictitious sales agency—W.W. Smith & Co. The W.W. Smith office was actually a “letter-writing plant” containing seven typewriters, each with a distinct typeface and a unique supply of stationery. Musica/Vernard’s role was to write purchase orders bearing the names of fictitious companies and mail them to McKesson & Robbins.

Another Musica brother, using the alias Robert Dietrich, was placed in charge of McKesson & Robbins’ shipping department. This brother would forge shipping documents to make it appear that inventory had been delivered by McKesson & Robbins to legitimate customers. The fourth Musica brother, using the alias George Dietrich, was appointed McKesson & Robbins’ assistant treasurer. This brother would transfer money between numerous company bank accounts to create the appearance of cash payments for purchases and cash receipts from customers. For each sale, McKesson & Robbins paid W.W. Smith & Co. a commission of .75 percent. The four Musica brothers divided the Smith commissions among themselves with Philip, the oldest brother and mastermind, getting the largest share. The McKesson & Robbins fraud was not discovered until late 1938 when the company’s treasurer, Julian Thompson, became suspicious of the large payments McKesson & Robbins was making to W.W. Smith & Co. Thompson obtained copies of the Dunn & Bradstreet (D&B) credit reports that had been used to satisfy McKesson’s auditors of W.W. Smith’s viability. When he showed the credit reports to a D&B representative, he learned that D&B had never heard of W.W. Smith & Co. and that the credit reports in his possession were forgeries. On December 6th, 1938 the SEC opened an investigation into McKesson & Robbins’ accounting and the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading of the company’s shares. One week later, federal agents arrested Coster, fingerprinted him, and released him on bond. The next day, investigators discovered from his fingerprints that respected businessman F. Donald Coster M.D., Ph.D. was really twice-convicted fraudster Philip Musica. They ordered Musica/Coster taken into custody, but Musica put a gun to his head and took his own life.[i]

McKesson & Robbins Building, 182 Winchester Avenue, New Haven, CT
Photo courtesy of Google Street View, accessed 9/22/2012

[i] “The Greatest Frauds of the (Last) Century”; Paul M. Clikeman, Ph.D., CPA; Robins School of Business, University of Richmond; May 2003;

Forgotten Landmark-Sarasota Trailer Park, Sarasota (FL)

Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC 20540 1941












The Sarasota Trailer Park in January of 1941 was a vibrant place, having gained popularity in the 1930’s with members of the Tin Can Tourists (TCT); the trailer park hosted the group’s 1938 international convention. Even with the rest of the nation still struggling through the Great Depression, Sarasota was able to attract 3,000 tourists who were willing and able to spend money and stimulate the local economy. At the trailer park in 1941, the seasonal residents were enjoying their reprieve from the northern winters by participating in dances, parties, trailer park band concerts, organized bicycle rides, and various club meetings. There was even an amateur camera contest to produce a photograph for a national trailer travel magazine. The park boasted that it was the world’s largest.

The Sarasota Trailer Park was founded in the late 1920’s and was operated on city owned land that was donated by Calvin Payne. Through the years, the land was not only occupied by the Sarasota Trailer Park, but was also home to public park space, the Sarasota County Fair, spring training for the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, and various government buildings. In the 1980’s, controversy arose about the misuse of the land, which was deeded with the restriction that it be used for public park space. It was returned to its original purpose and reopened as a public park in 2007.[i]

[i] “Government Photography Program at the Sarasota Trailer Park”; Jarred R. Wilson; Sarasota Alive!;


Updated American Auto Trail-Wyoming’s U.S. Highway 30

This edition of the American Auto Trails series explores U.S. Highway 30, the route of the Lincoln Highway across southern Wyoming.  Along the way, explore the paths of the Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail, Emigrant Trail, and Ben Holladay’s Stage Route.  The cities of Cheyenne and Laramie are visited, with over 150 historic points of interest, reference maps, and GPS coordinates for all listed sites.

Available for the Amazon Kindle and at


Forgotten Landmark-Bailey Theater and Broom’s Arcade, Tallulah, LA

The Bailey Theatre and Broom’s Arcade, an early indoor shopping mall, were constructed in 1925.  The mall was only one hall wide with stores on either side, much like the malls of today, but much smaller. The mall is accessible from from the street at both ends of the building.

The entrance to the theater is framed by 1920’s Art Deco reliefs based on Aztec designs.  This is also evident above the entrance to the arcade.

Eccentric Literary Landmark- Jackson-Dexter House, Newburyport, MA

201 High Street, Newburyport, Massachusetts (Image from Microsoft Bing 8/2011)

This house was built in 1771. This was once the lavish residence
of “Lord” Timothy Dexter. Lord Timothy, Newburyport’s self- titled eccentric,
cluttered his estate with statues of the great, his own included.  He beat his wife for not giving vent to
sufficient grief at a mock funeral held for himself. But his “lordship” was far
from crazy. He gained a good portion of his wealth by buying up depreciated
Continental currency. He made a tidy profit out of a cargo of warming-pans
sent, with every appearance of lunacy, to the West Indies, and there snapped up
for molasses ladles. He published in 1802 a book called Pickles for the Knowing Ones, in which all the punctuation appeared
at the end of the book as pages of commas and periods, bearing the unique
caption “Salt and Pepper to Taste.”

[From American Auto Trails-Massachusetts’ U.S. Highway 1]