Tuesday, November 18, 2014

David Selby haunts Baltimore parade, 1969

On Sept. 14, 1969, David Selby was grand marshal of the "I Am An American Day Parade" in Baltimore, Maryland. It was a huge event: Crowd numbers were estimated to have topped 200,000 for the Sunday parade.

"Thousands of teen-age girls swarmed next to the reviewing stand, where Mr. Selby sat throughout the day, screaming at the top of their lungs," reported The Baltimore Sun the following day. "One police officer, who helped escort the television performer during the parade, said the youths were 'behaving themselves' and had caused little trouble, but another officer attempting to control the crowd indicated the police had some difficulty. 'Motorcycle escorts don't mean anything,' he said, adding 'They knock over the motorcycles.'"

The newspaper also included the following quote from Selby, taken from a speech he delivered to the crowd: "With all the troubles and problems we have today, I wanted to tell you it's really not so bad to be an American." I'd love to have heard the rest of that speech, because Selby believed America was capable of doing much, much better that it was in 1969. But, he's also a gentleman, and probably would have thought it rude to bring his soap box with him. I'm not so sure I could have behaved myself in similar circumstances.

"It was the most frightening thing I've ever been through," Selby told a syndicated journalist  the following year. "I guess I felt much the same as the people in the committee. I had no idea how many people would come out and see me, or even if they would.

"I got knocked to the floor and somebody fell on top of me to protect me until the police could clear the people away," he said. "I don’t mind saying I was really scared.”

The Baltimore Sun didn't include any photos with their coverage of the parade. Luckily, 16 Magazine was on the job, publishing five photos in a feature titled  "David Selby on Parade." The photos you see below were taken from that feature. You'll note Selby is rocking 100% Genuine Sideburns™ in these photos. Selby went back and forth between wearing real facial hair and paste-ons during his tenure on DARK SHADOWS, usually depending on his commitments to outside stage productions in New York City. Not many people can pull off sideburns without looking like hipster clowns. Selby's definitely in the elite, along with Elvis, Wolverine, Lemmy Kilmister and my dad (though you'll just have to take my word on the last one.)

Ep. #849, with Kathryn Leigh Scott and David Selby.
So, what was happening on DARK SHADOWS that day? Not much, because it was a Sunday. Strangely, the DARK SHADOWS WIKI says that episode #849 was recorded that day ... an episode that features Selby. The episode summary also mentions that #849 was shot out of sequence on a Sunday ... so I have no idea what the hell was going on. It seems unlikely that Selby could be in Baltimore and New York on the same day (and there's a preponderance of evidence proving Selby was mobbed by fans in Baltimore that day) so it seems likely the wiki is wrong.

If you've never heard of "I Am An American Day," don't be surprised. Even though Selby's appearance marked the 31st annual celebration of the day in Baltimore, it's gone by many names over the years. Newspaper jerk William Randolph Hears first pushed for the day as a means to celebrate U.S. Citizenship in 1939. Congress followed suit the next year, reserving the third Sunday in May as "I Am An American Day."

In 1952, President Truman signed into law Citizenship Day as a replacement. In 1956, Congress once again tweaked the concept and asked the president to block off part of September ( Sept. 17-Sept. 23, to be specific) for Constitution Week.

The parade that Selby led was in celebration of Citizenship Day.

Just to make things more confusing, Congress acted in 2004 to make Sept. 17 “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.”

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...