The novelty record was made in an arcade recording booth similar to a photo booth. The coin operated booth was by The International Mutoscope Reel Corporation of New York, N.Y.. There were standard and deluxe models made of the recording machine. You would talk or sing into a telephone and a recording would be made on one side of the record. Apparently there was one of these novelty machines located somewhere in Norumbega Park. Written in pen on the record is the following:
The record measures 5-7/8'' wide. It appears to be in excellent used condition as pictured. Below here, for reference, is some additional information on Norumbega Park:
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In 1930, as buses replaced the trolleys that ran along ''Comm Ave.'', the Great Steel Theater was converted into the Totem Pole Ballroom. Although more than a hundred ballrooms were advertising in the Boston newspapers, the Totem Pole was a premier facility. Totem Pole Ballroom featured the most celebrated entertainers in the United States, particularly during the swing era. Music from the ballroom was nationally broadcast over the ABC, CBS, and NBC radio networks. Famous acts that appeared at the Totem Pole Ballroom include: Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Dinah Shore, Dorsey Brothers, The Four Lads, Frankie Laine, Frank Sinatra, Harry James, Lester Lanin, Lawrence Welk, Ozzie Nelson, and The Von Trapp Family.
Down by the Riverside: Remembering Norumbega
''Norumbega: Romance and Recreation by the River,'' currently on display at the Jackson Homestead and Museum, offers a visual chronicle of Newton's most famous amusement park and the Totem Pole Ballroom. This remembrance of Norumbega was written by the late Robert F. Pollock, who grew up in Auburndale, played at Riverside, and as a teenager, worked on the midway at Norumbega Park. Years later, he began to research the history of the area, a project that became a passion. Over time he amassed a substantial collection of three dimensional artifacts, pictures, postcards, advertisements, and more. The exhibition draws on this collection, part of which was donated to the Newton History Museum. This article was originally published as ''Down by the Riverside,'' in the booklet Historic Auburndale, available in the Museum Shop.
By Robert Pollock
Recreational activities along the Charles River in Auburndale are one of the most colorful and exciting aspects of the village's history. The name ''Norumbega'' showed up on maps of the new world as early as 1529, and one theory held that it was the Vikings' name for their own land, Norway. When the amusement park opened just across the river, management decided that the ''Norumbega'' name fit their image of the park, and they appropriated it.
The park featured various types of recreation: a merry go round, canoes, huge wooden swings, free band concerts, extensive picnic grounds, and the largest zoo in New England. In addition, the park had a superlative restaurant, a penny arcade, an electric fountain with brightly colored spotlights playing over great geysers of water, and a vaudeville theatre. The 15 cent round trip fare from Lake Street included admission to the park, and the ride out Commonwealth Avenue on the open trolleys became very popular with people from throughout the greater Boston area. Electricity for Norumbega's lighting, fountain, and carousel was provided by the same 600 volts of direct current used to power the trolleys.
More than 5,000 canoes were berthed on the Charles River between Newton Lower Falls and Waltham. The Boston Globe reported in 1902 that ''More canoeing is done of this stretch of the river than is done on all the rivers in the rest of Massachusetts combined.''
By 1934, the Totem Pole Ballroom was being called ''America's Most Beautiful Ballroom.'' People were seeking inexpensive entertainment during the Depression years, and Auburndale's amusement park and ballroom were attracting large crowds. Each season, the Totem Pole held three or four dances, which lasted until 4 a.m. The nation's best swing bands appeared at Norumbega, and radio broadcasts from Auburndale's Totem Pole were heard all over the United States. At one point, ABC, NBC, and CBS each broadcast from the Auburndale ballroom on a different night of the week. The Totem Pole was ranked right at the top, along with the New York's Glen Island Casino and the Trianon Ballroom in Chicago. Although each of these ballrooms had its proponents, only the Totem Pole also had the added attraction of a beautiful amusement park.
By 1940 the emphasis at Norumbega had shifted. The Totem Pole Ballroom was more of an attraction than the aging park. The biggest... band leaders in swing music brought their groups ...to Auburndale: Harry James, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, and more.
America's entry into World War II had a tremendous effect on the Totem Pole and the big bands. By the summer of 1942, the bands were changing and breaking up, as musicians joined the armed forces. Dancing at the Totem Pole was cut back, first to Friday and Saturday nights, and then to Saturday nights only. The Auburndale dance pavilion was actually one of the lucky ballrooms; it survived because it was accessible via both the Middlesex & Boston buses and the Boston & Albany railroad trains. By the end of 1946, most of the big bands had folded. Although dancing would remain popular with American youngsters, their music was changing from dance music to music which people listened to and watched.
In 1951, live radio remotes were still broadcast from the Auburndale ballroom over WBZ. Although many of its competitors had gone out of business, the Totem Pole was able to hang on by dint of its reputation. Many eastern Massachusetts schools held junior and senior proms there, and it was still the best place in the world for a young man to take a girl he wanted to impress.
By 1953, the only major rides left at Norumbega were the merry go round, the Lindy Loop, the Caterpillar, the Seaplanes, and the miniature railroad station. For ten months beginning in December, 1954, a live television program originated from the Totem Pole Ballroom each Saturday afternoon. Totem Pole Matinee had a format similar to that made famous by American Bandstand; popular singers and musicians came on, plugged their hit records, sang a song or two, and talked with the host and the youngsters in the audience. The program was successful, but the owner decided that television was incompatible with his image of the Totem Pole, and dropped the show in October, 1955.
In 1956, Norumbega Park was sold to new ownership, headed by Newton realtor and swing music fan Douglas Farrington. Although the ballroom remained crowded on Saturday nights, Friday nights were becoming a problem. Television and automobiles were two other major factors which contributed to the decline of the Auburndale ballroom. More teenagers owned cars, or were able to borrow the family car, and were going to drive in restaurants and drive in movies, and television was beginning to keep people home in the evenings.
Norumbega Park was the last of the recreational facilities on the Charles River. The park closed forever on Labor Day, 1963, and the Totem Pole followed, on February 8, 1964. The Totem Pole Ballroom burned to the ground on November 11, 1965. Norumbega Park survived from 1897 to 1963. The Totem Pole Ballroom lasted for just half of Norumbega's 66 years, from 1930 to 1964. Norumbega Park, the Totem Pole , and the Riverside Recreation Grounds contributed significantly to the quality of life in Auburndale in the first half of the 20th century. They will never be forgotten, not because they were historically important [which they are], but because they were enjoyed and loved by so many.