Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson.
On our show this week …
visit an aircraft carrier that served during World War Two …
Answer a question from Brazil about the cartoon
character Felix the Cat …
listen to western swing music by Willie Nelson.
The U.S.S. Lexington is an aircraft carrier that was
built during World War Two. It earned two nicknames, Lady Lex and the Blue
Ghost. Visitors to Corpus Christi, Texas, on the Gulf of Mexico, can visit this
warship which is now a museum. Jim Tedder tells us more.
The Lexington, not surprisingly, is
huge. From the dock, the visitors standing high up on the flight deck look
very, very small.
The flight deck is over two hundred and
seventy meters long. It could hold more than one thousand parked cars. The ship
is as tall as a nineteen-floor building.
the Lexington is small compared to today's aircraft carriers.
the ship provides a history lesson. The Lexington entered service in nineteen
forty-three during World War Two. The ship was part of the Fifth Fleet based at
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Lexington was involved in twenty-one months of fighting. It took part in almost
all major operations in the Pacific Ocean during the war.
Rose, the Japanese radio propagandist, called the ship "the Blue
Ghost" after its color. Japanese radio reported four times that the Lady
Lex had been sunk. But she kept on fighting.
the war, the Lexington served out of San Francisco, California. Later, it
became a training ship until it was retired in nineteen ninety-one.
can see how crew members lived and worked on an aircraft carrier. The ship is
like a city at sea, but a city with low ceilings, narrow halls and steep
can explore areas where the crew slept. The narrow beds are stacked one above
the other, with little room in between. The ship has dental and medical
clinics, a post office and a religious chapel. Visitors can also go through the
large galley where crew members got their meals.
Lexington carried about one thousand five hundred crew members. In nineteen
eighty it became the first United States Navy ship to have women among its crew.
The Lexington could carry enough fuel to sail, nonstop,
for almost fifty thousand kilometers.
In nineteen ninety-two, the Lady Lex became a museum
docked in Corpus Christi Bay. At night, the ship is covered in a deep blue
light. The Blue Ghost lives on.
Felix the Cat
Our listener question this week comes from Brazil. Jose
Isidoro wants to know the history of the cartoon character Felix the Cat. This
short black cat with large white eyes and a huge smile was one of the first
stars in movie history during the period of silent films. The playful cat made
his first appearance in nineteen nineteen in a short animated movie called
name was Master Tom but it was soon changed to Felix. By nineteen twenty-four,
Felix had developed into a softer and rounder form.
earliest history of Felix the Cat is disputed. The animator Pat Sullivan
invented the character and owned the copyright for Felix.
Mister Sullivan's co-worker, the animator Otto Messmer, often receives credit
as Felix's main artist. Years after Mister Sullivan's death in nineteen thirty-three,
some people claimed that it was Mister Messmer who invented the cat.
Sullivan once said that the idea for Felix was influenced by a cat that his
wife brought to the office one day.
nineteen twenty-three Felix was as famous as the top movie stars of the period,
including Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. In fact, in the
cartoon "Felix in Hollywood" the cat meets Charlie Chaplin and becomes a film
actor in California. The more than one hundred cartoon movies starring Felix
were popular internationally. Felix the
Cat was also made into a comic strip that was published in more than two
hundred newspapers around the world.
the popularity of this famous cat began to decrease in the nineteen thirties.
This was partly because of the rise in popularity of a new animated character
created by Disney Studios called Mickey Mouse. Disney had made a better
transition to movies with sound.
Felix the Cat returned in the nineteen fifties on a television show. The
animator Joe Oriolo created this version of Felix. He also created the cartoon
character Casper the Friendly Ghost.
nineteen eighty-eight, Mister Oriolo's son, Don Oriolo, made a full-length
movie starring Felix the Cat.
Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel
Willie Nelson has been making records for almost fifty
years. He is widely considered one of country music's most famous songwriters
and performers. For his latest album, Nelson returned to the roots of country
music. In "Willie and the Wheel" Nelson performs old western swing songs with
the country band Asleep at the Wheel. Influenced by songs from the nineteen
twenties and thirties, this album will make listeners want to start dancing.
Barbara Klein has more.
That was the nineteen thirty hit "Sweet Jennie Lee"
sung by Willie Nelson. Asleep at the Wheel and Willie Nelson did not try to
modernize the western swing favorites on their album. Instead, they stayed true
to the tradition of this music and gave it a fresh and energetic performance.
swing music first became popular in the nineteen twenties. It combined the
sounds of country, folk, and polka music with the swing of Dixieland jazz.
is the song "I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None o' This Jelly Roll" from "Willie
and the Wheel."
This album was released last month. But it has been in
the making for about thirty years. In the nineteen seventies, a record producer
urged Willie Nelson to record these classic examples of western swing. The
producer even made a list of suggested songs. But Nelson changed record
companies and the idea was put on hold until now.
We leave you with "I'm Sittin' on Top of the World."
Willie Nelson performs this song with Asleep at the Wheel band member Elizabeth
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written and produced by Dana Demange. You can
find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs at voaspecialenglish.com.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN
MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.