Rose Marie McCoy: The Songwriting Virtuoso You’ve Never Heard Of

A 60-Year Career of Creating Songs for America’s Top Artists

1950s meeting of music industry executives in Manhattan
Born into poverty in an age of rigid racial segregation, Rose Marie McCoy broke into the mid-20th century’s white male-dominated music scene to become the first Black woman to make it big as a songwriter creating tunes that Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and nearly 300 other top stars recorded.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, the photo of a New York City luncheon (above) hosted by famed radio DJ and promoter Alan Freed speaks volumes. He’s surrounded by 57 songwriters, music executives and producers, all of them male. Except one — Rose Marie McCoy.

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Before Julia Child, There was Eugénie Brazier

The Real Mother of Modern French Cooking

 Eugénie Brazier in her kitchen with her chefs
Born on a pig farm near Lyon, France in 1895, Eugénie Brazier went on to lift herself out of poverty with the creative cooking skills that made her a famed chef whose innovative work was often overlooked by food historians as rivals claimed credit for her achievements.

Who didn’t love celebrity chef Julia Child? After all, she made French cuisine accessible to America’s cooks with her 762-page cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and brought one of the first cooking shows, The French Chef, into countless living rooms. But if you think she was the mother of modern French cooking, you would be wrong. That honor belongs to Eugénie Brazier.

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Five Women Who Whipped Up Ice Cream History

And Other Heart Warming Historical Stories of a Frozen Delight

Meet five women who made history — along with some weird and wonderful flavors — in the early days of the ice cream business.

Some folks take their time with long, slow licks while others just bite right into it. We eat it from cones, in cups and with big soup spoons right out of the carton in front of our TVs. It gives us headaches and brain freeze, but we keep coming back for more. It’s ice cream. And long before anyone ever heard of two guys named Ben & Jerry; even before Philly’s own William Breyer hand-cranked his first batch of ice cream during the Civil War, these four women were making names for themselves, serving up everyone’s favorite summer treat.

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Blanche Scott: America’s First Female Aviator… or Was She?

An early female pilot and promoter who claimed several aviation “firsts” that weren’t

Blanche Scott in an early Curtiss aircraft
Daughter of a 19th-century patent medicine huckster, Blanche Scott proved herself as good a pilot as she was a shameless promoter claiming a number of early aviation “firsts” that weren’t.

Blanche Stuart Scott couldn’t stand the thought of “being a nobody and a nothing in New York’s millions.” So this only child, spoiled by wealthy parents and described as stubborn, adventurous, competitive and fiercely determined, became somebody, racking up a slew of firsts along the way. Unfortunately, some of those firsts weren’t. Some were more like close, but no cigar.

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Emilia Casanova de Villaverde: Firebrand of The Cuban Revolution

Caves Beneath Her Bronx Mansion Were Packed With Guns and Explosives

US forces landing in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898 with headshot of Emilia Casanova de Villaverde
Internationally famed for devoting her fortune and entire adult life to a crusade to overthrow the colonial Spanish rulers of Cuba, Emilia Casanova de Villaverde died 17 months before U.S. forces invaded and conquered the island in 1898, severing its ties to Spain. Here, U.S. troops go ashore at Daiquiri, Cuba.

The future Emilia Casanova de Villaverde was a willful, headstrong teenager and never one to hold her tongue. She lacked the “coquettish manners believed to be natural in young women.” But what she had was a fire in her belly for Cuban independence in the late 19th century when Cuba was still governed by Spain. So much so that at a convivial banquet attended by Spanish authorities, she rose to lift her glass in a very public toast “to the freedom of the world and the independence of Cuba.” Talk about knowing how to clear a room.

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Aloha Wanderwell: Transcontinental Adventurer

Brains, Beauty and Breeches: The Amelia Earhart of the Open Road

1920s photo of Aloha Wanderwell with her customized Model T Ford
Aloha Wanderwell with her Model T modified with a gun scabbard and sloping back that folded out, accordian-style, into a traveling darkroom. While still in her teens in the 1920s, the Canadian schoolgirl jumped into a career as a transcontinental race car driver, adventurer and daredevil gifted with with movie star looks and a shrewd sense of promotion.

In an age when few women dared to color outside the lines, an irrepressible convent schoolgirl — tall and leggy, with big blue eyes, blonde Shirley Temple curls and a pet monkey, drove Model Ts around the world, landed a seaplane on an uncharted stretch of the Amazon River, and filmed travelogues that captivated armchair travelers the world over.

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