San Bernardino County Sun, August 9, 1947
About the time Doug Nichol's much-acclaimed documentary California Typewriter was premiering, in August this year, I was astonished to be told that my late cousin, Fred Messenger, had been a California typewriter agent. Fred, who died 70 years ago, was Remington Rand's man in Los Angeles at a time when the typewriter company was in the grip of an extremely bitter industrial dispute.
The Santa Rosa Post Democrat, July 17, 1947
The discovery of my close relationship with Californian typewriters helped ease the pain, by then becoming increasingly acute, that in Doug's change of direction and editing of his film, I had landed up on the cutting room floor. I was there when Doug started his typewriter movie project, at Herman Price's gathering at the Chestnut Ridge Typewriter Museum in West Virginia in October 2013. I was interviewed by Doug at the museum, and was there when Doug interviewed Richard Polt in his typewriter-laden office at Xavier University in Cincinnati. Later, Richard and I were filmed together at WordPlay (see my image of Doug filming Richard below):
I feel sure that if he knew Californian typewriters were in my blood, Doug might have kept in me in his doco. But, hey, I don't have the audience drawing power of Tom Hanks or the late Sam Shepard. Nor do I have the charm of a Richard Polt or Martin Howard. But I did have a cousin who was right there in the thick of the trade when the typewriter business in California was at its peak.
Los Angeles Times, January 12, 1947
I wasn't able to tell Doug that because I only found out myself last August. My cousin Noeleen Mulholland, a brilliant genealogist, messaged me saying, "According to my family tree you and Frederick are second cousins - once removed. So you aren't the only Messenger with a connection to typewriters."Frederick was born in Port Washington, Long Island, New York, on January 2, 1908, the son of Albert Ayers Messenger and Elizabeth Morris (Bessie) Marston. Messenger Lane in Port Washington is named in Albert's honour, as he was one of the early property owners in Sands Point.
Frederick grew up in North Hempstead, Nassau County, where he started work as a bank clerk. Albert Ayers Messenger was born in New York on February 4, 1859, the son of Harry Messenger, a half-brother of my great-grandfather, William Messenger. Albert and my grandfather Robert Messenger were first cousins.
Frederick's nephew Albert Clay (Al) Messenger (1927-2003) had two great-grandfathers who fought for the Confederacy, one with the Army of Northern Virginia. Al had a passion for auto racing and established "Corner of Racing Memories" in his basement. He annually attended the Indy 500 and was honoured with a special award by the Race Car Fan Club of America for his attendance and contribution to auto racing. He was also a life member of the US Auto Racing, the Old Timers Racing Club of Lattimore Valley, Pennsylvania, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Los Angeles Times, July 10, 1947
Hastening Fred's premature death? San Bernardino County Sun, July 24, 1947