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The Convulsionaries 30's US group INFO ?

GeoffLawes 01 Mar 17 - 03:23 AM
GeoffLawes 01 Mar 17 - 06:12 PM
keberoxu 01 Mar 17 - 06:45 PM
keberoxu 02 Mar 17 - 02:22 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 02 Mar 17 - 07:43 PM
GeoffLawes 03 Mar 17 - 10:27 AM
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Subject: The Convulsionaries 30's US group INFO ?
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 01 Mar 17 - 03:23 AM

Does anyone have any more information about a US singing and theatre group, active in the 1930's called The Convulsionaries? The group comprised four young Jewish men with left wing political affiliations who,in 1937,all volunteered, fought and were killed in the Spanish Republic's war against fascism. Here is a link to some information about one of them called Harold Melofsky which is lodged in the Archive of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade http://www.alba-valb.org/volunteers/harold-melofsky There is also limited information in the following link about the other Convulsionaries :
http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/tamwag/alba_192/bioghist.html
I am particularly interested in finding out about the songs written and performed by the Convusionaries and any details about the group's career as performers in the US and later while serving in Spain


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Subject: RE: The Convulsionaries 30's US group INFO ?
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 01 Mar 17 - 06:12 PM

Here is another link giving limited information about one of the Convulsionaries named Arion Irving
http://www.alba-valb.org/volunteers/irving-e-arion


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Subject: RE: The Convulsionaries 30's US group INFO ?
From: keberoxu
Date: 01 Mar 17 - 06:45 PM

A book by Peter N. Carroll titled "The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade" can be viewed online. There are several passages pertinent to The Convulsionaries, the Young Communist League, and the International Workers Order, and the individuals united therein.

Here is one.
The subject is an African-American named Vaughn Love.

"In 1932, a Communist rally on behalf of the Scottsboro Boys attracted his attention, and he started to work selling subscriptions for The Liberator, the newspaper of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights. Later, he joined the International Workers Order, a Communist-led fraternal organization that offered cultural programs. Among the IWO's activities was Harlem's "Suitcase Theater," in which Love helped form a group of interracial entertainers known as the "Convulsionaries." Their vaudevillian shows delighted left-wing audiences by blending ideology with satire. When news of the International Brigades reached the IWO, Love and his white cohorts eagerly pressed to enlist. "
--page 41 in Chapter 3, "Awakening in Hard Times,", in Part I: Causes. from The Odyssey of the American Lincoln Brigade.

On page 186 in this same book, author Peter N. Carroll identifies the four members of the "Convulsionaries" specifically as:

Ernie Arion
Vaughn Love
Harold Melofsky (spelling of last name varies)
Bernard Abromofsky, who was Harold Melofsky's cousin

The original post in this thread references the archives associated with Miriam Sigel Friedlander, and her ALBA brother Paul Sigel who was killed in action in 1938.
I could be mistaken here, but in my reading of Carroll's text, Paul Sigel, while an ALBA soldier, was NOT a "Convulsionaries" member, only on friendly terms with his fellow ALBA soldiers who were members of the group.

In my quick perusal of Carroll's book, I find:

Arion was the first to be killed in action.
Melofsky followed within months.
Abromofsky, frightened when the fighting and killing started, deserted more than once; when he was arrested and brought back to the battalion, one disgusted officer shot him in the head, killing him.
Vaughn Love survived and was still granting interviews about his experience as a veteran in the 1970's.


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Subject: RE: The Convulsionaries 30's US group INFO ?
From: keberoxu
Date: 02 Mar 17 - 02:22 PM

The Spanish Civil War is also mentioned in a Spanish language book by someone whose name is similar to Peter Carroll but appears to be an entirely different author: Pedro Corral, whose book is called "Desertores."

As the previous post disclosed from Peter Carroll's English-language book, a Convulsionaries member named Bernard ("Cousin Bernie" to Harold Melofsky) Abramofsky (I think i mispelled when I typed "Abromofsky", my apologies) went down in history for being put to death as an ALBA deserter. This same story is related in "Desertores" by Pedro Corral.

For the sake of accuracy, I will preserve, in the following quote, the author's original Spanish. This disclosure follows the account of Abramofsky's killing.

"Con su primo Harold Melofsky y sus amigos Ernie Arion y Vaughn Love, Abramofsky formó un grupo musical que amenizaba los días de instrucción y descanso a sus camaradas de batallón y a la población civil de los pueblos donde pasaban. Sus espectáculos incluían canciones en yiddish, pues Abramofsky era judio, y números satíricos sobre la situación de la contienda."
--    page 494,
    chapter 102, "Dos tumbas olvidadas: historias de Paul White y Bernard Abramofsky"
    Part IX, Los Desertores en las Brigadas Internationales
    from the book Desertores: La Guerra Civil que nadie quiere contar
    author: Pedro Corral Corral (this is not a typo; given by the copyright notation)
    Barcelona: Random House Mondadori, under the imprint "De Bolsillo" [indicates a pocket-sized paperback]. Copyright 2006.


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Subject: RE: The Convulsionaries 30's US group INFO ?
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 02 Mar 17 - 07:43 PM

An online search is recommended using the name "Harry Meloff" which was a nom de plume for Harold Melofsky. Many documents will surface referring to his skits, satires, and songs.


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Subject: RE: The Convulsionaries 30's US group INFO ?
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 03 Mar 17 - 10:27 AM

Thanks keberoxu but searching using "Harry Meloff" is not bringing up anything for me except the Alba archive site and a mass of sites devoted to Podiatric Medicine. Thanks for trying though.
Regards , Geoff


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