PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
When I answered the phone call, she said that she was from NBC in New York. I must have sounded confused when I answered, "New York City?" She responded with, "you know, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, NBC." It turned out that she was calling for research information about Dean Martin, and was checking with our local library for such information. Over the years, public libraries have grown in their scope of providing information, as the Internet has made information access more worldwide.
Her name is Vivian Siu, and she is working on the research and planning for an NBC documentary regarding Steubenville-native Dean Martin.
She was delighted as I described our Digital Shoebox Project, which has more than 35,000 pages of local history materials online, accessible from anyplace via the Internet. I instructed her to go to www.digitalshoebox.org and enter "Dean Martin" as a search term, and our collection of "Dean Martins Files" could be accessed
at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.I told her to call back with questions after reviewing that material. She did, and we mailed her more information from the library files.
The "Dean Martin Files" were formed in the 1990s, when we realized that the library's local history files were devoid of much information about Dean
The most common question that the library receives is, "Where did Dean Martin live in Steubenville?"The question is asking for a specific house, but the answer relates to several places. Dean Martin's real name was Dean Crocetti, changing to "Dino" in 1942. His
parents were Guy and Angela Crocetti. According to the Steubenville City Directory for 1918, the Guy Crocetti family lived at 319 S. 6th Street, which was listed as his Barber Shop and residence.
The 1924 Directory lists the same location for the Barber Shop, but listed the residence as 425 Slack Street, in the same block as the Main Library.The 1933 Directory lists Dean's father as being "Department Manager - The Hub" with residence at 1210 Riverview.Remaining Directories list Guy Crocetti in the same way, except use the phrase "Barber for The Hub." Dean Crocetti is listed as a student, and later as an employee of Weirton Steel Corp.
The Crocetti residence changed to 313 N. 7th St. beginning in 1936. The final listing for the family was 2130 Sunset Blvd. Dean Martin's first place of residence is confirmed by the 1920 Federal Census, which also lists 319 S. 6th Street. Most of our information comes from publications beginning May 23, 1949 when Time Magazine referred to Martin & Lewis as "The Talk of Show Business."The magazine calls Martin, "a handsome 31 year old ex-mill hand with a post-Crosby baa in his baritone.
At the same time, Newsweek explained the team's connection to the emerging television market, and the existence of the radio networks of that era. The October 1950 visit of Martin & Lewis to Steubenville is covered by several local newspaper articles.The first hint of the breakup of the team came in a 1954 issue of Photoplay Magazine. The actual breakup of Martin & Lewis came in 1956.
Vivian took a lot of materials, and will use New York area libraries to photograph the actual covers. She was a joy to work with, and I was glad she thought of public libraries first in her information search.