Mar 31, 2008

March 31, 1932: Ford's Flathead V-8 Cheap, Durable ... and Fun

(Wired) - Ford Motor Co. introduces the flathead V-8 engine in a car designed and priced for the general public.
Ford didn't invent the V-8.

The first patent for this engine type, issued in 1904, went to Frenchman Leon Levavasseur. The V-8 was already widely used in aircraft engines and luxury cars by the time Henry Ford, facing increased competition from General Motors, determined to equip his 1932-model stock car in a similar fashion. Continued

Photo: Moes Garage via Wikipedia

Mar 29, 2008

Prophetic Dreams

(Madison Smartt Bell, NYTimes) - “Song Yet Sung” is the second novel by James McBride, best known until now for “The Color of Water,” his memoir of growing up as the black son of a white mother.
... The story takes place on Maryland’s Eastern Shore — Harriet Tubman’s territory. ... McBride is excellent on the unusual social nuances of the backwater that was the antebellum Eastern Shore, where large-scale plantations (and the crops to support them) were few and far between. Most masters owned no more than a handful of slaves, on terms likely to include a quasi-familial intimacy. Many of the Chesapeake Bay watermen owned no slaves at all and took a dim view of the whole system, for reasons of religion or just libertarian temperament. The free black population was significant, especially in towns like Cambridge, which, in the isolation of 1850, could pass for a metropolis. Continued


Monkton, Maryland

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

The Architecture of Edward Hopper

(Witold Rybczynski) - ... Nighthawks is his best-known work. This painting, which has been likened to van Gogh's Night Cafe and de Chirico's deserted urban streetscapes, is a reminder of the importance of architecture for Hopper and how much he—a Modernist with a taste for the old as well as the new—has to say on the subject. Here he contrasts the sleek Moderne diner, whose vast plate-glass window appears almost Miesian in its bleak transparency, with the 19th-century brick row houses in the background. Continued

New Sweden (Delaware)

(Wikipedia) - New Sweden, or Nya Sverige, was a small Swedish settlement along the Delaware River on the Mid-Atlantic coast of North America. It was centered at Fort Christina, now in Wilmington, Delaware, and included parts of the present-day American states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The settlement was founded March 29, 1638, and was incorporated into Dutch New Netherland on September 15, 1655. ... In 1644, New Sweden supported the Susquehannocks in their victory in a war against the English Province of Maryland. ... With the help of the Swedes the English were defeated in 1644. The Susquehannocks remainined in an inactive state of war with Maryland until 1652. As a result of this war, the Susquehannocks traded almost exclusively with New Sweden. In 1652 they concluded a peace treaty with Maryland. In return for arms and safety on their southern flank, they ceded to Maryland large territories on both shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Continued

Mar 28, 2008

‘He Drew Great Mud’

(NYTimes) - Until surprisingly late in World War II, Army cartooning consisted of gags about mean old drill sergeants and raw recruits on K.P. duty. Then came Bill Mauldin, an impish rifleman from the 180th Infantry Regiment, who volunteered as a cartoonist for The 45th Division News. On July 10, 1943, he stumbled ashore, pistol drawn, in the Allied invasion of Sicily and went on to fight in the Italian campaign while turning the raw material of the front into captioned panel cartoons, often at the expense of superiors in the rear. Mauldin listened to his fellow dogfaces in their foxholes and sketched quickly, sometimes rendering finished work on the back of whatever scrap he could find in the rubble.
... These were not the square-jawed soldiers of enlistment posters. Pale, densely bearded, forested by their own rifles and packs, their huge dirt-caked boots and filthy uniforms delineated in heavily shaded brush strokes, Willie and Joe looked not just disheveled but mummified by mud. One G.I., a machine-gunner named Charles Schulz who went on to do some cartooning of his own, spoke for many when he later had Snoopy remark, “He drew great mud.” Continued

Cartoons by Bill Mauldin from the Library of Congress

Martin 404 Mainliner

( - Martin made many great military planes during World War II, but knew there would be an excess of them when the war was over. Glenn Martin was determined to make the earliest possible entry into the postwar airliner market.
He unveiled a full-size mock-up of the new Martin 2-0-2 less than two weeks after the Japanese surrender. Many of the planes were sold, but the company suffered heavy losses. By 1949, the Martin company had recovered and embarked on its 4-0-4 project. 103 were sold to Eastern and TWA. Three months later, the Korean War broke out and costs escalated, but the contracts were for a fixed price. Losing money on every plane, Martin refused to make any more. However the 404 became legend.
After a decade or so with the trunk lines, they joined the former Northwestern 2-O-2's in service on regional carriers. Some were converted into executive planes (including one for Frank Sinatra) and others were used to carry cargo (not always legal).
Several were still flying in the 1990's, including 4-O-4's owned by the Mid Atlantic Air Museum, Save a Connie, Inc., and a private collector in Washington - displaying the liveries, respectively, of Eastern, TWA, and Pacific Airlines. At least two 4-O-4's have been impounded by the U.S. Customs Service and await possible restoration.

Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum, Essex, Maryland

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Three Mile Island accident

(Wikipedia) - The Three Mile Island accident was the most significant accident in the history of the American commercial nuclear power generating industry.
... The accident began on Wednesday, March 28, 1979, and ultimately resulted in a partial core meltdown in Unit 2 of the nuclear power plant (a pressurized water reactor manufactured by Babcock & Wilcox) of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg. Continued

Mar 27, 2008

Great Name

memory of
Jany 19, 1863

Somewhere in Baltimore County, Maryland

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

The Decline and Fall of America! (yawn)

Well it looks like hard times have come again once more, but it helps to keep a sense of perspective on these things. It may be bad, but we'll get through it; we always have in the past. People have been predicting the fall of the United States ever since the rise of the United States. Here's a list of some things people thought would ruin the country. I have categorized them loosely by the last four generations of my own family, starting with the most recent. Some of the concerns listed were serious and some were laughable, I'll let you decide which were which.

First Generation (Me, Mine)
  1. Communism
  2. Capitalism

  3. Japan and Saudi Arabia

  4. Iraq and Iran

  5. Nicaragua and Grenada

  6. The "Asian Tigers" and "The Pacific Rim"

  7. Immigration

  8. 911

  9. Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Nixon, LBJ, JFK

  10. Global Warming

  11. Computers

  12. Rap

  13. The United Nations

  14. Drugs

  15. Television

Second generation (My Parents)

  1. Communism

  2. Capitalism

  3. Nazism

  4. Radio

  5. Immigration

  6. Fluoridated Drinking Water

  7. Drugs

  8. Secular Humanism

  9. Civil Rights, Feminism, Hippies, AIM, etc.

  10. Overpopulation

  11. The Great Depression

  12. Huey Long

  13. FDR

  14. The League of Nations

  15. Rock and Roll

Third Generation (My Grandparents)

  1. Communism

  2. Capitalism

  3. Labor Unions

  4. The Kaiser

  5. Cuba

  6. The Gold Standard

  7. William Jennings Bryan

  8. Charles Darwin

  9. Immigration

  10. Alcohol

  11. Moving Pictures

  12. Jazz

  13. The Panic of 1907, 1893

  14. Herbert Hoover

  15. Suffragettes
Fourth Generation (My Great-Grandparents)

  1. Communism (First Red Scare? 1848!)

  2. Capitalism

  3. Rum

  4. Romanism

  5. Rebellion

  6. Sitting Bull

  7. Immigration

  8. Mexico

  9. Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, James K. Polk

  10. Charles Darwin

  11. Railroads

  12. Novels

  13. The Panic of 1884, of 1875, of 1857, and of 1837.

  14. Reconstruction

  15. The Tariff

Fifth Generation (Bonus!)

  1. The British
  2. Witches
  3. Immigration
  4. Pontiac, Tecumseh, Cornstalk, Osceola
  5. Aaron Burr

Barrington Boardman wrote, in "Flappers, Bootleggers, "Typhoid Mary" and the Bomb: An Anecdotal History of the U.S. from 1923-1945," about a man who reacted to the stock market crash of 1929 with something like the following, "Well it doesn't mean we have to take to the trees and throw coconuts at one another." My sentiments exactly.

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Approves 43 New State Historical Markers

The site of a Civil War fort in Pittsburgh and a renowned candy maker's first store in Philadelphia are among the 43 new state historical markers that have been approved to be added to the nearly 2,200 familiar signs that dot roads and streets across Pennsylvania.
The familiar, blue-with-gold-lettering signs tell the story of people and events, like Betsy Ross' contribution to the Revolutionary War effort as a woman and a Quaker, to a Philadelphia mayor who championed historic preservation and urban renewal, to an amusement park and recreational haven serving coal miners, and to the woman who popularized gospel music. Continued

Mar 26, 2008

Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial


Country Churches: Mount Zion UME

Back in the 1920's, professor of music Charles Seeger got the notion that the people of rural America were musically deprived, so he made it his mission to take his music to the masses. What he discovered was that the people had their own music, and it was pretty good music too.
I think the same could be said for architecture; the countryside doesn't have massive works of design like the big cities, but it does have its own architecture, mostly found in the rural churches that sit on most any back-road most anywhere in the country, and it's pretty good architecture too.

White Hall, Maryland (vicinity).
Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

3 short videos: The Great Depression, Displaced Mountaineers, and the C.C.C.

(ScrappyGator) - A montage of photographs from the United States Digital Archives and Shenandoah National Park depicting life during the "Great Depression." The video details aspects of the "Great Depression" through out the United States including poverty, the "Dust Bowl," and unemployment. The second part of the film documents the relocation of "Mountaineers" in the Shenandoah National Park by the National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The final part of the film illustrates work projects conducted by the CCC in Shenandoah National Park. The three categories in the film are accompanied by specific songs and music correlating with the photographic documentation.

Mar 25, 2008

Historians hopeful about preserving proving ground’s bomb infested dirt

(Examiner) - A backhoe bit into a building last week at Aberdeen Proving Ground that had stood since World War II, clearing the way for construction projects that will reshape the look and mission of the base over the next few years.
As the Army at APG undertakes its biggest expansion since that war as the result of the federal Base Realignment and Closure process, engineers have cautioned that moving roads, tearing down old buildings and creating new ones could disrupt artifacts and archaeological sites ranging back to the earliest European settlement of northern Maryland.
But some historians argue the area’s history is safer in the hands of the military. Continued

The oldest house in Harford County, "Maxwell's Conclusion" was built on Gunpowder Neck in the 18th century and burned down by the Army in the 20th.

Maryland Day

(LoC) - On March 25, Marylanders celebrate the 1634 arrival of the first colonists to the land that King Charles I of England had chartered to Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore. Named for the king's wife, Henrietta Maria, Maryland was the first proprietary colony in what is now the United States. As the head of a proprietary colony, Lord Baltimore had almost absolute control over the colony in return for paying the king a share of all gold or silver discovered on the land. Continued

Mar 24, 2008

A whistling woman and a crowing hen always come to some bad end

From "The Antiquity of Proverbs" by D.W. Marvin

Photo: Library of Congress

Exhibit gives a photography history lesson

(Examiner) - Save yourself thousands of dollars, four months and “art in the dark” lectures by seeing the Baltimore Museum of Art’s “Looking Through the Lens” impressive exhibit.
The show achieves in about two hours what a history of photography course could only dream to do in an entire semester. The exhibit provides proof that photography is a fine art through 150 rarely-shown iconic prints by the world’s most pivotal and well known American and European photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Man Ray and Life magazine’s Margaret Bourke-White. Continued

Photo: Margaret Bourke-White

Bumper (bumper)

Baltimore County, Maryland
Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Mar 23, 2008

Gas Station

White Hall, Maryland

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Mar 22, 2008

Charles Carroll (barrister)

(Wikipedia) - Charles Carroll (March 22, 1723 – March 23, 1783) was an American lawyer and statesman from Annapolis, Maryland. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776 and 1777. ... In 1760 he completed construction of his summer home and estate at Georgia Plantation, west of Baltimore. He named the home [Mount Clare] after his grandmother. In June of 1763 Charles married, to Margaret Tilghman (1742-1817), daughter of Matthew Tilghman of Talbot County. Although the couple had no children who reached maturity, they remained together until his death. She became the mistress of Mount Clare, and earned a reputation for her greenhouse and pinery, where she grew oranges, lemons, and pineapple. Continued

Images: Mount Clare Museum House, Baltimore, Maryland

Country Churches: Vernon M.E.

Vernon Methodist Episcopal Church, in White Hall, Maryland was built in 1871 and rebuilt in 1897.

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Mar 21, 2008


(Wikipedia) - Pocahontas (c. 1595 – bur. March 21, 1617) was a Native American woman who married an Englishman, John Rolfe, and became a celebrity in London in the last year of her life. She was a daughter of Wahunsunacock (also known as Chief or Emperor Powhatan), who ruled an area encompassing almost all of the neighboring tribes in the Tidewater region of Virginia (called Tenakomakah at the time). Her formal names were Matoaka and Amonute; 'Pocahontas' was a childhood nickname referring to her frolicsome nature (in the Powhatan language it meant "little wanton", according to William Strachey). After her baptism, she went by the name Rebecca, becoming Rebecca Rolfe on her marriage. Link

Statue of Pocahontas by William Ordway Partridge. Photo NYTimes via LoC.

Mar 20, 2008

More sheds

Northeast Corridor Tour

Photo of Gunpowder River Bridge (Joppatowne, Maryland), taken by Jack Boucher in 1977. You can see the whole group here, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Mar 19, 2008

Part of historic academy is slated for demolition

(Examiner) - The old Bel Air Academy would be partially demolished to make room for expanded parking and playing fields at a neighboring school under a compromise aimed at satisfying preservationists and parents alike.
The school board plan calls for demolishing all but the original parts of the academy, built between 1882 and 1897. Most of the property can become fields and a bus loop for Bel Air Elementary, which had been the area’s first modern school and served as school headquarters until 2006, board members said. Link

Mar 18, 2008

Images of America: Cecil County

(HSoCC) - We are pleased to announce that the Society will host a booksigning for a new Cecil County history title on July 12 from 1 to 3 p.m. Milt Diggins, the editor of the Society’s Journal is the author of this title, which is part of the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing. Continued

Baltimore hosts Festival of Maps

(AP) - Baltimore is hosting a Festival of Maps this spring, with exhibits of maps ranging from ancient Rome to outer space to Baltimore neighborhoods, along with tours and workshops sponsored by more than 20 arts and cultural organizations.
The festival was organized by the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.
The centerpiece of the festival is an exhibit at the Walters Art Museum called "Maps: Finding Our Place in the World," which runs through June 8. Link

Mar 17, 2008

Small lot preservation saves nearly 50 acres

(Sara Michael, Examiner) - A push to save small open space lots from development in Howard County has netted nearly 50 acres for preservation and with another 90 acres in the pipeline. “It’s much better than we were hoping for,” said Meg Schumacher, executive director of the Howard County Conservancy.
... Preserving these small lots from development aims to curb so-called bad infill development, which is squeezing new houses into existing neighborhoods. Neighbors often lament the burden on infrastructure and destruction of open space resulting from such development. Continued

Dusting Off the Archive for the Web

(NYTimes) - As magazines and newspapers hunt for the new thing they need to be to thrive in the Internet era, some find that part of the answer lies in the old thing they used to be.
Publications are rediscovering their archives, like a person learning that a hand-me-down coffee table is a valuable antique. For magazines and newspapers with long histories, especially, old material can be reborn on the Web as an inexpensive way to attract readers, advertisers and money. Continued

The Susquehanna Power Company Railroad

The Susquehanna Power Company Railroad was a temporary line, built solely to transport construction materials to the Conowingo Dam in the late 1920's. It was located on the west bank of the river (Harford County), and went from the dam to Havre de Grace where it connected with the PRR.
The old right-of-way now serves as a trail in Susquehanna State park. It's easy to confuse this line with two others in the area: The Port Road, which is across the river, and the Peach Bottom Branch of the now defunct Ma&Pa Railroad.

The old RR bridge at Rock Run now serves as a walking trail