Jan 30, 2009

Here's our mission

A combat crew receives final instructions just before taking off in a mighty YB-17 bomber from a bombardment squadron base at the field, Langley Field, Va. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The Official Baltimore County 350th Anniversary Celebration Website

"Welcome to the Baltimore County 350th Anniversary Celebration Website. Everything we do to commemorate Baltimore County’s 350th anniversary is designed to enhance our citizens’ ability to experience, understand and appreciate their heritage and draw lessons from it. We will celebrate grand achievements and smaller ones that give light to the values and traditions we cherish. We will examine change in our society – change that brings both opportunity and challenge. We will visit the hearts and minds of our people and celebrate their diversity.
We will go to places that are unique, colorful and alluring, and steeped in historical significance. ... " Continued

Washington Post’s Book World Goes Out of Print as a Separate Section

(NYTimes) - In another sign that literary criticism is losing its profile in newspapers, The Washington Post has decided to shutter the print version of Book World, its Sunday stand-alone book review section, and shift reviews to space inside two other sections of the paper.
The last issue of Book World will appear in its tabloid print version on Feb. 15 but will continue to be published online as a distinct entity. Continued

Photo: WPA/Library of Congress

Silo Point wins national homebuilders award

(Examiner) - The 24-story building was constructed in 1923 as the fastest and largest grain elevator in the world. Turner has spent the last few years revamping it into a condo development; units went on the market last fall. Continued

Photo: MDRails

Thomas Rolfe

(Wikipedia) - Thomas Rolfe (January 30, 1615 - c. 1675) was the only child of Pocahontas by her English husband John Rolfe.
Rolfe was born at Smith's Plantation in Jamestown, Virginia. After growing up in England, on 13 September 1632 he married Elizabeth Washington, at St James's church, Clerkenwell, London, and their daughter Anne was born in 1633. Elizabeth died shortly after Anne’s birth, and in 1635 Rolfe returned to Virginia, leaving his daughter with his cousin Anthony Rolfe. Continued

Jan 29, 2009

Died this day in 1956: H. L. Mencken

"Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time."

Jan 28, 2009


(Sledworks.com) - Remember those snowy evenings as a kid. Several inches of white powder would fall through the night. You couldn't wait to get up the next morning knowing school was cancelled and you and a bunch of other neighborhood kids would get on your favorite sleds for a day of good old-fashioned fun. Continued

Photos: Sled Hill. Thanx to Bel Air News and Views for the inspiration.

At the Mouth of the Mine

"An explosion and fire at the Cincinnati coal mine, located near Finleyville, Pennsylvania, resulted in the deaths of 97 miners and one member of a rescue crew. The disaster occurred on April 23, 1913."

Library of Congress at flickr

Super Bowl XXXV

(Wikipedia) - Super Bowl XXXV was played on January 28, 2001 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion following the 2000 regular season. The American Football Conference (AFC) champion Baltimore Ravens (16–4) defeated the National Football Conference (NFC) champion New York Giants (14–5), 34–7. The Ravens became the third wild card team to win the Super Bowl and the second in four years. Also, the city of Baltimore had its first Super Bowl title in 30 years. Continued

Jan 27, 2009

John Updike, a Lyrical Writer of the Ordinary, Is Dead at 76

(Christopher Lehmann-Haupt) - John Updike, the kaleidoscopically gifted writer whose quartet of Rabbit Angstrom novels highlighted so vast and protean a body of fiction, verse, essays and criticism as to place him in the first rank of among American men of letters, died on Tuesday. He was 76 and lived in Beverly Farms, Mass.

Hemingway described literary New York as a bottle full of tapeworms trying to feed on each other. When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but toward a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas. I think of the books on library shelves, without their jackets, years old, and a countryish teenaged boy finding them, have them speak to him. The reviews, the stacks in Brentano’s, are just hurdles to get over, to place the books on that shelf.”


Glen Rock is selling wooden nickels

(York Daily Record) - Glen Rock is selling wooden nickels.
To be more accurate, the Glen Rock Sesquicentennial Committee is selling wooden nickels to raise money for next year's 150th anniversary celebration.
... Each nickel will be historic in nature and will feature businesses and individuals who played a role in the growth of Glen Rock, said committee chairman John "Otts" Hufnagel.
The first nickel, released in December, features the Glen Rock Carolers, established in 1848. The second nickel, released this month, features a likeness of William Heathcote, the founder of Glen Rock. Continued

Photo: http://www.glenrock150.org/

Roosevelt’s Slow Embrace of Government Spending

(NYTimes) - ... In 1934, the British economist John Maynard Keynes visited Roosevelt in the White House to make his case for more deficit spending. But Roosevelt, it seems, was either unimpressed or uncomprehending. “He left a whole rigmarole of figures,” Roosevelt complained to his labor secretary, Frances Perkins, according to her memoir. “He must be a mathematician rather than a political economist.”
Keynes left equally disenchanted, telling Ms. Perkins that he had “supposed the president was more literate, economically speaking.”
It would not be until the early 1940s, with the beginning of World War II, that a strong dose of Keynesian medicine was administered to the American economy. Continued

Photo: FDR by Miguel Covarrubias

The National Geographic Society

(Wikipedia) - On January 13, 1888, 33 explorers and scientists gathered at the Cosmos Club, a private club then located on Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., to organize "a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge." After preparing a constitution and a plan of organization, the National Geographic Society was incorporated two weeks later on January 27. Gardiner Greene Hubbard became its first president and his son-in-law, Alexander Graham Bell, eventually succeeded him in 1897 following his death. Continued

Jan 26, 2009

Negro Baseball League Museum To Open

(WBAL) - The Negro League's Baseball Museum of Maryland is hoping to open its doors to the public by Feb. 19.
Bert Simmons pitched for the Baltimore Elite Giants, one of the teams in the Negro Baseball League in the 1950s. He said it's a game he played since childhood.
"It was the only game in town when I grew up. It was a southern town that had no basketball, no soccer, so we played baseball," he told 11 News reporter Kim Dacey. Continued

Photo: Hubert "Bert" Simmons (in what looks like a Baltimore Elite Giants uniform?) courtesy of the Negro League Baseball Players Association.

Baltimore County's Other Rebel Raiders

While many are familiar with the Confederate cavalry raider Harry Gilmor, few remember T. Sturgis Davis. Davis, like Gilmor, was a member of The Baltimore County Horse Guard, a southern leaning militia based in Towson. After the horse guard was disbanded, shortly after the beginning of the war, many of its members headed across the Potomac to Confederate territory. Davis first shows up in the records as a cavalry scout, and then as a captain and one of Turner Ashby's Assistant Adjutant Generals. (Gilmor also served under Ashby around the same time as a Sergeant Major.) It was Davis who accompanied the general's body to Charlottesville, after Ashby was killed in battle near Harrisonburg, Virginia in 1862.

In 1863, Davis, now a major, formed an independent band of guerrilla cavalry, which were commonly known at the time as "partisan rangers." He served, like "Hance" McNeill, "Lige" White (another Marylander), and Harry Gilmor, in the general area of the Shenandoah Valley, though they ranged anywhere from Cumberland, Maryland, to Wardensville, West Virginia, to Harpers Ferry and beyond. Confederates of draft age were generally banned from partisan ranger service because it was too popular an assignment, thus the ranks were filled with Marylanders, who weren't eligible for the Confederate draft. Davis reported to General John Imboden.

Imboden's Brigade, at the time of the order mentioned above, was composed of the Sixty-second Virginia Mounted Infantry, commanded by that distinguished officer, Colonel George W. Smith, a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute; the Eighteenth Virginia Cavalry, by the General's brother, Colonel George W. Imboden, now a prominent lawyer in West Virginia; White's Battalion, by Major Robert White, late Attorney-General of West Virginia; the Maryland Battalion, by Major Sturgis Davis, of Maryland, who had won his laurels under Turner Ashby; Gilmor's Battalion of Rangers, by Harry Gilmor, of Baltimore, who was as rough and daring a rider as ever drew a saber; McNeil's Rangers, of Hardy and Hampshire counties, West Virginia, commanded by Captain John H. McNeil. This was the company that later in the war, under the immediate command of Jesse McNeil, son of Captain J. H. McNeil, first lieutenant of Company D, rode into Cumberland, Md., and brought out two major-generals, Crook and Kelly, from the very midst of their commands. Finally, McClanahan's Battery, commanded by Captain John H. McClanahan, a Texan, who had served under Ben McCullough in Texas until it got too peaceable there for him. So, as may be seen, our General had in his brigade a lot of choice spirits, and was well equipped to make a daring raid into the enemy's lines. - "Imboden's Dash into Charlestown"

Davis appears most in the records concerning the battle of New Market in the spring of 1864. Sigel's advance ran into Confederates posted at Rude's Hill under the command of a Maryland Confederate, Capt. T. Sturgis Davis. Davis and his commander, Gen. John Imboden, were able to delay the Federal advance until Gen. John C. Breckinridge arrived at New Market with his small army, including the Virginia Military Institute Cadet Battalion. - Historical Marker at Rude's Hill.

Davis fought through the summer until he was captured at Winchester, Virginia on September 19th, 1864. Captain Thomas B. Gatch, also a former member of the Baltimore County Horse Guard, took command of "Davis' Maryland Battalion," though it was later broken up, with part of it going to the First Maryland Cavalry, and part to Colonel Gilmor's command.

After the war, Davis and Gatch both returned to Maryland and both served in the state legislature.

I found a letter by Gatch on an auction site:

A Confederate Veteran Recalls Gettysburg and General Lee's Orders. Autograph Letter Signed ("Thos. B. Gatch").Two pages, 9 x 6½", Baltimore, December 13, 1920. To John Boos. Mailing folds, spot on second page, penciled notation at upper left corner. In very good to fine condition. A remarkable Civil War reminiscence. Thomas Gatch, a First Sargeant in the Seventh Virginia Cavalry (commanded by Turner Ashby), recalls meeting Robert E. Lee as he and his detachment were crossing the Potomac on their way to Gettysburg: "...I was in command of all the Cavalry in immediate advance of Genl Lee's Army 30 men. Genl Lee rode up to me and asked 'who is in command of this detachment,' I saluted & replied I am Sir, he asked 'what is your rank' I replied 1st Sergt Sir, 'how many men have you?' I replied 30 Sir, he then asked 'are they well mounted,' I answered I suppose we were selected looking to our mounts He then said, 'you with your detachment will remain at my Head Quarters as couriers until relieved. I have issued Genl orders that all Citizens be treated with courtesy and that no plundering of any kind is to be permitted. if you or any of your men should witness any infraction of that order, I want them brought to my head quarters & turned over to Col Marshal.': this is the only instance in which I came in personal contact with Genl Lee. I was wounded at Fairfield takeing[sic] a dispatch to our Cavalry...I was taken Prisoner during Genl Earleys campaign in the Valley and spent the last 9 months of the war in Fort Delaware which was worse than the war itself..."

Gatch also wrote an article for the June 1926 (Vol. XXXIV) of Confederate Veteran Magazine, but I have not read it.

I was assigned to the command of The Valley District Shenandoah and kept McNeill with his Rangers Major Harry Gilmor and Major Sturgis Davis both of Maryland and each with a small battalion from their State always on the go scouting capturing trains of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad assailing and breaking up foraging parties of the enemy capturing horses beyond our established lines and in a general way harassing the enemy and keeping our side well informed of all movements of the enemy in our front They soon knew every road and path and almost every family in the Virginia counties between the Allegheny and the Blue Ridge Mountains and within sixty miles of the Maryland line Indeed so many young men over the border in that State joined one or the other of these Partizan bodies that they often crossed the Potomac at night to procure horses and cattle for Confederate use from people they knew in Maryland as sympathizers with the South. - Gen. John Imboden

Photo: "Charge of the First Maryland Regiment at the Death of Ashby" G.A. Muller, after a painting by William Ludwell Sheppard, A. Hoen & Company. (See "The Confederate Image" by Neely, Holtzer, & Boritt for more on this illustration.)

Henry Hudson’s View of New York: When Trees Tipped the Sky

(NYTimes) - What F. Scott Fitzgerald called the “fresh, green breast of the New World” that greeted Henry Hudson 400 years ago has been reimagined by a senior ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Drawing on 18th-century British military maps, the ecologist, Eric W. Sanderson, has painstakingly recreated Manhattan’s rolling landscape — Mannahatta in an American Indian dialect meant “island of many hills,” many of which were all but leveled when the street grid was imposed in the 19th century — that Hudson encountered.
In his coming book, “Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City,” Mr. Sanderson evocatively describes “the old-growth forests, stately wetlands, glittering streams, teeming waters, rolling hills, abundant wildlife and mysterious people.” All in all, a scene hard to reconcile with the contemporary landscape dominated by glass, concrete and asphalt. Continued

Photo: "The Narrows near Peakskill [i.e. Peekskill], Hudson River, New York." William Henry Jackson c1890 (Library of Congress).

Super Bowl XXVI

(Wikipedia) - Super Bowl XXVI was an American football game played on January 26, 1992 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion following the 1991 regular season. The National Football Conference (NFC) champion Washington Redskins (17–2) defeated the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Buffalo Bills (15–4), 37–24. Washington became the fourth team to win three Super Bowls, joining the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Oakland Raiders, and the San Francisco 49ers. Continued

Jan 25, 2009

Cinema Purgatorio

(Baltimore Sun) - Leo A. Hoshal, a retired locksmith who once made news by banning long-haired male patrons from the Bel Air movie theater he managed, died of cancer and pulmonary disease complications Wednesday at his caregiver's home in Delta, Pa. He was 86. Continued

Photo and Abe Simpson quote: The Roman Empire

Graves, conspiracies, and a mummy

(Rafael Alvarez) - Find a head's-up Lincoln penny on the street and it's your lucky day.
Come upon a handful of pennies on a tombstone in the Booth family plot at Baltimore's Green Mount Cemetery -- there were four glinting in the winter sun just the other day -- and you'll discover why no burial ground in the fabled boneyard receives more visitors than the relatives of John Wilkes Booth. Continued

Photos: Library of Congress

Nellie Bly

(LoC) - ... On January 25, 1890, police cleared a path through a cheering crowd for reporter Nellie Bly as she stepped off a train in New York just 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds after setting sail east to prove she could circle the globe in less than 80 days.
Bly, born Elizabeth Cochrane, challenged the fictional record of Phileas T. Fogg, hero of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, at the suggestion of her employer, the New York World. As Bly traveled via ship, train, jinricksha, sampan, horse, and burro, the World carried daily articles about her journey and offered a trip to Europe to the person who could come closest to guessing her finish time. The paper received nearly 1,000,000 entries and circulation boomed. Continued

Photos: Library of Congress (2nd photo via Wikipedia).

Jan 24, 2009

BBC7 Goes Spooky as Edgar Allan Poe Turns 200

(Wired) - ... While America celebrates Poe and his work, BBC7 will be presenting dramatic productions based on The Fall of The House of Usher, The Gold Bug and The Tell-Tale Heart.
The most interesting Poe production might be The Strange Case of Edgar Allan Poe, in which the author's own detective Creation (C. Auguste Dupin) investigates the real-life mysterious death of his creator. Continued

Wills House to open Feb. 12

(YDR) - Three weeks before its planned opening, there's not much to see at the David Wills House. Saw dust, ladders, garbage cans and a cardboard sign that reads "Clean dry feet only" are the current occupants of the soon-to-be Gettysburg museum.
But officials say the historic structure -- where Abraham Lincoln put the finishing touches on his famous Gettysburg Address -- will be ready for its Feb. 12 opening. The date coincides with President Lincoln's 200th birthday. Continued

Photos: Wills House, Gettysburg, PA (National Park Service). David Wills to Abraham Lincoln, Monday, November 02, 1863, invites Lincoln to stay at his home during the visit to Gettysburg (Library of Congress).

Bill Werber, Infielder Who Played With Ruth, Is Dead at 100

(NYTimes) - Bill Werber, a link to the Yankees of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, the leadoff hitter in the first major league baseball game to be televised and the oldest living former big leaguer, died Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. He was 100.
... A native of Washington’s Maryland suburbs, Werber became Duke’s first all-American basketball player in 1930, a 5-foot-10-inch guard, and he also played shortstop at Duke. Continued

Photo: The Virtual Card Collection by Dan Austin

Harry Gilmor

(Wikipedia) - Harry W. Gilmor (January 24, 1838 – March 4, 1883) served as Baltimore City Police Commissioner in the 1870s, but he was most noted as a Confederate cavalry officer during the American Civil War. Gilmor's daring raids, such as The Magnolia Station Raid gained his partisans fame as "Gilmor's Raiders."
Gilmor was born at "Glen Ellen," the family estate in Baltimore County, Maryland. He was the son of Robert Gilmor and Miss Ellen Ward, daughter of Judge William H. Ward. Harry was the fifth of eleven children. Continued

Jan 23, 2009

How the West was Spun - Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show

(Historynet) - When fabled bison hunter William “Buffalo Bill” Cody first staged his Wild West show in 1883, he needed more than heroic cowboys, villainous Indians, teeming horses and roaming buffalo to transform it from a circus into a sensation. He needed star power. And there was one man who guaranteed to provide it: the Sioux chief widely blamed for the uprising that overwhelmed George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn only a decade earlier. “I am going to try hard to get old Sitting Bull,” Cody said. “If we can manage to get him our ever lasting fortune is made.” Continued

Top Photo: Sitting Bull, Dakota Chief, and William Cody, both holding rifle. (Library of Congress) Bottom Photo: William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody and four Native American men sit in a gondola while touring in Venice, Italy. Long Bear sits to the right of Cody wearing a feather headdress. Chief American Horse, also wearing a feather headress, sits on the ledge of the gondola. (Library of Congress)

Revolutionary War "Camp Security" marked again

(York Daily Record) - A new historical marker for Camp Security has gone up in recent weeks along East Market Street in Springettsbury Township to replace the one that's been missing for more than a year now.
And the new sign gives passersby more information about the Revolutionary War prisoner-of-war camp.
The marker disappeared in 2007, and nobody had any information about what happened to it, said Karen Galle, historical marker program coordinator for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Continued

Photo: Friends of Camp Security

Elva Zona Heaster: The Greenbrier Ghost

(Wikipedia) - The Greenbrier Ghost is the name popularly given to the alleged ghost of a young woman in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, United States, who was murdered in 1897. The events surrounding the haunting have led to it becoming a very late instance in American legal history in which the testimony of a "ghost" was accepted at a murder trial. Continued

Jan 22, 2009

World War II Rationing: There's a War on, You Know!

(ameshistoricalsociety.org) - During the Second World War, you couldn't just walk into a shop and buy as much sugar or butter or meat as you wanted, nor could you fill up your car with gasoline whenever you liked. All these things were rationed, which meant you were only allowed to buy a small amount (even if you could afford more). The government introduced rationing because certain things were in short supply during the war, and rationing was the only way to make sure everyone got their fair share. Continued

Getting America Back on Its Feet, the 1933 Version

(NYTimes) - By the time Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated as president on March 4, 1933, banks were closed in 38 states, and withdrawals were limited in the other 10. The stock exchange had announced that it wouldn’t open that morning and wouldn’t say when it would reopen.
Unemployment was, officially, over 25 percent and actually far higher as many of those counted as employed were working only part time. Farms were being foreclosed at the rate of 20,000 a month. Hundreds of thousands were living in “Hoovervilles” and eating at soup kitchens or scavenging food from garbage cans. Farmers could not find a market for their crops. Many thought the end of the American experiment was near. Adam Cohen’s new book, “Nothing to Fear,” shows why it was not. Continued

"Nothing to Fear" excerpt: Edmund Wilson, the well-known writer, toured Chicago in 1932 and found a "sea of misery." On one stop, he saw an old Polish immigrant "dying of a tumor, with no heat in the house, on a cold day." In the city's flophouses, Wilson encountered "a great deal of t.b." and "spinal meningitis" that "got out of hand for a while and broke nine backs on its rack." Worst of all were the garbage dumps, "diligently haunted by the hungry." In the summer heat, when "the flies were thick," a hundred people descended on one dump, "falling on the heap of refuse as soon as the truck had pulled out and digging in it with sticks and hands." Even spoiled meat was claimed, since the desperate foragers could "cut out the worst parts" or "scald it and sprinkle it with soda to neutralize the taste and smell." A widowed housekeeper who was unable to find work showed up with her fourteen-year-old son. "Before she picked up the meat," Wilson wrote, "she would always take off her glasses so that she would not be able to see the maggots." Continued

Photo: Frances Perkins by Jean MacLane (U.S. Department of Labor)

Grandma's Graphics: Vintage graphics and clipart

"From Harry Clarke to 1890's storybooks, if you're looking for unique images or clipart for use on your web pages or in other design or craft projects you've come to the right place. There's a treasury here at Grandma's Graphics that you probably won't find anywhere else online. Some of these graphics are quite large and take time to load, but be patient, they're worth the wait. ...As far as I can determine, all of the images are in the public domain." Continued

Via boingboing

Linking the Keys

(LoC) - On January 22, 1912, the nearly twenty thousand residents of the city of Key West, Florida, located on a small island some 128 miles south of the Florida peninsula, observed the completion of an overseas rail connection to the mainland. The Florida East Coast Railway served the island until 1935, when it was destroyed by a hurricane. It was replaced in 1938 by the Overseas Highway, built on the foundation of the old railroad bed. This system of forty-two bridges, which connects the Florida Keys to the mainland, is one of the longest over-water roads in the world. Continued

Photos: MDRails

Jan 21, 2009

Unraveling the Myths of Burnside Bridge

(Civil War Times) - When shrouded in a fog of contemporary sentiment, partisanship and the passage of time, history does not always reveal itself so easily. Out of this haze, historical myths can emerge, often leading to controversy about precisely what happened, why it happened, and what the impact would have been had it happened differently. The Battle of Antietam, fought on September 17, 1862 and considered by some historians as the most important conflict of the Civil War, is a prime example of this phenomenon.
Sites that embody battle-changing moments during that bloody fight dot the battlefield near Sharpsburg, Md.: The Cornfield, Dunker Church, Bloody Lane. None, however, has sparked a more enduring controversy than what we, today, know as Burnside Bridge. Continued

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

Buried box yields Texas treasures after Ike

GALVESTON, Texas - A contractor helping clear debris from Hurricane Ike searched for the owner of an ammunition box he found buried in sand that contained keepsakes, including an 1863 Confederate $50 bill, war medals and diamond earrings.
The green steel Army ammunition canister found by Michael Pate also held several clues that may help him confirm the owner: family photographs, a driver's license and a Social Security card. Continued

Richard Winters

(Wikipedia) - Richard D. Winters (born January 21, 1918) is a former United States Army officer who commanded Company "E" of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, during World War II. The unit - also known as "Easy Company" per the contemporary Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet - parachuted into Normandy in the early hours of D-Day, and fought across France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and eventually into Germany.
Winters was portrayed in the 2001 HBO mini-series Band of Brothers by British actor Damian Lewis.
Richard Winters was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and grew up in nearby Ephrata. Continued

Jan 20, 2009

Satellite Image: 2009 Inaugural Celebration. Washington D.C. National Mall

"This half-meter resolution image of the United States Capitol, Washington D.C. was collected by the GeoEye-1 satellite on Jan. 20, 2009 to commemorate the Inauguration of President Barack Obama. The image, taken through high, whispy white clouds, shows the masses of people attending the Inaugural Celebration." Link

Courtesy of GeoEye via boingboing.

"On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp"

(NYTimes) - The following is a transcript of the inaugural poem recited by Elizabeth Alexander, as provided by CQ transcriptions.

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin." Continued

Historical Inauguration Speeches

Obama Takes the Oath

(The Daily Beast) - If you're wondering about Obama's halting delivery of the oath of office, it's because Chief Justice Roberts got the words wrong! See video then click here for Article 2 of the Constitution.

President Obama’s Inaugural Address

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans. Continued

Lincoln-Douglas Debate audiobook: civics, history and rhetoric lesson in 16 hours

(boingboing) - I've spent the past week listening to BBC America's 16-hour dramatic reading of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, America's most mythologized political discourse. I've been reading about the Debates since I was a teenager reading Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death (he holds them up as a substantive counterpoint to the soundbite-heavy, content-lite Reagan-Dukakis debates), but I'd never actually read them.
I'm glad I did.
Not because the Lincoln-Douglas debates live up to the myth (they don't -- and probably nothing could) but because of all the flaws and human foibles they disclose about these two towering orators out of America's past. Continued

The Riddle of Herbert Hoover

(Slate) - ... What made Hoover's energy in these jobs so strange was his steadfast commitment throughout to private effort instead of public programs. His 1922 tract American Individualism was, despite some progressive notes, what Leuchtenburg calls a "jejune screed" offering "nothing that could not be heard at a weekly Kiwanis luncheon." Leuchtenburg explains the contradiction in Hoover by showing how in each of his previous experiences, he ascribed his feats not to the government resources at his disposal but to the charitable spirit of leading citizens—a stubborn misperception that would later cripple him. Continued

Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance, a look at the bumbling, murdering, drunken idiots (and others) who've served as vice-president of the USA

(boingboing) - Holy cow, did I ever enjoy reading Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance by Bill Kelter and Wayne Shellabarger, a snarky, thorough look at the foibles and missteps of the vice presidency from John Adams to Dick Cheney. I had no idea how completely comic the office has been through the years, but, as the authors note: "[The Vice Presidents'] relentless and overwhelming facelessness is testament to the bewildering fact that for more than 200 years, the American people have elected a buffoon's gallery of rogues, incompetents, empty suits, abysmal spellers, degenerate golfers and corrupt Marylanders to the Vice Presidency with barely a passing consideration that they might one day have to assume the highest office in the land." Continued

Inauguration - a set on Flickr

Presidential inaugurals have a cherished history at the Smithsonian. On March 6, 1865, Lincoln's second inaugural ball was held at the U.S. Patent Office, now the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery (currently on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Honor of Your Company Is Requested: President Lincoln's Inaugural Ball) The inaugural ball of President Garfield, March 4, 1881, was also the first public event held in the newly built U. S. National Museum, now known as the Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building (pictured in this set). The Smithsonian’s involvement with inaugural events is a tradition that continues today, with its museums serving as the sites for numerous balls, celebrations, and exhibitions. Continued

Jan 19, 2009

Video: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream"

Via boingboing

Edgar Allan Poe

(Wikipedia) - Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809–October 7, 1849) was an American poet, short-story writer, editor and literary critic, and is considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career. Continued

Also on Falmanac:

Controversy doesn't deter Poe toaster from annual visit

Baltimore Has Poe; Philadelphia Wants Him

So, how'd all this raven stuff get started anyway?

Jan 18, 2009

Enter the Fujifilm Panda Photo Sharing Sweepstakes

The National Zoo and Fujifilm invite you to submit your favorite panda photos for an opportunity to win a fantastic prize, such as a camera or photo book, provided by Fujifilm.
Every other month, beginning in February, up to 25 of the photos received will be selected at random and posted on the Zoo’s website. If your photo is selected and posted on the site, you will automatically be entered into a sweepstakes drawing. Six winners will be drawn throughout the year on a bimonthly basis; the first winner will be drawn on February 27. Winners will be notified via email and also announced on our website. Continued

Sing Ho! for the life of a bear.

Canon EOS 20D

A near-forgotten MA&PA tunnel gets a new task

(Jacques Kelly) - ... I thought my list of tunnels was fairly complete, but then my friend Rudy Fischer called and told me he'd been dropped in a bucket and taken on a tour of a local oddity - the 29th Street tunnel under Sisson Street. Constructed between 1926 and 1927, this passage is 160 feet long, 30 feet wide and was once used by passenger and freight trains of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad, that wonderful little steam railroad that wound through Stony Run Valley, Roland Park, Woodbrook, Rodgers Forge, Towson, Glen Arm, Fallston and Bel Air and ended at York, Pa. Continued

Falmanac (aka MDRails) documented this tunnel several years ago - on Nov. 23, 2003. The first picture shows the entrance from the Falls Road side. At the time, it looked (second photo), to be a hangout for local home guards - "a person who drinks in freight yards." In the third picture, a streetcar from the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, rides past the tunnel entrance.

Photos: MDRails