Sep 30, 2010

First World War officially ends on Sunday

(Yahoo! News) The First World War will officially end on Sunday when Germany pays off the last of the enormous debt which was set by the Allies 92 years ago. Continued

Ether He Was the First or He Wasn’t

(Wired) 1846: Dentist William Morton uses ether to anesthetize a patient in Boston. It was not the first such use, but it began a train of events leading to the widespread adoption of ether for surgical anesthesia.
Dr. Crawford Long of Jefferson, Georgia, removed a tumor from the neck of James Venable under ether anesthesia March 30, 1842. (Long may have started using ether a year earlier while he was attending medical school at the University of Pennsylvania.) But Long, perhaps giddy with excitement or perhaps from experimenting with ether as a recreational drug (the “ether frolics”), did not rush to publish or patent his discovery. Continued

Image: Ether Monument, Boston, MA.

The Flintstones celebrate 50 year anniversary with a Google doodle

(Guardian) "Flintstones, meet the Flintstones, they're the modern stone-age family … from the, town of Bedrock, they're a page right out of history …"
Rarely will a Google doodle lodge an earworm quite so firmly in your head - even more rarely one that will leave you wanting to shout "Yabba Dabba Doo!" at the end while sliding down the tail of a giant red dinosaur, unless you already want to do that pretty much all the time. Which, let's be honest, most of us do. Continued

Sep 29, 2010

Arthur Penn dies: Filmmaker refashioned movie and American history with classics

(AP) Director Arthur Penn, a myth-maker and myth-breaker who in such classics as "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Little Big Man" refashioned movie and American history and sealed a generation's affinity for outsiders, died Tuesday night, a day after his 88th birthday. ... "A society would be wise to pay attention to the people who do not belong if it wants to find out ... where it's failing," Penn once said. Continued

Louis Weichmann

(Wikipedia) Louis J. Weichmann (September 29, 1842 – June 5, 1902) was one of the chief witnesses for the prosecution in the conspiracy trial of the Abraham Lincoln assassination. Previously he was also a suspect due to his association with the Surratt family. Continued

Sep 28, 2010

John Dos Passos

"...The plan of U.S.A. is panoramic: its aim is to show almost the whole picture of American life in the first three decades of this century, a carefully significant bit at a time. The three novels are composed of four distinct parts: "newsreels," in which headlines and newspaper stories, advertisements, and snatches of contemporary popular songs are placed in sometimes comic, often ironic juxtaposition; "camera eyes" (fifty-one of these), in which Dos Passos offers, in stream-of-consciousness prose, autobiographical recollections of a period he is writing about elsewhere in the novel; biographies (twenty-six of these) of great or emblematic figures of the time, such as...Henry Ford,...J.P. Morgan,...and Isadora Duncan...; and, finally, narratives of the lives of twelve major characters, and half a dozen important secondary ones...
U.S.A., its present-day readers may not realize, was an avant-garde work, in which Dos Passos applied modernist means to naturalist ends. The result is something like a multimedia event within a single book. Dos Passos had devised, through a montagelike method, an impressive apparatus for delineating collective historical experience."

- Joseph Epstein, New Yorker, August 5, 1996

Sep 27, 2010

Lancaster, Pennsylvania becomes the capital of the United States, but not for very long

(Wikipedia) Originally called Hickory Town, the city was renamed after the English city of Lancaster by native John Wright. Its symbol, the red rose, is from the House of Lancaster. Lancaster was part of the 1681 Penn's Woods Charter of William Penn, and was laid out by James Hamilton in 1734. It was incorporated as a borough in 1742 and incorporated as a city in 1818. During the American Revolution, it was briefly the capital of the colonies on September 27, 1777, when the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia, which had been captured by the British. After meeting one day, they moved still farther away, to York, Pennsylvania. Continued

Wreck of the Old 97

(Wikipedia) - The "Old 97", a Southern Railway train officially known as the Fast Mail, was en route from Monroe, Virginia to Spencer, North Carolina when it left the track at Stillhouse Trestle near Danville, Virginia on September 27, 1903. Continued

Sep 26, 2010

Lewis Hine

(Wikipedia) Lewis Wickes Hine (September 26, 1874 – November 3, 1940) was an American sociologist and photographer. Hine used his camera as a tool for social reform. His photographs were instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the United States. Continued

Image: "Marie and Albert Kawalski. 615 S. Band [Bond?] St., Baltimore, Md. Albert is 10 and Marie 11 years old. They worked, with mother, last winter, shucking oysters for Varn & Beard Packing Co., Young Island, S.C. (near Charleston). Mrs. Kawalski did not have things represented to her correctly and she found that all the children that had fare paid were compelled to work for the company. Other smaller children worked some and went to school some. Maire and Albert have worked several summers in the berry, beans and tomato fields packing houses near Baltimore." (Lewis Hine/Library of Congress)

Sep 25, 2010

Bullwinkle's Corner: The Daffodils

This "Bullwinkle's Corner" take on William Wordsworth's poem, "Daffodils", aired in 1962 during NBC's primetime version of Rocky and Bullwinkle, "The Bullwinkle Show".

In Bing Crosby’s Wine Cellar, Vintage Baseball

(NYTimes) How a near pristine black-and-white reel of the entire television broadcast of the deciding game of the 1960 World Series — long believed to be lost forever — came to rest in the dry and cool wine cellar of Bing Crosby’s home near San Francisco is not a mystery to those who knew him.
Crosby loved baseball, but as a part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates he was too nervous to watch the Series against the Yankees, so he and his wife went to Paris, where they listened by radio. Continued

Rail trail plan includes pedestrian/bike bridge in Manchester Township

(YDR) The York County Rail Trail Authority plans to build a pedestrian/bicycle bridge and approach ramps from Crist Memorial Fields in Manchester Township across the Codorus Creek at Emig Road.
The board gave unanimous approval to bid the work at its recent meeting.
Initially, the bridge was going to be included in the larger Phase II project of the northern extension of the Heritage Rail Trail County Park. Continued

Sep 24, 2010

Museum Day offers knowledge for no cost

(MSNBC) What do Michael Jackson’s guitar-shaped belt buckle, an ivory telescope and a rotary jail have in common?
They’re just a few of the unusual objects visitors can see for free on Sept. 25 during Smithsonian magazine's Museum Day. More than 1,300 museums, planetariums, zoos and other attractions around the country will be offering free admission — for two — to anyone who presents a voucher. Continued

The Dempwolf Apprentices

(Windows Into York) In the history of York County, the Dempwolf name has been associated with great architecture more than any other firm or individual. John Augustus Dempwolf established a practice on Centre Square and quickly became York's most prominent architect, designing landmark buildings from the 1870s into the 1920s. But J. A. Dempwolf was not just the name of a man: it was also the name of his architectural firm. His brother, Reinhardt and son, Frederick were key elements to the firm's great success. Many younger architects mentored under the Dempwolfs then later formed their own companies, contributing greatly to the built environment in York and beyond. Continued

Jim McKay

(Wikipedia) James Kenneth McManus (September 24, 1921 – June 7, 2008), better known by his professional name of Jim McKay, was an American television sports journalist.
McKay is best known for hosting ABC's Wide World of Sports (1961–1998). His introduction for that program has passed into American pop culture.
... Later he gave up his job as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun newspapers to join that organization's new TV station WMAR-TV in 1947. His was the first voice ever heard on television in Baltimore, and he remained with the station until joining CBS in New York in 1950 as host of a variety show, called The Real McKay, which necessitated the changing of his on-air surname. Through the 1950s, sports commentary became more and more his primary assignment for CBS. Continued

Sep 23, 2010

Dr. William Halsted

(JHMI) - ... William H. Welch invited Halsted in 1886 to come to Baltimore to join him in the newly formed pathology laboratory. Halsted and Franklin P. Mall spent the three years before the opening of the Johns Hopkins Hospital perfecting techniques for intestinal suture and wound healing in dogs. It was during this concentrated period of research that the concept for the Halsted School of Surgery evolved. Halsted's methods consisted of strict aseptic technique, gentle handling of tissue, use of the finest silk suture material, small stitches and low tension on the tissue, and complete closure of wounds whenever possible. These basic procedures had a far-reaching effect on the practice of surgery, making it safer and more effective than it had been previously. continued

Painting: "The Four Doctors" by John Singer Sargent (Halsted is the one standing).

Sep 22, 2010

The Titanic Memorial in Washington, D.C.

(Wikipedia) The Titanic Memorial is a granite statue in southwest Washington, D.C., that honors the men who gave their lives so that women and children might be saved during the RMS Titanic disaster. The thirteen-foot-tall figure is of a partly clad male figure with arms outstretched. The statue was erected by the Women's Titanic Memorial Association.
The memorial is located on P Street SW next to the Washington Channel near Fort Lesley J. McNair. It was designed by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who won the commission in open competition, and sculpted by John Horrigan from a single piece of red granite furnished from Westerly, RI, by the Henry C. Smalley Granite Co. It was unveiled on May 26, 1931, by Helen Herron Taft, the widow of President Taft. Continued

Image: Carol M. Highsmith's America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Interview with Mystery Guest 2010 Creator Heather Owings

(Wired) ... This August, the Finksburg Library in Carroll County, Maryland, finished up Mystery Guest 2010, its second alternate reality game to encourage summer reading for middle-schoolers and high-schoolers in the area. Linked with the summer reading program, players earned Library Bucks to use at the Auction Wrap-Up Party where there were prizes like a hockey puck signed by Washington Capitals right-winger Mike Knuble or tickets to Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, MD.
As reported previously on ARGNet in July, participants were challenged to identify (and deal with) the rather unpleasant Mystery Guest, a literary character that fell out of a book. Continued

Sep 21, 2010

The Six-Foot-Tall Sixty-Second History of the Microwave Oven

(Wired) My childhood was remarkably low-tech for an American kid growing up in the 1980s. I didn’t have cable TV or a computer until I went to college (1997), and didn’t play video games outside of an arcade until we got a NES in 1990. So I always thought microwave ovens came into existence in 1988, when my family got one. In fact, they’d already been in commercial production for more than 40 years. Continued

Cleanup takes place at neglected cemetery in Clifton Park

(Baltimore Sun) After more than a week of hacking away at underbrush and weedy trees, landscape workers have tamed nearly 30 years of neglect at one of Baltimore's oldest Roman Catholic cemeteries.The 7-acre St. Vincent DePaul Cemetery, which is surrounded by Clifton Park, has emerged from its first cleanup since it officially closed in the 1980s. Workers cleared away tall grasses, unruly trees and nearly five tons of debris around four sections of askew grave markers and upturned headstones. Their work revealed the names, incised into limestone, of old Irish, Italian and German families who were members of the downtown Baltimore parish located near the main post office. Continued

The nation's first daily newspaper

(LoC) The nation's first daily newspaper, the Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser, began publication on September 21, 1784. The New England Courant, the first independent American newspaper was published by Benjamin Franklin's older brother in 1721. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, 37 independent newspapers kept the colonists informed. The press contributed to the war effort by publishing broadsides, relaying information, chronicling the war, and sustaining community life. Continued

Sep 20, 2010

Racing Time and Nature to Find Aviators Entombed in a Glacier

(NYTimes) It was December 1942 and the height of World War II when she received news of her brother. “Nancy,” her mother said calmly over the phone. “John’s been lost.”
“When I heard those words, my heart just sank,” said Nancy Pritchard Morgan, 87, of Annapolis, Md. Two weeks earlier, on Nov. 29, her brother and two other Coast Guard aviators had been listed as missing after their plane lost radio contact — and presumably crashed — during a storm off the southeast coast of Greenland. Continued

Image: Grumman J2F-3 Duck, 1940 (USN via Wikipedia).

DC Abolishes the Slave Trade

(LoC) The United States Congress abolished the slave trade in the District of Columbia on September 20, 1850, as part of the legislative package called the Compromise of 1850. Since the founding of the District of Columbia in 1800, enslaved people had lived and worked in the nation's capitol. By the mid-nineteenth century, laws regulating slavery in the District were considerably more lenient than slave codes in the rest of the South, but slavery continued to exist in Washington until April 16, 1862. On that day, President Lincoln signed legislation freeing the 3,000 African Americans bound by the District's slave code.
Antebellum Washington was home to a thriving community of free blacks. The laws of Southern states commonly prohibited manumitted slaves from remaining within state boundaries. Forced to seek a new life far from friends and family, many former slaves migrated to Washington. By 1860, free blacks outnumbered slaves by nearly four to one in the city. Continued

Sep 19, 2010

Reclaiming the grand buildings of West Baltimore

(Jacques Kelly) ... That day I traveled east along Lafayette Avenue. I looked at the empty Sellers Mansion at Lanvale and Arlington, and the Upton Mansion at 811 W. Lanvale. They are the kinds of gorgeous buildings that make you gulp and wince. How could something so potentially wonderful be so vacant and empty? Continued

Photo of Sellers Mansion by Eli Pousson, some rights reserved.

Britain's child slaves: They started at 4am, lived off acorns and had nails put through their ears for shoddy work.

(Mail Online) ... A single 'hurrier' pulled the heavy cart of coal, weighing as much as 500lb, attached by a chain to a belt worn around the waist, while one or more 'thrusters' pushed from behind. Acrid water dripped from the tunnel ceiling, soaking their ragged clothes.
Many would die from lung cancer and other diseases before they reached 25. For, shockingly, these human beasts of burden were children, some only five years old. Continued

Battle of Shepherdstown

(Wikipedia) The Battle of Shepherdstown, also known as the Battle of Boteler's Ford, took place September 19–20, 1862, in Jefferson County, Virginia (now West Virginia), at the end of the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War.
After the Battle of Antietam, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia prepared to defend against a Federal assault that never came. After an improvised truce for both sides to recover and exchange their wounded, Lee's forces began withdrawing across the Potomac River on the evening of September 18 to return to Virginia. Lee left behind a rear guard of two infantry brigades and 45 guns under his chief of artillery, Brig. Gen. William N. Pendleton, to hold Boteler's Ford. Continued

Sep 18, 2010

Historic Catholic chapel in Cecil County restored

(Baltimore Sun) Volunteers built a modest chapel in a remote area of northeastern Maryland nearly 200 years ago and dedicated it to the patron saint of their homeland. Volunteers today have saved that simple frame building from ruin. Many descendants of those early settlers will gather at the fully restored St. Patrick's Chapel in Cecil County for a rededication Saturday. They will offer prayers of gratitude to their forebears and to those who have preserved their legacy. Continued

Images: Saint Patrick's before restoration (Kim Choate).

Sep 17, 2010

Battle of Antietam

(Wikipedia) The Battle of Antietam (also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the South), fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek, as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Northern soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000 casualties.
After pursuing Confederate General Robert E. Lee into Maryland, Union Army Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan launched attacks against Lee's army, in defensive positions behind Antietam Creek. At dawn on September 17, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee's left flank. Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller's cornfield and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center ... Continued

Images: Nightening, Library of Congress

Sep 16, 2010

Graveyard DNA rewrites African American history

(NewScientist) Two of Christopher Columbus's shipmates were the first Africans to set foot in the New World, a study has found.
Using DNA analysis of human bones excavated from a graveyard in La Isabela, Dominican Republic – the first colonial town in the Americas – the new study adds weight to the theory that Africans crossed the Atlantic at least 150 years earlier than previously thought.
"African Americans have come to believe that their history began when the first slave ships docked in the mid-17th century, but our results suggest that it actually started far earlier, at the same time as the Europeans' history on the continent did," says Hannes Schroeder of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who did the analysis. Continued

The Wall Street Bombing of 1920

(Wikipedia) The Wall Street bombing was a terrorist incident that occurred at 12:01 p.m. on September 16, 1920, in the Financial District of New York City. ... At noon, a horse-drawn wagon passed by lunchtime crowds on Wall Street in New York City. The wagon then stopped across the street from the headquarters of the J.P. Morgan Inc. bank at 23 Wall Street, on the Financial District's busiest corner. Inside, 100 pounds (45 kg) of dynamite with 500 pounds (230 kg) of heavy cast-iron slugs exploded in a timer-set detonation, sending the slugs tearing through the air. The horse and wagon were vaporized. Dozens of bodies littered the street, and the bomb caused over $2 million in property damage, wrecking most of the interior spaces of the Morgan building. An automobile was hurled into the air, and glass was shattered for blocks (the damage can still be seen on the buildings today). Continued

Photo: Library of Congress

Sep 15, 2010

'Bonnet books': Amish-themed romance novels are hot sellers

(Lancaster Online) Novels about life and love in Amish country — Lancaster County and elsewhere — are flying off the shelves.
Flouting the notion that sex sells, these popular G-rated "bonnet books" are a growing subgenre of romantic and religious fiction.
"I didn't know if it would be received very well," best-selling author Beverly Lewis said during a recent book-signing stop in Lancaster. ... To date, Lewis has sold more than 12 million books. Continued

Jumbo The Elephant

(Wikipedia) Jumbo The Elephant (1861 - September 15, 1885) was a very large African bush elephant, born 1861 in French Sudan, imported to a Paris zoo, transferred to the London Zoo in 1865, and sold in 1882 to P. T. Barnum, for the circus. The giant elephant's name has spawned the common word "jumbo" as meaning large in size. ... Jumbo died at a train marshalling yard in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, where he was crushed by a locomotive. A life-size statue of the elephant in St. Thomas commemorates the tragedy. Continued

Barbara Holland, Defender of Small Vices, Dies at 77

(NYTimes) ... "I was getting sick and tired of being lectured by dear friends with their little bottles of water and their regular visits to the gym," she explained to The Washington Post in 2007. "All of a sudden, we've got this voluntary prohibition that has to do with health and fitness. I'm not really in favor of health and fitness." Continued

Sep 14, 2010

Battle of South Mountain

(Wikipedia) - The Battle of South Mountain (known in several early Southern accounts as the Battle of Boonsboro Gap) was fought September 14, 1862, as part of the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War. Three pitched battles were fought for possession of three South Mountain passes: Crampton's, Turner's, and Fox's Gaps. Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, commanding the Union Army of the Potomac, needed to pass through these gaps in his pursuit of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Despite being significantly outnumbered, Lee's army delayed McClellan's advance for a day before withdrawing. Continued

Sep 13, 2010

Battle of Harpers Ferry

(Wikipedia) The Battle of Harpers Ferry was fought September 12–15, 1862, as part of the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War. As Gen. Robert E. Lee's Confederate army invaded Maryland, a portion of his army under Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson surrounded, bombarded, and captured the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), a major victory at relatively minor cost. Continued

The Star-Spangled Banner

(LoC) As the evening of September 13, 1814, approached, Francis Scott Key was detained in Baltimore harbor on board a British vessel. A young lawyer, he had come to negotiate the release of an American physician from British forces—they were released to their ship. Throughout the night and into the early hours of the next morning, Key watched as the British bombed nearby Fort McHenry with military rockets. As dawn broke, he was amazed to find the Stars and Stripes, tattered but intact, still flying above the fort.
British forces had disembarked on September 12 at the mouth of the Patapsco River to begin an assault on the city of Baltimore. The following day, British Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane commenced a naval bombardment of the fort, the last remaining barrier to the city. The siege of Baltimore, which came close on the heels of the British occupation of Washington, D.C., was a turning point in the War of 1812.
Turned back on land and at sea, the British abandoned their attempt to capture Baltimore on September 14. Four months later, they signed the Treaty of Ghent, which brought an end to the war.
Key's experience during the bombardment of Fort McHenry inspired him to pen the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner." He adapted his lyrics to the tune of a popular drinking song, "To Anacreon in Heaven," and the song soon became the de facto national anthem of the United States of America, although Congress did not officially recognize it as such until 1931. Continued

Classic Film Buffs Rejoice: Sony Unveils On-Demand DVDs

(Wired) Performances by Anne Bancroft, Kirk Douglas, Omar Sharif and other silver-screen stars are available digitally, but too many of their films lack enough fans to justify, from a commercial standpoint, the printing of entire runs of DVDs leaving unfulfilled those viewers who would pay for them. ... To solve this long-tail riddle, Sony’s Columbia Classics’ new Screen Classics by Request department will manufacture any film from a catalog with 100 titles for starters, in the DVD format, accepting orders by web or phone. Continued

Sep 12, 2010

John Bull and the Baltimoreans

(LoC) In marked contrast to the Alexandrians print, the Baltimoreans offered the British invaders stiff resistance. Here Charles portrays the repulsion of the Royal Army at Fort McHenry and the gallant performance of the American militia there. In a landscape before Fort McHenry, members of the American Fifth Regiment (at left) pursue a disorderly troop of British and Highland soldiers toward the right. The first of them prods the rump of John Bull (again, a bull in seaman's outfit) saying, "Oh! hoh! -- Johnny you thought you had Alexandrians to deal with did you -- But we'll teach you to know what a flogging is!!!" John Bull: "Mercy! mercy on me -- What fellows those Baltimoreans are -- After the example of the Alexandrians I thought I had nothing to do but enter the Town and carry off the Booty -- And here is nothing but Defeat and Disgrace!!!" On the right a mounted officer (Admiral Cockburn?) urges the British back, saying, "What's the Matter! you Cowardly rascals! Back back and execute the orders of your Government --We must attack every point that's assailable!" A Highlander responds, "In gude troth Admiral I think ye are as mad as our government Dinna ye ken the General's kilt -- ye must only attack sie places as Hampton, Havre de Grace, or Alexandria." In the background an American rifleman in the brush fires at mounted Scottish General Robert Ross. Sniper: "Now for this Chap on Horseback with the plaid Bonnet on -- There -- there's a Rifle pill for you -- Thats a quietus." Ross: "Deil [sic] tak that Republican rascal wi his Rifle gun for he's blawn my brains out."

Sep 11, 2010

Local students get history lesson at Fort McHenry

(Baltimore Sun) Many of the 1,400 students at Fort McHenry on Friday had heard about the defense of Baltimore in 1814 against a British amphibious invasion, an American triumph that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen what would become the national anthem. Taking part in the "Young Defenders" event enabled the youngsters to experience the historic moment, as they shrieked to the near-deafening sounds of cannon blasts and captured the demonstrations on cell phone cameras. "We hear about it in class, but to actually see it is totally different; you understand the environment from actually seeing it," said Jennifer Vukov, 16, of Dundalk, a junior at Patapsco High School. Continued

Image: Library of Congress

Ancient whale skull found in Calvert Cliffs

(Baltimore Sun) Erosion along the Chesapeake Bay cliffs in Calvert County has exposed another ancient whale skull, and students from Harrisburg, Pa., were expected to help scientists dig the fossil from the heavy clay sediments. Only a small portion of the back of the skull is visible, said Stephen Godfrey of the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons. But the Miocene-era fossil is probably 16 million years old, and likely belongs to an extinct family of small whales that swam in what were then Atlantic coastal waters teeming with marine life. Continued

Sep 10, 2010

The Lattimer Massacre

(Summit Times) On September 10, 1897, at half past three in the afternoon, a group of over 400 striking immigrant coal miners marched toward the Pardee Mine outside of Lattimer, Pennsylvania. Most of the miners were Poles, but with them were also Slovaks and some Italians, Hungarians, and Lithuanians. They had been on strike for some time, and had had several violent confrontations with strikebreakers, the infamous "Coal and Iron Police," and local law enforcement. The strikers were unarmed and marching peacefully behind a large American flag.At about quarter to four, nearing the mine, they were confronted by Sheriff James L. Martin, brandishing a revolver. Hidden behind a low rise, along the line of march, were some 60 sheriff's deputies, armed with Winchester rifles. Continued

Image: Wikipedia

Sep 9, 2010

Historic village of Muddy Creek Forks to be on display

(YDR) A hidden gem in southeastern York County will be on display later this month.
The Muddy Creek Forks village along the Maryland and Pennsylvania railroad line looks nearly the same as it did during the World War I era, said Mark Blevins, vice president of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society.
Volunteers with the organization have been working through the years to restore and maintain a section of the Ma & Pa rail line and the village, which includes a general store and a historic roller mill. Continued

Image: MDRails

George Stibitz

(Wikipedia) George Robert Stibitz (April 20, 1904 – January 31, 1995) is internationally recognized as one of the fathers of the modern digital computer. He was a Bell Labs researcher known for his 1930s and 1940s work on the realization of Boolean logic digital circuits using electromechanical relays as the switching element.
Born in York, Pennsylvania, he received his bachelor's degree from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, his master's degree from Union College in 1927, and his Ph.D. in mathematical physics in 1930 from Cornell University.
In November 1937, George Stibitz, then working at Bell Labs, completed a relay-based calculator he dubbed the "Model K" (for "kitchen table", on which he had assembled it), which calculated using binary addition. Bell Labs subsequently authorized a full research program in late 1938 with Stibitz at the helm. Their Complex Number Calculator, completed January 8, 1940, was able to do calculations on complex numbers. In a demonstration to the American Mathematical Society conference at Dartmouth College on September 11, 1940, Stibitz used a teletype to send commands to the Complex Number Calculator in New York over telephone lines. It was the first computing machine ever used remotely over a phone line. Continued

Sep 8, 2010

Lincoln’s Forgotten Fort

(Maureen Dowd) We went sledding there and played hide and seek, rolled Easter eggs and stole our first kisses. We could be dragged away only when we heard our mom’s vibrant whistle, signaling dinner.
When we were little, Fort Stevens was just a cool playground, with dry moats and tall mounds and a couple of cannons, located across the street from our Catholic grade school and down the block from our house. Continued

Image: "Fort Stevens north of Washington, D.C., 1864" (Library of Congress).

Atzerodt Carriage Shop Site Suspected

(Port Tobacco Archaeological Project) Readers will note from previous postings that we have looked for the carriage shop and house of Lincoln conspirator George A. Atzerodt. Previously the team focused on the land immediately behind the Barnes-Compton, or Chimney, House. The reason for doing so was a sketch and remark made by George Townsend in his 1865 book on the assassination of President Lincoln. We had reason to question the veracity of the sketch, April having pointed out several inconsistencies. Continued

History of the Pledge of Allegiance

(Wikipedia) The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855-1931), a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist, and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850-1898). The original "Pledge of Allegiance" was published in the September 8 issue of the popular children's magazine The Youth's Companion as part of the National Public-School Celebration of Columbus Day, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas. The event was conceived and promoted by James B. Upham, a marketer for the magazine, in a campaign to encourage patriotism and the display of the American flag in public schools.
Bellamy's original Pledge read as follows:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Continued

Sep 7, 2010

Postcards From My Literary Staycation

(NYTBR) ... Most staycations combine edification with retail: you visit a battlefield or a museum and then hit the amusement park and the outlet stores. This sounded too downscale for me. Instead, I planned a literary staycation in Pennsylvania. My destinations were Reading, where John Updike’s “Rabbit, Run” is set; Pottsville, where John O’Hara set dozens of his New Yorker stories; and Scranton, where Jason Miller, who won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1973 for “That Championship Season,” grew up. Continued

Sidney Lanier

(Wikipedia) Sidney Lanier (February 3, 1842 – September 7, 1881) was an American musician and poet. Lanier was born February 3, 1842, in Macon, Georgia, to parents Robert Sampson Lanier and Mary Jane Anderson; he was mostly of English ancestry, with his distant French ancestors having immigrated to England in the 16th century. He began playing the flute at an early age, and his love of that musical instrument continued throughout his life. He attended Oglethorpe University near Milledgeville, Georgia, graduating first in his class shortly before the outbreak of the American Civil War.
He fought in the Civil War, primarily in the tidewater region of Virginia, where he served in the Confederate signal corps. Later, he and his brother Clifford served as pilots aboard English blockade runners. On one of these voyages, his ship was boarded. Refusing to take the advice of the British officers on board to don one of their uniforms and pretend to be one of them, he was captured. He was incarcerated in a military prison at Point Lookout in Maryland, where he contracted tuberculosis (generally known as "consumption" at the time). He suffered greatly from this affliction for the rest of his life. Continued

Sep 6, 2010

Why isn’t Labor Day in May?

( In more than 80 countries, on May 1, labor unions and working people take to the streets. The holiday is often referred to as International Workers’ Day or May Day.
The day marks the 1886 Haymarket Affair in Chicago, where police shot and killed several demonstrators who were fighting for the eight-hour workday. Over the next several years, people across the globe began demonstrating on May 1, and in many countries the day became an official holiday. Continued

Vintage barbershop revives forgotten era

(Charleston Gazette) No, you can't get a shave and a haircut for two bits. The haircut costs 10 bucks. Otherwise, things at The Vintage Barber Shop are pretty much like they were in granddaddy's day.
A gleaming gold spittoon sits on a classic black and white tile floor between two retro barber chairs with metal ashtrays built into the arms. Continued

Image: Barbershop. Hagerstown, Maryland by Arthur Rothstein, 1937 (Library of Congress).

Steam-Driven Dreams

(NYTBR) Steam is cool. Or rather, hot: the technology that helped usher in the Industrial Revolution shows up these days in neo-nostalgic steampunk fiction, design and fashion. It’s not just affection for leather and brass that drives the fascination; harnessing the power of steam broke humans out of what William Rosen calls the “Malthusian trap” that had kept mankind ever on the brink of famine and collapse. His book, “The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention,” is a sneaky history — ostensibly about the origins of the steam engine, though actually about much more. Continued

Image: Steam Ship Washington (Library of Congress).

The Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935

After World War One, veterans were offered a service bonus payable in 1945. And that was a fine and good thing, but along came the Great Depression and many of the veterans, displaced by the economic hard times, lobbied Congress to pay the bonus sooner. In 1932 thousands of them demonstrated in Washington D.C. They set up a camp and there they stayed. President Hoover eventually ordered the marchers out of the city by force. It wasn't a pretty sight.
The next year the marchers returned and President Roosevelt persuaded many of them to take jobs building the Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys.
While working on this project, they were hit by a hurricane on Labor Day, 1935. It was the most intense hurricane ever to make landfall in the United States. 164 Keys residents were killed that day, along with 259 veterans. The stories from this storm are gripping and I won't go into them here; there are several books that do a better job of it than I could in a little blog entry.
How does this relate to our area? It doesn't really, except that some of those bonus marchers stayed at my mothers house in Washington D.C. all those years ago, and every Labor Day I wonder if any of them made it out of the Keys alive.

Top Photo: The 1935 Hurricane memorial on Upper Matecumbe Key, Florida. Bottom Photo: Florida Keys at sunset, both Canon EOS 20D.

Sep 5, 2010

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

(NYTBR) ... Today, these black migrants are viewed as a modern version of the Europeans who flooded America’s shores in the late 1800s and early 1900s. What linked them together, Wilkerson writes, was their heroic determination to roll the dice for a better future. It is no surprise, therefore, to find census data showing that blacks who left the South had far more schooling than blacks who stayed. Or that the migrants had higher employment numbers than Northern-born blacks and a more stable family life, as shown by lower divorce rates and fewer children born outside of marriage. Put simply, Wilkerson says, the well-known “migrant advantage” has worked historically for Americans of all colors. Continued

Image: Saint Augustine, Florida. Trainman signalling from a "Jim Crow" coach, 1943, by Gordon Parks (FSA/OWI/Library Congress).

Battle of the Chesapeake

(Wikipedia) The Battle of the Chesapeake, also known as the Battle of the Virginia Capes or simply the Battle of the Capes, was a crucial naval battle in the American Revolutionary War which took place near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay on September 5, 1781, between a British fleet led by Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Graves and a French fleet led by Rear-Admiral the Comte de Grasse. Continued

Sep 4, 2010

Efforts in Philadelphia to Save Showpiece Ships

(NYTimes) They made an impressive display of America’s seafaring might, the aging maritime stars moored along both sides of the Delaware River.
There is the 1892 cruiser Olympia, the oldest steel warship afloat, whose guns and those of the ships it led blasted away a Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, announcing America’s arrival as a naval power. The ocean liner United States still holds the record for fastest westbound trans-Atlantic crossing. And the nation’s most decorated battleship, the World War II-era New Jersey, repelled swarms of enemy aircraft. Continued

Image: USS Olympia (Library of Congress).

Preservation of Revolutionary War site Camp Security could be closer than ever

(YDR) Efforts to preserve the land where historians believe a Revolutionary War prison camp once stood in Springettsbury Township have been made off and on since 1979.
And historians say they are now closer than ever to saving Camp Security. Springettsbury Township supervisors voted 4-0 Thursday to pledge $750,000 toward the purchase of the Rowe farm off Locust Grove Road. Continued

Vineyard Hopping, in Maryland?

(NYTimes) On a recent warm summer evening, well over a thousand people packed the lawns at Boordy Vineyards in Hydes, Md. Families tucked into picnics, toddlers ran freely, and couples and singles danced on the makeshift floor to a swing band pumping out oldies. But the main reason for the crowds was the wine. Continued

Images: Boordy Vineyards (Falmanac).

The Maryland Campaign

(Wikipedia) The Maryland Campaign, or the Antietam Campaign (September 4–20, 1862) is widely considered one of the major turning points of the American Civil War. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North was repulsed by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac, who moved to intercept Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia and eventually attacked it near Sharpsburg, Maryland. The resulting Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history.
Following his victory in the Northern Virginia Campaign, Lee moved north with 55,000 men through the Shenandoah Valley starting on September 4, 1862. Continued

Sep 3, 2010

Battle of Cooch's Bridge

(Wikipedia) The Battle of Cooch's Bridge, also known as the Battle of Iron Hill, was an engagement fought on September 3, 1777, between American militia and British and Hessian troops during the American Revolutionary War. It was the only significant military action during the war in the state of Delaware.
On August 25, 1777, a large British army under the command of Lieutenant General William Howe landed below the Head of Elk (now known as Elkton) in Maryland. Howe's objective was the city of Philadelphia, the seat of the Continental Congress. Due to the relatively poor quality landing area, his troops moved immediately to the north, reaching Head of Elk itself on August 28. Continued

Sep 2, 2010

1785: Faithful Steward Sinks

(Delmar Dustpan) The Faithful Steward, bound from Londonderry, Ireland to Philadelphia with 249 passengers, ran aground near Indian River Inlet, Delaware on the night of September 1, 1785. When a sounding was taken, it was found the ship was only in 4 fathoms of water, though there was not the slightest appearance of land. Every exertion was used to run the vessel off shore but all failed. On the morning of September 2, the ship was near Indian River, about four leagues to the southward of Cape Henlopen. Every effort was made to save the unhappy sufferers, who had remained on the deck during the night. The ship was only 100 yards from the shore. Continued

Image: My child! My child! / engraved and published by John C. McRae, N.Y., circa 1855 (Library of Congress).

My Summer Home

(Timothy Egan) ... With my friend Tim Williams, I stuck my thumb out on a freeway toward the Rockies, east from our West; two Tims on the road. We saw mountain ranges in Montana named Beartooth and Big Horn, and rivers honoring presidents Madison and Jefferson. We traveled over one road labeled Going-to-the-Sun, and heard whispered stories about another heading toward Craters of the Moon. ... The immensity often gets lost in the superlatives stirred up by the most outrageously scenic sites. But in the aggregate, this is what every citizen owns: 530 million acres, of which 193 million are run by the Forest Service, 253 million by the Bureau of Land Management and 84 million by the National Park Service. The public land endowment is more than three times the size of France. Continued

Image: WPA/LoC

Walkin’ the Line: a Journey Along the Mason-Dixon - Sept 20 at the Chesapeake City Library

(WoCCP) “Walk the Line” with author William Ecenbarger as he tells some of the many stories he gathered while researching his book. The presentation will cover the history, geography and human impacts of the Mason Dixon Line. Continued

Images: Original Mason Dixon Line "crown stone," showing Maryland and Pennsylvania sides, respectively. Location: New Freedom, PA vicinity (Falmanac, some rights reserved.)

Thomas J. Bata

(Wikipedia) Tomáš Jan Baťa, CC (September 17, 1914 – September 1, 2008), also known as Tomas Bata Jr. and Tomáš Baťa ml. and "Shoemaker to the World", ran the Bata Shoe Company from the 1940s until the '80s.
Baťa was born in the Czech city of Prague, in what is now the Czech Republic, the son of Czech industrialist Tomáš Baťa. As a boy he apprenticed under his father, Tomáš Sr., who began the T. & A. Bata Shoe company in 1894 in Zlín, Czechoslovakia. His father, however, was killed in a plane crash when Tomáš was only 17, in 1932. Continued

Photos: Bata shoe factory, Belcamp, Maryland (kilduffs). Bata Bullets shoe label (Charlie's Sneaker Pages).