Saturday, January 31, 2015

Over the Top -- Chapter VI -- January 31, 2015

Arthur Guy Empey was a member of the US Cavalry who resigned to volunteer for the British Army during World War One. He was wounded during the Battle of the Somme. When the US entered the war, he tried to rejoin the US Army, but was rejected because of his wounds and possibly because of some disparaging comments about American draftees. He wrote a book, Over the Top, about his experiences during the war. With the 100th anniversary of the war, I thought it might be interesting to post his story. Empey later became a prolific pulp magazine author, a movie star and producer, and a playwright.

From "Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches" by Empey:
"'Estaminet.' A French public house, or saloon, where muddy water is sold for beer."
"Fag. Cigarette. Something Tommy is always touching you for."
"'Fag issue.' Army issue of cigarettes, generally on Sunday."
"Maconochie. A ration of meat, vegetables, and soapy water, contained in a tin. Mr. Maconochie, the chemist who compounded this mess, intends to commit 'hari kari' before the boys return from the front. He is wise."
"Mess Orderly. A soldier detailed daily to carry Tommy's meals to and from the cook-house."

CHAPTER I -- From Mufti to Khaki
CHAPTER II -- Blighty to Rest Billets
CHAPTER III -- I Go to Church
CHAPTER IV -- Into the Trench
CHAPTER V -- Mud, Rats and Shells

OUR tour in the front-line trench lasted four days, and then we were relieved by the ____ Brigade.

Going down the communication trench we were in a merry mood, although we were cold and wet, and every bone in our bodies ached. It makes a lot of difference whether you are "going in" or "going out."

At the end of the communication trench, limbers were waiting on the road for us. I thought we were going to ride back to rest billets, but soon found out that the only time an infantry man rides is when he is wounded and is bound for the base or Blighty. These limbers carried our reserve ammunition and rations. Our march to rest billets was thoroughly enjoyed by me. It seemed as if I were on furlough, and was leaving behind everything that was disagreeable and horrible. Every recruit feels this way after being relieved from the trenches.

We marched eight kilos and then halted in front of a French estaminet. The Captain gave the order to turn out on each side of the road and wait his return. Pretty soon he came back and told B Company to occupy billets 117, 118, and 119. Billet 117 was an old stable which had previously been occupied by cows. About four feet in front of the entrance was a huge manure pile, and the odor from it was anything but pleasant. Using my flashlight I stumbled through the door. Just before entering I observed a white sign reading: "Sitting 50, lying 20," but, at the time, its significance did not strike me. Next morning I asked the Sergeant-Major what it meant. He nonchalantly answered:

"That's some of the work of the R. A. M. C. (Royal Army Medical Corps). It simply means that in case of an attack, this billet will accommodate fifty wounded who are able to sit up and take notice, or twenty stretcher cases."

It was not long after this that I was one of the "20 lying."

I soon hit the hay and was fast asleep, even my friends the "cooties" failed to disturb me.

The next morning at about six o'clock I was awakened by the Lance-Corporal of our section, informing me that I had been detailed as mess orderly, and to report to the cook to give him a hand. I helped him make the fire, carry water from an old well, and fry the bacon. Lids of dixies are used to cook the bacon in. After breakfast was cooked, I carried a dixie of hot tea and the lid full of bacon to our section, and told the Corporal that breakfast was ready. He looked at me in contempt, and then shouted, "Breakfast up, come and get it!" I immediately got wise to the trench parlance, and never again informed that "Breakfast was served."

It didn't take long for the Tommies to answer this call. Half dressed, they lined up with their canteens and I dished out the tea. Each Tommy carried in his hand a thick slice of bread which had been issued with the rations the night before. Then I had the pleasure of seeing them dig into the bacon with their dirty fingers. The allowance was one slice per man. The late ones received very small slices. As each Tommy got his share, he immediately disappeared into the billet. Pretty soon about fifteen of them made a rush to the cookhouse, each carrying a huge slice of bread. These slices they dipped into the bacon grease which was stewing over the fire. The last man invariably lost out. I was the last man.

After breakfast, our section carried their equipment into a field adjoining the billet and got busy removing the trench mud therefrom, because at 8.45 A.M., they had to fall in for inspection and parade, and woe betide the man who was unshaven, or had mud on his uniform. Cleanliness is next to Godliness in the British Army, and Old Pepper must have been personally acquainted with St. Peter.

Our drill consisted of close order formation which lasted until noon. During this time we had two ten-minute breaks for rest, and no sooner the word, "Fall out for ten minutes," was given, than each Tommy got out a fag and lighted it.

Fags are issued every Sunday morning, and you generally get between twenty and forty. The brand generally issued is the "Woodbine." Sometimes we are lucky, and get "Goldflakes," "Players," or "Red Hussars." Occasionally an issue of "Life Rays" comes along. Then the older Tommies immediately get busy on the recruits, and trade these for Woodbines or Goldflakes. A recruit only has to be stuck once in this manner, and then he ceases to be a recruit. There is a reason. Tommy is a great cigarette smoker. He smokes under all conditions, except when unconscious or when he is reconnoitering in No Man's Land at night. Then, for obvious reasons, he does not care to have a lighted cigarette in his mouth.

Stretcher-bearers carry fags for wounded Tommies. When a stretcher-bearer arrives alongside of a Tommy who has been hit, the following conversation usually takes place—Stretcher-bearer, "Want a fag? Where are you hit?" Tommy looks up and answers, "Yes. In the leg."

After dismissal from parade, we returned to our billets, and I had to get busy immediately with the dinner issue. Dinner consisted of stew made from fresh beef, a couple of spuds, bully beef, Maconochie rations and water,—-plenty of water. There is great competition among the men to spear with their forks the two lonely potatoes.

After dinner I tried to wash out the dixie with cold water and a rag, and learned another maxim of the trenches-—"It can't be done." I slyly watched one of the older men from another section, and was horrified to see him throw into his dixie four or five double handfuls of mud. Then he poured in some water, and with his hands scoured the dixie inside and out. I thought he was taking an awful risk. Supposing the cook should have seen him! After half an hour of unsuccessful efforts, I returned my dixie to the cook shack, being careful to put on the cover, and returned to the billet. Pretty soon the cook poked his head in the door and shouted: "Hey, Yank, come out here and clean your dixie!" I protested that I had wasted a half-hour on it already, and had used up my only remaining shirt in the attempt. With a look of disdain, he exclaimed: "Blow me, your shirt! Why in 'ell didn't you use mud?"

Without a word in reply I got busy with the mud, and soon my dixie was bright and shining.

Most of the afternoon was spent by the men writing letters home. I used my spare time to chop wood for the cook, and go with the Quartermaster to draw coal. I got back just in time to issue our third meal, which consisted of hot tea. I rinsed out my dixie and returned it to the cookhouse, and went back to the billet with an exhilarated feeling that my day's labor was done. I had fallen asleep on the straw when once again the cook appeared in the door of the billet with: "Blime me, you Yanks are lazy. Who in 'ell's a'goin' to draw the water for the mornin' tea? Do you think I'm a'goin' to? Well, I'm not," and he left. I filled the dixie with water from an old squeaking well, and once again lay down in the straw.

Next: CHAPTER VII -- Rations

Friday, January 30, 2015

News of the Week January 30, 1915 -- January 30, 2015

The 30-January-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"German prisoners on way to detention camp in England.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Images of enemy POWs were good for morale at home. 

"Hartlepool victims given miliary funeral.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe Daily News." On 16-December-1914, the German battlecruiser squadron, commanded by Admiral Franz Hipper, shelled British port cities including Hartlepool in County Durham.  The raid killed 137 people, including many women and children.  Four soldiers were among the people killed in Hartlepool. 

"Horses captured by French being taken to the rear.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe Daily News." Horses were important to all the armies in the war. 

"Automobile ambulances of the British army, presented by Rajah of Gwaloir.  Copyright 1915 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial." Gwalior is a city that is now in the state of Madhya Pradesh.  The Maharaja in 1914 was Mâdhav Râo Sindhia. 

"Graduates of Austrian Military Academy given commissions.  Copyright 1915 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  This may be the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.

"Catholic church in Belgium destroyed by Germans.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly." Allied propagandists found a lot of material in the Germans' savage treatment of Belgium. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The British Ship Toxteth -- January 29, 2015

The drawing is from the 26-September-1897 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image for a larger view.

Toxteth is an area within Liverpool. 

The British Ship Toxteth Was Twice Placed on the Drydock.
Her Damages Found to Be Greater Than Was at First Suspected.

The British ship Toxteth came off the Merchants' Drydock yesterday, after a thorough overhauling. Including a small amount of ballast the ship weighed 2200 tons, and a force of engineers watched her night and day to make .sure that the huge mass did not take a list. Had she done so both vessel and floating-dock would have been wrecked. All's well that ends well, however, and the Toxteth is now
safely moored at Harrison-street wharf.  Besides being one of the largest vessels that has ever been handed on the Merchants' drydock she has the distinction of being the first iron or steel vessel that has been recalked here in the ordinary course of events. All of her bottom to the seam above the turn of the bilge has been attended to, and also the decks and the cement in the lower hold. The Toxteth is
now as good as new, and as soon as she is out of the hands of the marine surveyors will be ready for a charter.

The Toxteth has been a very unlucky ship of late. She left Newcastle, N. S. W.. for Panama in charge of Captain Dunn with a cargo of coal. On March 8 last she went ashore in Parita Bay at low water.  When the tide made she was kedged off, but went on again next day at 5 a. m. at the top of high water. On this occasion she remained on the beach with over 4000 tons of coal in her hold for a fortnight.  Captain John A. Bromley was in Panama and the owners of the ship cabled him to take charge of affairs. He at once sent a schooner with thirty-five men aboard to the scene to lighter the ship and was proceeding to Parita Bay with the steamer Ancona when the news came that the Toxteth was off the beach and on her way to Panama. On her arrival Captain Bromley took command and Captain Dunn returned to England via San Francisco.

At Panama the crew of the ship deserted in a body and Captain Bromley had to get men to supply their places the best way he could. They were a motley crowd and only lasted for the trip to this port. The Toxteth arrived here on August 11 last and a few days later went on the drydock. The marine surveyors looked her over and decided that all she needed was a cleaning and a coat of paint. This was quickly done and the vessel was then supposed to be ready for a charter. She was given another overhauling in the stream, and when the cement in the hold was removed it was found that the vessel was more severely strained than was at first suspected. Many of the rivets were sprung, some of the beams were bent and it was evident that the vessel would leak in a seawav.

Wednesday last she was put on the drydock again and over 100 men were put to work on her. During the three days she has been on the dock over $20,000 has been spent on her, nearly all of which went out in wages. Ever since the first survey men have been at work on the vessel, and now Captain Bromley considers his ship the equal of any vessel afloat as far as seaworthiness is concerned.

Captain Bromley is well known in San Francisco, having been here in a number of vessels, his last command being the clipper ship Conishead.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Career Day/Fire/Robbery -- January 28, 2015

It has been an exciting few days.  Monday morning the radio went off and the announcers on KCBS said that there was a four alarm grass fire in Pacifica.  They didn't say where except that it was near the home of one of the announcers.  Later they said it was in the canyon behind Rockaway Beach and that Terra Nova Boulevard was closed.  I decided to work from home.  My wife had to drive out to the beach in Linda Mar to get to Highway One.  The condos and homes up the hill were evacuated, but no homes were damaged. 

Tuesday morning the announcers on KCBS said thieves had driven an SVU through the front window of the Wells Fargo History Museum on Montgomery Street and made off with the gold nugget collection.  These jerks should remember:  Wells Fargo Never Forgets. 

Later on Tuesday I went to Saint Anthony-Immaculate Conception School in San Francisco for Career Day.  They sent us around in pairs.  My partner used to be a nanny.  Her talk about all the opportunities it opened up was very interesting.  First we spoke to 5th and 6th grades, then 4th, then K and 1st.  I adjusted my talk about Wells Fargo and IT for each group.  I didn't mention three-tier architecture to K and 1.  The kids asked good questions.  In K and 1 they all said what they wanted to be.  They mostly wanted to be police officers.  Later I told the policeman that he had been a big hit.  Someone mentioned that the fire department was coming later.  He said that then they would all want to be firefighters. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wallace the Untamable Lion -- January 27, 2015

Scranton Tribune, 11-January-1894

Wallace the Untamable Lion was appearing in the theater of the Eden Musee in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Museums like the Eden Musee were popular places of entertainment, featuring novelties, educational items, menageries, lectures, freak shows and anything else that might make a buck.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sunday, January 25, 2015

First Transcontinental Telephone Call -- January 25, 2015

100 years ago today, on 25-January-1915, Alexander Graham Bell, who is often called the inventor of the telephone, made the first transcontinental telephone call from Manhattan to San Francisco.  Bell's old associate Thomas Watson answered the call in San Francisco.  This was done to promote the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which would open in San Francisco on 02-March-1915.  From the Bennington Evening Banner, 27-January-1915. 

Direct Telephone Line Open Across the Continent
Bell Telephone Engineers Extend Long Distance Line to the Pacific Coast --- Science and Inyentive Genius Finally Overcome Great Obstacles

Distance -- 3503 miles.
Twelve States Covered.
Miles of Copper Wire -- 14,020.
Weight of Wire Over 3000 tons. 
Poles on Line -- Over 140,000.
Speed -- One-fifteenth of second.

Crossing the continent from Boston to San Francisco in one-fifteenth of a second is an actual accomplishment.  Direct conversation between the two cities so far apart was established for the first time, the other day, over the longest telephone line in the world more than 3500 miles.  The successful consummation of this great work is an epoch in history -- the acme of telephone attainment.  It is an achievement made possible only by the scientific study and persistent effort of the engineers of the great Bell system.

As an event, it is on a parity with the opening of the Panama canal. It is another connecting link that physically binds the far east and the far west of America into one complete union.

Four Thousand Miles Instantly

One-fifteenth of a second! Like a flash of lightning goes the spoken word through storm and sunshine over thousands of miles. It starts in Boston at 4 p. m. and, paradoxically, reaches San Francisco three hours earlier. The time schedule has been turned topsy turvy. While you wink, your speech has been carried nearly half way around the world.

Imagine a giant with lungs powerful enough to carry his voice 3500 miles through the air. Picture him standing on the dome of the Massachusetts State house and yelling "Hello" as loud as he could. Four hours later it would-be faintly heard at the Panama-Pacific exposition.  Blow up a million pounds of dynamite in Boston common and the sound would travel but a few miles. And yet the telephone Wizards with a tiny wire have outdistanced nature, Surely brains and energy have won a great victory

In 1849 "Pike's peak or bust" was the slogan that dominated those tardy pioneers and urged them forward. In 1909, to paraphrase this, the slogan of the telephone engineers was "the Golden Gate or bust." That was the goal upon which they set their eyes more than five years ago. The long distance lines had already been extended as far west as Omaha. Two years ago Denver became a reality by
telephone, and now, in one long jump of over 1500 miles, the Pacific coast has been reached.

Think for a moment what the open line of the Boston-8an Francisco direct line means. It has made Massachusetts and California neighbors. It will carry the business message from the Atlantic to the Pacific quicker than a man can write a letter and it gives him an answer at once. It has annihilated distance, its commercial value is priceless.

Boston Men Built the Line

Across twelve .states! Do you realize what that means? Have you ever traveled to the farwest? On the fastest trains it takes five days and five nights -- 120 hours -- to go from Boston to San Francisco. And yet it will only be a little while before the business man can sit comfortably in his office and travel instantly by telephone between the two cities over tons of copper wire.

The opening of this line has a peculiar significance to the people of Boston and New England, for it was in Boston that Professor Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, less than forty years ago. A little later the longest toll line in the world stretched from Boston to Lowell and the service was poor and intermittent. How marvelous has been the progress.

And the men who were associated with Bell in those telephone pioneer days and developed his great idea until one in every eight persons in the United States is connected by telephone, are Boston men. Many of them are living today.

Theodore N. Vail, president of the American Telephone and Telegraph company, has been in the telephone business almost from the beginning.  Today he is perhaps the greatest constructive business man in the world.

John J. Carty, chief engineer of the company, the master mind in scientific telephony, was a Cambridge boy who worked as an operator in the early days for $5 a week.

Thomas D. Lockwood, general patent attorney of the company, a telephone expert for nearly forty
years, lives in Melrose.

Thomas A. Watson, the youthful mechanic who assisted Bell in his early experiments and who was the first person in the world to hear the human voice over a wire, lives in Braintree and in Boston. 

Some Facts and Figures

At the present time there are two complete physical circuits. each 3505 miles long, between the two cities.  Then, by means of a wonderful development of' electrical study, in the transposition of the two circuits according to a certain scientific formula, a third circuit, called a "phantom" circuit is created, making it possible for six people to talk at one time -- three at each end -- over these two pair of wires.

There are 14,020 miles of hard drawn copper wire in both of these circuits. Each circuit mile of wire
weighs 870 pounds, so that the entire weight of both circuits -- four wires -- is over 3000 tons. This tremendous weight is supported by 140,000 poles.
Telephoning over such a great distance would have been absolutely impossible without another wonderful invention -- the repeating, or loading coils. Without any technical description, it is sufficient to say that these loading coils are placed at various points along the line and give the
electrical waves additional force and power.

The line from Boston to San Francisco runs direct to Buffalo, 465 miles; thence to Chicago; 605 miles, to Omaha 500 miles, to Denver. 685 miles, to Salt Lake City 680, miles and to San Francisco 770 miles, a total of 3505 miles.

A spur line runs from Chicago to Pittsburg, 545 miles, and thence to New York, 310 miles. Another spur connects Buffalo and New York, 350 miles.

On the same day the line between Boston and San Francisco was opened telephone conversation was established between New York and San Francisco. Professor Bell talked from the New York end and his early associate, Thomas A. Watson, from San Francisco.

An interesting fact in connection with the opening of this line is that Professor Bell used at the New York end an exact reproduction of his first crude instrument. At first it could be used only a few feet. That that Instrument could be used in talking between New York and San Francisco is due to the skill and inventions of those engineers who followed Bell after his retirement from the telephone business, in the perfection of the telephone and of switchboards, cables and the hundreds of other accessors
to successful telephone transmission.

Looking Backward to the Beginning

On the evening of Oct. 9, 1876, the first long conversation over the telephone was made by Bell and Watson.  They talked for three hours over a telegraph line between Boston and Cambridge. It was the wonder of the day. In May, 1877, a Charlestown man leased two telephones -- the first money ever paid for telephone service. The same month the first tiny and crude telephone exchange was born with five telephones connected.

By August there were 778 telephones in use -- all in Boston and four men had an absolute monopoly of the telephone business. A little later Theodore N. Vail was prevailed upon to resign from the government mail service and become general manager of a little telephone company that was hardly organized and had no money. Month after month the little Bell company lived from hand to mouth. No salaries were paid in full. Often for weeks, they were not paid at all. In 1880 John J. Carty timidly asked for a job as operator in the Boston exchange. He showed such an aptitude for the work that he was soon made one of the captains.

In 1893 Boston and New York were talking to Chicago, Milwaukee, Pittsburg and Washington, and one-half the people of the United States were within talking distance of each other.  The thousand-mile talk had ceased to be a fairy tale.

Several years later the. line was pushed over the plains to Omaha, and subsequently nearly 600 miles were added, enabling, the spoken word in Boston to be heard in Denver.

The Boston-San Francisco line will probably not be offered for general commercial use until the early summer. 

Telephone engineers have dreamed of the time when the wires would span the continent. That time has come. For the; moment it seems as though there is no other great thing for which to strive. And yet progress in telephony in the United States is making such tremendous strides that no man can prophesy the wonderful things that may be done in the future.


Today is the start of Catholic Schools Week.

I'm grateful that my parents put me in Catholic schools for 12 years.  I'm also grateful to my teachers. 

Good Shepherd in Pacifica gave our daughter a great education and continues to do the same for many other children. They are having an open house today from 11am to 2pm.  The school is worth considering if you live in or near Pacifica:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Battle of Dogger Bank 100 -- January 24, 2015

The First Battle of Dogger Bank took place 100 years ago today, on 24-January-1915.  The British decoded German intercepts and knew that a squadron had sailed to bombard defenseless British towns.  The British battlecruiser squadron under Admiral David Beatty surprised Admiral Franz Hipper's squadron.  The British destroyed armored cruiser SMS Blücher. The Germans badly damaged Beatty's flagship HMS Lion.


London Reports that a four-funneled German cruiser, badly damaged, was sighted off Holland coast early today, strengthened the growing conviction here that Germany's losses in yesterday's North sea battle were greater than indicated by the admiralty's official statement.  This said the cruiser Bleucher had been sunk and two other cruisers injured, but that these two got away safely.

Dutch reports said crippled cruiser, apparently of type of Strassburg or armored cruiser Roon, was limping at half speed toward island of Borkum off the mouth of Ems river. That the German warcraft was one of lighter cruisers engaged by British destroyers after Bleucher had been sent to bottom was belief in naval circles here. Admiralty today had no details of this supplementary engagement, but expressed confidence that German casualties would be increased materially in additional reports.

Two more German battle cruisers that attempted to dash toward British coast are reported badly pounded by British guns. No reports from German sources of loss of life aboard German cruisers that sought refuge behind mine area have been received here, but admiralty is confident that casualty lists are large. So far as is known only 123 of Bleucher's crew of 885 were saved.

Exulteration (What a word! - JT) over England's naval victory here today took form of a demand that England now "wipe out the German navy." That Germany anticipates just such a move is indicated in dispatches from Copenhagen. They report great activity at German naval base at Kiel and evidence of preparation to meet an English raid.

"We have humiliated the baby killers who shelled unprotected English coast towns," declared one English paper today. "It is now duty of our navy to finish work."

Sinking of Bleucher particularly aroused wild enthusiasm here because the Bleucher, according to best reports, was one of German battleships which bombarded Scarborough and other English coast towns. 

Vice Admiral Beatty was England's hero today. His rout of German raiding fleet off Holland coast yesterday, coupled with his victory off Heligoland on Aug. 28, have marked his as the most brilliant British naval commander of the war.


I was sad to learn of the death of Mr Cub, Ernie Banks.  Let's play two.  I'm sorry he didn't live to see the Cubs win a World Series. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

News of the Week January 23, 1915 -- January 23, 2015

The 23-January-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Lighthouse at Scarborough, England, bombarded by German fleet.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  On 16-December-1914, the German battlecruiser squadron, commanded by Admiral Franz Hipper, shelled British port cities including Scarborough, North Yorkshire.  The raid killed 137 people, including many women and children.  These raids on undefended towns allowed British propagandists to give Hipper the nickname "The Baby Killer." 

"Start of Bronx Cross Country run with hundred of entries.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  I haven't been able to find anything about this race. 

"The $300,000 fire at the terminal station, Camden, N. J.  Copyright, 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  On 03-January-1915, the ferry terminal of the Reading Company, a major railroad, caught fire and burned.  More than 100 firefighters were injured. 

"Firing French 155 millimeter gun at the front in Belgium.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe Daily News."  This is probably a de Bange.  Early in the war, the French had a shortage of field guns larger than the famous 75.  This is the first Pathé newsreel we have seen. 

"Rescuing the injured in the recent New York subway fire.  Copyright, 1915. Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  On 05-January-1915, an electrical fire at West 55th and Broadway spread smoke through the IRT subway. 

"Barney Oldfield ready to start race against Bob Burman at Los Angeles.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe Daily News." Barney Oldfield was a pioneering race car driver.  Bob Burman died in a 1916 race. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

1934 Delage D8SS Cabriolet -- January 22, 2015

We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June, 2013 to drool over their collection of classic autos.  This beautiful car, with coachwork by Fernandez and Darrin, was created by Automobiles Delage, a French luxury car builder.  It had a 145 horsepower straight-eight engine. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Keep An Eye Open for a Solution Of The Mystey Of "A Study In Scarlet" -- January 21, 2015

The 11-January-1894 Scranton Tribune carried a series of teasers about A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes novel. 

"A Study in Scarlet" appeared between several items on page three. 

There was a larger item toward the bottom of the page. 

This item appeared on page four.  "Once you begin it, you will grow feverish for the end, and await the sequel with impatience kindled by delicious uncertainty." 

"A Study in Scarlet" appeared again between several items on page five.

"It's queer, but people all over town are beginning to ask each other what there is in 'A Study in Scarlet.'"

"A Study in Scarlet" appeared again between several items on page six.

More next month in this blog. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Little Orphan Annie -- January 20, 2015

Feature Books started in 1937.  Each issue was devoted to a single comic strip character.  Harold Gray created the comic strip Little Orphan Annie in 1924.  It was very popular. 

I thought it was interesting when a new movie version of the musical cast an African-American girl as Annie.  The racists' heads exploded. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Zeppelin Throws Bombs At Sandringham Palace -- January 18, 2015

On 19-January-1915, Germany made the first Zeppelin attack on British soil.  This article is from the 20-January-1915 New York Tribune.  Two Zeppelins made the raid.  None were shot down. 

Zeppelin Throws Bombs At Sandringham Palace;
Airmen Brought Down

Woman and Two Men Killed in German Raid on British Coast.
King and Queen Had Left the Palace Only Few Hours Previously.

Yarmouth Gets Five Missiles, and King's Lynn Four -- Raiders May Be Headed for London.

London. Jan. 20. -- A Zeppelin airship has been brought down at Hunstanton, a few miles north of Sandringham,  according to a dispatch from Kings Lynn to the Central News. The dispatch adds that the Zeppelin was brought down by the fire of a warship.


London. Jan. 19. -- A dispatch from Kings Lynn reports that a German air craft pasted over Sandringhm and Kings Lynn to-night and dropped several bombs, which exploded with terrific force. The attack took place at 10:45 p. m.

Confirmatory dispatches have been received by the press Association of the dropping of bombs by an air craft near Sandringham, one of the royal residences. Four bombs were dropped on Kings Lynn and others fell near Sandringham Palace. No damage was done to the palace itself. After the attack the air craft sailed In a south-westerly direction (i. e. toward London).

King George and Queen Mary, with their family, who had been staying at Sandringham, had returned, however, to London earlier in the day to resume residence in Buckingham Palace.

One bomb fell in Norfolk Square, close to the sea front, and another in South Square.  A third struck the York Road Drill Hall, fragments of the casing of the shell crashing through the glass roof of the billiard room of the headquarters of the national reserve.  A fourth missile fell near the Trinity depot. 
One man was found outside his home, on St. Peter's Plain.  His head had been crushed.  He was identified as Samuel Smith, a shoemaker.  A woman who has not yet been identified also was found dead, while a soldier was discovered in Norfolk Square with a wound in his chest. 
The concussions resulting from the exploding bombs broke the windows in a number of shops and houses.

Air Craft Carried Searchlight. 

It was dark at the time of the attack, and it was impossible, therefore, to see the air craft.  The noise of its engine, however, could plainly be heard.  It was evident that the machine carried a searchlight, as flashes of light occasionally could be seen coming from it. 

The visit of the airplane to Yarmouth lasted ten minutes.  Great excitement prevailed, and special constables, the police and the military were called out to calm the people, who streamed out of their homes when the explosions took place.  The electric supply was immediately cut off and the town was plunged in darkness. 

The whirring of the propellers of the aircraft first attracted attention to it.  Then came the explosions and the sound of breaking glass.  The first bomb was dropped near the recruiting ground and the others near the drill hall.  In all five bombs were thrown by the aviator or aviators. 

So far as can be ascertained thus far, these are the only casualties in Yarmouth, but, owing to the complete darkness that prevails as a result of the cutting off of the electric light service, this statement cannot be accepted as definite. 

The greatest damage done by any of the bombs resulted from one that fell in St. Peter's Plain, near St. Peter's Church, which damaged a whole row of houses, breaking all the windows in them and littering the street with debris, consisting of slate from the roofs and bricks. 

A Yarmouth dispatch to the Exchange Telegraph Company says it is believed that it was an aeroplane and not a Zeppelin that attached that city.  The machine later visited Sheringham, five miles from Cromer, and dropped two bombs.  No damage was done at that place. 

The town of Cromer, a watering place twenty-one miles north of Norwich, also reports being attacked by aircraft. 

About 8:30 p. m. two or more Zeppelins were reported passing over Cromer, coming from the direction of Mundesley, on the east, and going toward Weybourne, to the west.  They were distinctly seen and their engines made a tremendous noise.  It is stated that at Sheringham, to the west of Cromer, four bombs were dropped, but that no one was hurt. 

A telephone message from Gravesend states that aircraft were seen passing overhead during the evening.  They were moving in a northwesterly direction.  Shortly afterward the order to stand by at Woolwich Fort was cancelled, this indicating that further danger was not expected.

A Zeppelin appeared over Ipswich during the night, but did no damage.  Ipswich is in the county of Suffolk, south of Norfolk.  It is about seventy-five miles southwest of Yarmouth. 


Norwich. Jan. 19. -- According to accounts of the air raid reaching here, aircraft dropped bombs on Yarmouth, Sheringham, Cromer and Beeston, in the county of Norfolk.  At Sheringham a bomb dropped in Wyndham st. and went through a house, but did not explode, apparently because the fuse became detached in the descent. 

The bomb dropped at Beeston did no damage.  The bomb measured nearly four inches in diameter. 

Guthrie Daily Leader, 23-January-1915

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Airplane Stories -- January 17, 2015

I like the design of the cover of the April, 1929 Airplane Stories.  I like the way the Zeppelin covers part of the title and the wings of a monoplane form the crossbar of the "A." 

Here is another nice Airplane Stories cover:

Friday, January 16, 2015

News of the Week January 16, 1915 -- January 16, 2015

The 16-January-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Captured Germans being marched through the streets of London.    Copyright, 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Displaying enemies who have been taken prisoner is a common way to boost civilian morale. 

"Mexican troops being shipped away from the border.  Copyright, 1914, by Universal Animated Weekly." I wonder if they were near the border because of tensions during the Mexican Revolution.

"The Kaiser visits his troops at the front. Copyright, 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Kaiser Wilhelm II was Supreme Warlord of the German Empire. 

"East Indian troops in France advancing to the front.  Copyright, 1914, by Universal Animated Weekly." The British brought soldiers from India, but they did not do well in the European winter climate. 

"German youths being trained at Frankfurt for service.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  The major powers in the war all relied on new classes of conscripts coming of age every year.  Most countries wound up lowering the minimum and raising the maximum draft ages during the war. 

"A glimpse of the Servian army.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Animated Weekly." The war began when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia (often spelled Servia back then) on 28-July-1914:


The San Francisco Chronicle was founded 150 years ago today, on 16-January-1863, by the de Young brothers, Gus, Charley and Mike.  Historical accounts mostly ignore Gus, who died insane. 

My parents always subscribed to the Chronicle, as do I.  The quality of the news reporting was often questioned, but I liked Herb Caen and Peanuts

Thursday, January 15, 2015

18 Hours to Los Angeles -- January 15, 2015

The Harvard and the Yale were fast turbine steamers brought from the east coast by the Pacific Navigation Company to operate between San Francisco and San Pedro, the port of Los Angeles. They sailed the route from 1911 until World War One and from 1921 until 1931 (by the Los Angeles-San Francisco Steamship Company), when Harvard hit rocks near Point Arguello and sank. The effects of the Great Depression and competition from autos and railroads caused LASSCO to stop service with the Yale after 1936. Both ships carried troops to Europe during World War One and Yale served the Navy during World War Two.

This advertisement, from the 07-January-1911 San Francisco Call, advertises 18 hour overnight service between San Francisco and Los Angeles.  That would beat the heck out of driving I-5. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hoyt Wilhelm -- January 14, 2015

Inspired by the book Few and Chosen: Defining Giants Greatness Across the Eras by Giants great Bobby Thomson and Phil Pepe, I thought I would devote my nickname meme to Giants players for the past several months.  Next month I will wrap it up. 

Right handed relief pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm threw a knuckleball.  This allowed him to pitch in the major leagues until he was nearly 50.  I remember being amazed a few years before he retired learning that a former New York Giant was still pitching. 

He was called Ol' Sarge because he was a veteran of World War Two, who served in the Battle of the Bulge and reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. 

His success with the Giants and other teams inspired many managers to rely on a relief ace. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

When You Visit New Orleans -- January 13, 2015

The Weekly Messenger, Saint Martinville, Louisiana, 31-January-1914

This ad, from the Saint Martinville, Louisiana Weekly Messenger, 31-January-1914, promotes The Inn Hotel at Carondelet and Perdido Streets.  "European Plan, Rates $1.00 and up." 


The Golden Gate Bridge was closed over the weekend for the installation of a movable traffic barrier.  I'm happy they are replacing the yellow plastic tubes.  I may some day drive in a lane other than the right one on the bridge. 

I took the photo of the Golden Gate Bridge on 30-December-2007.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Muni Heritage Festival 2014 #2 -- January 12, 2014

Among the vehicles at Muni's November, 2014 Heritage Festival was 042, a 1939 White bus which was restored to its original black and orange colors.  I remember this bus and its sisters running on the 39 line to Telegraph Hill.  I took the shot on Steuart Street while riding on Blackpool Boat 228. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Battle of New Orleans 200 -- January 11, 2015

Library of Congress, LC-USZC2-3796.

January 8 was the 100th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, the last battle of the War of 1812.  The Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war, had been signed on 24-December-1814, but it took a long time for news to get across the Atlantic. 

The British attached American earthworks at Chalmette Plantation.  Two heavy assaults left the British commander dead.  291 British soldiers died and 13 American. 

General Andrew Jackson was the hero of the day. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Napa Valley Route -- January 10, 2015

The Monticello Steamship Company operated fast ferries between San Francisco and Vallejo, with a stop at the Mare Island Navy Yard on some runs. The boats connected with trains of the San Francisco, Vallejo and Napa Valley Electric Railroad. In later years they carried automobiles.
The ad is from the 15-January-1911 San Francisco Call. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Friday, January 9, 2015

News of the Week January 9, 1915 -- January 9, 2015

The 09-January-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Shipping sponges to the war zone from Nassau, Bahama Islands.  Copyright, 1914, by Universal Animated Weekly."  I wonder if these sponges were for medical use. 

"Sixth Field Artillery, U. S. A., at Waco, Arizona.  Copyright, 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial." The 6th Field Artillery Regiment was formed in 1907.  Someone who knows more about it could probably identify the guns they are firing.  I can't find Waco, Arizona on a map.  I don't know if the regiment was stationed there because of tensions during the Mexican Revolution. 

"Arrival of English forces at Calais, France.  Copyright, 1914, by Universal Animated Weekly." Calais, the French port closest to Britain, was a common place for British soldiers to debark. 

"Ice boat racing at Toledo, Ohio.  Copyright, 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Ice boats have always been popular in places where large enough expanses of water get frozen.  An uncle of mine and some of his friends put an airplane engine and propeller on an ice boat.  He said it was a wonder they didn't get killed.

"Wreckage of the recent gale at Seabright, New Jersery.  Copyright, 1914, by Universal Animated Weekly." We have seen this story in two previous weeks.  A major storm on 07-December-1914 destroyed the seawall and flooded the New Jersey town of Sea Bright.

"U. S. torpedo boats dry-docked at Charlestown, Mass.  Copyright, 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Torpedo boats were small, fast boats which could swarm enemy fleets in large numbers and destroy them with torpedoes.  This is probably the Boston Navy Yard, which was in Charlestown.  Torpedo boats were largely supplanted by destroyers, which were originally called torpedo boat destroyers. 


RIP Frédéric Boisseau, Franck Brinsolaro, Cabu, Elsa Cayat, Charb, Philippe Honoré, Bernard Maris, Ahmed Merabet, Moustapha Ourrad, Michel Renaud and Georges Wolinski. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Schedule Effective November 1, 1910 -- January 8, 2015

The Northwestern Pacific -- and its predecessors -- has always been one of my favorite railroads. This advertisement from the 15-January-1911 San Francisco Call describes its standard gauge steam service north through Marin and Sonoma counties, which had not yet reached Eureka, and its standard gauge third-rail suburban commuter service in Marin County. The 8:15am from Point Reyes Station and the 12:54pm from Cazadero are a remnant of the North Pacific Coast's narrow gauge steam service.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Stu Miller, RIP -- January 7, 2015

I was sad to learn that Stu Miller, who pitched for the New York and San Francisco Giants has died.  He was an excellent right-handed relief pitcher who was Sporting News National League Reliever of the year in 1961.    No one remembers that.  People remember that the wind blew him off the mound at Candlestick Park during the first 1961 All Star Game.  Actually, the wind caused him to balk. 


Yesterday in Fresno, Governor Jerry Brown broke groups for the California High Speed Rail Project.