Saturday, August 30, 2014

Over the Top -- Chapter One -- August 30, 2014

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 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.










Tbe Knickerbocker press 1917


I have had many good comrades as I have journeyed around the world, before the mast and in the trenches, but loyal and true as they were, none have ever done, or could ever do, as much as you have done for me. So as a little token of my gratitude for your love and sacrifice I dedicate this book to you.


During sixteen years of "roughing it," knocking around the world, I have rubbed against the high and low and have had ample opportunity of studying, at close range, many different peoples, their ideals, political and otherwise, their hopes and principles. Through this elbow rubbing, and not from reading, I have become convinced of the nobility, truth, and justice of the Allies' cause, and know their fight to be our fight, because it espouses the principles of the United States of America, democracy, justice, and liberty.

To the average American who has not lived and fought with him, the Englishman appears to be distant, reserved, a slow thinker, and lacking in humor, but from my association with the man who inhabits the British Isles, I find that this opinion is unjust. To me, Tommy Atkins has proved himself to be the best of mates, a pal, and bubbling over with a fine sense of humor, a man with a just cause who is willing to sacrifice everything but honor in the advancement of the same.

It is my fondest hope that Uncle Sam and John Bull, arms locked, as mates, good and true, each knowing and appreciating the worth of the other, will wend their way through the years to come, happy and contented in each other's company. So if this poor attempt of mine will, in any way, help to bring Tommy Atkins closer to the doorstep of Uncle Sam, my ambition will have been realized.

Perhaps to some of my readers it will appear that I have written of a great and just cause in a somewhat flippant manner, but I assure them such was not my intention. I have tried to tell my experiences in the language of Tommy sitting on the fire step of a front-line trench on the Western Front—just as he would tell his mate next him what was happening at a different part of the line.

A. G. E.
New York City,
May, 1917




IT was in an office in Jersey City. I was sitting at my desk talking to a Lieutenant of the Jersey National Guard. On the wall was a big war map decorated with variously colored little flags showing the position of the opposing armies on the Western Front in France. In front of me on the desk lay a New York paper with big flaring head lines:


The windows were open and a feeling of spring pervaded the air. Through the open windows came the strains of a hurdy-gurdy playing in the street -- I Didn't Raise my Boy to be a Soldier.

"Lusitania Sunk! American Lives Lost!"— I Didn't Raise my Boy to be a Soldier." To us these did not seem to jibe.

The Lieutenant in silence opened one of the lower drawers of his desk and took from it an American flag which he solemnly draped over the war map on the wall. Then, turning to me with a grim face, said:

"How about it, Sergeant? You had better get out the muster roll of the Mounted Scouts, as I think they will be needed in the course of a few days."

We busied ourselves till late in the evening writing out emergency telegrams for the men to report when the call should come from Washington. Then we went home.

I crossed over to New York, and as I went up Fulton Street to take the Subway to Brooklyn, the lights in the tall buildings of New York seemed to be burning brighter than usual, as if they, too, had read "Lusitania Sunk! American Lives Lost!" They seemed to be glowing with anger and righteous indignation, and their rays wigwagged the message, "REPAY!"

Months passed, the telegrams lying handy, but covered with dust. Then, one momentous morning the Lieutenant with a sigh of disgust removed the flag from the war map and returned to his desk. I immediately followed this action by throwing the telegrams into the wastebasket. Then we looked at each other in silence. He was squirming in his chair and I felt depressed and uneasy.

The telephone rang and I answered it. It was a business call for me requesting my services for an out-of-town assignment. Business was not very good, so this was very welcome. After listening to the proposition, I seemed to be swayed by a peculiarly strong force within me, and answered, "I am sorry that I cannot accept your offer, but I am leaving for England next week," and hung up the receiver. The Lieutenant swung around in his chair, and stared at me in blank astonishment. A sinking sensation came over me, but I defiantly answered his look with, "Well, it's so. I'm going." And I went.

The trip across was uneventful. I landed at Tilbury, England, then got into a string of matchbox cars and proceeded to London, arriving there about 10 P.m. I took a room in a hotel near St. Pancras Station for "five and six—fire extra." The room was minus the fire, but the "extra" seemed to keep me warm. That night there was a Zeppelin raid, but I didn't see much of it, because the slit in the curtains was too small and I had no desire to make it larger. Next morning the telephone bell rang, and someone asked, "Are you there?" I was, hardly. Anyway, I learned that the Zeps had returned to their Fatherland, so I went out into the street expecting to see scenes of awful devastation and a cowering populace, but everything was normal. People were calmly proceeding to their work. Crossing the street, I accosted a Bobbie with:

"Can you direct me to the place of damage?"

He asked me, "What damage?"

In surprise, I answered, "Why, the damage caused by the Zeps."

With a wink, he replied: "There was no damage, we missed them again."

After several fruitless inquiries of the passersby, I decided to go on my own in search of ruined buildings and scenes of destruction. I boarded a bus which carried me through Tottenham Court Road. Recruiting posters were everywhere. The one that impressed me most was a life-size picture of Lord Kitchener with his finger pointing directly at me, under the caption of "Your King and Country Need You." No matter which way I turned, the accusing finger followed me. I was an American, in mufti, and had a little American flag in the lapel of my coat. I had no king, and my country had seen fit not to need me, but still that pointing finger made me feel small and ill at ease. I got off the bus to try to dissipate this feeling by mixing with the throng of the sidewalks.

Presently I came to a recruiting office. Inside, sitting at a desk was a lonely Tommy Atkins. I decided to interview him in regard to joining the British Army. I opened the door. He looked up and greeted me with "I s'y, myte, want to tyke on?"

I looked at him and answered, "Well, whatever that is, I'll take a chance at it."

Without the aid of an interpreter, I found out that Tommy wanted to know if I cared to join the British Army. He asked me: "Did you ever hear of the Royal Fusiliers?" Well, in London you know, Yanks are supposed to know everything, so I was not going to appear ignorant and answered, "Sure."

After listening for one half-hour to Tommy's tale of their exploits on the firing line, I decided to join. Tommy took me to the recruiting headquarters where I met a typical English Captain. He asked my nationality. I immediately pulled out my American passport and showed it to him. It was signed by Lansing,— Bryan had lost his job a little while previously. After looking at the passport, he informed me that he was sorry but could not enlist me, as it would be a breach of neutrality. I insisted that I was not neutral, because to me it seemed that a real American could not be neutral when big things were in progress, but the Captain would not enlist me.

With disgust in my heart I went out in the street. I had gone about a block when a recruiting Sergeant who had followed me out of the office tapped me on the shoulder with his swagger stick and said: "S'y, I can get you in the Army. We have a 'Leftenant' down at the other office who can do anything. He has just come out of the O. T. C. (Officers' Training Corps) and does not know what neutrality is." I decided to take a chance, and accepted his invitation for an introduction to the Lieutenant. I entered the office and went up to him, opened up my passport, and said:

"Before going further I wish to state that I am an American, not too proud to fight, and want to join your army."

He looked at me in a nonchalant manner, and answered, "That's all right, we take anything over here."

I looked at him kind of hard and replied, "So I notice," but it went over his head.

He got out an enlistment blank, and placing his finger on a blank line said, "Sign here."

I answered, "Not on your tintype."

"I beg your pardon?"

Then I explained to him that I would not sign it without first reading it. I read it over and signed for duration of war. Some of the recruits were lucky. They signed for seven years only.

Then he asked me my birthplace. I answered, "Ogden, Utah."

He said, "Oh yes, just outside of New York?"

With a smile, I replied, "Well, it's up the State a little."

Then I was taken before the doctor and passed as physically fit, and was issued a uniform. When I reported back to the Lieutenant, he suggested that, being an American, I go on recruiting service and try to shame some of the slackers into joining the Army.

"All you have to do," he said, "is to go out on the street, and when you see a young fellow in mufti who looks physically fit, just stop him and give him this kind of a talk: 'Aren't you ashamed of yourself, a Britisher, physically fit, and in mufti when your King and Country need you? Don't you know that your country is at war and that the place for every young Briton is on the firing line? Here I am, an American, in khaki, who came four thousand miles to fight for your King and Country, and you, as yet, have not enlisted. Why don't you join? Now is the time.'

"This argument ought to get many recruits, Empey, so go out and see what you can do."

He then gave me a small rosette of red, white, and blue ribbon, with three little streamers hanging down. This was the recruiting insignia and was to be worn on the left side of the cap.

Armed with a swagger stick and my patriotic rosette I went out into Tottenham Court Road in quest of cannon fodder.

Two or three poorly dressed civilians passed me, and although they appeared physically fit, I said to myself, "They don't want to join the army; perhaps they have someone dependent on them for support," so I did not accost them.

Coming down the street I saw a young dandy, top hat and all, with a fashionably dressed girl walking beside him. I muttered, "You are my meat," and when he came abreast of me I stepped directly in his path and stopped him with my swagger stick, saying:

"You would look fine in khaki, why not change that top hat for a steel helmet? Aren't you ashamed of yourself, a husky young chap like you in mufti when men are needed in the trenches? Here I am, an American, came four thousand miles from Ogden, Utah, just outside of New York, to fight for your King and Country. Don't be a slacker, buck up and get into uniform; come over to the recruiting office and I'll have you enlisted."

He yawned and answered, "I don't care if you came forty thousand miles, no one asked you to," and he walked on. The girl gave me a sneering look; I was speechless.

I recruited for three weeks and nearly got one recruit.

This perhaps was not the greatest stunt in the world, but it got back at the officer who had told me, "Yes, we take anything over here." I had been spending a good lot of my recruiting time in the saloon bar of the "Wheat Sheaf" pub (there was a very attractive blonde barmaid, who helped kill time—I was not as serious in those days as I was a little later when I reached the front)—well, it was the sixth day and my recruiting report was blank. I was getting low in the pocket—barmaids haven't much use for anyone who cannot buy drinks—so I looked around for recruiting material. You know a man on recruiting service gets a "bob" or shilling for every recruit he entices into joining the army, the recruit is supposed to get this, but he would not be a recruit if he were wise to this fact, would he?

Down at the end of the bar was a young fellow in mufti who was very patriotic—he had about four "Old Six" ales aboard. He asked me if he could join, showed me his left hand, two fingers were missing, but I said that did not matter as "we take anything over here." The left hand is the rifle hand as the piece is carried at the slope on the left shoulder. Nearly everything in England is "by the left," even general traffic keeps to the port side.

I took the applicant over to headquarters where he was hurriedly examined. Recruiting surgeons were busy in those days and did not have much time for thorough physical examinations. My recruit was passed as "fit" by the doctor and turned over to a Corporal to make note of his scars. I was mystified. Suddenly the Corporal burst out with, "Blime me (Blimey - JT), two of his fingers are gone"; turning to me he said, "You certainly have your nerve with you, not 'alf you ain't, to bring this beggar in."

The doctor came over and exploded, "What do you mean by bringing in a man in this condition?"

Looking out of the corner of my eye I noticed that the officer who had recruited me had joined the group, and I could not help answering, "Well, sir, I was told that you took anything over here."

I think they called it "Yankee impudence," anyhow it ended my recruiting.

Next: CHAPTER II -- Blighty to Rest Billets

Friday, August 29, 2014

This Makes Us Seasick -- August 29, 2014

SMS Leipzig was a German light cruiser commissioned in 1906.  She left China with Graf Maximilian von Spee's East Asia Squadron when World War One broke out.  In August, 1914, Leipzig visited San Francisco to replenish her coal supply.  There were restrictions on how long a belligerent vessel could spend in a neutral port.  The article is from the 22-August-1914 Pacific Rural Press. The photo is from the excellent website The Coronel Memorial (  Leipzig went down with most of the rest of the East Asia Squadron in the Battle of the Falkland Islands. 

This Makes Us Seasick.

It is indicative of the decline of sensational apprehension of evil, which a war-outbreak engenders, to find that our grain-laden ships are going out to brave the new dangers of the deep. The German cruiser Leipsic coaled in San Francisco on Monday, getting just enough to carry her about 4000 miles to the nearest German possession in Samoa and as she cannot get any more American coal for three months, it is thought she will beat it for home and not burn up her fuel waiting for prizes in our part of the Pacific. This clears us of German trouble, for Japan will keep their Asiatic squadron busy, and as for Hungarian war vessels, they seem to be looking for McGinty. Besides, exchange with England and other European countries has been reopened and war risks on merchantmen are taken by the British government. It seems likely then that all the laden ships in the bay will be going out and all idle ships will take whatever grain we have to spare. But there is trouble for the shippers of canned goods, for two English steamship lines that transport virtually all the canned goods from California to Great Britain have advised shippers that while their lines are ready to resume business, they will not supply steamers at rates contracted for, but will increase rates, and unless this increase is complied with the lines will tie up. Really the rate ought to be reduced instead of increased, because half the time can now be saved by canal, a fact not considered when the contracts were made. This act is likely to bring these Welchers up against a federal grand jury, which is more dangerous than a German cruiser.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

1951 Jaguar C-Type Racer -- August 28, 2014

We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June, 2013 to drool over their collection of classic autos.  This 1951 Jaguar C-Type Racer is number 14 of 53 built.  C-Types won Le Mans in 1951 and 1953. 

When I see Jaguars, I always think of San Francisco columnist Herb Caen, who had a love-hate relationship with the marque.  I believe he wrote "Owning a Jaguar is like having a beautiful mistress with a social disease."  I think newer Jaguars don't leak oil. 

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.  (051/dsc_0074)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Valley of Fear Review -- August 27, 2014

From The New York Courier and International Topics, 27-February-1915.

The highest commendation for and the best description of The Valley of Fear (Doran) is that it is a genuine Sherlock Holmes novel, with all the suspense of The Sign of the Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles, and all the charm of personality which in Sherlock Holmes is added to his fascination as a detective. In an old English house is a murder mystery which seems insoluble. Guess as he may, the reader cannot find the surprising solution of the mystery which Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson unearth. Then the scene of the story suddenly changes to America and the murder syndicate of an anarchistic community. Here broods the shadow of horrible fear, but it is dissipated by the investigations and dramatic coup of a man who is as strange and interesting a character as any one whom Conan Doyle has depicted.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Burning of Louvain -- August 25, 2014

100 years ago the German Army, in the process of violating the neutrality of Belgium, burned much of the city of Louvain (Leuven), including the university's renowned library.  The Germans made crazy claims that the son of the burgomaster had shot a German officer, but that did not happen.  The Germans did execute civilians and burn much of the town.  The Hotel de Ville and the Church of St. Pierre were not completely destroyed, only damaged.  I doubt anyone on the ground signaled targets to the Zeppelin which bombed the city.  The author mentions Vera Cruz because the United States invaded and occupied  it in 1914 during the Mexican Revolution to protect American business interests. 

After the war, the university's great library, which had held a huge collection of medieval manuscripts and early printed books, was rebuilt with the help of many donations from Britain and the United States.  The new building opened in 1928.  In 1940, German shelling set the new library on fire and destroyed it. 

American war correspondent Richard Harding Davis was passing through Louvain in 1914.  He wrote about it in his book With the AlliesThe photograph is from the book.  Click on it to see a larger version. 

"At Louvain it was war upon the defenseless, war upon churches, colleges, shops of milliners and lace-makers; war brought to the bedside and the fireside; against women harvesting in the fields, against children in wooden shoes at play in the streets"

The Burning of Louvain

After the Germans occupied Brussels they closed the road to Aix-la-Chapelle. A week later, to carry their wounded and prisoners, they reopened it. But for eight days Brussels was isolated. The mail-trains and the telegraph office were in the hands of the invaders. They accepted our cables, censored them, and three days later told us, if we still wished, we could forward them. But only from Holland. By this they accomplished three things: they learned what we were writing about them, for three days prevented any news from leaving the city, and offered us an inducement to visit Holland, so getting rid of us.

The dispatches of those diplomats who still remained in Brussels were treated in the same manner. With the most cheerful complacency the military authorities blue-penciled their dispatches to their governments. When the diplomats learned of this, with their code cables they sent open cables stating that their confidential dispatches were being censored and delayed. They still were delayed. To get any message out of Brussels it was necessary to use an automobile, and nearly every automobile had taken itself off to Antwerp. If a motor-car appeared it was at once commandeered. This was true also of horses and bicycles. All over Brussels you saw delivery wagons, private carriages, market carts with the shafts empty and the horse and harness gone. After three days a German soldier who did not own a bicycle was poor indeed.

Requisitions were given for these machines, stating they would be returned after the war, by which time they will be ready for the scrapheap. Any one on a bicycle outside the city was arrested, so the only way to get messages through was by going on foot to Ostend or Holland, or by an automobile for which the German authorities had given a special pass. As no one knew when one of these automobiles might start, we carried always with us our cables and letters, and entrusted them to any stranger who was trying to run the lines.

No one wished to carry our dispatches, as he feared they might contain something unfavorable to the Germans, which, if he were arrested and the cables read, might bring him into greater trouble. Money for himself was no inducement. But I found if I gave money for the Red Cross no one would refuse it, or to carry the messages.

Three out of four times the stranger would be arrested and ordered back to Brussels, and our dispatches, with their news value departed, would be returned.


An account of the Germans entering Brussels I sent by an English boy named Dalton, who, after being turned back three times, got through by night, and when he arrived in England his adventures were published in all the London papers. They were so thrilling that they made my story, for which he had taken the trip, extremely tame reading.

Hugh Gibson, secretary of the American legation, was the first person in an official position to visit Antwerp after the Belgian Government moved to that city, and, even with his passes and flag flying from his automobile, he reached Antwerp and returned to Brussels only after many delays and adventures. Not knowing the Belgians were advancing from the north, Gibson and his American flag were several times under fire, and on the days he chose for his excursion his route led him past burning towns and dead and wounded and between the lines of both forces actively engaged.

He was carrying dispatches from Brand Whitlock to Secretary Bryan. During the night he rested at Antwerp the first Zeppelin air-ship to visit that city passed over it, dropping one bomb at the end of the block in which Gibson was sleeping. He was awakened by the explosion and heard all of those that followed.

The next morning he was requested to accompany a committee appointed by the Belgian Government to report upon the outrage, and he visited a house that had been wrecked, and saw what was left of the bodies of those killed. People who were in the streets when the air-ship passed said it moved without any sound, as though the motor had been shut off and it was being propelled by momentum.
One bomb fell so near the palace where the Belgian Queen was sleeping as to destroy the glass in the windows and scar the walls. The bombs were large, containing smaller bombs of the size of shrapnel. Like shrapnel, on impact they scattered bullets over a radius of forty yards. One man, who from a window in the eighth story of a hotel watched the airship pass, stated that before each bomb fell he saw electric torches signal from the roofs, as though giving directions as to where the bombs should strike.
After my arrest by the Germans, I found my usefulness in Brussels as a correspondent was gone, and I returned to London, and from there rejoined the Allies in Paris.

I left Brussels on August 27th with Gerald Morgan and Will Irwin, of Collier's, on a train carrying English prisoners and German wounded. In times of peace the trip to the German border lasts three hours, but in making it we were twenty-six hours, and by order of the authorities we were forbidden to leave the train.
Carriages with cushions naturally were reserved for the wounded, so we slept on wooden benches and on the floor. It was not possible to obtain food, and water was as scarce. At Graesbeek, ten miles from Brussels, we first saw houses on fire. They continued with us to Liège.
Village after village had been completely wrecked. In his march to the sea Sherman lived on the country. He did not destroy it, and as against the burning of Columbia must be placed to the discredit of the Germans the wiping out of an entire countryside.

For many miles we saw procession after procession of peasants fleeing from one burning village, which had been their home, to other villages, to find only blackened walls and smoldering ashes. In no part of northern Europe is there a countryside fairer than that between Aix-la-Chapelle and Brussels, but the Germans had made of it a graveyard. It looked as though a cyclone had uprooted its houses, gardens, and orchards and a prairie fire had followed.
At seven o'clock in the evening we arrived at what for six hundred years had been the city of Louvain. The Germans were burning it, and to hide their work kept us locked in the railroad carriages. But the story was written against the sky, was told to us by German soldiers incoherent with excesses; and we could read it in the faces of women and children being led to concentration camps and of citizens on their way to be shot.
The day before the Germans had sentenced Louvain to become a wilderness, and with German system and love of thoroughness they left Louvain an empty, blackened shell. The reason for this appeal to the torch and the execution of non-combatants, as given to Mr. Whitlock and myself on the morning I left Brussels by General von Lutwitz, the military governor, was this: The day before, while the German military commander of the troops in Louvain was at the Hotel de Ville talking to the burgomaster, a son of the burgomaster, with an automatic pistol, shot the chief of staff and German staff surgeons.

Lutwitz claimed this was the signal for the civil guard, in civilian clothes on the roofs, to fire upon the German soldiers in the open square below. He said also the Belgians had quick-firing guns, brought from Antwerp. As for a week the Germans had occupied Louvain and closely guarded all approaches, the story that there was any gun-running is absurd.


"Fifty Germans were killed and wounded," said Lutwitz, "and for that Louvain must be wiped out—so!" In pantomime with his fist he swept the papers across his table.

"The Hotel de Ville," he added, "was a beautiful building; it is a pity it must be destroyed."
Were he telling us his soldiers had destroyed a kitchen-garden, his tone could not have expressed less regret.
Ten days before I had been in Louvain, when it was occupied by Belgian troops and King Albert and his staff. The city dates from the eleventh century, and the population was forty-two thousand. The citizens were brewers, lace-makers, and manufacturers of ornaments for churches. The university once was the most celebrated in European cities and was the headquarters of the Jesuits.
In the Louvain College many priests now in America have been educated, and ten days before, over the great yellow walls of the college, I had seen hanging two American flags. I had found the city clean, sleepy, and pretty, with narrow twisting streets and smart shops and cafes. Set in flower gardens were the houses, with red roofs, green shutters, and white walls.
Over those that faced south had been trained pear-trees, their branches, heavy with fruit, spread out against the walls like branches of candelabra. The town hall was an example of Gothic architecture, in detail and design more celebrated even than the town hall of Bruges or Brussels. It was five hundred years old, and lately had been repaired with taste and at great cost.
Opposite was the Church of St. Pierre, dating from the fifteenth century, a very noble building, with many chapels filled with carvings of the time of the Renaissance in wood, stone, and iron. In the university were one hundred and fifty thousand volumes.
Near it was the bronze statue of Father Damien, priest of the leper colony in the South Pacific, of whom Robert Louis Stevenson wrote.
On the night of the 27th these buildings were empty, exploded cartridges. Statues, pictures, carvings, parchments, archives—all these were gone.
No one defends the sniper. But because ignorant Mexicans, when their city was invaded, fired upon our sailors, we did not destroy Vera Cruz. Even had we bombarded Vera Cruz, money could have restored that city. Money can never restore Louvain. Great architects and artists, dead these six hundred years, made it beautiful, and their handiwork belonged to the world. With torch and dynamite the Germans turned those masterpieces into ashes, and all the Kaiser's horses and all his men cannot bring them back again.
When our troop train reached Louvain, the entire heart of the city was destroyed, and the fire had reached the Boulevard Tirlemont, which faces the railroad station. The night was windless, and the sparks rose in steady, leisurely pillars, falling back into the furnace from which they sprang. In their work the soldiers were moving from the heart of the city to the outskirts, street by street, from house to house.

In each building they began at the first floor and, when that was burning steadily, passed to the one next. There were no exceptions— whether it was a store, chapel, or private residence, it was destroyed. The occupants had been warned to go, and in each deserted shop or house the furniture was piled, the torch was stuck under it, and into the air went the savings of years, souvenirs of children, of parents, heirlooms that had passed from generation to generation.
The people had time only to fill a pillowcase and fly. Some were not so fortunate, and by thousands, like flocks of sheep, they were rounded up and marched through the night to concentration camps. We were not allowed to speak to any citizen of Louvain, but the Germans crowded the windows of the train, boastful, gloating, eager to interpret.
In the two hours during which the train circled the burning city war was before us in its most hateful aspect.
In other wars I have watched men on one hilltop, without haste, without heat, fire at men on another hill, and in consequence on both sides good men were wasted. But in those fights there were no women or children, and the shells struck only vacant stretches of veldt or uninhabited mountain sides.
At Louvain it was war upon the defenseless, war upon churches, colleges, shops of milliners and lace-makers; war brought to the bedside and the fireside; against women harvesting in the fields, against children in wooden shoes at play in the streets.
At Louvain that night the Germans were like men after an orgy.
There were fifty English prisoners, erect and soldierly. In the ocean of gray the little patch of khaki looked pitifully lonely, but they regarded the men who had outnumbered but not defeated them with calm, uncurious eyes. In one way I was glad to see them there. Later they will bear witness. They will tell how the enemy makes a wilderness and calls it war. It was a most weird picture. On the high ground rose the broken spires of the Church of St. Pierre and the Hotel de Ville, and descending like steps were row beneath row of houses, roofless, with windows like blind eyes. The fire had reached the last row of houses, those on the Boulevard de Jodigne. Some of these were already cold, but others sent up steady, straight columns of flame. In others at the third and fourth stories the window curtains still hung, flowers still filled the window-boxes, while on the first floor the torch had just passed and the flames were leaping. Fire had destroyed the electric plant, but at times the flames made the station so light that you could see the second-hand of your watch, and again all was darkness, lit only by candles.
You could tell when an officer passed by the electric torch he carried strapped to his chest. In the darkness the gray uniforms filled the station with an army of ghosts. You distinguished men only when pipes hanging from their teeth glowed red or their bayonets flashed.
Outside the station in the public square the people of Louvain passed in an unending procession, women bareheaded, weeping, men carrying the children asleep on their shoulders, all hemmed in by the shadowy army of gray wolves. Once they were halted, and among them were marched a line of men. These were on their way to be shot. And, better to point the moral, an officer halted both processions and, climbing to a cart, explained why the men were to die. He warned others not to bring down upon themselves a like vengeance.
As those being led to spend the night in the fields looked across to those marked for death they saw old friends, neighbors of long standing, men of their own household. The officer bellowing at them from the cart was illuminated by the headlights of an automobile. He looked like an actor held in a spotlight on a darkened stage.
It was all like a scene upon the stage, unreal, inhuman. You felt it could not be true. You felt that the curtain of fire, purring and crackling and sending up hot sparks to meet the kind, calm stars, was only a painted backdrop; that the reports of rifles from the dark ruins came from blank cartridges, and that these trembling shopkeepers and peasants ringed in bayonets would not in a few minutes really die, but that they themselves and their homes would be restored to their wives and children.
You felt it was only a nightmare, cruel and uncivilized. And then you remembered that the German Emperor has told us what it is. It is his Holy War.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Burning of Washington DC 200 -- August 24, 2014

Angered by the Americans burning provincial capital York, Ontario in 1813, the British captured Washington, DC in August, 1814.  On the night of 24-August-1812, they burned the White House and the Capitol. 

From Centennial History of the City of Washington, D. C., 1892, edited by Harvey W. Crew.

There was a 6.something earthquake in Napa this morning.  It woke me up at 03:21am in Pacifica. 

In the evening of August 24, 1814, "the British army, commanded jointly by General Ross and Admiral Cockburn, reached Capitol Hill, flushed and excited by their victory at Bladensburg. As General Ross rode toward the Capitol, his horse was killed by a shot fired from a house in the vicinity. The shot was apparently aimed at the British general, and it so enraged the troops that, after setting fire to the house containing the sharpshooter, they marched quickly to the Capitol, and fired several volleys into its windows. A regiment then marched into the hall of the House of Representatives, the drums and fifes playing 'The British Grenadiers,' and the soldiers were formed around the Speaker's chair. Admiral Cockburn was escorted to the post of honor, and, seating himself, derisively called the excited assemblage to order. 'Shall this harbor of Yankee democracy be burned? All for it say, Aye!' he shouted. There was a tumultuous cry of affirmation, and then the order was given to burn the building. The pitch-pine boards were torn from the passageway between the wings; the books and papers of the Library of Congress were pulled from their shelves and scattered over the floor; valuable paintings in a room adjoining the Senate chamber were cut from their frames, and the torch applied to the combustible mass. Presently clouds of smoke and columns of fire ascended from the Capitol, and it seemed doomed to destruction. The soldiers discharged army rockets through the roof of each wing, and when the fire was burning furiously, left the building and marched up Pennsylvania Avenue to fire the other public edifices. The wooden passageway and the roofs and exterior of the wings were burned, but the walls were saved, as the flames were extinguished in time by a severe rain, which set in within half an hour after the fire had begun, and continued all the evening."

After the British invasion, Congress held its first session in Blodgett's Hotel, which occupied the site of the present post office building. Afterward, while the Capitol was being rebuilt, Congress assembled in a building erected for the purpose by the patriotic citizens of Washington, near the eastern grounds of the Capitol. Here it held its session for several years. The building has always been known as the "Old Capitol Building." At the time of the burning of the Capitol, Mr. Latrobe was in Pittsburgh, engaged in the construction of a steamboat for Robert Fulton; but he was immediately recalled to Washington to superintend the reconstruction of the Capitol, which, after a thorough examination, he reported as capable of easy restoration, the foundations and walls remaining for the most part unimpaired. To him is due the credit of the old hall of the House of Representatives, now the national statuary hall; the old Senate chamber, now the hall of the Supreme Court; the Law Library, and the old lobbies. He remained in charge until 1817, when he resigned and was succeeded by Mr. Charles Bulfinch, who was entrusted with the further prosecution of the work with the understanding that the Capitol should be completed according to the designs of Mr. Latrobe.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Book: The First World War -- August 23, 2014

This month we remember the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, the Great War, the War to End All Wars.  I thought this was a good time to reread Hew Strachan's The First World War.  He wrote this book in conjunction with a television series.  Now I have to find his multi-volume set of books on the war. 

Strachan makes a point of talking about aspects of the war away from the Western Front.  He makes much of the Germans getting blamed for the war, but makes the strong point that the Austrians started it by declaring war on Serbia:

He digs into the reasons various countries went to war. 

His conclusion is that it was not a war without purpose. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Two-Fisted Tales -- August 22, 2014

Two-Fisted Tales was a famous war comic from EC.  This cover of this issue depicts an aerial battle during World War One.

 The image is from the wonderful site CoverBrowser (  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pulp #52 -- August 21, 2014

The cover of this 1928 issue of Battle Stories features "Hinky Dinky Parlez Vous," a First World War tale by Arthur Guy Empey, who was a prolific writer for the pulps. His most popular character was Terrence X O'Leary, a soldier who became a soldier of fortune, and a flier. Later O'Leary starred in science fiction stories. 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 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 the war.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jeffrey Leonard -- August 20, 2014

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 next several months.

Jeffrey Leonard, Hac Man, Old Penitentiary Face, was a productive member of the Giants during most of the 1980s, and was a crucial factor in the team's return to respectability.   He usually played left field.  He was at  his best during the 1987 playoff against the Cardinals.  The Giants lost, but he was great.  The Cardinals got angry because of his one flap down homerun trot. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Taking a Cup of Café Noir -- French Market -- August 19, 2014

One of our favorite things in recent visit to New Orleans was to go to the Café du Monde in the French Market for beignets and café au lait.  Here we see a vignette from The Picayune's Guide to New Orleans (1903) of men having café noir at the French Market. They could be at the Café du Monde, which opened in 1862, or its great rival, the Morning Call, which opened in 1870 at the French Market and left it in 1974 to go to Metairie. 
French Market.

You know it by the busy rush, the noisy rumbling of carts and wheels, the ceaseless clatter of foreign and native tongues combined, the outlandish garbs, the curious faces, the strange cosmopolitan scene to be nowhere else witnessed on American soil. The market is open daily from 5 a. m. to 12 m. The "meat market" was erected in 1813 at a cost of $30,000, and stands on the exact spot where the first market was built in New Orleans, according to the plan of Le Blond de La Tour, in 1723, and which was destroyed by a hurricane in that same year. The best time to visit it is in the early morning, and Sunday morning of all others. It is the most remarkable and characteristic spot in New Orleans. Under its roof every language is spoken, and this will be noted through its four divisions, the fish, the meat, the vegetable and the fruit market. The buyers and sellers are men and women of all races. Here are the famous coffee stands, where one gets such delicious "café noir" or "café au lait," with a "brioche" or "cala," as the taste may suggest. There are the Gascon butchers, and the Italian and Spanish fruit vendors, and the German and Italian vegetable women: there are Moors, with their strings of beads and crosses. fresh from the Holy Land; peddlers and tinners and small notion dealers; the "rabais men," with their little stores on wheels; Chinese and Hindu, Jew and Teuton, French and Creole, Spanish and Malay, Irish and English, all uniting in a ceaseless babel of tongues that is simply bewildering. The old Creole negresses are there, with quaint bandana and tignon, offering for sale "pralines" and "pain patates" and "calas," the latter a species of soft doughnut made of rice and flour.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Panama Canal is Open -- August 18, 2014

I missed the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal last Friday.  The article is from the 16-August-1914 Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The postcard shows the tug Gatun making the first trip through the Upper Gatun Locks.  This is not the same event described in the story. 




The Panama Canal is open to the commerce of the world.  An Associated Press wireless message received by the Star-Bulletin at 11 o'clock this morning said:

"PANAMA, Ang. 15. The Panama Canal is open. The steamer Ancon," a 10,000-ton vessel belonging to the war department, was the first to pass through the waterway. She passed the' Gatun locks in 70 minutes."

According to the advance arrangements. Governor-Goethals of the Canal Zone, President Porras of the Republic of Panama, and a party of officials were aboard the Ancon and after the passage the canal began its regular business.

The total cost of the Panama canal will be about $375,000,000. The length from deep water in the Atlantic to deep water in the Pacific is 50 miles.  The minimum depth will be 40 feet, the maximum depth 45 feet.

Over 5,000,000 cubic yards of concrete were used in the construction and a force of men averaging 39,000 were employed.

There are 12 locks, each with a chamber 10 feet wide and 1000 feet long. The gates are opened and closed by electricity. The boats are hauled through the canal by the same power.

Gatun lake, the highest part of the canal, is 85 feet above sea level. The level of both oceans, is the same, but there is a 20-foot tide on the Pacific side, while on the Atlantic side there is only a two-foot tide.

Time required to pass, through the canal is about 12 hours. In a voyage from New York to San Francisco the canal will save 8000 miles, says the Boys' Magazine.

The cost of operating the canal will be about $4,000,000 each year and over 2500 employees will be required. The business of supplying coal and provisions and the repair facilities will be wholly in the hands of the government.  The traffic will be under the jurisdiction of the Interstate commission.

Freight rates will be $1.20 a ton, passengers free; the rates charged vessels are the same as those at Suez.  At the $1.20 rate the canal is expected to be self-supporting for a number of years. The annual average tonnage as estimated will be about 10,000,000 tons for the first few years and the income necessary to pay interest on the money invested and meet expenses will be about $ 15,000,000.

Warships of all nations may pass through the canal, but they cannot linger at either entrance for a longer period than 24 hours.


First digging by Americans May 4, 1904, taking over the rights and property of the French Canal Company and obtaining necessary concession from the Republic of Panama.

First union of Atlantic and Pacific waters -- Blowing up of the Gamboa dike, when President Wilson touched an electric button, in Washington, October 10, 1913.

First boat of any kind to make transisthmian passage -- A nameless mud scow of the Panama railroad, which passed from the Pacific entrance to Culebra out in November, 1913, and was sent to the Atlantic entrance in December, 1913.

First vessel to steam through canal -- The crane boat Alexander La Valley, an old French boat of 1200 tons, which passed from the Atlantic to the Pacific on January 7, 1914.

First vessel- to pass completely around South America by way of the canal was the tug Reliance, Captain R. C. Thompson. which sailed from Colon February 11, 1912, voyaged for 500 miles (too small? - JT) around South America and returned to the Atlantic ocean through Gatun locks February 1, last.

PANAMA. Aug. 15- The Canal Zone was the scene of much activity last night in preparation for the formal opening of the canal to commerce today. Everything has been done to have the great work complete when the ceremonies in connection with the event commence.

The war department S. S. Ancon will carry the official party through the locks, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Aboard the ,steamer will be Governor Goethals, at the head of the Zone government, and the men who had charge of the greater part of the construction, accompanied by President Porras of the Republic of Panama, the members of the Panamanian cabinet and other Panama and American officials. The Ancon will be commanded by Capt. G. K. Sukeforth. 

The Ancon will carry a full cargo and will have the honor of being the first Vessel through the canal not running in connection with construction work or lock testing. She is a 10,000 ton steamer.

During the opening ceremonies all other traffic will be suspended, but the regular work of passing steamers will commence in the afternoon. A number of vessels at each entrance of the canal are ready to pass through.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Jazzbeaux -- August 17, 2014

After I took my mother grocery shopping yesterday, we had lunch at Bill's Place. They still have the best hamburgers in San Francisco. She had the Jack Hansen. The English muffin is too small to hold all the onions and tomato. I had a Jazzbeaux, a hamburger on a sourdough roll with cheddar cheese and bacon.  Not good for me, but very good.

I should mention for the benefit of those not hip to the groove that Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins was a veteran disc jockey, mostly in New York and San Francisco. I remember him on KSFO and finally on KCSM. The Purple Grotteaux travelled with him.  This summer KCSM has been playing his old shows on Sunday nights. 

Later we went to 5 o'clock mass at Good Shepherd.  At the end, the Knights of Columbus had a ceremony to honor the altar servers.  Father Lu gave a talk and a blessing.  I like his enthusiasm. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Magic Carpet Ride -- August 16, 2014

Car 1010, built for Muni in 1948 by the Saint Louis Car Company, is painted in Muni's pre-World War II Blue and Gold colors.  This is a tribute to Muni's first modern streetcars, called the Magic Carpets because they gave such a smooth ride.  The 1939 Magic Carpets were not considered true PCCs because they used different control systems and trucks, but they were nice cars.  The post-war 1010 and its companions are considered Muni's first true PCCs. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Life Jackets -- August 15, 2014

Before our recent trip to New Orleans, I had never seen the Mississippi River.  We took a ride on the Canal Street ferry Colonel Frank X Armiger.

I sat outside on the way to Algiers, but on the way back I started in the cabin. 

I always like to read the safety instructions, like this one for donning the lifejackets. 

I counted to make sure there really were 12. 

Read more about our trip:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vacation 1913 -- August 14, 2014

The Northwestern Pacific -- and its predecessors -- has always been one of my favorite railroads. Every year the NWP published Vacation, "a handbook of summer resorts along the line of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad."  The NWP was the way people from San Francisco reached the resorts along the Russian River.  This ad is from the 24-June-1913 San Francisco Call

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Strangerhood -- North Beach -- August 13, 2014

The San Francisco Arts Commission ( has set up a series of posters by artist Lordy Rodriquez called "Strangerhood." Rodriquez reimagines San Francisco neighborhoods as countries. This is his version of North Beach. I took the photo on 15-January-2014. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

George W Hilton, RIP -- August 12, 2014

George W Hilton was a professor of economics who frequently wrote about transportation. I was going through the shelves at the Richmond Branch Library in San Francisco one day in the early 1970s when I noticed a new book, The Cable Car in America by George W Hilton. This book differed from other books I had read about railroads and streetcars. Hilton carefully explained not only the technology and the history, but the economics that first made cable traction desirable and then made them obsolete. Hilton was not interested in nostalgia.   Later I found other books he had written, including The Interurban in America and The Narrow Gauge in America. He followed the same pattern in dealing with those industries.
I can safely say that if it were not for The Cable in America, I would not have created my cable car website.

Professor Hilton died earlier this month. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Richmond District Mural -- August 11, 2014

My family shopped at the market at 28th Avenue and Geary Boulevard in the Richmond District of San Francisco for many years.  It was Littleman when I first remember it.  Then it was Cala.  It recently became a Grocery Outlet.  Artist Bryana Fleming painted a mural with scenes from the Richmond District past and present. 

The first panel shows Clement Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.  I love visiting Green Apple Books.  I have never been in the 540 Club, but it sure looks interesting. 

The second panel shows the Alexandria Theater, which is closed, and the Russian Orthodox Holy Virgin Cathedral.  Note that the Alexandria's marquee advertises Grocery Outlet. 

The third panel shows the 1896 Cliff House, which some people count as the third and some as the fourth.  The ship probably represents the coastwise liner Santa Rosa, which appears in a famous photo of the Cliff  House. 

The fourth panel shows the two windmills at the Ocean Beach end of Golden Gate Park. 

The artist's signature appears on the last panel. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

BART -- August 10, 2014

I took this photo of a Daly City BART train at Embarcadero Station on 28-May-2014. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Train Station #68 -- August 9, 2014

On our recent trip to New Orleans, we took the the New Orleans Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour.  The bus went by the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOUPT), a modern station which opened in 1954.  Today the station serves three Amtrak trains, the City of New Orleans, the Crescent and the Sunset Limited, and Greyhound buses. 

I did not get to ride the new Loyola Avenue streetcar line to visit the NOUPT.  The line opened in January, 2013. 

Read more about our trip:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Firehouse #77 -- August 8, 2014

On our recent trip to New Orleans, we took the New Orleans Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour.  We went around twice because it rained a lot the first time.  The guide on our first trip said that this retired firehouse at 1043 Magazine Street in the Warehouse District is where Muhammad Ali trained for his second fight with Leon Spinks.  The guide on the second circuit did not mention it. 

Ali had lost his title to Spinks on 15-February-1978.  Ali had not taken Spinks seriously.  Ali trained well for the rematch at the Superdome in New Orleans on 15-September-1978, scoring a unanimous decision and winning the heavyweight championship for the third and last time.  We didn't know it then, but it was Ali's last victory. 

Read more about our trip:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The King of All Mystery -- August 7, 2014

I can't find much about John Siems, but he was born in Denmark and came to America.  He had a long successful career as a conjuror.  This ad from the 25-November-1911 Ogden Standard promotes a show at the Orpheum Theater.  Orpheum was a big vaudeville chain in the west. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Taube Monoplane -- August 6, 2014

From the beginning of World War One, both sides used airplanes for artillery spotting and other forms of observation.  The Central Powers, Germany and Austria, often used a type of monoplane known as the Taube (Dove), which had been designed by an Austro-Hungarian, Igo Etrich.  It was produced by many manufacturers, most famously Rumpler Flugzeugwerke in Germiany. 

The slow and difficult to maneuver Taubes were quickly made obsolete by more advanced airplanes.

From "What Every One Should Know About the Aeroplane," by Montague Palmer.  Saint Nicholas Magazine, July, 1915.

The German monoplanes, however, are distinctive, as they are generally of the Taube type, which, with its backward sweeping planes and its long triangular tail, bears a striking resemblance to the dove, or pigeon, although it was originally patterned after the gliding seed-leaf of the Zanonia palm.  Even the Taube is being largely superseded by newer designs approaching more nearly the common monoplane type. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

3-Zero Café -- August 5, 2014

The day after our difficult return from New Orleans (, we were too tired to do anything. 

The day after that, we went out for breakfast.  For years, we have been driving by the Half Moon Bay airport and talking about eating at the café.  The one time we had tried, there was a long wait.  This time, we got a table right away. 

The food was good.  I had an omelet.  My wife had Joe's Special. 

I liked the décor. 

The manager came by for a chat.  He said they also own the Flying Fish Restaurant. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Belgian Cities in Flames -- August 4, 2014

100 years ago today, the German Empire violated the neutrality of Belgium by invading that country on its way to invade France.  This set of articles is from the 05-August-1914 Washington Times.  No German dreadnaughts were captured during the war.  Germany did not invade Holland in 1914. 



Liege, bearing the brunt of a determined assault on the Belgian frontier, is ablaze from German shells. 

The first assault by 50,000 men was repulsed with heavy casualties.

King Albert is to lead his army in person.

Namur, another Belgian frontier town,  is being shelled by long-range artillery preliminary to an assault by a second column. 

Official news from all points is withheld but, with large bodies of men fighting at close range with
modern guns, the losses along, the German frontier must be in the thousands.

A clash between the German and British North Sea squadrons is believed to be in progress.

Heavy firing off the Maine coast reported, may indicate a naval battle near the United States. 

Holland and Belgium are aflame with war zeal.

In Holland, the Dutch army is falling back before the German advance.

A heavy artillery duel is being maintained near Toui and Epinal, where 100,000 Germans are seeking
a gap between the French defense. Hospitals at Nancy are filled with wounded.

At Petit Croix a second assault of Germans, to isolate Belfort, has been repulsed.

Heavy casualties are reported from several battlefields. Surrender of a German dreadnought and a cruiser and the sinking of a third warship by the French fleet gave the allies the first naval victory.

German Assault on Liege Repulsed; Heavy Losses

BRUSSELS, Aug. 5. It is officially announced today that the Belgian forces have effectively checked the German advance. Both attacking and defending forces suffered heavy loss.

The country is aflame with the war spirit and even the women are demanding that they be enrolled in defense of the nation. It is announced that King Albert will take the field in person as soon as the war measures are completed.
The German army, having Cologne as its base, crossed the Belgian frontier at Gemmenieh. Divided into two columns, it advanced against Liege and Namur.

The heaviest fighting was in the attack on Liege, where a German force of 50,000 was engaged by Belgians of half that number. The Germans attempted to carry the entrenchments beyond Liege by storm, but were repulsed by a withering artillery fire and the advance column fell back in confusion, leaving many dead and wounded.

The Belgians had mounted machine guns along the railway line commanding the right of way and the military road that paralleled it and the Germans were unable to carry the position by storm.

After falling back, the Germans hurriedly entrenched and mounted artillery with which they are now bombarding Liege and Namur from a half circular position extending for eight miles.

Both Liege and Namur have been set on fire by shells.

The fight at Liege will be long continued, as this is the strongest point in all Belgium. The defenses of the city comprise twelve forts on the outskirts of the city, all equipped with modern artillery. The garrison is strong, and additional troops were rushed there yesterday.

The war office is confident that Liege can hold out against the German attack indefinitely and that the German movement through Belgium has now been rendered ineffective.

The towns of Vise and Argemen have been burned by the Germans and scores of Belgians slain.


BRUSSELS, Aug. 5. A German aviator flew across the Belgium defenses outside of Liege today. He was greeted with a storm of bullets from the forces and literally shot to pieces, falling to the ground in the middle of the Belgian force. As a result of this other German airmen who had been seen in the distance flew back to the German lines.


ENGLAND -- Army mobilized; minor fighting in the North sea, off Scotland and Yorkshire; main battle fleet steaming toward German coast with orders to "capture or destroy" German fleet; food shortage evident; poor suffering.

FRANCE Enormous invading German army already across frontier headed for Paris engaged by French in skirmishing preliminary to general battle; Mediterranean fleet has sunk German cruiser;
captured dreadnaught and cruiser.

GERMANY Kaiser, battling with England, France, Russia, Holland, Belgium, Servia, and Montenegro, getting little assistance from Austria, which is pressed by Russia and Servia, has appealed to Italy to assist him. Fully 5,000,000 men are under arms.

RUSSIA Invading Austria and Prussia; war fleets bottled up in Black sea and Gulf of Finland; mobilization proceeding very slowly.

AUSTRIA Army unable to penetrate Servia; now menaced with Russian invasion.

BELGIUM Entire frontier devastated by overwhelming German army; but holding invaders in check at Liege; bloodiest fighting of war in progress here with hundreds already killed and wounded.

JAPAN War fleet coaling, and will strike in aid of England should fighting spread to Far East.

HOLLAND Germans, attempting to cross country, attacked by Dutch troops on border; dykes will be cut and country flooded should invasion continue.

SERVIA Holding Austrians in check, prepares to invade Bosnia.


Cunard Giantess Will Be Convoyed by the British Cruiser Essex.

NEW YORK, Aug. 5. The Cunard giantess, Lusitania, is today racing for England under convoy of the British cruiser Essex. With 200 passengers aboard and a rich cargo. including $200,000 in gold, the liner slipped from her pier at 1:20 a. m. today and dashed out into the gloom of early dawn confident of eluding capture by three German warships believed to be watching and waiting to prey on British commerce.

The British cruiser Essex convoyed the White Star liner Olympic into safety off the entrance to New York harbor last night, and then slipped into the .night, awaiting word from the Lusitania that she had started.

Captain Dow's orders on the Lusitania were that every deck light should be extinguished except the masthead and port and starboard signal lamps. Below decks portholes were blanketed to conceal state room and saloon lights.  The Lusitania's officers laughed at the possibility of capture by German warships. The Cunarder speeds twenty-seven knots an hour, faster than most war vessels except torpedo boats.

The cruiser Karlsrhue, one of the three German warships now believed off Sandy Hook was built to make this speed, but has made it only for a short distance on a trial trip.

Captain Dow expects, to make the trip to England in less than five days.  Ordinarily the Lusitania's running time is five and one half days. She carried reserve coal supplies and will steam under forced draft.

The Cunard liner will be accompanied by British or French cruisers all the way across, according to her officers.

From wireless signals picked up here, it is believed that at the present time there are three German cruisers and the converted liner Kronprinz Wilhelm; three British cruisers and three French
cruisers patrolling the high seas just off the entrance to New York harbor.  It is not believed the Germans will risk the chance of an encounter with the French and British vessels.

The White Star Liner Olympic and the Hamburg-American liner President Lincoln arrived today.

The Olympia (should be Olympic - JT) came from Southampton and on the last stage of her voyage was in constant wireless touch with one of the British cruisers which steamed within a short distance of her during the last stages of the trip.

The President Lincoln came from Hamburg. Passengers of the President Lincoln told a thrilling story of the night of the liner before what she believed to be a hostile warship last night.  Believing danger was passed, officers of the ship announced that the ballroom might be lighted. Just as dancing was at its height, the watch sighted a long streak of light sweeping the southern horizon. It swept across the sky and then the water.

Immediately stewards ran through the vessel again ordering lights out and the President Lincoln plunged forward, her engines under increased pressure. Even the mast and all sailing lights were extinguished and the big ship steamed along in total darkness. Not until the three-mile limit was reached were the lights again turned on.

The President Lincoln saw the dark form of the Lusitanla heading out to sea at top speed about 2 a. m.

Liner Lorraine Sails With 1,200 Reservists

NEW YORK, Aug. 5. The French liner Lorraine sailed today.

Aboard her were 1,200 French reservists. They answered the call to the tri-color. Just before the vessel cleared her dock some one started the "Marseillaise." The departing ones took up the thrilling refrain in a chorus that swelled out over the docks.

Father Paul Renaud, pastor of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, was one of the reservists answering the call of his country. He said he expected to go with the army as a chaplain, or else in the hospital corps.

"He says so," remarked Mayor Mitchell, who, with Collector of the Port Dudley Field Malone, was there to see Father Renaud off, "but I believe he's going over to put a few in the hospital."  The soldier ship sailed out of New York Harbor amid the greatest demonstration in years. British, American, and French liners tied their whistles down to greet her. Only one liner, the Vaterland, from whose flagstaff fluttered the red, white, and black of Germany, did not join.

Every person on board the Lorraine had a flag either French or American. Just as the ship cleared, a man produced a big bundle and distributed souvenirs aboard ship. The souvenirs were the "Erin Go Bragh" flag of Ireland entwined with the tri-color of France.

Vaterland Expected to Run Gauntlet of Ships

NEW YORK. Aug. 5. The Hamburg American liner Vaterland, biggest ship afloat. Is making ready to slip out and run the gauntlet of British and French cruisers off the New York coast in a desperate attempt to reach Germany.

Extraordinary preparations at the vessel's dock, the hailing by special guards of all visitors to the dock and the knowledge that Germany needs the 2,000 reservists now waiting In New York, give rise to this belief. But the Hamburg-American officials flatly denied that the vessel will sail.
The liner kept steam up all day today.  She is on the German navy reserve list, and is needed In the service as a supply and transport auxiliary.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Playing Tourist -- August 3, 2014

Yesterday we took a colleague who was visiting India around San Francisco.  It was very nice.  We started out catching a California Street cable car at Drumm.  We got nice seats in the right rear open section.  We got off at Taylor and took a quick look at Grace Cathedral, Huntington Park, the Pacific Union Club and the Fairmont.  We walked down the hill to the Cable Car Barn and visited the museum.  Since it is August, there were a lot of French tourists.  We walked over to Jackson and Mason and waited to catch whatever came.  A couple of cars wouldn't let us on.  Then we had to sit inside on a Powell-Mason.  When we got to Bay and Taylor, we found that cars were switching over to the outbound track to reach the turntable.  I have never seen that before. 

We walked down Taylor and he found a toy cable car for his kids.  It had a friction motor, which kids always love.  He said he could show them what he had done and where he sat. 

I had a thought.  Since he had come to America, he had eaten at Thai, Mexican and Hunan Chinese restaurants.  He hadn't eaten at an American restaurant, so we went to IHOP for lunch.  Then we walked around the Wharf a little, and then caught a Mason car back towards Market. 

We got off at the end of the line and went to the San Francisco Center and Old Navy to try to find something for his kids.  We left him on Market to find his way back and went home. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

First and Last Word in Phonographs -- August 2, 2014

A prototype ad from the June, 1916 Edison Phonograph Monthly reminds buyers that Edison invented the phonograph.  It says the Edison Diamond Amberola "absolutely matches every human quality of the actual living voice."  The Amberola was a phonograph designed to play Edison's superior Blue Amberol cylinders with a diamond stylus. 

"The EDISON DIAMOND AMBEROLA is not a mere 'talking machine.'"  This is a dig at Edison's rival, the Victor Talking Machine Company. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Book: The Guns of August -- August 1, 2014

This month we remember the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, the Great War, the War to End All Wars.  I thought this was a good time to reread Barbara Tuchman's book The Guns of August.  Tuchman set the stage and then wrote in great detail about the events of the first month of the war.  She wrote about the French Army's belief in the offensive, the German Army's theory of schrecklichkeit (frightfulness), and the general way in which events did not turn out the way that leaders planned. 

Tuchman had a way with words.  “Human beings, like plans, prove fallible in the presence of those ingredients that are missing in maneuvers -- danger, death, and live ammunition.” I particularly liked her sections on the burning of Louvain and the bombardment of Rhiems, two indelible black marks against the Germans.  “Two firing squads marched to the center of the square, faced either way and fired till no more of the targets stood upright. Six hundred and twelve bodies were identified and buried, including Felix Fivet, aged three weeks.”