Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Over the Top -- Chapter Two-- September 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.

The rifle he received in training was probably the .303 calibre, Rifle, Magazine, Lee-Enfield (MLE or Emily). When he left for France, he received a Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield (SMLE or Smelly). Cooties were body lice.  You'll read a lot about them in World War One literature. 

CHAPTER I -- From Mufti to Khaki


THE next morning, the Captain sent for me and informed me: "Empey, as a recruiting Sergeant you are a washout," and sent me to a training depot.

After arriving at this place, I was hustled to the quartermaster stores and received an awful shock. The Quartermaster Sergeant spread a waterproof sheet on the ground, and commenced throwing a miscellaneous assortment of straps, buckles, and other paraphernalia into it. I thought he would never stop, but when the pile reached to my knees he paused long enough to say, "Next, No. 5217, 'Arris, 'B' Company." I gazed in bewilderment at the pile of junk in front of me, and then my eyes wandered around looking for the wagon which was to carry it to the barracks. I was rudely brought to earth by the "Quarter" exclaiming, "'Ere, you, 'op it, tyke it aw'y; blind my eyes, 'e's looking for 'is batman to 'elp 'im carry it."

Struggling under the load, with frequent pauses for rest, I reached our barracks (large car barns), and my platoon leader came to the rescue. It was a marvel to me how quickly he assembled the equipment. After he had completed the task, he showed me how to adjust it on my person. Pretty soon I stood before him a proper Tommy Atkins in heavy marching order, feeling like an overloaded camel.

On my feet were heavy-soled boots, studded with hobnails, the toes and heels of which were reinforced by steel half-moons. My legs were encased in woolen puttees, olive drab in color, with my trousers overlapping them at the top. Then a woolen khaki tunic, under which was a bluish-gray woolen shirt, minus a collar, beneath this shirt a woolen belly-band about six inches wide, held in place by tie strings of white tape. On my head was a heavy woolen trench cap, with huge ear laps buttoned over the top. Then the equipment: A canvas belt, with ammunition pockets, and two wide canvas straps like suspenders, called "D" straps, fastened to the belt in front, passing over each shoulder, crossing in the middle of my back, and attached by buckles to the rear of the belt. On the right side of the belt hung a water bottle, covered with felt; on the left side was my bayonet and scabbard, and entrenching tool handle, this handle strapped to the bayonet scabbard. In the rear was my entrenching tool, carried in a canvas case. This tool was a combination pick and spade. A canvas haversack was strapped to the left side of the belt, while on my back was the pack, also of canvas, held in place by two canvas straps over the shoulders; suspended on the bottom of the pack was my mess tin or canteen in a neat little canvas case. My waterproof sheet, looking like a jelly roll, was strapped on top of the pack, with a wooden stick for cleaning the breach of the rifle projecting from each end. On a lanyard around my waist hung a huge jackknife with a can-opener attachment. The pack contained my overcoat, an extra pair of socks, change of underwear, hold-all (containing knife, fork, spoon, comb, toothbrush, lather brush, shaving soap, and a razor made of tin, with "Made in England" stamped on the blade; when trying to shave with this it made you wish that you were at war with Patagonia, so that you could have a "hollow ground" stamped "Made in Germany"); then your housewife, button-cleaning outfit, consisting of a brass button stick, two stiff brushes, and a box of "Soldiers' Friend" paste; then a shoe brush and a box of dubbin, a writing pad, indelible pencil, envelopes, and pay book, and personal belongings, such as a small mirror, a decent razor, and a sheaf of unanswered letters, and fags. In your haversack you carry your iron rations, meaning a tin of bully beef, four biscuits, and a can containing tea, sugar, and Oxo cubes; a couple of pipes and a package of shag, a tin of rifle oil, and a pull-through. Tommy generally carries the oil with his rations; it gives the cheese a sort of sardine taste.

Add to this a first-aid pouch and a long ungainly rifle patterned after the Daniel Boone period, and you have an idea of a British soldier in Blighty.

Before leaving for France, this rifle is taken from him and he is issued with a Lee-Enfield short trench rifle and a ration bag.

In France he receives two gas helmets, a sheepskin coat, rubber mackintosh, steel helmet, two blankets, tear-shell goggles, a balaclava helmet, gloves, and a tin of anti-frostbite grease which is excellent for greasing the boots. Add to this the weight of his rations, and can you blame Tommy for growling at a twenty kilo route march?

Having served as Sergeant-Major in the United States Cavalry, I tried to tell the English drill sergeants their business but it did not work. They immediately put me as batman in their mess. Many a greasy dish of stew was accidentally spilled over them.

I would sooner fight than be a waiter, so when the order came through from headquarters calling for a draft of 250 reinforcements for France, I volunteered.

Then we went before the M. O. (Medical Officer) for another physical examination. This was very brief. He asked our names and numbers and said, "Fit," and we went out to fight.

We were put into troop trains and sent to Southampton, where we detrained, and had our trench rifles issued to us. Then in columns of twos we went up the gangplank of a little steamer lying alongside the dock.

At the head of the gangplank there was an old Sergeant who directed that we line ourselves along both rails of the ship. Then he ordered us to take life belts from the racks overhead and put them on. I have crossed the ocean several times and knew I was not seasick, but when I buckled on that life belt, I had a sensation of sickness.

After we got out into the stream all I could think of was that there were a million German submarines with a torpedo on each, across the warhead of which was inscribed my name and address.

After five hours we came alongside a pier and disembarked. I had attained another one of my ambitions. I was "somewhere in France." We slept in the open that night on the side of a road. About six the next morning we were ordered to entrain. I looked around for the passenger coaches, but all I could see on the siding were cattle cars. We climbed into these. On the side of each car was a sign reading "Hommes 40, Chevaux 8." When we got inside of the cars, we thought that perhaps the sign painter had reversed the order of things. After forty-eight hours in these trucks we detrained at Rouen. At this place we went through an intensive training for ten days.

This training consisted of the rudiments of trench warfare. Trenches had been dug, with barbed-wire entanglements, bombing saps, dugouts, observation posts, and machine-gun emplacements. We were given a smattering of trench cooking, sanitation, bomb throwing, reconnoitering, listening posts, constructing and repairing barbed wire, "carrying in" parties, methods used in attack and defense, wiring parties, mass formation, and the procedure for poison-gas attacks.

On the tenth day we again met our friends "Hommes 40, Chevaux 8." Thirty-six hours more of misery, and we arrived at the town of F_____.

After unloading our rations and equipment, we lined up on the road in columns of fours waiting for the order to march.

A dull rumbling could be heard. The sun was shining. I turned to the man on my left and asked, "What's the noise, Bill?" He did not know, but his face was of a pea-green color. Jim on my right also did not know, but suggested that I "awsk" the Sergeant.

Coming towards us was an old grizzled Sergeant, properly fed up with the war, so I "awsked" him.

"Think it's going to rain, Sergeant?"

He looked at me in contempt, and grunted, '"Ow's it a'goin' ter rain with the bloomin' sun a 'shinin'?" I looked guilty.

"Them's the guns up the line, me lad, and you'll get enough of 'em before you gets back to Blighty."

My knees seemed to wilt, and I squeaked out a weak "Oh!"

Then we started our march up to the line in ten kilo treks. After the first day's march we arrived at our rest billets. In France they call them rest billets, because while in them, Tommy works seven days a week and on the eighth day of the week he is given twenty-four hours "on his own."

Our billet was a spacious affair, a large barn on the left side of the road, which had one hundred entrances, ninety-nine for shells, rats, wind, and rain, and the hundredth one for Tommy. I was tired out, and using my shrapnel-proof helmet, (shrapnel proof until a piece of shrapnel hits it), or tin hat, for a pillow, lay down in the straw, and was soon fast asleep. I must have slept about two hours, when I awoke with a prickling sensation all over me. As I thought, the straw had worked through my uniform. I woke up the fellow lying on my left, who had been up the line before, and asked him,

"Does the straw bother you, mate? It's worked through my uniform and I can't sleep."

In a sleepy voice, he answered, "That ain't straw, them's cooties."

From that time on my friends the "cooties" were constantly with me.

"Cooties," or body lice, are the bane of Tommy's existence.

The aristocracy of the trenches very seldom call them "cooties," they speak of them as fleas.

To an American, flea means a small insect armed with a bayonet, who is wont to jab it into you and then hop, skip, and jump to the next place to be attacked. There is an advantage in having fleas on you instead of "cooties" in that in one of his extended jumps said flea is liable to land on the fellow next to you; he has the typical energy and push of the American, while the "cootie" has the bulldog tenacity of the Englishman, he holds on and consolidates or digs in until his meal is finished.

There is no way to get rid of them permanently. No matter how often you bathe, and that is not very often, or how many times you change your underwear, your friends, the "cooties" are always in evidence. The billets are infested with them, especially so, if there is straw on the floor.

I have taken a bath and put on brand-new underwear; in fact, a complete change of uniform, and then turned in for the night. The next morning my shirt would be full of them. It is a common sight to see eight or ten soldiers sitting under a tree with their shirts over their knees engaging in a "shirt hunt."

At night about half an hour before "lights out," you can see the Tommies grouped around a candle, trying, in its dim light, to rid their underwear of the vermin. A popular and very quick method is to take your shirt and drawers, and run the seams back and forward in the flame from the candle and burn them out. This practice is dangerous, because you are liable to burn holes in the garments if you are not careful.

Recruits generally sent to Blighty for a brand of insect powder advertised as "Good for body lice." The advertisement is quite right; the powder is good for "cooties," they simply thrive on it.

The older men of our battalion were wiser and made scratchers out of wood. These were rubbed smooth with a bit of stone or sand to prevent splinters. They were about eighteen inches long, and Tommy guarantees that a scratcher of this length will reach any part of the body which may be attacked. Some of the fellows were lazy and only made their scratchers twelve inches, but many a night when on guard, looking over the top from the fire step of the front-line trench, they would have given a thousand "quid" for the other six inches.

Once while we were in rest billets an Irish Hussar regiment camped in an open field opposite our billet. After they had picketed and fed their horses, a general shirt hunt took place. The troopers ignored the call "Dinner up," and kept on with their search for big game. They had a curious method of procedure. They hung their shirts over a hedge and beat them with their entrenching tool handles.

I asked one of them why they didn't pick them off by hand, and he answered, "We haven't had a bath for nine weeks or a change of clabber. If I tried to pick the 'cooties' off my shirt, I would be here for duration of war." After taking a close look at his shirt, I agreed with him, it was alive.

The greatest shock a recruit gets when he arrives at his battalion in France is to see the men engaging in a "cootie" hunt. With an air of contempt and disgust he avoids the company of the older men, until a couple of days later, in a torment of itching, he also has to resort to a shirt hunt, or spend many a sleepless night of misery. During these hunts there are lots of pertinent remarks bandied back and forth among the explorers, such as, "Say, Bill, I'll swap you two little ones for a big one," or, "I've got a black one here that looks like Kaiser Bill."

One sunny day in the front-line trench, I saw three officers sitting outside of their dugout ("cooties" are no respecters of rank; I have even noticed a suspicious uneasiness about a certain well-known general), one of them was a major, two of them were exploring their shirts, paying no attention to the occasional shells which passed overhead. The major was writing a letter; every now and then he would lay aside his writing-pad, search his shirt for a few minutes, get an inspiration, and then resume writing. At last he finished his letter and gave it to his "runner." I was curious to see whether he was writing to an insect firm, so when the runner passed me I engaged him in conversation and got a glimpse at the address on the envelope. It was addressed to Miss Alice Somebody, in London. The "runner" informed me that Miss Somebody was the major's sweetheart and that he wrote to her every day. Just imagine it, writing a love letter during a "cootie" hunt; but such is the creed of the trenches.

Next: CHAPTER III -- I Go to Church

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Waterless Knoxmobile -- September 29, 2014

The Waterless (air-cooled) Knox automobile was manufactured in Springfield, Massachusetts. I like the name Waterless Knox. It reminds me of a Doctor Seuss character. This ad, for the Waterless Knoxmobile, is from Scientific American, 05-April-1902. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

"A Business, Pleasure and Touring Car Combined."  "A great hill climber and very speedy due to its powerful eight horse power engine." 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

San Francisco is Well Protected -- September 27, 2014

From the 26-May-1897 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. The Camanche (that's how the Navy spelled it) was a Civil War monitor with an unusual history. After being built, she was disassembled and loaded into the hold of a sailing ship, the Aquila, which carried her around the horn. Aquila sank in her berth in San Francisco. After being salvaged, Camanche was assembled and launched in late 1864. Monterey and Monadnock were examples of New Navy monitors. Both were able to cross the Pacific during the Spanish-American war. Alert had been commissioned in 1875. Bennington was a New Navy gunboat. Wheeling and Marietta were gunboats which had just been built at the Union Iron Works in San Francisco.

Click on the image for a larger view. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Bechtel Plaza -- September 26, 2014

In 1978, the Bechtel Corporation celebrated its 80th anniversary by dedicating a plaza to Stephen D Bechtel, Senior, son of the company's found.  I took the photo of the plaque on 07-May-2014. 

The Bechtel Museum, is located in a railroad car in the plaza.   The Bechtel family lived in a railroad car, the WaaTeeKaa, at remote job sites in the 1920s. This car, originally from the Chicago, Saint Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha, was restored to externally resemble the WaaTeeKaa as a gift to Steve Bechtel, Senior and his wife Laura in 1988. The exhibits are arranged along one side of the car, with partitions between the sections. The exhibits are mostly photos with captions describing the company's founding in 1898 and the many projects which it has handled, including Hoover Dam, the Bay Bridge, and BART. Each section contains a few objects, like old hard hats or models of pioneering motorized equipment.  I took the photo of WaaTeeKaa on 19-November-2011. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

1957 Jaguar XK-SS Roadster - September 24, 2014

We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June, 2013 to drool over their collection of classic autos.  This 1957 Jaguar XK-SS Roadster, which was modified from an unsold D-Type racer, is number 7 of 16 built.  D-Types won Le Mans in 1955 through 1957. 

Be sure to click on the images to see larger versions. (051/dsc_0077, 0079)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes -- September 23, 2014


Pocket Books issued this edition of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, his last collection of Holmes stories.  I like the cover. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mystery Men Comics -- September 22, 2014


The Blue Beetle interrupts a Fox News discussion of the Affordable Care Act. 

The Blue Beetle has existed in various incarnations, with a variety of costumes, origins and powers, since 1939.  I usually avoided Charlton comics, but I bought the issue of Captain Atom where Ted Kord became the Blue Beetle.  This was his first appearance in Mystery Men Comics Number 1, August, 1939.  It is from the wonderful Grand Comics Database (http://www.comics.org).

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jack Wright and His Prairie Engine -- September 21, 2014


The October, 1902 issue of the dime novel Pluck and Luck reprinted the 1892 story "Jack Wright and His Prairie Engine; or, Among the Bushmen of Australia" by NONAME.  Luis Senarens wrote a series of science fiction stories about the brilliant inventor.

Stories about brilliant boy inventors like Jack Wright and Frank Reade, Jr are called Edisonades by modern critics. 

Jack Wright and His Electric Stage; or, Leagued Against the James Boys:

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Child's Journey Through Ellis Island -- September 20, 2014

Exhibitors' Herald, 28-May-1921

Today I went to Good Shepherd School in Pacifica and talked to grades 6-7-8 about "A Child's Journey Through Ellis Island." They are participating in a DAR essay contest on the subject. I talked about the skills involved in writing a good essay and targeting it to your audience. I gave them background on US immigration history and nativist reaction to immigration. We talked about who they were getting, how they would get to Ellis Island and what would happen on the island.   It was fun, and they asked good questions.  After, I was very tired. 

Alice Brady was the daughter of theatrical impresario (great word) William A Brady.  She was a popular actress in silent and sound films.  She played Carole Lombard's mother in My Man Godfrey.  In the lost film The Land of Hope, she played a Russian immigrant who arrived at Ellis Island. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Say Hey Kid -- September 19, 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 several months.

Much as I admire other men who have played centerfield for the Giants, I have to write about Willie Mays, the Say Hey Kid, 24-time National League All Star, Giants immortal, the greatest living baseball player, perhaps the greatest ever. 

I took the photo of the Willie Mays statue on 21-September-2007.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Bombardment of Rheims -- September 18, 2014

100 years ago the German Army, in the process of invading France, shelled the cathedral city of Reims, here referred to as Rheims.  The Germans made crazy claims that they were merely firing back at French batteries, but the French batteries were outside of time.  The bombardment, which persisted on and off for most of the war, appears to have been part of an effort to destroy French culture and history

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims reopened in 1938, but work to repair it is still going on. 

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


IN several ways the city of Rheims is celebrated. Some know her only through her cathedral, where were crowned all but six of the kings of France, and where the stained-glass windows, with those in the cathedrals of Chartres and Burgos, Spain, are the most beautiful in all the world. Children know Rheims through the wicked magpie which the archbishop excommunicated, and to their elders, if they are rich, Rheims is the place from which comes all their champagne.
On September 4th the Germans entered Rheims, and occupied it until the 12th, when they retreated across the Vesle to the hills north of the city.
On the 18th the French forces, having entered Rheims, the Germans bombarded the city with field-guns and howitzers.

Rheims is fifty-six miles from Paris, but, though I started at an early hour, so many bridges had been destroyed that I did not reach the city until three o'clock in the afternoon. At that hour the French artillery, to the east at Nogent and immediately outside the northern edge of the town, were firing on the German positions, and the Germans were replying, their shells falling in the heart of the city.
The proportion of those that struck the cathedral or houses within a hundred yards of it to those falling on other buildings was about six to one. So what damage the cathedral suffered was from blows delivered not by accident but with intent. As the priests put it, firing on the church was "expres."
The cathedral dominates .not only the city but the countryside. It rises from the plain as Gibraltar rises from the sea, as the pyramids rise from the desert. And at a distance of six miles, as you approach from Paris along the valley of the Marne, it has more the appearance of a fortress than a church. But when you stand in the square beneath and look up, it is entirely ecclesiastic, of noble and magnificent proportions, in design inspired, much too sublime for the kings it has crowned, and almost worthy of the king in whose honor, seven hundred years ago, it was reared. It has been called "perhaps the most beautiful structure produced in the Middle Ages." On the west façade, rising tier upon tier, are five hundred and sixty statues and carvings. The statues are of angels, martyrs, patriarchs, apostles, the vices and virtues, the Virgin and Child. In the center of these is the famous rose window; on either side giant towers.
At my feet down the steps leading to the three portals were pools of blood. There was a priest in the square, a young man with white hair and with a face as strong as one of those of the saints carved in stone, and as gentle. He was curé doyen of the Church of St. Jacques, M. Chanoine Frezet, and he explained the pools of blood. After the Germans retreated, the priests had carried the German wounded up the steps into the nave of the cathedral and for them had spread straw upon the stone flagging.

The curé guided me to the side door, unlocked it, and led the way into the cathedral. It is built in the form of a crucifix, and so vast is the edifice that many chapels are lost in it, and the lower half is in a shadow. But from high above the stained windows of the thirteenth century, or what was left of them, was cast a glow so gorgeous, so wonderful, so pure that it seemed to come direct from the other world.
From north and south the windows shed a radiance of deep blue, like the blue of the sky by moonlight on the coldest night of winter, and from the west the great rose window glowed with the warmth and beauty of a thousand rubies. Beneath it, bathed in crimson light, where for generations French men and women have knelt in prayer, where Joan of Arc helped place the crown on Charles VII, was piled three feet of dirty straw, and on the straw were gray-coated Germans, covered with the mud of the fields, caked with blood, white and haggard from the loss of it, from the lack of sleep, rest, and food. The entire west end of the cathedral looked like a stable, and in the blue and purple rays from the gorgeous windows the wounded were as unreal as ghosts. Already two of them had passed into the world of ghosts. They had not died from their wounds, but from a shell sent by their own people.
It had come screaming into the backwater of war, and, tearing out leaded window-panes as you would destroy cobwebs, had burst among those who already had paid the penalty. And so two of them, done with pack-drill, goose-step, half rations and forced marches, lay under the straw the priests had heaped upon them. The toes of their boots were pointed grotesquely upward. Their gray hands were clasped rigidly as though in prayer.
Half hidden in the straw, the others were as silent and almost as still. Since they had been dropped upon the stone floor they had not moved, but lay in twisted, unnatural attitudes. Only their eyes showed that they lived. These were turned beseechingly upon the French Red Cross doctors, kneeling waist-high in the straw and unreeling long white bandages. The wounded watched them drawing slowly nearer, until they came, fighting off death, clinging to life as shipwrecked sailors cling to a raft and watch the boats pulling toward them.
A young German officer, his smart cavalry cloak torn and slashed, and filthy with dried mud and blood and with his eyes in bandages, groped toward a pail of water, feeling his way with his foot, his arms outstretched, clutching the air. To guide him a priest took his arm, and the officer turned and stumbled against him. Thinking the priest was one of his own men, he swore at him, and then, to learn if he wore shoulder-straps, ran his fingers over the priest's shoulders, and finding a silk cassock, said quickly in French: "Pardon me, my father; I am blind."

As the young cure guided me through the wrecked cathedral his indignation and his fear of being unjust waged a fine battle. "Every summer," he said, "thousands of your fellow countrymen visit the cathedral. They come again and again. They love these beautiful windows. They will not permit them to be destroyed. Will you tell them what you saw?"
It is no pleasure to tell what I saw. Shells had torn out some of the windows, the entire sash, glass, and stone frame—all was gone; only a jagged hole was left. On the floor lay broken carvings, pieces of stone from flying buttresses outside that had been hurled through the embrasures, tangled masses of leaden window-sashes, like twisted coils of barbed wire, and great brass candelabra. The steel ropes that supported them had been shot away, and they had plunged to the flagging below, carrying with them their scarlet silk tassels heavy with the dust of centuries. And everywhere was broken glass. Not one of the famous blue windows was intact. None had been totally destroyed, but each had been shattered, and through the apertures the sun blazed blatantly.

We walked upon glass more precious than precious stones. It was beyond price. No one can replace it. Seven hundred years ago the secret of the glass died. Diamonds can be bought anywhere, pearls can be matched, but not the stained glass of Rheims. And under our feet, with straw and caked blood, it lay crushed into tiny fragments. When you held a piece of it between your eye and the sun it glowed with a light that never was on land or sea.
War is only waste. The German Emperor thinks it is thousands of men in flashing breastplates at maneuvers, galloping past him, shouting, "Hoch der Kaiser!" Until this year that is all of war he has ever seen. I have seen a lot of it, and real war is his high-born officer with his eyes shot out, his peasant soldiers with their toes sticking stiffly through the straw, and the windows of Rheims, that for centuries with their beauty glorified the Lord, swept into a dust heap.
Outside the cathedral I found the bombardment of the city was still going forward and that the French batteries to the north and east were answering gun for gun. How people will act under unusual conditions no one can guess. Many of the citizens of Rheims were abandoning their homes and running through the streets leading west, trembling, weeping, incoherent with terror, carrying nothing with them. Others were continuing the routine of life with anxious faces but making no other sign. The great majority had moved to the west of the city to the Paris gate, and for miles lined the road, but had taken little or nothing with them, apparently intending to return at nightfall. They were all of the poorer class. The houses of the rich were closed, as were all the shops, except a few cafes and those that offered for sale bread, meat, and medicine.
During the morning the bombardment destroyed many houses. One to each block was the average, except around the cathedral, where two hotels that face it and the Palace of Justice had been pounded but not destroyed. Other shops and residences facing the cathedral had been ripped open from roof to cellar. In one a fire was burning briskly, and firemen were playing on it with hose. I was their only audience. A sight that at other times would have collected half of Rheims and blocked traffic, in the excitement of the bombardment failed to attract. The Germans were using howitzers. Where shells hit in the street they tore up the Belgian blocks for a radius of five yards, and made a hole as though a water-main had burst. When they hit a house, that house had to be rebuilt. Before they struck it was possible to follow the direction of the shells by the sound. It was like the jangling of many telegraph-wires.
A hundred yards north of the cathedral I saw a house hit at the third story. The roof was of gray slate, high and sloping, with tall chimneys. When the shell exploded the roof and chimneys disappeared. You did not see them sink and tumble; they merely vanished. They had been a part of the sky-line of Rheims; then a shell removed them and another roof fifteen feet lower down became the sky-line.

I walked to the edge of the city, to the northeast, but at the outskirts all the streets were barricaded with carts and paving-stones, and when I wanted to pass forward to the French batteries the officers in charge of the barricades refused permission. At this end of the town, held in reserve in case of a German advance, the streets were packed with infantry. The men were going from shop to shop trying to find one the Germans had not emptied. Tobacco was what they sought.
They told me they had been all the way to Belgium and back, but I never have seen men more fit. Where Germans are haggard and show need of food and sleep, the French were hard and moved quickly and were smiling.

One reason for this is that even if the commissariat is slow they are fed by their own people, and when in Belgium by the Allies. But when the Germans pass the people hide everything eatable and bolt the doors. And so, when the German supply wagons fail to come up the men starve.
I went in search of the American consul, William Bardel. Everybody seemed to know him, and all men spoke well of him. They liked him because he stuck to his post, but the mayor had sent for him, and I could find neither him nor the mayor.
When I left the cathedral I had told my chauffeur to wait near by it, not believing the Germans would continue to make it their point of attack. He waited until two houses within a hundred yards of him were knocked down, and then went away from there, leaving word with the sentry that I could find him outside the gate to Paris. When I found him he was well outside and refused to return, saying he would sleep in his car.

On the way back I met a steady stream of women and old men fleeing before the shells. Their state was very pitiful. Some of them seemed quite dazed with fear and ran, dodging, from one sidewalk to the other, and as shells burst above them prayed aloud and crossed themselves. Others were busy behind the counters of their shops serving customers, and others stood in doorways holding in their hands their knitting. Frenchwomen of a certain class always knit. If they were waiting to be electrocuted they would continue knitting.

The bombardment had grown sharper and the rumble of guns was uninterrupted, growling like thunder after a summer storm or as the shells passed shrieking and then bursting with jarring detonations. Underfoot the pavements were inch-deep with fallen glass, and as you walked it tinkled musically. With inborn sense of order, some of the housewives abandoned their knitting and calmly swept up the glass into neat piles. Habit is often so much stronger than fear. So is curiosity. All the boys and many young men and maidens were in the middle of the street watching to see where the shells struck and on the lookout for aeroplanes. When about five o'clock one sailed over the city, no one knew whether it was German or French, but every one followed it, apparently intending if it launched a bomb to be in at the death.

I found all the hotels closed and on their doors I pounded in vain, and was planning to go back to my car when I stumbled upon the Hotel du Nord. It was open and the proprietress, who was knitting, told me the table d'hote dinner was ready. Not wishing to miss dinner, I halted an aged citizen who was fleeing from the city and asked him to carry a note to the American consul inviting him to dine. But the aged man said the consulate was close to where the shells were falling and that to approach it was as much as his life was worth. I asked him how much his life was worth in money, and he said two francs.

He did not find the consul, and I shared the table d'hote with three tearful old French ladies, each of whom had husband or son at the front. That would seem to have been enough without being shelled at home. It is a commonplace, but it is nevertheless true that in war it is the women who suffer. The proprietress walked around the table, still knitting, and told us tales of German officers who until the day before had occupied her hotel, and her anecdotes were not intended to make German officers popular.

The bombardment ceased at eight o'clock, but at four the next morning it woke me, and as I departed for Paris salvoes of French artillery were returning the German fire.
Before leaving I revisited the cathedral to see if during the night it had been further mutilated. Around it shells were still falling, and the square in front was deserted. In the rain the roofless houses, shattered windows, and broken carvings that littered the streets presented a picture of melancholy and useless desolation. Around three sides of the square not a building was intact. But facing the wreckage the bronze statue of Joan of Arc sat on her bronze charger, uninjured and untouched. In her right hand, lifted high above her as though defying the German shells, some one overnight had lashed the flag of France.
The next morning the newspapers announced that the cathedral was in flames, and I returned to Rheims. The papers also gave the two official excuses offered by the Germans for the destruction of the church. One was that the French batteries were so placed that in replying to them it was impossible to avoid shelling the city.
I know where the French batteries were, and if the German guns aimed at them by error missed them and hit the cathedral, the German marksmanship is deteriorating. To find the range the artillery sends what in the American army are called brace shots—one aimed at a point beyond the mark and one short of it. From the explosions of these two shells the gunner is able to determine how far he is off the target and accordingly regulates his sights. Not more, at the most, than three of these experimental brace shots should be necessary, and, as one of each brace is purposely aimed to fall short of the target, only three German shells, or, as there were two French positions, six German shells should have fallen beyond the batteries and into the city. And yet for four days the city was bombarded!
To make sure, I asked French, English, and American army officers what margin of error they thought excusable after the range was determined. They all agreed that after his range was found an artillery officer who missed it by from fifty to one hundred yards ought to be court-martialled. The Germans "missed" by one mile.
The other excuse given by the Germans for the destruction of the cathedral was that the towers had been used by the French for military purposes. On arriving at Rheims the question I first asked was whether this was true. The abbé Chinot, curé of the chapel of the cathedral, assured me most solemnly and earnestly it was not. The French and the German staffs, he said, had mutually agreed that on the towers of the cathedral no quickfiring guns should be placed, and by both sides this agreement was observed. After entering Rheims the French, to protect the innocent citizens against bombs dropped by German air-ships, for two nights placed a searchlight on the towers, but, fearing this might be considered a breach of agreement as to the mitrailleuses, the abbé Chinot ordered the search-light withdrawn. Five days later, during which time the towers were not occupied and the cathedral had been converted into a hospital for the German wounded and Red Cross flags were hanging from both towers, the Germans opened fire upon it. Had it been the search-light to which the Germans objected, they would have fired upon it when it was in evidence, not five days after it had disappeared.

When, with the abbé Chinot, I spent the day in what is left of the cathedral, the Germans still were shelling it. Two shells fell within twenty-five yards of us. It was at that time that the photographs that illustrate this chapter were taken.
The fire started in this way. For some months the northeast tower of the cathedral had been under repair and surrounded by scaffolding. On September 19th a shell set fire to the outer roof of the cathedral, which is of lead and oak. The fire spread to the scaffolding and from the scaffolding to the wooden beams of the portals, hundreds of years old. The abbé Chinot, young, alert, and daring, ran out upon the scaffolding and tried to cut the cords that bound it.
In other parts of the city the fire department was engaged with fire lit by the bombardment, and unaided, the flames gained upon him. Seeing this, he called for volunteers, and, under the direction of the Archbishop of Rheims, they carried on stretchers from the burning building the wounded Germans. The rescuing parties were not a minute too soon. Already from the roofs molten lead, as deadly as bullets, was falling among the wounded. The blazing doors had turned the straw on which they lay into a prairie fire.

Splashed by the molten lead and threatened by falling timbers, the priests, at the risk of their lives and limbs, carried out the wounded Germans, sixty in all.
But, after bearing them to safety, their charges were confronted with a new danger. Inflamed by the sight of their own dead, four hundred citizens having been killed by the bombardment, and by the loss of their cathedral, the people of Rheims who were gathered about the burning building called for the lives of the German prisoners. "They are barbarians," they cried. "Kill them!" Archbishop Landreaux and Abbé Chinot placed themselves in front of the wounded.
"Before you kill them," they cried, "you must first kill us."
This is not highly colored fiction, but fact. It is more than fact. It is history, for the picture of the venerable archbishop, with his cathedral blazing behind him, facing a mob of his own people in defence of their enemies, will always live in the annals of this war and in the annals of the Church.
There were other features of this fire and bombardment which the Catholic Church will not allow to be forgotten. The leaden roofs were destroyed, the oak timbers that for several hundred years had supported them were destroyed, stone statues and flying buttresses weighing many tons were smashed into atoms, but not a single crucifix was touched, not one waxen or wooden image of the Virgin disturbed, not one painting of the Holy Family marred.
I saw the Gobelin tapestries, more precious than spun gold, intact, while sparks fell about them, and lying beneath them were iron bolts twisted by fire, broken roof trees and beams still smouldering.

But the special Providence that saved the altars was not omnipotent. The windows that were the glory of the cathedral were wrecked. Through some the shells had passed, others the explosions had blown into tiny fragments. Where, on my first visit, I saw in the stained glass gaping holes, now the whole window had been torn from the walls. Statues of saints and crusader and cherubim lay in mangled fragments. The great bells, each of which is as large as the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, that for hundreds of years for Rheims have sounded the angelus, were torn from their oak girders and melted into black masses of silver and copper, without shape and without sound. Never have I looked upon a picture of such pathos, of such wanton and wicked destruction.
The towers still stand, the walls still stand, for beneath the roofs of lead the roof of stone remained, but what is intact is a pitiful, distorted mass where once were exquisite and noble features. It is like the face of a beautiful saint scarred with vitriol.

Two days before, when I walked through the cathedral, the scene was the same as when kings were crowned. You stood where Joan of Arc received the homage of France. When I returned I walked upon charred ashes, broken stone, and shattered glass. Where once the light was dim and holy, now through great breaches in the walls rain splashed. The spirit of the place was gone.
Outside the cathedral, in the direction from which the shells came, for three city blocks every house was destroyed. The palace of the archbishop was gutted, the chapel and the robing-room of the kings were cellars filled with rubbish. Of them only crumbling walls remain. And on the south and west the facades of the cathedral and flying buttresses and statues of kings, angels, and saints were mangled and shapeless.
I walked over the district that had been destroyed by these accidental shots, and it stretched from the northeastern outskirts of Rheims in a straight line to the cathedral. Shells that fell short of the cathedral for a quarter of a mile destroyed entirely three city blocks. The heart of this district is the Place Godinot. In every direction at a distance of a mile from the Place Godinot I passed houses wrecked by shells—south at the Paris gate, north at the railroad station.

There is no part of Rheims that these shells the Germans claim were aimed at French batteries did not hit. If Rheims accepts the German excuse she might suggest to them that the next time they bombard, if they aim at the city they may hit the batteries.
The Germans claim also that the damage done was from fires, not shells. But that is not the case; destruction by fire was slight. Houses wrecked by shells where there was no fire outnumbered those that were burned ten to one. In no house was there probably any other fire than that in the kitchen stove, and that had been smothered by falling masonry and tiles.

Outside the wrecked area were many shops belonging to American firms, but each of them had escaped injury. They were filled with American typewriters, sewing-machines, and cameras. A number of cafes bearing the sign "American Bar" testified to the nationality and tastes of many tourists.
I found our consul, William Bardel, at the consulate. He is a fine type of the German-Amerioan citizen, and, since the war began, with his wife and son has held the fort and tactfully looked after the interests of both Americans and Germans. On both sides of him shells had damaged the houses immediately adjoining. The one across the street had been destroyed and two neighbors killed.
The street in front of the consulate is a mass of fallen stone, and the morning I called on Mr. Bardel, a shell had hit his neighbor's chestnut-tree, filled his garden with chestnut burrs, and blown out the glass of his windows.
He was patching the holes with brown wrapping-paper, but was chiefly concerned because in his own garden the dahlias were broken. During the first part of the bombardment, when firing became too hot for him, he had retreated with his family to the corner of the street, where are the cellars of the Roderers, the champagne people. There are worse places in which to hide in than a champagne cellar.
Mr. Bardel has lived six years in Rheims and estimated the damage done to property by shells at thirty millions of dollars, and said that unless the seat of military operations was removed the champagne crop for this year would be entirely wasted. It promised to be an especially good year. The seasons were propitious, being dry when sun was needed and wet when rain was needed, but unless the grapes were gathered by the end of September the crops would be lost.
Of interest to Broadway is the fact that in Rheims, or rather in her cellars, are stored nearly fifty million bottles of champagne belonging to six of the best-known houses. Should shells reach these bottles, the high price of living in the lobster palaces will be proportionately increased.

Except for Red Cross volunteers seeking among the ruins for wounded, I found that part of the city that had suffered completely deserted. Shells still were falling and houses as yet intact, and those partly destroyed were empty. You saw pitiful attempts to save the pieces. In places, as though evictions were going forward, chairs, pictures, cooking-pans, bedding were piled in heaps. There was none to guard them; certainly there was no one so unfeeling as to disturb them.
I saw neither looting nor any effort to guard against it. In their common danger and horror the citizens of Rheims of all classes seemed drawn closely together. The manner of all was subdued and gentle, like those who stand at an open grave.
The shells played the most inconceivable pranks. In some streets the houses and shops along one side were entirely wiped out and on the other untouched. In the Rue du Cardinal du Lorraine every house was gone. Where they once stood were cellars filled with powdered stone. Tall chimneys that one would have thought a strong wind might dislodge were holding themselves erect, while the surrounding walls, three feet thick, had been crumpled into rubbish.
In some houses a shell had removed one room only, and as neatly as though it were the work of masons and carpenters. It was as though the shell had a grievance against the lodger in that particular room. The waste was appalling.
Among the ruins I saw good paintings in rags and in gardens statues covered with the moss of centuries smashed. In many places, still on the pedestal, you would see a headless Venus, or a flying Mercury chopped off at the waist.
Long streamers of ivy that during a century had crept higher and higher up the wall of some noble mansion, until they were part of it, still clung to it, although it was divided into a thousand fragments. Of one house all that was left standing was a slice of the front wall just wide enough to bear a sign reading: "This house is for sale; elegantly furnished." Nothing else of that house remained.
In some streets of the destroyed area I met not one living person. The noise made by my feet kicking the broken glass was the only sound. The silence, the gaping holes in the sidewalk, the ghastly tributes to the power of the shells, and the complete desolation, made more desolate by the bright sunshine, gave you a curious feeling that the end of the world had come and you were the only survivor.
This impression was aided by the sight of many rare and valuable articles with no one guarding them. They were things of price that one may not carry into the next world but which in this are kept under lock and key.
In the Rue de l'Université, at my leisure, I could have ransacked shop after shop or from the shattered drawing-rooms filled my pockets. Shopkeepers had gone without waiting to lock their doors, and in houses the fronts of which were down you could see that, in order to save their lives, the inmates had fled at a moment's warning.
In one street a high wall extended an entire block, but in the centre a howitzer shell had made a breach as large as a barn door. Through this I had a view of an old and beautiful garden, on which oasis nothing had been disturbed. Hanging from the walls, on diamond-shaped lattices, roses were still in bloom, and along the gravel walks flowers of every color raised their petals to the sunshine. On the terrace was spread a tea-service of silver and on the grass were children's toys—hoops, tennis-balls, and flat on its back staring up wide-eyed at the shells, a large fashionably dressed doll.
In another house everything was destroyed except the mantel over the fireplace in the drawing-room. On this stood a terra-cotta statuette of Harlequin. It is one you have often seen. The legs are wide apart, the arms folded, the head thrown back in an ecstasy of laughter. It looked exactly as though it were laughing at the wreckage with which it was surrounded. No one could have placed it where it was after the house fell, for the approach to it was still on fire. Of all the fantastic tricks played by the bursting shells it was the most curious.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Canadian Troops Go To Aid Allies -- September 17, 2014

This photo, from the 16-September-1914 Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, shows Canadian soldiers on their way to sail to Europe to join the fighting.  I assume these are members of the tiny Canadian regular army, rather than the larger Canadian Expeditionary Force, which was formed for service overseas. 

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Picayune -- September 16, 2014

Here is an item from The Picayune's Guide to New Orleans (1903), talking about the historic newspaper. 

On Camp Street, in the middle of block, between Gravier Street and Natchez Alley, stands the four-story granite building occupied by
The Picayune.

The Picayune is, with the exception of the French daily, L'Abeille, the oldest paper in Louisiana. It shares with L'Abeille and the Deutsche Zeitung the honor of being the only publications which survived the Civil War. The Picayune was founded in January, 1837, by George Wilkins Kendall and Francis Lumsden, two practical printers. The paper was at first a four-page folio, with four columns to the page. It was so successful that it was found necessary within a few months to enlarge the sheet, and it continued to grow till it ha» reached its prerent dimensions. The present site has been occupied since 1847. After the death of Mr. Lumsden, who was drowned in Lake Erie, in 1800, Mr. Kendall continued the publication of the Picayune with Messrs. Holbrook and Bullitt. Upon the death of Mr. Kendall, in 1867, Mr. Holbrook acquired the sole control. Mr. Holbrook died in 1876, and his widow, whose maiden name was Eliza Jane Poitevent. known to the world of letters as the sweet Southern poet, "Pearl Rivers." took charge of the paper and managed it successfully, with the assistance of Mr. George Nicholson, a man of exceptionally fine business talent, who had been business manager of the Picayune for many years. In 1878 Mrs. Holbrook and Mr. Nicholson were married and the firm name became Nicholson

The Picayune has had a most eventful history during its long existence of sixty-five years. Mr. Kendall brought the paper into great celebrity during the Mexican War, representing it in the field with the army of invasion, and thus being entitled to the honor of being the first of the now numerous tribe of war correspondents. He succeeded, by means of a pony express, in getting news to the Picayune, and through it to the world, in advance of even the Government dispatches. Mrs. Nicholson's management of the paper was exceptionally brilliant, and she is entitled to the honor of having been the first woman in the world who successfully managed a great daily. The recent enterprise of the Picayune, equipped as it is with the most modern and improved machinery that science has devised for newspaper production, has been worthy of its early fame. During the great and disastrous storm at Cheniere Caminada, in 1893, it was not only the first to give the full news of the catastrophe, but chartered a steamboat to send food and clothing supplies to the sufferers. It took the initiative in New Orleans in providing and securing subscriptions for the sufferers of the late great disaster at Galveston, helped to organize the ladies of the city into a relief association and sent money, clothes and medicine valued at $50,000 to the relief of the storm-stricken people.

During the recent war with Spain it was represented in the field by two staff correspondents, and by alliance with the New York Herald secured unrivaled special cable service. In the midst of all the changing events of more than sixty years the Picayune has appeared regularly every morning except during the year 1864, when, for a brief period, the offices were in the hands of the military authorities and the publication was suspended. In addition to the daily, the Picayune issues a twice-a-week edition, and annually at Mardi Gras publishes several beautifully illustrated editions, known far and wide as the "Carnival Editions." Within the past ten years the Picayune has devoted itself sedulously to educating the South in the importance of building cotton mills in the regions where the staple is produced. In this crusade it has, at large expense, sent members of its staff to various parts of the Union, and especially to North Carolina and New England, to study the milling enterprises, which have been so successful there. Entirely at its own cost the Picayune sent Mr. Hargrove, one of these correspondents, to deliver addresses in Mississippi and Louisiana, setting forth the result of his investigations. The Picayune reprinted the articles and letters of these correspondents in two pamphlets, of which more than 45,000 copies were distributed, free, throughout the South. Nothing can be more gratifying to the Picayune than the appreciation of its efforts in its home city. It may interest the tourist to know that the Picayune derives its name from an old Spanish coin called "picayon," which was in circulation in New Orleans in the early part of the century. Its valuation was about 6 1-4 cents. The price of the paper when originally published was a picayune. The five cent coin that superceded the Spanish under American coinage was designated by the Creoles as a picayune. The term, so picturesque and quaint, is still heard frequently in New Orleans among buyers and sellers in the old French Quarter.

Parties not exceeding eight or ten in number, who desire to view the Picayune's complete composing room, with its rows of linotype machines, the wonderful press and the stereotyping department, which are among the most instructive sights in the city, are welcome.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What is Left of the University at Louvain -- September 14, 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. 

In this photo from the 16-September-1914 Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, we see "What is left of the university at Louvain.  The huge 45-centimetre Krupp guns used by the Germans in their mad rush toward Paris played havoc with the historic buildings in the Belgian cities." 

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Read about the burning of Louvain:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Siemens to Build New Muni LRVs -- September 13, 2014


The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a $1.2 billion contract with Siemens Industry, Inc to build Muni's third generation of LRVs.  Siemens will assemble the S200 cars in its Sacramento plant.  These will be high floor cars with movable steps, like the Boeing and Breda LRVs.  Muni should receive the prototype in in December, 2016. 

They won't look like the car in this photo. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Soma/Flaming Lotus Girls -- September 12, 2014

There is a new art installation by the Agricultural Building on the Embarcadero.  It is by the Flaming Lotus Girls (http://www.flaminglotus.com/) and it is called Soma.  It has lights that go on if you push a button after dark. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ferry Golden Gate -- September 11, 2014

MV Golden Gate is a high speed catamaran ferry operated by Golden Gate Ferries.  She is their second Golden Gate.  She was built in 1999 for Washington State Ferries as Chinook, but they got rid of their passenger-only ferries and sold Chinook and her sister Snohomish to Golden Gate Ferries.  Snohomish is now the Napa.  I took the photo in September, 2014. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

You Can Shoot Alligators and Eat Oranges -- September 10, 2014

Or you can eat alligators and shoot oranges. 

This ad, from Railway Agent, February 1899, describes the wonders of the Mexican Central Railway, a US-owned line from Mexico City to Ciudad Juárez.  The Mexican government nationalized it in 1906-1909.    Now it is part of Kansas City Southern de México.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Saturday and Sunday -- September 8, 2014

Saturday night we didn't go to 5 o'clock mass because there was a school event at 10am on Sunday.  We took a drive down to Half Moon Bay and had dinner at the Flying Fish Café.  The front entrance was closed, so we had to go in the back.  We had crab melts.  Very good.  In the last two weeks, we have noticed it getting dark earlier and staying dark later. 

Sunday we went to the 10 o'clock mass at Good Shepherd.  Father Lu said nice things about the school and promised to support it.  Most of the teachers were there. 

Sharon Mayes created the half moon sculpture that stands near the firehouse.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

World War One in Classic Film Blogathon -- September 7, 2014

Lea at Silent-ology and Fritzi at Movies Silently are hosting the World War One in Classic Film Blogathon this weekend. 

My entry for the blogathon is on my new movies-mostly blog, The Big V Riot Squad:
Patriotic Porkers and Other Propaganda Films

Moving Picture News, 29-June-1918 

 I write about propaganda movies produced by various powers during the war. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Mysterious Master of Magic -- September 6, 2014

Honolulu Bulletin 08-October-1908
Charles Carter, a native of San Francisco, was one of the great American magicians of the early Twentieth century. He worked abroad for many years. His home in Sea Cliff still stands.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Woman's Place in Aviation -- September 5, 2014

I can't find anything about Irene Vandy.  I like her description of flying.  Albert S Heinrich was a pioneering aviator who managed to live until 1974.  From the 25-September-1914 North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune. 

FIFTEEN hundred feet above my creditors hung In space twixt heaven and earth at peace with God and the world, and yet traveling at the rate of sixty or more miles an hour! 

That's what I felt on my first aeroplane trip, and mighty sorry was I to have to come back to earth, writes Irene Vandy in the New York Press.

There is nothing in the world quite like flying. Some have compared It with sailing -- water sailing; others have compared it with autoing on a very smooth road; but it is incomparable. Once or twice during my trip I looked aloft almost expecting to find the big white-winged mechanical bird hung from a wire attached to gigantic telegraph poles and operated on a pulley, so easy did it ride on space.  Once or twice the machine rocked a bit, and the sensation was delightful. Until the machine rocks, one can scarcely believe it is moving, no matter what the rate of speed.

Once we got lost in a cloud -- I and my aviator -- but I never knew It. I could still look down and realize that the world is round, for if there is any vantage point from which to prove the roundness of the earth it is in an aeroplane, provided you are high enough.

"Why," I tried to explain, "I never knew how small the world was before." For it seemed all stretched below me like toy farms, where one could pick up the houses in one's hand and play with them; but the rush of wind caught the words, and I thought I should never again get my mouth closed, when there was a slight dip on one wing and the machine turned in another direction.

We were now passing over the Belmont race track, and the hurdles showed plainly below like so many matches, or maybe toothpicks, painted white. The grandstand was no bigger than a copy of some popular novel. I wished there had been some activity. It would have been interesting to see those tiny horses. 

But I was to be rewarded for my love of the horse As we passed over Westbury they were having a practice game on the polo field. I looked down and saw the midget beasties racing hither and thither, with momentary gleams of a mallet raised in the air, like a splinter. I saw a train pull into the Hempstead station -- a train no bigger than these one buys for baby on the street, "five cents the train;" I saw the Garden City hotel, St. Paul's school, the Salisbury golf links, with men and women moving about like tiny china dolls, the buildings no bigger than toy blocks that a baby could handle.

Imagine the glory of all this under a perfect sky and a setting sun reflecting that peculiar radiance of scintillating lights on a background of greens and browns, with here and there a red roof blending into the whole, and trees you wanted to pick for a boutonniere.

Somehow it never occurred to me to be afraid.  An utter relaxation came over me, and I gave myself up to the thrill of the beauty all round me.  It seemed as though upon leaving terra firma my last worry had vanished. I wished I might spend my summer vacation in the air.

But then I had absolute confidence in the ability of my aviator -- absolute confidence in the stability of his aeroplane which, I suppose, is half the game. The flight was from the Hempstead Plains aviation field, which, by the way, never had the right to the name, because it lies in Garden City, and not in Hempstead at all. It is really Old Camp Black of Spanish-American war fame, and is as large as Central park. The usual passenger flight is once round the field, a distance of about four miles, and takes about as many minutes, at a height of 200 feet. However, the aviator does not really care about flying so low, and if you show no usin of fear you are liable to go higher, and there is less danger, for it is harder to shut off the engine and volplane down from a height of a few hundred feet than it is from a height of a thousand feet, and not volplaning down means sometimes landing with a thump.  The 1,000-foot volplane and easy landing is one of the tests the Aeroclub requires before granting
a license.

My trip was with Mr. Albert Heinrich of the Heinrich Aeroplane company, who owns one of the lightest and prettiest craft, afloat -- a monoplane of about six hundred and fifty pounds, with a very narrow, graceful fuselage, laced up the center -- dainty and attractive to women especially. He finished second last July in the race round New York, and has never had a fall since the days when he was learning to fly. That is, perhaps, the reason I lost all sense of fear. I could readily realize the fascination of flying to women, and, once in the air myself, the desire to learn to fly an aeroplane all but conquered me.

But the monoplane had tipped its nose groundward and we were volplaning down. The tip I scarcely felt, but when I realized the engine had been shut off and we were coming down, riding on air at an angle of more than forty-five degrees, it sort of caught my breath, but we landed easy as a bird, without so much as a bump.

And then, for the first time since the flight began, I felt like a hero.

"How did it feel? Didn't you feel a sort of goneness all here?" placing their hands on the spot where stomachs ought to be. "Weren't you afraid when you got in the cloud? Could you see us?"

These were a few of the questions fired at me from the rapid-fire gun of my bundle of friends,
but the beauty -- the absolute peace of it all -- was upon me.

"How long was I up?" I replied, ignoring their questions.

"Just twenty-three minutes," they answered, and I looked my amazement, for it seemed but five at the most.

"No," said I to all their questions, except the one as to how does it feel, and to that I gave the same answer that Colonel Vanderbilt, Anne Morgan, Mrs. Charles Whitman, Mrs, W. K. Vanderbilt, Jr., Mrs. Clifford B. Harmon, and a host of others who have flown have given; "I never enjoyed anything more in my life!" And I was not surprised, as I used to be, that women had gone into the game.

By the way, you will ask. if this is so, have the women who flew dropped out one by one, till today there is but one of the trio who used to appear at International meets left flying -- Mlle. Helen Dutrieu, a French woman?

There are several reasons. One is that the day of aviation as an exhibition is over unless one can cater to a morbid public. The aviator who today can fly upside down and inside out, who can loop loops, who can tango and hesitate in the air, balancing first on one wing, then on the other, and keeping the audience in momentary expectancy of seeing him smashed to death amid a wreckage of engine, ires, wood and canvas, is the man who draws. From war to aeronautics there is but one hero in the public eye -- he or she who defies death and comes out alive. The days of "Darius Green and His Flying Machine" and "Flying over the celebration to astonish creation" are over. Down on Long Island, where the ground Is flat, and flying is comparatively safe, If one knows how, the buzz of the aeroplane is as familiar as the buzz of the mosquito over in Jersey.

Women are naturally more cautious than men.  A man may do and dare before ho knows how to do and dare, but if a woman does and dares you may be pretty sure she knows what she is doing and daring, of course, always, with the exception which proves the rule. Now that straight flying is no longer interesting, because it is comparatively safe, women will not go into the trick flying. Therefore, there is no commercial market for them. The only thing left is aerial navigation
and, necessarily, passenger-carrying.

Few women will carry passengers at the moment. The only passenger-carrying woman in America just at present Is Ruth Law, now in Newport. who owns and operates a Wright biplane. Perhaps women place a higher value on life than men, and will run no risks. But more probable is the effect of the tragic death of Miss Harriet Quimby, killed in flight two years ago.  Since then Miss Matilda Moisant, one of the trio who was always on hand at international meets with Miss Quimby and Mlle. Dutrieu, has dropped out. The Baroness de la Roche, the first woman in the world to fly, has also dropped out, but possibly because she broke both legs In a fall.
Another reason why women have dropped out of the game, or given up momentarily is that the expense of buying and maintaining an aeroplane is too great. Since the circus days of ordinary
stunts have culled their death roll and are over there is not sufficient thrill in the mere fact of a woman flying to draw, and managers will not put up the funds for a machine. And still another reason is that men -- the aviators themselves -- do not like to see women risk their lives in the game.

Despite all this, however, there Is today a dear little woman, pretty as a picture, who has entered the game and intends to win. She Is Mrs. Marlon Sims, a widow, and a pupil of Mr. Heinrich. She has declared her intention of being ready next May to fly at the Panama-Pacific exposition in California, and afterward to take a trip In a flying machine round the world. She became interested in aeronautics about a year ago and could not rest till she had learned how to fly, though to date she has not taken her pilot's license.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Instrument Specially Made to Play Victor and Victrola Records -- September 4, 2014

In 1906, the Victor Talking Machine Company introduced a revolutionary phonograph with an internal amplifying horn. They called it the Victrola. Victrola almost became a synonym for phonograph. Many of my older relatives called any phonograph a Victrola, just as they called a refrigerator a Frigidaire. This ad is from the January, 1920 Shadowlands.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

2014 Ardenwood Farm Railfiar -- September 2, 2014

Yesterday we went to the 14th annual Labor Day Railfair at Ardenwood Farm.  It was moderately warm. Two steam locomotives operated.  Ann Marie, an 1890 Porter 0-4-0, was there for the sixth straight year.  Antelope and Western 1, an 1889 Porter 0-4-0, was back for the first time since 2011.  There was only one train, so the locomotives swapped each time the train reached Deer Park.  There were big crowds, so we never got to make a round trip. 

Traffic was light going over and coming back, but terrible when we got to Highway One back in Pacifica.  The combination of a bright sunny day and the detour for the bridge replacement had everything backed up. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day, 2014 -- September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day, everyone.  Thank you to The Other 98% (http://other98.com/). 

75 years ago today, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, starting World War Two in Europe.