Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 -- December 31, 2015
I wish everyone a happy and peaceful New Year.

In January, Rob Manfred succeeded Bud Selig as Commissioner of Baseball. Mario Cuomo, Stu Miller and Ernie Banks died.  In Fresno, Governor Jerry Brown broke groups for the California High Speed Rail Project. We celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans.  The Golden Gate Bridge closed for a weekend for the installation of a movable traffic barrier. We marked the 100th anniversary of the first Zeppelin attack on British soil, the Battle of Dogger Bank and the first transcontinental phone call. We had a big grass fire in Pacifica.  Thieves stole gold nuggets from the Wells Fargo History Museum on Montgomery Street.  I spoke at a grammar school career day.  I started a short series about Wallace the Untameable Lion, which I hope to pick up again.

Terrorists attacked the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing much of the staff.  

In February, we marked the 100th anniversary of the German declaration of unconditional submarine warfare, the opening of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.  Clark Terry died.  We went to the 40th anniversary all-classes reunion at Good Shepherd School. 

I took a break from March through August.  During that time, Lon Simmons, Hall of Fame Giants' broadcaster, Al Rosen, great Giants' GM and Bob Parlocha of KJAZ and KCSM died.  So did writers Ivan Doig, EL Doctorow and Gunter Grass and musicians BB King and Ornette Coleman.

We marked the 100th birthday of Billie Holiday.  We marked the 75th birthday of Ringo Starr.  In April a monster earthquake killed many thousands in Nepal.

We marked the 150th anniversary of the surrender of Robert E Lee at Appomattox Court House, of the murder of President Lincoln and the killing of the coward Booth.  We marked the 100th anniversary of the death of aviator Lincoln Beachey, the sinking of the liner Lusitania, the battle debut of the synchronized machine gun.  We marked the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  We celebrated the 125th birthday of Man Ray.  We celebrated the 100th birthday of Orson Welles and Saul Bellow. 

We attended the San Francisco History Expo at the Old Mint. Heald College, where I used to teach, closed down.  We had our first trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train.  Muni's new E-Embarcadero line made its debut.  Caltrans made a horrible traffic mess in Pacifica. 

American Pharoah (that's how the owner spelled it) was the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.  Rookie Chris Heston threw a no-hitter against the Mets in New York.  The Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship. 

In June, the Supreme Court decided not to accept a perverse interpretation of the Affordable Care Act, which would have left millions of people without medical care.

In September we marked the 100th anniversary of Germany giving up on unrestricted submarine warfare.  BART was closed over Labor Day weekend, as it had been for a weekend in August, for refurbishment.  I spoke to students at Good Shepherd School in Pacifica about the topic of this year's DAR essay contest, "A Colonial Family's Reaction to the Stamp Act."  Junipero Serra was canonized, amid some controversy.  We went to the 2015 Muni Heritage Festival.  We marked the 100th birthday of Billy Strayhorn.  Yogi Berra died.

In October we celebrated the 125th birthday of Jelly Roll Morton, the 100th birthdays of Harry "Sweets" Edison and Bob Kane and the 75th birthday of John Lennon.   My Freshman year high school counselor, Father Paul Capitolo, SJ died.  We marked the 100th anniversary of the Germans shooting Nurse Edith Cavell in Belgium.

In November terrorists exploded bombs in Beirut.  The next day, they staged a series of attacks in Paris.  People rightly asked why most of us paid attention to Paris.  I suppose for me it is because I know people who currently live in Paris.  I know people who are from Beirut, but they don't live there now.  On the same day as the Paris attacks, a double decker tour bus in San Francisco ran away near Union Square. 

I started a new series on ragtime.  We marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of Booker T Washington and the murder of Joe Hill by the State of Utah.  Allen Toussaint died.  San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll announced his retirement.

I almost forgot to mention that San Francisco landmark Carol Doda died in November.  I was at my uncle's house and I mentioned the newspaper clipping that he had pinned up.  He said he dated her and she was a nice girl.  She would have made an interesting aunt.  

In December, we marked the 100th anniversary of the closing of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. We observed the 100th birthdays of Frank Sinatra, Turk Murphy and Edith Piaf.

Da'ish is still murdering people in Syria and Iraq.  Russia started to bomb them and other groups fighting the Syrian government. 

The railroads were supposed to have Positive Train Control (PTC) implemented by the end of 2015.  Despite strong efforts, they knew they were not going to succeed and persuaded Congress that they would have to shut down some or all operations.  In October, Congress succeeded in passing an extension until 2018.  Congress didn't get much else done this year. 

Red haired Clara Bow, seen in the photo, was probably the most popular silent actress after Mary Pickford.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Over the Top -- Chapter XIII --December 29, 2015

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

From "Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches" by Empey:  
R.A. M. C. Royal Army Medical Corps. Tommy says it means "Rob All My Comrades."  

CHAPTER I -- From Mufti to Khaki
CHAPTER II -- Blighty to Rest Billets
CHAPTER III -- I Go to Church
CHAPTER IV -- Into the Trench
CHAPTER V -- Mud, Rats and Shells
CHAPTER VI -- "Back of the Line"
CHAPTER VII -- Rations


RIGHT behind our rest billet was a large creek about ten feet deep and twenty feet across, and it was a habit of the company to avail themselves of an opportunity to take a swim and at the same time thoroughly wash themselves and their underwear when on their own. We were having a spell of hot weather, and these baths to us were a luxury. The Tommies would splash around in the water and then come out and sit in the sun and have what they termed a "shirt hunt." At first we tried to drown the "cooties," but they also seemed to enjoy the bath.

 One Sunday morning, the whole section was in the creek and we were having a gay time, when the Sergeant-Major appeared on the scene. He came to the edge of the creek and ordered: "Come out of it. Get your equipment on, 'Drill order,' and fall in for bath parade. Look lively my hearties. You have only got fifteen minutes." A howl of indignation from the creek greeted this order, but out we came. Discipline is discipline. We lined up in front of our billet with rifles and bayonets (why you need rifles and bayonets to take a bath gets me), a full quota of ammunition, and our tin hats. Each man had a piece of soap and a towel. After an eight-kilo march along a dusty road, with an occasional shell whistling overhead, we arrived at a little squat frame building upon the bank of a creek. Nailed over the door of this building was a large sign which read "Divisional Baths." In a wooden shed in the rear, we could hear a wheezy old engine pumping water.

We lined up in front of the baths, soaked with perspiration, and piled our rifles into stacks. A Sergeant of the R. A. M. C. with a yellow band around his left arm on which was "S. P." (Sanitary Police) in black letters, took charge, ordering us to take off our equipment, unroll our puttees, and unlace boots. Then, starting from the right of the line, he divided us into squads of fifteen. I happened to be in the first squad.

We entered a small room where we were given five minutes to undress, then filed into the bath room. In here there were fifteen tubs (barrels sawed in two) half full of water. Each tub contained a piece of laundry soap. The Sergeant informed us that we had just twelve minutes in which to take our baths. Soaping ourselves all over, we took turns in rubbing each other's backs, then by means of a garden hose, washed the soap off. The water was ice cold, but felt fine.

Pretty soon a bell rang and the water was turned off. Some of the slower ones were covered with soap, but this made no difference to the Sergeant, who chased us into another room, where we lined up in front of a little window, resembling the box office in a theater, and received clean underwear and towels. From here we went into the room where we had first undressed. Ten minutes was allowed in which to get into our "clabber."

My pair of drawers came up to my chin and the shirt barely reached my diaphragm, but they were clean, -- no strangers on them, and so I was satisfied.

At the expiration of the time allotted we were turned out and finished our dressing on the grass.

When all of the company had bathed it was a case of march back to billets. That march was the most uncongenial one imagined, just cussing and blinding all the way. We were covered with white dust and felt greasy from sweat. The woolen underwear issued was itching like the mischief.

After eating our dinner of stew, which had been kept for us,--it was now four o'clock,--we went into the creek and had another bath.

If "Holy Joe" could have heard our remarks about the Divisional Baths and army red tape, he would have fainted at our wickedness. But Tommy is only human after all.

I just mentioned "Holy Joe" or the Chaplain in an irreverent sort of way but no offense was meant, as there were some very brave men among them.

There are so many instances of heroic deeds performed under fire in rescuing the wounded that it would take several books to chronicle them, but I have to mention one instance performed by a Chaplain, Captain Hall by name, in the Brigade on our left, because it particularly appealed to me.

A chaplain is not a fighting man; he is recognized as a non-combatant and carries no arms. In a charge or trench raid the soldier gets a feeling of confidence from contact with his rifle, revolver, or bomb he is carrying. He has something to protect himself with, something with which he can inflict harm on the enemy,--in other words, he is able to get his own back.

But the chaplain is empty handed, and is at the mercy of the enemy if he encounters them, so it is doubly brave for him to go over the top, under fire, and bring in wounded. Also a chaplain is not required by the King's Regulations to go over in a charge, but this one did, made three trips under the hottest kind of fire, each time returning with a wounded man on his back. On the third trip he received a bullet through his left arm, but never reported the matter to the doctor until late that night—just spent his time administering to the wants of the wounded lying on stretchers waiting to be carried to the rear by ambulances.

The chaplains in the British Army are a fine, manly set of men, and are greatly respected by Tommy.

Next: CHAPTER XIV -- Picks and Shovels

Sunday, December 27, 2015

New Cat #26 -- December 27, 2015

I took this photo on 25-December-2015. 

We went to 5 o'clock mass on Christmas Eve at Good Shepherd.  My wife helped with the children's mass.  I was grateful that the regulars showed up to help take the collection. 

The family came to our house for Christmas dinner. 

Today it was very clear and cold. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

News of the Week December 25, 1915 -- December 25, 2015

The 25-December-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"King George of England and the Prince of Wales in Northeastern France.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  The man with the beard is King George V.  The other man is a French officer, not the Prince of Wales.

"Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford just before the Oscar II sailed.   Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Henry Ford was opposed to the war and wanted to inspire a peace conference.  Pacifist Rosika Schwimmer persuaded him to finance a Peace Ship to sail to Stockholm.  Oscar II sailed from New York on 04-December-1915.  Vicious fighting among the pacifists and an outbreak of influenza caused many problems.  Discouraged, Ford sailed back to the US. 

"Submarine ordered for Allies held in Charleston Navy Yard.  Copyright, 1915, Paramount News Pictures."  This is our first item from Paramount News Pictures.

"U. S. S. Milwaukee in new $1,000,000 dock at Oakland, Calif.  Copyright, 1915, Mutual Weekly."  Protected cruiser USS Milwaukee (C-21) was built by San Francisco's Union Iron Works.  Oakland had just wrested control of its port from the Southern Pacific Railroad. 

"Baby carriages parked outside of a motion picture theater in Watts, Calif.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."

"Peace ship Oscar II leaves for Europe.  Copyright, 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  See the item above about the Peace Ship.

Merry Christmas, 2015 -- December 25, 2015

New York Tribune, 25-December-1915.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Peace on Earth and goodwill to men (women, and children).

A cartoon by Clare Briggs from the 25-December-1915 New York Tribune.  The first character whom Briggs asks for help is working on something headed "Pep's Diary."  This is probably Franklin Pierce Adams (FPA) who wrote a parody of Samuel Pepys' diary in the Tribune.  Doc Rice may be Grantland Rice, the sports columnist. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Number, 1909 -- December 24, 2015

The original Life Magazine was a humorous weekly that was published from 1883 to 1936.  Here is the cover of their 1909 Christmas Number.  I like the design. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Santa Pirate -- December 23, 2015

The original Life Magazine was a humorous weekly that was published from 1883 to 1936.  Here is the cover of their13-December-1929 edition, featuring a cartoon by Dan Heron. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas in Pacifica -- December 20, 2015

Friday night after dinner at High Tide in Pedro Point, we drove up to Cape Breton Drive, where many people decorate their homes for Christmas.  The most decorated home is atCape Breton and Rainier.  Signs instruct visitors to set their car radios to 90.1.  The lights are synchronized to the music.  We had a good time despite the rain.  We need the rain. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Santa on the Radio -- December 19. 2015
Santa listens to a radio receiver on the cover of the December, 1924 St Nicholas MagazineSt Nicholas was a children's magazine. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

News of the Week December 18, 1915 -- December 18, 2015

The 18-December-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Seeking pearls in slime of White River, Arkansas.  Copyright, 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  People harvested pearls from freshwater mussels.  Production reached its peak in the 1920s.

"Results of the terrific tornado at Great Bend, Kansas.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Great Bend, Kansas was hit by a huge tornado on 10-November-1915.

"Immense shell used on U. S. Warship.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  I think the Navy's biggest guns were 14-inch/50 caliber guns on the New Mexico class.

"Immense casting for world's largest telescope hauled to Carnegie Observatory, Mount Wilson, Calif.   Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  I assume this is part of the Hooker telescope at the  Mount Wilson Observatory, which had the largest aperture of any telescope.

"Ships ply at last on the Buffalo-Troy Canal after sixteen year's work and immense expenditure.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  I guess this could be part of the New York State Barge Canal. 

"Earl Cooper wins Exposition auto race.  Copyrighted, 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  On 26-November-1915, Earl Cooper won a 100-mile dirt track race at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.  Barney Oldfield got passed in the 98th lap and finished second. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Edith Piaf 100 -- December 17, 2015

Edith Piaf would have been 100 years old today.  She was born on 17-December-1915.  It is funny to think that she was 10 days younger than Eli Wallach, who died two years ago.  She has been gone since 1963, but she is not forgotten.  She was accused of being a collaborator during the German occupation, but was proved to have helped French soldiers escape from German camps.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Turk Murphy 100 -- December 16, 2015

Happy 100th birthday to trombonist, composer, arranger and band leader Turk Murphy, who was born on 16-December-1915.  With trumpeter Lu Watters and the Yerba Buena Jazz Band, Murphy helped to drive the traditional jazz revival that started in the Bay Area before World War II.  Murphy served in the Navy during the war, then rejoined the Watters band until 1947, when he left to form his own band.  I saw them at Earthquake McGoon's on the Embarcadero and Pier 39, and at the 75th anniversary of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.  The musicians didn't bother to go to bed before showing up at Lotta's Fountain at 5am. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Do the Spirits Come Back? December 13, 2015

Magician Howard Thurston established himself as a successful vaudeville performer, then joined with Harry Kellar on his farewell tour.  When Kellar retired in 1908, Thurston carried on as his successor.  Thurston continued performing until he suffered a stroke in 1935. 

Washington Times, 28-April-1910

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Frank Sinatra 100 -- December 12, 2015

Francis Albert Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey on 12-December-1915.  His father was Sicilian and his mother was Genovese.  An old Italian would tell you that this explains a lot.

His singing was influential over a long period.  I resisted him when I was young, but I came to appreciate him when I got older and listened to the Nelson Riddle albums.

I saw him in person once.  We went to the Opera House for a memorial to Mayor George Moscone. Luciano Pavarotti was supposed to sing.  Unfortunately, Pavarotti did not show up. In his place, they had Frank Sinatra.

Friday, December 11, 2015

News of the Week December 11, 1915 -- December 11, 2015

The 11-December-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Launching combination auto boat at San Francisco, Calif.  Copyright 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Delia The Motor Duck was designed and built by Michael de Cosmo in San Francisco.

"Dr. H. J. Haiselden, who refused to save the life of a mentally defective baby.   Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  On 12-November-1915, Harry John Haiselde, chief of surgery at the German-American Hospital, refused to perform surgery that could have saved the life of a newborn with birth defects.  This sparked a big debate, and he played himself in a 1917 movie.

"Troops of Winnipeg, Canada, just before leaving for the scenes of war.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Canada provided an important part of the British Empire's forces in the war.

"Mimic hotel burned as part of harvest festival at Atlanta, Ga.  Copyright 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Suffragettes marched for the vote at the 1915 Atlanta Harvest Festival.

"Largest engine in the world put into service.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  This does not look like the Virginian's triplex 2-8-8-8-4 locomotive.

"Liberty Bell leaves San Francisco for Philadelphia.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  The Liberty came to San Francisco for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a -- December 9, 2015

When I was a kid, someone gave me a book about World War One airplanes.  I virtually memorized it.  One of my favorite fighters was the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a.  It was easier to fly than the Sopwith Camel, but was just about as effective.  I thought the Lewis gun on the top wing was a nice visual feature.  This is a reproduction. 

In July, 2010, we visited the Museum of Flight near Seattle.   I took this photo in the Personal Courage Wing, which features airplanes, mostly fighters, from World War One and World War Two.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pearl Harbor Day, 2015 -- December 7, 2015

74 years ago a sneak attack by forces of the Japanese Empire sank or damaged much of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in the territory of Hawaii. The Japanese Empire came to regret doing this.

USS West Virginia was one of the dreadnaughts parked in Battleship Row when the Japanese attacked.  Six aerial torpedoes hit her, but some were duds.  Two bombs started fires which spread across the ship. Captain Mervyn S Bennion was severely injured by shrapnel.  He refused to be evacuated and died at his post.  He later was awarded a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor.  Messman Third Class Doris Miller was among the men who tried to evacuate the captain.  Doris Miller was awarded the Navy Cross for his bravery. 

West Virginia sank in shallow water.  After the attack, she was pumped out and patched.  She sailed to the Puget Sound Navy Yard and was heavily rebuilt. 

West Virginia participated in the Battle of the Surigao Strait, the invasion of Iwo Jima, the invasion of Okinawa, and was present at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. 

The photo shows West Virginia in San Francisco Bay about 1934 during the building of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Try It You’ll Like It! Blogathon -- December 5, 2015

Fritzi at Movies Silently ( and Janet at Sister Celluloid ( are hosting the  Try It You’ll Like It! Blogathon.   They want to put together a list that can be used by anyone to proselytize for classic films.

I chose to write about The Great K&A Train Robbery, a 1926 Tom Mix movie, which has many features that will appeal to historians, railfans, sociologists, horse lovers and people who enjoy a movie full of action and adventure:

Friday, December 4, 2015

News of the Week December 4, 1915 -- December 4, 2015

The 04-December-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Results of terrible hurricane which swept across Missouri.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  I have not been able to find anything about this hurricane or tropical storm.

"A moving picture camera added to the equipment of Chicago Police Bureau.  Copyright 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Sounds like a good idea.  I wonder if any of the footage still exists.

"Purchasing Commissioner from France on board ship.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  On 20-November-1915, members of a French met with Secretary of Agriculture David F Houston. 

"New Lackawanna viaduct at Nicholson, Pa.  Copyright 1915 by Mutual Weekly."  The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad's Tunkhannock Viaduct opened for service on 06-November-1915.

"Crippled children of Chicago are guests at the Annual Flower Show.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  The Chicago Flower and Garden Show claims it started in 1847. 

"Blaze wrecks big war order plant in Trenton, N. J.  Copyright 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  There was a big fire at the John A Roebling Sons plant, which manufactured steel cables.  This was the third fire at a war production plant in 24 hours.  German sabotage was suspected. 

Panama-Pacific Exposition Came to an Official Close Last Night -- December 4, 2015

The Daily Gate City, 05-December-1915

San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition closed on 04-December-1915.  This article from a newspaper in Keokuk, Iowa, shows how the exposition was a topic of national interest.  


Panama-Pacific Exposition Came to an Official Close Last Night With Big Celebration and Money in Bank. 


On Stroke of Midnight, Every Light on Exhibition Ground was Turned Off and Bombs in Air Proclaimed the End.

[United Press Leased Wire Service.]

The Exposition's Word to President Wilson.

"Oar task ls finished. The contribution of nations, states, organisations and individuals has been offered with earnestness and the enthusiastic hope that results, beneficial to the world's progress and advancement, would follow". Please accept assurance of affectionate and patriotic regard."—President C. C. Moore to President Wilson.

The Exposition's Word to the World.

"The end of six years' endeavor has come. California has fulfilled the task imposed on It by the national government to hold a fair to celebrate the completion by our country. of the Panama canal. The whole state has responded to the responsibility of holding a great international celebration
with the world purpose of betterment of humanity."—President Moore's address following the president's toast.

Exposition Figures.

Attendance—Nearly 18,750,000.
Closing day to mid-afternoon—193,913.
Estimated total closing day—260,000 to 275,000.
Net profits—$1,040,000.

 SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Dec. 4.—
The Panama-Pacific international exposition entered tonight into the realm of the past.

The gay red and green lights shimmered above it for the last time.  Thousands made merry, though an institution was dytng in the night. Beneath the stars, in the open air of a fair California night, the throngs danced their farewell. Flags that floated proudly to the breeze—not at half mast, but boastfully, flaunting accomplishment—came down at sunset as the guns boomed a good-bye salute from the exposition grounds, while forts around the bay made the marina hills re-echo with their answering salvo. Two sets of closing ceremonies marked the passing of the exposition which had commemorated for ten months the wedding of the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific.

At noon the nation said its goodbye, through President Wilson.

His toast, sparked off by the wireless, paid tribute to the purpose of the great fair.

President Moore figuratively passed this on to the world. Bands flared forth the national anthem; crowds stood uncovered, joining in the strains. The sight was impressive; it marked the only pause in the day's merriment. This afternoon, while thousands revelled about the grounds, officials with solemn ceremony closed the gem city's palaces—the chapter out of the Arabian Nights.

Tonight San Francisco said its farewell.

The tiny auto trains puffed their way about the grounds on their last trips, carrying throngs of merry makers. Thousands crowded the zone and joined in its spirit.  Wistfully it seemed they peeped at "Stella"—the most popular exhibit on the white way—barkers shouted the joys of seeing the "diving girls" and the hundred and one other shows; diners over-crowded the restaurants and cabarets the court of the universe could scarce hold all those who wanted to join in the outdoor dancing; the odor of orange blossoms made it a night of romance.

Just before midnight however, the sound of revelry was hushed, silently the thousands gathered to chant "Auld Lang Syne." and "Farewell to Thee." On the stroke of midnight President Moore pushed a button shutting off the thousands upon thousands of lights. High up on the tower of jewels a bugler sounded "taps." Thousands of feet above, Art Smith, the dare devil bird boy, streaked "Farewell P. P. I. E.," in fiery letters behind his aeroplane.

Along the marina, 635 hidden mortars threw into the air bombs which exploded simultaneously in a deafening final fusillade.

The exposition chorus and thousands of voices swelled in a mighty volume of song that re-echoed in the heart of the city.

The exposition was at an end.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

What Shall I Give This Christmas? -- December 3, 2015

Edison Phonograph Monthly, December, 1916
Amberola was the Thomas Edison Company's name for phonographs with internal horns.  Diamond referred to the reproducer, probably the Diamond C in 1916, which played the records.  Edison Diamond records were recorded using the hill and dale method. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Original Rags -- December 1, 2015
Scott Joplin composed many famous ragtime tunes. In 1899, he published his first, "Original Rags."

I liked ragtime and first learned something about when I read Rudi Blesh's They All Played Ragtime.  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Over the Top -- Chapter XII --November 29, 2015

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

Christy Mathewson was a great pitcher for the New York Giants.  

From "Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches" by Empey:  
Bomb. An infernal device filled with high explosive which you throw at the Germans. Its chief delight is to explode before it leaves your hand.
"Hand grenade." A general term for a bomb which is thrown by hand. Tommy looks upon all bombs with grave suspicion; from long experience he has learned not to trust them, even if the detonator has been removed. 
"Jam Tin." A crude sort of hand grenade which, in the early stages of the war, Tommy used to manufacture out of jam tins, ammonal, and mud. The manufacturer generally would receive a little wooden cross in recognition of the factthat he died for King and Country.
 "Mills." Name of a bomb invented by Mills. The only bomb in which Tommy has full confidence,—and he mistrusts even that

CHAPTER I -- From Mufti to Khaki
CHAPTER II -- Blighty to Rest Billets
CHAPTER III -- I Go to Church
CHAPTER IV -- Into the Trench
CHAPTER V -- Mud, Rats and Shells
CHAPTER VI -- "Back of the Line"
CHAPTER VII -- Rations


The boys in the section welcomed me back, but there were many strange faces. Several of our men had gone West in that charge, and were lying "somewhere in France" with a little wooden cross at their heads. We were in rest billets. The next day, our Captain asked for volunteers for Bombers' School. I gave my name and was accepted. I had joined the Suicide Club, and my troubles commenced. Thirty-two men of the battalion, including myself, were sent to L-----, where we went through a course in bombing. Here we were instructed in the uses, methods of throwing, and manufacture of various kinds of hand grenades, from the old "jam tin," now obsolete, to the present Mills bomb, the standard of the British Army.

It all depends where you are as to what you are called. In France they call you a "bomber" and give you medals, while in neutral countries they call you an anarchist and give you "life."

From the very start the Germans were well equipped with effective bombs and trained bomb-throwers, but the English Army was as little prepared in this important department of fighting as in many others. At bombing school an old Sergeant of the Grenadier Guards, whom I had the good fortune to meet, told me of the discouragements this branch of the service suffered before they could meet the Germans on an equal footing. {Pacifists and small army people in the U. S. please read with care.) The first English Expeditionary Force had no bombs at all but had clicked a lot of casualties from those thrown by the Boches. One bright morning someone higher up had an idea and issued an order detailing two men from each platoon to go to bombing school to learn the duties of a bomber and how to manufacture bombs. Non-commissioned officers were generally selected for this course. After about two weeks at school they returned to their units in rest billets or in the fire trench as the case might be and got busy teaching their platoons how to make "jam tins."

 Previously an order had been issued for all ranks to save empty jam tins for the manufacture of bombs. A Professor of Bombing would sit on the fire step in the front trench with the remainder of his section crowding around to see him work.

On his left would be a pile of empty and rusty jam tins, while beside him on the fire step would be a miscellaneous assortment of material used in the manufacture of the "jam tins."

Tommy would stoop down, get an empty "jam tin," take a handful of clayey mud from the parapet, and line the inside of the tin with this substance. Then he would reach over, pick up his detonator and explosive, and insert them in the tin, the fuse protruding. On the fire step would be a pile of fragments of shell, shrapnel balls, bits of iron, nails, etc.—anything that was hard enough to send over to Fritz; he would scoop up a handful of this junk and put it in the bomb. Perhaps one of the platoon would ask him what he did this for, and he would explain that when the bomb exploded these bits would fly about and kill or wound any German hit by same; the questioner would immediately pull a button off his tunic and hand it to the bomb-maker with, "Well, blime me, send this over as a souvenir," or another Tommy would volunteer an old rusty and broken jackknife; both would be accepted and inserted.

Then the Professor would take another handful of mud and fill the tin, after which he would punch a hole in the lid of the tin and put it over the top of the bomb, the fuse sticking out. Then perhaps he would tightly wrap wire around the outside of the tin and the bomb was ready to send over to Fritz with Tommy's compliments.

A piece of wood about four inches long and two inches wide had been issued. This was to be strapped on the left forearm by means of two leather straps and was like the side of a match box; it was called a "striker." There was a tip like the head of a match on the fuse of the bomb. To ignite the fuse, you had to rub it on the "striker," just the same as striking a match. The fuse was timed to five seconds or longer. Some of the fuses issued in those days would burn down in a second or two, while others would "sizz" for a week before exploding. Back in Blighty the munition workers weren't quite up to snuff, the way they are now. If the fuse took a notion to burn too quickly, they generally buried the bombmaker next day. So making bombs could not be called a "cushy" or safe job.

After making several bombs, the Professor instructs the platoon in throwing them. He takes a "jam tin" from the fire step, trembling a little, because it is nervous work, especially when new at it, lights the fuse on his striker. The fuse begins to "sizz" and sputter and a spiral of smoke, like that from a smouldering fag, rises from it. The platoon splits in two and ducks around the traverse nearest to them. They don't like the looks and sound of the burning fuse. When that fuse begins to smoke and "sizz" you want to say good-bye to it as soon as possible, so Tommy with all his might chucks it over the top and crouches against the parapet, waiting for the explosion.

Lots of times in bombing, the "jam tin" would be picked up by the Germans, before it exploded and thrown back at Tommy with dire results.

After a lot of men went West in this manner, an order was issued, reading something like this:

"To all ranks in the British Army—after igniting the fuse and before throwing the jam tin bomb, count slowly one! two! three!"

This in order to give the fuse time enough to burn down, so that the bomb would explode before the Germans could throw it back.

Tommy read the order—he reads them all, but after he ignited the fuse and it began to smoke,— orders were forgotten, and away she went in record time and back she came to the further discomfort of the thrower.

Then another order was issued to count, "one hundred! two hundred! three hundred!" but Tommy didn't care if the order read to count up to a thousand by quarters he was going to get rid of that "jam tin," because from experience he had learned not to trust it.

When the powers that be realized that they could not change Tommy, they decided to change the type of bomb and did so—substituting the "hair brush," the "cricket-ball," and later the Mills bomb.

The standard bomb used in the British Army is the "Mills." It is about the shape and size of a large lemon. Although not actually a lemon, Fritz insists that it is; perhaps he judges it by the havoc caused by its explosion. The Mills bomb is made of steel, the outside of which is corrugated into forty-eight small squares which, upon the explosion of the bomb, scatter in a wide area, wounding or killing any Fritz who is unfortunate enough to be hit by one of the flying fragments.

Although a very destructive and efficient bomb, the "Mills" has the confidence of the thrower, in that he knows it will not explode until released from his grip.

 It is a mechanical device, with a lever, fitted into a slot at the top, which extends half way around the circumference and is held in place at the bottom by a fixing pin. In this pin there is a small metal ring, for the purpose of extracting the pin when ready to throw.

You do not throw a bomb the way a baseball is thrown, because, when in a narrow trench, your hand is liable to strike against the parados, traverse, or parapet, and then down goes the bomb, and, in a couple of seconds or so, up goes Tommy.

In throwing, the bomb and lever are grasped in the right hand, the left foot is advanced, knee stiff, about once and a half its length to the front, while the right leg, knee bent, is carried slightly to the right. The left arm is extended at an angle of 450, pointing in the direction the bomb is to be thrown. This position is similar to that of shotputting, only that the right arm is extended downward. Then you hurl the bomb from you with an overhead bowling motion, the same as in cricket, throwing it fairly high in the air, this in order to give the fuse a chance to burn down so that when the bomb lands, it immediately explodes and gives the Germans no time to scamper out of its range or to return it.

As the bomb leaves your hand, the lever, by means of a spring, is projected into the air and falls harmlessly to the ground a few feet in front of the bomber.

When the lever flies off, it releases a strong spring, which forces the firing pin into a percussion cap. This ignites the fuse, which burns down and sets off the detonator, charged with fulminate of mercury, which explodes the main charge of ammonal.

The average British soldier is not an expert at throwing; it is a new game to him, therefore the Canadians and Americans, who have played baseball from the kindergarten up, take naturally to bomb throwing and excel in this act. A six-foot English bomber will stand in awed silence when he sees a little five-foot-nothing Canadian out-distance his throw by several yards. I have read a few war stories of bombing, where baseball pitchers curved their bombs when throwing them, but a pitcher who can do this would make "Christy" Mathewson look like a piker, and is losing valuable time playing in the European War Bush League, when he would be able to set the "Big League" on fire.

We had had a cushy time while at this school. In fact, to us it was a regular vacation, and we were very sorry when one morning the Adjutant ordered us to report at headquarters for transportation and rations to return to our units up the line.

Arriving at our section, the boys once again tendered us the glad mitt, but looked askance at us out of the corners of their eyes. They could not conceive, as they expressed it, how a man could be such a blinking idiot to join the Suicide Club. I was beginning to feel sorry that I had become a member of said club, and my life to me appeared doubly precious.

Now that I was a sure enough bomber, I was praying for peace and hoping that my services as such would not be required.

Next: CHAPTER XIII -- My First Official Bath 

Friday, November 27, 2015

News of the Week November 27, 1915 -- November 27, 2015

The 27-November -1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Testing funs at a famous American munition plant.  Copyright 1915 by Mutual Weekly."  Perhaps this is the Watervliet Arsenal, where many naval guns were developed. 

"Great Crowds gather in Chicago to Witness 'wet' parade.  Copyright 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  There was a large anti-prohibition parade in Chicago on Sunday, 07-November-1915. 

"Governor Elliott N. Major of Missouri takes flight in balloon.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Elliot W (not N) Major was Governor of Missouri from 1913 to 1917.

"Dario Resta and his mechanician win Harkness Trophy.  Copyright 1915 by Mutual Weekly."  On 03-November-1915, Dario Resta, driving a Peugeot, averaged 105.39 mph for 100 miles at Sheepshead Bay to win the Harkness challenge cup.  I can't find the name of his riding mechanic. 

"Governor Whitman of New York attends christening of the Naval U. S. flying boat.  Copyright 1915 by Mutual Weekly."  This may be the christening by Governor Charles Whitman's daughter Olivia of a flying boat presented by Curtiss to the New York Naval Militia. 

"Mrs. Tom Thumb celebrates her 74th birthday.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  Lavinia Warren Stoddard was the widow of PT Barnum's General Tom Thumb, Charles Stratton.  The general died in 1883. 

1937 Mercedes-Benz Model 540K Special Roadster -- November 27, 2015

 We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June, 2013 to drool over their collection of classic autos.  The1937 Mercedes-Benz Model 540K Special Roadster was known for beautiful styling and high performance.  The roadster body was built by the Mayfair Carriage Company in London.  The car originally belonged to Nazi champagne salesman Joachim von Ribbentrop when he was ambassador to the Court of Saint James.  (051/dsc_0110-0111)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 -- November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  I'm grateful for health and life, my family, and my coworkers.

The original Life Magazine was a humorous weekly that was published from 1883 to 1936. Here is the cover of their 22-November-1923 Thanksgiving Number. It represents a Pilgrim placed in the stocks as punishment for gluttony. 

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New Cat #25 -- November 25, 2015

I took the photo on 07-November-2015. 


 Willie Mays was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mr. Herbert Kelcey and Miss Effie Shannon in William Gillette's Original Version of Sherlock Holmes -- November 23, 2015

Town Talk, 03-August-1907

The first actor to become famous for playing Sherlock Holmes was American William Gillette. He played Holmes more than 1300 times, in a play he wrote himself, from 1899 to 1932. Other people toured in the play during times when Gillette was busy elsewhere or retired.  He retired frequently.  I wrote about him on my other blog:

Town Talk, 03-August-1907
"This is the first time in history of stock in San Francisco that this great play has been essayed."  A stock company would perform several different plays during a period, often during the summer.  The September, 1902 Theater Magazine said Herbert Kelcey and Effie Shannon would tour with Sherlock Holmes in cities that had not yet been visited by William Gillette in the play.

Herbert Kelcey played Sherlock Holmes.

Effie Shannon played the heroine, Alice Faulkner.