Monday, August 31, 2015

Over the Top -- Chapter IX -- August 31, 2015

Arthur Guy Empey was a member of the US Cavalry who resigned to volunteer for the British Army during World War One. He was wounded during the Battle of the Somme. When the US entered the war, he tried to rejoin the US Army, but was rejected because of his wounds and possibly because of some disparaging comments about American draftees. He wrote a book, Over the Top, about his experiences during the war. With the 100th anniversary of the war, I thought it might be interesting to post his story. Empey later became a prolific pulp magazine author, a movie star and producer, and a playwright. From "Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches" by Empey:
Dugout. A deep hole in the trenches dug by the Royal Engineer Corps; supposed to be shell proof. It is, until a shell hits it. Rat and Tommy find it an excellent habitation in which to contract rheumatism.
Kit Bag. A part of Tommy's equipment in which he is supposed to pack up his troubles and smile, according to the words of a popular song (the composer was never in a trench).
Mud. A brownish, sticky substance found in the trenches after the frequent rains. A true friend to Tommy, which sticks to him like glue, even though at times Tommy resents this affection and roundly curses said mud.
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"

IT WAS in my first dugout and looked around curiously. Over the door of same was a little sign reading, "Suicide Annex." One of the boys told me that this particular front trench was called "Suicide Ditch." Later on I learned that machine gunners and bombers are known as the "Suicide Club."

That dugout was muddy. The men slept in mud, washed in mud, ate mud, and dreamed mud. I had never before realized that so much discomfort and misery could be contained in those three little letters, MUD. The floor of the dugout was an inch deep in water. Outside it was raining cats and dogs, and thin rivulets were trickling down the steps. From the airshaft immediately above me came a drip, drip, drip. Suicide Annex was a hole eight feet wide, ten feet long, and six feet high. It was about twenty feet below the fire trench; at least there were twenty steps leading down to it. These steps were cut into the earth, but at that time were muddy and slippery. A man had to be very careful or else he would "shoot the chutes." The air was foul, and you could cut the smoke from Tommy's fags with a knife. It was cold. The walls and roof were supported with heavy square-cut timbers, while the entrance was strengthened with sandbags. Nails had been driven into these timbers. On each nail hung a miscellaneous assortment of equipment. The lighting arrangements were superb—one candle in a reflector made from an ammunition tin. My teeth were chattering from the cold, and the drip from the airshaft did not help matters much. While I was sitting bemoaning my fate, and wishing for the fireside at home, the fellow next to me, who was writing a letter, looked up and innocently asked, "Say, Yank, how do you spell 'conflagration'?"

I looked at him in contempt, and answered that I did not know.

From the darkness in one of the corners came a thin, piping voice singing one of the popular trench ditties entitled:

"Pack up your Troubles in your Old Kit Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile."

Every now and then the singer would stop to Cough, Cough, Cough,

but it was a good illustration of Tommy s cheerfulness under such conditions.

A machine-gun officer entered the dugout and gave me a hard look. I sneaked past him, sliding, and slipping and reached my section of the front-line trench where I was greeted by the Sergeant, who asked me, "Where in 'ell 'ave you been?"

I made no answer, but sat on the muddy fire step, shivering with the cold and with the rain beating in my face. About half an hour later I teamed up with another fellow and went on guard with my head sticking over the top. At ten o'clock I was relieved and resumed my sitting position on the fire step. The rain suddenly stopped and we all breathed a sigh of relief. We prayed for the morning and the rum issue.

Next: CHAPTER X -- "The Day's Work" 

Friday, August 28, 2015

News of the Week August 28, 1915 -- August 28, 2015

The 28-August-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Mayor Armstrong opens new Pittsburgh Bridge.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  The Manchester Bridge was dedicated by Mayor Joseph G Armstrong on 08-August-1915.  The Manchester Bridge was removed in 1970. 

"Col. Theodore Roosevelt and Governor Johnson at San Diego Exposition.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Former President Theodore Roosevelt and California Governor Hiram Johnson visited the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego

"Women who make munitions for armies parade in London. Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Women played an important part in industrial production in all the Allied nations.  Making munitions was dangerous work, but it paid well. 

"Gen. Scott leaves for Texas to handle Mexican situation.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."   General Hugh L Scott, the Chief of Staff of the Army.  Pressure had been growing between the US and Mexican revolutionaries. 

"Heroes of the navy, killed in Haiti, buried with full military honors.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  US Marines invaded Haiti on 28-July-1915.  We occupied the country until 1934.  Haiti went through six presidents between 1911 and 1915.  The US was worried that Germany might interfere.  Some Marines were killed by snipers.  Perhaps this is a service for them. 

"Passenger train in collision with runaway oil car.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News." 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Man Ray 125 -- August 27, 2015

Artist Man Ray was born 125 years ago on 27-August-1890.  Emmanuel Radnitzky was born in Philadelphia; he became interested in art when he was young.  In 1913, he attended the Armory Show in New York, the first place most Americans saw Cubism and Futurism.  Man Ray became interested in Dada.  In 1921, he moved to Paris.

"Le Violon d'Ingres" was one of many photographs he took of his mistress and model, Kiki de Montparnasse.

He made movies as part of a movement called Cinéma Pur, which wanted films to have less plot and character and more vision and movement.


Monday, August 24, 2015

BART Embarcadero Earthquake Safety Improvements -- August 24, 2015

Last week I found that the BART station entrances on both sides of Market between Davis and Drumm were fenced off for "Earthquake Safety Improvements," intended to reduce the possibility of injuries from falling objects. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

News of the Week August 21, 1915 -- August 21, 2015

The 21-August-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Annual exhibit at Monmouth country track, Long Branch, N. J.   Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  The Monmouth County Horse Show is still held today. 

"This German shell fell in French tranches near Verdun and failed to explode.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  A dud.  A big dud. 

"Measuring the length of the girl's bathing suits, at Atlantic City, N. J.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  Lots of photos like this turned up during the summer.  

"Park Commissioner Ingersoll viewing products raised on Chicago playgrounds.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."   A predecessor of the victory garden, I guess. 

"Wreckage caused by floods at Erie, Pa.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."   Floods hit Erie around August 6. 

"Liberty Bell at San Francisco Fair.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  San Francisco school children raised money and persuaded Philadelphia to allow the Liberty Bell to travel to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Anti-Damsel Blogathon -- August 16, 2015

Exhibitor's Trade Review, 30-December-1922.
Fritzi at Movies Silently and Jo at The Last Drive In are hosting the Anti-Damsel Blogathon.  This from Fritzi: "We want bold, brave, smart women who made their mark in all walks of life."  As the proud father of a bold, brave, smart daughter who is striving to make her mark in the world, that sounds like a great idea to me.  

My entry on my other blog is about The Peerless, Fearless Girl, the first serial queen, Pearl White:

Plunder was her last American serial. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

News of the Week August 14, 1915 -- August 14, 2015

The 14-August-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Strikers at the Bayonne, N. J. plant of the Standard Oil Co. have pitched battle.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  This is probably the riot on 20-July-1915 when strikers fought Bayonne police called in by the mayor, who also worked for Standard Oil. 

"Friends mourn for dead of Eastland tragedy.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."   Last week we saw an item about SS Eastland, a tour boat in Chicago which rolled over while docked on 24-July-1915.  At least 844 passengers and crew died. 

"E. A. McManus, general manager of Hearst-Selig News Pictorial, presented with highest award for motion pictures.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."   I can't find an article about this. 

"Fatal strike battle of Standard Oil employees.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  We saw the Pathe version above.  At least one striker was killed on the 20th. 

"William Jennings Bryan on his tour of Universal City.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly." After resigning as Secretary of State, Bryan toured the country. 

"Elk's convention parade at Los Angeles, California.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  Fraternal organizations were big during this period. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Friday, August 7, 2015

News of the Week August 7, 1915 -- August 7, 2015

The 07-August-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Harry K. Thaw cheered by crowds on day he is freed.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Harry Kendall Thaw was the son of a rich industrialist.  Harry had mental problems.  On 25-June-1906 he murdered architect Stanford White, who had been involved with Evelyn Nesbit, Thaw's wife, who had been a chorus girl and a model.  Thaw's attorney had him declared legally insane, which was not a stretch.  The caption may contain a typo, or this was after Thaw's mother wanted to go with temporary insanity so the family would not be stigmatized.  We saw the Pathe version last week. 

"The rescued passengers leaving the ill-fated Eastland which sunk in Chicago river.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."   SS Eastland was a tour boat in Chicago which rolled over while docked on 24-July-1915.  At least 844 passengers and crew died. 

"Paying tribute to Lieutenant Warneford, daring aviator.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Reginald Warneford was a Royal Naval Air Service flier who brought down Zeppelin LZ 37 on 07-June-1915.  He died after a crash during a test flight on 17-June-1915.  He was buried in London on 21-June-1915. 

"Cunard Line steamer Orduna which was attacked by a German submarine.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  SS Orduna became a troop transport during the war.  While sailing to New York, she was attached by a U Boat. 

"Automobiles used to take native sons of Pennsylvania through Pittsburg.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  I can't find anything about an organization called the Native Sons of Pennsylvania. 

"Scenes of devastation caused by cyclone at Cincinnati, Ohio.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  A big storm on June 24 caused damage throughout the Midwest.  We saw the same version last week. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- 50 Years -- August 7, 2015

On this day 50 years ago, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.  The Supreme Court gutted Section 5 in 2013, and many states are working hard to disenfranchise people of color.  Congress could fix it if they didn't want to disenfranchise people of color. 

I hope people will give the Republican Party credit for its 50-years of efforts to kill or neuter the law. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Caltrans Hates Pacifica -- August 4, 2015

Monday afternoon my wife called me at work and said that Highway One was blocked after Sharp Park.  It took her an hour to get through and people were driving crazily.  She saw a school bus make a U-turn at a freeway entrance. 

When I went home, it took over two hours to go from Manor to Vallemar.  The right lane southbound was coned off just after Sharp Park.  When I went by, a crew was pouring asphalt between Vallemar and Fassler. 

A poor guy in an ice cream truck took off his seat belt, grabbed a bottle of water and poured it over his radiator grille.  I took the opportunity to move to the left lane. 

There were no policemen or Highway Patrol officers directing traffic.  They could have helped at the merge and at Edgemar where people were trying to merge in from both sides of the road. 

The work finished late last night, in part because of an accident during the day and because the asphalt trucks couldn't get through the traffic. 

Later we learned that Caltrans notified the city of Pacifica about the work Monday night, after the lane had been closed all day.  Some idiot had misplaced the email.  Caltrans planned to do a northbound lane today.  Mayor Karen Ervin persuaded them not to do it.