Tuesday, February 27, 2018

1953 Ferrari 375 America Coupe -- February 27, 2018

We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June, 2013 to drool over their collection of classic autos.

The 1953 Ferrari 375 America Coupe has a V-12 engine and a body by Vignale. (051/dsc_0177)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

George Harrison 75 -- February 25, 2018

Happy 75th birthday to the late George Harrison, who was the favorite Beatle of very few people, but those people really care.

George was the youngest Beatle and the quietest.  He wrote songs, but John Lennon and Paul McCartney never treated him as an equal.  He was a seeker.  I admired him for all that.

I heard a lot of his post-Beatles stuff on the radio and liked  it.

I was very sad when he died.  Before I started writing this, I didn't remember that it was so long ago.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Rin-Tin-Tins -- February 24, 2018

Motion Picture Magazine, June, 1927
In honor of the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Dog, here is Rin-Tin-Tin, the biggest dog star of all.  Lee Duncan, an American soldier who loved dogs, found Rinty and his sister with their dying mother in a damaged German kennel.  Duncan tried to bring the puppies to America, but the female died.  Duncan trained Rinty and got him into the movies, where he showed great natural talent.

This item shows Rinty, his mate Nanette, and five of their puppies.

The San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade is tonight. The parade has taken place since the 1860s.


Friday, February 23, 2018

WEB DuBois 150 -- February 23, 2018

WEB DuBois, the smartest perspn in the room whatever room he entered, was born 150 years ago today, on 23-February-1868.  He was a founder of the NAACP and edited The Crisis for many years.  He fought for equality and against racism and lynching.  He attended the San Francisco conference that created the United Nations.

I don't think I ever heard his name spoken in high school and probably not in college.  In fact, I thought it was pronounced in the French manner until I heard someone talking about  him on the radio years later.  I read The Souls of Black Folk about 25 years ago and found it moving.  I still have to read Black Reconstruction.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Happy Birthday, President Washington, 2018 -- February 22, 2018

Liberty, 21-February-1925
James Flexner was right when he called George Washington the Indispensable Man.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

George Wright -- February 21, 2018

Spalding's Base Ball Guide and Official League Book for 1879
George Wright was the shortstop and star player on the first openly professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings.  When the Cincinnati team broke up, he moved with his older brother Harry to the Boston Red Stockings. Harry managed and George continued to star. The team played in the National Association and then the new National League when it started in 1876.  George joined the new Providence Grays as manager in 1878.

In 1874, in a 70-game National Association season, he hit 41 triples.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Happy Presidents' Day 2018 -- February 19, 2018

James Monroe was our fifth president.  He served our country as soldier, diplomat, Secretary of State, Secretary of War and President.

"To impose taxes when the public exigencies require them is an obligation of the most sacred character, especially with a free people."  Many people no longer believe this.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Lufbery Now in U.S. Army -- February 18, 2018

Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, 18-February-1918
100 years ago today, on 18-February-1918, the French Escadrille Lafayette, a squadron of American fliers, disbanded and its members transferred to the US Air Service's 103rd Aero Squadron (Pursuit).

Raoul Lufbery was born in France, but his father was American.  He had 16 confirmed victories while flying for the French and one more for the Americans.  He died in battle on 19-May-1918.  

Saturday, February 17, 2018

July Fourth 1934 -- February 17, 2018

JC Leyendecker created this fantastic cover for the 07-July-1934 Saturday Evening Post.  Some people seem to feel that images of Lady Liberty are insulting to our so-called president.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Strongheart -- February 16, 2018

Motion Picture News, 26-August-1922
In honor of the beginning of Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dog, here is Strongheart, the Wonder-Dog. Strongheart was born in Germany and trained to work for the police and the Red Cross during World War One.  After the war, the dog's owner could not afford to keep him, so he placed him with a kennel in the United States.  Director Lawrence Trimble saw Strongheart and persuaded screenwriter Jane Murfin to purchase him.  Trimble trained Strongheart and directed him in four movies.  Strongheart got burned by a studio light in 1929 and died from a tumor caused by the burn.  Strongheart was one of the first dogs to star in a movie.  

Trimble and Murfin co-directed Brawn of the North.

If you were born in 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 or 2006, then it is your year.  Or if you're a dog. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Mardi Gras at New Orleans -- February 13, 2018

Sisterville, West Virginia Daily Oil Review, 19-January-1903
Happy Mardi Gras, everyone.  The Illinois Central Railroad invited people to take their special "Tour Service" to New Orleans for Mardi Gras season in 1903.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Fourth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon -- February 12, 2018

Lea at Silent-ology is hosting the Fourth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon: https://silentology.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/the-fourth-annual-buster-keaton-blogathon/

My entry for the blogathon is on my movies-mostly blog, The Big V Riot Squad:
Buster Keaton Goes to War:

I write about Buster Keaton's time in the US Army and its effect on his films.

Happy Birthday, President Lincoln -- February 12, 2018

Saturday Evening Post, 12-February-1938
Today is Abraham Lincoln's 209th birthday. My favorite president.  JC Leyendecker created the magazine cover.  

If only our current so-called president could believe these words: "with malice towards none, with charity towards all."  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

War Aces -- February 11, 2018

This cover of War Aces features the logos of various American Air Service squadrons.

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Race to Santa Cruz -- February 9, 2018

San Francisco Call, 28-June-1895
The drawing is from the 28-June-1895 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper.  John D Spreckels was a San Francisco capitalist.  Captain William Matson named his daughter Lurline after the yacht.  Later the Matson Navigation Company named three ocean liners after Lurline Matson Roth.  


Big Regatta Under the Auspices of the Pacific Yacht Club.


The Glorious Fourth to Be Royally Celebrated at the City by the Sea.

Arrangements for the cruise of the Pacific Yacht Club and the spending of the Fourth of July at Santa Cruz have all been completed except to measure the boats and classify them. Commodore Caduc of the Pacifics has been at work to make the ocean race one of the events of the yachting season, and success has crowned his efforts. Nearly all of the large craft in the bay will go, and the sport promises to be merry from here to the City by the Sea.

Before Commodore Caduc's plans were perfected, many of the other clubs had made different arrangements for spending the Fourth, but the commodores entered heartily into the proposition, and lent what assistance they could. Among the vessels which have been entered and all of which are almost certain to go, are the Annie, flagship of the Pacifics, Commodore Caduc; Lurline, ex-Commodore John D. Spreckels of the Pacifies; Rover, Commodore Bruce of the Californias; Whirlwind, Admiral von Schmidt; Idler, Captain J. C. Wilson; schooner La Paloma, Captain E. G. Carrera; Nellie, Captain Dave Dean; Ripple, Captain Harry Goodall; Grade, Captain Hill; Lily L, Captain Donald Ross, and the pilot-boat Gracie S.

Besides this fleet a number of other boats have been promised, but as they have not been entered they are not counted upon. The Oakland Canoe Club was also to have participated in the festivities at Santa Cruz, but the burning of the clubhouse and the destruction of a number of the small craft have made this impossible.

It was at first proposed to have the yachts towed out of the bay until they caught the wind. John D. Spreckels, however, proposed to make it a beat down the bay from the foot of Powell street, where the time would be taken. The proposition was hailed with favor by all the participants, and Commodore Caduc readily assented to the change. This will add to the interest of the race, for it is more than probable that the run down to Santa Cruz from the heads will be before the wind, and the beat out will be the only chance given for windward work. The start will be made at 5:30 o'clock on Tuesday morning, and if there is no wind the original plan of towing will be adhered to.

The yachts will be divided into classes, according to their sailing length, and the start will be made by gun-fire. With a good breeze blowing the start should make a pretty sight, but there will probably be few up to see it. The yachtsmen will sleep aboard their yachts all night on the 1st, so that there will be no delay getting under way.

In the first class it is expected that the fleet Lurline will lead the way, but Donald Ross promises to give her a pretty good chase with the Lily L. The latter was once a famous sealer and boasted of great speed when Uncle Sam's revenue cutters were in her wake. The Lurline is the fastest yacht on the bay, although the Annie, with a liberal time allowance, came very near beating her once. She will be handled by Mr. Spreckels, and her old sailing master, Alec Svenson, will go along for the fun of the thing.

The craft which is likely to give the Lurline the hardest race she has ever had will be the pilot-boat Gracie S. The latter is the especial pride of the pilots and has been cracked up to the skies as a racer. That she is a swift boat cannot be denied, for she has outsailed the pilot fleet many times. She was built for speed as well as endurance, and is hardly to be classed as a pleasure boat, but the yacht-owners have no objections to her and she will race for all that is in her.

It was at first intended to have a regatta from Santa Cruz to Monterey, but the pleasure there will be confined to sailing and receptions on the yachts.

How long it will take to reach Santa Cruz depends on the weather.

The glorious Fourth will be observed in regal style. All day long the yachts will be thrown open to visitors and at night the craft will be illuminated and from every deck there will be a gorgeous display of fireworks.

A number of the yachtsmen favored racing home, but as some of the others could not spare the time the idea was abandoned. It is over twelve years since such a big gathering of white-winged craft has been seen in Santa Cruz, and the event promises to be a memorable one in the history of yachting.

San Francisco Call, 28-June-1895
Here is an account of the actual race:

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Learning How to Handle the Sausage Balloon - February 7, 2018

Bemidji Daily Pioneer, 30-January-1918
Sausage balloons were used to observe across enemy lines and give feedback to artillery batteries to help guide their shots.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Reminiscences of Emperor Norton -- February 6, 2018

Overland Monthly, December, 1918
I missed the 200th birthday of Joshua Norton, who is better known as Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.  He was born, most likely, on 04-February-1818 in London.  This article, from the December, 1918 Overland Monthly, is by Dorothy Miller.  Most sources agree that it was an unsuccessful attempt to corner the rice market that sent him off the deep end, rather than one of the great fires.  

Reminiscences of Emperor Norton

By Dorothy Miller

In all her varied history San Francisco has provided no stranger character to entertain the succeeding generations than that of Emperor Norton -- that odd citizen who at one time was a familiar figure along the thriving city's principal thoroughfares. 

The many stories of Emperor Norton, his antecedents, his career before the light of reason was darkened in his mind, would fill a good-sized volume, and though he has passed away for these many years, there are any number of living San Franciscans and Californians who well remember his unique figure as an every day sight on Montgomery and other down-town streets.

Before the big fire of 1851 Emperor Norton was a prosperous merchant of the bustling young city and numbered his friends in all walks of life. The shock of the complete loss of his fortune in the fire which wiped the town out of existence, but which could not erase San Francisco from the map, affected Norton to such an extent that his mind gradually began to fail, until a few years later he was hopelessly insane. Not being of the dangerous variety, he was allowed his liberty, and as his hallucinations made him believe that he was the emperor of the United States and Mexico, his friends humored him to an extent which the modern world would call impractical and foolish. However, in those days sentimental reason played a larger part in the community life than it does now and Emperor Norton was not only allowed the freedom of the town, but provided with everything he needed free of cost.

The Emperor was in the habit of going about dressed in a semi-regal or military suit, epaulets on his shoulders, a cockade in his high silk hat and a sword at his left side—later on he abandoned the sword and carried a heavy cane. Emperor Norton, carrying his mental picture of a national Nortonian government, issued paper money in his name, and was very lavish in spending this currency. Whenever he wished an article of clothing or a meal or anything else that struck his fancy, he walked into the establishment and demanded whatever he wished. The merchants of old San Francisco allowed Emperor Norton to play his part until death relieved them of their odd charge, and to their credit be it said that not one of them ever by word or deed did anything which would give the make-believe sovereign an inkling of the true status of affairs.

Emperor Norton had a few imitators it is said, but they were not given the consideration he was, and they soon faded from public view.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Stephen W Thompson -- February 5, 2018

100 years ago today, Lieutenant Stephen W Thompson (no relation) replaced an observer/gunner in a French bombing squadron.  He shot down a German airplane and scored the first aerial victory by a member of the US military.  He was probably not flying in a Caudron G.3, but I like the photo.  

El Paso Herald, 08-February-1918

Gets German Plane First Time.

The American lieutenant who had the honor of shooting down his first German airplane while accompanying a French escadrille on a bombing expedition Tuesday night, had never operated a machine gun before while in-flight and never before had been over the enemy lines. He got his man over the German city of Saarburg.

The bombing squadron was over Saarburg and in the act of dropping bombs when enemy airplanes were seen approaching rapidly. By the time the bomb dropping had been completed the enemy was close at hand and the French formation, which this American and another American aviator had accompanied as gunners, was at an altitude of 11,000 feet.

Late In Action But Wins.

The lieutenant, who is a Missourian, took off his gloves so that he might operate his machine gun more effectively when he saw an enemy plane driving in from the side and firing its gun. The bullets whizzed close to the French machine before the American acting as gunner could get his piece into action. Then he turned a stream of bullets into the enemy and before the first drum was exhausted the enemy machine toppled and started to spiral. Then it flopped and fluttered down with a flare of smoke and flame in its wake. It crashed to the ground a short distance from the German city.

Other Officer Less Fortunate.

The other American aviator, also a lieutenant was not so lucky as the Missourian for the machine he picked out to engage dodged away quickly and he was unable to get in any effective shots.

When the squadron returned, the Missouri lieutenant's hands were swollen to twice their normal size from the cold, he having lost his gloves during the encounter. Otherwise he is just about the happiest officer in the American expeditionary force. He has been in France only a short time.

El Paso Herald, 09-February-1918

Lieutenant Who Shoots Down Enemy Machine Is From San Marcos, Tex.

San Marcos, Texas. Feb. 9. -- The American lieutenant from Missouri, mentioned in the Associated Press story from the American front yesterday as having brought down a German machine on his first night, was identified today as Lieut. Stephen Thompson, son of N. S. Thompson, of San Marcos. Mrs. Thompson received this information In a cablegram today.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Twin Peaks Tunnel 100 -- February 3, 2018

Omaha Daily Bee, 09-February-1918
One hundred years ago today, on 03-February-1918, San Francisco's Twin Peaks Tunnel, which connected the Castro neighborhood with the new West Portal neighborhood, allowing streetcars from the western part of the city to get downtown much faster than they had before, opened for service.  I enjoy riding through the tunnel.  I always remember the smell. Today is also the 100th birthday of Muni's K-Ingleside line.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Great Referee Hands Final Count to John L Sullivan -- February 2, 2018

Washington Times, 03-February-1918
John L Sullivan, the Boston Strong Boy, the last bare knuckle boxing champ under the London Prize Ring Rules and the first gloved champion under the Marquess of Queensberry Rules, died 100 years ago today, on 02-February-1918.  General Nelson A Miles had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  

Sullivan's 08-July-1889 fight against Jake Kilrain was the last bare knuckle heavyweight championship fight:

Great Referee Hands Final Count to John L. Sullivan

America's grandest and greatest knight of the roped arena was counted out yesterday for the last time by the Great Referee. John L. Sullivan, formerly the heavy-weight boxer, died at his home at Abingdon, Mass., shortly after the noon hour. He was taken ill with heart trouble three weeks ago and it was this disease that finally put over the K. O. punch on the veteran champion.

John Lawrence Sullivan, who was 59 years old, was the most widely known Bostonian of the last 35 years. "Boston Strong Boy," champion of the world, actor, author, gentleman farmer and temperance lecturer he lived through a career full of the adoration of the crowd and the popularity that came with spectacular success.

He made his first ring appearances in Boston in 1878 and 1879 when, the record books state, he boxed in strictly local bouts.

He learned the plumber's trade and boxing was a side issue. So great was his success in the ring, however, that he soon gave up the soldering iron and became an out-and-out pugilist.

His career was a series of knock-outs from that time until, by defeating Paddy Ryan at Mississippi City on February 7, 1882. he became heavy-weight champion of the United States. This was a bare-fist fight for $5,000 a side. It went nine rounds and Sullivan emerged destined to the most spectacular boxing career anyone has ever known.

Sullivan began at once a triumphal tour or the world that included victories over all comers and which lasted for nearly ten years. His most important fights during that time were the Charley Mitchell draw in Chantilly, France and the famous Jake Killrain battle at Richburg, Miss., July 8. 1889.

The Kilrain bout at bare knuckles lasted seventy-five rounds, Sullivan winning the fight and the side bet of $10,000 which made the battle a sensation of the era from a financial standpoint.

In the arena of the Olympic Club, New Orleans. La., September 7, 1892, John L. Sullivan met his Waterloo, being knocked out by Corbett in the twenty-first round. The fight was for the largest sum ever known, a purse of $25,000, and a side bet of $10,000. Seven thousand people witnessed this great fistic battle, and the excitement and enthusiasm reached fever heat. It was a triumph of youth, agility and skill over advancing years, over-confidence and strength. It was a victory of mind over matter.

Sullivan was seconded by Charles Johnson and Jack McAuliffe, with Frank Moran as timekeeper. The men who stood behind Corbett were: Prof. John Donaldson and Billy Delaney. Bat Masterson was his timekeeper and Philip Dwyer, the turfman, was final stakeholder. Promptly at 9 o'clock the two principals shook bands, and, after a moment's parleying regarding the rules, prepared for hostilities. The battle began at 9:05 o'clock.

For the first round Corbett adopted dodging tactics, and the crowd yelled at him. After this round, and in the rounds which followed, he took the initiative and forced the fighting. As the battle proceeded it was seen that Sullivan was being beaten and a great feeling, of sympathy went up for the man who had held the championship so long.

He struggled manfully to rush down his young opponent, but Corbett's telling blows dazed and bewildered him, and when time was called for the twenty-first round, the Californian rushed in and planted blow after blow on Sullivan's face and neck. The latter backed away, trying to save himself, but Corbett was close upon him, and when bleeding and exhausted, with glassy eyes and trembling limbs, he lowered his guard from sheer exhaustion, the young Californian shot his right across the champion's jaw and he fell like an ox.

When finally he arose bruised and bleeding and staggering to the ropes, moved his battered and swollen lips, there issued these words in a tone hoarse with chagrin and weakness:

"It's the old, old story. I am like the pitcher that went to the well once too often." His voice broke, and gulping down a sob he continued: "I can only say that I am glad that I have been beaten by an American."

He continued, however, in the limelight up until the time of his death as a stage figure and after his victory over the Barleycorn champion, as a temperance advocate of imposing presence and convincing style of argument.

Sullivan's gruffness, his brusque manner and his towering figure made him the center of attraction wherever he went. His philosophy was straight and to the point and his manner of speaking as devoid of camouflage as his fighting style had been.

Sullivan's battle with John Barleycorn was by far the most spectacular of his eventful career in which venture, however, he was not a great success, his good fellowship and his wide circle of "friends" keeping him on the ropes continually.

His advent on the temperance lecture stage brought about a famous incident in which Gen. Nelson A. Miles refused to appear with him as a speaker at the same meeting. Sullivan met the rebuff with good natural bantering and the remark that the only difference between he and Miles as a fighter was that he started as a plumber and the General began life as a ribbon clerk and that he, Sullivan, was far more familiar with the Declaration of Independence.

A few years ago after a long time spent partly upon the stage, in writing various editions of his memoirs and as sporting editor of various big newspapers, he retired to North Abington and began farming on a "scientific basis" -- that he became a gentleman farmer, gathered a few friends about him and could be found in the summer sitting on a wide veranda recounting stories of his long, eventful life and dispensing sermons to all who might feel in need of a spiritual "reviving."

Sullivan Most Honest Man of Ring -- Corbett

New York. Feb. 2. -- "What!" exclaimed James J. Corbett when the news of Sullivan's death was carried to him. After a pause of a few moments he pulled himself together.

"I suppose you want some expression from me. Well, tell them that I was too badly shocked to say anything.

"This seems almost too much for me," said Corbett, mopping his face as though making an effort to start the next round. "It is only a few months ago that you came to me with the same news of Bob Fitzsimmons. Let's see, what did I tell you then?

"Well, John L Sullivan was the greatest of all fighters in his day. The world will bear me out in that statement He not only was a great fighter, but he was the fairest man who ever crawled through the ropes. He played the game because he loved it. He told me that and he loved to be honest.

"I can honestly say he was the best man and the more admired of the heavy-weight fighters. In his day he could have bested any man. Even though I won the championship from Sullivan I could never have won nor no man could have won had I faced him in his prime.

"His fairness in the ring and his true sportsmanship made him the most loved of all in the ring, not only by the fans, but by the men he fought as well. While every man that faced him was afraid of his mighty right, and I include myself, we loved to fight a square man."

Ten Years Since John L Appeared in This City

It was with deep regret that John L. Sullivan's many friends here heard the announcement of his death at his home in Abington yesterday. Sullivan's last appearance here was in the week of September 16, 1907. when he gave his athletic act in conjunction with Billy Arlington's Golden Crooks Company at the Gayety Theater. "Diamond" Frank Hall was at that time managing Sullivan's affairs. The act was featured with a four-round bout between Sullivan and Jake Kilrain, the one-time hated rival of the grand old man of the game.

Washington Times, 15-September-1907

Happy Groundhog Day 2018 -- February 2, 2018

Happy Groundhog Day, everyone.  This groundhog does not look very happy.  For some reason he reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Penn Central 50 Years -- February 1, 1968

50 years ago today, on 01-February-1968, The Penn Central Transportation Company began operations.  Railroads in the Northeast were doing badly.  The Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central had been powerful corporations.  They merged together with the New York, New Haven and Hartford, which was bankrupt.  The cultures of the Pennsylvania and the Central did not go well together.  The railroad went bankrupt in 1970.