Monday, June 30, 2008

Bows and Arrows

This photograph shows Native Americans, with bows and arrows pointed skyward. This is part of the Atsina Crazy Dance. The picture was taken in 1908 by Edward Curtis.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Prize Fighter

This is a photograph of John Sullivan, a prize fighter of the late 1800's. He was one of the last heavyweight champions of bare-knuckle boxing. This photo was taken in 1898.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cotton Pickers

This photograph was taken in the 1910's, and shows children picking cotton in a field. Cotton picking was very hard work, and some of these children look like they are no older that 6 or 7, and are working in the field barefoot.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Old Black Man

This picture was taken on the porch of a general store near Jeanerette, Louisiana. It was taken in 1938 by Russell Lee. During the Great Depression, the government wanted to document the suffering going on across the country, and hired a group of photographers to travel the rural areas of the Nation, taking pictures of everyday people. This work was done through the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Russell Lee was one of the photographers doing this work. Another was Dorothea Lange, who took the famous picture of the woman holding the baby.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Belleau France

This is a photograph of the village of Belleau, France, shortly after the Battle of Belleau Woods in World War I. This battle was one of the bloodiest for American Forces in the war. During one of the fiercest parts of the battle, French forces urged the American Marines to withdraw, to which one of the Marines gave the now-famous line, "Retreat, Hell, we just got here."
American forces won the Battle of Belleau on this day, June 26, in the year 1918.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

General George Armstrong Custer

Today we feature a portrait of George Armstrong Custer. Custer graduated last in his West Point class of 1861. He was a flamboyant cavalry commander in the Civil War. He had a rather undistinguished career in the war, but did manage to get his picture taken a lot, and did manage to get lots of coverage in the newspapers. He was known as a risk taker . . . to the point of being reckless.
After the war he became an Indian fighter, and many felt he had an eye on the whitehouse, and that he felt that high profile campaigns against the Indians would be his ticket to the presidency.
It was on this day, June 25, in the year 1876, that Custer and his 7th cavalry attacked an encampment of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians. The Indians were led by the legendary Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. Custer and all his men were killed, in what became known as "Custer's Last Stand", or, "The Battle of Little Big Horn".

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford

This photograph shows Movie Stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. It was on this day, June 24, in the year 1916 that Mary Pickford became the first woman to get a Million Dollar contract in Hollywood.
Personally, I think that movie stars get paid too much. I think firemen, math teachers, soldiers, and nurses all deserve to make more than movie stars.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Rope Trick

This photograph was taken in 1905. It shows a cowboy in camp, entertaining his friends with rope tricks. The picture was taken some where in Oklahoma.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Princess of Thieves

This is a picture of Mary Fergusson, aka "Annie Grant" and sometimes "Annie Gleeson. Mary was a notorious Detroit badger, shoplifter, pickpocket, and pennyweighter. She was very successful in these arts of theft, and she was known for the conspicuous gowns, hats, and shoes she always wore. In 1905 she tried to steal a string of costly pearls from the Christie's Auction House in London. She appeared at the Auction House richly clothed, and appearing to be a person of great wealth. While inspecting the pearls, she swapped them for a string of fake pearls she had brought in. The tag on the fake pearls was not a good match, and she was caught as she was leaving the building. She was convicted, and sentenced to three years in prison. She served her term, but then continued her life of crime. Her many high profile thefts in the early 1900's led her to be dubbed by police, "The Princess of Thieves".

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nazareth Street Scene

This is a street scene in Nazareth from the 1930's. I have never had a chance to visit the Holy Lands, but have always wanted to. I wonder how much things have changed since this picture was taken.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Abandoned Farm

This photograph shows an abandoned farmhouse near Quincy, Washington. It was taken in 1939 by Dorothea Lange. The picture shows the hard times on Farms in the United States during the Great Depression.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Emperor Maximilian of Mexico

This is a photograph of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico. During the American Civil War, when the US was tied up with problems on the home front, France decided it would be a good time to invade Mexico. They sent in troops, took over the country, and then in May of 1864, installed this guy, Maximilian, as Emperor.

Many Mexicans opposed this, as you might imagine, and a revolutionary movement was led by Benito Juarez. At the close of the Civil War, the United States began to supply Benito Juarez and his fighters with arms and other supplies. In 1867 Juarez was able to capture Maximilian. He received a fair trial, and then was executed by firing squad on this day, June 19, in the year 1867. He bribed the firing squad to not shoot him in the head. It is reported that they took the bribe, but shot him in the head anyway. His last words? . . . Viva Mexico, which seems a little odd, given the circumstances. Anyway, the Firing Squad is pictured below.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Finest Hour

This photograph shows Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain. It was on this day, June 18, in the year 1940 that Churchill gave his famous "Finest Hour" speech. An excerpt from the speech is presented below:

"The Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.' "

Sometimes I worry that politicians of today are just not up for the task at hand. We need men like Churchill and Truman.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Statue of Liberty

This is an interesting photograph, which shows workers constructing the Statue of Liberty. The picture was taken in France in about 1883. The men are in Bartholdi's Parisian warehouse workshop.
It was on this day in 1885 that the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Model T Ford

The Ford Motor Company was incorporated on this day, June 16, in the year 1903. In celebration of this, we feature this photograph of the Model T. Ford . . . the car that put America on Wheels.
Prior to the Model T, cars were very expensive, and few could afford them. Henry Ford thought that everyone should have a car, so he revolutionized automobile manufacturing by introducing the assembly line, and other techniques that allowed for the affordable manufacture of quality cars. A Model T could be purchased for $300, putting it within the budget of most people. There were no options, and few choices. Henry Ford once said, "You can have any color car you want, as long as it is black."
The Model T was a really interesting car. For many years, the gas tank was under the front seat. Filling up with gas meant that everyone had to get out of the car, and the seat had to be taken out, in order to get to the gas tank. The car did not have a fuel pump. If you tried to drive up a steep hill, the car would be tilted to the point that the gas tank was below the carburetor, and the gas would not flow to the engine, and the engine would die. There was a solution though . . . you could go up steep hills backwards (in reverse), which would keep the gas tank above the carburetor.
Another interesting thing about the car is that it had to be crank started. It is true that later versions of the Model T had a battery and starter, but battery technology was not very good back then, so even in these later models, most people still had to use the crank to start the car. The crank was connected to the engine by a ratchet mechanism. When you turned the crank, it turned the engine. When the engine started, the ratchet would disengage the crank. The only problem was that if the car happened to backfire (which was common) while the person was cranking the car, the engine would violently spin the crank backwards, usually breaking the operators wrist and arm in at least three places. There was a very specific way you could hold the crank to ensure that if you did get a backfire, the crank would pull out of your hand, instead of twisting your arm around. The key was to NOT wrap your thumb around the crank handle.
The Model T was operated by 3 foot pedals. The one on the right was the brake. The brake technology was very poor in these cars, so the brake pedal was just about useless in most cases. The middle pedal put the car in reverse. In other words, engaging the middle foot pedal made the car drive in reverse. People would use the reverse pedal as the brake . . . slightly engaging the reverse pedal would act as a brake. The pedal on the left made the car move forward. Pressing it all the way in put the car in 1st gear. Pressing the pedal half way in was neutral, allowing you to bring the car to a stop. If the pedal was not engaged, the car was in high gear. (The model T had two forward gears, high and low).
The accelerator was a lever on the steering wheel, coming out to the right. The steering wheel had a second lever, coming out to the left, which was the spark advance. To control the speed of the car, you had to coordinate the position of the accelerator and the spark advance in tandem.
The car had no side windows, but did have a front windshield. The windshield wiper had to be moved back and forth by hand via a lever inside the car. (You really needed three hands to effectively drive a Model T in the rain, as your hands were needed for the accelerator, spark advance, steering, and the windshield wiper)
For all these interesting quirks, it still amazes me how many similarities there are with modern cars. While cars have gotten sleeker and fancier, most of the basic systems are very simmilar.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Telegraph Wagon

This photograph was taken at the Siege of Petersburg in the Civil War. It shows a military telegraph wagon used by Union troops in the area. Tents in a military camp can be seen in the background. Interesting to note the "ghost like" figure in the left of the photograph. I assume this was due to an accidental double exposure. It was on this day, June 15, in the year 1864, that the Siege of Petersburg began.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Old Glory

Today, June 14, is flag day, which we celebrate with the above photograph. The picture was taken in 1942 during World War II. It shows a fighter on the deck of an aircraft carrier, with Old Glory flying in the foreground.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Gold Rush

This photograph was taken in about 1897, and shows prospectors in the Yukon Gold Rush. It was also known as the "Klondike Gold Rush", and occurred near Dawson City. A few people got very rich, but, most lost everything. I think the people selling picks, shovels, and supplies to the prospectors probably did pretty well.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Army Nurses

This photograph was taken in 1942. It shows nurses training for Gas Warfare. While the women are pictured in a training exercise, and not an actual gas attack, I always thought that this photograph had sort of an eerie apocalyptic look to it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Segragation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segragation Forever

It was on this day, June 11, in the year 1963 that democratic governor George Wallace stood in front of the Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama, refusing to allow entrance to two black students that had been admitted to the school. This became known as the "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door." After being confronted by federal marshals, the Deputy Attorney General, and the National Guard, Wallace stood aside.

Later in life, Wallace actually had a change of heart, and apologized for his rhetoric and actions that day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wailing Wall

This picture was taken in 1908, and shows two men and two women praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. It was on this day in 1967 that the Six Day War ended, with Israel gaining control of the Wailing Wall and other parts of Jerusalem.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Black Hills

This picture was taken in 1890, and shows an old locomotive going through the Black Hills in the Dakota Territory. It must have been exciting back in those days to take such a train trip.

There is still an authentic Narrow Gauge Railroad that runs from Durango Colorado to Silverton. It is an incredible ride that really takes you back in time. If you ever get a chance to take this ride, it is something you will not want to miss.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Crimean War

This photograph was taken in 1855 and shows soldiers in the Crimean War. The Crimean War was fought between 1853 and 1856. The fight was between Russia, and an alliance of France, Britain, Sardinia, and the Ottoman Empire. Most of the conflict took place around Turkey and the Baltic Sea. The conflict can be traced to disagreements over authority over the Holy Lands.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Life Boat

This photograph was taken in 1943 and shows men bailing out a lifeboat. The men are actually cadets at the Merchant Marine basic training school in San Mateo, California. I like the picture because it shows how life can be on many days . . . the water coming in faster than you can bail it out.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Eskimo Family

This photograph shows an Eskimo Family. The picture was made in 1929 by Edward Curtis. I wish I knew more about the history of these indigenous people.
I wonder if there are any Eskimos still living the traditional lifestyle in Igloos, or have all these people moved into modern lifestyles?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wright Brothers

This photograph was taken in 1911. It shows a view of the Wright Brothers' Airplane. It is amazing how far aviation has come in the last 100 years.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Etta Place

Today we feature a portrait of Etta Place, who was a long time friend and companion of Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, AKA, "The Sundance Kid". She was also friends with Butch Cassidy, and other members of the Wild Bunch. She mysteriously disappeared after the death of Butch and Harry in South America. Some believe she returned to the United States, and lived out her life under an assumed name. Then again, there are some that believe that Butch and Harry did not really die in South America, but staged their death, and also returned to the United States, and lived out the remainder of their lives in anonymity.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cold Harbor

Today's picture shows General Ulysses S. Grant in camp at Cold Harbor. It was on this day, June 3, in the year 1864 that the Battle of Cold Harbor was fought. Union casualties were more than 8,000 men in one two hour period. Interesting that Lincoln lost more men in 5 hours at Cold Harbor than have been lost in 5 years in Iraq. This is not intended to be a political point, just a statement of fact . . . the carnage in the Civil War is almost unimaginable by today's standards.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Indian Dancers

This photograph was taken in 1914 by Edward Curtis. He called the picture, "Dancing to restore an eclipsed moon". The picture shows Kwakiutl people dancing in a circle around a smoking fire, in an effort to cause a sky creature, which they believe swallowed the moon, to restore it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Drought Farmers

This photograph was taken in 1936 during the dust bowl. It shows farmers in town discussing the situation. Lack of rain prevented planting or harvesting of crops. The picture was taken by Dorothea Lange, who took many captivating pictures of the dust bowl while working for the FSA.