Friday, October 31, 2008

BB Gun

I wonder if little kids still get BB guns? When I was a kid, the biggest day in a boy's life was the day he got his first BB gun. I can remember the day I got mine. It was a Daisy, and was styled after the model 94 Winchester 30-30. I got it when I was about 7. My dad used it to teach me responsibility and gun safety. My parents told me that if I used it responsibly, and if I were a good kid in other areas, when I turned 11, I would be allowed to buy a 22, which is a real rifle. I can remember what a motivation that was for me to stay on track. Also, I can remember that few things in life I cherished more than that 22 I had to wait 4 years for.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Electonic Gadgets

This picture was taken in 1920 and shows a woman listening to a radio. It is amazing how ubiquitous electronic gadgets have now become in the home. Not only are these things pretty expensive, they periodically go out and have to be replaced. I used to to be a real gadget guy, but have tried to break free of the habit in the last few years. I will be honest and say I barely have a TV in the house. Our TV is a small 10 inch LCD screen in the kitchen. The only reason I have it is that I listen to the news and financial channel. Other than that, I would not have a TV at all. The reason is that there is nothing but junk on broadcast TV, and there is nothing interesting on Cable TV anymore. We have the dish network, and the channels that used to be good, like the History Channel, Discovery Channel, or the Learning Channel are not producing any good programming any more. Once I figure out how to get good news without a TV, I will get rid of the TV completely.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mark Twain

This is a nice old picture of Mark Twain, or Samuel Clemens. I really like the hats. I wonder when people stopped wearing hats. I can remember in the 1960's my dad wore a hat not unlike the one on the right. A fine hat was an integral part of a business suit. I think by the 1970's, I don't remember men wearing dress hats. Maybe it is just me, but I think people wearing hats were more gentlemanly, and dignified. I think it is time we bring the dress hat back, and the civility that went with it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Flying Fortress

This picture was taken in 1942 and shows a "Flying Fortress" bomber. I love the picture showing this incredible airplane silhouetted against a sunrise. Hardware like this was critical in the US victory in World War II.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Destitute Family

This picture was taken in 1936, and captures the human cost of the excesses of the 1920's, and the pain of the Great Depression. The photograph might look vaguely familiar, as the woman pictured is Florence Thompson. She was made famous by the "Migrant Mother" photograph taken by Dorothy Lange. This picture was taken at the same time, and was one of five pictures taken that day of Florence and her children. This one is much less known, but you can see it is very similar to the famous Migrant Mother photograph.

Now, I know that people have become tired of my editorial comments on the economy and the government. I know that people tune in here to see a picture from the past, and are not really interested in my opinion on world affairs. Because of this, I try and limit my editorial comments to the Sunday posting. So, today is Sunday, you have been warned, and here goes.


I am really surprised by the somewhat complacent attitude that people have towards the recent Wall Street meltdown, and collapse of many parts of our financial systems. People now clearly see that Wall Street is in trouble, but I don't think that people yet see that the next shoe to drop will be for the crisis to hit main street. As the stock values continue to slide, companies will first stop hiring, and then they will begin to lay people off. As people lose their jobs, fewer and fewer people have money to buy things. As they spend less, companies make even less money, their stocks slide further, and then more people are laid off. This is the terrible spiral we are about to enter, and it will be almost impossible to predict how far down it goes before it hits bottom. I can, however, predict how I see the crisis unfolding.
The government, and the people, now are seeing that we have a very significant problem. The approach that the government is taking, with the support of the people, is to solve the problem by throwing money at it, and moving the country to a socialistic system. For example, when the economy first started to slide, the government's first response was a stimulus package that sent money out to everyone. This was silly. We have a terrible national debt, and our economy got in trouble due to too much spending and not enough savings. So what do we do? We encourage everyone to spend more. When this did not fix the problem, and in fact made the problem worse, the next thing we did was to start bailing out companies in trouble. At the same time as we are bailing out failed companies with failed management, that same management was receiving obscene bonuses and other compensation. Now we learn that much of the $1 Trillion bailout package will be used to buy equity in the failing banks. This is by definition socialism . . . government ownership of public companies. As the financial system continues to fail, there is now talk of another stimulus package.
It is clear that our approach to the problem, which was caused by too much spending and too much credit, is to throw more money at it. Presently, our National Debt is funded primarily by foreigners. Over 60% is held by foreign entities, much of it by countries like China, which might not actually be our friends. I imagine that very soon these entities will realize that we are in danger of not being able to service our debt and deficit, and that the only way for us to continue to operate is to monetize the debt (print money to pay it off). Just as we saw panic selling in stocks recently, we will see panic selling in treasuries. The US government will no longer be able to fund its operation and debt obligations, and they will do what they have always done . . . print more money. As this happens we will experience hyperinflation at a level unseen in our history.
I believe that this will lead to a new Great Depression, and the human suffering in the new Great Depression will be far worse than the last Great Depression. The reason is that in the last depression, there was some manner of social order in the country. If a man was hungry, he might try to steal your chicken in order to feed his family. He would probably not riot, burn, and pillage a shopping center. If we look at the response of people to various events in the last few years, we see that it does not take much to set people off into rioting and pillaging mode.
So, what should we do? Well, I have more or less given up on the government doing the right thing, so I think we as individuals need to be as prepared as possible. I am not a crazy survivalist. I think it is silly to buy a generator, or store food in the back yard. I think that there are some rational things that you can do. First, as a working person, are you doing a job that is really needed by society? It is like a huge game of musical chairs . . . when the music stops, will you have a chair? I believe that in any scenario, society will need and pay nurses, teachers, policemen, and those that manufacture needed goods like food, energy, or medicine. I think that if I were a salesman at Best Buy, a car salesman, worked at a health club or other such things, I would be concerned. If you work somewhere that offers goods or services which are not absolutely necessary, I would try and retrain and find a "mission critical" job as quickly as possible. The second advice I would give is to drastically reduce spending, and if you are in debt, get out of debt as quickly as possible. Downsize in what you are spending. Save more, give more, and re-evaluate what you consider to be a necessity. I would do things now like cancel cable TV, fire the maid, stop the health club subscription, stop manicures, mow your own grass, stop buying electronic gadgets, and re-evaluate plans for your children's college . . . can they attend a local university, and live at home?
I am not trying to frighten people, but based on my analysis, I am concerned that the economy has crossed the tipping point, and things will get much worse before they get better. Be prepared, and refocus on the things that matter . . . family, faith, and friends.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mystery Guest

OK, today is Saturday, so it is the day I post a picture without saying who it is. For today, who is the person in the dark suit holding the hat? Good Luck!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Galveston Hurricane

I love this picture. It shows a small black boy sitting among the rubble of the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. This was one of the most devastating natural disasters in American History, and claimed over 8,000 lives, and destroyed the city of Galveston. With all this, the little boy manages a smile. Caption on the photo indicates that the little boy said, "I'm glad I'se living". What a wonderful picture of the indomitable American spirit.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pay Day

This picture was taken in 1940 and shows a group of workers lined up on payday to receive their checks. I can remember a long time ago having jobs where there was a payday, and you would go get your check. You would then go to the bank, cash the check, and you would have money that you would decide how to spend. I can remember feeling rich having a little money in my pocket for the things I wanted.

Now days, if you are like me, the paycheck is automatically deposited into your bank account. Then places like the phone company, gas company, water company, and other places automatically take from your account what you owe them each month. The funny thing is, it is like I never see the money. I work real hard, and just watch the money as it zips past me, running out of my account as quickly as it is running in. I have to say I liked the old way better. It felt more like I was really getting paid for my work. Payday was always a good day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Roughneck

This is a picture from 1941 showing an oilfield roughneck on a rig in the Goodrich field. The man works for the Continental oil company. A long time ago I had worked as a roughneck on an oil rig. It is a very hard job. The job was 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. To make matters harder, it was a two hour drive to the rig, and a two hour return drive. This left little time for sleep, and the work was very difficult. There was something very exciting about the roughneck life. Roughnecks are some sort of combination of cowboys and outlaws. There is definitely something very exciting about the lifestyle, and roughnecks live by their own set of rules. It is potentially one of the last remaining jobs where you do not have to be politically correct.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shoe Store

This picture was taken in Richmond Virginia in 1899. It shows a shoe store. I would guess that the shoes are probably made in the back of the store, and the store probably repairs shoes as well. I think today we don't repair shoes much anymore. Usually people just buy another pair, as the labor to fix a pair can cost as much as a new pair.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Poor Family

This picture was taken in the early 1930's and shows a poor family in the Great Depression. You really wonder how they were able to feed such a large family in such hard times. You also wonder if they set out to have such a large family, or if it just happened.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pinkertons

This photograph was made in about 1880, and shows three agents from the Pinkerton Detective Agency. The man in the middle is William Pinkerton, son of the group's founder, Allan Pinkerton. Allan Pinkerton was a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, and provided protection for the president while he was in office. Perhaps only the Texas Rangers were more feared by outlaws, bank robbers and bandits.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Who is this?

Today is Saturday, the day I post a picture, and you have to guess who it is. For today, who is the man riding in the back of the car. You should get this one, so no clues today.

Friday, October 17, 2008

P-51 Mustang

This photograph was taken in 1942 and shows a P-51 Mustang in flight. I have always found military hardware exciting. When I was a boy there was a National Guard armory near where I lived, and we always loved to drive by and look at the tanks. I always like going to the air shows, especially the ones with the Confederate Air Force, which has restored lots of old WWII airplanes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Native American Woman

This photograph is from the early 1900's, and was taken by Edward Curtis. The picture shows a very old Native American Woman. I don't have any other information on the person. It appears she is wearing a printed dress, but at the same time, is wearing what looks like a traditional cap.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Open Range

This photograph was taken in 1910, and shows a cowboy looking out on the open range. I think this way of life has pretty much vanished, as more and more ranch work is done by technology. Where I live, I do see people still wearing spurs, boots, and chaps, so there are a few real cowboys left.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

USS Galena

This is a picture of the USS Galena. The picture was taken in about 1862. The USS Galena was a state-of-the-art ironclad Warship. Creation of such ironclad ships in the Civil War changed the balance of power in the world, as it made virtually obsolete the entire British Navy, which had dominated the seas for many years.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Diamond Jim Brady

This is an interesting picture of Diamond Jim Brady. I have heard of him, but don't remember much about him. I think he was another corrupt fat cat from the early 1900's. Maybe someone can give us more information on him.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wall Street Fat Cat

This photograph was taken in 1913, and shows a Wall Street Fat Cat. Well, I sense that you all are getting tired of my ranting about the economy and the Government's feeble attempts to address the issues that are causing what is perhaps the greatest financial collapse in history. Because of this, I am trying to limit my commentary on the economy to my Sunday post. So, I have been pretty good all week to spare you my opinions, but as today is Sunday, here goes.

First off, I should say that I am not poor, and blessed enough to not be struggling financially. My family has always worked hard, been generous in our giving, responsible in our spending, and diligent in our saving. I do not resent people who have become successful by creating, building, making, or otherwise providing useful goods and services. That is the American Dream, and I am the first to congratulate those who have been able to make it big. The thing that gets me though, are the Fat Cats who amass huge fortunes by gaming the system, and providing no real value to society. When I look at the Wall Street guy above, it is as if he has some sort of smug smirk on his face. I see that same smirk on the faces of Fat Cats today, and it really, really annoys me. A case in point is the Government's recent bailout of AIG. Through gross mismanagement, AIG executives drove the company to the point of bankruptcy, while at the same time collecting huge bonuses for themselves. Rather than let the company go under, the Federal Government bailed the company out, and provided $85 Billion in financial support for the company. This was my hard earned money, your hard earned money, and the money of our children and grandchildren. After providing this emergency bailout, the executives at AIG decide to have a retreat at the posh St. Regis resort near Los Angeles. Total tab for the retreat was over $440,000. What the . . .???? We bail out AIG to the tune of $85 Billion, and then they decide to treat themselves to a little Junket to the St. Regis? The resort bill included over $23,000 in spa treatments for the executives.

My question for you is, where is the outrage? Am I the only one livid over this? I fear we are reaching the point that the voice of the common man is no longer being heard.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mystery Person

Today is Saturday, and it is the day we post a picture of a person, and you have to figure out who it is. I keep making the contest harder and harder, yet I have not been able to stump everyone yet. So, this time I will not give any clues at all. I will tell you that the picture was taken in 1913. So, who is the person in the hat?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Contraption

This picture was taken about 1911. It shows a man with some sort of contraption. I have no idea what the device is that he is holding. It appears to be some sort of precision equipment. It looks like he is holding a pocket watch in his hand, as if he is timing something. Does anyone have any idea what the device is he is working with?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Electronic Equipment

This photograph was taken in about 1911, and shows men by a table full of electronic gear. One guy is talking on the phone, and the other appears to have a headset on. I don't recognize the equipment, but wonder if it is some sort of radio device. Any ideas what the electronic equipment does?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Capitol Steps

This photograph was taken in about 1915, and shows the steps in front of the United States Capitol. I find the clothing interesting. I like the hats worn by the men and women, and the women are dressed in such regal fashion.

Lots of interesting comments on the posts from the last few days. I had no idea the picture of the rabbit would fire up such passions.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Omaha Nebraska

This photograph shows downtown Omaha, Nebraska. The picture was taken in 1938. I visited Omaha once, and thought it was a pretty nice place.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Rabbits

This photograph was taken in 1911, and shows a woman with a pet rabbit. I find the rabbit very interesting, as it is an animal on the cusp. Let me explain what I mean by that. Ages ago, society for some reason decided not to eat dogs or cats. The idea of eating a dog or cat would be repulsive and disgusting to most people. A family could be starving, and yet would not eat the family dog. However the barnyard holds two other animals, the chicken and the cow, and no one thinks twice of eating chickens or cows. So at some point, everyone agreed to eat chickens and cows, and not eat dogs and cats. Well, the rabbit is an animal that could go either way. There are a lot of people who eat rabbits, and then there are other people, like the lady above, who make pets out of rabbits. I have never eaten a rabbit, and at the same time, have never made a pet out of one.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Evicted Sharecropper

This picture was taken in 1939, and shows an evicted sharecropper. Sharecroppers worked the land, and provided a portion of the crop back to the owner of the land. If the land did not produce, the sharecropper was evicted, which is what had just happened to the poor soul pictured above. When you see pictures like this, you wonder what happened to the person the next day. Did he find food to eat? How did he support his family? Did he ever recover from this tragic event?

Anyway, it looks like congress passed the $700 Billion bailout package. Last week I had expressed my opposition to the package. Their was some lively discussion on the post, with many people expressing support for the bailout. I think we can all agree on the fact that we are facing a crisis, and I think good people can disagree on what should be done about it. To me, the whole problem stemmed from the fact that there was too much easy credit in the system, and too many people were buying houses that they could not afford. This led to artificial appreciation of house values, as their were too many "buyers" who probably should not have been in the market. People then borrowed against these inflated house prices, and that spurred large consumer spending. Now, as the bubble bursts, we have a painful process to go through as the whole thing unwinds. My problem with the bailout package is that the fundamental problem to begin with was too much easy credit, and too much free money floating around the system. As this imbalance tries to correct itself, we try and "fix" it by pumping even more money into the system. It is as if we are going to throw money at it and hope we can keep the bubble inflated. I think that is impossible . . . we should take our medicine now, and then hopefully rebuild to a more rational and balanced endpoint.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mystery Person

Today is Saturday, so it is the day I post a picture and you have to try and figure out who it is. I have not been able to stump you all yet, and each week I have made the contest harder and harder. I am always surprised how quickly the mystery gets solved.
So, for today I post the picture of a child above. The photograph was made in about 1869. The child was a sickly child, and his parents worried whether he would even live to adulthood. He had asthma so bad that he had to sleep in a chair, or propped up in bed. Much of his education was at home as his health prevented him from attending school.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Telephone Operators

This is a neat photograph of an old telephone exchange office from about 1915. The operators actually made the connections on the telephone by way of the pictured switchboards. It is amazing to consider that in the past every telephone call had to be routed manually by operators like the ones pictured above.

When I was growing up in the 1960's we had a "party line". This meant that a number of people along a road in a rural area shared the same line. The result was that only one family could use the phone at a time. If you picked the phone up, and another family was already using it, you could hear them speaking on the line. You would then hang up, and try again later to see if they were done. Sometimes when you were on the phone you would hear a click, indicating someone else on the line had picked up the phone. Usually when you heard this you would wrap the call up, freeing the line up for someone else. It is amazing how far things have come just in my lifetime.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Native American Woman

This photograph was taken in 1924, and shows a Native American woman. The picture was taken by Edward Curtis. Edward Curtis travelled the country in the late 1800's and early 1900's taking photographs of Native Americans. His work is one of the most interesting compilations of pictures of the customs and traditions of these people.

Many thanks to Gabriel G. for doing the photo restoration work and submitting this image.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mississippi in the Great Depression

This photograph was taken near Jackson, Mississippi in 1937. The woman pictured is a cotton sharecropper. The shack in the background shows the hard life and few comforts of the sharecropping life.