Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mystery Person

This weeks contest is now underway. Who is the man on the right.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rural Mail Service

Today's picture shows a rural mail delivery service. The picture was taken in 1914. I have said it before, I will say it again. There is something very appealing about the slower pace of the early last century. Also, I noticed that most of the people that had something nice to say about the post office this week were from rural areas. I agree . . . we live in a rural area, and the postman lady is very nice and goes out of her way to be helpful.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Old Post Office

This week is really flying by, and it is Thursday all ready. That means we just about have made it to the weekend. I am looking forward to resting up this weekend.


Today's picture is from 1918, and shows a woman in the Post Office. I really like the old style wood counter. Today everything is metal, Formica or other manufactured material. I really miss the old style woodwork like in this picture.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Postmen on Scooters

OK, we got lots of great comments yesterday. Nothing like talking a little trash about the Post Office to get people wound up and posting comments. I enjoyed reading your stories. Today's picture is from about 1915, and shows Postmen on motorized scooters. At first, I thought they must be electric scooters, but on further examination, I don't see anything large enough to be a battery, so I have decided they are probably small gas engines. Batteries were pretty inefficient at that time, and the battery would have needed to be pretty big.

Since everyone was telling their post office stories yesterday, I thought I would throw one in. As I have mentioned before, we home schooled our daughter k-12. When she was in 1st and 2nd grade we had a lot of fun. Her home school group would go on lots of field trips. The kids LOVED the field trips and got to go see lots of neat things. They went to places like the fire station, the police station, the hospital, the TV station and the National Guard armory. In all cases, the people were extra nice, and really showed the kids the inside workings of wherever they visited. So, they would get to sit inside the news helicopter, operate a camera, or turn the siren on on a fire truck. These field trips were always the high point of the kids week, and people really were nice to show the kids neat things. Well, there was one field trip that did not go well. Her group took a tour of the post office. The person giving the tour was very nice. She took the kids back into the post office, showed them where the mail came in, showed them where the mail was sorted, and then showed them how it was delivered. So, the person was nice enough. However, when the kids got back home, all of them started crying, and started having nightmares about the post office. I found that interesting, because you would think that all the other things that they had seen at the other places could have been much more disturbing than the post office . . . I had thought the post office would be about as benign as you could get. Well, I guess when they were in the post office, the lady showed them the warehouse sized room where they sorted the mail. She showed that the upper part of the large room had two way mirrors, and told them that behind the mirrors were people who watched the workers to make sure they did not steal anything, and made sure they kept working the whole time. Then she talked about how the mail just kept coming and coming and coming, and they had to get it moved through before even more mail came. As an adult I did not think much about it, but all the kids came away very disturbed. Again, it was not just my daughter, but it was all the kids that went on the tour. I then started to remember all the stories about shootings at the post office, and other problems that had occurred. Perhaps there is a really bad social environment inside the post office, and the kids picked up on it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Early Air Mail

This picture was taken in 1938, and shows the Post Office's early investigation of shuttle air mail service. The picture shows the use of a gyro-copter to shuttle mail between the Washington DC post office, and the Washington airport. The gyro-copter could take off and land in short distances, and it was hoped it could make short-hop airmail service feasible. I guess the idea never really took hold.

I find it interesting to read the comments this week on the frustration people have with the post office. In my last job, where I had a high-tech start up company, I found it interesting to observe the difference between the service of Fed-Ex and the post office. The Fed-Ex truck would show up right on time. Once the truck stopped, the guy would literally jump out with the package, and RUN to our door. When he came in you noticed that he was dressed in neat, new, pressed shorts and pressed shirt. He was trim, and always had a neat, short haircut. He was courteous, and businesslike. He would greet us, deliver the package, and then RUN back to his truck. On the other hand, the post office guy would show up later than advertised. He had clothes that did not fit, his shirt tail was out, he had shaggy hair, and the front of his shirt was covered with mustard and ketchup from his extra long lunch break. He wandered around the building a little before finally coming around with our package, and then would tell us something that was wrong about the way we were using the post office. Interesting, I am not describing two people, but two organizations . . . all the Fed Ex guys were like the one I describe above, and all the Post Office guys were like the one described above. It is interesting how different private sector services operate vs. government services. Some day I will relay my stories from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Postal Cart

This is a pretty cool picture from 1912. It shows a Mail Man on a little motorized card. The cart looks to perhaps be a 3 wheel type device. At first I thought he was delivering mail, but upon closer inspection it looks like the cart is designed to receive mail from mail boxes. It looks like their is a chute, and the mail from the mailbox dumps down into the cart.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mail Truck

This week we will be examining pictures associated with the Post Office and Mail Delivery. The picture above was taken in 1916, and shows a mail delivery truck. The truck has a sign promoting the idea that people should get a mailbox on the street. This would save the mailman the time of walking to the front door of each home.

OK, we did not have a winner in yesterday's contest. I really thought someone would get it. So, I reveal the mystery now. The woman had been arrested in 1902 for violating the Jim Crow laws. She sat with Blacks on an electric train. The woman was the Great Great Grand daughter of Martha Washington. She was the Daughter of Rebel General Robert E. Lee. She was Mary Custis Lee.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Greatest Mystery Person Contest Ever

OK, this is going to be the greatest Mystery Contest ever. Today, you have to tell me who this lady is, and what crime she had committed and been arrested for.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Yukon Miners

This picture was taken in 1897, and shows a group of Yukon Territory miners. I think this is a pretty slick boat they have, but it does look to be a little small to have them all stand up in. I would imagine the water would be pretty cold if the boat tipped over.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Canadian Mounties

It is Canadian Mounties you asked for, and it is Canadian Mounties you shall have. People appeared to like the picture yesterday, so I thought I would show this one today. This is a group of six Canadian Mounties on a porch in Dawson City in the Yukon Territory.

I got an email from someone yesterday from Canada commenting on the picture, but then they said that it is too bad the organization has become such a national disgrace. I had never heard of anything going on scandalous about the mounties. Is there some problem I have not heard of? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Canadian Mountie

Canada week continues here at OPOD with this picture of a Royal Mounted Canadian Police. The picture was taken in 1917 near Dawson City. I was hoping we would hear from some of our Canadian friends this week in the comments, but we have not. Perhaps we do not have any Canadian visitors any more?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mining Town

This picture shows the mining town of Dawson City in the Yukon. The picture was taken in 1897. You can see lots of construction going on. It looks like it is pretty muddy on the dirt streets.

OK, lots of you were saying we should have another visitor appreciation week, even before the last visitor appreciation week was over. During visitor appreciation week, I show pictures that you send in. So, in order for us to have another visitor appreciation week, you all must send in some of your favorite old family photos. We are looking for interesting pictures, which usually means candid photos of everyday life, long ago. These are better than studio portraits. So, the key element of pulling this off again would be for you all to send in some good pictures.

I notice in the poll results that while things initially started off in my favor that the electric company had sabotaged my gas line, the poll is moving to the direction of me being paranoid. Possibly I should have had a third option on the poll . . . PJM is paranoid, but none-the-less, the electric company probably sabotaged his water line.

Monday, October 19, 2009

River Front Property

This picture shows the waterfront in Dawson City in the Yukon Territory. The picture was taken in 1897. I think Dawson City is still around, and is a tourist attraction.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back, to the Yukon!

We did a series a while back on Alaska. It was one of my favorites, so we are going back to that area again, only this time we will be looking at the Canadian side of the border. This week we will be looking at pictures of Dawson City during the Gold Rush. Hopefully we will have some fun, and hopefully we will hear from some of our Canadian friends.

Alright, it looks like I am the winner of the mystery person contest. The woman pictured below was Annie Russell, a noted actress at the turn of the century. It was a good contest, and many people were close, but no one got it.

Domestic Update: Well, I am happy to announce that Mrs. PJM's toilet is once again flushing properly. I had not shared details of this unfolding saga as it was just too painful, and the outcome was uncertain. Now that things are all under control, I will let you in on the story. It all started back at the end of September . . . you remember, back on the day that I had the Solar Panels installed. The Solar System was put in by Imperial Electric out of Dallas. They specialize in home solar and wind turbine installations. Wow, what a great organization. The owner of the company was here on site for the entire job. They were courteous, quick, professional, and knew what they were doing. I was impressed that if any of the workers needed to come in the house for something, they would take their shoes off at the front door. I do not expect people to do that, but it is a nice gesture that they respect your hardwood floors, and dont want to track them up. Anyway, these guys love what they do, and it really shows in their work.

So, they get everything installed. Once they had the system in, you can not turn it on until the evil Utility Company comes and inspects the system and set up. Well, as you know by now if there is anything I despise more than Government Bureaucrats, it is the Utility Company [Note to Self: prepare for inevitable IRS audit for speaking ill of Government Bureaucrats]. Anyway, I do not have time or space here to tell all the nightmare stories of my interactions with the Electric Man. But, I will just start with this one . . . to get the system turned on, we had to have the Utility company come out. Note that right off when they drove onto my property, they ran over my culvert. A culvert is the big metal tube that runs under your road, so that the water runs under your road, as opposed to washing your road away. They cut the corner as they turned in, ran over the end part of the culvert that sticks out, and smashed it closed, which sort of makes it hard for the water to run through it next time it rains. Then they came in to inspect the Solar system. Well, you can imagine seeing that they are in none to good of a mood, seeing that they would soon be buying electricity from me instead of selling electricity to me. They were really in a grumpy mood. Well, I showed them where the system was, and then went about my business. I guess the Imperial Electric Guys (the good guys that did the installation) showed them the details, and the Utility company agreed to let them switch it on. OK, then the system is on and up and running.

After everyone left, I went out to see the electric meter, and watch as it goes the wrong way as I am producing more energy than I am using. What a feeling of satisfaction . . . just my little way of sticking it to the Utility Man. Then I look down and notice that the beautiful Spanish Sage that I had planted underneath the meter had been stomped into the ground. I am sure the Imperial Electric guys did not do it, as they had been so careful in everything they had done. Nope, I am sure that the Utility Man did it, just as I SAW him run over the culvert. I did not get too upset, as you can always expect some damage any time they come on the property.

Boy, this is turning out to be a long story, but I will try and get it moving along now. Anyway, that evening as Mrs. PJM was washing her hair in the sink, she mentioned that we did not have very much water pressure. I told her it was probably because we are on a rural water system, and maybe they were working on the system. That was one possibility, but not the actual reason. So, we went on to bed, happy to know that we now were getting our electricity from the Solar System. Well, I get up the next morning, and get in the shower, turn it on, and we have NO WATER AT ALL. I stand there a second, and start thinking what the problem could be. As I was standing there, I noticed a large gushing like sound coming from outside. I get my clothes back on, get a flashlight, and go out and look at the backyard. I find that we have a geyser spraying a stream of water 40 feet in the air, coming from our back yard. The main waterline to the house has broken (interestingly, about 4 feet from the electric meter, and about 3 feet from the Spanish sage that had been stomped into the ground).

Now about two weeks before we had had 6 dump truck loads of dirt moved into the back, and had had grass put in so we could have a back yard. The geyser had sprayed up into the air all night long, had come down and landed in the yard, and had washed all the dirt and grass away. We were back down to the rock we had started with. So, I realized that the immediate problem was to get the water shut off. The bad thing was that the break was on our side of the water meter, so I was going to get charged for the water used during the break. I finally got out to the street, and started trying to turn the water off. There is this special tool you need, which I don't have, and so I had to use a hammer and pair of pliers. While I am trying to get it off, I notice that the meter is spinning at a very high rate of speed. The water is pretty high pressure where we live. There is a six inch water line that goes down the street, and we had a two inch line from there to the house. Because the two inch line cleanly broke, there was nothing to restrict the water flow, and it was flowing at a very high rate. Immediately I started wondering just how high the water bill might be due to this problem. I started worrying that it could be 3 or 4 thousand dollars. Anyway, I did get the water cut off. I got back into the house, and advised Mrs. PJM of the situation. The immediate crisis had been dealt with, but she would have to call the plumber to fix the broken water line.

OK, so I went on to work. When I got back, the plumber had fixed the water line, and things were nominally working again. Here is the problem though. Since the water line had broken underground, and it took a while for the leak to wash the ground away, and then to end up with the geyser . . . during this process, lots of rock and dirt ended up in the line and was now in the water lines in the house. So, after a little bit, many of our faucets and toilets stopped working because they were clogged up from the trash in the water line. So, for the last month, the toilet in Mrs. PJM's bathroom has not been working. Yesterday, I replaced that little valve unit inside the back of the toilet and it is working perfectly. So, we finally have everything back up and running again.

Now, here is the question. What are the chances that we have a major, freak, waterline break on the same day that we have the Utility Company come to our house, and the Utility Company learns that we are no longer going to be buying electricity from them. Coincidence? I think not. I think they probably had one of their Union Thugs sabotage the water line as payback. Be sure to vote in the poll this week.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Visitor Appreciation Week

OK, we are wrapping up visitor appreciaton week with these pictures. If you want to do this again sometime, you need to send more pictures. We got some good ones this week, and if I can get another batch of good ones, we can try it again. Picture above is George H.'s aunt and uncle in Sevilla, Spain.

Picture above is from Dean E. and shoes his grandfather holding horses in Iowa in 1933.


Debbie A. sent the picture above of her grandparents.


Above, Smartgirl's Mom.


And finally Maruis B.'s Mother and Grandfather in Romania.
Please feel free to provide more details on the pictures . . . I wanted to get them up today, but was a little rushed this morning.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Grandmother Wallis

Today we get a glimpse of Grandmother Wallis, grandmother to our own Ray in the UK. Ray is one of our regulars here at OPOD, and he has often won the Saturday Mystery Person contest. This picture was taken near Lincolnshire in the early 1800's. I am not sure what she is sitting on, but it reminds me of the movie Dr. Strangelove. You remember in the closing scene that think Slim Pickens was riding?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Old Time Butcher Shop


Today's picture shows an old time butcher shop in Gorinchem. The picture was taken in the 1930's. It was submitted by Rob from Amerfoort, a long time visitor to the OPOD. When I zoom in on the picture and look closely, I start thinking that I bet one of those sausages would sure be good right about now. I miss these old time meat markets.
Oh yes, there is still time for you all to submit favorite family photos this week. I will get through as many of them as I can.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Apple Butter

Today's photo was submitted by Heather, and it shows her grandmother and grandfather making Apple Butter. It looks like they are mixing it in a big kettle over a fire. They did this from the apples they grew in their orchard. Hmmm . . . growing your own food and being self-reliant - what an interesting concept. Sounds like it is still a tradition in Heather's family to make apple butter about this time of year.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nate's Uncle

OK, today I feature a picture of Nate Maas's Great Great Uncle Clarence Burrows. The picture was probably taken in Wichita, Kansas. From the looks of the car, it looks like it would have been taken in the 1910's. While Nate is my Arch-Rival, as he defeats me so many times in the Mystery Person Contest, I thought I would go ahead and show his picture since it is a pretty good one. I think Uncle Clarence looks like Alec Baldwin, what do you think?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Visitor Appreciation Week

OK, this week I post pictures of your family that you send in. We kick off the week with this photo submitted by Kris S. It was taken in the late 1800's in Wyoming, and shows the family homestead. I found this picture particularly interesting, as it closely resembles the photos we posted last week from Nebraska. It looks as if it could have even been taken by the same photographer. I am curious what the large opening is on the right side of the home. It looks almost like a garage, but of course, this was long before cars. I wonder if perhaps the home was unfinished, or maybe it was a workshop.
DOMESTIC UPDATE: The baby chickens are growing up fast, and are really too big to have 10 in the little kiddy pool. I need to figure out today how to give them more space. The peacocks are doing well. Lovie is finally starting to warm up to Handsome Jack, but when I take the salad out to them each evening, she really gives him the evil eye and he runs out into the little back yard until the chickies have finished eating. The chickies are really getting big . . . almost as big as Lovie now. I think two of the chickies are male, and two are female. So, in the end, I think we will have 3 males, and 3 females, counting Lovie and Handsome Jack. It could get interesting as the flock grows next year. Not sure how many birds the peacock palace can accommodate. Hmmm . . . should I start selling the babies next year, or just let the flock expand?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Broken Arrow, Nebraska

Have you been wondering where the Nebraska Farmers featured this week got all their cool stuff? Well, it was right up the road at the Holland & McDonald hardware store in Broken Bow, Nebraska. The store is pictured above. The picture was taken in 1886, about the same time as the other pictures in this series. When you look at pictures like this, do you sometimes think that everything used to be in Black and White? I sometimes have to remind myself that things back then were in fact in color, it was just the film that was black and white.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Farm House

Today's picture was taken in 1889 at Coburgh Post Office in Custer County, Nebraska. The house in the background is very interesting, as it looks like they are in the process of putting the mud bricks on. I had pictured that these houses were build of mud bricks, but this picture shows that they have built a normal frame house, and then just add the bricks to the outside.

Thank you to those who have submitted family photos for our soon to come "Your Family Photo Week". Keep those pictures coming.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nebraska Family

This is a picture of the J.C. Cram family in Loup County, Nebraska. The picture was taken in 1886. Lots of interesting details if you look at the picture. I wonder if those are bird cages on the house towards the right. I am really enjoying this series of pictures.

I have been wanting to have a week where you all sent in your favorite old family picture and we used those. The pictures would need to be old, they would need to be pictures that belong to you (not out of a book or copyrighted material), and they would need to be interesting. Portraits and studio pictures are usually not very interesting. Pictures of people doing real life things from the old days are the most interesting. If you are interested, and I get enough good ones sent in, we can try and do that for a week. If lots are sent in, I will have to pick some from the group, but hopefully we could all have fun with it. Scan at fairly high resolution, (about a megabyte file size) so we have something good to work with. Include a little info on who/where/when on the picture.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Old Time Farmers

This picture was taken just North of Sargent, Nebraska in 1886. It shows a farm family in front of their Sod House. I really am enjoying this series of pictures this week. It is easy to find lots of pictures from the Civil War, but it is hard to find many pictures from 1865 to about 1900. It is especially hard to find good candid pictures of the frontier life. These pictures really capture a lot of detail about life in that era.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Farm Family

I really like this picture. It was taken in 1884, and shows a Nebraska Farm Family. I like the ingenious set up they have for water . . . they actually built part of the house AROUND the windmill. This would allow them to have water in the house, and the warmth of the house would prevent the base of the windmill from freezing in very cold weather.

This had to be a very hard life. It would take a lot of firewood in the winter to keep things warm, and this was before the days of chainsaws. Also, notice that there are no trees around. So, I am not exactly sure how they got the wood for cooking and keeping warm. The house does appear to be a very nice house for the day. Notice the modern looking roof, and glass windows.

Domestic Update: Energy production was off yesterday by about 50%. I think it might be the weeds growing up around the base of the solar system. This would indicate I need a tractor to keep the area clean. The other possibility is that it rained and was cloudy all day. Hopefully the sun will be out today, getting production back up to expected value. The wind turbine should help on cloudy days like yesterday.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nebraska Farm Family

Today's picture shows a family farm in Custer County, Nebraska. The picture was taken in 1886. The family is the William Moore family. I love this picture, and can not think of ever seeing one that better captures the unshakable spirit of the people of the American West. To be honest, I think we need a little more of that spirit today. You can believe that this family completely provided for all their own needs. Notice that their house looks like it is made of mud, and has a sod roof. Yep, I really admire these people.

It is funny that since I started this blog, I have never done anything, or expressed any opinion that did not make SOMEONE mad. You see some of it in the comments, but the really juicy messages come right to my inbox. Always, someone is offended . . . that is, until last Friday. That is where I showed the picture of my new Solar Panel installation. To my surprise, EVERYONE was happy. Lets break it down. First the tree hugging neuvo-hippy types were flooding me with email, "way to go man, you are saving the earth". It was like I had been on the dark side and suddenly joined the elite enlightened. Then the Democrats were happy because I had gotten a government incentive to pay for part of the installation. They were happy because Big Government had spent money . . . that is what makes them happy. The Republicans were happy because a small business had done the installation, and that will help the small business, will spur the economy, and jobs will trickle down to poor people looking for work. The survivalist were particularly excited, saying that I had a pretty fair looking compound started, and I would be ready when the big one hits. The union men were happy because looking at the installation, they were pretty sure it had been done at least in part by a union shop. The anarchist were really happy because looking at those big sheets of glass, they could just see themselves trashing it with a bat in about 2 minutes.

Could it be that Solar is the one thing that just about everyone can agree on? As you all know, I was very much against the trillion dollar government stimulus, but wonder, if they were going to waste a trillion dollars should they have just used it to build solar farms across the west and midwest, and built the power grid necessary to power the country from solar. I don't know, but I bet that could have just about been done for a trillion. They could have held back about $50 Billion and used that to develop a better rechargeable battery, which would enable practical, affordable electric cars. If they had done that with the trillion, we certainly would have created jobs, stimulated the economy, become energy independent, and we could stop sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year to countries that hate us. Just a thought.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mystery Person

OK, today is Saturday, and I slept in a little, but am now officially Launching the Contest!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Shoe Shine Parlor


Today's picture was taken in 1908 and shows four, count them four, simultaneous shoe shines. The picture was taken in Indianapolis. I wonder if they had special shoe shine parlors, or if this was part of a barbershop or something else.
Domestic Update:
OK, you all were not even close on the guesses on the Domestic Update, so I will fill you in. I have decided not to get a tractor. When Mrs. PJM finally started warming up to the idea, I kind of lost interest, as I realized I would need to build a little barn for it, and then would need to run electricity to the barn to be able to trickle charge the battery. So, I sort of decided it was going to be a lot more expense and bother than maybe it was worth.

So, instead of buying a tractor, I have decided to move Off the Grid! The first phase of the project was completed yesterday with the installation of the solar panels. The picture below shows the workers installing the system. We flipped the switch on yesterday, and I have already produced 28 kWhours of electricity. This will be enough to completely run my house. The second phase of project energy self-sufficiency is also underway, which is to install a wind turbine. This will be to provide energy at night when the sun is not shining. They installed the foundation for the tower yesterday, but they have to let the concrete cure for 30 days before installing the tower and the turbine.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bootblack in Boston

This picture was taken in 1909, and shows a Bootblack on the street in Boston. All the men are wearing the same style hat.

I will have to delay my domestic update until tomorrow, to give people a chance to vote in this week's new and improved poll.