Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Today's picture was taken in 1964, and shows a grocer giving watermelon slices to children. These days, the watermelons you get in the grocery store are not very good. Around here, a lot of farmers will plant a few rows of watermelons in their fields alongside the cotton, or whatever cash crop they are growing. Then, they have roadside watermelon stands when the melons are ready. Once you have one of those big Black Diamond watermelons right from the field, you can't hardly eat the grocery store ones any more. I have tried before to grow watermelons in a garden, but have never had any luck. The vines come up and look big and healthy, but then when they start setting fruit, the leaves get something on them that kills the vine. So, I have never quiet mastered watermelon growing.

We had some interesting comments yesterday about what implement was used to dispatch the snake after the peacock eggs. xoxobruce suggested it was a mattock. I had never heard of a mattock, so I looked it up on the internet. Sure enough, what some people call a mattock, is known around here as a grubbing hoe. It is used for heavy chopping for things like prickly pear or algarita. What some people call a grubbing hoe, which is one chopping blade on a stick, we simply call a hoe. NYCgeezer suggested I was describing a pickaxe. I think a pickaxe is different, in that the blade on one side is more narrow. Interesting the subtle differences in names and functions. I do think the mattock is the same thing as a grubbing hoe.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

San Antonio Farmer's Market

Today's picture was taken in 1939, and shows a Farmer's Market in San Antonio Texas. The men are selling onions from the back of their truck.

I notice in looking at these old pictures that people used to be a lot thinner than they are today. I sometimes wonder if they were not getting enough to eat, or if they were just eating a lot healthier and working a lot harder.

Domestic Update:

Well, we had some excitement out in Chickie Town yesterday. I heard some honking and commotion out there, and Mrs. PJM went out to see what was going on. What she found was that a big Bull Snake had chased Elly May off her nest, and was trying to eat her eggs. I ran out with a grubbing hoe, and chopped the snakes head off. It took Elly May a while to settle down, but she did go back and sit on the nest. No eggs were damaged, but I am not sure how long she was off the nest, and whether the excitement caused any problems with the eggs. We will keep you posted.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Good Monday morning to you all. Old Market week continues today with this picture from 1937, which shows what looks like a little grocery store. The woman appears to be buying the Asparagus. Also, looks like there is a tray of chickens for sale. Wow, I hope those chickens are on ice!

Domestic Update:

I am continuing to progress on the construction of the greenhouse. The only question issue right now is that the  weatherman calls for rain all week. This was the week that I was going to get the holes dug for the ground stakes. Hopefully the rain won't put us too far behind schedule.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Farmer's Market

Welcome to Market Week here at OPOD, where we are going to explore how people used to buy food before places like Walmart moved in. Regrettably, I must inform you that I HATE shopping at Walmart. The people working their are not helpful, it is hard to find things, and much of what they sell is made in China. So, lets role the calendar back and look at this picture of a Farmer's Market. The guy growing the food is the same guy selling the food. No middlemen. Farmer's Markets still exist in many communities today, and I really like shopping at them . . . nice friendly people, who take great pride in their product. Great food, great prices, and friendly people . . . remind me why we buy our vegetables at Walmart?

Domestic Update:

OK, it has been a busy week around the old homestead. Many of you suspected that I gave an easy mystery person contest yesterday so I could get out and work on the greenhouse. Well, I guess I am busted on that one. The thing is that the temperatures here during the day are over 100 degrees, so I like to get out there and get going before it gets too hot.

Most of last week was spent getting things ordered and lined up for the construction project. I decided that in addition to the gas fired furnace, I would put radiant heat in the floor of the greenhouse. It actually does not cost that much to get the tubing and stuff that goes into the slab. If you don't put the tubes in when making the slab, then you really can not add it later. The other thing is that with the tubes in the slab, then next summer I can think about installing passive solar water heating, so you would be heating the greenhouse with hot water from the sun.

I did make progress on the construction as well. Below, you can see I am building the forms for the slab on my front porch. So far, no complaints from Mrs. PJM about the mess . . . I think she is pleased to see progress being made.

The long boards will be the forms for the concrete slab. The steel pipes are connected to the forms, and are the anchors that the greenhouse arches will connect to. The anchors have to be connected to the forms exactly plumb, level, and square. Since the plexiglass sheets are an exact size, the greenhouse arches have to be extremely precisely positioned, or the plexiglass won't fit. So, getting these anchors connected accurately is very important. The blue material is Dow Blueboard, which will go underneath the slab, and insulate the underside of the greenhouse.

I also made progress on the building site. The picture below shows the caliche pad. Since I live on a hill, the ground is not flat, and the caliche pad provides a flat, level space to build on.

You can see that I have the Batter Boards and strings run marking the location where the concrete forms need to be. Also, I have little flags marking where the holes for the ground stakes need to be drilled. Drilling the holes will be hard, since we live on a rock. I have a water drilling rig lined up, and they will come and drill the holes next week. The holes have to be 12 inches across, and at least 36 inches deep. Then, I have the concrete guy lined up to come and pour the slab, once the holes are drilled.

Also, some developments out in Chickie Town. I had mentioned one of the peacocks was sick last week, and the other female had a nest of eggs. Well, this week I find that the sick peacock is feeling a little better, and in fact has her own nest going. She started sitting on the eggs about a week later than the first one. So, we have two babies already hatched, and 8 more eggs being set on. Looks like we are going to have lots of peacocks. I really like the peacocks, and I enjoy the loud calling noises they make.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mystery Person

OK, today is Mystery Person Contest. I post the picture, you have to figure out who it is. Let the games begin!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Russian Windmill

Today's windmill picture was taken near Omsk, in the Russian Federation. The picture was taken in 1885. I am not sure what the windmills were used for in this area. There is certainly not much vegetation in the area.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dalhart, Texas

This picture was taken in 1938, and shows an old homestead in 1938 at the height of the dustbowl. A windmill does not help much during a drought, as it produces enough water for livestock or a home, but not enough to irrigate a crop. This is such a bleak picture, one can only imagine the struggle people had during this time.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Today's picture was taken in the late 1800's, and shows a picture of a windmill near the water at Haarlem, in the Netherlands. Looking at this picture reminds me of how many interesting things I saw when I visited the Netherlands. One thing I remember is that almost everyone rode a bicycle. You would see more bicycles than cars there.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Holland Windmill

Windmill Week would not be complete without some pictures of the old windmills in Holland. This picture shows several windmills in Holland. I got to visit the Netherlands a few years ago. As you were flying in, the countryside was large strips of very bright colors. From the air, the tulip farms showed up as very bright fields. When I was there, you could see many of these old windmills still operating.

Monday, June 21, 2010

German Windmill

Greetings to all my fellow lovers of old pictures. This is windmill week, where we will be looking at wind power from around the world. Today's picture was taken in Germany in the late 1800's. The picture was taken in Berlin. The photograph was created with a process called Photochrom, which allowed creation of low cost color prints. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Today's picture was taken in 1904, and shows a large variety of windmills. The picture was taken at the Louisiana Purchase exposition. This was part of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. The interesting thing is the variety of shapes, styles, and sizes of the windmills. Windmills like this are still in widespread use. The primary advantage of such systems is the ability to have water, without having to run electric lines to an area. Running electric lines today is insanely expensive for a consumer. Today, there is much less variety, and all the windmills are pretty much the same size and design.

Domestic Update:

We had a busy week out in Chickie Town last week. Lovie and the babies are still in the coop. When the babies get bigger, I will let them out, but for now, I would not want a snake or something to get the little guys. The other peacocks are free ranging, and just walk around as they please. I enjoy watching the peacocks, but normally, I do not sit and count them, since they walk around, and are not always together. On Wednesday, I noticed one of the girls was sitting on the porch, and not moving around much. When I went over and looked at her, you could see that she was really sick. She had her feathers all puffed out, and her eyelids were droopy. When she tried to walk the staggered. She was really sick, and that concerned me, so I thought I better check on the other ones. When I started checking, I noticed that besides the sick one, their was another one missing completely. I started looking for her, but could not find her. Then my daughter and Mrs. PJM started trying to find her. We looked all over the entire property three times, and could not find her. Given how sick the other bird was, we decided she probably had gotten sick too, and had just crawled off somewhere and died. Well, we took the sick bird, and put her under the chicken coop, which is a cool place. We put some Gatorade under there for her, some water, and then got her some medicine. Checking on her throughout the day, she was not getting any better. Next day, same thing, one peacock gone, and one very sick under the chicken coop. We were concerned that with one gone, and with one very sick, that we might have an outbreak of something in the flock. I spent two days reading on the Internet about bird illnesses. There are 100 different things that birds can get, and each requires a different treatment. The thing is though, that all the illnesses pretty much have the same symptoms. So we were very concerned. Then, on the second evening, I looked out in the Chickie Town, and saw a pea-hen out running around, jumping up and down and looking fine. I was surprised, and thought the sick bird had gotten better really fast. I went out and looked under the coop, and the sick bird was still there, so the one jumping around was the missing one (this was Elly May, one of the ones hatched last summer). So, Elly May was back, and in fine form. I decided I would watch her for a while. She ate and drank and hopped around and visited with the others. Then, I notice she starts walking away, out to the rough pasture area of the property. I follow her, and find that sure enough, she has herself a big nest of eggs out there under a cactus.

You can see in the picture how we could walk right by her and not see her. She really blends in. Now, I don't know if here eggs will hatch or not. It seems pretty late in the season to be hatching eggs. It is over 100 degrees every day, so I don't know if that is too hot for the eggs or not. But we will keep watching and waiting to see what will happen. The other pea-hen looks like she is recovering, and looks like she is feeling better.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Contest Day

Today is Saturday, and that means Mystery Person Contest! I post the picture, you have to figure out who it is.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Horse Team and Wagon

We wrap up Wagon Week with this picture of a horse drawn freight wagon, taken in 1906. The wagon belonged to the treasury department. If you look closely, you can see that they are loading a large old safe onto the wagon. I have one of these old safes like the one pictured from the late 1800's. It was my grandfathers. I do not keep anything valuable in it, but just enjoy it as an old family item. These old safes weigh well over 2,000 pounds, and they are very hard to move. I can only imagine the effort when only working with horses and wagons.

Domestic Update:

I feel that I made major progress on the greenhouse yesterday, and am proud to announce that I have officially broken ground.

This picture shows the first dump truck load of caliche being delivered for the pad. The workmen had to dodge the peacocks all day, who appeared to be taking a great interest in the work. They would just stand in front of the truck. The truck driver would honk at them to try and get them out of the way, and then they would just honk back at him. In the end, they were able to work around each other without major incident.

In building the pad, they dump a load of caliche, then spread it out with a motor-grader, then wet it down from a water truck. They then flatten it out with the rolling machine. Then they dump another load and repeat. They just about have it finished, and today will just be smoothing it out a little more. 

The greenhouse is built around steel ground stakes that will be cemented in the ground. The next step is that I need to find someone that can bore the holes for the ground stakes. The holes have to be 14 inches in diameter and 36 inches deep. The challenge is that I live on a solid rock, so it will be a job to get the holes done. Then, the ground stakes will be concreted in, and then the concrete floor will be poured. 

I am also working on getting the utilities out to the location. I will have to have someone dig trenches through the rock for Natural Gas, Electricity, and Water. I had hoped that the utilities could be brought in from the southwest corner of my house, but the plumber came out and looked and said the gas line there would not be big enough to supply the furnace for the greenhouse. So, we are trying to work out now what the best strategy is to get gas supply to the greenhouse. I might have to move the gas meter out to the street, and then tap off the line running from the street to the house.

Anyway, I am pleased that progress is being made.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Delivery Wagon

Good Thursday morning to you all. Today I am pleased to show this picture of an old delivery wagon. The picture was taken in 1911. I had not seen pictures of wagons like this before. Most wagons are open in the back, so not exactly sure what this one was used for.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Engraving Bureau

Wagon week continues here at OPOD with this picture of a wagon at the Bureau of Engraving in Washington DC. The picture was taken in about 1910. I like how everyone is dressed up, and most are wearing a nice tie. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mail Wagon

Today's picture was taken in 1905. It shows postmen unloading mail at Union Station in Chicago. The mail wagons continued to be used for some time, even after cars were available.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Telegraph Wagon

Wagon Week is underway here at OPOD. This picture was taken in 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia. Pictured is a telegraph wagon from the Civil War. Interesting to note the"ghost like" figure in the left of the image. These old photographs required very long exposure times, so faint image was probably from a person who was standing there, and then walked out of the field of view during the exposure.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Miller's Wagon

Good Sunday morning to you all. We are going to kick the week off with this picture of a Miller's wagon. In front of the wagon is a small child, who is seven years old. He works for the mill, moving 25 pound bags of flower. He makes 25 cents a week. The picture was taken in 1910.

Domestic Update:

OK, lots going on at home this last week. Several of you have asked for an update on Lovie and the peacocks. Lovie and chicks are doing well. Little Rufus is turning out to be a fine young peacock and I have high hopes for him growing up to be a leader in the flock. He is attentive, quick, and eats a lot. He and Peggy Sue are getting along well, and growing every day. Lovie does not like being penned up in the peacock palace. She would prefer to be out with the flock, but with the chicks this small, there are just too many things that could eat them. So, until they get bigger, Lovie and the babies will stay in the palace.

I have also made significant progress towards my goal of becoming a Gentleman Farmer. While I am working on getting the greenhouse built, I went ahead and put together one of the small hydroponic systems on the screened in porch. I want to go ahead and try growing some things hydroponically, so I can learn the ropes. The picture below shows the simple system.

The tank under the system contains the nutrient fluid. There is a pump that pumps the nutrients through the black hose, up to the white grow channels. The fluid flows through the channels, like an underground river. The plants are grown up through the little squares on the top. Each seed is placed in a small cube that holds the seed in place. The cube wicks nutrients up from below. After passing through the channels, the nutrient fluid dumps into the large white tube on the right, and then flows back into the tank underneath. So the nutrients recirculate in the channels underneath the plant. I am testing the system by growing a variety of different plants, to see which works the best. The picture below shows a lettuce that has sprouted and starting to grow.

With this stunning success in lettuce production, I feel I am getting ever closer to my Gentleman Farmer goal. Could a tractor be far behind?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mystery Person

You know the drill . . . I post a picture, you have to figure out who it is. Let the Games Begin!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ring Around a Rosie

Today's picture was taken in 1941, and shows a group of children playing Ring Around a Rosie. The picture was taken in Chicago, Illinois. We played this game when I was a child, but don't know if kids even know about it anymore.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Boy Scouts at Gettysburg

This picture was taken at the Gettysburg Battlefield at The Great Reunion in 1913. This was the 50th anniversary of the battle. At this point, there were many veterans of the battle still alive, and many attended the reunion. There was a big Boy Scout jamboree at the reunion as well. In this picture, a group of scouts are playing a blanket toss game.

Mathan made a real good point in the comments yesterday about the types of toys we buy our kids. He reminded us of the importance of toys like erector sets, tinker toys, Lincoln logs, chemistry sets and so forth. I could not agree more. My favorite toys as a child were toys where you built stuff that did things. These toys helped build a life long interest in engineering in me. When our daughter was growing up, we were always careful to buy toys that would stimulate this kind of learning.

Domestic Update:

I feel I made some progress on the greenhouse project yesterday. I contacted someone to build the caliche pad for the greenhouse. The guy says he will be able to do it next week. I will post some pictures as things progress. I also got one of the hydroponic units put together. Since the greenhouse is not built, I put it out on the screened in porch. I dont know if there is enough light there for plants to do well, but I will try some just to get some learning done as the greenhouse is constructed. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jumping Rope

Today's picture was taken in 1936, and shows a child skipping rope. Skipping rope is another thing you do not see kids doing much anymore. I can remember in school during recess they had long ropes, and a person would get on each end, and then someone would get in the middle and skip the rope. Lots of fun games from just a simple rope.

Domestic Update:

Well, I have hit my first snag in putting the greenhouse together. The greenhouse needs natural gas, electricity and of course water. I had planned on having them tap a line at the southwest corner of my house, and then running a line to the greenhouse. The plumbers came out yesterday, and looked at the situation and said that line would not be able to feed the furnace, and that I would have to take a line from the meter that is on the opposite side of the house. There are many buried lines between the meter and greenhouse location, and it is going to be a significant effort to get a gas line run. So, I am talking to the gas company about possibly moving the meter, which would make things slightly easier. Also trying to arrange for the caliche pad to be built, but those guys have a long wait time as well. So, this project is going to take a while.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Baby Stroller

This picture was taken in the early 1900's and shows two girls playing with a doll in a baby stroller.  I love these old pictures showing children doing something other than watching TV,

Domestic Update:

Well, I am trying to get going on getting the greenhouse built. In looking over the material in the garage, I can see that the words "Some Assembly Required" is taking on a whole new level of difficulty. I am going to have to get someone to put this thing together for me. I talked to the builder who built our house, and he said he would do it, but he is tied up until September. The guy who ran the skylift and unloaded the trucks for me says he can get that thing put together, and he could start right now on it. Problem is, if the anchor poles are not laid out exactly right, the plexiglass will not fit properly. So, my dilemma is, do I wait for the builder, or do I go ahead and have the skylift driver take a shot at it.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Today's picture is from 1915, and it shows a playground in Boston, Massachusetts. When I was a kid, playgrounds still had cool things like seesaws,  monkey bars, and jungle gyms. I have noticed over the years, safety concerns have led to wimpy playgrounds that no longer feature some of the more fun items. As a kid, the playground was the safest place I played. We used to play in barns a lot. The barns were often two or more stories high, and used to store hay or cottonseed. We would make a pile of hay, then crawl up on the hay bales in the barn, and jump into the hay. If it did not hurt too bad landing, we would then climb up a little higher, and jump again. We would add more hay to the pile if necessary. After a while we would be making what would amount to a jump of several stories down into the hay. Cotton seed made an even better landing zone that hay, as it absorbed the fall much better than a stack of loose hay. I think today we overprotect our kids. We had a lot of fun, and no one ever got hurt.

Domestic Update:

OK, no one guessed what was in the semi that I showed yesterday, so I will have to give you another clue. Here is my garage after they unloaded. Some stuff was unloaded outside, and some stuff was put in the garage. There were actually 3 semis that came and unloaded. Not because the material would not fit in one semi, but because the material came from three different places. So, the contest continues, what is going on at the old PJM household?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Children Playing

Good Sunday morning to you all. It is a new week here at OPOD, and we are going to be looking at pictures of children playing. This picture was taken in the Summer of 1938 in New York City, and shows a group of children playing on the sidewalk. I can remember as a child we played all the time. For the most part, playing involved either building things or using the imagination. Dirt clods were hand grenades, and you would pretend the cows were attacking German troops. We would build forts, play in barns, explore, or make things. As you played, you dreamed of some day really being an explorer, or really building a real airplane. Play today, in my mind is too organized and structured. Today play is centered around things like Xbox games, which stimulate the senses, but do not stimulate the imagination. These games also do not have any real social interaction, so social skills are not developed. I think we also overdo things like youth soccer. True these games do help develop social skills, but they do not spur imagination or creativity in the same way that building something does. When I was young, building models was a big thing. Most kids built model airplanes that would really fly from balsa wood and tissue paper. The simple ones were powered by winding a rubber band, and the more advanced ones had gas engines. Today few kids read, instead they watch movies. Each year the movies become more graphic . . . bigger explosions, more brutal fights, and less story. This is very different than reading a book, where your brain creates a little movie as you read. Working with kids, I have to say that I see a huge difference in development in this generation raised on Xbox, soccer, and movies. There is a lack of creativity, of big dreams and goals, and of social skills. So, parents, lets get our kids more models, bicycles and books. What do you think?

Domestic Update:

Well, school is out, so I have the summer to do all the things I have been wanting to do. Oh my, look at the picture below. Is that a big semi-truck pulling up to the old PJM house? I wonder what could be in it? Well, I am not going to tell you, you have to guess. You can enter as many guesses as you want. I will not respond to each guess today, so everyone will have a chance to enter. I will announce the answer tomorrow. What could Mr. PJM possibly be up to now?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Mystery Person Contest

OK, it is Saturday Morning, and time for the Mystery Person Contest. I feel confident in victory this morning, so lets get going.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Brass Band

Today we have a picture of the Claflin University Brass Band. The picture was taken in Orangeburg, South Carolina in 1899. I have always been partial to the brass section, especially the low tones from the baritones and the trombones. I played the trombone in High School in the marching band and the stage band. I was never very good because I just did not have the part of the brain that controls the beat. I sort of just played along with whoever was near me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tuba Lessons

I think the secret to being a great tuba player is starting lessons early. The picture above was taken in the 1910's and shows a very young child getting a feel for tuba playing. No word on what the child went on to do in life.

OK, Internet is back up and running. We are in thunderstorm season here, so if a picture is not up, it will probably mean the tower got hit again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Well, a thunderstorm took out the power to the tower that beams me my internet signal. So, I do not have a connection at home, so cannot post a picture. This evening, the lights are not even back on on the tower, so might not be back up in the morning. I am making this post hiding in my neighbor's hedge bush. Gotta go before he gets the water hose after me again.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Good morning to you all! I hope you had a nice memorial day, and that your first day back at work is not too bad. Today we feature a picture from the early 1900's showing a police tuba band. I wonder how someone decides that they want to be a tuba player? It is not exactly something you can sit around the campfire with and play your favorite old songs for your friends.