From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Life in New York City, c. 1920

City life compared to country life


The following paragraphs are excerpted from World Geographies: Second Book, Kentucky Edition (p. 74) by Ralph S. Tarr and Frank M. McMurry, published in New York by the MacMillan Company in 1922.


Life in the Great City


"Heart of New York City," about 1908.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,

Detroit Publishing Company Collection
"Heart of New York City," about 1908.
City Hall Park in foreground
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,
Detroit Publishing Company Collection
The contrast between life in New York City and upon a farm is striking. On some of the streets scarcely anything but stores can be seen for ten or twelve miles, many of them being small, but some occupying enormous buildings, and employing many hundreds of clerks.

Families whose homes are in the city do not usually occupy a whole house, but often hundreds of people live in one building. Such a structure, called an apartment building, may be from six to eight stories high, and some are from fifteen to twenty. They are so arranged that one family occupies only a small part of one floor, called an apartment, or flat. Other families live above and below, as well as on each side, being separated by only a few inches of brick or boards. Since land is so valuable, sometimes costing scores of dollars a square foot, there is usually neither front nor back yard.

In the poorer sections of the city the people are even more densely crowded. Some of the children have never seen the country, and scarcely any birds, trees, or grass, except possibly in one of the city parks. In these crowded sections, there are many foreigners from all the nations of the earth.

To escape such a crowded city life, tens of thousands of men live in suburban towns, or country homes, from ten to forty miles from their places of business. Every day they spend from one to three hours traveling back and forth. Some ride upon elevated railways built in the street, two, three, and four stories above the ground and supported by iron columns. Others go by train in the subway, which extends for many miles underground, and even crosses under the rivers to Brooklyn, Jersey City, and Hoboken.

How different all this is from the country, where only two or three houses may be seen at a time! Where sunlight and fresh air enter one's home from all sides of the building! Where there is plenty of room to play, with green grass, large trees, and singing birds in the yard! No wonder that people living in great cities are anxious to visit the country, the mountains, the lakes, and the seashore, during a few weeks in the summer.

Monday washday in New York City tenements, c. 1910.
Library of Congress, Prints &Photographs Division,
Detroit Publishing Company Collection

Sees Family Portrait, c. 1904

George and Elizabeth Sees of Gordon, Nebraska


I drove over to Murray yesterday afternoon to deliver some textbooks to our son Isaac who is a college senior in that fair city. He ordered them through Abebooks last weekend. Several of the books arrived quite promptly, so I wanted him to have them. We are still waiting for a couple more to arrive.

My cousin Alta, who lives in the general vicinity of Murray, drove over and had supper with Isaac and me. We went to the Sirloin Stockade and enjoyed a nice meal together. I had not seen Alta since last spring, so I very much enjoyed visiting with her and catching up on some of the family news.

Alta gave me an amazing gift -- a scanned portrait of my great-grandparents George and Elisabeth Sees, and their five children. The older little girl (Elva) was Alta's mother, and the youngest of the three boys (Harry) was my mother's father.

Hilda, the little girl sitting on her mother's lap, was born in 1902, according to my mother's papers. Hilda looks like she is at least 18 months old -- possibly 2 years old -- in the photo. Based on this, the photo can be dated to about 1904.

George Sees was born in 1865, and Elisabeth Sees was born in December of 1866. Thus, George was probably about 39 years old and Elisabeth was probably about 37, at the time of the photograph.

The photographer took a sharply-focused, well-organized photo. It's also a little off-center. On the right side, it doesn't show all of  Elisabeth's shoulder or her long dark skirt, but on the left side, it captures all of George, even the tip of his bent elbow, with room to spare.

The off-center composition, the curlicues on the ornate wicker chair and the column of drapery in the background all pull the eye to the head of the family. George looks relaxed, but strong and confident, ready to take on whatever comes his way, with his oldest son behind him to back him up.

George sits in his chair unemcumbered, but Elisabeth holds baby Hilda on her lap as little Elva leans against her. (This is probably rather symbolic of their lives -- he was free to come and go as needed to earn a living, while she had the daily, ongoing responsibilities of house and family.) It is interesting to see that Elisabeth's hair was quite dark. The shape of her mouth reminds me of my mother.

Alta's brother Clifford has the original copy of this photograph. Alta said she saw the photo for the first time that she can remember when she went to visit Clifford last spring. Clifford was surprised that she didn't remember it or have a copy. (Thank you, Alta, for making a copy of it for me.)

If you are my family member and you want a higher-resolution copy of this photo that is suitable for printing, please e-mail me and I'll send you a link where you can download it. (I hope to have Keely or Taurus upload it for me, because it's quite a large file and I have a limited allotment of bandwidth.)

Related:
My German Ancestors, George and Elisabeth Sees
Dellfeld and N├╝nschweiler

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sonic of Hopkinsville

Space-age drive-in on the Boulevard


Sonic Drive-in on Fort Campbell Blvd., Hopkinsville, KY

I enjoy the 1950s-futuristic look of our Sonic Drive-in. I think George Jetson could fly his little space car into a parking place at Sonic, and it would be so totally in sync with the architecture that no one would give him a second look.

Our Sonic has Happy Hour from 2 PM. until 4 PM. When I work mornings, I sometimes go to Sonic after work and treat myself to a Route 44 (extra large) Diet Limeade for half price. They're good, and I like them even better after learning that the Route 44 Lime Slush has (gasp!) 680 calories in it, but the same size of Diet Limeade has only 16 calories.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Trip to Patti's 1880's Settlement

Porkchop and pie highly recommended


On the porch of one the Patti's 1880's Settlement shops

I was supposed to go up in a hot-air balloon last Friday with my 84-year-old neighbor Miss M. and her daughter Sally. This was going to be a birthday celebration for Miss M. However, because of the very hot weather, the balloon ride is postponed until October. We went to Patti's 1880's Settlement at Grand Rivers (KY) for a birthday lunch, instead.

Grand Rivers is located just north of Land Between the Lakes and just below the dam that creates Lake Barkeley. Patti's 1880's Settlement is a restaurant and more. The Settlement includes a half-dozen  log-cabin gift shops, set into a nicely landscaped garden under tall trees. In keeping with the 1880's theme, all the employees who serve the public in the Settlement wear 1880's garb. And beyond Patti's, the village of Grand Rivers has more shops where a tourist can buy antiques, gifts, and souvenirs.

Patti's 1880's Settlement has such good food that it has even been featured in Southern Living magazine. My son has been to Patti's a time or two, and I've heard plenty of talk about the place, but this was my first visit. My lady friends were aghast at my lack of experience in fine dining -- but that's not new. They're always shocked at the restaurants I haven't visited. They enjoy educating me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Idea for a Cute Birthday "Cake"

No-bake birthday cake!



My friend at work, Lisa, made this birthday "cake" for a lady she knows. Lisa said she has made several of these, but this is her best one yet. The individually-wrapped pieces of candy are hot-glued to a styrofoam base. Pretty cute, huh?

The recipient of the cake was an older, single lady who probably wouldn't want a big cake all to herself, anyhow. She can enjoy this cake a little at a time, over a period of time.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

U.S. Agriculture in the Early 1900s

Farm and ranch statistics and photos from 100 years ago




The statistics below are quoted from World Geographies: Second Book, Kentucky Edition (pp. 202-206) by Ralph S. Tarr and Frank M. McMurry, published in New York by the MacMillan Company in 1922.

I scanned the photos in this post from the same old book. I hoped to find photos that complemented the statistics, but no photos were available for some categories, such as hogs, horses, and hay. I finally decided to just scan some of the most interesting pictures of agriculture, whether or not they are related to the numbers. It's impossible to know when the photos were taken, but it seems likely that they were more up-to-date at the time of publishing than the statistics were.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ready for a Rainy Day

Corn harvest begins   



I took this photograph about a month ago. I had stopped, late in the afternoon, at a roadside vegetable stand that is operated by an old-order Mennonite family. Mama was minding the stand, while the men and boys were bringing in the hay from the fields. I felt it would be rude to photograph the lady and her little produce stand, but I did drive down the road a little way and take this picture through my car window.

I thought about the things that Mennonite family was doing that hot afternoon. The little, box-like, vegetable stand must have felt like an oven as the late afternoon sunshine poured under the awning. And the men in the field must have been sweltering, as they pitchforked the hay into the wagon. The horse was probably very hot, too.

Some very nice-looking cantaloupes and watermelons were sitting in full sun, in a wagon next to the produce stand. I figured they had been baking there all day, so I chose a cantaloupe that didn't look as ripe as most. Later that evening, I cut into it and found that it was not ripe at all. I had to throw it away! With the Mennonites and me both trying to compensate, that melon didn't get enough hot sunshine.

The thing that I notice now about this photograph is that the stubble in the field is quite green. Christian County (KY) was getting a little dry even in mid-July, but after another month of extremely hot temperatures and precious little rain, it is now very dry. Lawns, mowed fields, and grazed pastures have developed a sickly brown complexion. The trees are dropping their leaves prematurely. Today, I noticed that a neighbor's field of soybeans is wilting.

I heard on the radio that the extreme heat and the lack of rain is affecting the produce farmers too. Tomatoes are not developing the bright-red color that customers want, grapes are not as colorful as they should be, and melons are small and sunburned. That news didn't surprise me much, because I know how my garden is struggling, even with fairly regular waterings.

Tomorrow, we have a 60% chance of rain. Some of the farmers were combining corn today, trying to get it harvested before it gets wet. They want its moisture content to be as low as possible. Tonight, people were still working in one of the cornfields as I drove home at 11:00 p.m. A big combine was moving down the rows and a couple of big grain trucks were waiting to be loaded. I hope they didn't have too much more to do.

For me and everyone else who is not harvesting corn, a rainy day tomorrow would be a blessing! My garden would appreciate a real rain. The suffering soybeans and trees and our poor, brown lawns and pastures would love a good, slow soaker too.

Monday, August 09, 2010

LST Ship Memorial at Evansville, IN

The ship that won WWII for the Allies



Isaac and I visited the LST Ship Memorial at Evansville (IN) about two years ago. We've been planning to take Dennis to it ever since, and this past Sunday, we finally made that trip. I enjoyed going through the ship again and hearing the spiel of a different tour guide. Dennis enjoyed the tour from his own unique perspective. He is a Navy veteran as well as a history-lover, and also, his father was a machinist in the Navy during World War II.

The LST (Landing Ship, Tank) was a World War II invention.  It was a flat-bottomed, high-riding ship that could be driven right onto most beaches. The big doors at the end of the LST opened and a gangplank flopped out, so tanks and other vehicles could drive off, ready to do battle. If  the ship couldn't plow up onto the beach, the tanks and other vehicles drove off via pontoon bridges. According to our tour guide, the LST was first imagined by Winston Churchhill, who knew that tanks would greatly the chance of every invasion's success.

Evansville, Indiana, was one of several places where the LST was manufactured in the U.S. Although Evansville had not previously had a shipyards, 167 LSTs and 35 other vessels were built there by the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company. At the peak of production, Evansville was building 2 LSTs per week, and over 19,000 people were employed at the shipyards. After manufacture and christening, the LSTs were outfitted, sailed to New Orleans, and from there, put into military service. 

Friday, August 06, 2010

Lasters Art Shack Fantasy Minivan

Product of a fertile imagination





I spotted this fantasy minivan in the Big Lots parking lot in Hopkinsville, KY. It had Christian County, KY, license plates. Somehow, I missed photographing the front fender on the driver's side.

I hope the minivan's owners drive defensively, because other drivers will be staring at their vehicle, not watching the road!

Googling for "Lasters Art Shack" turns up this interesting website. On Flickr, you can view more photos of the van

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Sun Sets on a Very Hot Day

Extreme heat and humidity



Wednesday, August 4, 2010, was a very hot day in Christian County, KY. The temperature reached 101°F, and a light-but-suffocating fog of humidity intensified the heat. The heat indexes were in the 106-110° range. The National Weather Service issued an "Excessive Heat Warning" that began on the morning of the 4th. It continues through 7:00 pm on August 5.

The air-conditioning repairman's truck was parked outside my workplace when I arrived. The repairman worked on the system for a while and said it was fixed. The store stayed hot and very humid all day, but it was cooler inside than outside. Who dared to tempt the fates by complaining?

One of my customers said that she found an older lady wandering around the parking lot in the heat. She was looking for her car, and she had forgotten where she parked. My customer persuaded her to come inside and call her daughter. She was afraid that the lady's mental confusion was a symptom of heat exhaustion.

Another elderly lady told me that she became a little dizzy as she walked across the scorching parking lot and into the store. She said a nice man opened the doors to the store for her and told her that she looked wobbly. He said that she should sit down until she cooled off -- so she did. She felt much better in a few minutes, and she was able to walk around and do her shopping. I hope her guardian angel helped her get back home safely,  too!

I heard on the radio this evening that a workman collapsed in the upraised bucket of a utility truck yesterday, as he was installing fiber optic cable in Clarksville, TN. His co-workers administered CPR but he died later in the hospital. The cause of death was unknown, but it seems very likely to me that heat stress played a part in it.

This weather is dangerous. Please be careful. Stay inside if you can. Don't take chances. Check on your pets and your neighbors, and be alert even for strangers who may need a little help.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Pilot Rock

Seen from Todd County



Pilot Rock is one of our local landmarks, and I've photographed it from just about every road around here, I think. Coming back from Rattlesnake Road, I stopped along Pilot Rock Road (Highway 508), just east of Pilot Rock in Todd County, to take this photo.  As you may know, Pilot Rock sits on the county line between Christian and Todd Counties.

Pilot Rock looks like a hill in this photo. And it is a hill, but it's also the highest point of both Todd and Christian Counties. It's a knob on an escarpment -- or to describe it as I see it, it's a big rock that juts out of the top of a steep ridge. When I pulled over to take the photo, I was already halfway up the ridge.
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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.