Friday, February 26, 2016

"A Man of Feeling…"

Journalist, novelist

Morley once contributed a few words to an advertisement for Leary's Book Store in Philadelphia:

"…Why do the literary journals say so little in honor of man's only nirvana, the Secondhand Bookstore?...A Man of Feeling always frequents the secondhanders."

Exactly. I find that I am never annoyed by spending another few minutes in an old bookstore where there are used books stacked floor to ceiling….

If that makes me a "Man of Feeling," well, yes, I plead guilty.

Sadly, Leary's—despite Morley's kind words—closed its doors in 1969.

Requiescat in pace.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The boob tube….

My parents were early adopters in the early 1950s: they bought a television set. How they rationalized that expenditure I do not know. I think it was a portable, maybe with a 7-inch screen.

They were among millions who were putting down the cash to acquire technology with rabbit ears.

TV in its infancy was the fastest blooming technology in the history of humankind.

At the end of World War II there were only a few tens of thousands of privately owned television sets. Within 10 years, two-thirds of American households had one. By the early 1960s more than 90 percent of homes had a boob tube.

In the early years, when few households had a set, the neighborhood tended to gather at the house with a TV for a social evening, watching whatever was on one of the (maximum 3) available channels. I was a kid when the family drove into Philadelphia to watch The Wizard of Oz on my uncle’s brand-new color TV.

I don’t watch TV now—stopped channel checking almost seven years ago. OK, I make exceptions for the Super Bowl and the State of the Union address and election returns in early November.

I’m bound to say I don’t think I’m missing much.

The news media industry, particularly TV, has become a beast with no scruples. I think it is deranging our society.

At least, in the old days, we had the Milton Berle Show.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Your great-grandmother didn’t have a teddy bear

Did you have a special name for your teddy bear?

I did not, or, at least, I don’t remember one. My teddy bear was nearly as big as me, as I recall my earliest memory of that huggable creature.

He got all scruffy with age, and a bit broken down….nonetheless, I think I cried when I spotted that bear in flames in the trash burner we used way back then. I think I wanted to save him, but I don’t think the rescue actually occurred.
1903 teddy bear

Anyway. Your great-grandmom likely didn’t have one, because retailer Morris Michtom introduced the stuffed bear toy in 1903 after getting approval from President Roosevelt (Teddy) for the use of his nickname in the soon-to-be-quite-popular commercial sensation.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

When safety standards were more interesting….

In 1912, testing the ruggedness and protective features of a football helmet was a fairly straightforward process:

1912 helmet safety test

Find someone who knew how to simulate diving through the defensive line, strap the helmet on him and do the test.

William "Pudge" Heffelfinger

Football already was starting to hit the big time in 1912. You might say that professional football got started on November 12, 1892, when the Allegheny Athletic Association paid William “Pudge” Heffelfinger $500 under the table to help the AAA team beat the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, 4-0 (touchdowns were worth 4 points at that time). Nobody worried too much about head or brain injuries back then.

The thing that bothers me most about the safety test picture is that the three safety consultants appear to be enjoying themselves a bit overmuch. Of course, they didn’t have TV back then.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

“…led by donkeys…”

At the outbreak of World War I, Britain had a relatively small professional army (247,000 men). Close to half of them were stationed overseas throughout the British Empire.

Thus, on the home island in August 1914, Britain’s generals mustered about 150,000 men to be the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) that crossed the English Channel, to join the French in fighting the German attackers.

Within three months, that half of Britain’s professional army was gone. Most of the men in the BEF were dead.

p.s. Britain’s total WWI casualties: 673,375 dead and missing, 1,643,469 wounded

Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, 1492- Present (New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2005), 360.

See also:

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Technology 'R" Us

Often we don’t have a really explicit idea of what we mean when we say “We’ve come a long way….”

For instance, 130 years ago doing the household laundry was a bona fide chore—it was hard work. Why? In 1886 a study estimated that “washing, boiling and rinsing a single load of laundry used about 50 gallons of water.”

So what? Think about it: in the days before indoor plumbing, somebody (think Mom and the kids) had to haul that water from some source outside the house, maybe a pump, maybe a well, maybe a nearby spring or waterway.

That’s 8-10 trips—or more—to haul enough water for the wash, almost enough water to fill an oil drum.

That’s just to do the white and light-colored stuff. Think about doing it again for the dark load.

Things did get better, but slowly. By 1940, roughly 40 percent of homes had heating (not from a fireplace or stove), about 60 percent had flush toilets indoors, 70 percent had water coming out of a tap inside the house and a whopping 80 percent had electricity.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Monday, February 1, 2016

What it doesn’t say….

I’m pretty sure that a lot of folks thought teaching was a proper job for women in 1915 in Sacramento.

Of course, there weren’t a lot of other career paths open to women who wanted to work, or needed to work.

I wonder what women thought about applying for a teaching job, and, of course, complying with the rules and regulations. At least, judging by this example, teachers had a more or less free rein in deciding what and how they should teach.

Wait a minute. I just noticed it doesn’t say anything about romping naked with wild animals in public. Does that mean….?

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.