Lux et Veritas

This is one of 804 articles in my book Now and Then Again, The Way We Were and the Way We Are. The book is available from Amazon for $16.95 also as an ebook from itunes, Kobo, and Inktera for $9.99. Also from Tolino in Germany. It’s fixed format so it’s better  with a tablet, laptop, or computer. There are more articles from the book on another blog here.

Lux et Veritas

In the Jewelers’ Circular, August 7, 1918 is an ad for paint for glow-in-the-dark watch dials.

Luma Radium Luminous Compound

We absolutely guarantee that only radium is used to activate Luma, no mesothorium, radiothorium, ionium (1), nor polonium being added.

Radium paint was used for glow-in-the dark watch dials. The radium was mixed with zinc sulfide which glows from the radioactive particles the radium emits.

The United States Radium Corporation set up shop in 1917 in Orange, New Jersey. It employed women to paint watch dial numbers with their radium paint brand, Undark (which did have mesothorium added). In addition to watches, U.S. Radium had a contract to paint instrument dials for the U.S. Army in World War I.

The women were told to point the brushes with their lips for the delicate task. In the process, they ingested small amounts of radium. Continue reading

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Pumping Iron

This is one of 804 articles in my book Now and Then Again, The Way We Were and the Way We Are. The book is available from Amazon for $16.95 also as an ebook from itunes, Kobo, and Inktera for $9.99.  Also from Tolino in Germany. It’s fixed format so it’s better  with a tablet, laptop, or computer. There are more articles from the book on another blog here.

Pumping Iron

In January, 1898 an act at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool, England went badly wrong. As a pianist impersonating Paderewski played, a man in evening dress listened, absorbed in the music. But when the pianist started singing, the pained man picked up the piano with the pianist still sitting on the attached seat, still playing, and marched offstage in time to the music. Unfortunately, the strongman stumbled and both piano and pianist went flying, causing considerable damage to both. Continue reading

Fat Men’s Ball

This is one of 804 articles in my book Now and Then Again, The Way We Were and the Way We Are. The book is available from Amazon for $16.95 also as an ebook from itunes, Kobo, and Inktera for $9.99. Also from Tolino in Germany. It’s fixed format so it’s better  with a tablet, laptop, or computer. There are more articles from the book on another blog here.

Fat Men’s Ball

The first annual ball of the Fat Men’s Association of the City of New York was held at Irving Hall December 20, 1869.
Tickets were sold to the public, who watched from galleries above the dance floor, to raise money for the Fat Men’s annual picnic in Norwalk, Connecticut.

The guest of honor was seven year old Thomas Conway (80½ pounds) introduced by the president of the Association John Fiske (358 pounds).

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Music was provided by Claudio Grafulla, the March King before Sousa, conducting the Seventh Regiment Band, which was much in demand at the time for social events. The band played The Fat Men’s March, specially composed for the occasion by Grafulla. Continue reading

Hats

This is one of 804 articles in my book Now and Then Again, The Way We Were and the Way We Are. The book is available from Amazon for $16.95 also as an ebook from itunes, Kobo, and Inktera for $9.99.  Also from Tolino in Germany. It’s fixed format so it’s better  with a tablet, laptop, or computer. There are more articles from the book on another blog here.

Hats Off

I live in New Jersey, so I don’t see a lot of cowboy hats. But through the magic of television, I am occasionally transported out west, to the land of cowboy hats.

Looks like a great hat to keep you in the shade in a sunny clime. They don’t look too waterproof, though, but I guess it doesn’t rain a lot there. But it can get windy. You never see anyone wearing a cowboy hat with a chin strap and you never see hats tumbling along with the tumbleweeds.

But what’s most striking about cowboy hats is that the wearers never seem to take them off when they come indoors. You see real people scenes of line dancing, beer drinking, and country singing with hats on. It seems to me that a real 19th century cowboy would doff his hat when he came inside. Audie Murphy did. After all, the sun only shines outside.

Hats On

I’m not a hat person, although I wear a knit cap and earmuffs when I walk the dog in the very cold.

The list of hats is astounding. Bearskin, baseball (front, back, sideways), beret, bowler/derby, bonnet, boater, balaclava, breton, feed, homburg, mortarboard, yarmulke, trilby, pillbox, chitrali, hijab, wimple, tricorne, turban, railroad, pith helmet, night cap, dunce cap, miter, tarboush, top hat, cai non, deerstalker, ivy cap, porkpie, cloche, pickelhaube (the Prussian helmet with the spike on top), snood, tyrolean, toque, fez, fedora, coonskin, shako, sombrero, gaucho, tam o’shanter, digger, panama, and zucchetto (the Pope’s yarmulke) are just a few.

Most hats aren’t very functional. The bicorne (admiral’s hat — Napoleon wore his sideways), top hat, mortarboard, and fez come to mind.

The fedora (see Stetson ad below) was de rigeur from the 30’s through the 50’s. Old photos of baseball games show men in the stands wearing fedoras (and jackets and ties). My dad had one, though he didn’t wear it much. Hats seem to have tapered off in the 60’s, maybe because JFK didn’t wear them. Both he and Eisenhower wore top hats to JFK’s inauguration, but Kennedy rarely wore hats afterwards.

Then there’s the ultimate hat, your crown, Your Majesty.

Continue reading

Passing the Buck

This is one of 804 articles in my book Now and Then Again, The Way We Were and the Way We Are. The book is available from Amazon for $16.95 also as an ebook from itunes, Kobo, and Inktera for $9.99. Also from Tolino in Germany. It’s fixed format so it’s better  with a tablet, laptop, or computer.There are more articles from the book on another blog here.

Passing the Buck

On December 28, 1898, a Monroe head $100 silver certificate sent to the Philadelphia subtreasury (1) aroused the suspicion of a clerk when the red Treasury seal smeared under his damp thumb. The clerk took the bill to Washington where Treasury experts initially passed it as genuine but finally declared it counterfeit when it separated into two pieces when soaked in water (2). Even though Monroe’s cheekbones and hair over the ear weren’t right, the counterfeit was so good that the Treasury had to recall the entire issue, $27 million and the new head of the Secret Service, John Wilkie, was directed by the Secretary of the Treasury to spend all his time on the investigation.Image

Wilkie assigned the case to his best detective, William Burns. By asking around the trade, Burns determined which engravers had the necessary skills and had ordered certain materials. This led him to Arthur Taylor and Baldwin Bredell, engravers in Philadelphia.

The Secret Service watched the top floor of a building at Ninth and Filbert streets for over a year. One day Taylor and Bredell took a train to Lancaster, shadowed by a Secret Service operative. They visited a large cigar factory there owned by William Jacobs and a tobacco warehouse a block away run by W.L. Kendig.

When informed of this, Wilkie investigated and found that cigars made there had counterfeit revenue stamps on the boxes. But it was decided to continue the investigation until there was enough evidence to also tie Taylor and Bredell to the counterfeit hundred.

Jacobs and Kendig went to lunch together at noon, leaving the warehouse unoccupied. One day detective Burns broke a window in the warehouse with a baseball and boosted a small boy he had brought along from Philadelphia through the broken window. The boy went around to the front and opened a spring door from the inside. Burns went in and and found 27 tons of blue paper used to make the counterfeit stamps, enough for 400 million cigars (3). When Jacobs and Kendig returned they found a weeping boy who said he would pay for the glass if they would let him in to recover his ball, They did and forgave the broken window.

A night reconnaissance up a fire escape by Burns found all the windows at the Philadelphia engraving shop locked. Taylor and Bredell employed an office boy. Burns rented a costume and an agent bumped into the boy on the street and gave him fifty cents to take the package to a hotel and give it to Burns, posing as a theater man, who asked the boy if he’d like to be an extra in a play. The boy was taken to another room where he changed into the costume, then to see an agent posing as the theater manager. Burns took the boy’s keys from his pocket, and “whirled away” in a waiting carriage to the Yale Lock Company nearby, had the office key duplicated, then “whirled back”. (4) Continue reading

All Shook Up

This is one of 804 articles in my book Now and Then Again, The Way We Were and the Way We Are. The book is available from Amazon for $16.95 also as an ebook from itunes, Kobo, and Inktera for $9.99. Also from Tolino in Germany. It’s fixed format so it’s better with a tablet, laptop, or computer. There are more articles from the book on another blog here.

All Shook Up

“We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the [Viennese] Waltz was introduced (we believe for the first time) at the English court on Friday last … it is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs and close compression on the bodies in their dance, to see that it is indeed far removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the civil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.”
— From a report on the Prince Regent’s grand ball, The Times of London, July, 1816

The American Federation of Musicians vowed never to play ragtime music at their national meeting in 1901. Ragtime was considered low music by some and was sometimes attacked with a whiff of racism.

The Commissioner of Docks in New York City forbade it in summer pier concerts and the Superintendent of Vacation Schools in New York would not allow ragtime in school music programs..

Thomas Preston Brooke, conductor of the Chicago Marine Band, made music history in 1902 by giving a ragtime only concert at the Cincinnati Zoo, which was so popular he gave two ragtime concerts a week after. Brooke gave a passionate defense of ragtime in the Chicago Tribune in 1902, saying that ragtime was not a fad, that it “pleases the God-given sense of rhythm”, and it will last “for centuries to come after we have been forgotten.” Continue reading

Grin and Bear It

This is one of 804 articles in my book Now and Then Again, The Way We Were and the Way We Are. The book is available from Amazon for $16.95 also as an ebook from itunes, Kobo, and Inktera for $9.99. Also from Tolino in Germany. It’s fixed format so it’s better with a tablet, laptop, or computer. There are more articles from the book on another blog here.

Grin and Bear It

“On Whit-Tuesday, 1786, there was celebrated at Hendon, Middlesex, a burlesque imitation of the Olympic games. One prize was a gold-laced hat, to be grinned for by six candidates, who were placed on a platform, with horse collars to exhibit through. Over their heads was printed:

Detur Tetriori;
or
The ugliest grinner
Shall be the winner

Each party grinned separately for three minutes, and then all united in one grand exhibition of facial contortion. An objection was lodged against the winner on the ground that he had rinsed his mouth with vinegar.”
— All the Year Round, Charles Dicken’s weekly, 1888.

Grinning matches, making grotesque faces for a prize standing on a table with your head through a horse collar, had been going on for more than a hundred years before this account.

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A mocking essay by Joseph Addison in his paper The Spectator September 18, 1711 notes an advertisement in The Post-Boy for an event on October 9 featuring a horse race for a prize of a plate worth 6 guineas, a lesser value plate for a race of asses, and “’a gold ring to be grinn’d for by men’” Continue reading