Mister, That’s The Biggest Nickel I’ve Ever Seen

Nat Geo 7/36

I love how early ads doled out the facts. The US has 13 phones for every 100 people, and Europe has less than three. You better recognize that Bell Telephone worked its hiney off to get that done. You’re welcome, America.

Mad props to Bell.

Per http://www.elon.edu,

While Italian innovator Antonio Meucci is credited with inventing the first basic phone in 1849, and Frenchman Charles Bourseul devised a phone in 1854, Alexander Graham Bell won the first U.S. patent for the device in 1876.

And while this Bell ad states there were 34 million phones in the world in the summer of 1936, today there are 2.71 billion smartphones in use. Per http://www.bankmycell.com, 35% of the world has a smartphone. And most of us are addicted. Perhaps you are even reading this on your phone now, although I wouldn’t recommend it. You need a big monitor to enjoy these pics. 😉

Last night, my husband and I discussed the large long distance phone bills we used to accrue in the 90s, how I would call my mom collect at Christmas once I arrived at my grandparent’s house, finding a pay phone in the mall to call home, or a phone booth outside, complete with yellow pages (which some folks ripped out). All things our son will never understand. And while we still have a landline, we don’t have a rotary, so he won’t experience that either. And frankly, most of his communication is texting, so rare is the time he even speaks on a phone at all. Remember when we looked forward to hearing each other’s voices?

For Whom The Horn Blows

National Geographic, March 1928

I got on my hands on a tall stack of vintage Nat Geos this weekend, all from the 20s and 30s. And yes, even in 1928, they had colorful pictures of bare-breasted tribal women. Odd.

In this particular article about Michigan, “Mistress of the Lakes,” they declare Detroit a “City Without Slums.” Now that’s quite the declaration. Clearly things were going well in 1928. One of the manufacturing jobs listed, in addition to cars and gold pens, was the lumber industry. And let me remind you, if you’ve never read a National Geographic article, they are loooong. There was no TV yet, not everyone had radio. So this article on Michigan alone goes from page 269 to 325. Crazy, right? I won’t read it all. But I’ll share these picshas.

The curiously-coiffed gal above is the assistant cook at the lumberyard, who retires to the rear of the cook shack at noon each day to sound the call for “dinner,” which is what we call lunch.

Into the room, the men would file for nourishment. A unique feature of the lumber camps was absolute silence during eating. They maintained that it prevented arguments, which could lead to “brawls, broken dishes, and broken heads,” none of which that cook up top would want to fix. For those with misophonia, who lose their minds when forced to listen to others eating, this would have proven a challenge. But mental conditions were not coddled in their day, so group masticating it was.

The author of the article asserts that strong and faithful horses were better able to do certain lumber camp work better than “any motors,” but I imagine that didn’t last long.

While it was not uncommon to see huge rafts of pulpwood float downstream for consumption of paper mills, much wood was loaded onto ships and processed throughout Michigan.

This particular vessel below has just discharged a cargo of one million board feet of rough lumber from a Canadian port, which Saginaw’s mill will finish for ready-cut houses. Per michiganhistory.leadr.msu.edu, Saginaw hit its peak in the Lumber Era during 1882, with 1,001,274,905 board feet of timber cut in mills along the Saginaw River.

No wonder we hug the trees now.



Cosplay 1961

61 Round Up

Not sure what’s going on here, whether it’s a Greek college costume party or Halloween or what. I do know that stuffed animals that size are on the pricey end, and usually don’t belong to adults, unless it was won as a carnival prize on a date.

I’m all for fun and frolic and costume parties, but only for an evening. I deplore the current subculture of cosplay. Detest anime. Loathe manga. I don’t understand the lengths to which grown people play pretend and the time and money and travel spent to escape their real lives. I understand being a child at heart, enthusiasm, awe, seeing the world with fresh eyes. But playing dress-up with other grown-ups as a lifestyle? Perhaps I’m a crotchety old fart, but I don’t get it.

Back In The U.S.S.R. (Don’t Know How Lucky You Are)

Nat Geo 1/47

When we studied WWII in middle school, I remember trying to wrap my head around the murder of six million Jews. It was a number I couldn’t fathom. I currently can’t imagine having a million dollars, and I can’t process that there are over a million people in my hometown now. It’s still too big of a number for me. So when we think about the estimated 26 million Soviet citizens who died during WWII (according to the Washington Post), it’s mindboggling. Can you process that number? There are only 25 million people in all of Australia right now. Less than 26 million in all of North Korea. Can you imagine just annihilating that many folks?

And the men above were spared. Survivors of forced labor camps with nothing to their names. What a hard road that must have been to travel.

Per a January article about Soviet slavery in Russia Beyond:

“They crammed us into wagons, as many as they could, so we couldn’t move our legs,” recalled Antonina Serdyukova, who was captured in Ukraine. “For a month, traveled that way.” Describing her life at a plant near Dresden, she said, “We ate once a day, a bowl of soup, with carrot and swede.”

For the Ostarbeiter (“workers from the east”), forced to live thousands of kilometers from home, fate was like the lottery. Metallurgical plants, mines and farms needed workers, and where they ended up depended on who paid the most.

“When we arrived, there was a transfer point, I would call it a slave market,” said Fedor Panchenko from Ukraine. “In an hour, they sold the whole group of people to different hands.” Among a group of 200 people, Panchenko found himself in a factory, at the ironworks in Silesia (now Poland). For those who came home, life was also hard: German captivity was a stigma. “Fellow citizens despised us,” calmly recalls Panchenko. “I couldn’t apply for a decent job and spent 37 years working at a factory, and if there was any kind of breakage, they would say to me each time: “Oh, no surprise, you worked for Hitler.” Others kept silent about their experience in Germany for decades – they didn’t want the stigma to impact their careers or families.