I love vintage National Geographics. They didn’t mince words in describing these “shanty-boat folk” in May of 1932, which, though in the Depression, was STILL probably a better May than ours, as they weren’t consumed by thoughts of invisible germs killing them. Shanty-boat folk don’t care about no germs. SBF don’t care about paying property taxes, since their “crude craft of clapboards and tin” drifted along the Ohio River and down the Mississippi as they saw fit, stealing food from cornfields and berry patches, or snatching an unfortunate stray chicken. These water gypsies had been “the bane of steamboat skippers,” who tried to maneuver around them in days of yore, and continued to incite derision as the decades passed.
Looking at this image of debris washed up along Galveston’s seawall as Hurricane Carla battered the coastline in September of 1961 made me reflect on the powerful beating our economy has taken in a period of only five weeks. Yesterday, my childhood restaurant closed, one where I have fond memories of eating gingerbread pancakes and broccoli sour cream omelets, washed down with iced hibiscus tea at the dawn of the 80s. It had an hour wait nearly every weekend for 40 years, and now it has no wait. Another trendy Austin hotspot folded this morning. So much for their lemon shrimp linguine. How can everything tumble so quickly?
Our favorite haunts are pummeled, as we stand helplessly by. So much for the Pleasure Pier.
The water keeps rising. The Mobil is inoperable, but we don’t need the gas because we can’t go anywhere. The Motor Hotel is flooded, but we’re not allowed to travel from home, so it barely registers.
Down is up, and up is down. Small businesses fold; delivery services soar. Horses stand on patios.
Boats prop tilted on the highway.
In the aftermath, we try to salvage what we can. Sift through the rubble.
What do we do now? We have no income. We have no idea if our jobs will exist when we return to them. How will we pay our bills? We don’t qualify for unemployment benefits. This stimulus check will barely get us through the next month on essentials.
So we cry and comfort each other.
We wonder if the lives saved by isolation outnumbers the lives lost by suicide, outnumbers the families left unfed and unsheltered, down to their last double digits in their savings accounts. And still it goes on.
But we can see the light. We can walk toward it. The world will once again re-open, battered and bruised, but hopefully more united, more focused on true priorities and aware of invisible dangers. Together, we will wade out.
Today is Tuesday Travel day (but not for you or anyone else on this planet right now), and today’s mode of travel is TRAINS. My granddad loved trains, often joining the engineer up front, donning the requisite engineer cap. While most of his train schedules and pamphlets are normal map-sized (the kind we once bought at gas stations), none of today’s images are larger than your hand. Most measure only five inches tall.
The majority are from 1934-1935, but this one is about to hit the century mark.
Folks back then would have needed a good pair of glasses to read the small font to find a route and a fare to their destination.
Advertising air conditioning was very important.
Even if was glaringly racist.
It certainly sounds necessary, after reading about the “torrid, sooty blasts from open windows.”
The font and artwork are still eye-catching after all these years.
The luncheon options, however, would not fare so well today. Ox tongue? Prune whip? Prune cornbread? What on earth?
Perhaps you’d be better served by keeping your appetite until you hit the Fred Harvey counter at Union Station (where Harvey Girls served up lunch). Fred Harvey advertisements were ubiquitous on time cards.
Why, even Judy Garland was a Harvey Girl in the movies!
And she sang about the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe, which were all train routes.
What about you all? Have you ever ridden a train? Did you get a cool time card? Where were you going?
Yep, it’s grandpa’s map time again. This time, it’s Germany! The last referenced date on it is ’33. Hitler has just become chancellor, he’s begun his purge of the civil service, professing national socialism. The Gestapo is born, and Germany is ripe for visitors!
It’s so hard to appreciate a large map online, especially one that has been folded since the 30s, with stiff, sharp creases.
But you can get a taste of the fanciful and intricate illustrations. Here we see it referred to as the German Reich, though this is the first year of the rise of the Third Reich.
None of its citizens can know what the next few years will bring, or how their children will become indoctrinated.
Can you appreciate the colors, the birds, the animals, and churches? What a happy place of frolic.
By the way, friends and family who have lived in and visited Germany say it is a beautiful country today! Add it to your bucket list.
Perhaps your grocery shelves are bare of bottled water thanks to the numero 19 virus . The good news is that it flows in the pipes in your home. Is it nasty? Put a couple filters on it, like we do. We have the best-tasting agua in the neighborhood.
But should your water supply run low (perhaps you are out and about, as the CDC has scolded us not to, even though it’s Spring Break, and most breaks have now become four weeks instead of one, and no sane teenager is going to stay home for a one month vacation, so off to spread some virus they shall go), remember that Coors Light is basically the same thing. Just worse.
Among my granddad’s things is this gloriously colorful 24 x 18 map. My guess is that Gramps mailed his request to General Foods, as Grape-Nuts was one of the foods Byrd took on his journey.
It depicts Antarctica from a polar perspective, with the tip of South America visible at the very top of the image. Large areas are labeled as unexplored, inaccessible, or “claimed.” Inset maps of Byrd’s route south and the area near his camp are provided to the audience as a helpful aid. As explained in the decorative title cartouche, Byrd’s second expedition was the first to feature live two way radio broadcasts. A radio station sponsored by CBS was set up on the base camp ship and relayed weekly updates to New York via Buenos Aires.
Below, you can see the copyright of 1934. One wonders if, at age 14, Gramps ever put this on his wall. It does not appear so. Or has it simply sat inside this envelope for 86 years, going from house to house each time he moved, packed away in a box and never tossed away?