Lucille Ball at FDR’s Birthday Ball, 1944

3 March 2015

Lucille Ball was one of the famous faces at one of the January 1944 galas celebrating President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 62nd birthday in Washington, D.C.

Lucille Ball signs autographs for admiring seamen. Photo Credit: Thomas D. McAvoy/The LIFE Picture Collection

Lucille Ball signs autographs for admiring seamen. Photo Credit: Thomas D. McAvoy/The LIFE Picture Collection

Lucille Ball performs at one of the gala balls. Photo Credit: Thomas D. McAvoy/The LIFE Picture Collection

Lucille Ball performs at one of the gala balls. Photo Credit: Thomas D. McAvoy/The LIFE Picture Collection

Video: Nixon Now Campaign Song, 1972

2 March 2015

Richard Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign song and commercial, “Nixon Now.” Nothing like a good jingle to spruce up a campaign!

POW Embracing Family, 1953

28 February 2015

1st Lt. Alvin Anderson, one of the many repatriated POW’s to return home aboard the USNS Marine Phoenix, embracing his mother and sister as other members of his family look on. Fort Mason, CA, September 14, 1953.

Tank Altar, Saipan, 1944

27 February 2015

Navy Chaplain O. David Herrmann, of Omaha, Neb., attached to a Marine unit on Saipan, uses a destroyed Japanese tank (Type 95 Ha-Go light tank) for an altar as he holds services for the dead on June 24, 1944.

Odd Ads of the Past: Bolsheviks, Washrooms, & ScotTissue, 1920s

26 February 2015

It seems that there was a new fear that employers in the United States had to look out for – the possibility that their rough, ineffective paper towels were creating Bolsheviks. In this actual Scott Tissue advertisement for their new ScotTissue paper towels, the company emphasizes the importance of quality paper towels in preventing the spread of communism. This advertisement ran in the 1920s when the first Red Scare was sweeping the country.

Is your washroom breeding Bolsheviks?

Employees lose respect for a company that fails to provide decent facilities for their comfort

Try wiping your hands six days a week on harsh, cheap paper towels or awkward, unsanitary roller towels – and maybe you, too, would grumble.
Towel service is just one of those small but important courtesies – such as proper air and lighting – that help build up the goodwill of your employees.
That’s why you’ll find clothlike ScotTissue Towels in the washrooms of large well-run organizations such as R.C.A., Victor Co., Inc., National Lead Co. and Campbell Soup Co.
ScotTissue Towels are made of “thirsty fibre [sic]” . . . an amazing cellulose product that drinks up moisture 12 times as fast as ordinary paper towel. They feel soft and pliant as a linen towel. Yet they’re so strong and tough in texture they won’t crumble or go to pieces . . . even when they’re wet.
And they cost less, too – because one is enough to dry the hands  – instead of three or four.
Write for free trial carton. Scott Paper Company, Chester, Pennsylvania.

ScotTissue Towels – really dry!

In Their Words: Jesse Owens

25 February 2015

Jesse_Owens

Send ‘Em by Parcel Post: Mailing Children

24 February 2015

mailing children

Letter carriers pose for photographs with children in their mailbag. In 1913, the United States Postal Service instituted domestic parcel service. This meant that packages could now be sent across the country. A few families saw this as an opportunity to send some of their more ‘delicate’ items through the mail – their children.

With stamps on their clothing, a handful of children were “mailed” when the parcel service launched. There were not many children who were mailed. Those who were often traveled the railway and city carriers with trusted employees or relatives who worked for the post office. You are probably wondering why people would mail their children. Well, if a child came in under the 50 pound parcel weight limit (increased from the initial 11 pound limit), it was cheaper to mail them than to pay for travel fare by alternative methods.

New York Times, January 26, 1913

New York Times, January 26, 1913

The first child believed to be ‘mailed’ was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Beague of Glen Este, Ohio. A little under 11 pounds, the baby was mailed from his parents and traveled with Vernon Lytle, a Rural Ree Delivery carrier, to his grandmother’s house a mile away. If you wonder how much it cost to mail a child the distance of a mile in mid January 1913, well it only cost his parents 15-cents (they did insure him for $50). Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Savis of Pine Hollow, Pennsylvania placed 45-cents worth of stamps on their daughter to travel to Clay Hollow to be with relatives. The parents placed their daughter’s care into the hands of rural carrier James Byerly.

In 1913, Postmaster General Frank Harris Hitchcock was asked about the requirements for mailing babies from a person in Fort McPherson, Georgia. “I have been corresponding with a party in PA about getting a baby to rais [sic] (Our home being without one)” starts the letter that was published in the New York Times on January 17, 1913. It continues, “May I ask you what specifications to use in wrapping so it (baby) would comply with regulations and be allowed shipment by parcel post as the express co. are to rough in handling.” Since babies, in Hitchcock’s opinions, do not fall under the category of “bees and bugs” – the only acceptable living thing that could be transported by parcel post – he stated that mailing children was not acceptable. However, it did not seem he was overly forceful on his opinion because mailing children was still done.

Young May Pierstorff, the most famous of the parcel post children packages. Photo Credit: Smithsonian

Young May Pierstorff, the most famous of the parcel post children packages. Photo Credit: Smithsonian

By all accounts, the rest of the year was relatively quiet on the “putting stamps on children and mailing them” front. The next year, it started back up. One of the most well-known story of children being mailed was that of May Pierstorff. Just three months shy of six-years-old and weighing in at 48 1/2 pounds, May’s parents decided that she should visit her grandparents but thought the train fare was too steep a price to pay. So, on February 19, 1914, May’s parents put 53-cents in stamps on her and sent May from Grangeville to Lewiston, Idaho – a distance of about 73 miles. She was taken to her grandmother’s house by Leonard Mochel, the mail clerk on duty.

Upon inquiries of mailing children, Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson was quick to rule that it was not allowed as his predecessor Hitchcock stated. This again fell one deaf ears. In 1915 – the year the Smithsonian National Postal Museum called “a banner year for mailing children – six-year-old Edna Neff was believed to have traveled the longest when she was mailed from her mother’s Pensacola, Florida home all the way to Christainburg, Virginia where her father lived. Traveling by railway mail train, the little over 720 miles trip cost a whooping 15-cents in stamps!

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum note there were other instances of children being mailed throughout the year. They also attest that Maud Smith, a three-year-old, seemed to be the last case of children being mailed. Maud’s story is the following: “That September, three-year-old Maud Smith made her parcel post journey when she traveled from her grandparents’ home to her mother’s, Mrs. Celina Smith of Jackson, Kentucky. A local newspaper noted that this particular trip was being investigated by the postal officials.” The National Postal Museum continues, “Superintendent John Clark of the Cincinnati division of the Railway Mail Service asked the Caney, Kentucky postmaster to explain who he allowed the child onto the train as parcel post in clear violation of postal rules. Perhaps it was the public notice of the investigation, but for whatever reason, it appears to have been the final case of ‘child mail.'” According to an article published in Springfield’s Republican on September 3, 1918, mailing children still occurred three years after Maud’s eventful trip.

Two Girls Sent By Parcel Post over New Motor Mail Truck Route; Postage $1.23
from the Springfield, Mo. Republican September 3, 1918, page 8.

“Josephine McCall, 7 years old, and Iris Carter, 8 years old, have been stamped, mailed and yes delivered by the parcel post from their home in Red Top to their aunt, Mrs. Bessie McCall, 1221 North Campbell Street, Springfield.  They came all the way in one of the new motor trucks over one of the new routes and were driven by W. E. Fawcett who delivered them.

When the relatives of Josephine and Iris at Red Top were troubled as to how to get the children to Springfield without sending someone up with them they hit upon the idea of sending them by parcel post and by the way of the new motor route or “a la motor truck”.  The regulations say that all goods must be stamped and weighed, registered, etc.

The children were weighed and the cost of sending them figured at the regular rates of sending things.  Josephine, it was found could go for 52 cents but it took 70 cents to pay for the mailing and delivery of Iris.

A dollar and twenty-three cents was paid and the children were stamped like ordinary parcels.  When the driver of the new motor truck, W. E. Fawcett , came steaming into Red Top he found the two children awaiting him along with other things he was to deliver to Springfield.

Mr. Fawcett believes that a kid or two at a time to deliver is all right but he is glad the idea does not occur to many parents at present when moving their children and he is dreading the time when he will find children all along the way and persons in parcels at every post office.”

In a New York Times article published on June 14, 1920, First Assistant Postmaster General Koons stated that “…children did not come within the classification of harmless live animals which do not require food or water while in transport.” Therefore, children could not be sent via parcel post. I can safely say that it was probably for the best that officials finally put their foot down. Otherwise, my mom’s threat of sending me to Timbuktu when I was younger (and much more troublesome) would have been far cheaper than she realized….

Note: It should be noted that the photographs at the top of mailmen with babies in their bag were staged photographs and not thought to be actual babies mailed through parcel post.

Sources
“Wants Baby Sent by Mail.” New York Times, Jan 17, 1913.
“Baby Boy by Parcel Post.” New York Times, Jan 26, 1913.
“Rules Children Cannot be Sent by Parcel Post as Live Animals.” New York Times, Jun 14, 1920.
Pope, Nancy. “Very Special Deliveries.” Smithsonian: National Postal Museum, February 17, 2013.
Precious Packages – America’s Parcel Post Service,” Smithsonian National Postal Museum.
Springfield-Greene County Library District

The Seacoast Mortar “Dictator”

23 February 2015
Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The 13-inch seacoast mortar called the “Dictator” is shown above in front of Petersburg, Virginia in October 1864. The seacoast mortar weighed around 17,120 pounds and, due to it’s weight, was transported by railway truck along the railroad track. It fired a 200+ pound shell with a charge of 20 pounds of powder. The angle of elevation was forty-five degrees and had a range of around 4,600 yards.

When fired, the recoil would send the flatcar it was stationed on to recoil 10 to 12 feet on the tracks. During the siege of Petersburg, the “Dictator” was manned by Company G of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery. The Fort Pitt Foundry created about 162 of these 13-inch seacoast mortars.

The process of moving the “Dictator” is described on the back of a stenograph as the following:

This large sea-coast mortar is mounted on a special flat-car made very strong for this purpose. This mortar-car is on General Grant’s Military Railroad at Petersburg. The car is readily moved along the line and the mortar is fired whenever required; it is thus made very effective and annoying to the enemy, for it is something like the Irishman’s flea, “when they put their hands on it, it ain’t there;” in other words, when they turn the fire of their batteries on the “Dictator,” our boys hitch on to the car and run it along out of the line of fire and commence pegging away again. By the time the “Johnnies” find out where the “Dictator” is and get the range to smash it, “it ain’t there” again; the boys run it along to a new stand for business.

The “Dictator” is currently mounted at Hartford, Connecticut.

Another view of the "Dictator". Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Another view of the “Dictator”. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The "Dictator" at Petersburg shown on its rolling platform. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The “Dictator” at Petersburg shown on its rolling platform. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The "Dictator" being moved along the railroad tracks. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The “Dictator” being moved along the railroad tracks. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Sources
Tucker, Spencer C. American Civil War: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013.
Mortar Dictator“, Library of Congress.
The Seacoast Mortar called “The Dictator” at the Siege of Petersburg 1864,” IronBrigader.com.

Draining a Mash Vat during Prohibition

22 February 2015

St. Louis police officers from the Carr Street Station supervising the draining of a mash vat in an illicit Franklin Avenue distillery during Prohibition.

Men & Women in Uniform, 1917

21 February 2015

A group of men and women are seen here in uniform, circa 1917.

Howitzer during the Battle of Manila, 1899

19 February 2015

A howitzer being manned by U.S. soldiers during the Battle of Manila (Philippine-American War), 1899.

Last Words: John Tyler

18 February 2015

john tyler

Flushing High School Victory Corps, 1942

17 February 2015

During World War II, American high schools initiated a program that focused on wartime training for male and female high school students called Victory Corps. Established on September 25, 1942 by John W. Studebaker, the Commissioner of Education, Victory Corps was “designed to mobilize secondary school students for more effective preparation and participation in wartime service.”

It focused on a variety of skills from physical conditioning to rifle training to even learning trigonometry. According to an April 26, 1943 newspaper article, states were given grants “for individual high schools to intensify education in science, mathematics, and physical education, all of primary importance in training pre-induction youth.”

The following photographs are of the Victory Corps being instituted at Flushing High School in Queens, New York in October 1942 by William Perlitch.

By the time these boys are old enough to join America's fighting forces they will be toughened to commando standards. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

By the time these boys are old enough to join America’s fighting forces they will be toughened to commando standards. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Boys toughen up by methods similar to those used in Commando training. Ability to cover distances quickly despite obstacles is developed by the school's ranger course which these boys are enrolled in. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Boys toughen up by methods similar to those used in Commando training. Ability to cover distances quickly despite obstacles is developed by the school’s ranger course which these boys are enrolled in. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

In true commando style, this young student is learning to take care of himself no matter what the circumstances may be. High cliffs and walls won't stop him when he is old enough to serve in the armed forces. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

In true commando style, this young student is learning to take care of himself no matter what the circumstances may be. High cliffs and walls won’t stop him when he is old enough to serve in the armed forces. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The "commando" training course offered by the physical education department includes scaling an eight-foot obstacle at top speed. When the boys finish the course they will be in top physical condition if needed for the armed forces. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The “commando” training course offered by the physical education department includes scaling an eight-foot obstacle at top speed. When the boys finish the course they will be in top physical condition if needed for the armed forces. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

 The fireman's "carry." The correct method of carrying a wounded comrade, is shown here by some of the boys in the "commando" course. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The fireman’s “carry.” The correct method of carrying a wounded comrade, is shown here by some of the boys in the “commando” course. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Surmounting an eight-foot obstacle at top speed is one of the features of the rigorous "commando" training which the boys receive. When the boys finish this program they will be in top they will be in top physical condition if needed by forces. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Surmounting an eight-foot obstacle at top speed is one of the features of the rigorous “commando” training which the boys receive. When the boys finish this program they will be in top they will be in top physical condition if needed by forces. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Learning the rudiments of advancing on an enemy will prove valuable to these boys if they are called to join their older brothers in the armed forces. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Learning the rudiments of advancing on an enemy will prove valuable to these boys if they are called to join their older brothers in the armed forces. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The Victory Corps program was phased out beginning in June of 1944 as the war drew to a close.

Sources
“Victory Corps Bill Raises New Question”. The Daily Times. Apr 26, 1943.
High School Victory Corps Established“, The National WWII Museum.

Calvin Coolidge: “You Lose.”

16 February 2015

Calvin_Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge was a man of few words. Upon the sudden death of President Warren G. Harding in 1923, Coolidge became the 30th President of the United States and earned the nickname “Silent Cal.”

Often called the “most negative” and “remote” of U.S. Presidents, Coolidge has also been called the “most accessible” of U.S. Presidents. When asked by successful businessman Bernard Baruch why he did not talk much during interviews, Coolidge explained, “Well, Baruch, many times I say only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to people. Even that is too much. It winds them up for twenty minutes more.”

In a story recounted by First Lady Grace Coolidge, a young woman once sat next to the President at a dinner party. She told him that she made a bet she could get him to have a conversation of three words or more. According to the First Lady, Coolidge, without even looking at the young woman, quietly responded, “You lose.”

Full Load of Beer in Korea, 1951

15 February 2015

Carrying a full load of beer donated by the Marine Corps League for Marines in Korea, is Cpl. R. L. Quisenberry of Dayton, Ohio on July 25, 1951.

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