Below is a smorgasbord of old newspaper clippings, found in various 1852-1853 issues of The West Jersey Pioneer, a Bridgeton, Cumberland County, NJ, paper that existed from 1851-1884. Bridgeton, for those who don’t know, is in the southern part of New Jersey, about half way between Wilmington, DE, and Cape May. I’d gone online to the Library of Congress’s digital newspaper archives in search of some old Perth Amboy newspapers, and somehow ended up here! These curious little snippets must have amused and entertained many of the paper’s readers back then. As you sit, sipping your Saturday morning coffee before heading out for the day, perhaps you, too, will crack a smile or two and find in them a small moment of escape.
I was roaming through some newspaper archives recently and this little blurb in an 1835 Boston paper caught my eye:
Eleven people total, the heaviest one tipping the scales at nearly 300, which means the other ten weighed an average of 210 pounds. They don’t give the family’s surname or any additional details. We don’t know their ages or heights. Nor do we know what they or their parents did for a living that provided them with such hearty eating. In any case, their existence was remarkable enough to make it into the Boston paper, and no doubt they were well known in New Bedford (population ~10,000) at that time.
This is quite a poignant photo; the War had ended just 18 months earlier and America had lost 116,000 servicemen—53,000 in combat and 63,000 from disease and influenza. These tragic losses were marked during this Memorial Day ceremony in Suresnes American Cemetery just outside Paris. If you enlarge the image by clicking on it twice, you will become immersed in a very solemn scene.
The circling year again brings round
This proud Memorial Day,
With mingled joy and grief profound,
We deck with wreaths the sacred mound,
Where patriot soldiers lay.
Tis meet that we this honor show,
And pledge this day anew,
Our fadeless faith, that all may know
How strong this faith will ever grow,
In loyal hearts and true.
Our land so broad, so grand, so free,
Pays homage to the band,
Who fought and bled, and died that we
An undivided nation be,
The peer of any land.
Pile granite to the vaulted skies;
Carve words of deathless fame;
Let marble monuments arise
Where’er the soldier-patriot lies,
In honor of his name.
The granite pile may sink to dust,
No more its words be read ;
The marble may forsake its trust;
The nation may, in reckless lust,
Forget the honored dead.
Their fame is fixed beyond the skies,
Their glory is of God ;
Twas not ambition’s sacrifice,
Nor eager gain for worldly prize,
That laid them ‘neath the sod.
They died our nation’s life to save,
Ere it were rent in twain,
For this each fills a soldier’s grave,
For this the glorious flag shall wave,
In honor of the slain.
They died : the clanking shackles fell
From bondman’s fettered hand,
And angels winged their way to tell,
While heavenly choirs the anthem swell,
Of freedom’s happy land.
Z. F. Riley*
*From Holiday Selections for Readings and Recitation compiled by Sarah Sigourney Rice (Philadelphia: The Penn Publishing Company, 1920, pp. 187-188)
Suresnes American Cemetery – American Battle Monuments Commission
God Bless ALL of Our Fallen Heroes
To follow up on that last post about oatmeal, here are a few US newspaper ads from the 1890s/early 1900s that touted its supreme benefits. This seems to be when oatmeal really took off in the US as a breakfast food. Better late than never, our Irish, English, and Scottish cousins were probably thinking!
Solomon’s Castle is on my must-see list of Florida’s quirkiest places. Like many others on that list, it’s off the beaten path and getting there requires a bit of effort. We were staying in Sarasota a couple of years back when the brochure caught our eye. Shall we go? Why not? Early the next morning we headed east and eventually found ourselves in Florida’s rural heartland in search of the “town” of Ona. It was a hot sunny day during the off-season. Few travelers on the road. GPS was patchy at times; we worried a bit about getting lost, but fortunately, we found our way there.
Hardee County, in which Ona and the “castle” are located, probably hasn’t changed much in the last century. Its 1930 population of 10,000 has almost tripled; but that’s nothing compared to Lee County , which is where we live. Here the population has gone from roughly 15,000 to 620,000 during that same time span. Few contrasts could better reflect the great divide between the pace of life in Gulf coast towns and cities and inland areas such as this.
Solomon’s Castle was the brainchild of Howard Solomon, who died in 2016 of heart troubles. He was 81. Howard spent many decades commuting from his 55-acre property to his St. Petersburg cabinet-making and boat-building business to earn the money that fueled his creative passions. Why base himself in a place like Ona? The land was cheap, and there was plenty of it.
Photography is not permitted within the “castle,” but YouTube has footage of tours Howard used to give to visitors (see link below). You’ll quickly see why the folks behind the Weird US publication called him the “Da Vinci of Debris”. For a great article on Howard, click here.
From here on down, I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Have a great weekend, everyone.
Mom turns 97 at 9:45 p.m. (Eastern) today—quite the milestone! No family coming over, sadly, given the situation, but we have already had a get-together on something like Zoom. Dinner will be shrimp and scallops, baked potato, and green salad followed by homemade dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate icing and mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Any family members out there wanting to offer birthday greetings or even ask her a family-history-related question, feel free to fire away in the comments below or via my email address shown on the ‘About’ page. After all, she has been around since 1923!
Just a super-short post to advise readers that I have created an “Archive Index” page. See tab at top of the page. This displays all posts in order of oldest to newest. It may come in handy as a search tool.
I’d never have imagined that my 500th post would be about toilet paper!
With places of business, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls, etc., currently closed, there could be a quite a bit of “industrial” toilet paper available for purchase online and elsewhere, so I thought I would pass that tip along to anyone who has not already thought about that.
If you are tired of searching and are worried about running out, this could be an option. Quality won’t be the best perhaps, but hey—beggars can’t be choosers. I keep telling friends and family not to worry—when I studied Russian in the USSR many years ago, I occasionally encountered neatly cut up squares of Pravda in the loo paper holder when visiting friends or no paper at all when in public facilities.
Anyway, here is what we bought recently (on Amazon) with a fairly quick delivery:
- Pacific Blue Basic Recycled Paper Towel Roll (Previously branded Envision) by GP PRO (Georgia-Pacific), Brown, 26401, 350 Feet Per Roll, 12 Rolls Per Case – $29.72
- Acclaim 2-Ply Jumbo Jr. Toilet Paper by GP PRO (Georgia-Pacific), 13728, 1000 Linear Feet Per Roll, 8 Rolls Per Case – $32.92
Today is this blog’s 9th anniversary. I want to thank everyone who has followed this blog—whether for many years or just a few days, and all of you who have left comments and other words of support. It’s been an honor to help bring so many stories to life and to shed light on the “in between” years—the time represented by the dash between the dates on all those grave stones.
As of this moment, I have some 91,614+ hits and some 218 followers. I thought you might be interested in seeing what posts have been shared 5 or more times through the years, so check that out below if you like. Unfortunately many of the most shared posts never garnered any or many comments, so I don’t know what exactly resonated with readers, but clearly they found at least part of the content worth sharing. (But, oh, how I wish they’d emailed me or left some wee comment. 😉 )
Anyway, I shall keep plugging away. And, as always, my invitation stands to anyone who wants to provide material for a guest post.
Many thanks again, everyone!!!
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