Monthly Archives: May 2010

Of Memory and Hope

They come with dandelions, since dandelions are plentiful in the last week of May and may be picked with impunity. They arrive around 9:30 in the morning, and as they walk underneath the wrought-iron gate that is three and four times their height, they abruptly stop hopping or skipping or trying to step on the heels of the child in front of them.

Suddenly, they are attempting to behave like grown-ups. They disperse into small groups, but they walk slowly among the tombstones and markers, pausing when they see a name that they know, squatting when they discover a relative. The boys stand with their hands clasped before them, replicating the way they’ve seen their fathers and grandfathers stand, while the girls sometimes hold hands.

Every year on the first school day after Memorial Day, the children of the Lincoln, Vermont, elementary school walk about a mile from the red cedar building that houses the school to the village cemetery.

The result is a rambling parade through the village…They walk across the narrow bridge spanning the New Haven River and then past the line of Gothic Revival homes built a century and a half ago. They pass the gray clapboard general store and the brick monolith that serves as the town hall. Then they wander around the hill upon which sits a church built in 1863, and down the short street that once housed the village’s modest creamery…And, all along the way, they stop, bend down, and pluck the dandelions they will use to decorate the graves, many of which will have small American flags…MORE

~ “Of Memory and Hope,” by Chris Bohjalian

Image: Library of Congress

Laurel and Hardy Dance To The Gap Band

Lefty O’Doul

The Man in the Green Suit.

Sox at Phillies this weekend.

Travis Louie: “Rooty”

Sometime in the late 1850s, after an unusually long, hard rain, a strange figure pulled himself out of the ground and began terrorizing a small mining town in Northern California. It wasn’t so much that he actually physically hurt anyone, . . .it was his unusual appearance combined with his high-pitched cackling and near constant mumbling, which caused such a strong vibration, it rattled window panes and interrupted many a conversation. He was nick-named “Rooty” because of the long root-like tendrils that protruded from the top of his misshapen head and the strong scent of ginseng that came from his body.

More of his ilk here.

Called to mind by Wenlock and Mandeville.

St Tammany weathervane

Artist unidentified
Possibly Massachusetts or New York
c. 1890
Paint on molded copper
American Folk Art Museum:

Until the early 1960s, this impressive weathervane dominated the small business district of the rural Delaware County hamlet of East Branch, New York. It stood at the very top of a turret on the roof of a large building, where it probably had been mounted about 1890. The building housed the local post office, a general store, and a lodge, or “tribe,” of the Improved Order of Red Men, a fraternal organization that based its ceremonial regalia and rituals on Indian lore and legend. The weathervane served as the symbol of the lodge.

The weathervane depicts Tammany, a semilegendary and widely respected chief of the Delaware Indians who is said to have played a significant role in the 1682 treaty between the Indians and William Penn. The legends concerning Tammany were important in the rituals of the Improved Order of Red Men. In an emblematic diploma published for the Order about 1912, Tammany is given the central place of honor, with Washington at his right.

The Tammany vane is stylistically related to one depicting Massasoit (c. 1580–1661), the chief of the Wampanoag Indians who negotiated a treaty with the Pilgrims in 1621. Several manufacturers in the late nineteenth century, including the Boston firms Harris & Company and W.A. Snow & Company (act. c. 1885–c. 1940), produced Massasoit vanes.

This striking figure may be the largest American weathervane ever produced. The presence of about twenty bullet holes confirms the stories that local marksmen used it for target practice in its last days in East Branch.

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The Woodville Plantation museum in Western Pennsylvania recalls St Tammany’s Day with an article on Page Six of its newsletter on the “Forgotten Holiday.”

Forgotten holiday is right — here St Tammany is the patron of this blog and the Jury Box is more than two weeks late in remembering the May 1 feast day. Mea culpa. But better late than never.

And it is never too late to hoist a refreshing Tammany cocktail.

Walrus tusks for sale here.

All-American Monsters

Smithsonian Magazine on mammoths and mastodons:

A mammoth discovery in 1705 sparked a fossil craze and gave the young United States a symbol of national might.

By the 1780s, Jefferson convinced himself that the mammoth still lived. When, as president, he sent Lewis and Clark to explore the American West–it was partly to see if they could turn up a living mammoth.

Black Hawk and his son Whirling Thunder

By John Wesley Jarvis (ca. 1780-1839)
Oil on canvas
Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Okla.

Happy Mother’s Day, Arva Orr

Forty years ago.

Statue to be unveiled today.

Britain goes to the polls

Guardian: Did Sun Photoshop Page 3 girls’ underwear Tory blue?

The Sun, champions of women everywhere, urges its readers to “Save these girls from the dole tomorrow”. It’s talking of course about today’s page three feature, which features no fewer than 16 topless women.

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Guardian: Election Day front pages gallery

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AFP: Voters cast ballots in pubs

Locals who would normally pop into The Anglesea Arms pub for a pint of Broadside, Brakspear or Wandle ale were instead making the much more serious decision of who should represent them in parliament.

Regular punters poured into the boozer in plush South Kensington to choose their MP rather than their main course as they sidled into the half-dozen voter booths in what is normally the restaurant section.

One mother trooped in with her three children, all wearing their school uniform of navy blue blazers and straw boater hats.

Outside, the Conservative teller, wearing a blue rosette and a smart suit, took a risk by leaving his overcoat under the freshly-watered hanging baskets of pansies.

“I think I’m very fortunate to be able to vote in the pub,” said the retired Judy Carter, whose home overlooks the alehouse. “I think I’ll be popping in for a drink later on.

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Telegraph election coverage

Times election coverage

The Spectator Coffeehouse

Sea Lion Hall wishes you a Happy Cinco de Mayo

Charley “Sea Lion” Hall, pictured here warming up for the Red Sox in 1913, was born Carlos Clolo, of Mexican parentage, in Ventura, Calif.

As far as the ‘Sea Lion’ name, the only thing I ever heard was, ‘he had the voice of a walrus.’ ~ a baseball historian quoted at Wikipedia

Sea Lion Hall they used to call him. He had a raucous penetrating voice like a fog horn at sea, and when he roared, especially from the coaching lines, you could hear him all over the stands.

Hall pitched in the big leagues….when inelegant players referred to Charley as ‘the Greaser.’ He didn’t mind Sea Lion, rather relished it, but Greaser was a fighting word, and Charley was in plenty of fights. He capitalized on his ability with his fists and in handling rough customers. ~ The baseball writer Fred Lieb, quoted in a history of the St. Paul Saints

Image: Library of Congress

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The author Richard Rodriguez, himself of Mestizo (Indian and Spanish) descent, offers a fascinating and very useful perspective on the immigration controversy in his essay “Mexicans in America”:

Hispanic. In all the video footage I have seen of people crossing illegally from Mexico, of people arrested, the faces look more Indian than Spanish. Most of the illegal immigrants from Mexico may be mestizo, racially, but Indian features predominate. And isn’t that curious? The Indians are illegally coming into the United States. Indians will always wander in the Americas and they should.

Elsewhere he says:

I keep trying to tell people that Los Angeles is already the largest Indian city in the U.S., that there are Toltecs playing Little League baseball in Pasadena, Mayans making beds at the Marriott in Westwood, and Chichimecs driving buses in L.A. Los Angeles is a majority-Indian city. Of course, since we don’t see the Indian as a living figure — having turned the Indian into a kind of mascot for the ecology movement, a symbol of prehistory — we can’t see the Indian among us. But what really terrifies Americans right now is the prospect that the Indian is very much alive, that the Indian is having nine babies in Guatemala, and that those nine babies are headed this way. This is one reason why Americans hold on so dearly to the myth of the dead Indian.

Again, Richard Rodriguez — very much worth a read:

“A View from the Melting Pot”

“Mexicans in America”