Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The End Of The Beginning: Trench Warfare Begins

We are continuing reminiscences of the events a century ago as the Western Front invented itself, and The Great War became something.  German and French forces slugged it out as they worked their way to the sea, trying to outflank one another.  Trench warfare began in November, and the suffering that began with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and Sophie would continue on in earnest for another four years (Or was it a century?).  Robert Service joined up at age 40, and he penned more poems than most of the WWI poets.  He was an old hand at listening to stories and putting them into verse, having developed this talent in the Yukon during the gold rush there.  As we go forward through the next four years of this sad centennial we will be visiting other Great War poets.  Mr. Service was kind to his readers, and most of his poems are either entertaining or thought-provoking.  Other poets we visit will take you deeper into the suffering of the soldiers in WWI.  Their voices also need to be heard, lest we forget the sacrifices made by fighting men for their countries. Now, a thrilling tale by Robert Service.

"This is what I have written of the finest troops in the Army of France:

Kelly of the Legion
Now Kelly was no fighter;
He loved his pipe and glass;
An easygoing blighter,
Who lived in Montparnasse.
But 'mid the tavern tattle
He heard some guinney say:
"When France goes forth to battle,
The Legion leads the way.
"The scourings of creation,
Of every sin and station,
The men who've known damnation,
Are picked to lead the way."
Well, Kelly joined the Legion;
They marched him day and night;
They rushed him to the region
Where largest loomed the fight.
"Behold your mighty mission,
Your destiny," said they;
"By glorious tradition
The Legion leads the way.
"With tattered banners flying
With trail of dead and dying,
On! On! All hell defying,
The Legion sweeps the way."
With grim, hard-bitten faces,
With jests of savage mirth,
They swept into their places,
The men of iron worth;
Their blooded steel was flashing;
They swung to face the fray;
Then rushing, roaring, crashing,
The Legion cleared the way.
The trail they blazed was gory;
Few lived to tell the story;
Through death they plunged to glory;
But, oh, they cleared the way!
Now Kelly lay a-dying,
And dimly saw advance,
With split new banners flying,
The fantassins of France.
Then up amid the melee
He rose from where he lay;
"Come on, me boys," says Kelly,
"The Layjun lades the way!"
Aye, while they faltered, doubting
(Such flames of doom were spouting),
He caught them, thrilled them, shouting:
"The Layjun lades the way!"
They saw him slip and stumble,
Then stagger on once more;
They marked him trip and tumble,
A mass of grime and gore;
They watched him blindly crawling
Amid hell's own affray,
And calling, calling, calling:
"The Layjun lades the way!"
And even while they wondered,
The battle-wrack was sundered;
To Victory they thundered,
But . . . Kelly led the way.
Still Kelly kept agoing;
Berserker-like he ran;
His eyes with fury glowing,
A lion of a man;
His rifle madly swinging,
His soul athirst to slay,
His slogan ringing, ringing,
"The Layjun lades the way!"
Till in a pit death-baited,
Where Huns with Maxims waited,
He plunged . . . and there, blood-sated,
To death he stabbed his way.
Now Kelly was a fellow
Who simply loathed a fight:
He loved a tavern mellow,
Grog hot and pipe alight;
I'm sure the Show appalled him,
And yet without dismay,
When Death and Duty called him,
He up and led the way.
So in Valhalla drinking
(If heroes meek and shrinking
Are suffered there), I'm thinking
'Tis Kelly leads the way."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bessemer Mailbox Engine Update From Gary Bahre

Our friend Gary Bahre sent a photo to stir our hearts tonight.


The (extremely) rare two-stroke engine is moving along much faster than Gary thought it would, and this week the cylinder, piston, and rod are going to a machine shop for some serious surgery.  If we had kept this engine, it's future would be going nowhere. We always seem to have something more important than working on our old iron, and the Bessemer would be holding up a mailbox forever if we kept it.

I found this old engine near Blaine, Kentucky when Susan and I were newlyweds.  I spotted it as I went to a timber marking job with my co-workers, and went back after work with Susan to check it out.


It was up one of those hollows between Blaine and Martha, behind a ramshackle barn, and it didn't have a speck of paint on it.  The water jacket was brazed together because it had been frozen, and the connecting rod was broken.  The owner told us that it had been used to power a sorghum press, but it broke down and had been sitting for decades.  I offered him $50, (should have started lower), and that wasn't enough.  I didn't have any more disposable cash, so I threw in my Buck Stockman knife, and he liked that.  Susan and I took the cylinder off and backed the AMC Rebel Wagon up to it.  I picked up one side and she put bricks under it, and then we did the other side.  We got it up to the level of the floor that way and shoved it in.  I don't know why it didn't fall over and kill both of us, and I don't remember how I got it out when we got back to Prestonsburg.

We slapped some paint on it so the landlord wouldn't kick us out..
 

..and it followed us to Southern Illinois in 1980.  It became our Mailbox Engine in 1992, and that is how it was discovered by Gary Bahre.


Stay tuned for more updates on this unusual and rare engine!  By this time next year we should have photos and video of the old girl in action.


Ruger's Auction To Benefit The Youth Shooting Sports Alliance

One of the first Ranch Rifles from way back in 1982 is on the block this week, and the price is not far out of line as of Tuesday night. This fine little carbine will sell mid-day, Wednesday, October 29, so Click Over and place your bid to help a good cause, and maybe win a new rifle. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Youth Shooting Sports Alliance.

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=447719999
$1076

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tuesday Turbo Boost

All the way from 1961!

Holy Cow, I Missed Forest Products Week!

We made up for that little faux-pas yesterday and began the workup on an ash tree the loggers missed two years ago. I do believe this is the prettiest stump I have ever cut.



This brought to mind a little poem in a very old reference book that is usually close by.

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year.
Chestnut's only good, they say,
If for long it's laid away.
Birch and fir logs burn too fast,
Blaze up bright and do not last.
Elmwood burns like churchyard mould;
E'en the very flames are cold.
Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke.
Applewood will scent your room,
With an incense like perfume,
Oak and Maple, if dry and old,
Keep away the winter cold.
But Ash wood wet and Ash wood dry,
A king shall warm his slippers by.

Now, here's a little chip show in the autumn afternoon sunshine.


Video by Susan

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Not My Victrola: H-O-R-O-W,-I-T-Z,...

...That's Horowitz!  Just in time for Halloween again; all the way from 1928, on a Duo-Art Roll.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What's The Name For This LIttle Machine?

I stopped and took some photos of this interesting old implement recently, and though I understand it, I have no idea what it is called.  The operator makes the wheel turn by working the pedal, and the machine slices ear corn into short segments for livestock feed.  I think these must have been common at one time, but this is the first one that I have seen.



Win A New 10/22 TODAY!

Ruger is hosting a one-day sweepstakes to win a 10/22 rifle, TODAY, during the 50th year of the 10/22.  Go Here to be entered, and to get a 10% discount, plus free shipping on an order from ShopRuger.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Just Another Day At The Office...

This big leaner had no wood in the backstrap area to hold it, but at least there was solid wood in front for the hinge.  The big question was, "How long would it stand after punching the hinge?"  Not long!  The one little bit of wood behind the hinge let go before I had punched clear to the center, and you will see some fibers standing in the center of the hinge at the end. With no side lean in the falling direction, it was a fairly safe drop as long as we were ready to move back.

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The Youth Shooting Sports Alliance

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=446229732
Here's another great gun from over thirty years ago, hidden away in Ruger's vault, and it is one of my all time favorites.  I have had one just like this since 1982, and it is always ready.  It has been a skunk killing beast down on the farm, and you just don't miss with this heavy duty beauty.

It's a stainless .357 Magnum Blackhawk, and it's one you will always want to have handy if you are the winner of this auction.  100% of the proceeds will go to the Youth Shooting Sports Alliance, and the auction ends mid-day, Wednesday, October 22, 2014. Click Here, or on Ruger's photo to bid.

Here's mine in a brief video to promote the Rendezvous in 2013.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Not My Victrola: Hot 1920's Jazz

KSPM0220s left YouTube years ago, but he continues to post his record collection on DailyMotion. Here is his latest  upload, the Butterfinger Blues.


Charles Creath's Jazz-o-Maniacs - Butter Finger... by kspm0220s

Thursday, October 16, 2014

American Thresherman Fall Festival!

The fall show starts Friday, this week, at Pinckneyville, Illinois!  Click Here, and Here, for the information you need. Fall colors are at their peak right now, just to make your travels to this show even more memorable.

Crankin' It Up With Brat The Cat: A Double Shot Of Moonshine!


The Moon Shines On The Moonshine Double by TrueBlueSam
Ted Lewis and Bert Williams had very different interpretations of this song from early Prohibition.  Ted's version is for dancing; Bert's is for crying in your beer, if you could find a beer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Engine Collecting Opportunity Just For You!

This is a real opportunity, and all you need is to get to Arkansas early on Friday, October 17, and take your Big-Boy-Checkbook.  It is a two day auction of an amazing collection.

One of many rare items that caught my attention is this two cylinder, 16 HP Novo engine, with a winching drum.  It is a very rare example of early Twentieth-Century industrial development.  This engine is hit-and-miss governed, and the cylinders have independent governors. It may hit on one cylinder for a while, and then the other.  Both kick in when there is a load.  Be in Brinkley, Arkansas, Friday of this week, and this could be your baby!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The Youth Shooting Sports Alliance

Ruger has turned back the clock almost thirty years and pulled a great one from their vault.  It's a .44 Magnum Carbine, all dolled up to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of that model, and also marking the end of that line.  Click over to Ruger's GunBroker page to read all the details, and to place your best bid.  This fine little rifle will sell mid-day, Wednesday, October 15, 2014.

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=445278931
$1505

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Century Ago...

...the German and French armies were slugging it out all the way through the month of October. Look up a timeline of the 1914 war, and you will see a long list of battles you never learned in public school. The French army stopped the Germans at the Marne, but from early September until November, they fought their way to the sea, and then they dug in. It was during this time that stories of German atrocities began to circulate, and whether true or not, anyone in the way of the armies pounding on each other was in for a rough time. Here is a page of photos showing some shots of the early war, and what was coming for those on the Western Front.  Below is another poem by Robert Service, published in Rhymes of a Red Cross Man.



Jean Desprez
Oh ye whose hearts are resonant, and ring to War's romance,
Hear ye the story of a boy, a peasant boy of France;
A lad uncouth and warped with toil, yet who, when trial came,
Could feel within his soul upleap and soar the sacred flame;
Could stand upright, and scorn and smite, as only heroes may:
Oh, harken! Let me try to tell the tale of Jean Desprez.

With fire and sword the Teuton horde was ravaging the land,
And there was darkness and despair, grim death on every hand;
Red fields of slaughter sloping down to ruin's black abyss;
The wolves of war ran evil-fanged, and little did they miss.
And on they came with fear and flame, to burn and loot and slay,
Until they reached the red-roofed croft, the home of Jean Desprez.

"Rout out the village, one and all!" the Uhlan Captain said.
"Behold! Some hand has fired a shot. My trumpeter is dead.
Now shall they Prussian vengeance know; now shall they rue the day,
For by this sacred German slain, ten of these dogs shall pay."
They drove the cowering peasants forth, women and babes and men,
And from the last, with many a jeer, the Captain chose he ten;
Ten simple peasants, bowed with toil; they stood, they knew not why,
Against the grey wall of the church, hearing their children cry;
Hearing their wives and mothers wail, with faces dazed they stood.
A moment only. . . . Ready! Fire! They weltered in their blood.

But there was one who gazed unseen, who heard the frenzied cries,
Who saw these men in sabots fall before their children's eyes;
A Zouave wounded in a ditch, and knowing death was nigh,
He laughed with joy: "Ah! here is where I settle ere I die."
He clutched his rifle once again, and long he aimed and well. . . .
A shot! Beside his victims ten the Uhlan Captain fell.

They dragged the wounded Zouave out; their rage was like a flame.
With bayonets they pinned him down, until their Major came.
A blonde, full-blooded man he was, and arrogant of eye;
He stared to see with shattered skull his favourite Captain lie.
"Nay, do not finish him so quick, this foreign swine," he cried;
"Go nail him to the big church door: he shall be crucified."

With bayonets through hands and feet they nailed the Zouave there,
And there was anguish in his eyes, and horror in his stare;
"Water! A single drop!" he moaned; but how they jeered at him,
And mocked him with an empty cup, and saw his sight grow dim;
And as in agony of death with blood his lips were wet,
The Prussian Major gaily laughed, and lit a cigarette.

But mid the white-faced villagers who cowered in horror by,
Was one who saw the woeful sight, who heard the woeful cry:
"Water! One little drop, I beg! For love of Christ who died. . . ."
It was the little Jean Desprez who turned and stole aside;
It was the little bare-foot boy who came with cup abrim
And walked up to the dying man, and gave the drink to him.

A roar of rage! They seize the boy; they tear him fast away.
The Prussian Major swings around; no longer is he gay.
His teeth are wolfishly agleam; his face all dark with spite:
"Go, shoot the brat," he snarls, "that dare defy our Prussian might.
Yet stay! I have another thought. I'll kindly be, and spare;
Quick! give the lad a rifle charged, and set him squarely there,
And bid him shoot, and shoot to kill. Haste! Make him understand
The dying dog he fain would save shall perish by his hand.
And all his kindred they shall see, and all shall curse his name,
Who bought his life at such a cost, the price of death and shame."

They brought the boy, wild-eyed with fear; they made him understand;
They stood him by the dying man, a rifle in his hand.
"Make haste!" said they; "the time is short, and you must kill or die."
The Major puffed his cigarette, amusement in his eye.
And then the dying Zouave heard, and raised his weary head:
"Shoot, son, 'twill be the best for both; shoot swift and straight," he said.
"Fire first and last, and do not flinch; for lost to hope am I;
And I will murmur: Vive La France! and bless you ere I die."

Half-blind with blows the boy stood there; he seemed to swoon and sway;
Then in that moment woke the soul of little Jean Desprez.
He saw the woods go sheening down; the larks were singing clear;
And oh! the scents and sounds of spring, how sweet they were! how dear!
He felt the scent of new-mown hay, a soft breeze fanned his brow;
O God! the paths of peace and toil! How precious were they now!

The summer days and summer ways, how bright with hope and bliss!
The autumn such a dream of gold . . . and all must end in this:
This shining rifle in his hand, that shambles all around;
The Zouave there with dying glare; the blood upon the ground;
The brutal faces round him ringed, the evil eyes aflame;
That Prussian bully standing by, as if he watched a game.
"Make haste and shoot," the Major sneered; "a minute more I give;
A minute more to kill your friend, if you yourself would live."

They only saw a bare-foot boy, with blanched and twitching face;
They did not see within his eyes the glory of his race;
The glory of a million men who for fair France have died,
The splendour of self-sacrifice that will not be denied.
Yet . . . he was but a peasant lad, and oh! but life was sweet. . . .
"Your minute's nearly gone, my lad," he heard a voice repeat.
"Shoot! Shoot!" the dying Zouave moaned; "Shoot! Shoot!" the soldiers said.
Then Jean Desprez reached out and shot . . . the Prussian Major dead!

Tuesday Turbo Boost