Monday, June 30, 2008

July 1, 1898

"The instant I received the order I sprang on my horse, and then my "crowded hour" began...I spoke to the captain in command of the rear platoons, saying that I had been ordered to support the regulars in the attack upon the hills, and that in my judgement we could not take these hills by firing at them, and that we must rush them. He answered that his orders were to keep his men lying where they were, and that he could not charge without orders. I asked where the colonel was, and as he was not in sight, said, "Then I am the ranking officer here and I give the order to charge"--for I did not want to keep the men longer in the open suffering under a fire which they could not effectively return.

Naturally the captain hesitated to obey this order when no word had been received from his own colonel. So I said, "Then let my men through, sir." and rode on through the lines, followed by the grinning Rough Riders, whose attention had been completely taken off the Spanish bullets, partly by my dialougue with the regulars, and partly by the language I had been using to themselves as I got the lines forward, for I had been joking with some and swearing at others, as the exigencies of the case seemed to demand. When we started to go through, however, it proved too much for the regulars, and they jumped up and came along, their officers and troops mingling with mine, all being delighted at the chance....."

The Rough Riders, Theodore Roosevelt
(Click; click on View Large Image)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Monday Again!

Back to the old grind!

A Sad Case

Ouch! We acquired this record in a box of old records at an estate auction several years ago. There were too many records stacked in the box, and some were broken, which is not unusual at an auction. I just recently took a good look at it and realized that it is a very old record. The singer is Arthur Collins, who was a very early recording artist. I looked up this label and found that the company was in business from 1904 to 1908. Arthur Collins discography shows that he recorded this song in 1903 and 1904, recording it first for Edison. The record is one-sided, but has some very intersting features. The label is recessed, and the record has a ridge before and after the groove to protect it when stacked with other records. The picture on the label is very unusual for a record of this age, and it reminds me of the Robert Service story, ' The Gramophone at Fond-Du-Lac'.
This is a 'mild' example of minstrel show comedy songs, most of which are too free with racial slurs to post or to play for entertainment. If you want to hear more of Arthur Collins, many of his songs are posted as mp3 files on This is what entertained folks 100-plus years ago; I think about that when I listen to the comedians of today. They think they are above this type of humor, but they still make fun of the groups of people that are safe to pick on, just like the comedy acts of long ago.
Anyway, here is what is left of this record.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Weekend Steam

This ad reproduction from the March-April 1964 edition of the Iron Men Album provides plenty of food for thought about the 'Good Old Days'. There are eight people working in this picture, and there also has to be a water boy to haul water to the engine; all to harvest maybe twenty acres of wheat or oats. The winter wheat harvest is nearly done in Southern Illinois right now, and there are usually only two or three people required to perform the work; one to run the combine, and one or two to haul the grain away to the bins.

The thresher is not far removed from horse-powered models, and the engine is a true primitive. It is a portable engine moved with horses, it has no lagging (insulation) on the cylinder, the safety valve is a pre-pop valve type, and water for the engine is supplied only by one feed pump. After the invention of the injector, engines were always built with two systems to supply water to the boiler; either two injectors, or a pump and an injector.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Not My Victrola

This is a very nice recording from around 1952 of a well known piece, Saint-Saens Havanaise op.83, performed by a little known violinist, Louis Kaufman. It is guaranteed to help you decompress for the weekend. It is posted by our You Tube friend Rolf den Otter.

Crankin' It Up

The selection this week is the great Vaudeville entertainer, Frank Crumit, who also performs our theme song 'True Blue Sam'. 'Rosie' is a very pleasant song that would have been a delight to see performed on the stage. If you do a Google search for Frank Crumit you will find many of his songs available on CD. He recorded around 250 songs in his career, and we have several of his recordings in our cabinet, so you will hear a few more of Frank Crumit's songs if you check in on future Friday nights.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Round and Round They Go!

Here is more video for your viewing pleasure from the Southern Indiana's Antique and Machinery Club show. These are Model A and Model T speedsters fixed up in the best jalopy tradition. Boys used to go to town on Saturday night to hot rod around and generally have a good time. On Sunday morning they would be under the car tightening the rods. Those were the days!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Art Appreciation

There is undiscovered talent out there.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Try Putting Salt On Its Tail!

Dynamite Comes In Small Packages!

This story is over on The High Road, and whether or not it is true, it is VERY believable. I have heard stories of rattlesnakes being mangled into little bits by deer hooves, and I have experience with deer who become accustomed to human activity. The deer who live behind our barn come into our yard and tolerate us at close distances so long as we; 1: Don't look them in the eye, 2: Don't walk straight toward them, 3: Speak in low, friendly tones when you are near them.

"I had this idea that I was going to rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it.The first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured that, since they congregate at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away), it should not be difficult to rope one, get up to it and toss a bag over its head (to calm it down) then hog tie it and transport it home.I filled the cattle feeder then hid down at the end with my rope.The cattle, having seen the roping thing before, stayed well back.They were not having any of it.After about 20 minutes, my deer showed up -- 3 of them. I picked out.....a likely looking one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw.. rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me.I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold. The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation.I took a step towards took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope and then received an education.The first thing that I learned is that, while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope.That deer EXPLODED.The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with a rope and with some dignity.A deer-- no chance.That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I had originally imagined.The only upside is that they do not have as much stamina as many other animals.A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head. At that point, I had lost my taste for corn-fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope.I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere.At the time, there was no love at all between me and that deer. At that moment, I hated the thing, and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual.Despite the gash in my head and the several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer's momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that there was a small chance that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in, so I didn't want the deer to have it suffer a slow death, so I managed to get it lined back up in between my truck and the feeder - a little trap I had set before hand...kind of like a squeeze chute.I got it to back in there and I started moving up so I could get my rope back.Did you know that deer bite? They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody, so I was very surprised when I reached up there to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist.Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bit by a horse where they just bite you and then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head --almost like a pit bull. They bite HARD and it hurts.The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective.It seems like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds.I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim bynow) tricked it.While I kept it busy tearing the tendons out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose. That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day.Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back feet and strike right about head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp.I learned a long time ago that, when an animal -- like a horse --strikes at you with their hooves and you can't get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move towards the animal.This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape.This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously, such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond, I devised a different strategy.I screamed like a woman and tried to turn and run.The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head.Deer may not be so different from horses after all, besides being twice as strong and 3 times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.Now, when a deer paws at you and knocks you down, it does not immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head.I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away.So now I know why when people go deer hunting they bring a rifle with a scope so that they can be somewhat equal to the Prey... ..."

More From the SIAM Show at Evansville

One of the important tasks of early gas engines was pumping water. This little pumping engine was made by Aermotor, a company that sold windmills all over the country. Some days the wind doesn't blow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Monday Again!

Back to the old grind!

Poets' Corner

Swallows Travel To And Fro

Swallows travel to and fro,
And the great winds come and go,
And the steady breezes blow,
Bearing perfume, bearing love.
Breezes hasten, swallows fly,
Towered clouds forever ply,
And at noonday, you and I
See the same sunshine above.

Dew and rain fall everywhere,
Harvests ripen, flowers are fair,
And the whole round earth is bare
To the moonshine and the sun;
And the live air, fanned with wings,
Bright with breeze and sunshine, brings
Into contact distant things,
And makes all the countries one.

Let us wander where we will,
Something kindred greets us still;
Something seen on vale or hill
Falls familiar on the heart;
So, at scent or sound or sight,
Severed souls by day and night
Tremble with the same delight -
Tremble, half the world apart.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Today in History

Six Thousand US troops landed in Cuba on this date in 1898.

Saddler, Troop C, First United States Volunteer Cavalry

Not My Victrola

Push the chairs back to the wall, grab your Sweetie, and Fox-Trot!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Weekend Steam

Photos and video shot at Southern Indiana's Antique and Machinery Club show at Evansville last week.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Crankin' It Up: Summer Solstice Celebration!

We went to the extreme historical section of our record collection tonight so we could share some very old records. The first two are Victor Monarchs recorded in 1901, before Victor was the Victor Talking Machine Company. You will notice that these selections are "Pre-Nipper" discs. The third selection was recorded by Columbia's house musicians in 1912 or 1913 on a four minute 12" disc.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Down Under Over Yonder

Mr. Rotigel of Greensburg PA displayed this engine last week at the SIAM Club show at Evansville. He acquired this engine from a friend in California, who had traveled to Australia to purchase it. Mr. Rotigel towed it on a trailer behind his truck all the way from California to Pennsylvania, and he is not afraid to drag it halfway across the country to share it with other engine enthusiasts. Thank You, David Rotigel!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Not My Victrola

Let this one play while you get ready for work; it will give you the strength you need to get over the hump today.

Don't Forget To Breathe Out!

Basswood is in bloom right now. It is great to find one, stand under it, and INHALE! The only problem is that you will want to keep inhaling. Steel yourself for this great adventure in olfactory delight, and remember that you must exhale once in a while. You have been warned.

Not My Victrola

Here is a 1930 recording of jazz violinist Joe Venuti. Engineering Johnson turned me on to Joe several years ago; he was a great entertainer, and an incredible musician.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Susan and I took a little trip to Evansville, IN to see the Southern Indiana Antique & Machinery Club's show over the weekend. Here is a little teaser for you.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Monday Again!

Back to the old grind!

Poets' Corner


a good many
failures are happy
because they don t
realize it many a
cockroach believes
himself as beautiful
as a butterfly
have a heart o have
a heart and
let them dream on

From: archygrams, the lives and times of arch and mehitabel by don marquis, doubleday and doran

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Weekend Steam

This week we are visiting the Durango and Silverton Railroad to have a look at their recently restored engine. There is some really nice stack talk on this video.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Crankin' It Up

Rock-A-Bye Your Baby is a real feel-good song. You have probably heard later recordings by Jolson of this song; this is the 1918 acoustic version. Jolson liked to perform to a live audience, and in this song he seems to be confined by the megaphone, unlike the 1940's Decca recording which really blows you away with excitement. I used Audacity to remove most of the needle hiss and the pops and clicks. It is being played on our old Brunswick.


Catalpa performs this show every year without fail, is able to grow on nearly any site, is long lived (100 plus years), and generally remains sound enough to stand up to ice and storms. It does all those things, plus it has a talent for developing cavities which make excellent dens for wildlife. Our catalpa grove is a haven for migrating songbirds on wintry evenings. It is thrilling to watch the travelers wing in at dusk as they seek shelter for the night. Catalpa seed pods open in winter and drop seed on snow cover, providing valuable food to birds. I am baffled by the lack of respect for this wonderful tree. Oh, the wood is beautiful, too.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium Wilt is a very common fungal ailment in shade trees. It manifests itself by wilting the leaves and killing portions of the crown. In Southern Illinois it seems to hit the maples more than any other type of tree.

This is a shot taken from a USFS website with photos of plant diseases. The infection is easy to see.

Verticillium wilt is in the soil just waiting for the opportunity to infect your plants, and maples are easy victims because of their thin bark, and their tendency to have roots exposed to mower damage. Homeowners could prevent most infections by being careful not to wound their trees, and by covering exposed roots with a bit of soil before mowing.

This tree is in a high traffic area with literally hundreds of human targets, so it needs to be removed as soon as possible. The points you need to note are: don't wound your trees while doing yard work, and notice these problems early so you can plant your replacement trees well ahead of removals. This particular tree should have had a replacement planted ten or fifteen years ago, but the problems were ignored.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Itchy, Brother?

This has happened to you if you spend any time outdoors. You wake up in the middle of the night to scratch an itch, and there is a tiny little something that shouldn't be there. You get up to take a look, and sure enough, you have a tick that has dug in for a meal. If it is a full size dog tick, it is not too hard to grab and pull out, but how do you remove deer ticks and seed ticks? I have been using these two products for several years, and I don't go anywhere without them. The stainless steel tool is a Pro Tick Remedy, and it works very well for all but the smallest seed ticks. You slip the V-notch around the tick's head and gently pry it out of you skin.
The Tick Twister comes with two claw hammer-like pullers that can extract a tick just as you would pull a nail, but the directions recommend that you rotate the tick to pull it, and I have found that this method works very well. The little Tick Twister has pulled every small tick I have found in the middle of the night.

Now for the diabolical revenge part of tick pulling. Some people like to cut the ticks to kill them, and some like to burn them, but I prefer to fold a piece of tape over them so they can ponder the error of their ways. I hope they get to think about it for a long time.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Not My Victrola

This is another great recording from our friend Rolf. It is Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, performed by the Berlin Philharmonic, Fritz Lehmann conducting. It plays for ten minutes, so open another tab if you need to do some work on the web.

Monday Again!

Back to the old grind!

Poets' Corner

fond recollections

boss i saw a
pitiful sight yesterday i
was crawling across the
ruins of an old house that
the workmen are tearing
down up town and
i saw a middle
aged man sitting on a
pile of bricks with
his gray hair in his hands he
was weeping and moaning
and i gathered from his
remarks that the place was once
a boarding house where
he had spent
many happy years i caught
a few strophes of his
song of woe as
o workman spare that bathtub o
that bathtub made of zinc
that bathtub in the boarding house
that i lived in for years
fond recollections of
my yourh surge oer
me when i think
upon that bathtub in that
boarding house and i
choke up with tears
when splashing of a sunday
morn a peevish voice and surly
would tell me to make
haste and be
myself again adorning
throughout the week it
had few friends
but on on sunday morning
that bathtub in the
boarding house was
busy bright and early
how well i can remember how
as i tripped down the hall
the boarders heads would
be poked out along the
the sound of some one singing
upon my ears would fall
and sounds of others waiting
and getting very sore
o workman spare that
bathtub to me it does
bring back
the merry days when i was
young and all the world was pink
o workman spare that bathtub
from ruin and from rack
the bathtub in the
boarding house
the bathtub made of zinc


From: the lives and times of archy and mehitabel, don marquis, doubleday & doran

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Weekend Steam

This engine and shingle mill were operating At Mt. Pleasant, Iowa last year. This was shot with a cheap pocket camera, so the quality is not good, but I love watching the flywheel change direction when a load is put on the engine.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Crankin' It Up

I got my first batch of 78's when I was 8 or 9 years old, and a Brunswick recording of 'Don't Bring Lulu' was in that stack of records. That record was meant for dancing, and it had a vocal chorus, but none of the verses. This Victor recording is Billy Murray singing all of the words for us, and I think you will enjoy it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Highlight of the Day

White oak, 22" DBH, 3 logs, 45' to the first limb.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What A Difference Forty Years Makes!

I found this 2005 photo of Breckenridge on the internet and compared it to a postcard I purchased in 1970 on my first trip to Colorado. Oh Well, or words to that effect.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Extended Season

This spring has been unusually wet, and all of my planting projects have been planted between rain events. We are finally down to the last two projects, both of them bottomland fields that were flooded until last week. That two year seedling in front of my shovel will be a beautiful pecan tree in a few years.

Monday, June 2, 2008

It Marks A Spot

One task that I perform frequently is locating boundary lines and property corners. It is usually not terribly difficult, but one does need to have good skills in compass and pacing. It is very satisfying to locate a monument stone after navigating through dense timber. This is the neatest corner stone I have found so far; it is a real X marks the spot stone. I bet the guy who placed it had a good laugh.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Monday Again!

Back to the old grind!

Not My Victrola

Here is another great recording from fuzzbear6240, of Helen Kane performing one of her fantastic hits from the 1920's. This is being played on an Orthophonic machine, which has a much longer internal horn, and better sound than earlier, 'short horned' machines. This is an electrically recorded record, and they sound best on an Orthophonic machine, or with an electric pickup instead of the older tone-head systems.

Am I Blue?

One of our frequent fliers.

Poets' Corner

In honor of the heroes who fought, suffered, and died in The Great War ninety years ago, we are returning to the Western Front for Poets' Corner this week. I began searching for and collecting WWI poetry many years ago after reading the poems by Robert Service about the war. His poems paint a picture of the Western Front experience, but the majority of them are not as dark in nature as other poetry on the subject. Mr. Service, you must remember, made his living selling poetry, and he was sensitive to his audience.

Poetry by others about WWI is guaranteed to put you in the trenches, and to make you feel some of the horror of the experience. In 'The Sentry' by Wilfred Owen, the poet states "I try not to remember these things now." It is important that we do not forget, so we will post a few more on this subject throughout this year.

Today's selection is by a French veteran, and this poem came to my mind last year when American soldiers were shown rescuing starving children in Iraq. One boy, not far from death, began laughing while an American hero held him in his arms. He had "Tripped between death's legs".


In our place
Fresh troops have come
Sent up the line
As bait for death
Met face to face.

We needed all night to make our escape,
All night and its darkness,
Sweating, frozen, to cross
The martyr forest and its swamp
That shrapnel scourged.

All night in which to crouch,
Then to run like the wind,
Each man picking his moment,
Trusting to nerve and instinct
And his star.

But beyond the last entanglement,
Out of it all, on the firm road,
Met together, with no delays,
In the glow of the first pipes lit,

Then, mates, O lucky winners,
Then what stumbling voluble joy!

That was the joy of shipwrecked men
With hands and knees upon the shore,
Who laugh with an agonized happiness
As they recover their treasure again;

All the treasure of the vast world,
And of memory unplumbed,
And of the thirst that can be quenched,
And even of the pain you feel
In the shoulders since all danger passed.

And the future! Ah, the future!
Now it is smiling, in the dawn:
A future of two long weeks ahead,
In a barn at Neuvilly.

Ah, the appletrees in blossom!
I'll put blossoms into my letters.
I'll go and read in the middle of a field.
I'll go and have a wash in the river.

The man who is marching in front of me
Whistles a song that his neighbour sings
A song that is far away from war:
I hum it too, and savour it.
Yet: to think of those killed yesterday!

But the man who has tripped
Between death's legs and then
Recovers himself and breathes again,
Can only laugh or only weep:
He has not the heart to mourn.

Today's first light makes all too drunk
The man who finds himself alive;
He is weak and is amazed
To be dawdling so along the road.

And if he dreams it is of the bliss
Of taking off his boots to sleep
In a barn at Neuvilly.

by Charles Vildrac; Translated from the French by Christopher Middleton; From The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry, Jon Silkin; Published by Penguin Books Ltd, London, England