Friday, September 29, 2006

The final burial of John Paul Jones ..1905-1913 The search for the long lost admiral. (warning there is a picture of him in 1905)

John Paul Jones 1747-1792

The map of where the body of Jones was found in 1905

The dig site

Horace Porter under the ground looking for Jones

This is Jones as he looked in 1905. Not too bad for being dead 113 years.

Jones lying in state

Theodore Roosevelt speaking at the ceremony

First burial 1905

second burial 1906

His final resting place.....finally laid to rest January 26, 1913

I find that one of the most interesting parts of our history is what finally happens to the person mentioned. Most of us are buried and that is that. But there are a few in history that were buried and forgotten.....and then they forgot where they put them!...Such is the case of John Paul Jones.

Jones who is most famous for his statement to a British captain who he was fighting against...The captain asked Jones if he was ready to surrender...Jones reply was...."I HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT"....As we all know he won the battle and became a major hero. But this story is not of that part of his existence....We are going to deal with the Admiral after he had passed from his mortal coil.

To get us there, a little history...Jones was all over and in many navies. Also it seems he had an strong interest in very young girls...Which finally in Russia he was charged with rape.
He finally found himself in Paris, France...A tired and sick man. Although he was only in his early 40's by the time he reached France his hair was grey and his face was weathered and his posture stooped.
He seemed like an old man long before his time. He finally died in 1792 at the age of 45. It was ironic that all around him as he died were the sounds of cannon, as the French revolution was in full swing.

He was Buried in the St. Louis Protestant cemetery in a lead coffin which was filled with alcohol. He was buried and it is not known if he had a headstone or not.
The thought of Jones was forgotten and the cemetery itself was finally buried under the expanding city of Paris...
Although Jones was a American National hero there was no thought as to where he was buried...It also seems he was also part of the naval history of Russia as well.

Now comes into the story the United States ambassador to France, Horace Porter. He was very interested in finding the hero's grave. He did some research and had some ideas, but it was not until 1899 that a large area of slums were torn down that the Cemetery was found. It was a mess and nothing but shattered and toppled tomb stones.

At his own expense Porter went to work to find the grave of Jones. Shafts were sunk into the ground and tunnels built underground to find coffins. There were many but one piece of information that came to Porter's aid was that Jones was buried in a lead coffin. After 5 years 5 lead coffins had been found. Three of them had nameplates, one contained a skeleton of a tall man, the last one contained the prize.

What was so remarkable was that Jones was amazingly preserved and as soon as it was decided that they believed it may be Jones they did an autopsy.
Now it was said when he was alive that he was suffering from Pulmonary tuberculosis, dropsy of the breast and jaundice. His body was known to be filled with fluid, swollen and discolored. The autopsy states that he suffered for years from "chronic interstitial nephritis" a kidney inflammation. The cause of death seemed to be from "bronchial pneumonia".
What was diagnosed as dropsy of the breast was revised in the autopsy to "a "decompensated heart" which was the result of high blood pressure incidental to "chronic glomerrular nephritis". This is saying that he died from cardiac arrest from Pneumonia.
The corpse was photographed and placed in a new coffin.

In July 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the body of Jones to be brought to the United States on the USS Brooklyn under escort of a squadron of seven American warships. The body was brought to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Where under great pomp and ceremony he was welcomed back to America.

It took a while but finally a crypt was made in a grand building for Jones. It took a lot of pushing by Horace Porter to get it going. Sadly, Porter who paid for everything to make this all happen was never repaid a cent for all of his work.

This is the basic story, there are websites that will have all the info on the autopsy and Jones.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Woops!!!! The government forgot to turn off the gas to the Capital building in Washington D.C. ... November 6, 1898

What was left of the gas meter
The area around the explosion
The walls were falling in law offices
Floors were blown out

Damage was everywhere

A lot of damage was done in the Supreme Court, which at the time was located in the old house chamber. The windows were even blown out on the roof

The walls were damaged and windows were blown out. It was quite an explosion......All because they forgot to turn off the gas! It was at one time the greatest of lighting systems...But electric lighting beat out gas...But you have to make sure you turned off the gas!

In the 1880's the US Capital building was electrified. The new lighting was much better and safer than the earlier lighting system. However they forgot to turn off one of the gas lines and on November 6, 1898..There was a massive explosion at the US Capital. Damaging the Supreme Court, Law offices and the old House Chamber. It took out many floors and walls. Today we worry about government inefficiency..But it was very prevalent even in 1898. So always remember to TURN OFF THE GAS!!!!!!!!!

One of the most unknown mistakes made in Government

Henry Ford and his peace ship!

The Oscar II en route to Europe, called by critics.."the flivvership"

The folks working with Ford on his Peace Ship Rosika Schwimmer and Louis Lochner

Ford and company on board the OscarII

The press and comic strips had a field day!!!

In 1914 Henry Ford decided to create his peace ship. This was a ship to be filled with peace delegates who would sue for peace in Europe. He leased a Swedish American ship called the Oscar II. He filled it with tons of peace advocates.

They sailed in early December and by the time they arrived Ford had a bad cold and took the next ship home and left all the peace advocates there!
The only country that was willing to meet in a peace conference was Germany. But on seeing how stupid Ford seemed to be, Kaiser Wilhelm he referred to Ford as a "dumb mechanic".
Ford had tried to get President Wilson involved and Wilson said no...Ford said of Wilson that he was a small man!...He asked Bryan to come..He said he would try....Jane Adams stayed home...Thomas Edison said NO!....

But Ford went there and said that they should build trackers rather than guns..... The peace ship was of all things a piece of work...and went no where. Just before the ship left Ford was presented with 2 squirrels...It was said that with all the nuts on board they would be busy...

It was not a great success..and in the following World War Ford was very much into isolationism and in fact was more in line with Hitler's Germany than the allies till the beginning of America's entry into the war.

One of the lesser known moments in the life of Henry Ford....

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Peter Jennings 1938-2005....I found him to be a real delightful person.

Peter presented me with this book and inscription in 2001

He sent me this picture and marked it "Always listening" which he was always checking on my recordings and my work.

We are having fun making a recording on an early recording machine in his office at ABC in 2001.

I met Peter Jennings for the first time in 2000. I met him in 2000 when I was helping a news man at ABC on a show about light pollution. (crazy subject)....But at that time I met Peter. He was a very warm and delightful man. He invited me in our first meeting to come in his office and we had egg rolls and chatted for about a half hour. As we chatted he looked at his watch and said "woops I have to get ready to do the news"....."Come down with me and watch"...So I did...and it was interesting to watch the ABC news in the studio.
After the program we chatted a little more and then I left. The reason we had met in the first place was to make some recordings for a project I had started using early Edison recording equipment from 1908....I had mentioned to him that I was going to record Isaac Stern later in the week and he laughed..."You will never get him to stop talking" He was right!

We made our recording in early 2001 as you can see on the picture. It was fun and we had a great time. He also made a recording for his kids...Which I am sure they are very happy to have today. In March we made a few more recordings and he presented me with his book in which he wrote a wonderful inscription in which you can see in the picture above.

He told me that all he became was because of his fathers help. His father was one of the founders of the Canadian broadcasting system. Peter said he did a show on air as a boy and never stopped. We had met several times and had some wonderful conversations...

He told me about some of his rough interviews and his likes and dislikes. We had a common bond as he was mainly self educated as well...abet did a hell of a lot more with his talents than I...
Every now and then he would send me an email or call to see how things were going. I was most honored when a friend of mine met him in 2004 and talked about working with me and Peter told him all about me and my work.

He was man who had it all and was sadly taken from us. We had talked of working together on some recording projects ...doing some former Presidents and public officials...But sadly that will never happen.

I wanted to write a little about him and to say thanks for being a friend. You did a lot Peter, for which we all thank you too!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My worst fears have been brought to reality

I was listening to the radio as I was driving and I heard that a recently deceased 1st responder at the World Trade Center...Has been found after his autospy with glass in his lungs and small fragments of human bones....

I wish I had been wrong in what I said a week ago...But I see that there will be many more in the next few months and years.

I always wondered what happened to the glass....Sadly it seems many of us inhaled it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

George Washington Some interesting facts Part 1

Jared Sparks collection of Washington 's letters
1836 12 volumes
JFS collection

The room where Washington died as it looked in 1857 EMPTY!!

I wanted to put out a few stories about Washington, Mt Vernon,and Washington's death, burial and reburial in the 1830's.

George Washington was the 1st President of the United States serving from 1789-1797. the Consitution and the office of the Presidentcy was more or less designed with him in mind.

We know much about Washington so we think, he was quite a heavy drinker, and was quite a power player on the dinner table. He wore false teeth...I know what you are thinking........No his teeth were not made of wood!!!! That was a tale made up by the British during the Revolution to embarrass Washington. He did not (do I really have to tell you this) chop down a cherry tree and tell his father that he did it.....Of course he did not! That story was devised by Parson Weems who wrote a early biography (if we must call it that) of Washington. Weems knew nothing of Washington's early life so he used a little creative licence...after this he wrote a biography of Napoleon (and we wonder why our history is screwed up) using the same skills.

Washington was a big man around 6 feet 2 inches tall and around 200 plus in weight. He has always been discribed as a man of great strength always looking the part of the leader, yet more often than not no one seems to mention that Washington was not know for his intellectual prowess. In fact one of his nicknames was "Old Muttonhead" that was created by Thomas Jefferson. It is also interesting to note that there was little love between Washington and Jefferson.

Washington loved to pose, he had terrible trouble and often had a sore bottom ( he had a true pain in the ass) So it was much easier for him to stand and bow than to sit.

In his last years of life he spent it quietly at Mt Vernon which he loved. His death occured on Dec 14 1799. he had a severe sore throat and he was bled several times..well several pints were removed from him and amazingly he died!!!! He was very worried about being buried alive so his corpse was kept in Mt Vernon for 3 days, then put into a coffin and buried with honors.
His home went to Bushrod Washington who was a Supreme Court Justice. The home stayed in his hands till his death in the late 1820's.
He was working with Chief Justice Marshall to get all of Washington's letters together. They worked with Jared Sparks who wrote a 12 volume history of Washington and all of his correspondence....(except what Sparks thought was not Washington like). He distroyed several letters and cut up some and sent to autograph collectors. Terrible but true.

Washington's home was emptied of most of its contents by the 1830's and the rooms were empty as you can see in the picture from Harpers Magazine 1857. Also Washington's home was in very bad condition.

One of the amazing things about Washington was that when he died in 1799 he left a provision in his will that all of his slaves would be freed when his wife died...

Well, Washington's wife lived in mortal fear that her life would be helped to come to swift conclusion.
She died in 1802. After that Bushrod Washington moved in.

End of Part one

George Washington Part 2 reinterment 1837

As I mentioned in the first part with Washington he was a rather fascinating figure. He was not a great thinker, but did have the sense to see that he was a man people looked up too. He was very smart to know his limits...and he used them much to his advantage.

He was physically impressive and had the largest calves in Congress. (that was a sign of good character in those days). Washington enjoyed Madeira wines and had a rule when it came to drinking you could drink as much as you cared to as long as you remained a gentleman.

Washington grew hemp, and also distilled whiskey at his home.

Now you know Washington had to have a sense of humor at times...He had a dog named SWEET LIPS! That is just too good My image of him changed as soon as I learned that.

Washington died in 1799 and was buried in the family tomb. He had asked for a new tomb to be made for him but it seems that there was no plans to do so. The old family tomb at Mt Vernon was not nice, was very damp, and there often seemed to be flooding. Also it was not too secure.

That should not have been a problem but in the mid 1830's there were attempts to steal the bones of Washington. There was a attack on the tomb and bones were taken. A skull and some bones were taken. However the person was captured. The bones he took were not from George and Martha. But clearly it was time to do something in the way of a new tomb.

The new Tomb of Washington was built in the upper entrance to a secluded hollow near a pathway to the river.

Now some history of the old vault or tomb. It had been built many years before and when it was entered the following was written in 1837 by William Strickland of Philadelphia who entered with Mr Struthers into the vault. Incidentally, the marble coffins in which Washington and his wife are now entombed were presented by John Struthers and made from Pennsylvania Marble.
Now to Mr. Stricklands narrative.

" On entering the vault we found everything in confusion. Decayed fragments of coffins were scattered about and bones of various parts of the human body were seen promiscuously thrown together. The decayed wood was dripping with moisture, the slimy snail glistened in the light of the door opening. The brown centipede was disturbed by the admission of fresh air, and the mouldy cases of the dead gave a pungent and unwholesome odor. The coffins of Washington and his lady were in the deepest recesses of the vault. They were of lead inclosed in wooden cases. When the new sarcophagus arrived the coffin of the chief was brought forth. When the vault was opened Mr. Strickland was accompanied by Major Lewis. ( who was the only survivor of the first group of executors of Washington's will in 1800) and his son. Then Washington's decayed wooden case was removed and the leaden lid was perceived to be sunken and fractured, In the bottom of the wooden case was found the silver shield that had been on the top of the leaden coffin when Washington was first entombed. At the request of Major Lewis the fractured part of the lid was turned over on the lower part, exposing to view a head and breast of large dimensions, which appeared by the dim light of the candles to have suffered but little from the effects of time. The eye-sockets were large and deep, and the breadth across the temples, together with the forehead, appeared of unusual size. There was no appearance of grave-clothes; the chest was broad, the color was dark and had the appearance of dried flesh and skin adhering closely to the bones. We saw no hair, nor was there any offensive odor from the body; but we observed, when the coffin had been removed to the outside of the vault the dripping down of a yellow liquid, which stained the marble of the sarcophagus. A hand was laid upon the head and instantly removed; the leaden lid was restored to its place; the body was carried by six men, was carried and laid in the marble coffin, and the ponderous cover being put on and set in cement, it was sealed on the 7th day of October 1837. The relatives who were present , consisting of Major Lewis, Lorenzo Lewis, John A Washington, George Washington, the Rev. Mr Johnson and lady, and Mrs Jane Washington, then retired to the mansion".

There you have it...Many wondered how Washington was buried where he was and now you know the whole story. The mansion by the way from the 1830's on was looking worse for wear. It was photographed in 1858 and looked like it was ready for collapse. As you can see in the photo provided. I would very much welcome your comments on these articles as I am trying to share history that is rarely seen or known......your comments are always welcome.

Washington was a perfect man for his time...This country was blessed in its early days with leaders who were not perfect, but had some real good common sense. I often think our leaders today should follow their amazing example.
People like Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and so many others. They put their personal dislikes for each other aside, and fought for the common good.

End of part 2.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Speaking at the New England Conservatory of Music and playing for the first time in decades a Tin Foil Phonograph for the crowd

Talking away to the students and technology geeks

getting ready to record my voice on the Bergman style tin foil phonograph

After playing back to the amazed audience my voice on a piece of foil...they break into applause...........Phonographs are fun!!

In September 2005, I spoke at the New England Conservatory of Music. It was an interesting event dealing with recording and the art of making records.

It was fun and it was the first time in a long time that a Tin Foil Phonograph played before an audience in New England. Here are a few pictures of the talk and demonstration. I enjoyed the program, as did the school.

John F. Kennedy . Who was he? and can we really know who he was?....

Perhaps more than any individual of the last 50 years John F. Kennedy has been so well known and so little known.
Since I am approaching fifty I can remember him. I used to pretend I was him as a boy. I watched him do press conferences and I was quite taken with him as a person, speaker, an a icon.
Personally I like him still, but historically he has been terribly mis-cast...and we really do not know him as a person. Frankly, much of what has been made of Camelot is pure nonsense. Jackie Kennedy herself regretted creating the myth, as it gave the administration of Kennedy's a look like it was beyond perfection. It was not.

John F. Kennedy was born in 1917 in Brookline, Mass. When he became President he was only 43 years old. he gave the impression of vigor, strength, and power. Truthfully he was very sick man. He had "Addisons disease", and was troubled with a very bad back. Was on many kinds of drugs....and was also seeing "Dr.Feelgood"....

He was a Congressman and a Senator before his father worked on buying the office for him. I have to give a lot of credit to Richard Nixon, he could have made a stink out of all the buyouts and bought votes. But he walked away with quiet dignity. I have to give him credit for that.

Kennedy's father Joe Kennedy was a failed ambassador to England and also wanted to be President. But FDR could smell him a mile away. I have always enjoyed the comment that FDR made of Joe Kennedy after FDR put him in charge of the stock market and creating regulation ....They came to FDR and said of Kennedy ..He is a crook...FDR said and I am paraphrasing.."I know, but it takes a crook to catch a crook"..He knew what Joe was all about.

Jack Kennedy grew up in this environment...After WW2 and the PT109 incident,,,His father marketed him like a box of laundry detergent.

He never wanted to be President....But once he started it he enjoyed it.

I was very saddened by his death and I recall it very well...I remember my mother crying and eating an entire bag of Tootsie Rolls as she dealt with her grief.

Sadly who he really was will never really be known by most people. What we saw was what they wanted us to see...and very well packaged product.

Johnny we hardly knew ye

JFK's back brace had a lot to due with his death.

Although we always have the image of Kennedy(JFK) as a vigorous and healthy man ...He was nothing of the kind. He was remarkably unwell, weak, had a terrible back, had Addison's disease, and also had a medical book full of smaller problems including sexually transmitted diseases. ie. He was a MESS!

Now when he was shot which solved the problem of what to do with all of his other problems, they became mute after his death...and the nonsense of the lie Camelot was born. We have been showered with absolute nonsense dealing with his death.

One thing I will say, the assassination really made Kennedy a hero...It allowed for the showbiz piece called Camelot to exist.
Even Jackie Kennedy regretted in her later years about creating such a large piece of fiction.

So we have the image of the President.....

Now he was very ill so he needed a great deal of help to do many things.
First off he needed many drugs to get him going and keep him strong..But there were no good drugs for his back. So he often wore a back brace. This was a serious piece and it was wrapped around with ace bandages. It kept him rigid, so he would not stress his back...

Little did they know that when Oswald shot him he was just sitting there..and could not bend down or crumple as he was bound in his back brace...He was a sitting duck!

Few mention the fact that he was bound in his back brace and it affected his reactions to being shot...He bounced back and forth when he was finally shot in the head. Many have said this was because of a shooter in front of him...It was his brace snapping him back into place........He didn't have a chance in that brace.

I have always liked Kennedy as he really was..Yes he was a spoiled brat, could be rotten bastard, not anywhere as awful as Bobby though. Bobby was hated by just about everyone. But even he got his own Camelot after he got shot. Sadly just another piece of fiction.

But JFK was different, he was the only one in the family that read, and seemed to give a damn. The rest including dad "Joe the bootlegger" were just there and completely self absorbed.
He was a party boy with a quick wit....and his dad bought the office for him. That's all

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The final burial of Abraham Lincoln 1901

Lincoln's coffin ready to be moved the last time.

Lincoln lying in state in New York's City Hall. The only photograph of him in death and in his coffin. He would be moved into several new coffins in his 36 years of being a corpse waiting for a steady grave.

Abraham Lincoln is buried in his tomb at Oak Ridge cemetery in Illinois. But how he finally got there was a long and difficult process.

 Lincoln was shot on the evening of April 14th 1865. By the crazed actor John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln was carried across the street to the Petersen house, where he lingered till 7:22 am on the 15th.

His body was brought back to the white house and embalmed. The embalming was very effective, as his body was going to travel a great distance and be seen often during his long funeral procession by well over 500,000 people.

In fact Lincoln would travel with an embalmer who could help keep his body looking view-able for close to 20 days

The question was at first where do we bury him?

 In her mental state, Mary Lincoln was not able to do much. But, she stated she wanted her husband to be buried at Oak Ridge cemetery. She battled with everyone. There were talks about burying him in Chicago, Springfield town center and still Mrs Lincoln said no. Washington DC was offered and Mrs Lincoln said no. Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois it would be.

His body was displayed all over to large crowds. One time he was even photographed in his mahogany lead lined coffin in New York City Hall. There were several photographs taken and all were destroyed including the negatives. The order to destroy them was through Sec. of War Stanton. It is ironic on a side note that the only existent photo of Lincoln in death was in his papers.

 Finally the body was brought to Springfield and it was time to say good by. He was first buried in the cemeteries receiving vault there while work was to start on a vault for the fallen leader. He was entombed next to his son Willie. Lincoln was finally gone and would never been seen again.

At least that is what one would think.

He was entombed there till December 21, 1865 when another receiving vault for Lincoln was prepared. Lincoln's coffin was opened by Leon P. Hopkins and 5 friends to check on him and see if he was there.

 Work went on for a final burial place and finally on Sept 19, 1871, the coffins of Lincoln and his son was moved from the receiving vault.

His coffin was opened again by Leon and friends and carried to the half finished tomb. The area he was kept was just a holding area in the massive tomb but he was closer to where he should be.

 It was found that his mahogany coffin was falling apart and he was transferred to an iron coffin. Finally his marble sarcophagus was ready and he was moved again on October 9, 1874. However, the iron coffin was by inches to large for its new home. So once again a red cedar coffin was brought and Lincoln's body was transferred into this. He was finally buried in his tomb and it was dedicated on October 15, 1874.

In 1876 trouble was brewing in Illinois. In Springfield to be correct. A group of counterfeiters were in the area and having some trouble. They were planning to take Lincoln's remains and hold them hostage to have one of their members removed from jail. This information was discovered a detective named W.D. Longnecker.

The head of this gang was a fellow named "Big Jim" Kneally, he was in charge of all the "coneymen" which was the name given to counterfeiters in the 1870's. The master engraver of the group Ben Boyd, had been caught by officials and put into prison in Joliet with a 10 year sentence. Kneally worked out a plot to have his men steal Lincoln's body, the most precious possession of Illinois.

He figured such a sacred corpse in his hand he would would have a great deal of power and could push for Boyd's release from prison. So he felt a corpse for a good engraver a good deal.

 He opened a saloon in with his men and prepared but they all got drunk and the bar maids talked and soon everyone knew of the plot, so it was cancelled for the moment. One gets the idea they were not the most organized group.

After 2 years Kneally started again he found 2 fellows to do the dastardly deed. Terrence Mullen and Jack Hughes. The police and the Secret Service were aware something was a foot. So a plant was added Lewis C Swegles who called himself the "boss body snatcher of Chicago". They took them into confidence and followed what they were doing.
 They finally announced that they were going to steal the body of Lincoln and Swegles said he would be happy to be involved and mentioned a person they should have with them a certain Billy Brown. It was decided that Brown would handle the wagon while the other 3 removed the body from the tomb.

 The date was set for election night 1876. No one would be around that night. They met that evening and they were caught but not till the coffin had been dragged somewhat out of the marble enclosure.

What is interesting was the political battle that was suggested by Democrats that Republicans had disrupted Lincoln's grave to show how much the Democrats hated Lincoln.

On May 28 1877 Mullen and Hughes were convicted,  but not for much. It seems that there were no laws to protect the dead, so they were charged with trying to steal Lincoln's coffin, valued at $75.00.

Shortly after Lincoln's very moved body was taken to the monuments basement and buried partly under the damp wet dirt and covered over with old boxes and boards.
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims came to honor Lincoln and were visiting an empty grave. He was not there. He was in the basement under a pile of junk. In a while he was joined by his wife. It is amazing when you think of this and the hide the bait game with a body of a dead ex president.

In April 1887 a new place was made to hold the body of Lincoln and family made of brick. Once again his coffin was opened and 18 people filed past, all said it was him.

In 1899 Lincoln's tomb that was to last the ages was starting to fall apart. So the whole place was going to have to be torn down and rebuilt.It seems that they built it over a wet and damp piece of ground and the foundations were giving way.
 Lincoln, his wife and children all had to be moved again. The original tomb was replaced by a much better one. The wife and children were put back in the new tomb..and finally on September 26th 1901 Lincoln's coffin was opened again and 30 some odd people filed past his very well preserved body.

 Leon P. Hopkins who had opened and closed Lincoln's coffin for years opened it for the last time..and people passed by.

I find that for the last 36 years ending in1901. It had become a ghoulish ritual to look at the body of Lincoln time and time again. I really am not sure they did it all the time to check on him, but to quench this rather bizarre desire that they had repeated so many times before.

J.C. Thompson who was in that group recalled what Lincoln looked like in 1928 when he was asked about it. "As I came up I saw that top knot of Mr. Lincoln's-his hair was course and a horses he used to say. It stood up high in front. When I saw that I knew it was Lincoln. Any one who had ever seen his pictures would have known it was him. His features had not decayed. His face was very dark, just dark and brown. His skin was swarthy in life. He looked just like a statue of himself lying there."

One thing that had occurred was that Lincoln lost his eyebrows and his suit in which he had been buried had turned yellow with mold.
Also his face was not as dark as it had been before as seen in 1887, as a fine covering of mold had covered it. In a sense it did what the makeup and powder tried to do. The reason for the darkening of Lincoln's face was due to the gunshot wound and the fracture of the bones in the skull.

There is something rather macabre about this. How many times did they have to look at the body? As well preserved and recognizable Lincoln was, I find it a little odd.  However, other Presidents have been looked at long after death. The names Washington, James Madison, John Q. Adams and Zachary Taylor come to mind.

Robert Lincoln said he wanted his father buried in such a way that no one could ever bother him again. He followed what George Pullman had done ..had himself buried in a large amount of cement. Robert Lincoln provided the $700.00 to bury his father in 10 feet of cement. The casket was put in a steel cage and it was covered with 10 feet of cement. Lincoln would never move again! He was finally buried. It only took 36 years. Today when you come to the grave of Lincoln, you will see his wife and son's all buried in vaults along the wall. Lincoln is separate. Somewhere some 10 to 15 feet down is what remains of Lincoln.

Rest in peace Mr Lincoln. No one will look at you anymore.

No President after death was ever so mobile........

Miss Jennings 1891-1975 another learning experience

I first went to Miss Jennings home in Rockaway, New Jersey in 1972.
She was a interesting old lady who had lived in the same house in Rockaway since 1897.
I would come by and spend time with her and like Miss Holmes she would regale me with stories of her youth.
What was most interesting about her home was, the home of her youth was still the same in 1972!!!!
I would come by and shovel coal into the boiler in the winter. There would be a delivery of coal and I would come by and shovel a few pounds of coal in the furnace.

In the kitchen was a wood burning stove from 1890's! It was still very much in use in the 1970's. I cooked on it once for her. I learned how to get it working and opening the exhaust pipe that went to the chimney. I would bring in a load of wood and get the stove heated up. That stove would do a good job of heating a good portion of the house.

There was not a refrigerator, just a cooling pantry. I was living in the 19th century in this house. It was most amazing to visit this interesting old lady ....Many people were scared of her.....But I enjoyed her as I saw in her the history. The front door had a pull door bell...The living room has corner chairs and many oil lamps.

I helped her fix her roof and bought books from her. I still have a few of them and they still smell of her home. A mix of coal, dust, mold, age, and the Jennings family.

Each room was still fitted with the furnishings of the age when they had last been used. Her fathers room still had all of his hats hanging on the wall. He had died in 1929 and the room was never touched after that.

There was damage in some of the rooms from an explosion at Picketinny arsenal in 1926. That was a army base which blew up in 1926.

There was an Edison phonograph in the attic with about 150 wax cylinders and often I would set it up and make it play for her. I always wish I had found a way to buy that machine. But I was 15 years old and had no money, nor did my family....

So that was never to be an option. She died in 1975, and I was one of the 4 people who went to her funeral. There was a contractor who bought the house and tossed out most of the items in the house as they had no interest in its history.....Well it was all gone but that moment of time will forever be with me.

It was an interesting experience to enter the 19th century in 1972.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Visiting Miss Holmes in the late 1960's

I still remember her living room. It was small and had a small couch and a chair. As a boy I used to go over a visit this fascinating old lady.

I was very young and just trying to learn everything I could about history and our past. I was very fascinated with the late Victorian age and early 20th century. This was home turf for Miss Holmes as she had been born in 1879!

She was around the age of 89 to 90 when I paid most of my visits. This all took place in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida which is where I lived at the time.

Miss Holmes lived right down the street from us. So I would often drop by and spend some time with her talking about many subjects. But I wanted her to just talk as I was a sponge and soaked up all that she was telling me.

But what was really great, she had a an air conditioner! Not too many people had them in Florida in those days as they were expensive. So I was ever so happy to learn of the past and keep myself cool in her little trailer in which she lived.

She would be amazed by how much I could carry in my pockets. I would have plastic soldiers, trucks, and god knows what else. She would get me a glass of iced tea and tell me stories of her youth.

I would sail back in time as she recalled her memories. She would go on about the Spanish American War and how all the girls would think Teddy was great! So dashing and bold. Of course women could not vote in those days she would add with a dentured smile.

She said her whole family went to Grant's tomb to watch the arrival of Dewey's fleet as it sailed up the Hudson river. Firing off salutes...It was an all day spectacular she said. She said everyone was there from the the President to me.

She lived in New York and Long Island in the 1890's and early 20th century. She said it was so lively there, Vaudeville, minstrel's, Broadway shows and automobiles!

She told me her family always had a carriage and traveled that way. Finally in 1910 she said they got a Model T Ford.

Now it was rough to drive she would say and also you could not go up a hill with a half tank of gas. I was amazed by that and asked why? She said it was because the gas tank was a gravity feed and if you went up a hill the gas would slosh to the back of the tank. So how did you get up a hill I asked? She replied By going up the hill backwards!! I always remembered that exchange.

She was quite a smart lady and had done some interesting things. She had worked in Washington DC from 1912 till 1920. She got to see a lot of the public figures and Presidents. She told me that William Howard Taft was huge! She called him a walking beach ball!!
She said she saw Wilson many times..But the last time she saw him he walked with a limp and used a cane. She said she saw something on his shoe. Like someone who had a club foot. (Of course in 1919 Wilson had a stroke which made more sense to her story when I learned that a few years later)

She said when she would go shopping at grocery stores you would bring your own boxes to put the groceries in. It would usually cost around $5.00 and it would fill 3 boxes!!

I tried to ask as many questions as I could on what I knew at the time.
I was so very young at the time I wish I had asked other questions or was smart enough to have thought of other things.
I was only 10-11 years old so I did the best I could to study with her. I knew she was living history and I tried to learn as much as I could.

Now nearly 40 years later I have finally written about her. I was thinking and trying to remember bits and pieces of information that came to mind. It is amazing what we can remember after we think about things for a while.

I can still see her room and her...and the very 1960's plastic green cups that she served iced tea in. Her trailer was white and she died in it in January 1970.

Thank you for the friendship Miss Holmes...Boy I wish I could talk to you today.............I would have a week of questions!!!!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

An Important fact when talking about the World Trade Center and the problems dealing with the air around the site

I have not seen this anywhere when dealing with the World Trade Center.

I spent many days in the World Trade Center towers. I have written much on the problems and disaster of September 11th.

But I want to go into a new field of theory concerning the the disaster. When ever I was in the towers, it was so easy to see outside as there were so many glass windows. The observation area was incased in many glass windows. I spent many hours up there.
I used to go to Windows on the World restaurant in the World Trade Center tower.

I was up there one time during a terrible thunder and lighting storm with heavy winds and nasty lighting and thunder. It was scary to be up there. I was on the 104 floor at that time. The sounds that howled from the elevator shafts were scary too. I was happy to get out that night.

But I am getting away from my thought here about the disaster. There was glass everywhere on the towers...when the disaster took place the one thing no one saw was glass!!!!! No glass anywhere!!!

WHERE WAS THE GLASS???????????????????????

What I am suggesting is that the glass was pulverized into very small airborne fragments and entered the lungs of many of the first responders. To day there is a big battle over if there were chemicals in the air to hurt people. There may have been....But no one mentioned anything about glass!

I feel that much damage happened to the early responders from the glass that was in the air. Just a guess on my part but I thought it could be an interesting theory.

There was no glass the for the one area that I wrote about earlier that I entered on September 9th.

If so I can understand why no one saw higher levels of containments...and there was no test for glass in the air.

Today there are many suffering from lung problems who were first responders....

I wonder if the glass had something to do with it??????????????????????