Saturday, June 30, 2012

America's first gay President or gay Vice President. We do not have to wait for either, we already had both!. What is even more amazing is they were partners in a committed relationship.

James Buchanan and William King..A famous gay couple who made a great career for each in the middle of the 19th century.  They were known as a couple in those days. Andrew Jackson called King Miss Nancy and had some other unkind words for Buchanan. Even the ever religious Sarah Polk, wife of President Polk in the 1840's wanted to know about Buchanan and his better half. She was always writing gossipy letters about the two. They were a popular center of Washington life in the early days of the 19th century.

Buchanan became President in 1857 and King became Vice President in 1853. This special relationship between these men for many years was the talk of Washington DC. They lived together and shared a warm and what seemed, very happy life together. Buchanan was the first gay President and King was the first gay Vice President! How is that for a very successful gay couple. Yet I rarely hear about either of them. Being that they lived together for over 30 years

I am so sick and tired of some people trying to make Lincoln gay, I kind of think of him as A-sexual. I think the case for JFK being bi-sexual is a better shot as it seems there is more stories around that than of Lincoln. In the case of Lincoln it is more romantic love rather than JFK's slam bam thank you ma'am or man.

But getting back to Buchanan why does the gay community kind of shun him and VP King?  Maybe because Buchanan had about the worst Presidency in history and is always ranked at the bottom of the list with many other useless Presidents
It was said in his day that Buchanan's Presidency was socially successful and politically disastrous. As for King he was Vice President for the greatest drunk to ever occupy the White House, Franklin Pierce. King would die early in the Pierce administration and therefore spared seeing his lovers terrible Presidency. 
But in this age of gay marriage and equal rights, what greater story is there than two men who were in a committed relationship and both of them made a great success of themselves.  I think if they were great or not in their office ..They did it! 

Can you imagine such a thing happening today?  Specially a couple like this?

  And they were not very much in the closet about it either.  Good for them both, they were true to each other and did what they believed.  So we have some catching up to do with 19th century Washington.  Don't we people? In closing I think that it is about time to honor these two men who were brave enough to be who they were. And not hide in closets like so many politicians have done for the last 160 years after them. 

Obviously politicians today are little girls compared to these men .  Bravo James and William! 

Friday, June 29, 2012

The long neglected battles of Brooklyn, Long Island, and Harlem Heights in the American Revolution.

When we think of the American Revolution there are certain things that come to mind. Certain places that ring out and have rung out for centuries now. Names that come to us are the battles of Concord, or Lexington, and let us not forget Valley Forge.
But to be honest Concord and Lexington were skirmishes. Important yes indeed, but not battles. In our current time several places have worked hard to foster their history and make it a cottage industry. So today when you go to Boston you have the Freedom Trail and everyone is gently nudged into thinking that much of the American Revolution was fought there. It began there yes, but not fought there long.

 The prize the British wanted was New York City and it would be there that the greatest, largest, and for many reasons the most important battles would be fought there in the area of New York City.

George Washington was the commander of the troops in NYC. It was not a large army, nor well trained. But it was all the Colonies had. Since money was in short supply they were not well paid either. It would be their task to defend NYC from the greatest navy and army in the world. Now. if you think of this you understand that this was a near impossible job to do.  I am not going to go into great detail about this as it is massive in scale. I would like to wet your appetite and have you study more on this.

The first major problem was that NYC was a loyalist city. This meaning they favored the crown. All of Washington's activities were carefully watched and letters were streaming to England alerting them to his actions.

By early 1776 the largest armada of fighting and transport ships ever sent by England (till D-Day) was sent to surround NYC. Hundreds of ships were soon all around the Island. This was under the command of Admiral Howe, the land forces that were transported which would number more than 30.000 would be under the command of General Howe....Yes they were brothers.

The first major battle there was on long Island, often called the battle of Brooklyn. In that battle Washington's army was surrounded and smashed. Through a chance fog and bad weather that night Washington and his troops were able to sail across the East River into Manhattan, undetected by the British.

The next morning General Howe was ready to finish Washington's troops up, but he was surprised to find that Washington's entire army was across the river. This would take some time to make a move and this gave Washington a chance to escape.
 However at the time Washington was not aware of Howe's actions and through the great efforts of two people Washington's army and for all intents the American Revolution would be saved. The first was Aaron Burr who was the one who got the ball rolling in getting the soldiers out of lower Manhattan. You see if Washington had stayed in lower Manhattan he would have been completely defeated. As the shore of the Island was surrounded with hundreds of ships. If the British Army just came across and worked their way down Manhattan, it would have been all over.

What amazes me is there is no statue of Burr in Manhattan?  For he is truly one of the great heroes of this event.

The other person who comes to Washington's aid is a very unique one. A certain Mrs. Murray who was able to get the attentions of General Howe. He was a notorious womanizer and she would keep him occupied for a few hours!  This allowed Burr and Washington and the many troops to escape.  You see if they had been defeated there or captured it would have been the end of the entire revolution!

Mrs. Murray is honored in NYC today. A section of the city is named for her. It is called Murray Hill.

Washington headed  up to Harlem Heights in NYC and then came the next and last battle in New York. It was a standoff but allowed Washington and his troops to leave the island.
They lost NYC, but had their army still and would fight another day.

Now Washington's ability to survive this was the first sign that maybe there was a chance it could be done. As it was well known that they could never defeat the British, but if they could last long enough to just
make the British tired of it all they could win. By doing this and surviving it was perhaps the greatest battle of the war. By surviving and having others like Benedict Arnold,  who were more successful than Washington winning in other areas would finally get the French to come to our aid and allow us to gain our independence from the British Crown.
Sadly you will not see anyone marching around in revolutionary dress in NYC, but that does not mean it didn't happen there. They just never created a cottage industry to support it.

So the next time everyone talks about the great battles in Boston, Philadelphia, and Virginia. Remind them that the largest battle of the American Revolution took place in New York City. Surprising huh?

Finding and meeting my father after 41 years.

My father and I after 41 years!!!

I have been thinking of writing this for a while and it was just a little too hard to write. Emotionally it is a very difficult thing to do. My father left me and my family when I was 11 years old. There were many issues between my mother and father. I never dreamed I would see him again. But amazingly I did.

What happened after he left was just very awful.. But I always wondered what happened to him.  Through the efforts of Jason Park I was able to find him and discover something I did not know...My own history!  I will write more on this soon as it is an amazing story

How many people have not seen their father for 41 years? Not a great deal I am sure...

Even writing this is emotional....So this is enough for now...Nice to have met you again dad!

Your son

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Gramophone records in a vault at the Paris Opera ...1907

I was reading a old Scientific American Magazine in 1982 and ran into this article. It said that a number of recordings were placed in a vault at the Paris Opera House and to be saved there till 2007. My imagination took off of course and I put the 1907 magazine away, I have since lost it. But the idea of a time capsule of sound was such a wonderful idea. I also knew at the time it would be 25 years till it was opened. But was it all about time and the future, or was it about then and sales of their records?

Of course it was all about sales. This was great free publicity! It would be all over the papers and push the fortunes of the Gramophone. Alfred Clark was the power behind it and he was the head of the Gramophone and Typewriter Company. The company would change its name soon to just the Gramophone Company.

In 1982 I asked tons of people about this, but no one was very sure about it. I was told by one person that they were moved out ages ago. One has to remember in 1982 there was no internet and it was basically calling and talking to museums and archives to get info....I was totally out of luck on this. And to be honest I pretty much forgot about it. I recall in the article it went into detail of how the records would be preserved.

The records were all placed in containers as you see in the photo and protected and sealed with asbestos, which was the magic mineral at the time.There was in the vault also a Gramophone Concert Grand to play the records when the yet unborn adventurers opened the vault in 2007.

To move ahead I have seen that there were some additions to the vault in 1912 and then it was resealed.

Bounce ahead to the 21st century and the vault was opened. Sadly it was found to be like many Egyptian tombs...Looted!

There were some containers of records there, but one of the containers was empty and the fancy Gramophone Grand was too!. Plus there was an added problem, the containers  that remained were coming apart and the asbestos was all over. In fact they needed bio hazard outfits to open them.  After doing this to one of the containers it was seen that there was little reason to open the others. As this was mainly a big publicity stunt there was nothing very special in the containers. Just standard issues records of the time of which hundreds of thousands exist to this very day. So there was a CD made of the records that already existed in collections. But still it was interesting to see when they finally opened the vault it answered the many questions I had in 1982 in a long forgotten article in Scientific American.

A great mistake in the making. Learn from my mistakes

I am here to offer a little advice.  I have been blessed with much in my life. I have seen the worst that life can bring and the best. Seen the great valleys and the high mountains of life. Today I messed up the balance of that world. I have affected part of that world in ways my little mind could never see. So today if you see your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, lover or what ever let them know how special they are and do your best to be good to them. Remember stupid things will always get back and haunt you. Always let them know how special they are, do not lie, it will come back and make you look like a fool.  This is the greatest lesson in history....   Your history!

What ever you do, it does not go away. We all learn and sadly more often than not, we learn the hard way.

Peace my friends

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Germany always rises to the top.

I am starting to hear complaints about Germany and how Germany can cause trouble for the European Union. Well Germany is strong and always comes back. It is one of  the  most resilient of nations. I saw that Germany is the strongest of the European nations, economically that is. In this day and age money, resources,  and strong collective government are the powers that be. In Germany's case it is all of the above and a historic power that seems to defy the odds.

Going back when Germany was called Prussia, it was a kingdom of many provinces and kingdoms. Although they were not all under one roof they were of a common cause.
France and Prussia were always at odds with each other and most often Prussia would and could handle France rather effectively. However it was almost laughable when France declared war on Prussia in 1871 and was within weeks so totally defeated it was scary.  The end of this war was basically that the army of France was after a few weeks held hostage by the Prussian military and the French Emperor was held hostage as well.  As you can see that went nowhere for France and was a massive embarrassment to them. However, since all the members of the Prussian military and government were in France at the time it was decided to put all of the parts of Prussia all under one roof .
This was done under the careful control of General Hindenburg. This was also done in Versailles, since they had just totally defeated France they formed their own new government in the most important place in France's history.  It was a great moment for  the new country called Germany. 

Germany grew by leaps and bounds in so many ways. Few people have ever really thought why Germany always has had a powerful army. In all of its history it has always been so.  Why you may ask?
Simple, Germany has no natural defenses, therefore it has always needed and produced a very powerful army. always more powerful than many other nations. 

Under the control of Wilhelm II, Germany became a massive powerhouse economically, militarily, and politically. The power of Germany scared one of the nations that had grown increasingly jealous of her.  That was England and although the German and the English monarchy were very closely related. (Wilhelm II was Queen Victoria's favorite grandson) England could not allow Germany to be the leader of Europe. So they carefully set up the Kaiser to a arms race.  It all began in the later part of the 19th century. By 1905 First Lord of the Admiralty Jackie Fisher pushed to have the HMS Drednaught constructed. this ship was the first ship to be a all big gun ship. It started an arms race with Germany producing an equal amount of  massive ships on both sides. England still had a small lead in the navy, but had totally been outranked by the German military. 
By 1914 there were some ruthless people on England's side pulling many kinds of stunts. Perhaps one of  the worst was Winston Churchill. We honor him today for his fiery courage in WW2, but in WWI he was just an English version of Dick Chaney.  He did everything in his power to start a war and in time he was successful.

WWI was awful for everyone. What is most important was it was a war over NOTHING. It was a mess for Europe and it was plain to see that England and France were losing to Germany. It was then the United States came in.
 I feel it was a most stupid action. It would have been nice to allow Germany to deal with those who had caused her so much grief. I think that had Germany won in WWI, the world would have been nicer. But finally after several nations teamed up, Germany was defeated.

Then there was the Treaty of Versailles.  Remember that place? That was where Germany had been founded. That is why this rape of Germany took place there. The Treaty was a sham, and all it did was guarantee that it would lead to another war.
All this treaty did was take everything of value that Germany had and give it to everyone else. Then they charged Germany billions of dollars for starting the war that they did not start.  In their quest to be fair to everyone there at the treaty. The Allies kicked out or would not deal with certain groups, people or nations.  Such as Germany, Russia, Korea, Viet Nam, Pretty much all of the Middle East, and more. Since this was a peace conference it was though that they would like to hear from other occupied countries such as Korea and Viet Nam, but they did not give a damn. They were creating their dream of global control.

 As expected, Germany lost everything.

The hatred for France which was in charge of this conference and of whom charged Germany so much was un-matched by the Germans. The hatred only grew when France and Belgium invaded Germany in 1923 and made the economy of Germany totally crash. Don't hear about that often do we?

It looked like Germany would never rise again. But due to the terrible treatment of Germany by France it festered into Adolf Hitler. Hitler was a fantastic speaker and leader. He and his party brought Germany out of the depths and got a heartbeat. By 1933 he was in charge and in five years from that time Germany had the greatest economy in Europe. Nominated 2 times for the Nobel Peace Prizes, Hitler made Germany the greatest military in the world, but at what cost?  It was a frightening moment. Cause in Hitler's mind he had a lot of issues to settle. Specially with all of the countries and peoples that he believed  damaged Germany in WWI. So all the good that Hitler did originally was lost with his crazy ideas about race, mythology, and war. However he did make one interesting prediction. He said that after his death and the end of the war, Berlin would be divided, but would in time come back together and become a powerhouse of a country again.

By 1945 Germany was a totally destroyed nation again. This time however, there were no buildings or industry. Just ruin.  By the 1950's and the cold war Berlin was indeed divided and by the 1960's there was a physical wall between east and west Berlin. Germany was growing slow, but how do you restore a country or major city if you only have half of it?

In 1989 the wall came down. Germany was re-united, and everyone expected Germany to fall apart because it would have to take care of the other side of Germany so long neglected. But as time went on, Germany rose and grew.
 By the late 1990's it was a force to recon with . As the 21st century has come it is very clear that Germany is back and stronger than ever. She is the greatest economy in Europe. For a country so badly devastated so many times, it has proved to be one of the most resilient, powerful, and remarkable  nations in the world.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Phillip Morro, the man who changed forever the recording industry.

When we talk about the history of sound recording and the phonograph, gramophone, graphophone, or victrola histories there are many names that ring out. Names such as Edison, Bell, Tainter, Berliner, Johnson, Seaman, Easton, and Jones.

 But when do we ever hear about Phillip Morro?

In fact all but a very select few of you are saying right now..."Who the hell is Phillip Morro?" Well, he was a man behind the scene, but his actions and comments made many in the recording industry either shutter or cheer.  Phillip Morrow was the main lawyer for the Columbia Phonograph Company. Columbia was lacking many things, but one thing they did have was the most brilliant lawyer. Edison always had rather lackluster lawyers and lost many cases. The Columbia Company got into many parts of the recording industry without any protective patents and exited victorious. All of this was due to Phillip Morro.  If I was the head of another recording company like let's say Edison, my first objective would be to find how I could get Morro!  He was worth his weight in litigation.

In 1894 Emile Berliner entered the sound recording market with his new Gramophone. It was a sickly looking and sounding contraption that had one massive feature going for it. It was cheap!  By 1896 with the assistance of his new head mechanic and supplier Eldridge Johnson, Berliner now had a machine that was good and sounded quite well. But advertising was needed. In 1896 Berliner entered into an agreement with Frank Seaman to be his advertising agent for a period of 15 years, or till 1911. Seaman would be the selling agent for the machines and recordings and would get a cut in all prices.

 By 1898 Berliner was doing very well and the original deal worked out in 1896 seemed very problematic. It gave Seaman a rather bad deal on all the work he was doing. The success of the Gramophone was due to Seaman's great work in advertising and pushing the product.

By 1899 Seaman was furious at Berliner for not adjusting the discount that Seaman got on Gramophones. and this is where Seaman went to the Columbia Phonograph Company and worked out a deal. He decided he would stop Berliner in his tracks because of his lack of wanting to share in the massive profits his company had made. He formed his own company called the Zon-O-Phone Gramophone Company and waited for the right time.  In early 1900 he attacked!  He announced that the Gramophone was illegal and was in direct violation of the Bell Tainter patients of the Columbia phonograph Company.   This caused a stir and quite a mess in the entire industry.

By making his move Seaman had brought about a chain reaction that would cause a great change in the industry. But why did Seaman do it?

He was under the careful tutelage of Phillip Morro who was orchestrating this whole affair. This action by Seaman allowed Columbia and Phillip Morro to remove Berliner from the scene totally. But how? This is where the mastery of Morro comes out. The original 1886 patent for the Columbia Phonograph Company stated that the needle of the machine was moved by a groove.  This was a patent for a cylinder machine and a direct gearing system of record tracking. It had nothing to do with disc records except how Morro interpreted it.

Morro took a Berliner Gramophone machine and played a Berliner record on it. He placed a new needle in the reproducer of the machine, wound it up and placed the reproducer on the record. He then stated the obvious, that the record was instrumental in making the needle move. In fact the needle was moved by a groove! This was the wording of the 1886 patent.

 With this very loose, but remarkable interpretation of the 1886 patent Morro was able to push an injunction against Berliner. Effectively putting him out of business! The Berliner Gramophone Company would go out of business in 1900 and never return to the forefront of the industry again.

 However, by this action of Phillip Morro, Eldridge Johnson would create his disc record companies. Little did Morro realize that his actions against Berliner would create the greatest recording company the world had ever seen, the Victor Talking Machine Company.

This action would cause a revolution in the entire disc industry. As of 1901 a company that had little patent protection was becoming the master of the industry and they did not even at this point make a disc record! But they had power and had a strong control of the Zon-O-Phone company.  This company was always a bit behind, but once Seaman was out of it, it was taken over by the Columbia Company. But soon after traded for some patent rights with Victor. It would after 1903 become a cheap record label for Victor and even now and then reproduced a few early recordings made in its beginnings.

Although the head of Columbia was Edward Easton, the power and clever nature of Columbia came from its lawyers. It was decided in 1901 that Columbia would get into the disc market. But it had to be done quietly as once again they had no patents to support them save for the bogus needle moved by a groove patent of 1886. Easton and his team went to Millburn, New Jersey to the Bert Company which was a place that made chess pieces and with them set up a new company called the Globe Record Company. It would be this new concern that produced a new record that was to be used with Columbia's new disc machines. The record was to be called a Climax record and was originally devoid of any info of what it was or where and for who it was made. But by September of 1901 the Climax record was in massive production and was the first type of disc record for them that just stated that patent was applied for.  It was a legal mess and Victor had a few ideas of what to do with this. There were some problems going on in Millburn N.J. with the Bert and Globe Record Company with Columbia. So after making it a very sweet deal in January 1902, Victor bought the Globe Record Company. This was done while Edward Easton was on vacation and when he returned he found that not only had the company designed to make Columbia records been bought from beneath them, but by their leading rival, the descendant of the Berliner Gramophone Company.  Much to Easton's and I am sure Morro's horror not only had Victor taken all the Climax stampers out of  Millburn, but had them all marked VTM. (Victor Talking Machine) on the disc right next the label when they returned them.

This action brought out the warring parties who each accused the other of underhandedness. Victor had the disc record patents of Berliner and control of the Globe Record Company. All of this would would have probably done some massive damage to the Columbia Company.But all this would change in Victor's discovery of the greatest legal cue of all. Joseph Jones who had been an assistant to Berliner and to some degree Johnson applied for a patent and it was granted on December 10, 1901. Jones who was short on cash, sold it to Columbia for a crisp $25.000.  This was a patent on the process of making the modern disc record on a wax blank. It was the process that Victor was using without a patent. So suddenly Columbia seemed very strong and could now force an injunction on Victor. It was at this time in the early months of 1902 that Victor and Columbia traded and pooled patents and stopped the war between them. Even Victor records were being pressed by the Bert Company in Millburn, which was owned and run by Columbia by this point/ The age of the modern record industry had arrived and started by the actions of a very shrewd Lawyer in 1900.

Morro would live until 1952 and see first hand how what he had done in 1900 had caused a revolution in the industry and  I am sure he was justly proud of it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

When did Victor Talking Machine start showing on Victor record labels?

The Victor Talking Machine Company was established on October 3, 1901. It was not a totally new endeavor, as it came out of the backwash of the Berliner Gramophone Company. Eldridge Johnson was the founder of Victor and long before the VTM was founded he had started a few companies. The first one was the Consolidated Gramophone Company of Philadelphia. The second was the Victor Record manufactured by Eldridge R. Johnson of Camden NJ. On Oct 3, 1901 Berliner and Johnson joined forces and a whole new company was founded as mentioned before. The record label at this time was known as a Johnson pre dog and was started in early 1901  after dropping the Consolidated label due to court room antics.

 The recordings made at the time where quite primitive and did not really have what we call star quality. Although a few who did record were known outside of the record business. One thing that has always got my attention was when did the records start to say Victor Talking Machine on the label? It was my guess that it was November of 1901. I was always looking at records and recording dates to see how late one could go before we stopped seeing the Johnson label. This is why I have included this record here. It was a descriptive recording of a dog fight. It was a very popular record by the way and was recorded and re-recorded many times between 1901 and 1902. This example here is number 3463, and it is pretty late. It was recorded on December 14, 1901. This is well over two months after the change of names and still the record, which probably came out for the Christmas trade still has Eldridge Johnson on the label. This is just a few weeks before 1902 and still a Johnson label?  As I mentioned before I would have thought that November would make sense. But as I now see a record that would not have been available till December  18th has the Johnson label.

 Now it could have been an economic measure being that they still had a lot of Johnson labels left, or it could be that the changeover to Victor Talking Machine and creation of a new pre dog label  had not yet taken place. If I can go by this record I can take a guess and say that it was not till 1902 that the VTM  pre dog record label came into existence. This also makes me think when did Nipper make his appearance? The copy write for Victor and the use of Nipper looking into a gramophone was made around June of 1902. I would gather that perhaps Nipper would not grace the Victor label for several months after this date as well. Lets say perhaps July or August. But I can not be sure yet, still some investigating to do.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Flying Eagle US cent. 1856-1858

One of the shortest lived of all coins in the history of the United States and truly one of the more beautiful. The Flying Eagle penny was new in every sense of the word. It had an Eagle on the front, not Liberty, Peace or anyone's mother. It was designed by James Longacre, Chief Engraver of the US Mint. But it was so very different in size too. From the 1790's till 1856 every US penny was what we called a large penny and indeed they were. They were made of copper and were the standard of what a penny should look like. But by the early 1850's the large cent was not popular with anyone, specially the Government. There was a major reason for this which we will go into. In the picture below, you will see a 1856 Large Cent and a 1857 Flying Eagle Cent. By the mid 1850's it was costing the US Mint $1.06 to make a dollar of large cents that were worth $1.00! So it was decided to shrink the size of the penny and change its composition. The new penny you will notice in the picture is lighter than the large cent. it does not have that dark copper look to it. The large cents were 100% copper. With the development of the the new penny a new composition would be made. that would be 88% copper and 12% nickel. Therefore it has a shinier and brighter look than the all copper penny. Being that it was a bit harder in mixture it was also harder to stamp. Dies went bad and it was a hard coin to print. By 1858 it was all over and it would be replaced by Indian Head Penny in 1859. It was shown that after the discontinuing of this penny it was re struck in 1858 and 59 using original dies. So some coins are not what they appear to be. But for two years this lovely coin was part of the national coinage. But by 1859 it was no more.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It's time to change the term of President to a single term of 6 years.

It is true this is not at all an original thought to me or anyone else in this day and age. This has been proposed for years. In fact it was even proposed by Warren G. Harding at one time. Well the more I look at it the more sense it makes. There is good reason for it, for when a President is elected to a 1st term he, or someday soon, she is already working on being re-elected for a second. Why bother with this? Many Presidents do not dare to follow their true leanings or agendas till they win a second term. There are many reasons for this cause often their agenda does not match many of the voters or they feel it is taking a chance. As with most politicians they have a backbone of a well cooked noodle. So they spend their 1st term or most of it keeping a lower profile and not trying to rock the boat too much. They will then spend much of the time of this 1st term trying to make the the electorate like them again. Specially if they did things in the 1st term that caused any battles between political sides. In this case what President has not? Once they win a second term they know at this point they cannot be re-elected. Then they follow the ideals that they wished they had been able to do in the 1st term. I think this is a massive waste of time in so many ways. I am of a mind to think that the President should serve only a one time 6 year term. It will free them of having to waste a full 1/3 of their 1st term of office trying to get re-elected and get to the business of being President full time.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

My memories of being President of the United States in 1962 -63

I was born in the 1950's and when the 1960's came around it was a time of great change. I was from the time I could walk interested in history and the American Presidency. I read everything I could on the subject and did my best to keep satisfied on every little factoid on the office. By 1962 I had become enamored with the sitting President, John F. Kennedy. In fact I would watch his talks and enjoy the press conferences in which he was quite entertaining and funny.

 By the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis I had decided that it would be fun to create my own little Oval Office. So at this tender age I was signing bills and doing my talks to my imaginary visitors. I had decided to pretend I was President Kennedy. It was a fun game for me as he had become my hero. Through out the coming year I was equally enjoying my role. Signing bills in a cursive handwriting I did not know yet. But I did a great signature.  I signed it John F Kennedy but you would never be able to read it. But to my great imagination it was as plain as the nose on your face.

 I had a little desk set up in front of my closet and this is where I would sign the bills and reign over my imaginary nation. I wish I had written the President and told him of my game, and how I enjoyed it so.  It was so interesting to me and I guess he night have found it nice to know that a little boy was having fun pretending I was he. As time went on I watched more and more of the press conferences and speeches of which I would do in my oval office.

 However, my entire world was rocked on November 22, 1963. I need not explain what happened. But I was at school and suddenly I found my hero was dead. I watched the entire funeral. But after it was all over, I never watched the press conferences after as they were dull and boring. My little oval office was dismantled and I would learn cursive writing, but sadly would never sign a bill.  The fun of it all had died on a street in Dallas Texas.

About a week after the funeral I had a dream. The kind of dream only a young child could have. In this dream I  guess it was wishful thinking. But I saw myself go to Abraham Lincoln's grave and I put a band-aid on his head and he came back to life, then I went to JFK's grave and did the same. It was such a vivid dream that it is fresh in my mind today. Cause after I had put band-aids on my two Presidential friends we walked together singing together.

 I guess that dream ranks as one of the most bizarre dreams of my life. But in the mind of that child that was me so long ago, I had come to aid of my hero.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Visiting Edison's lab in West Orange, New Jersey in 1964

It was our school trip and we were excited. We were going to Edison's Laboratory. That Lab had been steeped in legion for us kids for ages. We were all around seven to eight years of age. We read a book in school about the great inventor and we were ready. Since it was 1964 it meant several things..
1. We were very ready to see and learn.
2. We were very well dressed as we were going on a class trip (My first)
3. I myself was excited as I was really enjoying reading about  Edison.
4. Edison was not some distant figure in history. He had been dead just 33 years or so. Therefore for us he had died about 25 years before we were born. So our parents would know much about him and our grandparents would know EVERYTHING about him. My grandfather did and he told me story after story about Edison.

I was hooked, excited, and looking forward to this trip.  On that day that we arrived we came to a working factory complete with a lunchtime whistle or buzzer. We could not go in certain areas as they were factory buildings and in use for the McGraw Edison Company.

Much of our tour was with an older gentleman who had worked for Edison, who would tell us stories, many not true but exciting none the less. Much of what was exciting to me was in what is called building #1.
It was here that on a long up leaning shelf was all of Edison's major inventions and developments. Much was in that first building, I also recall that it was there that I heard an Edison phonograph play for the first time.  I was delighted and hooked into Edison and his inventions.

We went into his office and looked around, saw the cot and the many books. We walked to the Chemical building all loaded up with tons of bottles. Little did we know that soon a bomb squad would arrive there and remove about 80% of those bottles. But I was glad to have been there when it was still as it was.
There in that building was the holy of holys and that was Edison's lab coat hung were he had left it in 1931.

It was my honor to work there 31 years later and walk where I had as a boy. I never lost the reverence for that lab coat and would always welcome the rich smell of tobacco in his office. Sometimes it was very strong and a bit over powering. It was on these days I would say loudly. "Good morning Mr. Edison"

It was an interesting thing to see the great changes that took place in the space of those 30 some odd years. I got to see history as it was then and how it would become.....I kind'a like how it was.