Where my research takes me: American princesses, free beer, and hugging

Where my research takes me: American princesses, free beer, and hugging

 

Welcome to another installment of “Where my research takes me,” an eclectic mix of cool historical tidbits I’ve uncovered in the process of my book researches. Enjoy!

1. “From the Ballroom to Hell.”

That’s one way to get a sermon written up in the newspaper: load it with fire and brimstone.

hugging1hugging2

*from The San Francisco Call, February 25, 1896.

Perhaps one cannot refute the “hugging set to music” claim – why else would we do it? – but “…the stench arising from the carcass of a hog”…that’s harsh. After all, they didn’t have deodorant back then.

2. “The streets flowed with beer.”

Instead of grabbing a tankard and celebrating, the neighbors “fled from their houses in terror.”

 

brewery accident

The Sun, Dec 3, 1889. ChroniclingAmerica.loc.gov

What an image: “Torrents of beer gushed from all the doors and windows, and, overflowing the gutters, poured into cellars….” The engineer who had to get into the engine room to fix the problem “had difficulty escaping a bath.” You simply cannot make this stuff up. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and the engineer had shinier hair afterward. 😉

3. American princesses.

snippet from The San Francisco Call, October 29, 1899. ChroniclingAmerica.loc.gov

snippet from The San Francisco Call, October 29, 1899. ChroniclingAmerica.loc.gov

I love the subtitle to this: “Twenty American girls who by marriage have become princesses and therefore ought to be happy.” Either the writer was irony-impaired, or these gals’ corsets are on too tightly. Below are additional snippets from the same page. Except for one lady, they don’t look terribly ecstatic to me:

princess2princess3

View the full newspaper article here.

So, have you ever dreamed of being a princess, or wading through a sea of beer? Do you consider dancing as “hugging set to music”? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

Interested in exploring other “Where my research takes me” posts?

Having a blast in the 19th century (dynamite and bomb-making)

19th century health ads

Burglars, knitting, detective cocktails (and more)

19th century Pullman cars

3 people like this post.

National Tap Dance Day!

National Tap Dance Day!
Photographer James Kriegsmann, 1946. Via wikimedia commons.

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, 1946. Photographer James Kriegsmann. Via wikimedia commons.

Did you know that yesterday was National Tap Dance Day? The reason it’s designated as May 25th is because that’s Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s birthday: May 25, 1878. Yep, it’s a real holiday, with the resolution being signed into law by President George Bush in 1989.

Since we were busy with Memorial Day yesterday, I think we can get an extension, don’t you? Pull out your dance shoes!

Or, if you prefer to celebrate in more sedentary style, here’s a terrific performance of Robinson’s from the 1935 Shirley Temple film The Little Colonel:

Have you ever tap danced? Do you think it could make a come-back? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

P.S. – While you all are dancing out there, I’ll be busy doing a Skype author interview with Ms. Hartt’s 6th graders. Wish me luck! 😉

6 people like this post.

San Francisco traffic, 1900

San Francisco traffic, 1900
California Street, San Francisco, 1900.  Wikimedia Commons.

California Street, San Francisco, 1900. Wikimedia Commons.

Ever wonder what it was like to navigate a city street back in 1900? In researching my fourth book (tentatively titled Unseemly Haste, due out in the fall), I ran across this little gem: a video of San Francisco in 1900.

There’s very little information on the video itself, but it looks like it was filmed while aboard a cable car. The street is a chaotic mix of pedestrians, bicyclists, horse-drawn vehicles, motorized cars, and cable cars, dodging each other, weaving around obstacles…and there some near misses. It reminds me a bit of the M Street corridor in Georgetown, LOL. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

What’s the worst traffic you’ve ever dealt with, whatever your mode of travel? I’d love to hear from you.

If you enjoy vintage video, you may want to check out another post of mine from a few years ago: Coney Island, 1905, which features a group of boarding-school girls from Miss Knapp’s Select School. Looks like the girls had a fun outing!

Until next time,

Kathy

8 people like this post.

19th century tourism: a Cook’s Tour of Egypt

19th century tourism: a Cook’s Tour of Egypt
Trade card, Wilson's Packing Co. Cooked Meats, 1900. Part of the Miami U. Libraries Digital Collections, via wikimedia commons.

Trade card, Wilson’s Packing Co. Cooked Meats, 1900. Part of the Miami U. Libraries Digital Collections, via wikimedia commons.

With summer nearly upon us (in the northern hemisphere), our thoughts turn to vacation planning. The Victorians liked to play tourist, too. One of the most popular tourism companies of the day was Thomas Cook and Son, Ltd.

Today’s post is a modification of one I wrote three years ago, when I was not as conversant in matters of copyright usage for photographs (which applies even to some 100+ years-old pics!), so I’ve corrected the issue here. Enjoy!

************************

Ever wonder what the phrase “I’ll give you the Cook’s Tour” means?  You probably surmised that it was an actual tour company, and you would be correct.  It’s still in operation today, in fact.

The Thomas Cook Tour Company (British) began in 1841 with some modest day trips, but by the death of the founder in 1892 (his son took over), it had grown to be a formidable influence on the tourism industry.  One might say that it was the tourist industry.  In addition to what made this company successful, I’m going to focus on one of its most popular and exotic tours at the time: Egypt.

More →

6 people like this post.

Things Moms Say

Things Moms Say

Mother’s Day is coming! (Why do I see a few shocked faces out there? Better get cracking).

In honor of the occasion, I’ve created a little infographic of Top Ten Things Moms Say (translations included).

 

mothers day infographic

 

What favorite Mom-isms have you heard (or said)? I’d love to hear from you!

By the way, here’s a sweet video (by the Pandora jewelry folks) that you might enjoy:

Happy Mother’s Day to my own wonderful mom. Hugs!
~Kathy

Mom and me2

4 people like this post.

Myth or Fact? The 5-Second Rule

Myth or Fact? The 5-Second Rule
Crop from Greg Williams' Wikiworld, via wikimedia commons (CC).

Crop from Greg Williams’ Wikiworld, via wikimedia commons (CC).

Happy Wednesday! In putting together next week’s Mother’s Day post, the issue of the “5 second rule” came to mind. I thought I’d dig a little deeper. Where did it come from? How many people eat food they’ve dropped? In their decision to still eat the food, does it matter where they dropped it, or what it was? These are the things I ponder on my hump day morning.

Well, this might tempt me… (pic by K.B. Owen)

Not that I actually eat food dropped on the floor, mind you. 😉

 

Here are a few tidbits I found along the way:

  • In one survey, 87% of the people said they’ve eaten (or would eat) food dropped on the floor.
  • 55% of those people were women.
  • sweet foods were more likely to be eaten after being dropped.
  • Salmonella can survive up to 28 days on surfaces like tile, wood, and carpeted floors.
  • the transfer of germs onto food happens immediately upon contact.
  • A 2007 study at Clemson University found that length of time on the floor makes a difference: bologna and bread slices had 10 times more bacteria after one minute than they had after 5 seconds.
  • carpeting doesn’t transfer bacteria to dropped food as effectively as other surfaces (but do you really want carpet fibers stuck on there? Ick).

Basically, there may be yucky stuff on that Oreo, so it’s better to toss it.

Here’s a Mythbusters’ segment on the 5-second rule. I love these guys!


Sources:

Dropped snack? No sweat! Study reveals 5-second rule is real – TODAY.com.

“5-second rule” rules, sometimes (WebMD)

Dropped your toast? (Science Daily)

Fact or Fiction? The 5-second rule for dropped food (Scientific American)

 

Do you follow the 5-second rule? What helps you decide? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

4 people like this post.

Where my research takes me: 19th century Pullman cars

Where my research takes me: 19th century Pullman cars

Happy Wednesday, and welcome to another installment of “Where my research takes me.” The cool thing about being a historical mystery author is all the research “rabbit holes” I find myself exploring in order to write my series. I discover all sorts of interesting things!

I’m currently writing the fourth Concordia Wells novel (working title: Unseemly Haste), which entails a transcontinental railroad journey in July of 1898. As you might imagine, this involved quite a bit of research.

Since I’m strapped for time (gotta get back to writing the story!), here is a photo-essay of sorts, with links so that you can explore the subject further, if you’d like.

Concordia’s Journey: New York to San Francisco

Transcontinental railroad map (approx. 1873). Source: www.yosemite.ca.us

The Chicago Express, New York to Chicago:

The trip from New York to Chicago took 26 hours.

from Appleton's General Guide to the United States and Canada, 1898.

from Appleton’s General Guide to the United States and Canada, 1898.

The Overland Limited, Chicago to San Francisco:

Referred to simply as “the Overland,” it was run jointly by the Union Pacific Railroad and the Southern Pacific Railroad (which took it over from Ogden, UT – without passengers needing to change trains). The journey between Omaha and San Francisco took 71 hours. Highlighted sections below are mine (when Concordia is traveling the line).

from The Official Guide of the Railways, 1910.

from The Official Guide of the Railways, 1910.

The general timetable for my story:

  • Concordia and Miss Hamilton leave New York City at 9 am Tuesday.
  • Arrive in Chicago around 11 am on Wednesday.
  • Layover in Chicago (shopping…and skullduggery) until departure at 7 pm Wednesday evening.
  • With various stops along the way (and more skullduggery), such as Omaha, Ogden, and Salt Lake City, arrival in San Francisco on Saturday evening.
  • More skullduggery in San Francisco… 😉

Accommodations:

So, being aboard a train from Tuesday through Saturday means that the rail line must meet the sleeping, eating, and leisure needs of its passengers.  There were specialized cars for this purpose: sleeper, dining, parlor, smoking (for the gentlemen), and even a library car was standard for these lengthy trips.

Lounge car, date not indicated (approx late 1890s). Chicago Historical Society.

Lounge car, date not indicated (approx late 1890s). Chicago Historical Society.

Pullman sleeper (daytime operation; bunks folded away), 1900. Library of Congress.

Pullman sleeper (daytime operation; bunks folded away), 1900. Library of Congress.

Sleeper car, bunk pulled down. Image from the Pullman Company, 1890s.

Sleeper car, bunk pulled down. Image from the Pullman Company, 1890s.

Menu cover, n.d. From University of Nevada Libraries.

Menu cover, n.d. From University of Nevada Libraries.

The dining car "Queen" on the Royal Blue of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, as advertised in 1895. Wikimedia Commons.

The dining car “Queen” on the Royal Blue of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, as advertised in 1895. Wikimedia Commons.

Want to learn more about 19th century railway travel?

Pullman Cars Add Comfort to Overnight Travel

Traveling in Style and Comfort: the Pullman Sleeping Car (Smithsonian Magazine)

The Pullman Era (ChicagoHS.org)

Photographers from that long ago often get lost in the shuffle. The copyright on their images may be expired, but I’m grateful for their work. Check out this index of Pullman Photographers, from the Pullman State Historic Site.

Have you ever traveled long distance by train? What interesting things have you discovered lately? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

Other installments in the “Where my research takes me” series:

Anywhere my research takes me: burglars, knitting, detective cocktails?

Where my research takes me: 19th century health ads

Where my research takes me: having a blast in the 19th century

5 people like this post.