Tag Archives: history

The Pie Town Fair

Daddy Makes Lunch

As a nod to yesterday’s post, here’s another picture of a sweet girl’s daddy feeding her a special lunch.  Look at his gentle smile:

Daddy feeding his daughter at the Pie Town fair.

Daddy feeding his daughter at the Pie Town fair.

The Pie Town Fair

One pretty Saturday, almost 75 years ago, in a ramshackle place called Pie Town, New Mexico, the homesteading families got together for a fair–barbecue, calf-roping, cakes made with all the eggs the chickens could lay.  A photographer named Russell Lee was there with his trusty camera and a brand new invention:  color film.  

Families like these:

Thumbs Faro and Doris Caudill, homesteaders.

Thumbs Faro and Doris Caudill, homesteaders.


Mr. and Mrs. Jack Whinery and their children.

Garden adjacent to the dugout home of Jack Whinery, Pie Town New Mexico.

Garden adjacent to the dugout home of Jack Whinery, Pie Town New Mexico.

Mr and Mrs Norris

Mr and Mrs Norris

Came to the fair to meet up with neighbors and friends

Gathering for the fair, Pie Town New Mexico

Gathering for the fair, Pie Town New Mexico

Friends at the Pie Town Fair

Friends at the Pie Town Fair

Asking the blessing

Asking the blessing

Enjoy a fresh lunch in the fine weather

Serving BBQ at the Pie Town Fair.

Serving BBQ at the Pie Town Fair.

Serving beans at the Pie Town fair.

Serving beans at the Pie Town fair.

Serving desserts at the Pie Town fair.

Serving desserts at the Pie Town fair.

Having lunch at the Pie Town fair

Having lunch at the Pie Town fair

Then there was some singing from the children

Singing at the Pie Town fair

Singing at the Pie Town fair

Singing at the Pie Town fair

Singing at the Pie Town fair

and then everyone went home for supper.  


Wordless Wednesday–the Blitz in Colour

Along the same lines as yesterday’s post about early Kodachrome photos, I offer you these startling images of London in the grip of an incessant German bombing campaign, The Blitz.  

London during the Blitz

Life Goes On, London During the Blitz

blitz bus

A bus travelling in black out conditions falls into a bomb crater on Ballham High Road.

blitz parlaiment

The Houses of Parliament, 1941. Note the anti-aircraft balloons dotting the sky.

blitz park

Carrying On. A man reads a book in a London park, as an anti-aircraft balloon lies in the background.

London in the Blitz

Smoke, every morning of the Blitz

The Sun Was Bright That Day

It’s easy to look back at grainy black and white photographs of times gone by and let the difference imposed by the medium convince me that those times were different.  As if my grandparents wore only gray and lived in gray houses with gray shrubs outside and gray cake for birthdays.  As if yellow and orange were invented in 1963.  

It’s easy to keep those times at a further distance because everything I see in those images shouts “NOT LIKE YOU!”  

Then I see images like this one: 

fair ladies

This was taken around 1940, using a brand new invention called Kodachrome (color film).  As my friend, Cindy, said:  “I look at them and my mind just can’t believe they are in color. My brain is telling me that photos from that time period are supposed to be black and white. It’s a weird feeling when looking at them.”  

Pink satin!  Gold braid!  A piece of cardboard to keep the green grass from staining the white satin of your skirt.  A thin gold bracelet.  A sparkly ring.  Sun on a calf and the peak of a thigh.  Shadows and squinting into that bright bright sun.  

They had never seen a television or heard of World War Two.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt was their president, again.

Imagine the same picture in black and white.  Oh wait!  I have software that can make that happen:

fair ladies bw

Now they look like 1940.  I notice the hairstyles and the sheen of the satin, but the pink has disappeared into the myth of “they were not like us.”  

This is what my grandmothers would have looked like in their younger days.  Sitting on the grass, in the sun, at the fair.  

Just like us.  

The Pinterest Rabbit Hole

maya angelou when someone shows you

Preach on, preach on.  I believe I used that quote in the story “The Doormat.”  

I’m dipping my toe into the Pinterest pool, mostly to find inspiration from great women.  Because let’s face it, I’m never going to make any of those artistic recipes or handmade paper crafts.  Hell, I can’t even look at the home decor ideas because that eats into my not cleaning the house time.  I enjoy the curatorial aspect of Pinterest–flitting about like a magpie picking up lovely shiny things and pinning them to my board.  

Pinterest is the third largest social media platform these days, behind Facebook and Twitter.  I’m trying to learn how to use it to spread the word about Baddest Mother Ever with pins like this one of Maya Angelou.  So I’ve got a board of Quotes for Bad Mothers, where you’ll find funny and inspiring “You Go, Girl!” kind of stuff.  There’s a board called “Stories From Baddest Mother Ever” with….well, you guessed it…stories from Baddest Mother Ever!  I’ve made a board called “Share Some Baddest Mother Ever” with shareable images and quotes from my stories.  

But by far, my favorite board is “Baddest Mothers In History.”  There you will find a gallery of women who blazed trails, explored depths or simply dared to be bold. Please join me on Pinterest and help me learn the ropes!  

So what do you do on Pinterest?  What kind of content delights you?  Tell me in the comments!  

All Who Labor

dreamlandIt’s Labor Day in the U.S. today.  Until a few years ago, I had forgotten that it is a day to celebrate the contributions and achievements of the American workforce.  Then I stumbled across the novel Dreamland by Kevin Baker.  The picture on the cover caught my eye–Coney Island in 1911.  Something I knew nothing about, so I checked it out.  As luck has it, Baker is an historical researcher so the story was absolutely mesmerizing in its recreation of life in New York City before the First World War.

From Publishers Weekly:

Taking place in turn-of-the-century New York City, Baker’s splashy novel features gangsters, midgets, feminist strikers, the Lower East Side, Coney Island, Freud’s trip to America and the infamous Triangle Factory fire. It’s a powerful, deeply moving epic, an earthier, rowdier, more inclusive Ragtime that rings beautiful changes on the familiar themes of the immigrant experience and the unfulfilled promise of the American Dream. Baker juggles subplots that reflect different ethnic and cultural realities: resilient, independent-minded sweatshop seamstress Esther Abramowitz rebels against her caustic Russian-Jewish ex-rabbi father to become a union organizer; Irish-American state senator Big Tim Sullivan, a corrupt Tammany Hall boss, rules the city through bribes, gangs and cops on the take; hoodlum Gyp the Blood (aka Lazar Abramowitz), who is Esther’s estranged brother, puts out a hit on her boyfriend, Kid Twist (Josef Kolyika), an Eastern European refugee who arrived as a stowaway on the same ocean liner that, in this scenario, brings Freud and Jung to New York on a trip to promote psychoanalysis. Meanwhile, over in Dreamland, the vast Coney Island amusement park, the philosophically minded Trick the Dwarf courts another sideshow attraction, Mad Carlotta, a midget who thinks she’s the Empress of Mexico. 

Yeah, it’s got a lot going on.  What does this book have to do with Labor Day?  Well, it was the first time I had ever heard of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and the fire that killed 146 people.  Most of the dead were young women who were forced to work in dangerous conditions for pennies.  It’s the kind of story we hear about today in other countries, but this was our country 100 years ago.  Young women labored at their machines nine hours a day and seven on Saturday for $7-$10 a week.  The factory was located on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors of a building in a city where the firetruck ladders couldn’t reach past the sixth floor.  The stairwell doors were locked to prevent unauthorized breaks and so that the foreman could check purses at the end of the day for anything pilfered.  The scrap bins were cleaned out when the management felt like cleaning them.  The fire started (most likely) in a scrap bin filled with a month’s worth of flammable cotton scraps.   

Inside the Triangle Factory.  The "Fire Escape" sign points to a window.

Inside the Triangle Factory. The “Fire Escape” sign points to a window.

Two years before the fatal fire, in 1909, the women of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory had tried to strike for better working conditions but most returned to their machines because their families couldn’t afford the break in wages.  

That’s part of the story told in Dreamland.  

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 was a turning point in the labor movement.  If you’ve ever purchased a blouse and seen a tag from the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), you have witnessed the legacy of the women who died in that fire.  

I remind myself in May that Memorial Day isn’t about grilling hamburgers and opening the swimming pool.  And now I remember that Labor Day isn’t about saying goodbye to summer.  It’s saying Thank You for the 40-hour week, for maternity leave, for OSHA safety rules–hard won victories.  


The Real Story Behind “Keep Calm and Carry On”

Keep Calm and Carry On.  It’s on everything–posters, mousepads, coffee mugs, sorority mixer shirts, campaign posters, Target ads.  The original poster was British war propaganda:


Once this meme took off, we saw it reversed:

calm panic

Merged with other memes:

calm grumpy cat

Turned into bad puns:

calm carrie

calm kansas

And used to make fun of the Cubs:

calm cubs

The Star Wars geeks got hold of it:

calm yoda

And the “Big Bang” theorists:

calm kitty

And the people who hate Christmas trees?:

calm christmas


Until we all agreed that it was kind of DONE: (dead horse)

calm dead horse

Have you ever heard the story behind the original poster?  We associate it now with Britain in WWII, standing against the Nazi onlslaught–but this poster was never circulated to the people of England.  It was a secret weapon, only to be deployed in the event of utmost distress.  Watch this video to learn the true story behind the lost poster and  the couple who rescued it from the forgetfulness of time.

Keep Calm and Carry On from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

Jenny’s Fighting Hitler and Looking Great Doing It!

Jenny on the Job

Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Ladies, your busy schedule–what with working in a munitions factory AND keeping the home fires burning–is no excuse for not being fresh as a daisy.  Please remember to shower before slipping into your brogans, coveralls and…what is that red thing, veal cutlets?  

(I really have no room to talk.  I woke up late yesterday and my beauty routine consisted of a double dose of Secret and a baby wipe to the face.)  

Jenny on the Job

Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Nothing is more important to wartime productivity than eight hours of restful sleep, girls!  So slip into your peignoir and wrap your hair around some pork rinds (if you have the ration points).  

Jenny on the Job

Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Styles designed for VICTORY!  Make THAT work, Heidi Klum.  

Jenny on the Job

Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Girl!  Where did you get those shoes?  I tried kitten heels but they kept getting wedged in the scaffolding.  

We’re halfway through the work week and here’s Jenny’s advice thus far:

  1. Eat a man size meal.
  2. Don’t act like monkeys in the bathroom, nasty.  
  3. Wash that thang.
  4. Get to bed.  Nothing good happens after midnight.
  5. Denim coveralls and snood are optional but white gloves are mandatory.  
  6. Leave the platform stilettos at home, Miss Kardashian.  

I can get behind that plan!