Labor Day – back to school, end of summer, and hurricanes – Oh My!

September 2, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Labor Day weekend is often received with quite divergent emotions. Most children view its encroachment with sadness as marks the end of their summer and a return to school, whereas at least a portion of parents view it in a positive light as a return to a bit of normalcy, and to sports enthusiasts, the onset of football season. However, regardless of which point of view one embraces, for coastal residents in the east and south, their emotions are typically coupled with a bit of trepidation as it also signals the onset of prime hurricane season. In this regard, the Albany Evening News for September 4, 1935 tells of what has become known as The Great Labor Day Hurricane. The image below tells of at least the initial detail of this historic weather-generated disaster. So, as we ask the Lord’s blessing before enjoying our outdoor BBQ’s today, let’s be thankful these tragic events are few and far between.

I’m New Here: Week Twenty-Eight…

August 29, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s probably obvious by now that histories of people are the most intriguing aspect of life to me and it helps me when I enter into the customer service aspect of this job. Each longtime collector, or birthday dabbler, or train-of-thought/rabbit trail follower (I made that term up) is led or driven by his or her own tale. And I am privileged to hear about the whys and wherefores of the quests.
This week I worked with an Earth Science teacher who has been collecting early records of hurricanes, tidal surges and solar eclipses with an intensity I can’t help but appreciate, even though I could barely follow his pontificating. It makes me happy that he is teaching, and I hope his enthusiasm is contagious to at least one of the jaded high schoolers trudging through the eleventh grade of our system of education. A writer in Manhattan checked in five times this week, and added titles that were absolutely vital to the history she is compiling and I have a mental image of scraps of paper covered in scribbles from which she cross checks and matches our latest catalog offerings. Her exclamations of delight are always tinged with the “I really shouldn’t…” tone that most dieters adopt.
Preferences aside, details really matter in this job. Enthusiasm over stories within a volume cannot excuse my neglect to mark the proper location for return. With thirty-one rows of interior shelving that is fifteen feet high and thirty feet long, a misfiled collection may never be found again, however valuable the issues or concentrated the search. Similarly, folks who ordered a hundred times don’t appreciate a letter that welcomes them as a new collector, and our six-digit item codes can’t have a single transposition without becoming wrong. By this error, I did not locate a New York Tribune from the Civil War period but a Scientific American from January 24, 1891. Tracing my mistake to the original point at which I veered from the straight and narrow path of accuracy, I ended up sitting down to a cup of tea and a technical description of the “Electrical Base Ball Bulletin.” It caught my eye because we are located in “The Birthplace of Little League” and host the annual World Series every August. As with the Science instructor, the technical jargon jumbles me a bit so I cannot begin to comprehend how the contraption worked. However, the description is clearly an invention of Mr. S. D. Mott of Passaic, New Jersey from 129 years ago, that was possibly the precursor to the system for the modern scoreboard display.

So, there you have it.

In the world of Rare and Early Newspapers, even a wrong turn (in a timely fashion) can land me in a place I learn something new.

The Traveler… ah, this bloody weather…

April 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-4-18-2016-London-StormToday I traveled to England by The Post Boy dated April 17, 1716. I found a most intriguing report from Genoa, “On the 22d, about Eight in the Evening, we had a great Shower of Rain colour’d like Blood, which lasted above two Hours, and was follow’d with dreadful Thunder and Lightning, which struck People with a general Fright; and the more, because nine Persons were kill’d, and twelve wounded by it, in the Suburbs of San Pietrod’ Arena. It was very calm over Night; but the next Morning there arose such a furious Storm, that many Houses along the Sea-Coast were blown down…”.

I know for certain that I would not have wanted to experience those storms!

~The Traveler

The Traveler… an honorable military by George Washington… snow-canoeing, where???

February 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Today’s travels brought me to the Boston Gazette of February 20, 1812 where I found a continuing discussion about Captain Henry Purkitt and his removal from an official position. This lead to the inclusion of his honorable discharge which was signed by “G. Washington” for his seven years and one month of faithful service. In doing some internet researching, I found that he was one of the youth that was a participant in the Boston Tea Party!

A report of Georgia receiving twelve inches of snow in one day was quite interesting! “…To diversify the amusement, a large canoe was attached to a pair of horses, and with a full complement men, and with colours flying, went with considerable rapidity cruising up an down the streets, affording an excellent representations of a gunboat under way… but like a gun-boat she seemed destined to be unfortunate… we learn that she was upset and every soul on board precipitated into the melting snow and dirt…” There was also mention of snowballs being thrown as well. I guess snow-canoeing never really took off though as it hasn’t made it into the Winter Olympics… yet!

~The Traveler

Understated caption, or overstated print…

August 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This illustration appears in “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper” dated August 5, 1871. The caption notes: “Mount Washington Storm Signals–Use of the Anemometer under difficulties.” Either the print is overstated or the caption is understated. I’m guessing the former, but it makes for a fun image.