Saturday, May 20, 2017
On today's date, May 20 in 1873, San Francisco businessman Levi Strauss, and a Nevada tailor Jacob Davis were granted a patent on a special kind of work pants. Made from a tough cloth called "Denim", these pants were reinforced with metal rivets. This was the birth of the most famous and often worn garments in the
world: blue jeans.
Levi Strauss Started Out As An Immigrant
Born in Buttenheim, Bavaria, in 1829, Loeb Strauss immigrated to New York in 1847 with his family after his father died. He was working at in his family dry goods store J. Strauss Brother & Co.by 1850 and changed his from Loeb to Levi. But these were exciting times in America with gold having been discovered in California so young Levi decided to head west and seek his fortune with the rest of the
A New Kind of Workpants Were Needed
A man who frequently used bolts of cloth made from denim, was at Latvian Jewish immigrant, one Jacob Davis. This fabric had it's origins in cities of France. "Gênes" was the french word for Genoa, which may account or the origin for "jeans" in Nimes they attempted to produce a product like the jeans but wound up with a similar twill product which was called "denim" from it's origins in "de Nimes" ("from Nimes").
Of Course There are Always Conflicting Reports...
One paragraph in a Wikipedia source states:
"Popular legend incorrectly states that it was imported from Nimes, France. A popular myth is that Strauss initially sold brown canvas pants to miners, later dyed them blue, turned to using denim, and only after Davis wrote to him, added rivets.Initially, Strauss' jeans were simply sturdy trousers worn by factory workers, miners, farmers, and cattlemen throughout the North American West."
That last sentence has it right, though. Strauss' jeans became a huge selling favorite among workers of all types throughout the United States. The original name for the jeans: “XX”– was changed to 501 by 1890 and it had become a huge seller. They were the 1920's
best selling work pants in the United States. And eventually it caught on with young people all over the world. So jeans have become an industry and style unto themselves Quite a growth story, isn't it?
Monday, May 15, 2017
"Your Job: To Replace Men. Be Ready To Take Over."
- From the physical training manual published by the War Department in July 1943, entitled "You Must Be Fit" which was intended to bring the women recruits to top physical condition. On today's date, May 15 in 1942, a bill establishing a women’s corps as a part of the U.S. Army became law, creating the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACs) and granting women official military status. It is difficult to imagine the men who supported this measure could have had any idea of today's military with women in every facet of duty, including combat roles. But that's what they were going for: right there in black and white.
The Legislation for the WAACs
Representative Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts (below), one of the first women ever elected to congress, introduced this legislation which would make it possible for women to serve in non-combat positions in the army. Rogers had been active in volunteer work for the Red Cross and had served in overseas military hospitals. As a member of congress from 1925 onward she was appointed to the Committee on
"My best soldiers...."
The work that the WACs were assigned covered a great many different sorts of occupations. Air Traffic Control, Radio Operations, Electrician work on down to basic Office Clerking jobs and occasional mechanic's work were all areas that women covered. But the Army always made it clear that these jobs would free men up for combat work, in order to soothe public sensitivities about having women in the military. The
The WACs Give Way to the Modern Military
As a separate branch of the military the WAC was in 1978 disbanded, and all of the women's units were integrated with their male counterparts. WACs then were moved into whatever Military Specialty they had been working in before. And ever since that time, women have worked with men in the same units. This has included work in or nearby combat areas. In 1994 Les Aspin directed that "substantial risk of capture" could no longer used as grounds for keeping women out of some military units. So there you have it! That basic purpose stated so boldly way back in the original WAC manual : "Your Job: To Replace Men. Be Ready To Take Over." has been more than fulfilled.
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
On today's date, May 3 in 1946 in Tokyo, the Interna- tional Military Tribunals for the Far East began hearing the cases against 28 Japanese military and government officials who had been of committing or ordering war crimes and crimes against against both military and civilian personnel during World War Two.
These Trials Differed from Nuremberg,
The way in which these trials were conducted was different from those which were being held in Nuremberg, Germany against the Nazi war criminals in 1946. At the Nuremberg proceedings there were four countries running the trial, with chief prosecutors from the four main powers, the United States, Britain, France, and the U.S.S.R. . In these Tokyo Trials there was only one chief prosecutor - Joseph B. Keenan an American, in fact the former U.S. Attorney General. But Australian William Flood Webb was the presiding judge. And other Allied nations on the prosecution team included China, the Philippines, New Zealand, the Netherlands, France, Canada, and India.
But the Rouge's Gallery of Criminals Was Almost the Same
At the Nuremberg Trials William Shirer remarked how the men who had once wielded such enormous power, "they no longer resembled the arrogant leaders of old. They seemed to be a drab assortment of mediocrities." Well the Japanese war criminals certainly had been
lowered by several pegs by the time they entered the courtroom of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) in Tokyo. According to Arnold C. Brackman, a U.P. correspondent who covered the trial:
"Former Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoke entered the dock at
a painfully slow gait, his face pallid, his cheeks sunken. Ex- Premier
Kiichiro Kiranuma's equine face looked longer and more melancholy than ever. Admiral Osami Nagano, another aged militarist, wore his naval dress blues stripped of all emblems and badges. The figure
Shorn of all of their military regalia, and their titles of state, Joseph Keenan left them no quarter: "war and treaty-breakers should be stripped of the glamour of national heroes and exposed as what they really are --- plain, ordinary murderers."
The Trial and the Evidence
The trial, which lasted from today's date in 1946 until November, 1948 included official state documents, depositions and affidavits from over 700 people as well as harrowing eyewitness testimony from more than 400 victims. According to Brackman, the defendants showed varying degrees of interest. While hearing the charges against them read: "All of the defendants, including those who were fluent in English, listened to the Japanese translation over their headphones. Hideki
Tojo sat with his hands behind his back; (Shigenori) Tōgō, and Shigemitsu, the two foreign ministers stared blankly ahead...."
The Verdict on the Main Defendants
But the evidence of guilt was overwhelming. The six main defendants were sentenced to death by hanging for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace. These included General Kenji Doihara, chief of the intelligence services, General Seishirō Itagaki, war minister, Kōki Hirota, prime minister (later foreign minister), Lieutenant General Akira Mutō, chief of staff, and General Heitarō Kimura, commander, Burma Area Army. And most important of all General Hideki Tōjō, who as Army leader, and later as Prime Minister became the very face of Japanese military and political aggression ascended to the gallows along with the others at Sugamo Prison in Ikebukuro on December 23, 1948. In addition to the central Tokyo trial, various tribunals sitting outside Japan judged some 5,000 Japanese guilty of war crimes, of whom more than 900 were executed.
"The Other Nuremburg - the Untold Story of the Tokyo War Crimes Trials" by Arnold C, Brackman,
William Morrow & Company, Inc., New York, 1987.
Saturday, April 8, 2017
"the ruins of an ancient theater in the vicinity of Castro, the capital of the island", adding that Bottonis and his son "came accidentally across a small underground cave, carefully covered with a heavy slab and concealed, which contained a fine marble statue in two pieces, together with several other marble fragments." This is a description of what happened on today's date, April 8 in the year 1820, when a peasant named Yorgos Kentrotas accidentally discovered the statue "Venus de Milo",
one of the finest and most beautiful examples ever found of classical Greek art.
Where and by whom was "Venus" found?
There are other sources which identify the discoverers as Yorgos Bottonis and his son Antonio. The statue was found on the Aegean sea Island of Melos which is called Milo in modern Greek. It has come to be called "Venus" because Venus was the Roman goddess of love and beauty, although the ancient Greeks would have referred to her as Aphrodite who was the Greek Goddess of love and beauty. Exactly why there is conflicting accounts of who found her is something which I have not been able to determine through on-line sources, but there it is.
More Details of Venus and Her Discovery
Whatever the conflicting of WHO found her the accepted belief is that the statue was discovered in two large portions (the upper torso and a lower portion with cloth-draped legs) along with several herms (pillars topped with heads). Fragments were also found of the upper left arm and left hand which was holding an apple, and an inscribed plinth (a usually square block serving as a base). Venus de Milo is thought to have been the work of one Alexandros of Antioch, about whose life not much is known, working about 100 B.C. during a late portion of the
What About Her Arms?
There has been much speculation on this subject over the years. One account has the arms being pulled off in a fight between French and Turkish military (as this part of the world was at that time ruled by the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. But most scholars believe that the arms were already missing when Venus was found and dug out of the cave where she was found.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
On today's date in 1776, Juan Bautista de Anza, (left) one of the great western explorers of the North American continent in the 18th century, arrived at the future site of San Francisco with 247 colonists.
Juan Bautista de Anza - a Born Soldier
Born into a military family in Fronteras, Sonora, New Spain (Modern day Mexico) in 1736 (near Arizpe), Anza enlisted in the army in 1752 and had risen to teh rank of captain by 1760. His primary duties lay in making Forays into lands in California against Indian tribes such as the Apache. In this area he excelled showing a keen tactical mind in these engagements.
Anza Explores California
In 1772, with a long and difficult expedition northwest to the Pacific Coast, Anza put in place the first successful overland connections between the northern California, and the Mexican State of Sonora. The Mexican Government in Sonora, always eager to expand commerce into new areas was very happy with Anza's work in this domain. So the
Anza's Trail Leads to S.F.
In 1772, Anza proposed taking an expedition to Alta California he won the backing of the Viceroy of New Spain. This plan was endorsed by the King of Spain, Charles III, and on January 8, 1774, with an assortment of over 170 men ranging from servants to padres, to soldiers, moved out on his trek from Tubac, near present day Tuscon, Arizona. He reached Monterrey, CA. in April of 1774. Anza returned to Tubac in
May of 1774 and reorganized his forces. Anza was raised to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and given orders with a slightly more military nature. He was directed to lead a corps of colonists to Alta California. This was not for purely commercial purposes - there had been Russian colonies advancing from the north. A new Spanish port in the area would give safety to Spanish ships. This group moved out on October 23, 1775, arriving at Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in January, 1776, with the colonists having been assaulted by bad winter weather along the way.
Anza Finally Gets There
Anza's diary entry on March 25, 1776, states that he "arrived at the arroyo of San Joseph Cupertino (now Stevens Creek), which is useful only for travelers. Here we halted for the night, having come eight leagues in seven and a half hours. From this place we have seen at our right the estuary which runs from the port of San Francisco." Anza and his men finally arrived at this spot on today's date in 1776. Anza
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Robert Burns, widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland was born on today's date, Jan, 25 in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland in the year 1759. Now don't worry..
I'm not going to go into any kind of in-depth analysis
of his poems, or his effect on the romantic movement in poetry other than to note that he was very much a part
of it. I simply don't have the necessary knowledge of poetic literature to attempt any such thing. No, this will not be a long posting. But I've always felt a connection to Scotland due mainly to my love for Scotch Whiskey, and also my love for the one Scots lass whom I've ever had the pleasure of knowing well, And that would be my life-long friend Lisa Nicol. I came to know Lisa at the University of Texas at Austin. We both have long since left Austin; Lisa is now happily married to Martin Glennie with whom she has a beautiful child. She also is a percussion lecturer at the University of Aberdeen. Anyway Lisa, this one's for you!
To most of you who are not Scottish, Robert Burns is not a name that
you know at all well. But the fact is that this man wrote the lyrics to a song which nearly everyone of you has sung at one time or another.
A Bit About Robert Burns
But more about that in a moment first let me give you a few facts of the man's life. Robert Burns was born on today's date, the eldest son of tenant farmers William Burnes and Agnes Broun. (Burn's boyhood home is pictured below). Burns had a basic education, and he loved
"Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.
Farewell to the mountains high covered with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go."
In 1789 Burns included the following tune in the "Scots Musical Museum" with a note: "The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man." And everyone of you out there has sung this, most likely on New Year's Eve:
"Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne."
SO - A Happy New Year to us all, and a Happy Birthday to Mr. Robert Burns and his admirers wherever they may be!!!!!!!
Friday, December 30, 2016
Gregori Rasputin (left) was assassinated on today's date, December 30 in 1916. This man was as strange and mysterious a character as could have been invented by any novelist. He was a figure whom, as stated elsewhere in my Blog, belonged in a nightmare. And the circumstances surrounding his death on this date were equally mysterious, nearly to the point of being unbelievable. But I shall try here to give the facts as best as I can manage. And you, my readers can judge for yourselves as to whether they are believable or not.
Rasputin, Alexei, and Alexandra
The basic problem was this: When the heir to throne, Alexei, was born on August 12, 1904 it was soon discovered that he suffered from hemophilia - an illness that prevents a clot from forming to stop any bleeding either external or internally. Russia was a weak but extremely important player on the world stage especially by 1916 when she was embroiled on the Allied side against Germany and Austria during
Rasputin Becomes a BIG Problem
As the course of the war ground on and on, the public popularity of the Imperial Family and the Empress in particular fell steeply. The poor families were seeing their young men killed by the hundreds of thousands, seemingly for no reason, while they starved at home. The noble class didn't starve, but they suffered the same losses of their sons for the same useless cause. And all of it in the service of an Imperial Family which kept this unkempt, monstrous man in their midst for no apparent reason. According to biographer Robert Massie: "He rose
The Conspiracy to Murder Rasputin
This is where the story gets difficult to believe in its details. But I am following the account of Massie, which is based primarily on the account of Yussoupov himself. And different accounts have surfaced over the years to muddy the picture. As "Wikipedia" puts it: "So the murder of Rasputin has become something of a legend, some of it invented, perhaps embellished or simply misremembered."
In any event Prince Felix invited Rasputin at a late hour to his basement apartment at the Moika (below) Palace in St. Petersburg, one
The Murder of Rasputin
So Rasputin entered Felix's apartment with it's low vaulted ceilings and rich furnishings and rugs. Upstairs a gramophone played of all tunes "Yankee Doodle" so Prince Felix could claim that there was another party going on which Irina was attending, but she would be with them shortly. There was an array of cakes which Rasputin gobbled
"...the green eyes of a viper..."
The rest of the group ran downstairs when they heard the shot. Dr. Lazovert quickly took his pulse and declared Rasputin dead. But the Dr. spoke too soon. While Yussoupov was briefly alone with the "corpse", it's face twitched, then its eyes opened! "I then saw both eyes
-- the green eyes of a viper -- staring at me with an expression of diabolical hatred" Prince Felix recalled. Rasputin then leapt to his feet and grabbed Felix by the throat! Screaming, Prince Felix tore himself away and ran up the stairs with Rasputin on all fours roaring in fury right behind him. Purishkevich dashed outside to see Rasputin
running across the snowy courtyard towards the iron gate to the street. Purishkevich fired two shots which missed, but got him in the shoulders with the third shot. Prince Felix reappeared and
began hitting the body with a rubber club. When at last the body was dead it was wrapped up in a rope, and then taken to a hole in the ice of the frozen Neva river and pushed through. When it was found three days later, Rasputin lungs were filled with water. Chained, riddled with bullets and full of poison he had died from drowning.
That is the way that the story was told by Prince Felix Yussoupov and several of his cohorts. Dr. Lazovert later denied the part about the cyanide laced cakes and wine saying that his Hippocratic Oath as a Doctor would never permit him to do such things. Rasputin's daughter, Maria disputed all of the details about the shots, saying that it was just one that had hit and killed her father. Prince Felix was placed under arrest, but was never put on trial. Instead the Czar, had him exiled from Russia for life (above:Felix & Irina in exile). The other conspirators were exiled to distant fronts. Rasputin's grave was ransacked by the Bolsheviks following their triumph in the Revolution. Prince Felix lived until the ripe old age of 80, dying in Paris in 1967. So there it is, much of it anyway. Look at he facts, or research it further on your own and believe what you will. But one thing is certain: Rasputin was the
very embodiment of pure evil, and he got what he deserved - whatever the details.
"Nicholas and Alexandra" by Robert K. Massie, Random House, New York, 1967