Showing 1 - 10 of 47 posts found matching keyword: history

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Drunk History

This panel is about as accurate as anything else you might expect to find on the Internet, by which I mean it's not true. Nothing like this happened in a Superman comic. Not exactly like this, anyway. To see who Superman was really talking to, see "The Superman Super-Spectacular!" in Action Comics #309, 1964.

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I've migrated to another server. This is at least the fourth host for Wriphe.com. I doubt it will be the last.

It's funny, when you stop to think about it, how the Internet has changed since I launched this site in 2003. It wasn't exactly new then. By the early 21st century, it had already outgrown its dial-up modem origins. The web 2.0 bubble had come and gone, and interactive Macromedia Flash websites were the rage. Amazon.com only sold books. Facebook didn't exist. My how things have changed.

Sigh.

Anwyay. I've poked around the new host a bit, and everything seems put together correctly. I've even made a few small improvements to the back end! As always, if you find anything out of sorts, please let me know. Assuming the contact and comment forms still work.

Thanks for sticking around.

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Walking through Oak Hill Cemetery last week with Mom and the girls, we passed the burial plot for J.W.A. and Zippora Rowland. As you can see, only one of them was buried there.

You'll note that there is no death date for Zippora, though the engraver presumed it would happen sometime in the 20th century. That marker visible on the bottom right isn't for her, it's J.W.A.'s. Why is his body on Zippora's side of the bed? That's just the tip of the iceberg of what I don't know about Zippora. Who was she, and why isn't she buried along with her name? Of course this made me curious, so I did a little Googling.

It seems J.W.A. Rowland lived most of his life not in Newnan but in Bowdon in neighboring Carroll County. I don't know what he did for a living, but the Carroll Free Press of the late 19th century reports that he was the initial vice president of the Carroll County Chorus Choir Association. (That meeting appears to have been in the Shiloh UMC building which still stands halfway between Carrollton and Bowdon.) Still in Bowdon in 1892, he was witness on a U.S. Patent application for Ocran D. Bunt's plow fender (patent #467853). "James W.A. Rowland" appears as a 72 year old man living in Newnan, GA by the time of the 1920 census. Nearer his death, he was a co-plaintiff in a 1921 lawsuit against the Central of Georgia Railway Company in which he won $250. (They were riding in a buggy "when the mule drawing it ran away and threw them out," causing injuries. It's not clear what role the railroad played, but the court said they were guilty.)

None of those references mention Zippora.

Zippora Rowland does show up in the 1930 census as a 62-year-old woman living in Newnan, GA. "Zippora" was never a popular name, but I don't find any reference to her in the local papers of the era.

So whatever happened to Zippora? Did she remarry? Did she die somewhere else, and no one knew to bring her back to Newnan where her marker was waiting for her? I like to think she's still alive somewhere, enjoying the good life on her sesquicentennial birthday. Here's to you, Zippora!

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Another advertisement also spotted in the March 1, 1918 edition of The Newnan Herald:

My dear Mr. Sears: I have been waiting patiently to see my Chero Cola calendar pictures but as yet in vain. Please let me know the minute they are ready for distribution. Now I am going to ask a great big favor of you. Is it possible for me to have this original painting? Oh, I'd be just so proud and pleased if I could have it, and would give it the place of honor in my home. With my very best wishes for the continued success of Chero Cola and for you a very Merry Xmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Sincerely, Ruth Roland

Pay close attention to that last part:

"THESE CALENDARS WILL NOT BE GIVEN TO CHILDREN."

Why not? Kids love cola. Kids need to know the days of the week.

What "special pose" could sweet, dear Hollywood darling Ruth Roland, star of The Matrimonial Martyr, The Devil's Bait, and The Neglected Wife, be showing that's so inappropriate for the little tykes of Newnan?

Suck it

Well, I never! Get that thing out of your mouth, you floozy! Scandalous!

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Advertisements spotted in the March 1, 1918 edition of The Newnan Herald (formerly the Coweta Advertiser):

For Christ's sake, there's a war on!

Hoover means DEATH to dust (and Germans)!

Uh, I don't light my peanuts on fire

So are you saying that I should try smoking peanuts?

Someone might need to look up the definition of 'extravagance'

I am amused that "fit" appears in sarcastic quotes. I'm more amused that it says "eat our meats." *giggle*

I do declare!

This one's not funny. It's just racist.

As for why I was looking through 100-year-old newspapers, what can I say? I like to read incredibly inappropriate advertising. (More on that on Tuesday.)

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Given that earlier this week we saw the Republican majority in the Senate change their own rules to allow them to steal a seat on the Supreme Court, it might be interesting to note that the 17th Amendment to the Constitution became law on this day in 1913. The 17th Amendment calls for Senators to be elected by the people, not appointed by the state legislatures. Try and imagine something like that passing in 2017.

Amending the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote in both houses of Congress. These days, votes are taken almost strictly down party lines. Unless one party or another gains 2/3 of both the House and Senate, modifying the Constitution is impossible. (Perhaps that's why the Republicans deny global warming exists. If they can stall long enough, the liberal coasts will be underwater, and they'll be free to do whatever they want.)

The last Constitutional Amendment to be successfully ratified was the 27th, adopted in 1992. That might seem kind of recent until you realize that the amendment was first proposed as part of the original Bill of Rights in 1789. It had to wait 202 years before final adoption. What does the 27th Amendment do? It prevents Congress from doing the only thing it's likely to agree on: giving itself a pay raise.

At the current level of partisanship in this country, it might be 202 years until we see them agree on anything else.

It's true what they say: Rome didn't fall in a day.

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CAESAR
(gloating to soothsayer)
The ides of March are come.

SOOTHSAYER
(speaking truth to power)
Ay, Caesar; but not gone.

CAESAR
Well, I'm Caesar, and I say they are. Effective immediately, we're seasonally adjusting all the sundials forward one hour! Goodbye, Ides of March. Hello, Seventeenth Kalends of March!

BRUTUS
What a huge improvement you've made, boss! Now I can enjoy an extra hour of gladiator fights at the Circus Maximus after work. You're not such a terrible tyrant after all! (sheaths his knife) Hooray!

SOOTHSAYER
This play sucks.

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There's only one more week remaining in this godforsaken presidential election, and still no one has answered the single most important question of our times: do the candidates wear boxers or briefs?

I'm of the MTV generation, and I recall when Bill Clinton was asked the question. His answer was "Usually briefs." Bernie Sanders said the same thing when Ellen asked him last year. But what about Trump? Or Hillary?

Personally, I used to wear standard white briefs until one evening in 1993, when an icebreaker at my coed freshman dorm had everyone trade underwear and mingle until we had all recovered our own. While everyone else revealed a pair of boxers or silk panties, my only option was a pair of tighty-whities. My underwear was very, very easy to recover. At least my name wasn't written in them.

You can imagine my humiliation. I spent the rest of the mixer sitting alone on a bench holding some stranger's underwear in the air. Scarred by that experience, I naturally changed my underwear preference. Now I only wear colored briefs. (The pair I'm wearing right now are navy blue.)

Based on my experience, I know that what you wear under your clothes says a lot about you. That's why it's so important to see what our presidential candidates are wearing. Trump, Hillary, it's time to drop your pants. It's a matter of national security.

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MentalFloss.com has compiled a list of the most distinct last names by state. That's the name that appears most often in each state compared to the frequency of that name nationally. Imagine my surprise to discover that the name associated with Georgia is Stephens.

The Internet Surname Database says that Stephens means "the son of Stephen" and derives from the Greek "Stephanos," meaning "crown." It claims the name was popular in the Middle Ages because it was the name of the first Christian martyr (St. Stephen, who was stoned to death).

Maybe that's all true. Maybe Georgia is full of Greek Catholics who were named after saints. However, that has nothing to do with my last name.

Sometime in the late 19th century, probably around 1875, my great-great grandmother Rosa and her four children traveled from Lebanon to America. U.S. customs officials apparently misunderstood (or didn't care) when she told them she had come to meet her husband, Stephen Basil. No one in the family ever changed it back, so the family name has been Stephens instead of Basil ever since.

For the record, Rosa was a practicing Catholic, and most of her descendants remain so. However, you can see that my name has nothing to do with Catholic martyrs. I wonder how many of Georgia's other Stephens are descendants of my great-great grandfather?

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Among the other things my aunt dropped off while housecleaning last week was a copy of The Literary Digest Vol. 55 No. 14 cover dated October 6, 1917. Much as the Newsweek would be familiar to modern readers, so too this magazine's warnings about the dangers posed by illegal aliens (in this case German agents), military chaos in Russia (in this case the result of two Russian Revolutions), and the failure of the public at large to respect its soldiers (in this case resulting from a lack of patriotic songs). If you think shit in the world is bad now, be glad you weren't living in 1917.

The most familiar aspects of this magazine are the advertisements. Covering everything from handsaws to night shirts, most of the advertisements are — unsurprisingly in a "literary" publication — for books. Mail away and you can teach yourself electrical engineering, learn how to raise rabbits for fun and profit, and speak French in time for your deployment to the front. But the most intriguing ad might be this:

Knowledge dirty old men should have, too

A "wholesome" guide to everything I need to know about sex in 1917? Must be a short book. Thanks to the magic of the Information Age, we no longer need to mail $2 to Philadelphia to find out what Knowledge a Young Man Should Have. All 232 pages of Sexology by William H. Walling (including its 2 illustrations!) are available for free on Google Books.

First of all, the book was 13 years old by 1917, so some of its medical advice was probably outdated. But that wouldn't have been an issue for Professor Walling. Most of his teachings were based on tradition, anecdote, or religion that would have been more at home in Ripley's Believe It or Not. Chapter IV, "Masturbation, Male," opens with the incrimination, "viewing the world over, this shameful and criminal act is the most frequent, as well as the most fatal, of all vices." Is that so? I don't think there are many episodes of Law and Order where the coroners has listed "jerking off" as the cause of death.

"Dr. Doussin Deubreuil relates the case of a child who contracted the habit spontaneously at the age of five years, who, in spite of all that could be done, died at sixteen having lost his reason at eleven."

The book gives no guide to what sorts of cures could be used to prevent the inevitable "loss of memory and intelligence" inflicted upon even the occasional masturbator. Just know that if you do it, you're gonna lose your marbles and die. I suspect this is the prototypical case of the cure being worse than the disease.

This sort of drivel takes up 8 pages. A further 7 pages are devoted to the equal dangers of "Masturbation, Female" ("Alas, that such a term is possible!"). There's also guidance on the physical and moral dangers of abortion and incest and an accompanying medical explanation that the "softer and less voluminous" brains of women make them easily confused and stupid. You can't argue with science, ladies!

But the good doctor isn't a monster. His book advises strongly against rape (even by married men of their wives) and does its best to dispel myths about marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth. (He's a big fan of breast over bottle.) "A husband is generally the architect of his own misfortunes," is the first bit of wisdom listed in his final chapter. Of course the same chapter ends with "The only recipe for permanent happiness in wedlock: Christianity" does go a few steps too far.

In the 21st century, we've gotten use to misinformation and bad science disseminated through blog posts and cable news. Isn't it nice to know that the self-proclaimed experts of a century ago and their mail-order instructional manuals were just as bad?

(Footnote: If you want to read about how the motion picture industry is actually becoming — gasp! — big business in 1917 America, you can also read that copy of The Literary Digest online here.)

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To be continued...

 

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