Saturday, January 11, 2014

Historical Oddities and News You Won't Find in Your Local Paper

Every-so-often I come across unique, interesting, and/or noteworthy items, but unfortunately I don't always think of posting them here.
This week, however, there seems to be an over-abundance so I thought I'd bundle them up into one neat little package for your enjoyment.
By the way, I did not write the following articles but noted the author and included links. I also did not take the photos - they came from the original articles.

Meat Market Victorian Toy

From The Kitcn
Meat carcasses hang from the rafters. There's blood and sawdust on the floor. Doll-sized butchers stand in front, looking severe. (One is even holding a knife.) A historical mock-up for a museum, you think? Nope. This is an actual toy butcher shop for kids, circa 1850, and it was a runaway hit at the time.
Collectors Weekly has a terrific little article on their website right now on the history of toy food. Regarding the meat market playsets, they cite a 1969 book by Robert Culff, The World of Toys, who writes that Victorian children were not very squeamish:
...these "exact representations of butchers' shops" were very popular, "with their modeled joints, strings of sausages, and whole animal carcasses hanging from real iron hooks, tier by tier, 'round the wooden butcher and his two assistants in their striped aprons." He explains that it must have been satisfying "taking down and wrapping Sunday joints for one's brothers and sisters, and presumably a certain amount about the prime cuts of meat was learned painlessly in the doing of it."

In fact, miniature playsets of all kinds were popular in Victorian times.
...elaborate and accurate little replicas were modeled for every store in town: the draper, the greengrocer, the fishmonger, the baker, the milliner's full of bonnets and hat boxes, and the sweet shop featuring "uncertainly balanced scales, jars of hundreds-and-thousands [a.k.a. sprinkles] and cachou lozenges in little tins smelling of ghostly roses and violets."
If graphic butcher shop toys seems strange to our 21st century sensibilities, let's consider for a moment: the writer for the Collectors Weekly article, Lisa Hix, recalls coveting her friend's 1982 Barbie McDonald's playset. As she writes,
In the 19th century, kids were taught how to purchase select cuts from fresh cow carcasses. A hundred years later, they were encouraged to consume overly processed ground beef and trans-fatty French fries from a fast-food behemoth. Which is worse, really?

Around the World in a Model T – For a Good Cause
From The Henry Ford Blog
Since 2012 Dirk Regter and wife Trudy, from the Netherlands, have been traveling across the globe in their 1915 Model T in order to raise money for SOS Children’s Villages International. Their Model T World Tour brought them to Michigan in 2013; when they asked us if they could bring their Model T to Greenfield Village, we were happy to oblige.
Learn more about Dirk and Trudy’s tour below.

The Henry Ford: Where have you traveled so far?
Dirk: We’ve traveled through Europe, Italy, Greece, up to Israel, Jordan and then into Egypt. Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and all the way to Botswana, to South Africa to Cape Town. And then we ship the cars, the Model T, and we have a sport vehicle, the Land Rover with camping stuff and spare parts because we prefer camping. And we ship the cars from Cape Town to Houston. And we started in the beginning of this year in Houston and we made the loop from Houston to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, through the Rockies up to Calgary, through Canada, and Macon New York, Hershey, and now we’re in Detroit. And we continue our trip from here to Houston again. And then we continue our trip next year Central America, South America.
What inspired this trip, this world tour?
Oh yes. I’ll tell you. In 2007, I ride with this same Model T a trip from Peking in China, to Mongolia, Russia all the way down to Paris for a trip about to 10,000 miles. I made that trip for fundraising for 2 projects for children in Mongolia for disabled children. And after that trip we collected about $200,000. And from that money we built two projects for disabled children in Mongolia. And after the trip we decide to make a longer trip all around the world to raise money for orphaned children.
Is there a reason you picked these particular foundations you wanted to raise money for?
Yes. Because we wanted to do something for children.
Why did you decide to take a Model T around the world?
My grandfather worked at a transport company, and in the 20s he had Model T’s. And my father also had Model Ts and a Model A. So when I was young, I grew up with Model Ts and Model As and old cars so I’m rather familiar with Model Ts.
What’s been the reactions from other people as you were crossing the world on Model Ts?
Ah, last week we traveled through Africa, I showed you on the map. And in Africa, people don’t know anything about classic cars. So even the police men or customers would ask, “What is this kind of vehicle? Did you build it on your own?” I told them, “Well it’s a Model T,” they don’t understand it. And when we came to the States in Houston and we traveled through the States and Canada, people know of Model Ts and they’re so excited and they want to tell you stories about Model Ts and they invite you to their club. And in the States and Canada, it’s amazing how much people know about Model Ts. And they’ll tell you they’re part of a classic car club or used to own a Model T. They will invite you to their club meetings. People have barbeques for us.
That’s awesome. So it’s very hospitable.
You have very quick contact with people when you are driving in a Model T. Especially in the States and Canada.
And what’s been your favorite stop on your tour so far?
My favorite stop? That’s a difficult question because…
You’ve been to so many different places?
Yes. We have been to so many different places, and Africa was also very beautiful. We would travel, through example, Botswana. There were a lot of elephants. And one time we were in a campsite and in the night time I woke up and there were four animals, elephants around our tent.
And they were looking for water and they smelled water in our tent so I was a little bit scared at the time. So I said, “Go away please!” It was a special moment. We met a lot of people in the Model T Ford Club of America here, and they also have their own museum in Richmond, Indiana. And we were there also. We have seen so many nice places.
So you’re finishing off in the states and going through Central America…
So where does the tour end?
Now we go to Houston and we store the car there. Then we go back home to celebrate Christmas with our children and grandchildren. And we pick up the cars next year and we go to Central and South America. And from there, from Brazil, we got to New Zealand. In New Zealand after that Australia, this year. And then Thailand, China and then back to Mongolia to start two projects there. And then back to Holland. I think we will be back in the end of 2015.
And how can people donate, say they want to give to the organization, how can they learn about your fundraising efforts?
We have a website, And if you want to see our several events, you can see it through our website. And if you want to make a donation, you can make a donation fee through our website.

10 Things you may not know about Vernor's Ginger Ale By Jeff Waraniak

1. First sold in 1866, Vernors is the oldest soda in the US. If any historian wants to argue with you, he’s probably never had a Vernors and is unaware that it deserves the title on deliciousness alone. So calm down, hypothetical argumentative historians.
2.The Vernors creation story is twofold: pharmacist James Vernor either left an experimental ginger ale in an oak cask for four years while he was off fighting in the Civil War, or he let the recipe mellow in his brain and made the stuff after he returned.
3. The Boston Cooler -- Vernors and vanilla ice cream -- is named after Boston Boulevard in central Detroit and the surrounding historic area. It’s where Henry Ford and Berry Gordy lived, so back off, other Boston.
4. For a few years in the 1970s, Vernors and Sanders Fudge teamed up to make Vernors ice cream. We can only assume they had to cease production because of excessive deliciousness.
5. James Vernor was a member of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry, which captured Jefferson Davis on May 10, 1865 -- except Vernor wasn’t involved. He’d been captured beforehand and was hiding in an attic/ probably dreaming of ginger ale.
6. The official name of the gnome mascot who adorns the bottles is Woody.  The artist who first drew him was named Noble Fellows. Wouldn't "Noble Fellows" have been a much cooler name?
7. In 1968, a Vernors advertising artist (Ron Bialecki) decided to grow out his beard and become the gnome (a.k.a Noble Fellows). He decked out a yellow AMC Pacer in Vernors swag, including a barrel, called it the Gnome Mobile, and became the unofficial mascot at James Vernor Elementary School.
8. In the '80s, the company tried some weird things (it was the '80s). They launched a line of fruit-flavored drinks for the West Coast called California Natural, which included flavors like apple-cranberry, mandarin orange, and grapefruit. The Naturals would ferment on the shelves and sometimes explode in the bottles. They do not make Naturals anymore.
9. James Vernor was a stickler for doing things right. Wherever Vernors was sold, he included a brochure informing distributors that “not a single glass should ever be sold at a temperature above 45 degrees.”
10. Studies have shown that these are all impostors and not as good as Vernors… but you already knew that:

Here's an interesting "time-travel" concept that I might try:

By Casey Chan

Genius. Photographer Chino Otsuka has discovered the art of time travel. Instead of exploiting a whole in the Space-time continuum to time travel, she simply digitally spliced her adult self into old photographs from her childhood. That way it looked like adult version of Otsuka was meeting child version of Otsuka. So clever.

Otsuka explains the thought process behind her excellent photo series Imagine Finding Me:

"The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine, as I'm embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history."
Sometimes she mimics what she did as a kid, other times she's simply crossing paths with her childhood self and there's even a few pictures where it looks like she's taking care of her childhood self. It's clever photo manipulation but a few of these shots really make it look like she was there the entire time.

Unique, huh?

And the biggest news of all, click HERE for my Table of Contents page, linking you to nearly every posting I wrote from roughly 2009 up until 2013!!

Hope you enjoyed these little history-oriented excursions.
See you soon - -



An Historical Lady said...

Hi Ken,
Adam and I read this post together yesterday and we really enjoyed it. Thanks!
Hope you are having good fortune with the job hunt and that your family has a wonderful and historical New Year!

Stephanie Ann said...

Toy butcher shops... ::covers eyes::

Great index post! I'm really trying to get mine together.