Sunday, November 19, 2017

Memes of History: Stick With the Fun Ones

Memes. Some truly make me laugh out loud, as they were meant to do, while others make me cringe for the so-called "facts" they spew.
And I do cringe at these, ahem, factual Facebook memes because there are many - too many - people who believe and post them as being true without a second thought and without an ounce of research of their own to back it.
One such example, since this is Thanksgiving week, is this one right here:


I mean, these are but three memes of many that state the same thing!
And look how patriotic they are.
It must be true!
Yeah...far too many people believe and re-post this crap without looking for sources to back the claim.
So, do you believe the above memes?
Well, before we get into the fun memes, I'd like to correct the myth of Benjamin Franklin and the turkey. I took most of what you are about to read directly from the Mental Floss web site, written eloquently by Matt Soniak. Now, lest you question my use of "Mental Floss" for my source, I ask - plead, even - that you to look at other reputable sources such as the Smithsonian site, the History site, and even on the Harvard site to squelch any doubts.
First off, Franklin wasn’t involved in the designation of the eagle as the national bird or its selection as an element in the Great Seal of the United States. He did sit on the first committee appointed to work on the seal’s design with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in 1776, but there’s no record of him arguing against an eagle design or suggesting a turkey. Franklin’s official suggestion for the seal while on the committee was actually a Biblical scene: “Moses standing on the Shore, and extending his Hand over the Sea, thereby causing the same to overwhelm Pharaoh who is sitting in an open Chariot, a Crown on his Head and a Sword in his Hand. Rays from a Pillar of Fire in the Clouds reaching to Moses, to express that he acts by Command of the Deity. ‘Motto - Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.’”
Instead, “...he committee decided to make this the reverse side of the seal.
Two more committees, neither of which Franklin served on, were formed in 1780 and 1782 and continued work on the seal. The final design and inclusion of the bald eagle was the work of the third committee. Their design was initially similar to the first committee’s, with a central shield flanked by the figures of a soldier and “maiden America.” They then simplified the image and replaced the two figures with a bald eagle “on the wing and rising.” Here again, there’s no record of a complaint from Franklin, who was then serving as an envoy to Paris and hadn’t participated in the seal design process for six years.
So, if Franklin didn’t propose the turkey in committee or argue against the eagle design when it was being considered, where did people get the idea that he was a turkey lover?
It wasn’t until two years after the final seal was designed and approved that Franklin put his feelings about eagles and turkeys down for posterity. In January 1784, he wrote his daughter a letter.
He wrote:
Franklin penning a letter
For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen as the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perch’d on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him. With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping and Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country, tho’ exactly fit for that Order of Knights which the French call Chevaliers d’Industrie.
I am on this account not displeas’d that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For in Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America. Eagles have been found in all Countries, but the Turkey was peculiar to ours, the first of the Species seen in Europe being brought to France by the Jesuits from Canada, and serv’d up at the Wedding Table of Charles the ninth. He is besides, tho’ a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.
In repetitions of the Franklin-turkey story, these passages are often taken out of context and made to seem like public statements by Franklin, or made in direct response to the use of the eagle on the Great Seal, instead of private musings made about the eagle’s use by a military society. And while Franklin does lament the eagle becoming symbolic of both the Society and the United States after the fact, he doesn’t say that the turkey would have been a better choice for the Great Seal; he only suggests that he likes that the Society’s eagle resembles a turkey because the turkey is a “more respectable” bird.”
So, Franklin isn't directly rebuking the Great Seal of the United States — he is rebuking the insignia of the Cincinnati. He isn't calling for the turkey to be the symbol of the nation, but he is drawing an interesting parallel.
This is why we need to be more aware, for too many people would rather believe the meme than research the real facts and truth (this goes for modern politics as well, by the way); too many are believing false history already, and we certainly don't need memes to add to the dumbing down.
Ha! Yeah, I am being a bit snarky, but this sort of thing drives me crazy (as it should you), which is why I am showing some of the more fun historical memes in today's post - too keep me somewhat sane in an insane world.
The ones that I have here have made me quite literally laugh out loud, and I hope they do the same for you - - -
I have no idea who created most of them, but for the few that I do know, I made sure to give the person credit.
Being that I am posting this during Thanksgiving week, I thought I would begin this with a couple of fitting Thanksgiving memes:
Oh come now!
If we can't laugh at ourselves...

The first time I saw this I could not stop laughing. Members of my family stopped what they were doing to see why I was laughing so hard, so this year I decided to make my own "living meme" of this cartoon, only I did it during one of our Civil War reenactments:

Thanks to Beckie and Jon for being such good sports (and for having such great expressions)!

I love being a part of Colonial/Revolutionary War reenacting, for it is my very favorite part of America's great history.
Being that we live in the tech-savvy times of the 21st century, I wonder...what if today's technology was around in 1775?

We sure do!!

Okay, stop being offended at me for posting this. It's pretty funny, you must admit.

Revolutionary War soldiers were some of the toughest men. And out of all of 'em, this guy just may be number one!
Hey---wait a sec----this can't be true!
Let me check...
Aye, but it is!
On April 19, 1775, British forces were returning to Boston from the Battles of Lexington & Concord, the opening engagements of the war. On their march, they were continually shot at by colonial militiamen.
Whittemore was in his fields when he spotted an approaching British relief brigade. Whittemore loaded his musket and ambushed the British Grenadiers of the 47th Regiment of Foot  from behind a nearby stone wall, killing one soldier. He then drew his dueling pistols, killed a second and mortally wounded a third. By the time Whittemore had fired his third shot, a British detachment had reached his position; Whittemore drew his sword and attacked. He was subsequently shot in the face, bayoneted numerous times, and left for dead in a pool of blood. He was found by colonial forces trying to load his musket to resume the fight. He was taken to a Dr. in Medford, who perceived no hope for his survival. However, Whittemore not only recovered, but he lived another 18 years until dying of natural causes at the age of 96.

I posted this and actually had one person tell me they didn't understand.

Okay, so it's not a meme, but my sister posted it to my page and, well, it fits in well with the others here.

I love having barbecues on the 4th of July. It's a great tradition, isn't it?
Yep---John Adams certainly wanted us to celebrate and remember what occurred. After spending the day in period clothing, I also enjoy a barbecue with all of the amazing fireworks.
But do you want to know what truly amazes and, to a certain degree, disgusts me?
How many people - Americans, mind you - who have no idea what the 4th of July really is about...
Yeah...this is sad, very sad...we'd cry if we didn't laugh.

Those of us who reenact the Revolutionary War enjoy the Facebook bantering we do between each other during the off time. The war between the Patriots/Continentals and the Loyalists/Redcoats lives on in Facebook memes!
This one happens to be in my top 5.
It's perfect!

And then there's this one - -
I have friends who are in a Queen's Rangers reenacting unit, so I always try to get them with this meme.
Meme created by Eliza Leigh Vinz 

Are you a fan of the show "Turn: Washington's Spies"?
No? Then you are missing out!

Then you will get this...and understand the character at hand!
Meme created by Marlene Di Via

Since I also reenact the Civil War era, this is pretty much spot on.

Not fake but a real street sign.
Nathan Hale was a spy for George Washington. Unfortunately, he was caught and hung.
Yeah...I suppose the two signs here definitely go together.
I don't recall who took this picture, but I believe I snatched it off of one of the Turn:Washington Spies pages I belong to.
If it's you and you are reading this, please let me know and I will make sure you get your deserved credit.

George Washington memes are some of the best!
Hee hee!
Just like in the movie theater----

Beat that! (lol)

But Britain did get pretty cool and they redeemed themselves during the British Invasion of the 1960s.

Yes he is, and though I didn't agree with everything he did as President,
he certainly was a great man.
At least, that's my opinion.
I saw this the day after the 2017 Super Bowl where the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons.
Love it!!

This is exactly how I've been feeling on a daily basis since the beginning of 2016, and now especially here in late 2017.

And I will let you in on a little secret in winning arguments
How to win any argument.

Only 1980s kids will remember rotary phones.
Only 1970s kids will remember vinyl record albums.
Only 1960s kids will remember the Ed Sullivan Show.
Another laugh out loud meme, in a sick sort of way.

This would be me - - - 

I made my own meme with this photograph that was taken of the back of me at Colonial Williamsburg. The text comes from a line by Terry the Toad from the movie "American Graffiti," where under age Terry is trying to score a pint of "Old Harper" liquor for he and his date. So...he tries to act casual and slips it in among the other items in hopes the cashier won't realize.
American Graffiti is one of my very favorite movies of all time, and when I saw this picture of me that my daughter took while we were in the Greenhow Store in Colonial Williamsburg, the Graffiti quote was the first thing to come to my mind.
So that's why I called it "Colonial-American Graffiti"!

Imagine celebrating Hallowe'en in colonial times:
Happy Hallowe'en!

Thanksgiving can be interesting...
We very rarely speak politics at family gatherings.
Thank the Good Lord!

And how about a few for Valentine's Day?
Oh, that Thomas Paine! He's such a cut up!

I know he's electrified more than one woman in his life!

Mr. Madison, we the people vote this card the best!

And here is the third meme I made.  The words, however, are not mine - they came from my friend Larissa. It's a team effort, you see - -
I took this picture at the Daggett Farmhouse in Greenfield Village.

I found this to be perfect for our time.

Speaking of time...I really hate changing the clocks back and forth twice a year. Just pick a time and leave it there!
Yeah...this sounds like something I'd say.

And for my Civil War friends - -
I don't believe there is a single reenactor of any era that cannot identify with this!

I do hope you enjoyed this week's somewhat light-hearted posting with a bit of snarkiness thrown in. I probably could fill a couple more because there are so many funny memes out there.
Maybe there will be a part two someday.

Until next time, see you in time.
And remember...

~   ~   ~

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I Saw Old Autumn in the Morn (A Fall Visit to Greenfield Village)

Autumn aglow
You know, some people complain an awful lot when cooler weather strikes. They now have to wear jackets, the leaves need to be raked, winter is right around the corner... And yet, these same complainers also tend to be very active this time of year: they head out to cider mills, go on hay rides, take part in Hallowe'en activities, enjoy nature walks, high school football games...
Me? I am a Fall person (in case you hadn't noticed), and I so look forward to this time of year more than any other season. I've been this way a lifetime - there's no changing me now.
Away from the metro-Detroit area, Michigan is mostly a rural state, and fall color tours are in great abundance and demand. But, to me, nothing emits an Autumn flavor like historic Greenfield Village. No, it's not necessarily rural, for it represents a Village from days of old, showing houses and buildings from the 1600s through the early 1900s in a more, shall we say, period urban setting. But there are wonderful examples of ruralness such as Firestone Farm and Daggett Farm. So there is a little bit of everything for the fan of fall AND the fan of history. To top it off, the trees throughout Greenfield Village give off exuberant colors, and with the historic homes in the background, it is the perfect storm of autumn.

With that being the title of this posting states, I did visit the Village on a couple of October mornings...
...are you ready to go back?

The birthplace of Henry Ford: the automobile magnet was born inside this house 
in July 1863, just a few weeks after the Battle of Gettysburg, at which one of his uncles was wounded. It was the last house Ford personally moved to his Village before he died. It was also the first preservation he had done, years before when it was still in its original location.

From the kitchen doorway of the Ford home peaking out toward the kitchen garden. It is fall and the fruits of the labor of growing a sustainable garden are looked forward to and enjoyed.

See the school?
See the steeple?
One teaches students,
the other teaches all people.

Though the Mattox House was originally built around 1880 in Georgia, it now gives a fine representation of the lives of a poorer southern black family eking out a life in the earlier part of the 20th century.
I love the scenario created here with the inclusion of an old Model T sitting in the front yard. 

For the past few years I have been studying farm life of the 18th and 19th centuries, and I have to say I find it fascinating. To think all of what our ancestors had to do to survive! And it took the entire family to make it work, for each member was just as necessary as the other to ensure success.
Each season of farm life has its own chores and jobs, but none were as rewarding as harvest time in the fall. But these cooler months weren't only about food - it was also about winter preparation.
Corn shocks at Firestone Farm:
Firestone Farm pre-dates the era of the silo, when corn stalks were chopped up and made into a slightly fermented feed known as silage. So instead, the corn stalks were chopped and fed as fodder to the animals.
Gathering the stalks into shocks had an important purpose. The inside stalks, sheltered from the elements, retained their nutritional value for quite some time and the actual shock made a handy manageable portion for the farmer to haul from the field for his cattle. The corn was either picked before shocking, or at the time the shock was pulled from the field.

To most folks a scene like this would probably be boring to watch for more than a couple minutes, but I sat for quite a long time watching the farmers at Firestone Farm load the wheat straw onto the horse-drawn wagon. Just the sight of this chore drew me into their world of the 1880s.
The straw here has no nutritional value, so it could be used for a variety of things, including banking the house against the winter wind, bedding for animals in pens and stalls, or even stuffing a mattress.

I followed the wagon with the loaded straw back to the farm. Again, this is something that may be a bore to many but, in all honesty, watching the 1880s in action (so to speak) gave me sort of a sense of peace. I don't know...seeing a slower (albeit harder) pace tends to keep me grounded.

From the side of the Firestone barn, one can see the wagon a-waiting to be emptied, as well as the heirloom apple tree orchard the distance.
Firestone Farm is a real historical working farm, and those who work here actually grow the fruits and vegetables they will eat - and they do eat seasonally here - as well as butcher their hogs and salt & dry the meat, usually after the Christmas season. This is what you see the 'family' eating during the open season from April through November.

Meat to last the year.
Isn't this picture cool? It came from the Firestone Farm coloring book. I'm not sure if it's still available, but I bought multiple copies so each of my kids could have one.
To some this may be gross, and some readers may say, "Ken! Must you post this?" but let's face it - in pre-WWII America this was common place. In fact, in the 1960s and 70s my father was a meat cutter/butcher and he was quite busy during the fall/hunting season, and it helped me to understand at a very young age where my food came from.

Hey - - there the Daggett Saltbox House, sitting amidst God's beauty!
I took this photo of the Daggett House a few years back, and it's got to be one of my favorite fall-depicting images. 

As I stepped out of the kitchen buttery door, what you see here in this picture is exactly what I saw upon looking to my right. 
I wonder what Samuel and Anna Daggett would think about so many of us loving the home he built and the presenters remembering them over 250 years later? Would they be proud or embarrassed?
Confused maybe?
A scene right out of America's colonial past...that could be Samuel right there!

Now, these next few photographs are based around the birthplace of famed horticulturalist Luther Burbank (think the Burbank Potato - - yep, that's him!). It's truly unfortunate that Greenfield Village does not utilize this wonderful example of early 19th century Americana in a more proper way. Instead of "dressing it up" in the era of when Burbank lived here - or even during the time it was built...1800 - it is used mainly, it seems, for arts & crafts projects for visitors. It's almost treated as if its in the way for them - they just don't seem to know what to do with it.
Well, I say bring it back to its original glory and allow visitors to enjoy it for the historical home it is.
The 1800 home of Luther Burbank is set in picturesque surroundings and really shines when flanked by the beautiful fall colors.

Luther Burbank was born in this house, originally located in Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 1849. He was the son of a farmer and maker of brick and pottery.
According to his own account, his reading of Charles Darwin's Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication in 1868 proved the turning point in his career, causing him to take the production of new species and varieties of plants as his life's work.
He died in 1926.

Re-discovered in 1936, Henry Ford's architect, Ed Cutler, and about 50 boys from the famed Wayside Inn schools dismantled Burbank's birthplace during that fall and winter. Interestingly, a later owner of the house split the frame structure in half and constructed a brick building in the middle. Ford bought only the two original wings. By early summer of 1937, the Burbank House, now put back together as it once was, had found a new home in Greenfield Village.

The next few pictures center on the Eagle Tavern, built in 1831 in Clinton, Michigan.
When Henry Ford was planning out his Village, he wanted to have a village green similar to those he had seen in New England, and bordering this green would be a church, a town hall, a general store, and a tavern.

I'm not sure why the outdoor lamps encircling the green were on, but I'm glad they were, for they did add to the whole ambiance of recreating the past.

And so did the horses and omnibuses. But...if you look closely you can see four lit lamps in this picture, almost giving the feeling of evening rather than late morning.

I have commented numerous times before that the Eagle Tavern, though built in 1831, could easily pass for a tavern built years earlier, during America's Revolutionary War era. And here is my proof: The Raleigh Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg, with its latest restoration addition - a porch - and directly below we have a picture of the Eagle Tavern
Above photo of the Raleigh Tavern courtesy of Susan McCall
Below photo of the Eagle Tavern by me
The Eagle Tavern beautifully restored...

One of my favorite scenes occurs when I step into the 1831 Ackley Covered Bridge, for what awaits the visitor on the other side is pure autumn magic...

On a particular warm fall day, a ride in a surrey was a welcome respite from all the walking. And then seeing the corn shocks at Susquehanna as the horses clip-clopped around the bend gave me the same sight and sound experience of times long past.
The same scene from a different angle not too long after my ride.
Americana history abounds in this picture, with the white picket fence and the homes of Robert Frost and Noah Webster shining in the back ground.
The wondrous season of autumn in itself has a tendency to make everything look old...wooden...and, dare I say, traditional. Many houses in my neighborhood have fireplaces, and on these cooler days one can see smoke billowing out of the chimneys. 
"So why do you go to Greenfield Village to enjoy the fall then, Ken?" you ask.
I really can't tell you why for certain, except that I immerse myself into it because it is history and, thus, historical. I do the same whether I am practicing the craft of living history, reading a history book, or watching a quality period movie or TV series. Seeing the Daggett Home, Firestone Farm, McGuffey Cabin, or any number of the historic structures relocated here engulfed in the reds, golds, orange, browns, and even a touch of left over green leaves brings out the best of autumn...of old autumn...and I can almost see what our ancestors did.
Because it's Greenfield Village, that's why!
Again, that's the way I am and the way I've always been.
And I'm not going to change.
Need I say more?

Until next time, see you in time.
Crossing the bridge through time...

To read about Fall Flavors Weekend at Greenfield Village, click HERE
To experience a time-line journey through autumn at Greenfield Village, click HERE
To learn about autumn harvest in Colonial times, click HERE
For a general overview about harvest time in the 18th & 19th centuries, click HERE