Wednesday, April 2, 2014

TIME-HONORED MEMORY SCRAPS




The last few weeks of my free reading time has been spent reviewing Volumes I and II of the Autobiography of Mark Twain

I went to the local public library to renew my library card because of my discovery that my experience with popular fiction and non-fiction books was a few years behind the average person including high school students.   Usually, I read scientific journal and research articles. Occasionally I read a good mystery novel.   This discovery was made while substitute teaching in English classes and noting what the high school teachers have been assigning to their students.   

A few months ago, I attended a middle school book fair with a middle school English class and I brought a paper and pen to document the books which were at the book fair.  To my chagrin, I did not know any of these books existed, however, the middle school kids recited the number of these “popular” books  that they had read and seen at the movies.  Well,  I thought that day at the middle school book fair ‘ perhaps I had been living in a time warp.’  

My own childhood reading was occupied by Nancy Drew novels, Jules Verne books, sports books, fiction novels about animals, and lastly Mark Twain.   Based upon my time in adulthood as a substitute teacher, it became apparent that Mark Twain is not particularly popular reading at this time, although the high school students are still required to read Shakespeare. 
 I had a wonderful English teacher in 7th and 8th grade middle school, Mrs. Tripoli, at Blackham Middle School in Bridgeport, CT.  It was obvious that she loved literature and loved to teach.  She was the teacher that truly created an appreciation for literature.  In high school, I also had good English teachers, yet I could not personally, get into the Shakespeare thing.

In April of 1986, I  went canoeing and camping along the Rio Grande River in Big Bend National Park.  The river runs along the border of west Texas and Mexico (Roughing It). My women outdoors companions were from a mixed background, including our canoe trip leader,  Beverly Anataeus of Santa Fe, NM, who is an expert “canoeist”and Linda who was a writer for the National Enquirer.  Linda, from Georgia, also worked for the Santa Fe Oprea.  Beverly was originally from Maine.  Jean, from Maine, an old lady at that time drove the van with the canoes.  The most popular tune on the radio between Albuquerque and the Big Bend National Park was:  "You Were Always on My Mind" by Willie Nelson. 

That trip was one of  the most relaxing vacations that I have experienced.   We had 5 or 6 canoes and ran into no one along the river the entire 5 days/nights.  What spectacular desert scenery.  One of those nights I had javelinas oinking outside my tent.  I suppose this was not truly a new experience since I have run across plenty of people who qualify as javelina who are never welcome.  Therefore, I welcomed the animal javelinas on that camping trip.   I do not have original photos of this trip, because my old house in Albuquerque, NM was ransacked (completely) while traveling one summer and autumn, hence, all of these photos were lost.

On one night of the Big Bend canoe trip at 1:00 AM on that April of 1986 all of us campers awoke to view the tail-end of Halley’s Comet.  (see my previous blog post https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=5983035772269748684#editor/target=post;postID=7572223762403124549;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=16;src=postname).    The comet was clearly visible on the horizon with binoculars.  What a treat to see the comet!   At that time (1986), I was well past my “youth”,   I was “too old” to read things like Mark Twain (my late 20’s).  

To return to my first paragraph of the blog, I went to the library to renew my library card.  The Autobiography of Mark Twain (Volume II) was sitting on the “new books” shelf near the entrance.  The library is also slightly behind the time since Volume I was published in 2010 and Volume II was published in 2011.  I am still waiting to determine whether the library will get Volume III?  

So, I have spent the last few weeks reviewing the first two volumes of Mark Twain’s Autobiography.  What a wealth of literary knowledge his autobiography truly is.    Mark Twain met, knew, interacted with, and was friends with so many people which is called “well-connected” in modern terminology. Reading his history and autobiographical details enhances every aspect of his novels. 

Importantly, Mark Twain had stipulated that his autobiography was not to be published for 100 years.  He died in 1910 in Redding, CT during Halley’s Comet.  The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, CA has done a great job of preserving his archives and abiding by Mr. Twain’s wish that his autobiography not be published for 100 years posthumously.

 In the year 2010 Volume I of the autobiography was published and in 2011 Volume II was published.  There is Volume III.  While reading these first two volumes, I am reminded of Halley’s Comet that night on the Rio Grande River in Big Bend National Park, i. e., the fading tail-light of a great American author.

In his autobiography Twain described his first attempts at writing his autobiography as “Scraps of My Autobiography” and “My Debut as a Literary Person”.  Ultimately, these writing starts were shelved.  I am not a specialist in the literary world, so my blog posts do not represent “My Debut as a Literary Person”.  Yet, my blog posts may represent the musings of a research scientist who aspires to be a “Literarian”.  

On Page 7 of Mark Twain’s novel:  A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, there is a passage as follows:  

“At the end of an hour we saw a faraway town sleeping in a valley. By a winding river; and beyond it on a hill, a vast grey fortress with towers and turrets, the first I have ever seen by a picture.  Bridgeport? Said I,  pointing”. 

“Camelot, said he!”  (Warwick Castle in the novel)

Here is one of my photos of a symbolic castle along the Pequonnock River in Bridgeport, CT  from the year 2010:  






Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Torchbearers Sculpture at the Discovery Museum, Bridgeport, CT

Yesterday, there was a brief news post on the local News 12 television station that the sculpture was to be auctioned in New York City today.  The sculpture was donated in August of 1963 to the museum by the American sculptress Anna Hyatt Huntington of Redding, CT: 

 
 

 
The abrupt, last minute announcement of the planned sale of the sculpture was what I term an act of skullduggery.  The museum claims that they want to raise money for a NASA satellite project in a joint effort between the University of Hawaii and the University of Bridgeport.  Strangely, there are
science grants which can fund this type of research instead of pawning-off a major work of art which was given to the museum by the artist.  The lack of logic around Bridgeport in various quarters is apparent.  Science is not a pursuit that is undertaken by pawning-off major art work.  The logic certainly does escape me and I had received an A grade in an Elementary Logic philosophy course at Columbia University as an undergraduate. 
 
I spent part of today re-reviewing some of Anna Hyatt Huntington's papers which I have obtained for an ongoing research project of her life and work as an American sculptress.  Correspondence dated March 5, 1925 from Isaiah Bowman (once Director of the American Geographical Society of which Archer M. Huntington was a member of the Board of Directors) to Anna's husband Archer Milton Huntington included the following quote from an inscription in the National Academy of Sciences building, Washington, D. C.:
 
To Science
Pilot of Industry
Conquerer of Disease
Multiplier of the Harvest
Explorer of the Universe
Revealer of Nature's Laws
Eternal Guide to Truth
 
In an earlier correspondence from October 24, 1924 Mr. Archer M. Huntington is writing to a colleague about the future direction of the American Geographical Society:  "In the great maelstrom of secondary mentality with which we are surrounded, it seems plain that only those groups which have maintained standards of their own for long periods can look forward with confidence to carrying the 'torch' onward and perhaps a little upward in the great struggle which is growing more difficult in this overcrowding world of today." 
 
Both science and art have standards by which success and failure is judged.  Science and art have something in common which is termed "originality", not secondary mentality templates.
 
I am truly sorry to hear about the plan to pawn-off the Torchbearers sculpture in the "name of science" and I think the entire thing is a disgrace to both science and art.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Friday, October 11, 2013

Robert Mitchum - Hollywood Actor

Was flipping through the cable television stations the other night and found a Robert Mitchum movie.  Recalled that Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, CT (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000053/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm) and spent some of his youth in Connecticut.  His history and haunts in the Bridgeport area are not well documented.  I am a fan of Hollywood and film history and I admit that Robert Mitchum has not been at the top of my list of favorite Hollywood people.  However, there was one movie he starred-in, " Track of the Cat", which I thought was really great.  The movie has not been on television in many years and only received a
3 Start rating.   As an outdoors woman, "Track of the Cat" (http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/93751/Track-of-the-Cat/) appealed to me since Robert Mitchum's character went crazy by the end of the movie trying to hunt the "panther" that was eluding him in the snowy mountains of the western United States.  He followed the panther's track's in the snow and ultimately fell off a cliff.  Nature conquered the hunter in the end! 

I know how to hunt deer, elk, and wild game birds.  I also know how to fish and set fish traps.  This is for food, not for trophies.  I do not and will not hunt carnivore predators.  North American carnivores such as wolves and mountain lions naturally regulate deer populations and are symbols of freedom in North America. In many areas, citizens complain and whine about "all the deer everywhere".  Well, the North American carnivore population that prey on deer for food have been reducted to small areas of the United States and are represented by only 10% of the same carnivore populations from the year 1850 so what do the complainers and whiners expect?

I did see a movie Robert Mitchum starred-in with Marylin Monroe (River of No Return).  Apparently, he knew her before she became a Hollywood starlet.  I thought the movie, River of No Return, was so-so (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZKUtW-aDHM).  Both aforementioned movies were filmed in 1954.  

Although Robert Mitchum was a staunch Republican, President and General Eisenhower did not allow his movies shown at the White House because bad boy Mitchum had an arrest for marajuana on his record.  After World War II, General Eisenhower became the President of Columbia University in the City of New York (I am proud to say that I am a graduate of Columbia University, although not everyone agrees on political topics).  Subsequently, General Eisenhower, was eleected President of the United States.  Coincidentally, Bridgeporters have the old Eisenhower Center on Golden Hill Street in downtown Bridgeport.   What a town, Bridgeport is............

Robert Mitchum's Hollywood career did survive the 1950's and he continued starring in films for more than 2 decades after the 1950's.  His early history in Bridgeport, CT is something that would be interesting to delve into for my "Lost History of Bridgeport - Missing Pieces" blog. 



Saturday, February 2, 2013

PROCTOR OPERA HOUSE


The front page of today's Connecticut Post Newspaper has an article regarding the once famous Sterling Opera House in Derby, CT and fundraising plans for a renovation. Bridgeport, CT, also, once had an opera theatre house, although I can find no specific information about the opera house except for press releases regarding stage performances in the 1890's which include Columbia University Library archives.  I am a graduate of Columbia University in the City of New York:  




The Proctor Opera House existed in Bridgeport, CT and was part of a chain of opera houses managed from a main office in New York City.  There is still a Proctor Theatre in Schenectady, NY (http://www.proctors.org/about/history-proctors)

One newspaper announcement and critique for a play at Bridgeport's Proctor Opera Theatre is as follows:

(REFERENCE:  SPORTING LIFE, 1890)

OF LITTLE  MERIT.
"The Bottom of the Sea'

Merely Made For
Mechanical Effects.
At Proctor's Opera House, Bridgeport, Ct.,
Aug. 25, "The Bottom of the Sea" was acted
for the first time on any stage, under that
title. It is an adaptation, by Hart Conway,
of an old French spectacle by M. Cotambert,
its original name, we believe, being "Au
Fond de la Mer." It was' produced at San
Francisco about fifteen years ago. \V. A.
Hart owns the right, and one of his troupes
is touring it. There is but little plot. Dramatic
incidents are almost entirely lacking,
except such as are created by the mechanical
contrivances and scenic effects.
Briefly told, the play deals with the wreck
of a ship, and the loss of a casket of jewels
belonging to Ernest Le Brun, who is drowned
in the marine disaster, while his daughter,
the heroine ot the play, is rescued by the gal-
Iantry of James Norton, the hero. A cousin
of Miss Le Brun , Hcnri De Sartene. is as
deeply in love with her as the hero. The two
are engaged iu Iaying an Atlantic cable. They
are jealous of each other. The cable is parted
through the maliciousness of AIexis Banalli
a Greek, who hates every one, and is anxious
to get to the bottom of the sea to recover the
lost jewels. Four men descend to the ocean's
bottom to splice the cable. The Greek discovers
the jewels, and attempts to murder
De Sartene. She throws the blame upon Norton,
who is miraculously saved by the reappearance
of the supposed dead man. The
play ends in a love feast for the good after
the guilty have received their reward."


Friday, February 1, 2013

AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB CONNECTIONS

The month of February in the dog show world is renown for the Westminster Dog Show which has been held yearly at Madison Square Garden in New York City since the 1880's.  I cross-post this with my "Dog Training History Blog".

Dr. James E. Hair of Bridgeport, CT was a recognized dog show judge including assignments at the Westminster Dog Show.  He was known for judging Pointers and Setters, however, he also judged other dog breeds.

Reference from the Outing Magazine, 1899:


"Notes of the Month.
The Connecticut State Field Trials Club
have elected the following officers: President,

E. K. Sperry; Secretary and Treasurer, John E.
Bassett; First Vice-President, Dr. James E. Hair
Vice-President, W. J, Erwin; Second Vice-President, F. M. Chapin;
Executive Board of Governors, William G. Comstock, W. S. Hawley."

The above list of the Connecticut State Field Trials Club also contains some
other Bridgeport, CT notables.






BICYCLING HISTORY IN BRIDGEPORT, CT

In the 1880's, while cycling in France and other countries in Europe had developed as a major sport, pastime, and mode of touring the countryside, America appeared with a representation of local and regional cycling or wheelmen clubs.

There were a number of bicycle manufacturers in the State of Connecticut by the end of the 1880's and 1890's.  Also, there was intense competition between bicycle manufacturers in the United States.  These bicycle manufacturers sponsored road racing and track cycling clubs.   Reference my blog post from September 26, 2012 regarding cycling history in Connecticut:  

http://bridgeportcthistory.blogspot.com/2012/09/bicycle-manufacturing-industry-in.html

Ultimately, by 1900 many of the Connecticut cycling clubs, including in Bridgeport, disappeared.  Perhaps this was related to the intense competition between bicycle manufacturers which caused many of them to close or consolidate with other companies and funding, prize money, and/or sponsorships became economically depleted.

Some of the bicycling clubs were:

The Pequonnock Wheelmen (1884 reference from Outing Magazine):


"The


Pequonnock Wheelmen, of Bridgeport,


Connecticut, have chosen for officers for the


ensuing year: G. H. Johnson, president; E. S.

Sumner, secretary, and J. H. Smith, treasurer"


The Rambling Wheel Club (1890 reference from The Sporting Life):


"CONNECTICUT WHEELMEN.
Tournament of the Rambling Wheel Club
at Bridgeport.
The races of the Rambling Wheel Club, of
Bridgeport, Ct., took place at Seaside Park
May 30. The banks of the race course were
lined with a large crowd. The races resulted:
One hundred yards dash (on foot) Won by Charles
Fox,lul<%9.
Fred Schubert won the one mile ordinary race In
3m. 285i«.
Tho half-mile race between Charles Fox and Fred
ScMibert w^a Tory interesting and was taken by Fox
iu 1m. 37s.
The half-mile safety race was won by Fox In
1m. 37-).
The most interesting race was the three mile ordinary,
in which there were Qiree contestants. Fox
was again victorious, winning in llm. 3SS. Fox won
the same race Imt year In 10m. 20^4-.
The two mile safety ruce between George North
and William Seltsam wa-j won by the latter in 7m. 27*.
The last and bes: race '-f tbe serit-s was a two mile
tandum safety between Guorce North aud William
Seltsam, and J. Wilkmson snd W. A. O'Nril. It was
very close, aud all during the rac« there was only a
fow fe-t between them. On the home stretcu tlie two
I.jrmer spurted in fine atjle, winning the race in
3ui. 25s.
The track officers were: Referee, T. H.
Smith; starter, C. A. Reed; clerk of course, II.
H. Brautigan; judges, F. A. Bartholomew, H.
E. Walters, H. S. Towe; timers, Fred Nichols,
L. Ricli,"

(There use to be a track a Seaside Park)

The Bridgeport Wheelmen (1892 Reference from The Sporting Life):


"IS I! I BO E POUT WOX THE PRIZE.
The Bridgeport Wheel Club.of Bridgeport
Ct., dressed in their natty uniforms of white
flannel with white flannel caps to match.
presented the best appearance and were awarded
first prize.
Tin-Colt Bicycling.Clnb, of Hartford, took the
first prize for the greatest number of men ii
line, and the Lincoln Cycling Club.of Chi
cago. took second prize.
On Tuesday night the excursion down the
Potomac to Marshall Hull,on the steamers.
River Queen and Mncalester, nttractec
about 1000 people in spite of the heavy rain
storm which took place early in the evening"

In the United States during these early years, the League of American Wheelmen was the governing organization for races and clubs.  A Mr. Thomas Sheridan who was born and grew-up in Bridgeport, CT became a Vice-President of the League of American Wheelmen in 1892.  He had moved to Illinois by that time period: 

http://www.la84foundation.org/SportsLibrary/SportingLife/1892/VOL_18_NO_21/SL1821006.pdf






http://www.la84foundation.org/SportsLibrary/Outing/Volume_09/outIX04/outIX04m.pdf

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

JENNINGS BROTHERS METAL FOUNDERY

            The Jennings Brothers Metal Foundery was opened by the 3 Jennings Brothers in 1890 in Bridgeport, CT.  Their offices started in 2 small wood buildings and their foundery in a brick building.  Ultimately, they expanded to a larger factory biulding which was located on Elm Street in Bridgeport.  

They specialized in metal art and maintained a staff of artists and sculptors to craft their metal art objects ("Nouveau" metal art) which included clocks, bookends, statues, metal cases, candelabras and some silver-plated utensils.  Their original items were signed with the initials "JB" on each pieces.  Many JB objects are sold at auctions:  http://www.chs.org/bookends .  Older residents of Brideport can probably find at least one JB object in their house. 

In the early 1950's the Jennings Brothers Manufacturing Company went out of business and the art object casts were purchased by another company in Philadelphia, PA.  They used the original JR casts to manufacture replicas which are cheaper versions of the original JR items sold at art auctions. 

One of the items which the Jennings Brothers produced was a small-scale version of a famous sculpture by Cyrus Dallin of "Massasoit".  This item was owned by the Medicine Man Gallery:  http://www.medicinemangallery.com/collection/deceased,-other/c/Dallin-1861%252D1944,-Cyrus-E/1/Jennings-Brothers--Reproduction-of-Cyrus-Dallins-(1861%252D1944)-Massasoit .  The following is a JB clock design from the era 1900-1910: