May 20

Just some old stuff

We’ve come to it, finally, a day of nothing but filler. It was cold and dreary and I didn’t go outside much and inside I probably reflected the same mood and so maybe it is for the best if we just jump to this stuff and then see how we feel about tomorrow. Don’t worry, this is quick and informative and fun!

So we go back 103 years to see what was in the local paper on May 14, 1917. Because it’s worth it to remember our struggles are not our own, seldom unique, and they’re going to get looked at like this one day. So be mindful.

The Bloomington Evening-World, imagine picking up this big smeared piece of ink in the morning and wondering what they’re going to be preaching to you about today. Food juggling:

Jugglers most harmed.

Oh, they’re preaching at me about food. How exciting. How things never change. Thankfully things did change in newspaper technology, photograph and layout software. But the didn’t any better in 1917, so this was the standard look. All that writing. So many words. So much of it vague as to be useless, or at least that’s the read from our far remove.

When I started looking for a paper to study today I considered fish wraps from all of the places I’d care about. I wanted it to be something at or on this date. And I didn’t want to look at a 25 page paper. But I didn’t want it to be dense, either. So, naturally, I chose a dense four-pager. Anyway, let’s dive in.

They were going to be a part of the famed ambulance service:

Remember, this is 1917, so the AEF wasn’t there yet. But ambulances, which were state-of-the-art in medicine, were.

Stella Belmont appears in a couple of different newspapers in the teens, but then she disappears. I assume it means she married, or retired to a quieter life, and didn’t have some horrible aeronaut accident. Surely that would have been covered. Nevertheless, this sounds fun. Watch for it:

We got this war on, stop making things!

And now for your straw hat.

You think those could make a comeback this year? I figure if we keep asking for enough years we’ll eventually get it right.

Page two has your reminder that the same people have been making the same argument for more than a century. And it’s always the same sort of vague and ill-formed argument. The construction peters out after the premise: You shouldn’t. Why? Well, that’s not really important. What’s important is you shouldn’t!

The reasons are pretty simple, really, someone doesn’t want you to have what you have, or what they have, or what they can’t have. And then they try to couch it in some moralistic terms. I wonder if it was as tiresome then as it is today.

In the column right next to that:

On page three, while you’re still rolling your eyes from that bit on page two, there’s something else I’m sure they don’t want you to have. But the advertisers certainly do, and so does every woman or man who was remembering how they heated water the old way:

Corn substitutes work for feed in a pinch, at least through the war. And better for you to eat the corn than your livestock. Life has always been about compromises in the moment, I guess. It’s easy to forget that when things are going well.

Western Union by now was doing lifestyle advertisements. Gone were the days of telling you about how telegrams delivered the news from here to there as a miracle:

And, on page four, a lot of briefs. It’s always nice to see the local campus doing it’s part:

Jordan Field was said to be where the Union’s parking lot is today. And I’ve put that lot on the bottom of the frame, so that would have been right in here. They planted corn and spuds. Look at all of the things that have sprouted up:

Arbutus is the campus yearbook, by the way. I guess everyone in town knew that. It’s interesting that the town’s paper felt the need to include the applications in their copy.

Kenyon Stevenson would leave school, go to the war as a lieutenant in an artillery unit, the 21st Field Artillery and Fifth Division. He fired his guns in France and Luxembourg, in heavy fighting near the end of the war. He came home, got married, finished school, raised a family, wrote two army unity histories and some other books. He worked as a copywriter in Pennsylvania, a director of advertising, got caught up in the Great Depression and went into sales in Ohio. His last child just passed away in 2018.

I found an Edwin Sellers, but the dates don’t quite add up, so I believe it’s the wrong man. Ditto Margaret Munier, who probably married and had a fine Roaring Twenties. Joseph A. Wright, now there’s another individual from here by that same name in the 19th century. The older one has some things named after him around here. (Indeed, it seems he was one of the first 10 students at Indiana Seminary, the first iteration of IU.) He became a governor and he, understandably, sucks up all the search engine oxygen. No idea if they are related.

Joseph Piercy retired in 1938, and passed away in 1943. His wife and daughter both taught at IU.

A congressman, and a judge, and he respected a man’s gardening needs:

Can’t let the university’s potato and corn crop outpace the local bar!

May 20

Keep reading ’til the part about biscuits and ducks

One of our god-nieces will soon celebrate her birthday. Her big sister — and I think they have the dynamic where they work and play well together, while also each delighting in pushing the other’s buttons, but if one of them gets picked on by someone else there will be H- E- double-hockey-sticks to pay — asked us to make a video. It was a sweet thought by an older sister, and so we made a little video.

We would have made the video anyway, because the kid can’t have a proper birthday party under stay-at-home orders, but mostly I want to point out how awesome the pre-teen is in all of this. They’re both swell, really. Cool kids, except for the pushing-each-others-buttons part, but I understand that’s part of the sibling deal.

Anyway, all of that to say there were multiple takes of this video. And there were outtakes. Here is one clip, and to honor the motif of multiple takes, I have uploaded and deleted and re-uploaded several different versions of this, which is brilliant in a meta-sort of way.

Right after this The Yankee says “I didn’t know which key to start in.”

Kazoos, y’all.

And then she asks if I want to start the video over again, because she’s considerate like that. I got to use one of my most recent trusty throwaway lines. I can handle it; I’m a professional.

It was funny and we’re still giggling about it and I could watch her laugh all day.

Besides, if you don’t emerge from their stay-at-home orders without at least a half-dozen new stories and three traditions and 15 new inside jokes then you’re just not enjoying your time.

Let’s look at the paper. We’re falling through a rift in the Internet’s space-time continuum, which intersects with so many rabbit holes, and we’re falling out, oddly enough, in this same town, on this same date, 111 years ago, 1909.

Yes, friends, people read the newspaper, even when it looked like this. And, for 1909, and for a very basic rag such as the Evening World, this has a lot of design elements on the front page. And front page ads! ¡Qué horror!

People were starved for information, as you’ll see, or they just wanted to take a break from whatever else they had to do, so they pored over every word. Like … the only sports story, and one of the few news pieces in the whole paper.

It goes on like that for a while. Coach Roach didn’t say the victors, in-state rival Purdue, were better at baseball. His players were just distracted, see. Wommins. Perfume. Fluffy clothes. Have you seen their corseted figures? And also the fans, including the “girls,” which are fine enough for a university, should have been there to cheer his men on the diamond. His lovestruck, distracted men.

Skel Roach played professional baseball for 10 years, including one game in the bigs, for the Chicago Orphans, which was three years prior to a newspaper re-nicknamed them the Cubs. And, you know, baseball is wild about statistics … let’s see if we can take a quick detour … Orphans beat the Washington Senators 6-3 in his one game. Roach was the winning pitcher. He threw a complete game, which didn’t even merit mention back then, he allowed three runs on 13 hits and was never seen again. Couldn’t agree on a salary with the club. He got shipped to the Orphans because their star pitcher was hurt. He was 27 at the time, and he played for six more years, but that was his high water mark as a player, a career that tallied 133 wins in the minors and across the prairie leagues. He coached throughout the midwest, studied the law and practiced in Chicago.

He got married just two months after this story about lovey dovey players not being hardened enough for matters of sport was published. It was his first year on campus, and he’d stay for three seasons, practicing law in Chicago around the demands of baseball. Apparently his time at IU marked the Hoosiers’ first success on the diamond, this criticism notwithstanding. He’d go on to practice law for 35 years and serve several terms as a judge in Illinois. He died in 1958.

Edwin Shelmadine was fighting for himself, and everyone like him. And he wasn’t going to give up.

Congress approved the increase for Shelmadine the previous March alongside a host of other veterans and widows. He was upgraded to $30 a month. His obituary talks about how he was hanging on to sign that first pension check, taking medicine he didn’t like to live for that happy moment, and he did, but only just. He went out for a buggy ride that same day with a friend and died.

His unit, the 48th Regiment of the Indiana Infantry, fought at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge, was a part of Sherman’s March to the Sea and the Carolinas Campaign. I wonder how many of those he was a part of.

Curious thing: the roster for the unit lists an Edward Shishmadine, who mustered in as a private in December 1861 and left as a sergeant in 1865. His obit, where he’s Edwin Shilmade, (just like the paper and the Congressional record) says he mustered into the service in October 1861. What’s a few months and a completely different name at a remove of 58 years?

Shelmadine was a shoemaker. His obit tells us he had three wives. His first died during the war, then came a separation and his last wife survived him. Apparently he met all three in the same house. Presumably not at the same time.

I wonder what people from 1909 would think about the steps you have to undertake to offload a house these days:

Here’s that spot in the summer of 2014:

I wonder if it is any of those houses. Probably not.

Anyway, more from this paper after an advertisement from … the same paper …

Royal merged with Fleischmann’s and a few others to create the giant Standard Brands on the way to becoming the modern version of Nabisco in 1981. Royal is still marketed today.

Those are the most interesting things on the front page. Told you it was a rag. Well, there was a criminal conviction. A gentleman found his wife and another man in a hotel, which probably means a rough shack just off the road in 1909. He killed the other guy and pleaded insanity. Six of the jurors agreed, but the other three weren’t buying it and manslaughter was listed as a compromise conviction. His name was Good, even if neither he nor his wife particularly were at the fateful moment. But I don’t know what happened to him after his conviction and his wife isn’t name. No story, no clipping. And, really, that completes the interesting portion of the front page.

Let’s go inside!

Page two is a serial part of a feature following Theodore Roosevelt’s African safari. It’s literally history in the sense that, if you’ve read Roosevelt, or about him, you know that material. (If you haven’t, I recommend Edmund Morris’ Roosevelt trilogy. There aren’t many people, even presidents, who deserve that much copy from one author, but Roosevelt may, and Morris is the man for the job. Terrific work.) Moving on!

Page two also had a piece about a princess of Prussia who had to soon decide on a husband. Her family was going to be out of power soon anyway and she spent the rest of her days making socialite-style appearances and I’m sure it was all very lovely and worthwhile to the people in this area as there were a fair amount of German immigrants, but it seems a bit odd and gossipy, today, to speculate on a 16-year-old girl’s marital ambitions.

But this … There must have been some story here.

There’s just something so precise about this little brief. Not just the chairs, but the 114 of them. And there’s something so declaratively stern about that. It’s almost like the paper is saying “We’re too chuffed to bring it up again, but you know what happened, dear reader.” Surely people read about this in a previous issue.

It’d be a fool’s errand to try to figure out what happened, or whatever became of the chairs.

I’m not that foolish.

Page three had a serial installment of a book that was published in 1902. Why people are reading about it here, in the paper, in 1909 escapes me. They could just as easily order it from Amazon. The chapter in this edition of the paper is about a guy loading up a board of directors. And the book is called The Minority, so I just assume it goes on and on for pages about proxy votes and what not. None of the dialog is particularly interesting, so I won’t quote it. But, if you’re intrigued by my description

The back page of the paper has a lot of those society listings which just seem to grow more odd to our modern eyes with every passing year. This note was one of them.

No idea what became of St. John, but I am sure she was a proud mother. Regester graduated from law school in 1905, ran for judge a few times and finally sat on the bench late in his career. He was also a state lawmaker and just had the look of an important man.

I wonder if you had to pay extra for all of that stuff around your ad:

Several new stores had recently opened. Most of the proprietors only shelled out for the brief text mentions. Not these guys.

No idea how long their store lasted. They had a great spot though, two blocks from the courthouse at the center of it all. There’s an auto parts place there now.

Did someone say biscuits?

If that illustration makes you uncomfortable, welcome to the precursor of General Mills! Gold Brand started after they won some big flour awards in 1880, so the label still had a meaning, perhaps. So grand is General Mills’ reach that on Wikipedia the subhead “Aeronautical Research Division and Electronics Division” comes before the diversification subhead.

All of it started with a guy who was a soldier and a businessman and a politician and had a great name, Cadwallader Colden Washburn, who worked alongside a businessman with a very regular-sounding name, John Crosby. They built something big. One of their successors, a Minnesota man named James Ford Bell, got the job the old-fashioned way, nepotism. Bell started working there in 1901. When his old man died in 1915 he became the vice president. In 1928 Bell started General Mills. He’d also play a part in Herbert Hoover’s European Hunger Relief Mission in 1918, worked in the FDA and perfected the look of a gangster. There’s a library and a museum at his university named after him. Big duck hunter too.

You know what sounds like a duck call, if you work at it a great deal? Kazoos.

Jan 20

Show – show – show, here we go!

First night back in the studio since … a really long time ago. About six weeks, I guess. And of course one of the shows invited a bunch of kids into the studio. Because nothing says clock efficiency and good television like a dozen little kids on camera!

They were great. Except I’m thinking the scratchy throat I’m developing — Again? Again. — came from one of the cute little germ factories. Can it happen that fast? We’re talking hours. Of course it can happen fast.

I once boarded a plane feeling fine, caught the whole bug during the two hour flight and was the full spectrum of pitiful by the time I left the airport. Stayed in bed for two days.

I’m not doing that this week.

Here’s the other show the crew produced last tonight.

It was a good start back after a long break. And so we are off and running again. There are 35 more studio shoots on the schedule for this semester, plus whatever else comes our way. Something else always comes our way.

Take that, Koala Kai:

Martin Kove’s brilliant turn must be in an alternate universe:

There’s only two ways to explain it. He appears in the Cobra Kai series on YouTube, so Koala Kai is in another universe. Or, we have reached peak post-neo-postmodernism long before the singularity suggested we would, as we are now remixing the remixes (which have already been remixed twice, some version of which is now headed to the stage).

I suppose there could be a third explanation. Nostalgia is a bad trip. I’ll let you figure out which is at play here.

Dec 19

nasses Nickerchen

I saw this word used a few years back and immediately fell in love with it: administrivia. It is an American thing, of course, and apparently came out of the 1930s. Can’t imagine why. And it became popular in education circles in the 1960s. Can’t imagine why.

Which is not to say that we’re the only ones burdened with the thing. Administrivia is everywhere. But the way it’s used is delightful. Even summoning up the word is a judgement: This isn’t cool, I know, but I also know it is necessary, and know you know, by my using this word, that I know it isn’t cool. And maybe it isn’t even necessary, but that’s bureaucratic inertia, kid.

Even saying the word is a bit of a challenge the first few hundred times you do it. It makes you sympathetic to the German speaker’s use of komposita.

The first time I saw this word, administrivia, it was on a syllabus. Which was perfect. It was in a bold font. Which seemed useless.

Anyway, that was my day, dealing with the details that must be dealt with in order to do more interesting work.

There was the approval of travel funds, the approval of payroll and the sending out a contract which had most assuredly been sent before. Arrangements had to be made for an office key to be turned in, and the first question about the next term rolled in about that same time. Somehow, another approval was required for the same upcoming travel funds. This prompted a great many notes. There are always programming notes to consider, both looking back and looking forward. And then there were the emails, always there are the emails, and the brief doorway meetings and so on.

The Germans don’t seem to have a word for administrivia, which seems like it would be an embarrassing oversight on their part.

I did learn a fine German proverb looking for it though. Wer den Acker nicht will graben, der wird nicht als Unkraut haben.

Speaking of komposita …

Hey, it was either that or going long on this little news note today: Wet-Nap maker planning to build area production facility, add 90 jobs

Nice-Pak Products, a manufacturer of wet wipes for consumers, health care, food service and other commercial markets, announced plans Wednesday to build a 760,000-square-foot production and warehousing facility in Mooresville, creating 90 jobs.

The Orangeburg, New York-based company already employs 413 people at its existing administrative and production facility at 1 Nice Park Road in Mooresville. The company, which has 2,500 employees worldwide, has operated in Mooresville for 45 years.

A man named Julius had an idea and started it all. He and his son got in bed with Colonel Sanders, and then things really took off. It’s an industry that is projected to have compound annual growth of about seven percent over much of the next decade. Everyone needs clean skin, after all, and some of that growth is going to come from just up the road. And that’s 90 new jobs rolled into what is already that county’s biggest employer.

The company makes products as varied as Wet-Nap, Nice n Clean Wipes and Grime Boss. What, you didn’t think you’d diversify in the wet napkin game? There are all sorts of pre-loaded moisture needs out there, friend, and businesses have to meet those needs.

It isn’t clear from that brief story if this means an additional facility, or a full upgrade and replacement project. Here’s what they have now. The exterior looks as clean as you would expect of such an enterprise.

The new place will be about five miles down the road from the old place, which is opposite a concrete mix supplier. Adjacent to the new locale are a small car dealership and a gutter cleaning service. It just seems a logical place, said a guy who was counting on those civic tax breaks to build the new facility.

They’ll start moving dirt late next year. It’ll be a project where no one goes home with grime under their nails.

Nov 19

Burrow under something

This was the other night. I stepped out to the backyard to cover the grill. We’d grilled out, because that’s a thing that was still a good idea, given the pleasantly mild evenings and the food in the kitchen. And when you can eat something from your kitchen and it is prepared in comfortable conditions, then you do so, and you spare a moment somewhere in between bites, to be grateful.

Because the moon was high in the sky, and the moon always shines bright here. You can read by it on a clear night. I’ve done it. You can stand under a full moon and see distinctive figures at a considerable difference. And even under a gauze-thin layer of clouds, you can’t help but remark how the night sky lights up. It’s something to be grateful for.

This was tonight:

Less grateful, really. But I didn’t have to be anywhere, so it was something to admire from inside, or the porch. And I could be grateful for that.

This was today:

Cold. But at least the sky was blue. You give me the option and I’ll wrap up against the cold and deal with the snow and take the blue sky, and be grateful.

Or just so long as the snow melts soon. It turned from fall to winter quickly. We’re stuck with this for a long while, though. It won’t melt soon enough. It’ll turn grey; it will stay cold.

Dipped to 19 today, with some considerable winds beside. But most of the day was indoors. (I have a rule about that, and I honor the stay-inside rule.) Even still, we’re flirting with those numbers where the chill gets inside the muscle and threatens the bones.

Even the Yankee cats don’t want anything to do with that:

Seems like a good place to nap.