Archive for May, 2011

Soldier, Rest!

May 30, 2011

“Unknown U.S. Soldier”

“Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.”

The hot sky would split with the uproar
That day when they fought;
This rest in the stillness and shadow
Gives time for long thought:
He must think of one strange revelation,
One thrilling surprise—
It is better to think with cool darkness
Laid over your eyes.

Time enough for deep thought while the branches
With winter are dumb;
When the great sun swings far to the Northward
And summer has come:
He lies hushed with the wonderful knowledge
He holds in his breast
And the bright flag droops always above him
To honor his rest.

Rough and reckless and headstrong and violent,
Tingling with life,
Charmed once by the call of the drums
And the sound of the fife—
That day when they waited and waited
And knew they must die,
Where was comfort for him, where was help
Beneath the hot sky?

All the life beating strong in his body
Revolted, out-cried
Against dying; no courage or passion
But only his pride
Sent him on with the others, despairing
And hating it all,
And faint with sick horror at seeing them
Stumble and fall.

Far out on the crest of the battle,
Up, up toward the death—
“To die for one’s country is sweet!”—he remembered,
And then, out of breath.
Met the shock and the pain and the terror
Unflinching and knew
In one instant’s unbearable brightness
It was true! It was true!

–S.H. Kemper, in The Reader.

The Daily Herald (Chicago, Illinois) May 26, 1911

Image from the Wild Oats Sown and Grown blog – interesting post about the flint-lock gun at the link.


There’s a battered old gun of the time of King George,
That hangs on my grandfather’s wall;
The barrel was wrought in some rude country forge,
And the stock — it just happened, that’s all.

‘Tis rusted and bent, and there’s nary a dent
In this old-fashioned engine of war;
For a fox and for “partridge” it’s not worth a cent,
And I’m sure I’d not trust it for “b’ar.”

But long, long ago, when my grandfather’s dad
Was a strapping young sprout of eighteen,
That ramshackle gun made the Red-coats feel bad,
As they marched through the broad village green.

They say that my ancestor crouched ‘neath a wall,
And rested his piece on a stone,
And rammed it and crammed it with powder and ball,
And peppered away, all alone.

The foe could not stop, for like fate, in the rear
The minutemen followed en masse!
So granddaddy’s dad pegged away without fear,
Till four of the Reds bit the grass.

A brave deed, you say! Well, I never shall boast
Of the family prowess — not I;
But I think there are some who’d have quitted the coast
And let the King’s soldiers march by.

I’m proud of the flint-lock that gleams on the pegs,
In the bright fitful blaze of the fire;
And I’ll venture to say that few men with legs
Would have stuck like my granddaddy’s sire.

All honor to him! And when brave deeds are sung
Of the heroes whose fame we recall,
Let a line be slipped in for the old flint-lock gun,
and the man who pegged over the wall!

Paul Pastnor, in Puck.

Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois) May 29,1889

NOTE: Paul Pastnor was one of Charles Morris’ pen names – see link above.

From the Front

May 29, 2011



A Story for Decoration Day by I.D. Marshall.

It was a two story frame house, painted white and with green blinds, and it stood a little way back from the road that wound through a narrow valley between low hills of second growth timber. In front of the house was a big, heavily fruited cherry tree. A boy was perched upon a ladder among the branches, filling a tin pail with the ruby fruit, his fingers flying as if he were competing with the birds, who seemed to think they had a mortgage on all the cherries in the neighborhood. But his haste had another cause. His mother had but a moment before told him that when he had filled the pail three times he might go to the postoffice, a mile farther down the valley, and inquire for the mail.

The boy knew his mother to be quite as anxious as he that the trip should be made to the postoffice. For more than a week his daily visit after the mail had been fruitless, and he was certain she was worrying, in spite of her usual air of cheerfulness, for the head of the little family was at the front, wearing a blue uniform, and vague rumors were afloat of a bloody battle in Pennsylvania.

Singularly enough, the mail had lately failed to bring newspapers, as well as letters, and it had not been possible to borrow from the neighbors as usual. The boy and his mother had not talked much on the matter; but, whatever his mother thought, he suspected bad news in the papers — news that would explain why there were no letters. He was impatient to go the postoffice, but he dreaded the visit, too, and this made him climb down the ladder slowly when at last the pail was filled for the third time.

As his feet touched the earth he heard the rattle of wheels, and looking around he saw Deacon Nelson’s big bay horse and decent black democrat wagon, driven by the deacon himself, draw near. The deacon’s countenance, which was generally smiling and jolly, was very solemn now, and the face of the deacon’s wife, who sat on the back seat under a gingham parasol, was tear stained. As the deacon slowly got out of the wagon and tethered the horse he asked, with a fine show of cheerfulness:

“Has your mother heard from the elder in a day or two, John? No? Well, Marthy and me was just driving by, and we thought we’d make a little visit, you see, just to ask how your corn crop was getting on, you know.” Then, to his wife in an undertone, he said: “Now, be careful, Marthy. It’s all right; it’s all right. It must be all right, I tell you.”

The deacon was one of the chief pillars in the church of which the boy’s father, before going to the front, had been pastor, and, like all in that neighborhood and similar neighborhoods, the deacon always spoke of his minister as “the elder.” This minister had been outspoken in his patriotism during the first year of the war. During the second he had induced many of the neighborhood’s ablebodied men to enlist. Early in the third he had himself marched away as their captain, with the young men from his own congregation who had offered themselves to their country. If the boy was doubtful about his father’s safety before the deacon spoke, he was not afterward. It seemed to his young mind as if the deacon has said between his audible words:

“The elder is killed, boy! Do you hear? Killed!”

John hurried into the house with his pail of cherries, kissed his mother and started on a run for the postoffice. It was a hot day, but he did not mind the heat. It is doubtful if he knew it was hot. He thought only of the bare possibility that he might get a letter addressed to his mother or himself in his father’s dear handwriting, and he ran till nature was exhausted and he had to stop and rest under the shadow of a big buttonball tree by the side of the road. When he had regained his breath, he started on again, but this time at a more moderate pace, and as he approached the little general store where the postoffice was kept his footsteps lagged. He was afraid he would receive the same answer that he had for days.

“Nothing today, sonny. Tell your mother the papers missed this week. No, there is no letter. I swan, I wish there was.”

That was just the answer the boy did receive when at last he crept into the store between rows of two tined hayforks and wooden hand rakes, but there was this addition by the kindly old postmaster to the dreaded words that told the story of no mail:

“Tell your mother that we may get another mail today, and if we do we’ll send anything that comes for you right up.”

There was no regular service to the little postoffice, for no railroad ran through the narrow valley, but the mail was brought from the county seat, 11 miles distant, at intervals by any one who went that way.

During the boy’s weary homeward tramp through the dust and under the burning rays of the sun he thought only of how he should tell his mother there was still no mail.

When he reached home, he found a half dozen white haired farmers, all clad in Sunday black, standing about the yard under the shade of the trees. There were no young or middle aged men there, for all such in that neighborhood had gone to the war with their beloved preacher. As the boy entered the yard one of the men hastily stuck a newspaper, from which he had been reading to the others, into his pocket.

In the parlor of the white house there were several women younger than Deacon Nelson’s wife. Their husbands were soldiers, too, and at the front with the preacher. The boy’s mother was sitting in the center of a circle of kneeling women, her eyes set and tearless, but there was a sound of subdued sobbing from some of the others. The deacon was just beginning a prayer.

“Dear Lord, our heavenly Father,” quavered the deacon in tender and reverent tones. Then he stopped. What was that?

The boy’s ear was not the only one that caught the sound of fife and drum, the fife playing merrily, “Rally Round the Flag, Boys, Rally Once Again” — you know how it sounds, reader — while the drumsticks were beating out the time in lively measure.

A moment more, and the rattle of a wagon coming down a stony slope in the road was heard. Then there was a cheer, and the fife and drum changed to “Yankee Doodle.” Presently the wagon, in which sat the postmaster himself, the blacksmith, the cooper and the boys who were playing the fife and drum drove noisily up. The old postmaster almost fell out of the wagon and stumbled up the path to the door. He was quite breathless, but he held aloft in his hand a big yellow envelope.

“It’s from the elder, brethren! It’s from the elder!” he gasped. “I know his handwriting, and the postmark is since the battle. Open it, ma’am,” he said to the boy’s mother, “and read it out.”

Everybody gathered around her as she took the missive, but it wasn’t opened just yet, for she fainted before she could cut the envelope. It was not long. It said:

“DEAR WIFE AND SON JOHN — I have been hurt a little and lay on the field all night, but it is not serious, and I shall not even have to go to the hospital. So do not be worried. We have won a great victory, and our God will keep me safely to the end and bring us all together again.”

“Let us sing the Doxology, ‘Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,’” said Deacon Nelson, while his eyes streamed. Then they all sang with the spirit and the understanding also. When the singing was over, the newspaper that had been hidden from the boy was brought out. It told of the battle of Gettysburg, and the name of the elder was in the list of the missing.

The elder did live to come home again, and on every Decoration day since the establishment of that beautiful holiday he has made a talk over the soldiers’ graves in the little cemetery back of the church in the valley, of which he is still pastor.

Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois) May 28, 1895

Our Heroe’s Dead

May 28, 2011

Image from Sons of the South.


Why strikes the bell a sad and mournful tone?
From heaving breaths why bursts the struggling groan?
Why weeps the Genius of our Western clime?
Does aught portentious mark the present time?
Yes, Washington is dead! Hence boding fears
Fill every breast, and hence a world in tears.

O’er the wide realm the chilling sound is spread,
Sires to their children say — our heroe’s dead —
Warm-hearted youth burn with a brighter flame,
And sigh their tribute to his honest fame,
While languid fires on Virtue’s side engage,
And roll the torrent o’er the cheek of age;
Grief unconfin’d bursts o’er our narrow strand,
And shades with sable wing a foreign land.
Behold where Gallia’s fires, good, wise and great,
Watch o’er the welfare of the rising state;
With double skill add lustre to her name,
And plant his glories on the wreck of fame.
Thy claim, humanity, Fontanes’ hears,
And bathes our Heroe’s glory in his tears;
In eloquence divine he decks his name,
And hands him to the resting place of fame;
Or see her bands which conquer’d states overwhelm
Bear the sad tidings thro’ the vanquish’d realm,
Where kindred spirits weep that he should die,
And standards mourn beneath a foreign sky.
Oh! first of men, who can thy worth display,
Or sing the charms of thy meredian day;
In its bright blaze a Greek or Roman name
But faintly glitters, scarce can hide its shame;
Fir’d by Columbia’s beam th’ Historic page
Can ne’er reflect on Alexander’s rage;
So twinkling Stars the noon-tide glories shun
And fly the daz’ling beauties of the Sun.

Franklin township,}
Nov. 24, 1800.}

The Adams Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Feb 4, 1801

Napoleon and Louisiana

May 5, 2011

Today in History: The Death of Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte spreading terror through Europe.

Napoleon desires colonial empire in America.

As America is hemmed in by hostile powers, President Jefferson says, “Draw the sword on France, and throw away the scabbard.”

To solve the problem, Jefferson want to buy some land — “The Louisiana Purchase.”

By J. Carroll Mansfield
Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Aug 4, 1925

Thevenard’s Cinderella

May 3, 2011

Image from Wiki Common


The origin of the tale from which this pantomime was adopted is sufficient curious. It was about the year 1870 that a French actor, of equal talent and wealth, named Thevenard, in passing through the streets of Paris, observed upon a cobler’s stall, the shoe of a female, which struck him by the remarkable smallness of its size. After admiring it for some time he returned to the house; but his thoughts reverted to the shoe with such intensity, that he reappeared at the stall the next day; but the cobler could give no other clue to the owner than that it had been left in his absence for the purpose of being repaired. Day after day did Thevenard return to his post to watch the reintegration of this slipper, which proceeded slowly; nor did the proprieter appear to claim it. Although he had completed the sixtieth year of his ae, so extravagant became his passion for the unknown fair one, that he became (were it possible for a Frenchman at that day to be so) melancholy and miserable. His pain was, however, somewhat appeased by the avater of the little foot itself, appertaining to a pretty and youthful girl in the very humblest class of life. All distinctions were leveled at once by love. The actor sought the parents of the female, procured their consent to the match, and actually made her his wife.

Watertown Chronicle (Watertown, Wisconsin) Jun 2, 1852

*Spelling differences/errors were in the original newspaper article.

A little about Thevenard from:

Title: The fascinating Duc de Richelieu, Louis Franqois Armand du Plessis (1696-1788).
Author: Hugh Noel Williams
Publisher: Methuen, 1910
Page 44

Glad News!

May 2, 2011

Image from 7AM KICKOFF


Living will be cheaper now!
Sound the hewgag, beat the drum!
Haven’t we said all along
The millennium would come?
Pessimists have gloomily
Prophesied it wouldn’t, but
Now you see how wrong they were —
Pullman prices have been cut!

But, hooray! that isn’t all;
We have other cause for joy —
Living pretty soon will be
Purest bliss without alloy.
We are all so happy now,
From the baby up to pa,
Since the papers told us that
Meats are cheap in Panama!

Now, perhaps, we all can save
And put money in the bank.
Up to now we couldn’t for
The cost of living has been rank.
Isn’t it a wondrous change!
Joyous news for every one!
Spread the tidings near and far —
Salt’s dropped thirty cents a ton!

— Somerville Journal.

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) May 3, 1911

And in today’s news, from Niall Ferguson at The Daily Beast:

NEW YORK – Sticker Shock The Fed may deny it, but Americans know that prices are rising. In this week’s Newsweek, Niall Ferguson takes a look at the Great Inflation of the 2010s.

“I can’t eat an iPad.” This could go down in history as the line that launched the great inflation of the 2010s.

Back in March, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, William Dudley, was trying to explain to the citizens of Queens, N.Y., why they had no cause to worry about inflation. Dudley, a former chief economist at Goldman Sachs, put it this way: “Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful. You have to look at the prices of all things.” Quick as a flash came a voice from the audience: “I can’t eat an iPad.”

Dudley’s boss, Ben Bernanke, was more tactful in his first-ever press conference on Wednesday of last week. But he didn’t succeed in narrowing the gap between the Fed’s view of inflation and the public’s.

I respect Bernanke. As an expert on the financial history of the 1930s, he was one of the very few people in power back in 2008 who grasped how close we were to another Great Depression. But if we’ve avoided rerunning the 1930s only to end up with a repeat of the 1970s, the public will judge him to have failed….


…maybe inflation expectations started shifting when the guy from Goldman—a Marie Antoinette for our times—seemed to say: let them eat iPads!

May Day Moving

May 1, 2011

With May Day comes the annual moving proposition. It carries with it the usual annoyance of shifting your abode, for what would the first day of May come to if we didn’t continue the practice of moving? Beautiful May, all except the inconvenience of moving – a custom that won’t live down.

Portsmouth Daily Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) May 1, 1912

May Day Moving Sets New Chicago Record
(International News Service)

CHICAGO, May 24. — May Day moving here set a new record for the period of the housing shortage, according to the requests for changes to telephone and gas companies. More than 3,000 changes daily were asked of a gaslight and coke company before the yearly exodus to new homes. This is 50 per cent higher than 1921.

J.S. Waterfield, Chicago Real Estate board said the “own your own home” idea is responsible for hundreds of the movings.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) May 24, 1922

CHICAGO, May 1. — Thousands of families in Chicago went on a “rent strike” today and refused to vacate their apartments in accordance with May Day moving orders, H.S. Standish, president of the Chicago Tennants’ Protective League, asserted.

Mr. Standish predicted that 10,000 tenants would defy efforts of landlords to evict them.

Some of the disputes would be settled by arbitration, Mr. Standish said, but others would be carried into court for jury trials.

Battle Landlords
N.E.A. Staff Correspondent.

NEW YORK, May 1. Two men are largely responsible for starting in this state the anti-rent profiteering crusade which, unless the laws are finally thrown out by the courts, has limited landlords to 25 per cent increases.

One of them is not even a New Yorker. His name is James F. Gannon, Jr., and he is city commissioner of Jersey City.

The other no longer hold any official post. His name is Nathan Hirsch and he was formerly chairman of the Mayor’s Committee on Rent Profiteering.

Victims Aided

It was Hirsch’s committee — and largely Hirsch himself — who first came to the aid of the victims or rent profiteers. Before this persons who objected to extortionate rent increases were called “Bolsheviki.” Hirsch had little real authority, but he used what he had with good effect.

The result was that any number of cases were compromised last year by the landlords, and tenants were enable to stay on by paying only moderate increases in rent. A strong public sentiment was built up to oppose rent hogs.

Hirsch was serving without pay and when the appropriation he asked to continue the committee’s work was refused he resigned.

Hug[e] Rent Strike

Then came Gannon. Early this year he engineered the biggest rent strike ever conducted and won it. Thousands of tenants with the city’s backing, refused to pay unreasonable rent increases and won in the courts.

This woke New York up. If Jersey City can do it, why can’t we? was the comment. The result was a wave of popular sentiment that swept everything before it and resulted in the enactment by the Legislature of a dozen laws to protect the tenant, the most important of which is the measure limiting rent increases to 25 per cent.

Ogden Standard Examiner (Ogden, Utah) May 1, 1920


The month of May, when poets sing of roses and meadows decked with green, is, in the vicinity of New York, the flitting time for half the world — or has been. Fortunes are changing and even the May moving day, so long sacred to New Yorkers, is giving way before the iconoclastic spirit of the age. Enough, and more than enough of it, is left however. The removals of the great annual flitting time, often useless, often undertaken without clear reason than that restlessness so peculiar to American life, must cost the people of New York, Brooklyn and Jersey City, directly and indirectly, not less than $3,000,000 in actual money outlay, to say nothing of personal discomfort. Moving time entails an endless train f discomforts and disorders. It means a clear month’s comfort gone out of the year in preparing for the move and getting over it; is the direct cause of broken furniture not a little, of wrecked tempers by the thousands and of much actual suffering.

But moving day is not what it used to be. People who move in spring are beginning to discount it by removing at any time during the latter part of April, so that the first of May no longer resembles the fag end of a furniture dealer’s nightmare so much as it did. The real estate agents, too, have conspired against moving day. Not that the agents want people to stay where they are and forswear change. By no means. The more removals the more commissions for the agents. It is to increase their own profits and those of the owners that such strenuous efforts have been made, and with much success, to substitute October for May as the moving time. Many landlords now let  houses from October to October, and more are anxious to do so. The reason is that a good many people of moderate means, whose only hope of getting wives and babies into the country for the summer is to stop paying rent, and have been in the habit of giving up their houses on May 1, storing the furniture, packing off the family and seeking board until October, when the city residence could be safely resumed in another quarter. This arrangement was fine for the tenants, but it was bad for the owners and agents, consequently it had to be stopped. And it is being stopped.

Morning Oregonian (Portland, Oregon) May 1, 1887


The following unjustifiable case of landlord oppression is one of the many cases which May day moving has developed in Jersey City: — A widow named Jane Meara, with her five children, occupied a small store in Prospect street, near Morgan. The property changed hands, and as a consequence the widow was doomed; but her lease had not expired and she held a receipt for the rent of the premises, paid in advance, for the month of May. Under these circumstances the poor woman felt secure, at least for the present; but on May day, during her absence, her furniture and goods were thrown out of doors, and when she returned to her house she found the premises so locked and fastened that ingress was impossible, while every article of her household goods was drenched with rain on the sidewalk. She at once proceeded to Justice McAnally, who very humanely allowed her the use of a house for herself and her children till she can procure other quarters, as this was the only relief he could afford in the case. The woman has commenced a suit against the new proprietor, laying damages at $10,000.

New York Herald (New York, New York) May 3, 1869

First of May — Moving Day.

There was not as much moving yesterday as is common upon the last of April — pretty good evidence that landlords generally were wise enough to fall somewhat from their old rates of rent, and so far accommodate tenants that they could afford to keep their old premises another year. Whoever is abroad to day, however, will be disposed to think there never was so much moving before. It will begin early — before some of us are up, no doubt, and it will continue late. The sidewalks will be worse obstructed in every street than Wall-street is where the Brokers are in full blast. Old beds and ricketty bedstands, handsome pianos and kitchen furniture, will be chaotically huddled together. Everything will be in a muddle. Everybody in a hurry, smashing mirrors in his haste, and carefully guarding boot boxes from harm. Sofas that go out sound will go in maimed, tables that enjoyed castors will scratch along and “tip” on one less than its complement. Bed-screws will be lost in the confusion, and many a good piece of furniture badly bruised in consequence. Family pictures will be sadly marred, and the china will be a broken set before night, in many a house. All houses will be dirty — never so dirty — into which people move, and the dirt of the old will seem enviable beside the cleanliness of the new. The old people will in their hearts murmur at these moving dispensations. the younger people, though aching in every bone, and “tired to death,” will relish the change, and think the new closets more roomy and more nice, and delight themselves fancying how this piece of furniture will look here and that piece in the other corner. The still “younger ones” will still more enjoy it. Into the cellar and upon the roof, into the rat-holes and on  the yard fence, into each room and prying into every cupboard, they will make reprisals of many things “worth saving,” and mark the day white in their calendar, as little less to be longed for in the return than Fourth of July itself.

Keep your tempers, good people. Don’t growl at the carmen nor haggle over the price charged. When the scratched furniture comes in don’t believe it is utterly ruined, — a few nails, a little glue, a piece of putty, and a pint of varnish will rejuvenate many articles that will grow very old ‘twixt morning and night, and undo much of the mischief that comes of moving, and which at first sight seems irreparable.

At night, after you have kindled a fire in the grate, — don’t, because you have cleaned house, make your house a tomb for dampness, nor let the children shiver through the evening, — after the tea things have been set aside, be sure to take one peep of the moon in her eclipse. Nor stay too long to look at her, for her exhibition begins rather late, and you should be up early next day to tack down the carpets, set the furniture to rights and make a home of your new house. Moreover, if it rains or is very cloudy, take our advice and don’t look at the eclipse — it’s no great affair after all.

New York Daily Times (New York, New York) May 1, 1855

In Lighter Vein

The May Queen

“You must wake and call me early,”
The prospective May Queen said.
But when called, the foxy girlie
Stayed in bed.

And her plan was far from silly
Though another served as Queen,
For the winds were raw and chilly
On the green.

To the first my hat I’m doffing,
She who dodged the breezes bleak,
For the other will be coughing
All the week.
Bolting The Ticket.

“The young men have chosen her to be Queen of May.”

“And how do the other girls like that?”

“Don’t seem to like it. They’re all insurgents.”
May 1 In History.

May 1, 1589 — Queen Elizabeth is Queen of May, catches cold, and has the snuffles all day.

May 1, 1755 — Moving day, Dr. Johnson evicted for non-payment of rent.

“Going Maying today?”


“Why not?”

“I went Maying once.”
Everything Upset.

A book of verses underneath the stove,

A lump of coal upon a silver tray;

Such are the things that make a terror of

The first of May.
Moving Day.

“The May migration is very ancient.”


“Yes; Shakespeare speaks of moving accidents by flood and field.”
Nothing Romantic.

“Got your wife out for a May day stroll I see. Going to hunt for arbutus?”

“Quit your kidding. We’re going to hunt for a flat.”
May Moving.

“You ought to read this book. It will move you deeply.”

“Do you know any concern that will move me cheaply? That is what I’m interested in just now.”

— Washington Herald.

Evening Post (Frederick, Maryland) May 1, 1912

True Realism.

Dramatic Author — I understand that you are looking for a new play.

Manager — Yes, but I am very hard to suit. I want a play which shall combine all the elements of tragedy, comedy, farce, pantomime and spectacle.

“That’s it. That’s what I’ve got. Chock full of tragedy and human suffering, tears and smiles, joy and woe, startling surprises, unheard of mishaps, wreck and ruin, lamentations and laughter.”

“What’s the title?”

“‘A May Day Moving.'”

“What’s the plot?”

“Hasn’t any plot. Just and ordinary May day moving.”

— New York Weekly.

The Marion Star (Marion, Ohio) Nov 9, 1895

The Bradford Era (Bradford, Pennsylvania) Apr 12, 1946

I thought the May Day moving had petered out in the 1920s, but evidently it was still going strong in Pennsylvania as late as the 1940s!

Images from the Newman Library – Baruch College