Monday, January 31, 2011

Recklesss Driving

Here are some humorous cards from the early days of automobiles. It was quickly recognized that people didn't see as much when they were driving, and that there were resulting conflicts with pedestrians and livestock.  There also weren't any lane dividers in the very early days of the automobile, so urban driving must have been very chaotic.

On that note, I would also like to announce the winners of the walking app. giveaway for iPhones and iPods from two weeks ago. I thank you for participating, and I will be contacting you to email you the code you need to get your app. Here are the winners:
Alan Burnett and Kakihara will both be getting walking tours of New York City.
Brian (from Paper Sponge) will get a walking tour of San Francisco.
Mark S. and Christine Wallace will both get tours of Prague, and
Judy from Judy's Notebook will be getting a tour of Tokyo.
It was interesting to me to see what locations you chose - all great choices!
Happy travels, and stay on the sidewalks to avoid crazy drivers.

The first card refers to the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839, passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Section 54 addressed a long list of nuisances, but did not anticipate the advent of the automobile. They were merely trying to address the problems of wild horse-cart driving.

In addition to furious driving, here are some other activities that were outlawed:
  • Driving carts on the footway.
  • Selling or distributing "profane, indecent or obscene books, papers, prints, drawings, paintings or representations", or singing any songs or ballads with similar content or using language "to the annoyance of pedestrians or passengers".
  • Threatening or abusive behaviour or words.
  • The blowing of horns (except by guards and postmen of the General Post Office.)
  • Discharging firearms, setting fireworks or lighting bonfires.
  • "Wantonly disturbing" persons by ringing doorbells, knocking on doors or unlawfully extinguishing lamps.
  • Flying kites or playing games to the annoyance of others.
  • Making slides upon ice or snow to the danger of pedestrians.

Here are the backs of the cards in the same order. The first one is interesting, because it was printed just before it became permissible to write a message on the back of the card. Before March 1, 1907, you could only write the address on the back of the card, which is why many people tried to scribble a message on the front.

The second postcard is from prior to 1907. Note that there's no space for a message here.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Streetcar Sunday - Nice, France

The City of Nice in the south of France seems like the ideal place for a tram system. There are lots of tourists and a great opportunity to connect Nice with neighboring cities such as Monte Carlo and Cagnes-sur-Mer. Starting in 1879 there was a horse-drawn streetcar system in Nice that provided an urban network as well as connections to those neighboring cities and suburbs.

By 1900 the horse-drawn cars had all been replaced with electric ones, and by 1930 the system had expanded to include 90 miles of track and 183 cars. At the same time, competition from buses caused many of the coastal and suburban routes to close. By 1939 only 4 lines remained operational, with a few more brought back during World War II. After the war the streetcars were replaced by trolleybuses, with the last streetcar making its final run in 1953.

Here's another view that doesn't show the streetcar, but shows that you could connect to trains at the Nice train station.

In 2007, Nice introduced a new and very sleek streetcar system. They're very unusual and beautiful cars in my opinion. Originally the system was intended to operate with a ground-level third rail, but they instead opted for the conventional overhead wires, perhaps due to cost. Although there is currently only one line on this new system, there has been discussion about adding a line from the city to the airport.

This photo is courtesy of  Myrabella

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sepia Saturday - Grant Meyers and Family

Last week I featured my great grandparents Grant and Gertrude Meyers for Sepia Saturday. Here's another photo of them taken in the 1930s. You can see they're not in Kansas anymore.

And here's a picture of Grant's family, taken around 1895. The family was originally from Somerset, Pennsylvania, but moved first to Illinois and then to Morrill, Kansas. In this picture William Meyers (1839-1909) is wearing the striped pants. His wife, Martha Haines Meyers (1844-1916), has very thin features and is wearing a dress with a square pattern. They are surrounded by their nine surviving children, there were three more who died at an early age. Looking at this picture, I notice that the boys all seem to look like their mother, while the girls look like their father. This was perhaps a little unfortunate for the girls.

In the 1850 Census, the name is listed as Meyer for William and his family. The gravestones of William's parents both show Meyer as the name instead of Meyers, so the S seems to have been added with William's generation.

Grant is in the back row, third from the right.
Here is the full list of names:
Back row: Minerva (Willard), Milton, Sidney, Grant, William, Hans
Front row: Emma (Bowman), Martha Haines Meyers, Jessie (Moore), William, Mildred (Little)

Don't forget to check out Sepia Saturday for more interesting photos.

Watkins Glen Grand Prix, New York

Watkins Glen is a beautiful place, not so much the streets and the town, but the Watkins Glen State Park. It is breathtakingly beautiful. I will post some views from the park within the next week. Despite the beautiful park, Watkins Glen, population 2,149, is best known for car races. The original Watkins Glen Grand Prix (see above) was held in 1948 on public streets with a 6.6-mile course that went through the center of town. Eight years later a permanent facility was built, and since then Watkins Glen has hosted all sorts of car racing events.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mozart

Mozart was born on this day in 1756.  He died just short of his 36th birthday, but what a mark he left. A few years ago I bought a 170-CD box set of Mozart's complete works. Simply amazing. It's hard not to wonder what else he might have done if he had lived longer. Here's a postcard of Mozart's birthplace in Salzburg, Austria. You can still visit it today.

Here's a close-up of the street scene. It looks staged, doesn't it?

And here's another card of Salzburg from about 1960.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More from Wyk

Continuing yesterday's post...

The North Sea island of Föhr is very flat; the highest elevation is 43 feet. Since it is also relatively small (32 square miles),  you can bicycle around the entire island easily in a few leisurely hours, with stops to look at thatched-roof houses (some dating back to the 1700s!) and dikes and Holstein cows. Föhr and the village of Wyk can be reached by ferry from the mainland Germany at Dagebüll.

During low tide you can walk to the neighboring island of Amrum in ankle-deep water, but at your own risk; the tide can come in very quickly. Fog is another menace. It can quickly surround you, leaving you unsure which direction you came from. Here I am many years ago tempting fate, with the island of Föhr in the background.

If you want to sit on the beach in Wyk, the beach baskets provide shelter from the sun and the wind. You can also sit up above the beach and listen to outdoor concerts played in that little building in the foreground.

I never rode on this little vehicle, but it looks like fun.

The flag you see above is not a Dutch flag flown upside down, but the flag for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. This was a card my grandmother and great aunt sent just before a big journey  with seven suitcases! They may have been coming to visit us in the United States.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wyk auf Föhr

Föhr is an island off the coast of Germany on the North Sea. My paternal grandmother used to live there. Here are a few postcards she and my great aunt sent to my father after he had emigrated to the United States and enlisted in the Army during the Korean War.

Here's the back of the second card.

The message reads:
My dear Dieter! Today you are getting the last greeting from Wyk. We are leaving tomorrow morning.  It's difficult to leave, because September is so incredibly beautiful. Sun, and wind, and warmth. There is still quite a bit of business at the spa. Everything is in order with the check. They sent it on September 15th, probably had to let it clear first. Hopefully, you are doing well. When I get back you'll get some pictures of us. What about pictures of you??? Stay healthy my dear boy with loving greetings and thanks for all good things from your Mutti and Aunt Grete

More from Wyk tomorrow!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Florida Citrus

Special Note: I have extended the deadline for last week's giveaway for an additional week. Many people noted that they don't have iPhones, so they can't use the app. I should have made it clear that the apps also work on iPad and on iPod Touch. So, just in case you wanted to enter and didn't, here's your second chance: Click here for the giveaway post.

Along with that, here's some Florida sunshine to brighten your day. This scene looks like something from a model railroad; it doesn't look quite real.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Streetcar Sunday - Victoria BC, Canada

I have only visited Victoria, British Columbia once, but I thought it was a beautiful and charming place. One of the many memories that sticks with me is going shopping for clothing in Victoria. I am not always an enthusiastic shopper, but the experience there was relaxed and fun. Most of all, I was amazed at how labels were imprinted with Made in Canada.  I bought a few sweaters and a hat there, all made in Canada, of great quality and not expensive. After that, I started checking labels on everything to see where the items were made. Even the towels at the Empress Hotel were made in Canada. 

And here is a card of the Empress Hotel. The location is great and the hotel is beautiful, although many of the rooms are small. It would have been even nicer if there had been a tram when I was there. Still, it's a very walkable city.

Here's another card showing trams in Victoria.

Although there are no longer any trams in Victoria, there has been talk of bringing them back. BC Transit is looking at trams along with Light Rail Transit and Bus Rapid Transit as possible alternatives.  In their words: "they each have their advantages and enthusiasts." For updates on their plans, check the BC Transit website.

Here are the backs of the cards in the same order.

The message to Mr. William Fyfe reads:

Dear Dad:
Just a note you should have come too. Of course I'll be home when you get this but that's O.K. Having a swell time. May won't get out and hold the boat steady. Bye Now Love Sis (?)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sepia Saturday - Grant and Gertrude Meyers

My mother wanted to know why I never post photos of our family for Sepia Saturday.  So, I looked for some reasonably photogenic relatives, because, believe me, not all of them are.

Allow me to introduce my maternal great-grandparents, Grant and Gertrude.  Gertrude's parents, Anna Charlotte Sederburg and Charles A.O. Billington were both born in Sweden around 1843.  They married in Ilinois in 1864, which is where Gertrude was born in 1880. Here she is at the age of about 22.

Gertrude's parents came to the United States just ahead of the Swedish mass emigration that started in the late 1860s due to a series of crop failures. During the period of 1867-1869,  approximately 60,000 Swedes emigrated to other countries, most often the United States. The wave of Swedish emigration continued until World War I.

Gertrude's family settled in Rock Island, Illinois, which is probably where she met her future husband, Grant Meyers. Grant was born in Illinois in 1877, to parents William and Martha, who were both originally from Pennsylvania. He was one of nine children, twelve if you count the three who died. The name was originally Meyer, but became Meyers somewhere along the line.

Grant and Gertrude settled in Morrill, Kansas, where Grant's occupation was listed as farmer in the 1910 Census. Here's a portrait of Grant and Gertrude from about 1906.
Be sure to check out Sepia Saturday for more great old photographs and memories.

Acoma Pueblo - New Mexico

The Acoma Pueblo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. It  was built upon a sandstone mesa back in the 12th century, which proved to be effective for the defense of the pueblo. Unfortunately, it was not as effective in keeping out the Spanish conquistadors in 1598. There were nearly 2,000 inhabitants before the arrival of the Spaniards, but only about 250 survived the attacks. Miraculously, the pueblo traditions have survived and are still practiced by today's pueblo inhabitants.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Berlin, Germany - Railway Station

Often the area surrounding the railway station in any given city is gritty and unpleasant. However, in this view it looks like the ideal spot, clean, with plants on the balconies, and surrounded by thriving businesses and busy streets.

The railway station is, of course, the domed building on the left, which was constructed in the late 1870s. The building and underground tracks were expanded to accommodate S-Bahn and U-Bahn in later years.

At the beginning of the Cold War, this station was the hole in the Iron Curtain that allowed people from the east to escape to the west, at least until the Berlin Wall was built in 1961. At that time, the East German government also stopped the long-distance train connections. I arrived into this station from the west in 1980, and the surroundings were dismal.  In fact, most of East Berlin was fairly grim at that time. The stores, if they had anything, would have a lot of one or two things and nothing else. Many items in limited supply, such as toilet seats, could only be bought with western currency.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the west and east stations were connected again, and traffic resumed, however there had been very little maintenance on the east side. Between 1991 and 1999, the station was completely overhauled, at a cost of many millions of Deutsch Marks. In 2008, a memorial to the 10,000 Jewish children who were saved by the Refugee Children Movement and left through this station, was unveiled.

Here's the back of the postcard.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Sightseeing Giveaway

I'm giving away ten iPhone apps for self-guided walking tours of cities such as London, Paris, Rome, Florence, San Francisco, Chicago, Berlin, Barcelona, Prague, Edinburgh, and Amsterdam. These tours come with photos, a map with highlighted tour route that pinpoints your location, and narration for various attractions. The apps work on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

There are few things I find worth promoting, but I am a big advocate of walking.  It's not just invigorating exercise, it's also the only way to really explore the nooks and crannies of great cities. I have bought walking tour books for various cities in the past, but it seems awkward to carry a book around, so I usually tried to memorize as much as possible and leave the book in the hotel room. Then, there's always the tour bus option.

I was approached recently by to mention their iPhone city tour apps on this blog in exchange for ten free walking tours for my readers. Initially I made some sort of derisive snorting sounds, because I don't promote products on this blog, but I was curious enough to take a look. (Click here for the demo.) I have to admit, I think they're pretty wonderful. I also want to point out that I get nothing from this other than the giveaways for you. No payment and no free apps for me.

So, if you are interested in one of these apps, leave a comment on this post, describing which city you would want to visit and why.  You can choose one of the cities listed above, or go to their site and pick one of the other ones they have (there are lots!) I will do a blind drawing from the responses received to pick ten winners, and announce them on Monday, January 24 31, 2011.

Oh, and here's the back of the card.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Business in Binghamton #4

It's a very clever piece of artwork, with this couple sailing of in a boat shaped like a shoe, but the woman looks a little crazed. This card is from 1881.

Here's the back of the card:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lizzie Mable Graham

Here's a card to Lizzie Mable (Graham) while she was still single. She married Tracy Graham in 1909.

Here's the back of the card, sent to Elizabeth in care of her father, George Mable.

And here are a few picture of Elizabeth Mable with Tracy Graham,  sent to me by her daughter Bernice.
Tracy and Lizzie rowing on the Lake

Tracy and Lizzie exchange hats
What fun those two must have been!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Streetcar Sunday - Marseille, France

I'd like to just step into this street scene, head right over to the Cafe on the left, and watch the trams go by as I sip a café au lait. The trams have been there since 1875, when the first horse-drawn tram traveled on this very street.  If I were sitting in some other city, I might look at the trams with sadness, predicting their demise in a few decades. Not so in Marseille where trams have been running continuously since 1876.

And it's not as if the City Council in Marseille didn't try. They wanted to replace the trams with buses and were successful at pulling trams off of La Canebière by 1955.  Since then though, new tram lines have been built and trams are back on La Canebière. It's part of a new plan to reduce car traffic and favor pedestrians.

Here is a view of the intersection today, looking like a pedestrian's worst nightmare. There is obviously still work to be done.

View Larger Map

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cards for Lulu Woodin

These cards appear to have been given to Lulu Woodin on the same day one week apart in July of 1898. I thought at first that they might have been given out by a Sunday school teacher, but the dates are both Fridays. Still, maybe it was some kind of summer instruction?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Michigan Avenue at Night

Another great postcard from Brian at Paper Sponge. This is a beautiful night-time view of Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  The Water Tower is still there, but if it hadn't served such an important role in stopping great Chicago Fire of 1871, it would probably be long gone. Public outcry thwarted the various attempts to have it demolished in 1906, 1918, and 1948.  At one time, the 154-foot tower dwarfed all the buildings around it.

Here's the same view today.

View Larger Map
And here's the back of the card.


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