Teensy, Tiny Door to an Important Place


I grant  you that this is not a very good picture.  I am also departing from my normal practice of having taken the pictures I include myself.  I obviously didn’t shoot this photo as I’m in it.

So, where’s Waldo in this picture?  Waldo (me) is standing outside the doorway entrance to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Israel.  Take a good look at the photo.  Do you notice something odd?

At first glance, you might be taken by the fact that this door must have been built for Hobbits.  Not so.  Look more closely at the picture and you’ll see that the door was once much larger – in fact, it was an archway and you can still see the shape of it.

So, what’s the story?  Believe it or not, this church was around in the time of the Crusaders.  The Crusaders would come to this church to worship (as it is built over the site where Jesus is said to have been born), and being the hearty fellows that they were, they would not dismount their horses before entering through the archway into the church!  The solution: wall up most of the archway and make the doorway so small that you had to dismount and even bend over to get inside!  Ingenious!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1864, Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow drowned off the North Carolina coast when a Yankee craft ran her ship aground. She was returning from a trip to England.

At the beginning of the war, Maryland native Rose O’Neal Greenhow lived in Washington, D.C., with her four children. Her deceased husband was wealthy and well connected in the capital, and Greenhow used her influence to aid the Southern cause. Working with Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Jordan, she established an elaborate spy network in Washington. The effectiveness of the operation was soon demonstrated when Greenhow received information concerning the movements of General Irvin McDowell’s army shortly before the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. A female courier carried messages from Greenhow to Confederate General Pierre G.T. Beauregard at his Fairfax, Virginia, headquarters. Beauregard later testified that because of the gained intelligence, he requested extra troops from General Joseph Johnston’s nearby command, helping the Confederates score a dramatic victory against the Yankees in the first major battle of the war. Confederate President Jefferson Davis sent Greenhow a letter of appreciation the day after the battle.

Federal authorities soon learned of the security leaks, and the trail led to Greenhow’s residence. She was placed under house arrest, and other suspected female spies were soon arrested and joined her there. The house, nicknamed “Fort Greenhow,” still managed to produce information for the Rebels. When her good friend, Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson, visited Greenhow, he carelessly provided important intelligence that Greenhow slipped to her operatives. After five months, she and her youngest daughter, “Little Rose,” were transferred to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington. She was incarcerated until June 1862, when she went into exile in the South.

Greenhow and Little Rose spent the next two years in England. Greenhow penned a memoir titled My Imprisonment and traveled to England and France, drumming up support for the Southern cause. She then decided to return to the Confederacy to contribute more directly to the war effort. Greenhow and her daughter were on board the British blockade-runner Condor when it was intercepted by the U.S.S. Niphon off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The Yankee ship ran Condor aground near Forth Fischer. Greenhow was carrying Confederate dispatches and $2,000 in gold. Insisting that she be taken ashore, she boarded a small lifeboat that overturned in the rough surf. The weight of the gold pulled her under, and her body washed ashore the next morning. Greenhow was given a hero’s funeral and buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina, her body wrapped in the Confederate flag.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Surviving Minoan paintings from 1600 B.C. show women wearing two-piece suits similar to the 1960 bikini. Additionally, a fourth-century A.D. mosaic in Sicily titled “Bikini Girls” also shows women donning two-piece suits.


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