How to Beat the Tax Man

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Well, first of all, let me say that the title to this post might hold true if you were living back in New Orleans in the late 1800’s, but I’m pretty doggone sure that what I’m about to tell you won’t work in these modern times. Sorry…

I took today’s photo a couple weeks back when my wife and I went to the Lakewood 400 Flea Market. I normally don’t like going to flea markets, but this one is different. It’s 95% indoors and takes place in a very large building that has numerous “halls” and each hall is jam-packed with crafts, furniture, trinkets, and all sorts of fascinating stuff. Some of it is even worth buying, but that’s not typically why I go. I go because it’s a photographer’s delight. It is held once a month and starts on Friday and ends on Sunday. And, get this, you an even buy food and popcorn there! Yippee!

Anyway, this last time we were there we came across an old antique wardrobe from New Orleans. It was clearly old and had been painted over a number of times, but the paint job on it was still very interesting though there was a patina of yellow to it. Someone had clearly loved this piece of furniture (as we did!)  The person who was selling it gave us a bit of the story of how folks back in the day tried to beat the tax man in New Orleans. Here’s the story:

Apparently, back in the 1800’s when this piece of furniture was created, in New Orleans they taxed your home based on how many rooms your house had in it. It didn’t matter too much how big the rooms were, but it was the number of rooms that mattered. In order to try to keep their tax bills down, people started getting smart and they stopped building closets in their house because the taxing agents considered a closet a “room”. And wardrobes, like the one we were looking at, became the rage because they weren’t rooms! Pretty clever, eh? I wonder how long it was before the tax assessor figured that one out!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: one hundred and one years ago today, during a punishing snowstorm, the German army launched a new attack against French forces on the high ground of Mort-Homme, on the left bank of the Meuse River, near the fortress city of Verdun, France. The Battle of Verdun itself began February 21, 1916, with a German bombardment on the symbolic city of Verdun, the last French stronghold to fall during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Though the Germans had advanced speedily since the start of their advance, capturing Verdun’s major protective fort, Fort Douaumont, on February 25, the French were by no means ready to give way, and the battle soon settled into a stalemate, with heavy casualties on both sides. On the night of Douaumont’s capture, General Philippe Petain took over the French command of the Verdun sector, vowing to hold the fort at all costs and inflict the maximum number of German casualties in the process. The German objective was similar: in the words of General Erich von Falkenhayn, chief of the general staff, they aimed to bleed the French white.

Knowing the Allies planned to launch a major offensive at the Somme River that July, the German high command was determined to keep French troops and resources devoted to the defense of Verdun throughout the spring. To do this, Falkenhayn determined that he needed to change the focus of the German attacks, shifting them from Verdun and the inner ring of forts that protected it—the core of Petain’s defensive strategy—to the flanks of the French lines surrounding the city.

To that end, on March 6, after receiving fresh artillery supplies, the Germans attacked along the west bank of the Meuse, beginning the so-called Battle of the Flanks with a preliminary artillery bombardment every bit as intense as the one of February 21. Although under heavy fire from French artillery positions, the Germans managed to cross the river at Brabant and Champneuville to step up their assault on Mort-Homme, which held, though 1,200 French soldiers were captured over the course of two days’ fighting. The Germans made good progress in the area in general, however, capturing nearby positions before the French began their aggressive counterattacks. The struggle for Mort-Homme itself went on for more than a month, with thousands dying on both sides of the line, but the Germans never captured the position.

Fighting at Verdun would continue for 10 months, making it the longest battle of World War I. Paul von Hindenburg—who replaced Falkenhayn that summer—finally called a halt to the German attacks on December 18, after more than a million total casualties had been suffered by German and French troops.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Consumers spend about $662 million on fireworks each year. Sparklers are considered one of the more “sane” fireworks, but are deceivingly benign. They can actually burn as hot as 2,000° F.

 

 

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