All posts by Galen

Husband, father, grandfather who crazily loves his wife, kids and grandkids. Love dogs!!!! Photography is my #1 hobby (wish it were my profession!) Love to travel. Love to read, adventure movies (Gladiator is my #1 all-time favorite), music, golf, fishing, being outdoors in a beautiful place. If I had a super-power, I would be able to heal and stop pain. Grew up for my first 8-9 years on a farm in Iowa. Other states where I have lived in my life: Florida, California, North Carolina, Maine, Georgia. (Most of my life has been spent in various places in California.) Places out of the US I've traveled include: Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Haiti, India, England, Ireland, Wales, Ghana, Israel and Peru.. Places I'd like to go: Egypt, Spain, New Zealand, Austria, Italy, France, Greece, Machu Picchu, Antartica, Scotland, Greenland, Iceland, China, Japan.

Looking for your roots?

We live in a time when everything has to be fast: instant coffee, microwaves that cook something in minutes that might have taken hours, drive through restaurants, drive through banks, drive through coffee shops, instant potatoes, etc. It seems that as fast as things go, we are never happy with how long certain things take!

For instance, have you ever tried to track down your family history, your roots? It can be excruciatingly painful, slow and tedious. There are companies that will do it for you (of course, it’s all computerized and they can probably get that information for you almost instantly, but they’ll still charge you for it because it means you get the information fast and you don’t have to do it yourself. Instant!

There are many interesting lessons to be learned from family trees. I feel sorry for those who really don’t know who their ancestors were. But – take heart my friends! On our way home today we stopped at a flea market that is held monthly not far from where we live. As we were walking through one of the halls, I saw this item and took the picture with my cell phone. I hadn’t realized that you can now have “instant ancestors”, too! But, here’s the photographic proof! And you don’t even to add water!

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So, feel free to help yourself! Just look through the collections of photos, find some “ancestors” that appeal to your sense of who you are, and you can have instant ancestors for just $4 each. Such a deal!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1942, 4,300 Jews were deported from the Polish town of Chelm to the Nazi extermination camp at Sobibor, where all were gassed to death. On the same day, the German firm IG Farben set up a factory just outside Auschwitz, in order to take advantage of Jewish slave laborers from the Auschwitz concentration camps.

Sobibor had five gas chambers, where about 250,000 Jews were killed between 1942 and 1943. A camp revolt occurred in October 1943; 300 Jewish slave laborers rose up and killed several members of the SS as well as Ukrainian guards. The rebels were killed as they battled their captors or tried to escape. The remaining prisoners were executed the very next day.

IG Farben, as well as exploiting Jewish slave labor for its oil and rubber production, also performed drug experiments on inmates. Tens of thousands of prisoners would ultimately die because of brutal work conditions and the savagery of the guards. Several of the firm’s officials would be convicted of “plunder,” “spoliation of property,” “imposing slave labor,” and “inhumane treatment” of civilians and POWs after the war. The company itself came under Allied control. The original goal was to dismantle its industries, which also included the manufacture of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, so as to prevent it from ever posing a threat “to Germany’s neighbors or to world peace.” But as time passed, the resolve weakened, and the Western powers broke the company up into three separate divisions: Hoechst, Bayer, and BASF.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In the mid-1980s, milk cartons with photos of missing children on them made their debut. The first child to appear on one of those milk cartons was Etan Patz, a 6-year-old from New York who disappeared walking to the bus stop in May 1975. He has never been found. However, in 2012, a man named Pedro Hernandez confessed to killing him.

 

The Fire Trees of Dawsonville

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I am not an early morning riser by any stretch of the imagination. I rather despise early mornings. So, when I find something that delights me in the early morning I consider it a bonus. For some reason that I’ve tried to block from my memory, I was up early one winter morning after it had rained the night before. I took the dog with me and we went for a little jaunt down the road in front of our house.

As we headed west, my eyes saw the scene you see in today’s post. I didn’t have my camera with me as I’d not anticipated opening my eyes on the walk if at all possible, but I did open them long enough to see the scene and knew I had to shoot it. I pulled out my cell phone and shot today’s photo. The sun was rising from behind me and it lit up the tops of the trees to the west. It looked almost as if the trees were on fire. Perhaps if you come visit us some time and are crazy enough to get up of a morning, you might see them, too!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1864, at Poison Spring, Arkansas, Confederate soldiers under the command of General Samuel Maxey captured a Union forage train and slaughtered black troops escorting the expedition.

The Battle of Poison Spring was part of broad Union offensive in the region of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. General Nathaniel Banks had led a Yankee force through Louisiana in March and April, but a defeat in northwestern Louisiana at the Battle of Mansfield on April 8 sent Banks in retreat. Union forces nearby in Arkansas were moving towards Banks’ projected thrust into Texas with the intention of securing southwestern Arkansas for the Federals.

Union General Frederick Steele occupied Camden, Arkansas, on April 15. Two days later, he sent Colonel John Williams and 1,100 of his 14,000-man force to gather 5,000 bushels of corn discovered west of Camden. The force arrived to find that Confederate marauders had destroyed half of the store, but the Yankees loaded the rest into some 200 wagons and prepared to return to Camden. On the way back Maxey and 3,600 Confederates intercepted them. Maxey placed General John Marmaduke in charge of the attack that ensued. Williams positioned part of his force, the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, between the wagon train and the Confederate lines. The regiment was the first black unit in the army, comprised primarily of ex-slaves.

The determined soldiers of the 1st Kansas stopped the first two Rebel attacks, but they were running low on ammunition. A third assault overwhelmed the Kansans, and the rout was on. Williams gathered the remnants of his force and retreated from the abandoned wagons. More than 300 Yankee troops were killed, wounded, or captured, while the Confederates lost just 13 killed and 81 wounded. The Rebels’ treatment of black troops was harsh. No black troops were captured, and those left wounded on the battlefield were brutally killed, scalped, and stripped. The Washington Telegraph, the major Confederate newspaper in Arkansas, justified the atrocity by declaring “We cannot treat Negroes taken in arms as prisoners of war without a destruction of social system for which we contend.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in Texas, cowboy boots are exempt from sales tax, but hiking boots are not.

Forgetfulness…and Important Reminders

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I don’t know about you, but I’m more forgetful than I used to be. I find myself making notes to myself about things I’m supposed to not forget – if I remember them long enough to make a reminder, that is! Sometimes I can’t remember them long enough to make a reminder! I use an online product called SmartSheet to remind me of things – both for work and in my personal life. I also use Alexa, Cortana and Google. You’d think that I’d not ever forget anything, but that’s not the case!

I can say, though, that I’ve never forgot to put on my underwear. But if not for my wife, I’d probably need a sign like this somewhere in the house (probably over my sock and underwear drawer) or I might find myself without a fresh pair to put on more often than I’d like to admit. You see, having clean underwear is just something us guys take for granted. I know we shouldn’t, but nonetheless, we do. What that really means is that we take our wives for granted – and there’s the real shame!

So, honey, thank you for all the pairs of underwear that you’ve washed for me over the years so that I’ve never needed a sign like this one – and I hope I never do!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On this day in 1861, the bloodiest four years in American history began when Confederate shore batteries under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay. During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern “insurrection.”

As early as 1858, the ongoing conflict between North and South over the issue of slavery had led Southern leadership to discuss a unified separation from the United States. By 1860, the majority of the slave states were publicly threatening secession if the Republicans, the anti-slavery party, won the presidency. Following Republican Abraham Lincoln’s victory over the divided Democratic Party in November 1860, South Carolina immediately initiated secession proceedings. On December 20, the South Carolina legislature passed the “Ordinance of Secession,” which declared that “the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved.” After the declaration, South Carolina set about seizing forts, arsenals, and other strategic locations within the state. Within six weeks, five more Southern states–Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana–had followed South Carolina’s lead.

In February 1861, delegates from those states convened to establish a unified government. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was subsequently elected the first president of the Confederate States of America. When Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, a total of seven states (Texas had joined the pack) had seceded from the Union, and federal troops held only Fort Sumter in South Carolina, Fort Pickens off the Florida coast, and a handful of minor outposts in the South. Four years after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the Confederacy was defeated at the total cost of 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Approximately 600,000 Jews served in the United States armed forces during WWII. More than 35,000 were killed, wounded, captured, or missing. Approximately 8,000 died in combat. However, only two Jewish soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor in WWII.

Stating the Obvious

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Do you ever get annoyed by people who state to obvious? Or do you make it a habit of stating the obvious yourself? For example, “Wow! That was loud!” (Whoever you are talking to heard it, too.) Or, as in the case of Little Red Riding Hood talking to the wolf, “My, what a big nose you have!” (As if the wolf didn’t look down his long nose every single moment of every single day!)

The sign that I shot for today’s picture is of a similar ilk. And, in a way, it goes along with the meme I introduced in my post yesterday about the sign with the beer on it: maybe if people in the south have to be warned that trains sometimes use railroad tracks, there may be something to the common (mis)perception about those of us who do live here in the southern United States. Still, it’s home now, and we love it. More southern-isms in the next few days!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1870, while visiting Marathon, Greece, Lord Muncaster of Britain is kidnapped by brigands, almost resulting in war. The pirates, led by Takos Arvanitakis, were experienced in kidnapping and had used it as a lucrative source of income for many years. However, their capture of Lord Muncaster and a group of English tourists proved to be more difficult to pull off than they anticipated.

Arvanitakis and his gang demanded £50,000 for the release of the captives. King George of Greece refused their ransom demands, offering instead to exchange himself for the hostages in an attempt to appease England. However, before any further negotiations could take place, a confrontation between the brigands and Greek troops resulted in the death of just about everyone involved, including Muncaster. Arvanitakis was one of the few who managed to escape the battle with his life.

The incident caused England to threaten war, but Russia interjected by siding with Greece. The crisis was averted after Greece conducted a major crackdown on the bandits. Although few of the people they arrested had actually played any role in the kidnapping, it eased the international tensions and greatly reduced the number of subsequent kidnappings in the country.

Arvanitakis was shot and killed two years later.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Elvis Presley was famously a fan of the “Sleeping Beauty Diet,” or a diet where a person is sedated for days at time. The reasoning behind the diet was that a sleeping person wouldn’t eat.

Do the Math

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I know not everyone is good at math. I am OK, but I quit after taking calculus. I don’t like math. I think back now to all the algebra, trigonometry and calculus that I took and I can honestly say that other than some of the more simple things about algebra, I’ve never used any of the rest of it. Perhaps that’s because I chose fields of work where I didn’t have to do lots of math or formulas. I don’t regret that one bit.

Now, it’s true that many people think of folks who live in the south as being rather, well, uneducated and simple-minded. I haven’t personally found that to be true at all. I think by and large it’s the accent that makes people have that belief. But then you come across a sign like the one in today’s photo and then you have to wonder.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1834, a fire at the LaLaurie mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana, led to the discovery of a torture chamber where slaves were routinely brutalized by Delphine LaLaurie. Rescuers found a 70-year-old black woman trapped in the kitchen during the fire because she was chained up while LaLaurie was busy saving her furniture. The woman later revealed that she had set the fire in an attempt to escape LaLaurie’s torture. She led authorities up to the attic, where seven slaves were tied with spiked iron collars.

After Delphine LaLaurie married her third husband, Louis LaLaurie, and moved into his estate on Royal Street, she immediately took control of the large number of slaves used as servants. LaLaurie was a well-known sadist, but the mistreatment of slaves by the wealthy and socially connected was not a matter for the police at the time.

However, in 1833, Delphine chased a small slave girl with a whip until the girl fell off the roof of the house and died. LaLaurie tried to cover up the incident, but police found the body hidden in a well. Authorities decided to fine LaLaurie and force the sale of the other slaves on the estate.

LaLaurie foiled this plan by secretly arranging for her relatives and friends to buy the slaves. She then sneaked them back into the mansion, where she continued to torture them until the night of the fire in April 1834.

Apparently her Southern neighbors had some standards when it came to the treatment of slaves, because a mob gathered in protest after learning about LaLaurie’s torture chamber. She and her husband fled by boat, leaving the butler (who had also participated in the torture) to face the wrath of the crowd.

Although charges were never filed against LaLaurie, her reputation in upper-class society was destroyed. It is believed that she died in Paris in December 1842.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the horse head in the famous horse scene in The Godfather was actually a real, decapitated horse head.

In Living Color

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Do you remember when all there were was black and white TV’s? I do. We didn’t think about the fact that we couldn’t see the TV program in color because no one could! But I also remember when color TV’s came out and the broadcast stations would tout their wares as being “..in living color”!

Of course, the first color TV’s were great, but they certainly couldn’t hold a candle to the color TV’s of today that offer 4K Ultra High Def television with all sorts of other whiz-bangs, too. But again, we didn’t know about 4K Ultra High Def televisions when color TV’s first came out and we thought that they were great! And they were.

I have always loved colors – bold, bright, extravagant color. I don’t dress that way, but I love to see colorful things, and that’s why the glasses in today’s photo captured my eye. It was at the flea market and there they were, literally begging me to shoot them, I obliged. And they are in living color!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1951, a homemade device explodes at Grand Central Station in New York City, startling commuters but injuring no one. In the next few months, five more bombs were found at landmark sites around New York, including the public library. Authorities realized that this new wave of terrorist acts was the work of the Mad Bomber.

New York’s first experience with the so-called Mad Bomber was on November 16, 1940, when a pipe bomb was left in the Edison building with a note that read, “Con Edison crooks, this is for you.” More bombs were recovered in 1941, each more powerful than the last, until the Mad Bomber sent a note in December stating, “I will make no more bomb units for the duration of the war.” He went on to say that Con Edison, New York’s electric utility company, would be brought to justice in due time.

The patriotic Mad Bomber made good on his promise, although he did periodically send threatening notes to the press. After his flurry of activity in 1951, the Mad Bomber was silent until a bomb went off atRadio City Music Hall in 1954. In 1955, the Mad Bomber hit Grand Central Station, Macy’s, the RCA building and the Staten Island Ferry.

The police had no luck finding the Mad Bomber, but an investigative team working for Con Ed finally tracked him down. Looking through their employment records, they found that George Peter Metesky had been a disgruntled ex-employee since an accident in 1931. Metesky was enraged that Con Ed refused to pay disability benefits and resorted to terrorism as his revenge.

Metesky, a rather mild-mannered man, was found living with his sisters in Connecticut. He was sent to a mental institution in April 1957 where he stayed until his release in 1973.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: A tsunami is not just one big wave, but a series of waves called a “wave train.” The time period between waves is called the “wave period” and can be between a few minutes and two hours. The first wave is usually not the strongest, and later waves, such as the fifth or sixth, may be significantly larger.

Catching Light in a Bottle

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Have you heard the expression, “Catching lightning in a bottle”? Well, this isn’t lightning, but it is a close relative. I mean, after all, it’s electricity – and so is lightning.

Someone got clever and decided to make a hanging lamp out of a mason jar. I thought it might make an interesting shot. Rather shocking what some folks come up with, isn’t it?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1782, 160 Pennsylvania militiamen murdered 96 Christian Indians–39 children, 29 women and 28 men–by hammering their skulls with mallets from behind as they kneel unarmed, praying and singing, in their Moravian Mission at Gnadenhuetten in the Ohio Country. The Patriots then piled their victims’ bodies in mission buildings before burning the entire community to the ground. Two boys managed to survive, although one had lost his scalp to his attackers. Although the militiamen claimed they were seeking revenge for Indian raids on their frontier settlements, the Indians they murdered had played no role in any attack.

This infamous attack on non-combatants led to a loss of faith in the Patriots by their Indian allies and reprisals upon Patriot captives in Indian custody. The Indians resurrected the practice of ritualized torture, discontinued during the Seven Years’ War, on the men they were able to apprehend who had participated in the Gnadenhuetten atrocity.

Although the Moravians and their Indian converts were pacifists who refused to kill under any circumstances, they found other ways to assist the Patriot cause. Like other Indian allies who refused to kill fellow Indians, they aided the Patriots by working as guides and spies. The German Moravian missionaries were also supplying the Americans with critical information, for which they were later arrested and tried by the British.

None of this protected the Indians when 160 members of the Pennsylvania militia decided to act as judge, jury and executioner. The Delaware Indians they murdered were neutral pacifists. Their Christian missionaries were aiding the Patriot cause. Furthermore, they did not live in the manner described as savage by European settlers–they were instead engaged in European-style settled agriculture in their mission village. There was no political, religious or cultural justification for the militiamen’s indiscriminate brutality during the Gnadenhuetten massacre; the incident is sadly illustrative of the anti-Indian racism that sometimes trumped even political allegiances during the American Revolution.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman took the first acid trip in 1943 while he was conducting tests for a migraine cure in Basel, when he accidentally absorbed the LSD compound through his fingertips.

Boxed

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One of the things that I like best about going to the flea market that I wrote about yesterday is the old wood that is there. Sometimes, they are just old barn boards or slices of trees and at other times it is wood that has been painted or stained to look old or antique. I have to admit that I’m not an aficionado of antiques so I could be easily duped. But I know what I like to see and try to take photos of the old (or old-looking) wood when I get the chance.

Today’s photo was shot at that flea market. I liked the way these old wooden boxes looked and how they were stacked atop each other in a non-symmetrical way. I even liked the color that had been applied to them.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering, I didn’t buy them!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 2002, the defense rested in the trial of Andrea Yates, a 37-year-old Texas woman who confessed to killing her five young children by drowning them in a bathtub. Less than a week later, on March 13, Yates was convicted and sentenced to life in prison; however, her conviction was later reversed.

Andrea Pia Kennedy was born July 2, 1964, in Houston, Texas, and married Russell Yates on April 17, 1993. The couple’s first child, Noah, was born in February 1994. Three more boys followed, in 1995, 1997 and February 1999. Later that year, Yates attempted suicide twice and was diagnosed with psychosis and postpartum depression. She was also advised not to have any more children; however, in November 2000, she gave birth to a daughter. Several months later, she had another breakdown and was hospitalized.

After her husband, a NASA employee, left for work on the morning of June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the bathtub of the family’s suburban Houston home. Afterward, she called 911 and then phoned her husband to tell him he needed to return home immediately. Police found the body of the Yates’ oldest son Noah, age 7, face-down in the tub. Yates had placed the bodies of her four younger children—John, 5, Luke, 3, Paul, 2, and Mary, 6 months—next to each other on a bed and covered them with a sheet. She confessed her actions to police and later made statements that she heard voices and believed she was saving her children’s souls by killing them.

At her 2002 trial, Yates’ attorneys argued that she was insane, while the prosecution charged she failed to meet Texas’s definition of insanity because she was able to tell right from wrong. After deliberating for less than four hours, a jury found Yates guilty, rejecting her insanity defense, and she was sentenced to life in prison. In 2005, a Texas appeals court reversed the conviction and granted Yates a new trial after it was learned that prosecution witness Dr. Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist, gave erroneous testimony that had influenced the jury. On July 26, 2006, a jury found Yates not guilty by reason of insanity. Since that time, she has been committed to a state mental hospital in Texas.

Russell Yates was supportive of his wife in the aftermath of the murders, blaming her behavior on severe mental illness and also criticizing her doctors for failing to properly treat her condition. In turn, he was criticized for being controlling and for leaving his wife unsupervised at the time she killed their children, when he had been advised not to do so. Russell Yates filed for divorce in 2004 and remarried two years later.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Charles Manson

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.

 

 

Dancin’ Daffodils

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Not far from where we live (maybe 20-25 minutes away) is a place called Gibbs Gardens. It is the creation of a many by the name of Jim Gibbs, who for over 40 years owned and operated a landscaping company in the Atlanta area. As one might anticipate, he loves gardens and desired to create a world-class gardens in north Georgia. By all accounts, he has succeeded grandly!

The property where the manor house stands covers 292 acres, and 250 of those acres have been converted into gardens for others to come and enjoy (there is a fee for entrance). There is a wide variety of different plants and types of gardens so that something is likely to be blooming at any time of the year (almost!).

Over 50 acres are planted in daffodils. Their signs advertise that there are 20 million daffodils on the property, and I believe it after my first visit there a bit over one week ago! This year, because of the warmer weather than usual, the daffodils have bloomed early and we wandered around the area where the daffodils were blooming shooting photos. The picture today was one that I shot a week ago this past Saturday. It was a fairly windy day, but I believe you’ll still get a good sense for the place and how beautiful it is. I am eager to go back to the gardens several times this summer to see the other sights as different plants and trees leaf out and bloom. I suspect it will be spectacular. And yes, we did by an annual pass so we can go year round!

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1963, the Hula-Hoop, a hip-swiveling toy that became a huge fad across America when it was first marketed by Wham-O in 1958, was patented by the company’s co-founder, Arthur “Spud” Melin. An estimated 25 million Hula-Hoops were sold in its first four months of production alone.

In 1948, friends Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr founded a company in California to sell a slingshot they created to shoot meat up to falcons they used for hunting. The company’s name, Wham-O, came from the sound the slingshots supposedly made. Wham-O eventually branched out from slingshots, selling boomerangs and other sporting goods. Its first hit toy, a flying plastic disc known as the Frisbee, debuted in 1957. The Frisbee was originally marketed under a different name, the Pluto Platter, in an effort to capitalize on America’s fascination with UFOs.

Melina and Knerr were inspired to develop the Hula-Hoop after they saw a wooden hoop that Australian children twirled around their waists during gym class. Wham-O began producing a plastic version of the hoop, dubbed “Hula” after the hip-gyrating Hawaiian dance of the same name, and demonstrating it on Southern California playgrounds. Hula-Hoop mania took off from there.

The enormous popularity of the Hula-Hoop was short-lived and within a matter of months, the masses were on to the next big thing. However, the Hula-Hoop never faded away completely and still has its fans today. According to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, in April 2004, a performer at the Big Apple Circus in Boston simultaneously spun 100 hoops around her body. Earlier that same year, in January, according to the Guinness World Records, two people in Tokyo, Japan, managed to spin the world’s largest hoop–at 13 feet, 4 inches–around their waists at least three times each.

Following the Hula-Hoop, Wham-O continued to produce a steady stream of wacky and beloved novelty items, including the Superball, Water Wiggle, Silly String, Slip ‘n’ Slide and the Hacky Sack.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The hula was originally a form of worship performed by highly trained men who were supposedly taught the dance by the Hawaiian god Luka.