Tag Archives: Charleston

Healthy Teeth and Gums…

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In Charleston, SC, there are many lovely homes from years gone by. Each and every one has stories to tell and I’m sure that most of us will never hear many of them.

When we were there and on our horse-drawn carriage tour, we went by this house. It was painted pink and white…and it has been that way for at least decades, if not over a century. There is a reason, though, for the somewhat unusual color on the home.

You see, this home was owned by a dentist. He decided that he wanted people to know what color healthy gums and teeth should be, so he painted his house pink and white. And now, many years later, they continue the practice to recognize and celebrate the history of the city and the home.

ON THIS DAY IN  HISTORY: General James Doolittle of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), hero of the daring “Doolittle Raid” on mainland Japan and later the unified commander of Allied air forces in Europe in World War II, once offered the following high praise to one of his staff officers in 1944: “Next to a letter from home, Captain Miller, your organization is the greatest morale builder in the European Theater of Operations.” The Captain Miller in question was the trombonist and bandleader Glenn Miller, the biggest star on the American pop-music scene in the years immediately preceding World War II and a man who set aside his brilliant career right at its peak in 1942 to serve his country as leader of the USAAF dance band. It was in that capacity that Captain Glenn Miller boarded a single-engine aircraft at an airfield outside of London on December 15, 1944—an aircraft that would go missing over the English Channel en route to France for a congratulatory performance for American troops that had recently helped to liberate Paris.

It would be difficult to overstate the magnitude of Glenn Miller’s success in the years immediately proceeding America’s entry into World War II. Though he was a relatively unspectacular instrumentalist himself—he’d played the trombone in various prominent orchestras but never distinguished himself as a performer—Miller the bandleader came to dominate the latter portion of the swing era on the strength of his disciplined arrangements and an innovation in orchestration that put the high-pitched clarinet on the melody line doubled by the saxophone section an octave below. This trademark sound helped the Glenn Miller Orchestra earn an unprecedented string of popular hits from 1939 to 1942, including the iconic versions of numbers like “In The Mood” (1939), “Tuxedo Junction” (1939) and “Chattanooga Choo Choo” (1941), as well as Miller’s self-penned signature tune, “Moonlight Serenade” (1939).

The Glenn Miller Orchestra played its last-ever concert under Miller’s direction on September 27, 1942, in Passaic, New Jersey, and shortly thereafter, Miller entered the Army. After nearly two years spent stateside broadcasting a weekly radio program called I Sustain The Wings out of New York City, Miller formed a new 50-piece USAAF dance band and departed for England in the summer of 1944, giving hundreds of performances to Allied troops over the next six months before embarking on his fateful trip to France on this day in 1944.

The wreckage of Miller’s plane was never found. His official military status remains Missing in Action.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: burying coffins also means that 90,272 tons of steel, 2,700 tons of copper and bronze, and over 30 million feet of hard wood covered in toxic laminates are also buried per year. However, a British company called “Ecopod” offers coffins made from 100% recycled paper.

From the Inside Lookin’ Out…

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It isn’t every day that you get to visit what was once a working cotton plantation here in the south. You can’t hardly find any cotton growing in the south anymore because it is being grown more cheaply overseas and there isn’t as much demand for it as there used to be. But the Boone Hall Plantation near Charleston, SC was once a booming cotton plantation.

Because of its location, there were no roads that they could use to get the cotton to the docks in Charleston. Instead, there were waterways that were plied by barges and boats that would carry the product from the cotton fields to the mills or ships for shipping.

I took today’s photo from inside the re-built cotton warehouse where they would store the cotton before carrying it out on the dock and loading it into the boats. As I stood inside the warehouse looking out through the window to the end of the dock, I could imagine how it would have looked to have a boat tied up there, I imagined the heat inside the warehouse and how even the slightest breeze coming through the windows would grant welcom relief to those laboring inside the wooden building. Sometimes, I think that I can almost imagine something so clearly that it is as if I were there. I had that feeling when I shot a series of pictures from inside the place.

I think that those working inside the building on those hot southern days were envious of those who were outside in the breeze, loading cotton onto the barge.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1964, the first Medal of Honor awarded to a U.S. serviceman for action in Vietnam was presented to Capt. Roger Donlon of Saugerties, New York, for his heroic action earlier in the year.

Captain Donlon and his Special Forces team were manning Camp Nam Dong, a mountain outpost near the borders of Laos and North Vietnam. Just before two o’clock in the morning on July 6, 1964, hordes of Viet Cong attacked the camp. He was shot in the stomach, but Donlon stuffed a handkerchief into the wound, cinched up his belt, and kept fighting. He was wounded three more times, but he continued fighting–manning a mortar, throwing grenades at the enemy, and refusing medical attention.

The battle ended in early morning; 154 Viet Cong were killed during the battle. Two Americans died and seven were wounded. Over 50 South Vietnamese soldiers and Nung mercenaries were also killed during the action. Once the battle was over, Donlon allowed himself to be evacuated to a hospital in Saigon. He spent over a month there before rejoining the surviving members of his Special Forces team; they completed their six-month tour in Vietnam in November and flew home together. In a White House ceremony, with Donlon’s nine surviving team members watching, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented him with the Medal of Honor for “conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism and intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty.” Donlon, justifiably proud of his team, told the president, “The medal belongs to them, too.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Brains are unhealthy to eat because they are high in cholesterol and fat. For example, a single serving of a 140 g. can of “pork brains in milk gravy” contains 3,500 mg. of cholesterol, 1170% of the USRDA.

 

Walking into Holy Ground

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There are some places that just feel special. Then there are others that feel like holy ground. I had that kind of experience recently aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston recently.

The night we checked into our hotel, I saw that there was a Medal of Honor Museum in the area. I didn’t realize it was onboard the Yorktown itself. Right after entering through one of the large hangar bays off to the left of the reception desk that was staffed by docents is the Medal of Honor Museum. There are apparently several around the country…but this one was designed and apparently somewhat managed by recipients of this honor themselves.

The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest military honor that can bestowed by the United States. It is given to very, very few who have acted with incredible heroism and selflessness. Few live to receive it because they gave their lives to save others.

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And so, as I saw the entrance to the museum behind glass doors, I was almost afraid to go in. I hold those who have served in the military in such high regard in general, but the Medal of Honor recipients are deserving of an even higher position and honor in the esteem of every American. I finally opened the door and stepped inside…and I felt that I was on hallowed ground. We made our way through, reading some of the stories, watching some of the video clip interviews of those who knew these brave men and women. It was sobering to realize the bravery and sacrifice of those who received the honor. It was deeply moving. I felt so small and undeserving of the price they paid for my freedom.

ON THIS DAY IN  HISTORY: in 1864, legend holds that on this day in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln composes a letter to Lydia Bixby, a widow and mother of five men who had been killed in the Civil War. A copy of the letter was then published in the Boston Evening Transcripton November 25 and signed “Abraham Lincoln.” The original letter has never been found.

The letter expressed condolences to Mrs. Bixby on the death of her five sons, who had fought to preserve the Union in the Civil War. The author regrets how “weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming.” He continued with a prayer that “our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement [and leave you] the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.”

Scholars continue to debate the authorship of the letter, and the authenticity of copies printed between 1864 and 1891. At the time, copies of presidential messages were often published and sold as souvenirs. Many historians and archivists agree that the original letter was probably written by Lincoln’s secretary, John Hay. As to Mrs. Bixby’s loss, scholars have discovered that only two of her sons actually died fighting during the Civil War. A third was honorably discharged and a fourth was dishonorably thrown out of the Army. The fifth son’s fate is unknown, but it is assumed that he deserted or died in a Confederate prison camp. Despite its dubious origins, the letter’s text became even more famous when it was quoted in Steven Spielberg’s World War II film epic Saving Private Ryan (1998).

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Proportionally, hash browns have more fat and calories than a cheeseburger or Big Mac.

Where it begins/began…

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There is an old Neil Diamond song from my youth called Sweet Caroline that has these lyrics:

Where it began
I can’t begin to knowing…

In spite of what some think, the words were not inspired by the young daughter of JFK (Caroline Kennedy at the time), but by the woman who was Neil Diamond’s wife at the time. Her name wasn’t Caroline, but he needed something with three syllables and that’s the name he chose.

But that’s beside the point..it’s that lyric that I’m after. He may not have known when his love for his wife started (it is rather hard to pin-point such a thing so I don’t hold that against him), but it is clear when the Civil War started in earnest.

Today’s photo was taken at Fort Sumter in the middle of the bay near Charleston, SC. It was taken from inside the fort and the encasement that was facing in the direction from which the Confederates fired the first shots at the Union held fort on April 12, 1861. (The fort actually figured in two Civil War battles).

On Thursday, April 11, 1861, Confederate general Beauregard sent three aides, Colonel James Chesnut, Jr., Captain Stephen D. Lee and Lieutenant A. R. Chisolm to demand the surrender of the fort. Anderson (the Union commander of the fort) declined, and the aides returned to report to Beauregard. After Beauregard had consulted the Confederate Secretary of War, Leroy Walker, he sent the aides back to the fort and authorized Chesnut to decide whether the fort should be taken by force. The aides waited for hours while Anderson considered his alternatives and played for time. At about 3:00 a.m., when Anderson finally announced his conditions, Colonel Chesnut, after conferring with the other aides, decided that they were “manifestly futile and not within the scope of the instructions verbally given to us”. The aides then left the fort and proceeded to the nearby Fort Johnson. There, Chesnut ordered the fort to open fire on Fort Sumter.

On Friday, April 12, 1861, at 4:30 a.m., Confederate batteries opened fire, firing for 34 straight hours, on the fort. The Union batteries in the fort didn’t fire back until 2-1/2 hour later as they didn’t have the right kind of ordinance for such a battle (they only had solid shot, not explosive shells).  During the attack, the Union colors fell. Lt. Norman J. Hall risked life and limb to put them back up, burning off his eyebrows permanently.

Interestingly enough, not a single soldier in the fort died as a result of the hostile exchange of fire. However, when the fort was surrendered on April 13, 1861, a 100-gun salute was ordered to celebrate the end of the violence. It was on the 47th shot of the 100-gun salute that a Union soldier was killed. His name was Daniel Hough and the death came about as the premature discharge of a cannon. It earned him the dubious distinction of being the first person to die in the Civil War.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1864, Union General William T. Sherman began his expedition across Georgia by torching the industrial section of Atlanta and pulling away from his supply lines. For the next six weeks, Sherman’s army destroyed most of the state before capturing the Confederate seaport of Savannah, Georgia.

Sherman captured Atlanta in early September 1864 after a long summer campaign. He recognized his vulnerability in the city, however, as his supply lines stretched all the way from Nashville, Tennessee. Confederate raiders such as Nathan Bedford Forrest threatened to cut his lines, and Sherman had to commit thousands of troops to protect the railroads and rivers that carried provisions for his massive army. Sherman split his army, keeping 60,000 men and sending the rest back to Nashville with General George Thomas to deal with the remnants of Confederate General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee, the force Sherman had defeated to take Atlanta.

After hearing that President Abraham Lincoln had won re-election on November 8, Sherman ordered 2,500 light wagons loaded with supplies. Doctors checked each soldier for illness or injuries, and those who were deemed unfit were sent to Nashville. Sherman wrote to his general in chief, Ulysses S. Grant, that if he could march through Georgia it would be “proof positive that the North can prevail.” He told Grant that he would not send couriers back, but to “trust the Richmond papers to keep you well advised.” Sherman loaded the surplus supplies on trains and shipped them back to Nashville. On November 15, the army began to move, burning the industrial section of Atlanta before leaving. One witness reported “immense and raging fires lighting up whole heavens… huge waves of fire roll up into the sky; presently the skeleton of great warehouses stand out in relief against sheets of roaring, blazing, furious flames.” Sherman’s famous destruction of Georgia had begun.

Interestingly enough, Fort Sumter was finally recaptured from the Confederates as a result of Sherman’s March to the Sea.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: McDonald’s Corporation is the largest owner of retail property in the world. The company earns most of its profits not from selling food, but by collecting rent. McDonald’s Happy Meals have been served since 1979. In the mid-1970s, a Guatemalan woman name Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño invented the happy meal (which she called the “Menu Ronald”) to make it easier for mothers to feed their children. The concept was later co-opted by Bob Bernstein, CEO of an advertising agency, who ultimately named the small meal the “happy meal” and was given credit for the idea.

Don’t Be Fooled…

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Many of the old cities of the world (and new ones, too, I guess) have stories of hauntings – of ghosts that roam old buildings. There are those who make a living out of being researchers into the paranormal (may I say that I’m HIGHLY skeptical?) Every year there are shows on television (especially around Halloween) about the scariest places in the world and they take people inside to try to capture proof of hauntings. I even seem to recall one show that would pay people something like $1000 a night to spend a night in a haunted house. Often those houses are places were some gruesome murder took place.

I have a cousin who swears up and down that the house they lived in (dating back to the early 1700’s, I believe) is haunted. She’s not prone to lunacy or flights of fancy. She’s bright (strange, since she’s related to me!) and a very level-headed person. I just don’t know what to think. At least in the case of her “ghost” (she even has a name for him since he apparently died in the house long ago) he seems friendly.

Charleston has plenty of ghost stories. After all, it has a long and colorful history. And like Boston and other old cities on the eastern seaboard, they have lots of “ghost tours” that tourists can pay to experience. I didn’t do that – mind you – but I did think it was interesting that when we had walked through the cemetery at St.Philip’s in Charleston, we came across this sign at the edge of the cemetery by the street.

If you look closely, however, you’ll notice an image reflected in the marble. Could that be a ghost?

No, in case you were thinking that, it is just a reflection of the photographer – in this case, me!  Boo!!!!!!! (Now, the real question may be: what is that shadow to my right in the photo?!?!)

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: near the end of a weeklong national salute to Americans who served in the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington after a march to its site by thousands of veterans of the conflict. The long-awaited memorial was a simple V-shaped black-granite wall inscribed with the names of the 57,939 Americans who died in the conflict, arranged in order of death, not rank, as was common in other memorials.

The designer of the memorial was Maya Lin, a Yale University architecture student who entered a nationwide competition to create a design for the monument. Lin, born in Ohio in 1959, was the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Many veterans’ groups were opposed to Lin’s winning design, which lacked a standard memorial’s heroic statues and stirring words. However, a remarkable shift in public opinion occurred in the months after the memorial’s dedication. Veterans and families of the dead walked the black reflective wall, seeking the names of their loved ones killed in the conflict. Once the name was located, visitors often made an etching or left a private offering, from notes and flowers to dog tags and cans of beer.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial soon became one of the most visited memorials in the nation’s capital. A Smithsonian Institution director called it “a community of feelings, almost a sacred precinct,” and a veteran declared that “it’s the parade we never got.” “The Wall” drew together both those who fought and those who marched against the war and served to promote national healing a decade after the divisive conflict’s end.

By the way, I’d like to once again offer my thanks to our veterans, living and dead, who have served our country in both war and peace.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Every hour, humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin, or about 1.5 pounds every year. By the time a person is 70 years old, they will have lost about 105 pounds of skin.

 

Strangely Apropos…

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Charleston, SC is on a peninsula that is bounded on two sides by fairly large rivers that dump out into the Atlanta that is visible in the distance. Being a seaport, it has had a colorful history that goes way back.

On the very tip of the peninsula is a park, called Battery Park by some. That end of the peninsula has seen its share of pirates and brigands. Did you know that the fearsome pirate, Edward Teach (or Edward Thatch as some claim) roamed those waters? Edward Teach lived between about 1680-1712 when he was killed in a battle in 1718 after being slashed across the throat when others rushing in and finished him off. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Edward Teach was better known as Blackbeard.

According to Wikipedia, there are no confirmed accounts of him ever having murdered anyone, but he may have. He certainly had opportunity. But his history with Charleston was fairly extensive. At one point, his ships entered the harbor and held the entire city hostage. What was his demand for ranson? One chest of medicine. Some believe it was for himself (he apparently had an STD), but he didn’t ask for gold or anything else. Once the medicine chest was delivered, he stopped the siege.

But back to the park: when pirates were captured, they would be tried and hung by the neck (if found guilty) from the trees in the park…and they’d be left to rot there hanging by their necks as warnings to any other pirates who might happen to come around.

That’s maybe why I thought the photo of the skeleton on the motorcycle was apropos (that’s one of the rivers in the background). Of course, it was nearly Halloween, but I thought more of the pirates!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1971, John Emil List slaughtered his entire family in their Westfield, New Jersey, home and then disappeared. Though police quickly identified List as the most likely suspect in the murders, it took 18 years for them to locate him and close the case.

John List was an outwardly normal and successful father. A Sunday school teacher and Boy Scout troop leader, List was a strict disciplinarian who insisted his children follow extremely rigid rules.

On November 9, seemingly out of the blue, List shot his mother Alma (above her left eye), his wife Helen (in the side of the head), and two older children in the back of their heads; he shot his youngest child, a son, several times in the chest and face. He then left the murder weapon alongside their carefully laid-out corpses. List had methodically devised a plan so that the bodies would not be discovered for quite a while, cancelling newspaper, milk, and mail delivery to his home in the days leading up to the murder. He then called the children’s schools to say that the family was going to visit a sick relative out of town. By the time authorities discovered the bodies, List had vanished without a trace.

Local law enforcement officials had essentially given up looking for List when the television show America’s Most Wanted began airing in the late 1980s. After a segment about the List murders aired on May 21, 1989, calls began flooding in. Although most of them proved to be unhelpful, one viewer claimed that John List was living in Virginia under the alias Robert Clark.

Indeed, List had assumed a false identity, relocated to the South, and remarried. In 1989, he was returned to New Jersey to face charges for the death of his family. The following year, he was convicted of five counts of murder and received five consecutive life sentences.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Holiday retailers use music to attract potential shoppers. For example,  if shoppers like the type of music retailers are playing, they will be more likely to enter the store and like the products. Additionally, the slower the tempo of the music, the slower people will walk through the store, and the more they will buy. A faster tempo will encourage shoppers to walk faster and, consequently, they won’t buy as much.

Meet My Friend, David

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The very first touristy thing that we did in Charleston was to take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the historic areas of the city. We booked our tour with Old South Carriage Company (and they were great – I highly recommend them!) and arrived for our ride. David, our horse, was waiting for us.

David is a Belgian heavy draft horse. And he’s a real brute of a horse. He weighs in at a nifty 2000 pounds and was rippling with muscles. They told us that a Belgian can pull four times his own weight, meaning David had no problem at all pulling the carriage.

Currently, the world’s tallest horse is a Belgian Draft horse named Big Jake, a gelding born in 2000. He stands 20.2 34 hands (or 82.75 inches tall).  The world’s largest Belgian Draft was named Brooklyn Supreme and weight in at a whopping 3,200 pounds and stood 78 inches tall.

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Well, David was a great horse. The only thing about David is that he sometimes didn’t like to stop, or stay stopped, when at a red light. He’d be itching to get going again, but was easily controlled by the lady who was guiding our tour.

In case you’re wondering, the city of Charleston regulates these carriages and the horses. They have very strict rules about the temperatures in which the horses can work (we went fairly early in the morning). Old South Carriage Company also owns a large farm where they take the horses every week for a couple of days or R&R, and then they get extended vacations there every couple of months as I recall. The horses we saw were all very handsome and in great shape…and David even seemed to enjoy his work!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1895, physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen (1845-1923) became the first person to observe X-rays, a significant scientific advancement that would ultimately benefit a variety of fields, most of all medicine, by making the invisible visible. Rontgen’s discovery occurred accidentally in his Wurzburg, Germany, lab, where he was testing whether cathode rays could pass through glass when he noticed a glow coming from a nearby chemically coated screen. He dubbed the rays that caused this glow X-rays because of their unknown nature.

X-rays are electromagnetic energy waves that act similarly to light rays, but at wavelengths approximately 1,000 times shorter than those of light. Rontgen holed up in his lab and conducted a series of experiments to better understand his discovery. He learned that X-rays penetrate human flesh but not higher-density substances such as bone or lead and that they can be photographed.

Rontgen’s discovery was labeled a medical miracle and X-rays soon became an important diagnostic tool in medicine, allowing doctors to see inside the human body for the first time without surgery. In 1897, X-rays were first used on a military battlefield, during the Balkan War, to find bullets and broken bones inside patients.

Scientists were quick to realize the benefits of X-rays, but slower to comprehend the harmful effects of radiation. Initially, it was believed X-rays passed through flesh as harmlessly as light. However, within several years, researchers began to report cases of burns and skin damage after exposure to X-rays, and in 1904, Thomas Edison’s assistant, Clarence Dally, who had worked extensively with X-rays, died of skin cancer. Dally’s death caused some scientists to begin taking the risks of radiation more seriously, but they still weren’t fully understood. During the 1930s, 40s and 50s, in fact, many American shoe stores featured shoe-fitting fluoroscopes that used to X-rays to enable customers to see the bones in their feet; it wasn’t until the 1950s that this practice was determined to be risky business. Wilhelm Rontgen received numerous accolades for his work, including the first Nobel Prize in physics in 1901, yet he remained modest and never tried to patent his discovery. Today, X-ray technology is widely used in medicine, material analysis and devices such as airport security scanners.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In honor of today being election day, here’s a story about one of our presidents: John F. “Jack” Kennedy most likely had the most active extramarital sex life of any president. He allegedly slept with Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Audrey Hepburn, Angie Dickinson, stripper Blaze Starr, Marlene Dietrich, and many other women including White House staffers, secretaries, stewardess, campaign workers, strippers, and acquaintances of trusted male friends. The FBI taped sounds of him and Inga Arvad making love.

If you’d like to read more interesting facts about the presidents, go to this link.

Gotta Watch Out for those Southern Gentlemen!

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The south has a reputation for being genteel and “propuh” (southern accent style). Manners matter here – through I’m sure not as much as they did in the years gone past.

All that brings me to today’s photo and story. Very recently, I took some time off from work and we went on a mini-vacation to the southern city of Charleston, South Carolina. We’d never been there before but we met up with some friends from CA who where there on vacation, too.  We had a great time and I came away very impressed with the history of Charleston!  (I’ll have numerous posts of photos I took there so will save a lot of those stories for later posts.)

One of the things you see on many of the buildings that date back to the 1700’s, etc., are balconies outside of upper floor doors. Those balconies usually face the street. Many of those balconies are semi-circular in shape and are made out of metalwork. Now here’s where it gets interesting: in days gone by, there was, of course, no air conditioning and Charleston gets hot and humid in the summers. One of the things that the southern belles used to do was to come out on the balconies all dressed in their several layers of clothing with their hoop skirts. That’s why so many of the balconies are semi-circular.

But it gets even better. The floors of those semi-circular balconies are typically made of solid metal, not metal grate. Why, you say? Well, the ladies would come out on their balconies and the southern gentlemen would engage them in conversations from the street below. If the balcony flooring was made of metal grate construction, the “gentlemen” could peek up the ladies’ skirts!!! So, the solution was that the flooring of the balconies would be made of a solid construction to maintain the modesty of the young ladies. Bear in mind that this was in the day and age when seeing a woman’s ankle was supposed to lead to a marriage proposal!  How things have changed…

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Today’s photo gives you an idea what I’m describing…but these were fairly small balconies compared to some of them.  And there were a few..not many, but a few…that were made with metal grate for the floors. I suspect those were constructed more recently, but who knows?  Maybe that was where the scandalous ladies met their scandalous southern suitors!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1983, David Hendricks, a businessman traveling in Wisconsin, called police in Bloomington, Illinois, to request that they check on his house and family. According to Hendricks, no one had answered the phone all weekend and he was worried. When the police and neighbors searched the home the next day, they found the mutilated bodies of Hendricks’ wife and three children, all of whom had been hacked to death with an ax and butcher knife.

Because there was very little sign of a struggle or forced entry, police thought the crime scene was suspicious. In addition, though the killings were brutal, the murder weapons had been cleaned and left neatly near the bodies. When Hendricks returned later that day, police questioned him and checked his clothes and car for bloodstains. But the search was inconclusive, and Hendricks’ alibi—that he had left for Wisconsin just before midnight on November 4—appeared solid.

Nevertheless, with no other leads, police began to examine Hendricks’ story more closely. He claimed that he had taken his family out for a pizza at about 7:30 on November 4. According to him, they then played in an amusement area and returned home at 9:30. Hendricks left for his business trip several hours later.

But after studying the children’s bodies, medical examiners concluded that Hendrick’s story did not quite fit. Ordinarily, food leaves the stomach and moves into the small intestine within two hours. However, in all three children, vegetarian pizza toppings were still in their stomachs, which led investigators to estimate their time of death sometime around 9:30—while Hendricks was still at home.

Police charged Hendricks with murdering his family, but they still lacked a concrete motive. The Hendricks family was devoutly religious, belonging to a puritan-like group called the Plymouth Brethren.Hendrick’s defense attorney hammered away at the only physical evidence against him, pointing out that physical activity or trauma can affect the rate of digestion. Still, the jury found Hendricks guilty of four counts of murder and he was sentenced to life imprisonment on December 21, 1988.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The bird pictured on the American silver dollar was a real eagle named Peter. From 1830 to 1836, people who worked at the United States Mint adopted him to use as model for the drawings. When he died after getting his wing injured in the coining press, they stuffed him. He is still on display in the lobby of the mint.