Tag Archives: New Orleans

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.

 

 

The Bead Trees of New Orleans

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There are many reasons why New Orleans is an interesting town.  Do you love jazz?  You’ll love NOLA!  Bluegrass?  You’ll love NOLA!  Cajun music?  You’ll love NOLA!  Cajun food?  Eat up!  Hot, humid weather?  You’ll feel right at home in New Orleans!

The city itself is very diverse in terms of its cultural and ethnic make-up.  There are great museums, tourist sites, fascinating cemeteries, incredible homes and gardens.

But, I’ll bet that you didn’t know that they have bead trees in New Orleans.  It’s true!  Today’s photo is proof for those of you who are skeptics.  Look closely at the tree and the branches in the foreground and you’ll see ’em, growing on the branches, hanging there until they’re ripe and then they’ll fall.  You can’t eat them, they’re just pretty to look at is all.  That, and, well, I guess that they harvest them for the parades when it is time!

Next time you go to the garden district in New Orleans, look up and be amazed!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  on this day in 1940, the Burke-Wadsworth Act was passed by Congress, by wide margins in both houses, and the first peacetime draft in the history of the United States is imposed. The Selective Service was born.

The registration of men between the ages of 21 and 36 began exactly one month later, as Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, who had been a key player in moving the Roosevelt administration away from a foreign policy of strict neutrality, began drawing draft numbers out of a glass bowl. The numbers were handed to the president, who read them aloud for public announcement. There were some 20 million eligible young men—50 percent were rejected the very first year, either for health reasons or illiteracy (20 percent of those who registered were illiterate).

In November 1942, with the United States now a participant in the war, and not merely a neutral bystander, the draft ages expanded; men 18 to 37 were now eligible. Blacks were passed over for the draft because of racist assumptions about their abilities and the viability of a mixed-race military. But this changed in 1943, when a “quota” was imposed, meant to limit the numbers of blacks drafted to reflect their numbers in the overall population, roughly 10.6 percent of the whole. Initially, blacks were restricted to “labor units,” but this too ended as the war progressed, when they were finally used in combat.

“Conscientious objector” status was granted to those who could demonstrate “sincerity of belief in religious teachings combined with a profound moral aversion to war.” Quakers made up most of the COs, but 75 percent of those Quakers who were drafted fought. COs had to perform alternate service in Civilian Public Service Camps, which entailed long hours of hazardous work for no compensation. About 5,000 to 6,000 men were imprisoned for failing to register or serve the nation in any form.

By war’s end, approximately 34 million men had registered, and 10 million served with the military.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The Norwalk virus or Norovirus (the virus that causes the stomach flu) can survive on an uncleaned carpet for a month or more.

Joanie on the Pony!

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The city of New Orleans is always full of surprises.  When we stopped there on our way across the country so that my Iowa cousin could see it and hear some jazz, we took at “hop-on, hop-off” tour.  We had a great tour guide on the bus – full of fascinating and interesting facts – and also blessed with a great sense of humor.

We saw so many places on the bus tour that took about 2-3 hours and we went all over the French quarter.  At one point, we came across the statue that you see in today’s photo (taken with my point-and-shoot).  It is a statue of Joan of Arc.  Our tour guide, however, introduced her to us, telling us that in New Orleans, everyone calls her “Joanie on the Pony”!  Giddyap!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1965, the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) began arriving in South Vietnam at Qui Nhon, bringing U.S. troop strength in South Vietnam to more than 125,000. The unit, which had a long and storied history, was the first full U.S. Army division deployed to Vietnam. The division consisted of nine battalions of airmobile infantry, an air reconnaissance squadron, and six battalions of artillery. The division also included the 11th Aviation Group, made up of three aviation battalions consisting of 11 companies of assault helicopters, assault support helicopters, and gunships.

The division used a new concept by which the ground maneuver elements were moved around the battlefield by helicopters. Initially deployed to the II Corps area at Qui Nhon, the division took part in the first major engagement between U.S. and North Vietnamese forces during the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley fought in November, just two months after the division began arriving in Vietnam. Later, the division moved further north to I Corps in 1968 to relieve the embattled U.S. Marines at Hue during the Tet Offensive; in October of the same year, they redeployed to III Corps to conduct operations to protect Saigon; and in 1970, the division took part in the invasion of Cambodia and conducted operations in both III and IV Corps (the Mekong Delta). Thus, the 1st Cavalry Division, popularly known as the “First Team,” was the only American division to fight in all four corps tactical zones. The bulk of the division began departing Vietnam in late April 1970, but the 3rd Brigade remained until June 1972. The 1st Cavalry Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and “First Team” soldiers won 25 Medals of Honor, 120 Distinguished Service Crosses, 2,766 Silver Stars, 2,697 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 8,408 Bronze Stars for Valor.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Hershey’s produces over 80 million chocolate Kisses–every day.  That’s a lot of kisses!  XOXOXOXO