Friday, September 30, 2016

Summer fun snapshots

My son, Q, and his wife and five children were out visiting us from Ohio this summer.  The weather co-operated and we had a great week doing fun things such as family gatherings, hiking in Mt. Rainier National Park and driving to the Pacific Ocean where we played on the beach and still had a little time left to do a short walk in the Hoh Rain Forest. 

At Mt Rainier we started all together taking the left trail near Myrtle Falls with Panorama Point on the Skyline trail as the objective.  As you can see from the photo above there were lots of stairs on sections of this trail.  We did see small patches of snow here and there and finally ahead there was more.  Where the trail divides at Golden Gate, Q and family took the left branch and continued on to Panorama Point.  Later they reported that the lower section was closed due to snow, the upper trail meant more up and a slightly longer hike but they did get to Panorama Point.  Bob and I went right and made the loop back toward the main parking area meeting them at the Paradise visitors center.

Lupine and magenta paintbrush

We hit almost the peak of the wildflower blooms making a spectacular display all along the way.

The Tatoosh Range from our side of the loop trail

There were several marmots, like this one posing in the heather, all along both loops

Mt. Rainier with wildflowers

Signs with distance and various destinations


With a limited number of days remaining we tried to pack in as much as we could.  A visit to the coast was high on the list and we really didn't have enough days left to stay over night so it would be a very long day, approximately 16 hours if we wanted to try to fit it in.  If Uncle B was able to get a day off he would come with us.  Even when they learned they would have to get up really, really early to catch the ferry everybody still wanted to go to the ocean.  So we did.  We chose to visit Second Beach because it does have a nice walk through a forest and a beach with sea stacks and a chance for tide pools.

  Q and B with S climbed up a sea stack . . .

 Everybody took off shoes and walked in the cold water . . .

Q about to be buried in sand . . .

It was a great day.  A misty morning that cleared with blue skies and clouds.  Not hot, not cold, just comfortable. 

 Plenty of tide pools . . .

Someone asked if we had been doing much hiking lately since nothing about hiking had been posted for a while.  The answer is, yes!  But with visitors from far and wide and trips to see others the time has slipped away and no reports have gone up recently

Thursday, September 29, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 266

Mitchell Point Tunnel, Columbia River Highway, Oregon, ca 1920s

The vintage Sawyer Scenic Photo postcard numbered CG 50 above shows the Mitchell Point Tunnel located toward the eastern end of the Historic Columbia River Highway in Oregon.  John Arthur Eliot, an engineer with the Oregon State Highway, was the designer.   To build the tunnel it was necessary to blast through solid rock 95 feet or 29 meters high up on the bluff of Mitchell Point above the Columbia River Gorge.  Five windows were carved out of the stone to offer scenic views of the Gorge and motorists could pause to see steamboats on the Columbia River below or look up at Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens.

When the tunnel opened for traffic in 1915 it was adequate for the small amount of automobiles in use but as the vehicles became larger and wider and truck transport became more common it was no longer able to accommodate them.  To avoid collisions traffic signals were installed at each of the tunnel entrances and it became a one-way road.  By the 1930s the tunnel was considered inadequate for modern traffic.  In the 1950s a new, wider, river-level route was built at the base of Mitchell Point.  The tunnel was abandoned with the windows bricked up, the tunnel filled with rock and the access roads blocked until 1966 when Interstate 84 was being widened and the Mitchell Point Tunnel was destroyed.  Today there is an ongoing Historic Columbia River Highway restoration effort by the Oregon Department of Transportation with plans to re-create the tunnel.

Carlton Sawyer started producing Sawyer Scenic Photos postcards Portland, Oregon beginning in 1911.  In 1918 the brothers, Fred and Ed Mayer bought part of the business and joined him.  By 1926 Harold Graves had also joined the group and was responsible for Sawyer’s souvenir sets of scenic photographs.  These sets were expanded to include greeting cards to be sold in department stores.  Another person who joined the company was Wilhelm Gruber who was originally a piano tuner and organ builder who also became a photographer.  Gruber and Graves worked together using the new color film Kodachrome and in 1939 updated old fashioned stereo postcard images to the View-Master.  View-Master images were designed to be an alternative to postcards and proved to be very popular.  The Sawyer Company has since changed hands several times with the current View-Masters being manufactured by Fisher-Price.

For more information, see:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 265

Alexander Column, Saint Petersburg, Russia, ca 1972

Years ago Bob’s cousin, Boris, sent several postcards from St. Petersburg including this one above of the Alexander Column.  It looks like it has photo credits and a brief explanation of the monument on the reverse of the card; however, I do not have Cyrillic on my computer or access to a Russian translating option so I am not able to share the information at this time.  The part that is decipherable in English shows that the card was printed in Moscow and dated 1972. 

The column is located in the Palace Square of Saint Petersburg and named after Emperor Alexander I of Russia who reigned from 1801 to 1825.  It is a monument to the Russian victory in the war with Napoleon’s France. 

The column stands 155 feet 8 inches or 47.5 meters high and has an angel holding a cross at the top.  It is made of red granite from Finland that was transported by sea to Saint Petersburg on a barge.  Architects Auguste de Montferrand and Antonio Adamini designed the monolith, which took approximately four years to complete from 1830 to 1834.  The red granite pillar is held in place by its weight of 661 tons or 600 tonnes and took 3,000 men less than two hours to set it in place on the base.  Giovanni Battista Scotti sculpted the pedestal that has decorated bas-reliefs featuring symbols of military glory.  The cast-iron railing around the column was removed during the Soviet period but restored in 2002.

For additional information, see:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 264

 Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California

These two postcards show view of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.  Both cards are unused from 1990.  The photograph on the card above was taken by Ken Glaser, Jr. and is numbered C-234 on the reverse.  The picture on the card below shows an aerial panorama of the estate and was taken by Mike Roberts of Oakland, California.  The number CSF-231 is found on the reverse.  Smith Novelty Company of San Francisco, California, distributed both cards.

Aerial view of the Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California

The Winchester Mystery House estate was on six acres, which was reduced to 4.5 acres, has 160 rooms and was said in some accounts to have kept carpenters busy 24 hours a day for 38 years but another account stated that there were some periods of time when workers were dismissed and then rehired to continue on the project.  Sarah Winchester the widow of gun manufacturer William Wirt Winchester began construction on the mansion in 1884 without the benefit of an architect adding here and there in a haphazard fashion and creating oddities such as stairs that go nowhere and windows overlooking other rooms.   Mrs. Winchester inherited a large sum of money and had earnings from the Winchester Repeating Arms Company after her husband died.  The odd configuration of the house and her belief in ghosts led to it being referred to as the Winchester Mystery House.  She consulted a spiritual medium that told her in order to appease the spirits of those who had died from wounds inflicted by Winchester rifles she needed to build the house. 

Trivia:  It takes 20,500 gallons of paint to paint the house.  The house is on a floating foundation that allows it to shift freely during earthquakes.  It is this type of foundation that is believed to have prevented total collapse during the large quakes in 1906 and 1989.  The house has 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, two basements, three elevators and over 10,000 panes of glass.  There are gold and silver chandeliers, hand in-laid parquet floors and trim.  Mrs. Winchester had easy riser stairways installed so she could move about freely even though she could only lift her feet a few inches due to debilitating arthritis.  Only one restroom had a working toilet all the others were decoys to confuse spirits.  Mrs. Winchester slept in a different bedroom each night also to confuse the ghosts.  For its time the home had very modern conveniences such as indoor toilets and plumbing, push-button gas lights, and a hot water shower.  The Tiffany Company created many of the windows.  The designs included spider webs and the number 13.  The drain covers in the sinks had 13 holes, wall clothes hooks are in multiples of 13, there is even a topiary tree shaped like the numeral 13.  Every Friday the 13th a large bell is rung 13 times at 1300 hours or 1 pm as a tribute to Mrs. Winchester. 

At the time of her death in 1923 the house was still unfinished and deemed more or less worthless due to some earthquake damage and the impractical design.  The house was not included in her will and was eventually sold at auction to a private investor for $134,000 and subsequently opened to the public about 6 months later.  All her other possessions passed to her niece who took what she wanted and sold the rest at auction.

For additional information about the house and also about it in popular culture, see:

Thursday, September 8, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 263

 Women with water jars along the Nile River, ca 1915

I found this interesting, different sized postcard in a small local antique shop.  The sepia toned photograph shows Egyptian women filling and carrying water jars along the banks of the Nile River.  A line of palm trees can be seen on the opposite shore.  The card has crinkled edges and measures 5 ½ inches by 2 ½ inches; most cards are 3 X 5 or 4 X 6.  This one has barely enough room for an address to say nothing of a message but a message has been included. 

Carrying burdens on the head like the women in the picture instead of on the back is common in many places throughout the world and has been since ancient times.  This practice would certainly require good posture and balance as well as a strong neck.  Water would have been needed every day and these water jugs must have been extremely heavy.  


Used postcards can have so many unanswered questions about places and people.  Although it is not possible to decipher the cancellation date with any degree of accuracy, the sphinx and pyramid stamp on the card was a design that was used between 1888 and 1940.  Most divided back cards date from around 1907 suggesting this card was sent after that time.   I did a little poking around to see if I could date the card by the addressee, Mrs. Fred Graham of Hepburn, Iowa.  I found Elizabeth L. Dyke married to Fred Graham in 1908.  Their first child was one year and 2 months old when the 1910 census was taken.  Their second child was age 7 on the 1920 census.   

The message on the card reads:  “Howdy Lizzie—How are the little flock by this time.  This child is well and having the time of her life.  It is not all work by any means, it is fun and good times half the time.  With best wishes to you and Fred—from Floren.”  The term “little flock” implies more than one child so with this information it is possible to estimate the date of this card to about 1913 to the early 1920s.  That coincides with a period of extreme interest and fascination with Egyptian archeology and the discovery of the tomb of King Tut by Howard Carter in 1922.  The late 1800s and early 1900s was also a time when there were many single women that traveled to exotic places some of whom wrote about their experiences.  Did the writer of this postcard work on an archeological dig or was she an intrepid lady traveler?

Lizzie, Mrs. Fred Graham, ca 1912
[photo:  Ancestry. com]

It was doubly fun to find a photograph on of Lizzie, Mrs. Fred Graham.  I think she looks a bit like the kind of woman who might have a friend or sister as an archeologist or intrepid lady adventurer such as Amelia Peabody the fictional creation of Elizabeth Peters.  If Floren or Florence had included her surname on the card we might have been able to find a photo of her as well.  But for now, she remains a mystery as the does the unanswered question of how this card ended up in an antique shop in Seattle, Washington 100 years after it was sent to Hepburn, Iowa.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 262

 Old Day House, West Springfield, Massachusetts, ca 1909

This used 1909 vintage postcard has a picture of the Josiah Day House built 1754 in West Springfield, Massachusetts.  Today the house is owned by the Ramapogue Historical Society and was added to the list of the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.  It is the oldest known brick saltbox house in the United States.  The Springfield News Company published the card.

The saltbox is a traditional New England style of architecture with a long pitched roof that slopes down to the back.  There would be two stories in the front section of the house and one story at the back.  As the family grew a lean-to was added to the two story front portion as an economical way to enlarge the house.  In some of the very early versions of saltbox houses the lean-to section might have a ceiling less than six feet from the ground level.  This style was popular throughout the colonial period.  Usually the houses were wood frame construction, however, the Josiah Day house is mostly built of brick.  A central chimney and a flat front exterior are usual with a long, low rear roof line being the most distinctive feature.  The entire structure resembles that of the wooden lidded boxes used to store salt of that time.  Metal nails were used sparingly so many of the joints were held together with wooden pegs, braces and trusses or mortise-and-tenon joints. 

Josiah Day purchased the land in 1746 and by 1754 the house was completed.  The house ownership was passed from generation to generation of the Day family.  The last resident of the home was Lydia Day who died in 1902.  Following her death the home was sold in 1903 to the Ramapogue Historical Society.  The main part of the house has remained as it was originally but the back portion was added to in 1812.   The Ramapogue Historical Society has preserved the house in its original state and offers tours on special town days or holidays.  Day family items such as a writing desk, high boy, tables and bedroom furniture remain in the house.  Other items and artifacts are time period appropriate. 

For more information, see: