Thursday, October 26, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 322

Vernazza, Italy, 1967

A friend living in Italy found the above postcard in a flea market.  It is a used card dated 22 August 1967 and sent from Vernazza.  The identifier at the lower left on the reverse is 10889 Ed M. Ginocchio, La Spezia, printed by Rotalcolor.  The logos on the reverse show two sea horses with the initials M.G.S. between the tails, a world globe is featured at the top of the card also.  The panorama view is of the perched village of Vernazza one of the five towns making up the Cinque Terre region in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, in northwestern Italy.

The two stamps on the postcard are from the 1960s also and show sculpture profiles.

Vernazza was a fortified town as early as 1080.  The Italian noble family of Obertenghi used it as their maritime base.  Likely a departure point for naval forces in defense of pirates the tower on the point in the center of card is part of  Doria Castle built in the 1400s.   The other tall structure seen at the right in the photograph is the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia, first mentioned in 1318 but because of the materials and mode of construction it is thought the church was built probably some time in the 12th century.  It has been modified, expanded and renovated several times.  In the 16th or 17th century the octagonal bell tower was erected.

Vernazza provided a port, fleet, and soldiers in Genova’s conquest of Liguiria.  In the 1200s almost 90% of the most powerful families in Vernazza had pledged allegiance to the republic of Genova. 

Trivia:  A fortifying wall was erected in the 15th century as protection against repeated pirate raids.  The main product of Vernazza has been wine.  In the 19th century new terraces were added to the hillsides to increase the growing area.  UNESCO recognized the Cinque Terre as a World Heritage Site in 1999. In October 2011 flooding and mudslides as a result of torrential rains buried the town in over 13 ft or 4 m of mud and debris and caused more than 100 million euro damage.  The town remained in a state of emergency for many months.  Tourism is the main source of revenue today although fishing, wine, and olive oil are still being produced.

The postcard came with a letter in an envelope that had three beautiful new Italian stamps and one fun stamp of a Fiat 500 "one of the symbols of Italy, just like pizza and the Colosseum in Rome."  As always, thanks to my friend for sending the card and the stamps.  

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fall colors in the mountains . . .

The past few weeks we have been choosing days and places that would provide some cool, but not rainy, weather and fall colors.  One hike took us to Cottonwood and Mirror Lakes in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Park area.  The Northwest Forest Pass or a Senior park pass is required there.  That day also included a stop at Franklin Falls near Denny Creek.  And, of course, the obligatory stop at the candy store on the way home for marzipan and dark chocolates.  Then we missed a week due to weather and other commitments.  The next outing was to Beaver Plant and Ashland Lakes on the Mountain Loop Highway, Discover Pass required.  Both hikes were approximately 4 miles round trip. 

Lots of solitude, we saw 5 people and one dog on the hike to Cottonwood and Mirror Lakes.  We left the car about 1/2 mile from the trail head and walked up a steep, very eroded, rutty, rocky stretch of road, perhaps only suitable for an ATV to attempt, before entering the almost covered with vegetation trail.  Both lakes were calm and had wonderful reflections.  No facilities at the trail head or at the lakes.

The trail later opened up in places like the one shown and was in relatively good condition.

 Weathered sign for Cottonwood Lake, Mirror Lake and the Pacific Crest Trail

Fireweed gone to seed 

 Cottonwood Lake

 The hillside along the trail to Mirror Lake

 Mirror Lake living up to its name . . .

 Looking down from the Pacific Crest Trail on the forest colors from near Mirror Lake

 The perfect lunch spot to enjoy the view

 Tree ablaze with color along the Kachess highway

 The same day we took a slight detour along the Kachess Highway to admire the beautiful autumn leaves.  Most of the trees were vine maples with their green, yellow, orange, and bright red colors.

Bob has been making trips along the Kachess Highway for the past 15 years to see the colors and knew exactly where to stop to get the maximum displays. 

 Franklin Falls with rainbow

After the drive along the Kachess Highway we stopped for a short walk to Franklin Falls and timed it perfectly to see a rainbow through the mists.  Amazingly the rainbow dipped into the pool at the bottom of the falls as well.

 Trail marker to Beaver Plant & Ashland Lakes

Two weeks later we hiked to Beaver Plant and Ashland Lakes on the Mountain Loop.  This trail requires a Discover Pass.  It was well kept but much of the trail is over boggy areas and there are many boardwalks and a few stairs.  The camping areas have wooden platforms for tents.  It is like the rain forest with lush, greenery.  We did see a little bit of melting snow along the sides of the trail.  We only met 8 people and one dog this day.  The limited wildlife sightings included a dragonfly near the lake shore; a waterstrider bug, I had never seen one except on TV nature shows, a Douglas squirrel dashing across the trail, and a curious chipmunk who came close when we were having lunch then darted away.  The State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has had more funds to provide amenities than the federal US Forest Service, therefore, there are outhouses at the trail head and at each of the camping areas by the lakes. 

Bright red Bunchberry on a bed of moss

 Beaver Plant Lake

 There are lots of boardwalks along this trail

 Lily pads in Ashland Lake

 Typical fall colors along the shores of Ashland Lake

 The view from our lunch spot

We were able to have our lunch sitting on the dry platform behind the sign and enjoy another lakeside view

Thursday, October 19, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 321

Vintage poster postcard from Messageries Maritimes, early 1900s

The two postcards shared this week are modern color cards made from old advertising posters of the Messageries Maritimes, a French merchant shipping company that was created in 1851 and operated variously as Messageries nationales, Messageries impérials, and Compagnie des messageries maritimes or “Mes Mar” of M.M. until 1977 when it merged with Compagnie générale transatlantique to form Compagnie générale maritime.  In 1996 it was privatized and sold to Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement. 

These cards are identified as Pro-Artis/Droits reserves 1997, Paris, France, printed in Canada.  The card above has the number 72029 and the card below is 72026.  Since the cards were published in 1997 and the company was revamped in 1996 it seems reasonable to suggest that they were part of advertising or promotional material for the new company. 

The ships sailed from Marseilles, France serving the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, The Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the China Sea, and finally the Pacific Ocean.  From the place names on it the top card the poster looks to have come from the golden age of the company 1871-1914.  Also note the original M.M. flag, a rectangle with red corners, well known and recognized in shipping circles during that era.

Poster postcard from Messageries Maritimes, Chapollion, ca 1951

The more modern ship featured on the second card was first built in 1925.  The poster shows the ship with a single stack, the most recent modification that took place in 1951.  This ship, named the Champollion, after Jean-François Champollion a noted French scholar who is known as the decipherer of Egyptian hieroglyphs, had destinations in Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon.  The Champollion was a real luxury ship with one of the first dishwashers; bedrooms outfitted in teak and mahogany; bathroom mosaics, and forged iron elevators.  Her sister ship, the Mariette Pacha, was also a beautiful vessel but not quite as luxurious.  While the Champollion was modified and modernized several times the Mariette Pacha was not.  It was scuttled in 1944, cut in two by explosives in the port of Marseilles. 

The ships of this company were used as troop ships during the Crimean War.   The Champollion transported troops between Marseilles and Indochina in 1947 and was also used to transport nearly 1,000 Jewish emigrants from Marseilles to Palestine before the war and over 700 Jewish children in 1946. 

Only one year after the modernization in 1951, the Champollion sank in a terrible accident off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon in December of 1952.  New lights on an airfield were mistaken for the lighthouse, the ship took a wrong turn and sank during a storm. Even though the ship was relatively close to shore the storm prevented rescue units from reaching the ship in time to save everyone.  Two sisters swam to shore rather than wait for help to arrive.  Help eventually did arrive but out of the 120 member crew and 111 passengers the loss of life was 17 persons. 

For additional information, see:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 320

Madison Square, Oakland, California, 1907

Here is a second postcard sent by Sigrid “Taxi” Landaas Oliver from her trip to the Bay Area in October 1907.  This color-tinted card was produced by Paul C. Kroeber Company of New York and has the number 4215 at the lower left corner. 

The reverse side of the card is interesting because this was just before divided back cards became legal and it has a division for the sender’s address as well as the larger section for the addressee.

Reverse side of the postcard showing the division for addresses and the logo of the Paul C. Kroeber Company.

Only addresses were to be printed on the reverse side of the card, hence once again Sigrid has penned a short note in Norwegian in the margin on the front of the card sending greetings.  The date is 9 October 1907.  She says something like, “Here it is still extremely warm.  Greetings from Sigrid.”  Sigrid, her mother, Karen Landaas, sisters, Nora and Klara and their youngest brother, Trygve, all arrived in Seattle in 1902.  They were the last members of the large Peder Landaas family to come over from Norway and join the others who started arriving with Mikkeline “Maggie” who arrived in 1892.  

Sigrid Johanna Landaas, ca 1905

Madison Square has also been called Caroline Park and Dragon Park.  Caroline Park was established in the late 1800s and was known as Madison Square in the early 1900s.  It is located in the area of San Francisco known as Chinatown and was moved from its original space a block to the east to make room in 1965 for the BART Headquarters that also eventually moved in 2004 leaving the BART plaza, a flat even surface.  Local community efforts started a movement to renovate the park.  The result is that the park was moved and expanded and in the spring of 2008 celebrated a reopening of a newly transformed park.  There are statues of dragons here and there in the park, some partly buried and others complete.  In addition to local Tai Chi groups that meet in the park other activities include Qi Gong, Sword/Fan Dance, Taiwanese Dance, Line Dance, Stretching and Badminton.  Many of the participants are older residents of Chinatown.  There is also an ongoing oral history project to preserve memories of the area.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 319

St. Ignatius Cathedral, San Francisco, California, 1907

Sigrid “Taxi” Landaas Oliver took a trip to San Francisco in the fall of 1907.  The postcard above, with a photograph of earthquake damaged Saint Ignatius Cathedral, has a message in Norwegian written in pencil and addressed to her sister, Petra.  It is dated 3 October 1907.  That would be about a year and a half following the earthquake that damaged not only the buildings but also the gas lines and water lines, which subsequently caused fire and no water pressure for the firemen’s hoses eventually destroying about 80% of the city of San Francisco, and resulted in the deaths of about 3,000 people.  It is still remembered as one of the worst earthquakes in the United States and had a magnitude of 7.8.  

The pencil message from Sigrid is hard to read but from what I could make out it, it says that she arrived on 1 October and was having an excellent trip.  She was with M. Jansen and her friend Erica.  It was warm and there were many things to see.  She had not yet found Rier but she was thinking about returning on Sunday.  She sends greetings to Petra and her husband, Ingvald and the others.

Sigrid Johanna Landaas, ca 1907

Today Saint Ignatius is a Catholic church staffed by Jesuit priests found on the campus of the University of San Francisco and serves as the chapel for the university.  It was named for the Society of Jesus founder, Ignatius of Loyola.  The modern church is the fifth church with this name.  The first one, built in 1855, was a small wood-frame church located beside a school that became Saint Ignatius Academy, a forerunner of the current university.  A larger brick church replaced the wooden one.  Due to a dispute between the local priest and the Archbishop involving membership in the parish, in 1863 the archdiocese stripped Saint Ignatius of its parish status.  The photograph shows the rubble on the ground in front of the ruins of the third version built in 1880.   It could accommodate up to 4,000 worshippers.  It had only been in use for 25 years when it was destroyed by the earthquake and fire.  The fourth version, once again of wood, was hastily built following the disaster.  The fifth, and present church, was dedicated in 1914 and served as the university’s chapel until 1994 when the Archdiocese of San Francisco reinstated Saint Ignatius as a parish to include serving the surrounding neighborhood.  It survived the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and has recently been renovated and reinforced.  It is one of the largest churches in San Francisco and a prominent landmark.  A number of Bay Area artists have shown works in its Manresa Gallery.

No credits or publishing information is found on the black & white picture postcard, only the written note on the front at the lower left identifying the structure as “St. Ignatius Cathedral & School San Fr.”  The card is one of those interesting historical cards that allows us to peek into the past and see a small part of a momentous event. 

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Also:  check Google Images for pictures of the exterior and interior of the current church.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Cascade Pass, 2017

 This past week was my hiking test for this season.  Bob has been choosing days and places based on weather, distance, vertical gain, and available days free of various appointments and commitments.  All of our previous hikes throughout the spring and summer were to get in shape for the big one, Cascade Pass in the North Cascades National Park. 

This is a 7-½ mile round trip hike that starts at 3600 ft elevation and ends at 5400 ft elevation for a vertical gain of 1800 ft.  It took us 3-½ hours up and about 2-½ down. It is steady up all the way with between 35 and 37 switchbacks.   There are no dramatically steep places.  Yay!

 A section of the trail that goes through the forest

 Peek-a-boo views from the forest trail

 Fairy tale mushroom, pretty but poisonous, NOT edible and choice

 The weather was wonderful, sunny but cool enough to be comfortable on the way up.   Nice breezes at the pass and a good place to sit, eat lunch, and enjoy the splendors of nature.  The fall colors were in full array.  We saw lots of chipmunks, two different types of squirrels including the elusive reddish brown Douglas squirrel, a pika obliged by sitting long enough on a sunny stone for a picture.  Four or five people reported seeing large black bears, on the trail ahead and on the trail behind, and also a little past the pass, but we did not encounter any or even seen one from distance.  I was grateful for that.  It would be okay to see one from a safe distance but to come upon one ambling along the trail toward us would have been a definite bad idea as far as I am concerned. 

Pika sunning on the rocks.  These little guys are so shy, they are heard but not often seen.  

 Gorgeous fall colors along the open trail section

 Rock scree just before the pass

 Just to prove I was really there, the US Geological survey marker at the Pass

 Views from our lunch spot at the pass

Although Bob says he had no doubts I could do this, I really didn't think I could.  However, as you can see from the picture above, I did do it.  It was a 53 people no dog day, which would be rare except no dogs are allowed on this trail.  The views are splendid from every stopping place along the way beginning right at the trail head parking lot.  The main drawback is the 13 miles of very rough, gravel/dirt road approach to the trail head.  The washboard surface in several places was teeth rattling and jarring, the worst we have encountered ever.