Friday, December 16, 2011

Valley Christmas Folk Traditions

The three solemn holy days that span the darkest days of winter are also paired with folk customs that include performances in masks and other disguises. The holy days are All Souls, Christmas, and Lent; Halloween, Belsnickling, and Mardi Gras are the folk traditions coupled with the holy days.

Pelsnickling, as it was called locally, was a popular rural amusement, especially among the Pennsylvania-German settlers living in the western side of the Shenandoah Valley and eastern West Virginia. Pelsnickling or Belsnickling occurred during the last half of December. Also during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries similar customs adopted by other ethnic groups in the Shenandoah Valley were Kris Kringling, Shanghaiing, and urban mumming. Belsnickling derived from the earlier activities of the Belsnickle.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. Dewey!

Image from member Eigappleton Some rights reserved
Born on Dec. 10th, 1851 in Adams Center, Jefferson County, New York, Melville Dewey is best known as the inventor of the Dewey Decimal Classification System that bears his name and is used in libraries world wide. Often dubbed the Father of Modern Librarianship, Dewey developed much more than a filing system.

In 1872, as a sophomore at Amherst College, he invented the Dewey Decimal Classification System which was the beginning of many contributions to the field of Library Science. In 1876 he co-founded the American Library Association. In 1887 he established the first professional library school in the United States at Colombia University. He also co-founded and edited Library Journal which is still the major library publication today. Fortunately for the Journal, his passion for simplifying spelling did not catch on with the masses. He did found the Spelling Reform Association in 1886 and changed the spelling of his name from Melville to Melvil.

Friday, December 2, 2011

"A date which will live in infamy"

December 7, 1941
7:58 am
Pearl Harbor

“[I]t was a day, they would never would be changed by what was happening in Hawaii.” [i]

December 6, 1941
9:30 pm. General Walter C. Short returning from the Schofield Barracks Officers’ Club looked down on Pearl Harbor at the Pacific Fleet ablaze with lights. “Isn’t that a beautiful sight?” signed General Short, adding thoughtfully, “and what a target they would make.” [ii]

December 7, 1941
2:00 am. Ensign Malcolm discovered he would never make the last launch to the Arizona. He spent the night at on the floor of Captain D.C. Emerson house where with three other officers they argued about Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points. [iii]

3:58 am. After following a trailing wake for sixteen minutes, Ensign R.C. McCloy on the small minesweeper Condor blinked to the destroyer Ward “sighted submerged submarine on westerly course, speed nine knots.” [iv]

6:00 am. Mrs. Blackmore dropped-off her husband, the chief engineer of the tug Keosanqua. Returning in the first gray light of day Mrs. Blackmore observed “this is the quietest place I’ve ever seen.” [v]

6:45 am. At the Army’s Opana radar station, which had just started operating around Thanksgiving and was full of bugs, the 4:00 to 7:00 shift was about to close-up, when a flicker on the radar screen noted a couple of planes about 130 miles away. [vi]

6:53 am. Skipper, Lieutenant William W. Outerbridge of the destroyer Ward, radioed the Fourteenth Naval District “attacked, fired on, depth bomb, and sunk submarine operating in defensive area.” [vii]

7:08 am. Private Lockhart, who stayed behind at Opana reported to Private Joseph McDonald at the Army information center switchboard “blips 113 miles away traveling at almost 180 mph”... “at 7:39 22 miles away.” [viii]

7:45 am. Mess Attendant Walter Simmons was setting the table in the officers’ wardroom at Kaneohe Naval Air Station, but no one had turned-up to eat. [ix]

7:53 am. Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, so sure of victory that before the first bombs fell signaled, the carriers “Tora...tora...tora....” [x] (“tiger, tiger, tiger” was code for a successful surprise attack)

7:54 am. James B. Mann, Jr. stood with his father outside their beach house at Haleiwa on the northeast coast Oahu saw more then 100 planes above. James Jr. observed “they’ve changed the color of our planes.” [xi]

7:58 am: The alarm sounded: "Air raid, Pearl Harbor. This is not drill!" [xii]

Most of the information in this post is quoted from this absorbing book. This book is still, after more than sixty years since publication, a must read for those interested in WWII, and it is available at your local public library.

[i] Walter Lord. Day of Infamy. Henry Holt and Company, NY. 1957. Foreword.
[ii] 4.
[iii] 8.
[iv] 27.
[v] 34.
[vi] 43.
[vii] 39.
[viii] 44-45.
[ix] 57.
[x] 63.
[xi] 48.
        1. 9:30pm, Dec. 6
        2. 2:00am, Dec. 7
        3. 3:58am; 6:53am
        4. 6:00am
        5. 6:45am; 7:08am
        6. 7:45am
        7. 7:54am
        8. 7:58am