|Posted by bebowreinhard on May 11, 2013 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
Memories of Marshall Fields.
Who really cares about a defunct department store? Well, it turns out a lot of people do. There is a Facebook page devoted to Marshall Fields, and to hear people talk about it, you wonder why it ever disappeared—a place where truly, the customer was always right.
Marshall Fields, the man, opened his first store in 1892 and “Give the lady what she wants" became one of the enduring hallmarks of the Marshall Field’s department store. The Chicago Landmark, now a Macy’s store, is a 12-story building that spreads across an entire block on State Street. While iconic MF décor was retained, such as the first and largest Tiffany glass tile ceiling in the world, Chicago architect Daniel Burnham’s original fountain and the original name plaques and signature bronze clocks remain, so many people who can compare the two will agree that Macy’s can never be Marshall Fields. It’s hard to believe that it was only back in 2007 that Macy’s took over this franchise, because the idealism with which memories are wrought seem like they belong back in the 1800s.
I took on the task of finding out what Marshall Fields was like from the 1930s to the 1960s because of a fiction novel I’m writing that carries the name in its title. What you’ll see here are a compilation of memories, along with some research that I’ve done that will appear in the book. I welcome any and all feedback! My hope here is that more people will share what they remember based on this, or this will jog their memories, or that they will tell me if I’ve gotten something wrong before I try to get “Dinner at Marshall Field’s” published.
(it won't let me add photos to a blog)
Field’s in the 1930’s was focused on maintaining and advancing a strong sales and service culture. “Give the Lady What She Wants!” was driven by the belief that “enthusiasm, plus knowledge, plus courtesy, equals good selling.”
Pamela Day Vlies remembers the elevator, how the operator always called out what floor they were approaching, and you could hear different dinging sounds, depending on what floor it was. You could even tell the operator what you were interested in purchasing and he’d know just where to take you.
Many people in Chicago would choose the iconic clock outside Marshall Field’s to meet under. Michele Eisenberg shared an old wives’ tale about it: “It’s said to be one of several places in the world where you’ll run into people you know.” Jean C. said her parents always met under the clock when they were courting. Her mother worked there, and she knew her way around as well as she did at home. She knows about the suicides that prompted them to put wire screening around the open spaces on the upper floors.
Bob Eltzholtz remembers, “You used to be able to get from O'Hare to Fields on the Blue Line without ever going outside. And when you got to Fields, you thought you were still at O'Hare because the luggage section had a cool light installation to mirror the colored tiles at O'Hare.”
When asked about their memories, invariably people talk about Frango’s, the mint chocolates. Macy’s brought back this Field’s signature “a couple of years ago,” according to Vlies. Frangos were created in Seattle by someone at the Frederick & Nelson Department Store back in 1918 and re-formulated and introduced in Chicago in 1929. Frango mints were produced in large melting pots on the 13th floor of the State Street building until 1999, when the demand for the candy overwhelmed the in-house facility. Tinney Heath, a fellow author, likes to pretend she’s in the 60s when she buys the candies today.
The Walnut Room remains on Macy’s 7th Floor as the major restaurant event, especially at Christmastime, where its centerpiece is a three-story tall Christmas tree. That tree used to be real, but starting in the mid-1960s it was replaced by an artificial one. Vlies remembers the tree as being huge, “but I was little.” Steve A. in Omaho, too, saw a tree as tall as eight stories, probably going right up the center of the building, and it could, too, as the center of the store is open, with four sided floors going up at least seven stories, and up up into the 9th.
(got a great photo looking down into the heart of the store from above, ask me if you want a copy)
Jean C. disagrees: It started in the Walnut Room and went up to the 9th floor. Considering the size of the building, I have to agree with her! While it seems the building was built to put a tree right into the heart of it, finding one that tall would have been very difficult.
Everyone remembers the Christmas window displays, because perhaps Marshall Field’s took such care in putting them up. Michele Eisenberg thought of them right off when asked and Tinney Heath called them “truly amazing.” They often included moving parts, and demonstrated the fantasy that was Christmas in all its many myths.
For those who do not remember that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was an icon of Montgomery Wards, you might also be surprised to learn that Field’s too had a Christmas icon. His name was Uncle Mistletoe. He was a bright, cheery fellow with a black top hat and heavy red overcoat. Uncle Mistletoe was introduced in 1947 and was Field’s holiday ambassador through the 1970’s. He had his own TV show from 1948 to 1952 and was a fixture at the Cozy Cloud Cottage in the store alongside Santa through the early 1980’s.
A floor for toys, and a floor for books, remembered Heath, and kids treats like ice cream clowns. Jean C. used to watch the model train for hours while her mother shopped in the toy department. These memories indicate how much in awe children could be when visiting this department store. Heath still has one of the MF signature shopping bags, in dark green.
Earle Garber will never forget the Ambrosia Chocolate Shop, also on the lower level. Jean C. shared what she remembers about places to eat there when I was doing research on a counter service for the novel: “The Walnut room was always the more elegant of the dining rooms and rarely changed. They never had a counter but there were several other restaurants. The Narcissus Room was more casual but still not counter service, the English Room which may be the one with counter service; I don't recall because Mom never liked it. That eventually became a sandwich and salad restaurant. In the 70s they had The Bowl and Basket (I think that was the name) which was behind the cafeteria and was mainly soup and sandwiches. And yes, they had a cafeteria. There was also a room across from the English Room, which at one time was mostly pasta dishes, but before that I couldn't say because, again, Mom didn't care to go there. When we went to Field's it was lunch in the Narcissus Room and afternoon tea in the Walnut Room. The only counter service I remember distinctly was in the food court in the basement in the 90s, and an ice cream parlor sort of affair on 7, but again that was the 80s and 90s.” Marshall Field’s had more places that served lunch than supper because of attracting business people and people on the way home would often stop at the diner for coffee and pie before the long trek home. (Jean shared a copy of a floor plan but I couldn't insert it here.)
Yes, not all of these memories have dates, but that doesn’t matter. They’re all Marshall Field’s, and they’re all gone now. Although you could let me know if you find someone you know under the clock, because that clock (and its legend) is still there.
Janet Elaine Smith remembers the lemon meringue pie, and eating in the basement diner, the one that’s featured in my novel. It took some doing to find out more about this diner, though. One of my contacts who declined to be named said that the best bet for a diner was in the basement – just a little diner with a waitress and counter service. The Fountain Dinette was located in the Basement Store on the South State side of the building. Today this would be right below where the women’s cosmetics are sold and close to the subway entrance to the store. They had what was called bargain basement – not clearance items, but more like having a K-mart in the basement of a Macy’s.
Something that I didn’t remember at all until I was told: The store itself closed at 6 p.m. back in the 60s and was never open on Sunday.
Marshall Field’s would never discriminate, or like one fellow thought—that the basement shopping was for black people. That just wasn’t true. Anyone could shop anywhere and they liked it when people just explored and dreamed about what they could get someday. And also, you never knew when someone was going to become rich and you don’t want to shun anyone for not having the money at any time. Marshall Field’s loved the American dream.
Steve A. said that you went to Marshall Field’s because you lived in Chicago. But when I lived in Eau Claire, I went to Marshall Field’s because it was the only decent clothing store in town. Oh, they had others. But this was the only decent one. By 2005, though, that’s all it was. Just another Younkers. It’s hard to say when things began to change. Perhaps in the early 60s, when instead of a real tree, they began to put up an artificial one. Perhaps when they put Uncle Mistletoe to bed for the last time.
Jean noted: “Another thing I remember is that until the 1980s the store was pretty much stuck in the 1930s/40s. When I was little, it was sort of art deco glam, really elegant, you know? But by the 70s it was looking very down-at-the-heels and badly needed renovating.”
And it got renovation. Hinky Dink Kenna’s in the basement was opened as a brand new restaurant as part of a restoration of the entire State Street store between 1987-1992. During this restoration the lower level was transformed essentially from the bargain basement into the look and feel it has today. Gone was bargain basement. In 2003 InField sports bar replaced Hinky Dink Kenna’s.
Marshall Field’s was one of the first places you could say “charge it.” They had revolving credit even in the 1800s, but only for exclusive clients. You had to qualify and that was hard to do. People used to get Marshall Field’s to deliver just to show off to their neighbors. Jean Hibben remembers the first time she could say “charge it.” Marshall Field’s issued her credit when she was young and no one else would. She still remembers the pleasure of that day, a pleasure many of us regret now, I’m sure.
Yes, Marshall Field’s is a memory now, because times have changed. I still remember the shock and horror I felt when I heard that ALL Marshall Field’s had been taken over by Macy’s. But we can’t go back, as much as we’d like to. We can only remember.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on March 21, 2013 at 12:05 AM||comments (3)|
Okay, gang, first lesson in giving a paper at a conference. Don't set yourself up to be an outsider.
What does that mean? if you're a historian, do you belong with a group of archaeologists? Maybe. But only if you don't advertise that you're a historian. What do they need to know that for?
If you're in a group of Mesoamerican scholars, learn the lingo. Find someone who knows Spanish - I happen to have a Mexican stepdad I did not use - and practice those place names until the words just roll off your tongue. You will feel like a native, and no one will turn a deaf ear to your presentation.
This is just a handful of mistakes I made on the March 16 Mesoamerican Conference in Chicago. I also didn't take notes, so I couldn't walk around afterward and chat with people about the illuminating things I thought I heard them say.
I remained what I appeared--an outsider.
I don't expect most people to understand this. Most people aren't like me, poking my nose where it doesn't belong. But actually, it was very fortuitous that this opportunity came along when it did, because I wrote a piece for a website - at their request - and turned it in last January and they still haven't used it. Well, it was probably crap because I worked on it too quickly and gave myself an unrealistic timeline on a subject of which I knew little.
But this presentation allowed me to do the same material in a powerpoint, and actually, that's another thing. If I had stuck to the paper and not added all that material about connections, it might have been better, because it was a little controversial and no one knew me.
There were problems with this conference that I did not appreciate. I don't know if anyone ever heard me say if something's going to go wrong, it's going to happen to me? Well, first they didn't use nametags. I've always depended on those to help me find people I want to talk to. Without them I'd go, "Are you so-and-so? No?" And then move on to the next person. Uh-uh. And then with only 15 timed minutes apiece, there was no Q&A and particularly no time for rebuttal.
Such as in my case, where a presenter after me, one Helen Pollard, who apparently likes to criticize people, did not like two of my sources and let everyone know it. But Dorothy Hosler has done a lot more work on West Mexico copper and bronze than this woman and why should we listen to her? But we had to because she was loud and opinionated and "has been in the business for 40 years and has the right to pontificate." But to use the amount of tin per copper to declare that the Mexicans were only accidentally creating bronze? How does that not indicate they were entering a Bronze Age?
She also dislikes Dorothy Washburn's analysis of cacao residue in containers from Illinois to Florida, which I referred to as part of the trade network we know must have existed. She called that testing inadequate and likely contamination (eating a chocolate bar in the lab? Isn't there a difference?), even though the report came out in American Archaeology's last issue. This is ignorance of the idea that the further from the source, the less residue each container could have. Alice Kehoe was there because she begged a ride off me; good friends with Helen (they had lunch together without me at my request), she defended that postion, saying, "We know Dottie Washburn quite well." Well, if you do, why haven't you talked to her about this so she didn't reveal this information prematurely?
But anyway. Controversy happens in this field, right? And the Chicago Archaeology Society people were there and they said I can do my copper presentation for them in September anyway. I just promised I wouldn't use any Mesoamerican words.
And now - as I promised:
DISCLAIMER: There is a website out there that pretends to capture the essence of the Oconto Copper Burial museum, but which, I'm told (because I refuse to look) is so full of inaccuracies that one very devoted volunteer turned in her resignation because no one would fix it. For anyone who knows that I was once associated with that museum, I want you to know that anything related to that museum now is done without my input., and perhaps even exaggerated with the hopes of getting more visitors. There may yet be sites out there on which my name is still attached, and for that, I'm sorry, too. How will you know this offensive site? I'm told because it has more than the usual share of misspellings. Fair warning.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on November 7, 2012 at 11:05 AM||comments (0)|
I know I made some people mad this political season. But hopefully I had good reasons.
I have always been a passionate person. I think it helps carry me through writing a novel. It helps me get things done when I really believe in what I’m doing. I’m not the type to just shrug my shoulders and go back to watching TV.
But this presidential election I became fearful, and that’s never a good thing when it comes to voting. It’s never good to say, oh my god, if we let that guy win we’re all doomed! I saw many Republicans doing that and swore I would not let fear dominate me.
Honestly, I don’t know what they were afraid of. We’ve already lived through Obama’s first four years and the next four can only get better. But when you hear some companies say that they will lay people off if Obama gets re-elected, then you get some idea where their fear comes from. Many companies, for instance, fear Obamacare, but they don’t want to wait and give it a chance to work.
My fear came from a completely different area. I am editing a book for my co-partner in Dancing with Cannibals, and it is all about oppressive regimes in Africa. We all know America has had a less than stellar history in messing with other countries, installing dictators who are friendly to our resource interests. It’s not a good thing to do, and for the countries in Africa, after colonialism ended, the regimes didn’t care at all about making improvements to the country but just took the money they made on resources and kept it for themselves. We know this is happening, but editing this book of Dicho’s has thrust me right into the middle of it.
The problem is, once those dictators are in there, how do we get them out? How do we know the next one won’t be just as bad? Should we depend on the internal uprisings, and support them? We never supported Fidel Castro overthrowing our Juan Baptiso, or whatever his name was, back in 1959. And that has made our relations with Cuba so strained. There was talk that Kennedy was going to try to improve relations with Castro before he was killed. That would have been the right thing to do.
Anyway, as a Democrat, I heard all the talk about how all the rich people and companies and Koch Brothers, etc., are supporting the Republican Party, and that seemed to me like another attempt of the rich to take over another country and make the rest of us poor – kind of like creating a third world country right here. That’s why there was so much talk about defending the middle class in America. Because without unions and good public schools, our country is lost to oppression.
So yeah, put all that together and you can see why I got a little passionate this election.
Then there was my husband, who I encouraged to run for state assembly. He was asked during the height of his busy season on the golf course and was inclined to say no. But I told him they want you, and you’ll never get another chance if you say no. The Democrats were trying to get as many people as they could to run against incumbent Republicans, who dominate the assembly in Wisconsin. I knew I would have to do most of the work until his season ended, but I also gave him ideas that he could handle when he wasn’t busy. Finally, after knocking on some doors and getting my teeth kicked in, and seeing he wasn’t making the phone calls or otherwise worrying about it, I turned my attention to other ideas.
Nothing I tried worked very well, and I can’t say it’s because we didn’t have Democratic assistance. I’m very grateful to the people who tried to help us. But the insistence on fund raising was contrary to our abilities. I don’t like to think we have to have money to win in politics. I know they all say we do. But Joe did not want to call people and ask for money. And I could not. With his over a decade as town chairman, he should have called a lot of people asking for support, but he didn’t. He didn’t get anyone to write him a letter of support to the newspapers. The day before the elections he finally went door to door by himself, and he had a great time. If only we’d known that sooner!
So for the most part, we hoped that a Democratic win by the others in our state would pull him and other assembly candidates into the win column. For that reason, too, I really pushed, at least on Facebook, to convince others to vote Democrat.
And now I’m exhausted—I’m like the balloon with the slow leak that’s about out of air. I think we all have to direct our passion where it suits us best. I think worrying that whoever wins is going to lead the country down the wrong path is the wrong thing to do.
But one thing I will add, before you go. The Tea Party must go. The people who insist on mixing religion with politics must stop. This country is one of diversity and freedom of religion. It must stay that way. Religion and politics do not mix. You do not have to be Christian to be a good person.
If we can agree on that, we might actually be able to reach all kinds of political compromises, the kinds that help this country grow.
Oh, and Republicans? Try to find a better candidate next time. Maybe change your platform image a little? Seeing Romney talk was kind of like what I would imagine George McClellan trying to tell the country the war was wrong, after he lost so many as General after Antietam.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on August 11, 2012 at 10:50 AM||comments (0)|
Guns seem to be everywhere lately and though innocent people, people who don’t carry guns, have been dying, no one wants to do anything about it.
But violence has a long history in this country and many believe that to have freedom we have to accept risk. But does it have to be at the point of a gun?
They say there have been 700 anti-Muslim attacks since 9/11. But we can look farther than that to see images of intolerance in this country. The real problem seems to be people that are lunatics can get guns. These are smart lunatics, too, for I’m told they can outwit the psychological evaluation questionnaire they are supposed to complete before getting a weapon. Maybe they’re just smarter than whoever evaluates the questionnaire.
Smart. Like Mark David Chapman, who gunned down John Lennon by shooting him five times in the back. In the back. I don’t know a more horrifying act that killing peaceful people, like the Sikh recently in Wisconsin. But we understand, at least, the anti-Muslim sentiment and how a whacko can make a turban-esque mistake.
Be different in America at your own risk, right?
No, shooting innocent people because you’re mad at a few radicals is never an answer. So anti-Muslim attacks are also inexcusable. And yet it seems to be the chosen outlet in this country, one that no one is trying to do anything about.
What was Lennon’s crime? It’s hard to imagine that this happened to him, even today. World-class peacemaker who wanted everyone to live together, completely accepting each other. But Chapman, whose name I wish I could forget, was a born-again Christian who took offense to Lennon’s utopian sentiment in Imagine.
Chapman was a Beatle fan until Lennon’s innocent comment about Beatlemania being too big in 1966. Many Christians took offense - at 13, I was one. That allowed the popularity of the Monkees who recaptured that innocence that the Beatles outgrew.
I had to mature into John Lennon myself. Many fans had to. As I rediscovered him with Imagine, I learned that most of my favorite Beatle songs were Lennon songs. One of my wedding songs was his, but I didn’t know he wrote it when I picked it.
But it’s interesting, now that I think about it. It seems Lennon’s “anti-Christian” comment was a defining moment in time in many ways. It allowed John to reach out beyond the Beatles. But it also made early Beatle music my favorite, and I never could figure out why my husband, who is older than me, preferred late Beatle music. It’s because he became a fan after that comment, when he wasn’t before.
Chapman, on the other hand, turned away from the Beatles and never looked back. He became Christian. He allowed the song Imagine, and the man, eat away at his soul. He wanted to make a name for himself and he thought Lennon was bad for the world.
Did he take a psychological evolaution to get a gun? Doubtful. How about Oswald or Ray or Sirhan? Why was violence seemingly born in the 60s? Because the hippie movement that blossomed also gave birth to its opposition.
Unless we realize we have a real problem in this country with racism and religious intolerance, this violence will continue. Who will be next? You? Me?
I’d like to see guns completely purged from the U.S. Barring that, the FBI profilers need to sit down and create a fool-proof questionnaire … problem is, can we really deny someone a gun because he answers questions wrong?
But then what can we do? Just keep putting up with the freedom to be killed by a lunatic? What terrible new event awaits us?
They like to say guns don’t kill people. People kill people. But how will they kill if you take that gun away? Bombs? That's a lot of work. Knives? Doubtful. You won’t kill too many in a theater with knives.
Guns are easy. Too easy. Just ask Yoko Ono.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on July 30, 2012 at 2:55 PM||comments (0)|
I realize I haven't blogged here lately. It's not for lack of desire. I love to write little ditties that might or might not catch someone's fancy.
But now is not the time.
Time is relative. Time is a butterfly.
And I just can't catch my breath. I don't even know why. What have I been doing? Well, I got a new contract on a novel, and I hope it's a contract I can keep. But it's a complex process because it's on the novel I'd written with someone else, my one and only collaboration. And my collaborator lives in South Africa, and tells me he doesn't have good access either to an internet or computer. So that means everything to do with a contract takes longer. I feel I am the go-between him and the publisher.
And it being summer, I have to spend more time outdoors getting in shape. Not that I want to. I want shape just to happen.
I have a kitten who cost a few dollars, so when she wants to go outside, I have to go out with her. She's getting used to that now. If I'm not there she gets terrified. She likes to watch the birds. A mouse ran past her and she didn't even notice. It's better than before, though - to keep her happy before we let her go out, my husband brought moths into the house. She'd tear the house up trying to catch it - and always did. I think she doesn't chase the bird outside because there are no cupboards to climb.
And with my husband running for office, and not getting any donations except from the county organizations, there's the need to pay off bills. These are the spring bills that incur because we think we'll have money in the summer. Fortunately, he won't be on the ballot until November. We won't be able to buy any August votes.
But I had a rummage sale to get rid of the junk to make room for more junk, and ran it for four days rather than the normal two. That helped, actually. Why go through all that set-up and go for two days with lots of good stuff left? I would have gone all summer if I had good stuff left. Fortunately I could close after 4 days.
And there's summer company. You know the kind. Breeze in for 3 to 5 days and expect your undivided attention. It's attention you'd love to give if you had it.
And the heat! Who can work in that?
So yes, I would love to blog more. If I had something to blog about.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on July 10, 2012 at 9:20 PM||comments (0)|
When I first conceptualized this second Bonanza novel, my first concern was to differentiate it from Felling of the Sons. I knew I could never recreate the feeling that I get, personally, reading that book. I put all the Cartwrights in danger, and gave them hurt and pain, to the point I could feel it myself.
But I didn’t want to do that again. There are fans, too, who dislike these kinds of storylines.
Also, since I was setting Mystic Fire two years in the future from Felling, I felt I needed to capture what the TV show itself did two years later—and that was focusing on individual storylines for the four Cartwrights. I call this an ‘epic saga’ because that’s exactly what it is. It is like getting four novels in one.
Now that can be a bit disconcerting to a reader, constantly going off in a new direction almost every other page. If I did it right, the story lines are different enough so that you do not get lost. If the majority of readers get lost, then I failed, and my editor failed.
I have heard from readers who will choose their favorite storyline, and using that as their focus and almost breezing through the rest of it. I heard from one reader who completely skipped the Joe storyline because “I never liked him.” But even if you do this the first time you read it, try reading it again. I’ll bet it gets easier. I like writing novels that you want to read more than once.
Because here’s the thing—the four storylines are meant to go together. It may not seem like it at times, but it is. Skipping even one storyline means you miss most of what the novel is about.
This novel is about family—and together or separate, you will always get this intense feel of family devotion, just like in Felling of the Sons.
But this novel demands more reader involvement. You have to let yourself get drawn in. Without that determination, right from the start, to accept these four worlds as being real and valid as I created them, then please save your money. Because each and every one of the four storylines are valid, in their own way.
Now – here’s a spoiler. Here’s a reason I believe a lot of readers are not mature enough for Mystic Fire. I have not ever anywhere warned anyone about this particular feature of the book before. One reason is that my publisher warned against doing this. She thought having sales was better than having satisfied customers. But as it stands, I have neither. And I would rather have satisfied readers.
I created a number of characters for this novel. True, I use real-life figures like Lincoln, McClellan, and even Mark Twain. There are several women created as sideline romances for each of the Cartwrights. But I needed one event, one romance, to be so devastating to Adam that he goes walking off into the night, during a party, and stays out all night. By morning, a runaway slave has found him and asks for his help. A short time later both are abducted by slavers and taken east. That is the Cartwright involvement in the Civil War. And from there, so much is shared about what the Civil War was like in 1862 and what Lincoln was like.
What was this devastation? Margaret comes back into his life. They’d known each other five years before but she and her father left suddenly one day, never to return. Adam feels himself falling for her again and is not ready to hear her tell him that she had been pregnant—that her father had raped her. Adam asks where the child is now. And she tells him that when it was born—she didn’t even know its sex—her father strangled it and buried it. She never even saw it.
Adam can’t handle it and walks away. Margaret becomes overwhelmed with guilt when she learns he is missing and she becomes a connecting figure between the four storylines.
Now, as a reader, you have to be mature enough to accept that these things happened. And probably still do happen. And you have to be able to forgive Margaret and even root for her as the heroine who deserves happiness.
You have to accept the reasoning that Adam decides that pretending to be a muley slave is the only way to save his neck, but he’s also curious about the runaway’s story.
Yes, you may have some discomfort during the novel. That’s deliberate on my part. I don’t think anyone should ever just breeze through a novel and emerge at the other end unscathed.
Consider yourself scathed when you read Mystic Fire. And now, in the future, I never want to hear anyone say they couldn’t get through it. Now, consider yourself warned.
Mystic Fire will burn you – with knowledge, truth, angst, spirit, humor and the effects of family devotion.
Oh, and by the way, that ‘stinky hole’ in the beginning? That’s what mystery writers would call a red herring.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on June 30, 2012 at 10:55 AM||comments (0)|
Joe Reinhard is running for the assembly seat of the 89th District, which runs from Suamico up into Marinette. As a Democrat he challenges the current incumbent Republican John Nygren.
When I was running the Oconto museum, Nygren was courted to find us money for operating expenses and the new windows the museum needed. Two years after I left, the money for the windows came through but not, I’m told, for operating expenses.
Doesn’t this indicate a waste of money? I think it does, especially if they did not also upgrade the park to include making people pay the state park parking fee. I always felt that the park was worth that little bit, and it would encourage all local people to ride their bikes to the park, rather than drive.
The problem with not having an operating expense budget first, before getting the windows, is that the museum is little good with new windows if there’s no one to operate it. Yes, you could say it makes the building more structurally sound. And that perhaps now they will find the operating expense money.
That would be good. I hope they do.
But when I ran the museum, had it open for tours on weekends regularly and sometimes I gave tours during the week when I was there, I was often asked the question: What kind of training do you have for this kind of thing? The response seemed enough for them—I had a master’s in history, research training and a background in prehistory. I was not an archaeologist, but there was no current digging going on there anyway, and actually never can again.
If the park is still being operated by the people who wore out my welcome mat, there is not one who is going to be able to answer that question. There is no one in Oconto with the kind of dedication needed to make the museum worth visiting. It takes much more than new windows and fancy displays. Museum displays need to be continually upgraded with new research and exciting finds in the field.
It takes passion. I hope they find it but I also hope they will eventually come to see that running a burial museum is just plain wrong. The focus needs to be changed to an archaic artifact center. Until all this happens, Mr. Nygren, that money you took from the state has gone to waste.
And no, I won’t take the job back, not even if they pay me this time. I think the place is cursed.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on February 29, 2012 at 1:00 AM||comments (0)|
Santorum? Oh, God, what a joke! I figured I’d better start that way so you realize where I stand on that guy from the start.
It’s not easy being a Catholic these days, and much less being a Republican. Never mind the laugh Democrats are getting when they see the Republican candidates gaff their way to being the one to get defeated by Obama in December (heaven help us if Obama doesn’t win!) Now the latest is the ‘smoking gun’ that shows just how much the Catholic Church knew about the indiscretions of its priests and buried the information.
But Santorum will support them anyway, because he’s Catholic and has seven kids, and, oh yes, doesn’t believe any of them need college. Never mind that a liberal education has been around since ancient Greece. Here’s a guy who thinks that people are just as well off getting a technical degree, and becoming real workers in our society.
Okay, well, it’s true that there’s a shortage of welders in the country. But this focus by Republicans on taking students out of college and forcing them into a trade is a real throw-back to the anti-labor days of the 1800s.
This is a Republican movement, make no doubt about it. This is the same thing that Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin is pushing. This Grand Old Party of Lincoln really is going back to its roots.
There is a theory that no one ever wants to talk about that the Civil War was fought to free the slaves so that the north would have a larger work force of cheap labor. This was a Southern charge against the North, but it doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. In fact, blacks were paid less than whites and this had the added advantage of lowering wages for the whites, too—specifically the Irish who competed for their jobs.
But cheapening our current labor force, which is the necessary effect if you get more trade people competing for jobs, is only part of the Republican agenda. Santorum said it himself. Why is Obama encouraging a liberal college degree? (Yes, he said liberal.) Because Obama wants to make more people like him! Hmmm, as if being president is not a thing to aspire to.
What a liberal education does, however, is it teaches people to think. It challenges you by showing you all the different weird things that went on in the world, and encourages debate. I’m not accusing Santorum of leading a revolution to stop our students and workers from thinking—well, okay, that’s what I’m doing. Add on to George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” this new education movement – “Stop them from thinking.” We’ll have the making of a drone society, or perhaps even fascism.
On a Meet the Press segment David Gregory countered Santorum’s anti-college stance by saying that the college degree rate of unemployment is only 4%. Santorum, in true political fashion, ignored it.
Another reason to avoid Santorum like this plague is his avowed connections to Catholicism. Remember when people were afraid of John Kennedy becoming president? They thought the U.S. would be run by the Pope. Well, that seems even more likely with Santorum and you don’t hear a word of fear about it.
Not that any of the other Republicans are any better. It seems to me they’ve already given up on beating Obama, and the way they’re going about it, they’ll lose control of the House and Senate in November, too. But they do see one glimmer of hope on the horizon. Gas prices are going up. All they need is for Obama’s fragile economy recovery to take a nosedive. And isn’t that a fun thing for a future president of the United States to wish for?
Obama’s loss to any one of these candidates will make the destruction of our society during G.W. Bush look like a cakewalk.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on December 17, 2011 at 12:05 AM||comments (0)|
I'm scrambling to get my nonfiction book, "Civil War & Bloody Peace: one soldier's orders" ready for the publisher. All that remains is getting permission to use the many photos and maps in the book that help the text come alive.
I know many of the sources I used had no, or very few, photos, and there's a good reason for this. Finding out who owns copyright to these photos can be dastardly hard work! This process is about as hard as writing the book itself.
For instance, you would think most, if not all, photos taken of the Civil War would be in public domain by now. After all, anything is, if it's 75 years old or more and has not passed down into the hands of relatives. Library of Congress has a great collection of photos to use, but oops - even they don't guarantee your use will be free of restrictions. They insist that the author find out.
But they don't tell us how!
One way is to use the photo and wait to get sued. I don't like that way.
Another, I've been told, is to go to ebay and search for the photo. If it turns up there, chances are good it's free to use. No one can sell copies of a copyright photo, right? WaIt - they can if they own the copyright! So that's not really a guarantee, either. But if they sell it without saying that the buyer is not allowed to sell it, then it's free domain. In other words, if we buy a photo that has no restrictions, then it's ours free to use.
I've also done a search on a particular photo and learned that several different sites are selling it. This also means free domain.
Harpers Weekly has some great drawings that appeared in their newspaper back in the times I'm searching. But are they free? I found out from a contact that if I scan it myself, it's free for me to use. But if I want to get a high resolution print from them - it'll cost me $200 - each!
There are quite a few other free sites that offer wonderful photos, such as USGS and David Rumsley. If anyone's interested I can supply the links. I don't recommend Son of the South - he will also charge $200 each for those he has in his collection - even if they're free somewhere else.
So be careful, be prudent, realize there are people who will try to make money on what they don't own - it's a daunting task. And I sure hope I don't get sued!
|Posted by bebowreinhard on November 27, 2011 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
"Civil War & Bloody Peace: One Soldier’s Orders" is an 18-year project that took me around the country into dusty files and hard-to-read microfilm until I thought my eyes would fall out. It took me through two degrees, earning me a master’s in history in 2006. If anyone had told me how much work one of these books would take, I would have run screaming in the other direction!
But I have to admit, exploring the 20-year army life of an ancestor, from 1862 to 1884, and beyond, was also a lot of fun. It also enabled me, and I’m sure will enable readers, to see the country in a whole new way. Already I’ve made my readers uncomfortable with a very real portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. This discomfort is necessary, however, if we’re ever going to be able to make sense of the way our country is today.
I thought I would share the process of getting this book published, now that I’ve signed a contract with Sunbury Press. It isn’t the major traditional contract I’d hoped for. Instead it’s a POD/e-book publisher, but one that is very pro-active and not in the least intimidated by footnotes. Those are the two key ingredients that enabled me to sign the contract. Here I’ll share how the experience progresses, including and up to the six-month duration toward publication.
Now, as I wait for my copy of the contract, and further instructions, I move forward with my final work in editing and getting photos approved. The six months to publication will not begin until I get the entire document submitted. So I better get back to work! In the meantime, read the preface of the book.