Extraordinary Stories

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The "I Can Now Die In Peace" Story

It was an ordinary day.  And, before you misread my story title, I'm personally not quite ready yet to follow along with what it says.  My story has to do with a man of small stature; 4 feet, 7 inches tall with a protruding chest and a hunched back and arms about the same size as his legs to be exact.  While reading about Benjamin Franklin's printing shop in Lancaster, I came upon a side story about a fellow named Benjamin Lay who was born in 1681 to Quaker parents.  After a very basic education he began work as an apprentice to a glove maker.  A few years later he worked with his brother doing farm work and then, at the age of 20, went to sea.  Due to his size he returned home before long, married and moved to London.  He was a man who drank only milk and water, was a strict vegetarian and would eat nor wear nothing that was made as a result of the loss of animal life or in which any amount of slave labor was used for its provision.  He grew his own food and made his own clothes while living in a cottage in the Pennsylvania countryside.
Mr. Benjamin Lay.  It was said that he lived in this cave.
 As to what might have happened to his wife I have no knowledge.  He was totally against slavery, the prison system and capital punishment.  Most times his views differed quite a bit from the Quaker philosophy.  He made several dramatic public demonstrations against slavery.  In 1720 he was disowned by the Quakers due to a speech he gave at a Quaker meeting.  He moved to another district where he did much the same thing and was once again disowned.  In 1731 he went to the island of Barbados where we was appalled after seeing the conditions that the slaves had to endure.  He took up their cause by berating the Quaker slaveholders which led to his returning once again to Philadelphia where he became a friend of Benjamin Franklin.  
Drawing of Benjamin Lay and his friend Benjamin Franklin.
Benjamin published a story written by Mr. Lay that told of the evils of slavery which was directed against the Quakers.  The Quakers were angered by the story and also that Franklin would print it without their approval.   In 1738, during the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Quakers, he dressed as a soldier and concluded a diatribe against slavery by plunging a sword into a Bible that contained a hidden bladder filled with pokeberry juice which spit its blood-red contents over nearby members.   Once again he was disowned.  Throughout his life Lay considered himself to be a Quaker, but still protested against the Quaker views on slavery.  At one point he kidnapped a child and only returned the child when the police arrived.  He did it to show how African parents felt when their children were captured and sold into slavery.  Eventually the Society of Friends (Quakers) renounced slavery due to Benjamin Lay's views on the practice.  During the 1758 Yearly Meeting of the Quakers in Philadelphia it was decided that slave holders would be excluded from any business meetings.  When Mr. Lay heard the news he said, "I can how die in peace."  He died the following year and was buried in the Quaker burial ground in Abington, near Philadelphia.  For almost all of his life he was a slavery abolitionist as well as a philanthropist.  What this man lacked in stature he made up for in moral courage and radical thinking.  And, if I hadn't been reading about Benjamin Franklin I doubt if I would have ever heard of him.  And now, after reading my story, you too can say the same thing.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The "For The Good Of Mankind?" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Taking my wife to a medical appointment in the nearby town of Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania.  Trip takes about 20 minutes from our home in Lancaster and as we approached the office we passed over the construction site of the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline that is going through Lancaster County, with or without the blessing of those of us who live in the county.  
Williams Partners timeline for the new natural gas pipeline.
Click on image to enlarge.
I know that there are times that we all must bite the bullet for the betterment of others, but this has to be the umpteenth time that we have been asked to endure running a pipeline under our county.  I can still remember a dozen or so years ago when a petroleum pipeline substation, if that's what you call them, burst into flames.  Wasn't more than a half-mile from my home.  
The petroleum pipeline "substation" near my home.
This area caught fire a few years ago.
Started during the day and lit up the nighttime skyline before finally being exting- uished.  So, in the beginning of 2014, when we heard about the pipeline coming through Lancaster County, many were...well, pissed off!  Quite a few protested the pipeline for years, but to no avail.  Hey, it's for the betterment of our nation we were told.  We were told that the pipeline project will increase economic activity by $1.6 billion in the project regions.  
Nun Adorers of the Blood of Christ's outdoor chapel.
Many people went to great lengths to to try and stop the project.  A group of nuns from the Adorers of the Blood of Christ religious order, which has been in Lancaster County since the 1920s, bought some ground that was to have the pipeline go through it and built a chapel on the land hoping to stop the construction.  The nuns have refused to sell an easement for the pipeline to the builder Williams Partners.  Over 300 people arrived for their first service at the outdoor chapel. Didn't matter.  The Partners won since it is for the betterment of our nation.  The 197-mile, $3 billion project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory commission and nothing will stop it.  Not even an old Native American cemetery which was in the way.  Now, I must admit that it was a fake cemetery with a half-dozen old tombstones planted in the ground adjacent to the pipeline right of way that evidently didn't look real.  
This orange pipe tells of the gas pipeline near my home.
The cemetery had tombstones, some leaning at different angles to look authentic, but the lack of moss and dirt led the hired archaeological group to find it was a fake.  Well, after Carol's appointment today, we returned the same route and I pulled to the side of the road and told her I'll be right back.  She knew I was going to take some photos of the pipeline site.  She said, "You know they're going to yell at you."  I responded, "They're not going to hurt an old man who limps."  And, I was right!  I walked to the north side of the two-lane highway to photograph the section that was almost complete, showing no visible sign of the pipe that had been planted in the mile or two I could see.  
The pipeline on this side of the highway is nearly complete.
I walked back across the highway, which they had tunneled under, and took a few photos of the equipment and piles of pipe that were being used on the south side of the road.  I saw a group of workmen and held my iPhone up to take a photo.  Waved to them and they waved back as I took a few photos.  I'm sure I'm not the first person to stop and take photos.  I must admit I was impressed with the construction site and the manner in which they dig the trench for the pipe, join the pipes together, seal the joint in a concrete unit and fill the trench with dirt.  I did have trouble estimating how deep they were burying the pipe.  This pipeline will carry natural gas from the Marcellus Shale gas sites in the north to points in the south.  
The natural gas pipeline can be seen in this photo.
The natural gas pipeline near my home allows nothing to be built on top of it.  A year or so ago I wrote of a few neighbors who had planted trees and shrubs over it and were required to remove them.  One guy had paved a spot and had his travel trailer parked on the paved spot.  He had to remove the paving.  Now, that should have been stopped before the guy paved the area.  Another year or two from now all the fuss will have subsided and life will go on.  The owners of Williams Partners will be more wealthy than they were a few years ago.  And, petroleum and natural gas will continue to flow underground a few blocks from my home.  Wonder how much it will affect the resale value of my home when I decide to downsize in the near future?  One thing for sure...Williams Partners won't care one bit.  Hey...it's all for the good of mankind, right?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The "Water Street Was Just That!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Driving north on South Water Street toward West King Street in the city known as Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  The narrow street is barely passable, even with one side of the street marked with "No Parking" signs.  I find that by using Water Street, it helps avoid traffic, even though the street is narrow.   The street is somewhat nondescript in a city that at one time was called Hickory Town.  Lancaster was part of the 1681 Penn's Woods Charter of William Penn.  The architect of the city was James Hamilton who laid out the street patterns in 1734.  It is one of the oldest inland towns in America and had the first paved road in the United States, known as the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, which at the time went directly through the center of town.  
Shreiner-Concord Cemetery in Lancaster where
Water Street was believed to have begun.
And, at one point Water Street was exactly that, a stream which flowed from what is now Shreiner-Concord Cemetery at Mulberry and Chestnut Street, where U.S. Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, a member of the Underground Railroad, was buried, south to the Conestoga River.  Some of Hamilton's building lots were positioned along the stream and the waterway was used to transport sewage out of the city to the river.  When the stream overflowed due to storms, the waste from the homes became a danger to all who lived along the stream.  Eventually the stream was turned into a stone-lined sewer in 1745 to permit development on top of it.  A variety of names were given to the stream over the years including Roaring Brook to Bethel's Run to Hoffman's Run and also Gas House Run.  
Old black and white photograph showing Water Street
after the railroad tracks were added.
When the stream was covered with pavement it became a branch of the Lancaster-to-Quarryville Pennsyl- vania Railroad in the 1870s.  Once the tracks were in place, trains were able to traverse Water Street. Traveling theatre companies, who performed at the nearby Fulton Opera House which backed up to Water Street, began to transport their equipment by rail.  As Lancaster City grew in size, a wastewater treatment plant was built along the Conestoga to the south of the city in New Danville in 1935 to handle the water that ran under Water Street.  
A Steam engine traveling on Water Street.
By that time a variety of industries, from a tannery to a weaving mill to a utility company backed up to Water Street.  All seemed to be going well until Hurricane Agnes struct Lancaster  in 1972 and the railroad stopped service along Water Street.  Tracks no longer run north to south on Water Street, but storm water and sewage still flow toward the Conestoga River under it.  At times the flow becomes overwhelming and other procedures are needed.  My guess is that if Water Street's problems had been addressed today, they would have been addressed quite differently than they were back in the 1700s.  And, my drive north on Water Street might be strikingly different than what it was today.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The "Suicide: When Grief Strikes" Story

The beautiful St. James churchyard.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing in the St. James Episcopal churchyard, taking a few photographs to be used on a few stories I have planned to share with you.  St. James was established in 1744 and is one of the most beautiful churches in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  The historic churchyard has Revolutionary War heroes, Civil War heroes, as well as WWI and WWII heroes buried there.  
St.James steeple can be seen in the background.
My mother and father are also buried in the section of the cemetery allotted for cremation ashes.  My story today began as I walked through the churchyard and stumbled upon a very small grave marked by a granite headstone that was perhaps 8"x12" in size.  Next to the headstone was an Easter egg and a small toy rabbit.  An old lock as well as a few coins and two more ceramic ornaments sat atop the headstone.  At first I thought it to be a young child that may have been recently buried, but the church hasn't allowed recent burials since the cemetery is full, except for the memorial garden where ashes may be buried.  Then I read the date on the stone and realized the stone was over fifty years old and the young girl buried in the site was 22 years old at the time of her death.  
Small headstone for a young woman in the churchyard.
Now, what you have just read took place about a month ago.  Today in the newspaper was the answer I was looking for when I snapped the photo of the small headstone last month.  For the past two days the Lancaster Newspaper has been doing a special on teen suicide and how it affects the family, friends and the community.  Loved ones of teen suicide victims have been sharing stories of love, loss and hope and how their experiences may help another families facing the same situation.  Well, the final newspaper story featured the stories of three women who have been affected by relatives who have committed suicide.  
The headstone sits right inside this open gate.
As I read the story of one woman whom had lost her daughter 33 years ago, I instantly realized I know this young girl.  I recently took a photo- graph of her tombstone.  I read the entire story of Beth's mothers' struggle to cope with her loss, even though it happened 33 years ago.  She explained that her daughter was scheduled to graduate from college when two weeks before graduation, her boyfriend broke off their relationship.  On Memorial Day weekend Beth got sleeping pills from a pharmacy and went back to her dorm room and took them with Vodka.  Beth's mother said that she had always been dramatic.  She earlier had starred as an actress at the Fulton Opera House in downtown Lancaster and had plans to continue her acting career after college graduation.  Beth's mother, as well as her three younger sisters, took her suicide hard and tried to put all the pieces back together once again.  
Click to enlarge.
She needed therapy for her grief.  The family bonded together to get over their grief.  What may have become of Beth had she lived?  I guess we will never know.  Beth's three sisters all have families of their own now and I'm sure they think often of their sister and hope they will never have to go through what their mother did over 30 years ago.  Who may have placed the mementos on her headstone?  Family members?  Friends?  Her life is still being remembered by someone.  Why did she do what she did?  I'm sure that has been asked over and over again by her family.  As part of the newspaper story they did a survey in local high schools with these following responses to their questions: 16% said they had considered suicide; 13% said they had planned suicide; 9% said they had attempted suicide; 63% said they had experienced emotional abuse; 23% said they have experienced threats and physical injury.  So, what can be done?  It's tough coming up with a single answer for everyone.  The newspaper did end their story with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which is suicidepreventionlifeline.org; 800-273-8255.  They also added the information for deaf or hard of hearing with 800-799-4889.  Finally, they added the Lancaster County Intervention information; co.lancaster.pa.us/1136/Crisis; 717-394-2631.  If you may need help, please contact the numbers I have just listed for you.  Someone can help you; I'm sure!!  Don't be a statistic!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The "The Indian Head Test Pattern" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Scrolling through the myriad of offerings on my TV remote.  Can't decide if I want to watch a baseball game, golf tournament or woman's bowling.  Or, maybe I'll type a story for my blog while listening to oldies on the TV.  My options seem endless.  Wasn't always that way, you know.  But, then again, for many of you, it probably has been that way for most of your life.  
1939 Television with a 12-inch screen.
For me, I was born just as World War II was coming to a close which happened to coincide with the beginning of television as most of you, as well as myself, can remember.  In the late 1940's the post-war economy was strong in the USA and television became a big part of the American home.  Shows and celebrities that I can remember were Ed Sullivan, Milton Berle and my favorite, Howdy Doody.  But, before I go any further, I should give you a quick glimpse as to how TV all began.  It was in the early 1930s that inventors took the basic concepts applied to the transmission of sound and applied them to the transmission of pictures.  The big four, Philo T. Farnsworth, Vladimir Zworykin, Charles Jenkins and John Baird all contributed their "piece of the puzzle" to the invention of modern television.
Bob Smith with Howdy Doody, a favorite for me.
 But, it was Zworykin who suggested the use of the cathode ray tube (CRT) in the receiver.  The CRT is still used in TV sets today.  In 1932 specials like the presidential election, boxing matches and news reports were just about the only things available to view.  Then in 1936 people lucky enough to have a television watched Hitler announce the opening of the Olympics.  At the time the TV set had about a 12 inch screen and cost $400 to $500 when the average household income was about $1,300 a year.  Therefore, most households couldn't afford the new and exciting technology.  Three years later President Franklin Roosevelt opened the 1939 New York's World' Fair on live TV.  
President Roosevelt opening the 1939 World's Fair on TV.
Can you imagine the excitement those who had televisions must have exper- ienced.  Well, the 1950s has often been called the Golden Age of television.  By the end of 1951 there were more than eight million TVs in the USA.  One of my all-time favorite westerns, The Lone Ranger, was popular along with I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners and Father Knows Best.  The TV Guide was the #1 magazine in the country.  Color TV comes alive as well as what I am now holding in my hand, the TV remote.  
It was in this time in TV history that advertising became popular and cleaning products targeted directly at women during the day led to "Soap Operas".  In the late 50s a 21-inch black and white TV cost $200 while an average 21-inch color set cost more than double that.  Mom and Dad still couldn't afford a color TV so we went to my dad's sister's home every Sunday evening to watch "Bonanza" in color.  
The stars of Bonanza, on color TV.
As I look back on it I can still see the dull, muted colors that came on the screen at Aunt Doris' house.  Her husband was a CPA, thus the color TV.  The 1960s saw the country watching one news event after another with more and more color TVs filling the living rooms in the country.  For many teeny-boppers, the big event of the 60's happened in 1964 when "The Beatles" came across "The Pond" and played on the Ed Sullivan Show.  75 million people watched and screamed at their TV set that night.  The murder of President Kennedy, space ships rising in a blaze of colors, and the social climate and growing hostility toward the government, the Vietnam War and doctors advertising cigarettes were some of the top TV events viewed during the 60s.  By the end of the 60s there were close to 78 million TV sets in US homes with about 200 million around the world.  Then came Sesame Street in the 1970s along with couples sleeping in the same beds and actresses showing their belly buttons.  Some of my favorite shows were "Mash" and "All in the Family" with brash Archie Bunker.  Video games such as "Pong" were played on TV.  The average yearly home salary was $7,500 with TVs costing between $400 and $700.  And, there were real people who knew how to repair your TV if it wasn't working.  The VCR and home game consoles like Nintendo came about in the 1980s.  Cable TV, although it had been around since the 50s, became a big hit.  
I assume most of you had a VCR or something similar.
Two of the biggest shows in the 80s, "Rosanne" and "The Cosby Show" both recently fell from favor for many viewers.  In the 1990s the Internet arrived in most homes with information available with a click on a button.  TV programming became more risque with "Friends", "The Simpsons" and "Seinfeld."  Cable TV programs offered shows like "The Sopranos" which had no FCC regulations applied to it.  Graphic violence, sex and language have never been the same on TV since!  DVD players arrived in the 2000s and could be seen in large home theaters.  
Oh, for the good old days!
LCD and Plasma led to the "thin" TV that could be hung on the wall.  Then TiVo gave one the ability to pause live broadcasts as well as record several programs at the same time.  "American Idol" became one of the first TV shows that allowed the viewers to vote for their favorite performer.  Then TV went digital!  Today, after 75 years of TV, many are attached to their TV through their computer and cell phone.  Oh, the changes that have happened just in my lifetime.  The days of the Indian-head test pattern that was used when a TV station first signed on each day are long gone.  But, is it all for the better?  We must each decide for ourselves.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

The "Cursive Obsolescence" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Sitting in my lounge chair, looking at the can of "Coke" in front of me on the snack tray.  In big white cursive letters on the bright red can, running vertical on the round can, reads "Coca-Cola".  
The iconic "Coca-Cola" script lettering.
So how many of you reading this blog story today use cursive lettering, such as what is on the can, for your daily notes and writing?  And if you don't use cursive, why?  Did you learn it in elementary school when you were younger as I did?  I must admit my cursive writing is terrible; just ask my wife.  But, we just can't give up on it like many are doing, since cursive writing has been linked to intellectual competence, identity and even morality.  Can you imagine a future that doesn't include pretty writing.  You do realize that's what happened to calligraphy, don't you.  The students in my Graphic Arts I class loved to do Calligraphy.  We practiced and practiced each letter of the alphabet on lined paper I had prepared for them.  
Practice paper used for calligraphy.
After a week of daily 50 minute classes, they each chose a poem or verse and created beautiful masterpieces.  After I retired, that part of the class curriculum was abandoned.  A week or so ago I returned to my old classroom to ask Jim, the new teacher in the room, if he still had the calligraphy sets that I used at one time.  He did, but all the ink had dried in the glass jars and the metal pen tips had rusted since my retirement 19 years ago.  The reason for my visit was to borrow a calligraphy set of pen and ink and add a date to a plaque that had been brought to Grebinger Gallery where I now work part-time matting and framing artwork and photography.  A customer had made a visit to the gallery with a framed collage of priests who had been at their church in the past.  
The job that needed calligraphy.  The block in the center
under the priest needed a retirement date.
One priest's photo had his years of service under it, but was missing his retirement date.  All names and dates had been done in calligraphy and Keith, the owner of the gallery, who happened to be in my class years ago, thought I might be able to add the date for the customer.  Well, rather than buy a new calligraphy pen and ink, Keith had a friend who stopped and was going to finish the date for him.  
Will cursive become obsolete?
The entire event made me think of a short paragraph I recently read in The Saturday Evening Post.  Remember this magazine?  Not available at my local magazine store, but did find it online and subscribed once again to it.  The last issue reprinted a story they had published in April of 1905 which was titled "Good Writing Call for a Pen or Pencil."  The story told the reader to put the typewriter away and put the pen or pencil back to work again.  
The United States of America's Declaration of Independence
used both script as well as "printing" in its presentation.
We have gone through a few generations of technology since 1905, but they all lead back to the pen or pencil.  Is it really time to let go of the sacred script?  It's not that we don't have other ways to communicate.  We still have the good old cursive handwriting.  But is it really the same as the copperplate lettering that was used to present the Declaration of Independence in the United States or even the swirls on the "Coca-Cola" can.  I still think we need to be able to at least sign our name in cursive.  To me it not a real signature if we don't use cursive.  But, I'm one of those who doesn't want to believe that script or cursive, or even true calligraphy, will be obsolete in the near future.  How about you?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy,

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The "Amending America: Part IV" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Writing the final story about my visit to LancasterHistory.org to view the national traveling display titled "Amending America: The Bill Of Rights".  
The traveling exhibit was developed two years ago by the National Archives on the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.  It has wound it's way to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and is housed in the building which sits next to Wheatland, the home of former President James Buchanan.  One final display I viewed was based on the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; The guarantee of freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly and the right to petition.  It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual's religious practices.  
Lancaster's "The Journal" was printed in the building to the
left of the old car on the left side of this photo.
Also guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.  It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.  On display at the museum were original copies of Lancaster's oldest newspaper, The Journal.  
The front of the building as it appears today in Lancaster.
It is one of our nation's longest-living newspapers having begun on June 17, 1794 when it was proclaimed to be "open to all Parties, but not influenced by any!  It was one of the first to embrace freedom of speech and of the press as guaranteed in the First Amendment which had been adopted three years earlier.  Lancaster celebrated the newspaper's 224 anniversary this year.  
This Ben Franklin press is similar to
the press used to print "The Journal".
Even though it has survived that long, it wasn't the first newspaper in Lancaster.  Several German and English papers preceded it, but none survived.  It was in the Spring of 1794 that William Hamilton and Henry Wilcocks established a book-printing shop on West King Street in downtown Lancaster at Franklin's Head (The Head meaning the print shop sign was a painted portraiture of printer Ben Franklin).  To this day it still remains Lancaster's newspaper headquarters.  Wilcocks left the paper two years later, but Hamilton, who had moved to Lancaster from Philadelphia, continued with the paper until his death by insanity in 1820.  The first edition of The Journal was 500 copies which were printed by hand on a wooden "Ben Franklin" press.  
This German dictionary was printed in 1812 by Hamilton. 
The smallest movable type available at the time was used to cram as much news as possible into the four-page weekly newspaper.  Two years later, accordingly to Hamilton, two Lancaster men disliked the way The Journal attempted to influence the 1796 election and encouraged readers to drop their subscriptions.  The newspaper survived and in 1799 The Lancaster Intelligencer was founded, but later merged in 1839 with The Journal to become the Intelligencer and Journal.  In 1880, Lancaster's Republican judiciary attempted to disbar the two Lancaster lawyers who published the Intelligencer, a Democratic newspaper.  
This is Sam Lazarowitz selling the Lancaster newspaper in
downtown Lancaster's square in 1942.  He is about 100
yards from the newspaper building.
The lawyers had editorialized negatively on the court's dismissal of an alleged violation of election laws by a Republican.  They argued that no judge or court was beyond criticism.  Even thought they lost on the county level, as expected, they won before the State Supreme Court.  It was an important verdict that further led to freedom of the press.  Lancaster's newspapers were eventually combined and last year they became LNP, with ties to the original Lancaster Journal.  Next year they will celebrate 225 years of freedom of the press under the First Amendment in Lancaster.  Not many newspapers in the United States can lay claim to that record.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The "Amending America: Part III" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just finished looking at the LancasterHistory.org display called "Amending America: The Bill of Rights" and was on my way out when one final painting caught my attention.  
Portraiture of Lydia Steele Bailey by Jacob Eicholtz.
You can see her holding a book she printed as well
as a job stick in her left hand. Click to enlarge image.
A painting very similar to the Crucifix that hangs in the Chapel at St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Lancaster that was painted by Lancaster artist, Jacob Eicholtz whose portraiture's were painted in the Romantic Victorian tradition.  I walked over to the painting and saw the portraiture of Lydia Steele Bailey painted by Eicholtz.  Wasn't sure who she may be, but did notice her holding, in her left hand...a job stick, known to some as a typesetter's composing stick.  Now the painting had my total attention.  Next to the artwork was a brief summary of Lydia Steele Bailey telling that she had a successful career as a businesswoman in a world of men.  
Sign in front of the Lancaster Newspaper
Office in downtown Lancaster, PA.
She was born in nearby Drumore Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Her father, William and his brothers all served with distinction in the American Revolutionary War.  Her father and his brothers established the Steele Paper Mill in Lancaster County while her mother, herself born a Bailey, was the sister of prominent Revolutionary-era printers, Jacob and Francis Bailey.  Francis was recognized as one of the United States' first type-founders and an official printer for Congress and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Lancaster's downtown newspaper was at one time known as Bailey's Printshop.  At the age of 19 she married her cousin, printer Robert Bailey.  He died ten years later in 1808, leaving her to raise their four children.  
LancasterHistory.org has this book that was printed
by Lydia Steele Bailey in Philadelphia, PA.
Most other women at the time would have found a man to take over the business, but Lydia wasn't like most other women.  She continued the business which had offices in both Philadelphia and Lancaster.  She later became the first woman appointed official printer for the City of Philadelphia.  She received contracts with the University of Pennsylvania and various banks and canal companies.  She was a staunch Presbyterian and printed much material for the church as well as the Female Tract Society, the Orphan Society, the Indigent Widow's and Single Women's Society and the Ladies' Liberia School Association.  
The Annual Report for the
Union Canal Company of PA.
She occasionally published books and pamphlets, but chose to concentrate primarily on book and job printing for others.  She was the master printer of a shop that at its peak was one of the largest in the city, employing more than forty workers.  She worked until the age of eighty-two and lived to the age of eighty-nine.  She closed her business upon retirement.  Most women during the same time in history didn't experience the freedom of economic solvency, independence and social control that she did.  I have a few books printed in Lancaster by Francis Bailey, but none by Lydia Steele Bailey.  I will have to see if I can find something printed by her to add to my collection.  The painting that drew my attention proved to be not only a beautiful piece of artwork, but a lesson in history for me.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The "Amending America: Part II" Story

The display featuring Buchanan and Stevens at LancasterHisrtory.org.
It was an ordinary day.  Visiting several displays in the Lancaster- History.org exhibit titled "Amending America: The Bill of Rights".  My story yesterday told of the traveling exhibit with the name I just mentioned while today's story will tell you about the relationship that two of Lancaster, Pennsylvania's most formidable politicians, President James Buchanan and Congressman Thaddeus Stevens had during the same period of time in our country's history.  
President Buchanan and his Supreme Court Justices.
Their story was also featured directly outside the room at Lancaster- History.org that held the story about "The Bill of Rights."  It had been well known that the two Lancastrians didn't see eye to eye on many things and an alleged sexual comment that Stevens had made about Buchanan certainly didn't help the matter.  At the time it was said that the 15th President of the United States, James Buchanan, a Democrat, favored the Southern States before the Civil War.  
A very early rendering of Buchanan's Wheatland estate.
He was morally opposed to slavery, but believed it was protected by the U.S. Consti- tution.  In 1856 James Buchanan was elected President Of The United States.  He tried at that time to bring peace between the pro-slavery factions in the government and the pro-slavery dissenting groups.  It didn't work well and tensions escalated.  
Buchanan's gravesite in Lancaster.
Southern states drove toward succession which couldn't be stopped by the President, thus many considered Buchanan's presidency a failure which led to his moniker as Worst President in the history of the United States.  But, I wonder if at the time it was widely known that James Buchanan purchased slaves and freed them due to his personal hatred of the institution.  This happened 18 years earlier when he was running for the Senate and it was discussed whether states had the right to allow slavery and if new states being formed had the right to decide if their state would be slave or free.  Pennsylvania had passed the Gradual Abolition Act in 1780, thus they were a free state, but when Mr. Buchanan made a visit to Virginia to see his family, he found his sister and her husband, a minister, owned slaves.  
The home and law office of Thaddeus Stevens in Lancaster, PA.
He knew this fact could ruin his career, so he bought the slaves from his sister.  At the same time he knew he could use servants in his home, but at that time in history, woman managed house servants and James happened to be a bachelor.  So, he hired Ester Parker, the daughter of a local innkeeper who managed the purchased slaves, now turned servants.  He actually had agreements drawn about the length of service his two new servants would have with him.  
Representative Thaddeus Stevens from Lancaster, PA.
At the time in Pennsylvania it was common for free blacks to serve as servants, but it was a sort of "twilight zone between slavery and freedom."  This set the stage for his being known as a "Doughface" which was a derogatory term used to identify a Northern who sympathized with Southerners when it came to slavery.  When he became President he downplayed the issue of slavery and whether it should be legal in expanding U. S. territory.  By the end of his presidency, seven states had left the Union.  Buchanan realized he would never win again, so he chose not to run.  Abraham Lincoln became the next President of the United States.  Now as far as Lancaster's other politician, Thaddeus Stevens.  
Stevens on the floor of the House of Representatives.
He was Lancaster's represen- tative in Congress before, during and after the Civil War who fought all his life for equal rights for black Americans.  As reported in 1870 in Packard's Monthly Magazine, Stevens met Buchanan at a wedding and bowed twice, but Buchanan refused to speak to him and refused to sit with him at the banquet table.  "Foolish fellow!" Stevens said.  "He took offense at some trifling thing I said in a speech."  
State sign telling of Thaddeus Stevens.  His name is
carried on the Thaddeus Stevens' School of Technology.
Stevens had made the remark after President Andrew Jackson appointed Buchanan minister to Russia in 1832.  Stevens allegedly said, "The gentleman has gone to hide his burning blushes amid the frozen snows of Russia."  Now, what he actually meant isn't known, but to them.  It had been reported a few times that Buchanan may have been gay, but I wrote a story a few years ago about his romance with a young girl who eventually was buried in historic St. James Episcopal churchyard in Lancaster.  It has also been said that the gay community has claimed James Buchanan as America's only homosexual president.  So, what did Stevens comment really mean?  I guess they both took it to their graves, but Buchanan never spoke to Stevens again during their lifetime.  Stevens did continue to bow when they met and told everyone they were friends.  After Buchanan's death, Stevens moved that the House of Representatives adjourn as a token of respect, but the Republican-controlled House refused.  So sad that two of the most influential politicians from Lancaster couldn't have gotten along.  My next story in this series deals with another display that was featured during my visit to see "Amending America."  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The "Amending America: Part I" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just walked through the door of LancasterHistory.org which is located directly next to former United States President James Buchanan's home, Wheatland, at 1120 Marietta Avenue in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  My wife, Carol, has given me a Christmas gift the past couple of years of a membership to Lancaster Historical Society which includes visits to LancasterHistory.org as well as visits to Wheatland.  
Entrance into Lancaster, Pennsylvania's Historical Society.
I try to take advantage of my membership as often as I can and today is one of those days.  I came to examine the latest traveling exhibit called "Amending America: The Bill of Rights" which tells the story of our Nation's first 10 Amendments to our country's Constitution.  Just before I walked through the front door I just had to snap a few photographs of the early summer flowers as well as a photo of the front of the remarkable building known as LancasterHistory.org.  The exhibit was developed two years ago by the National Archives on the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.  
Entrance into the "Amending America" display
It has traveled around the country with Lancaster History.org being the 11th stop on the tour.  It had stops at the presidential libraries of Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon as well as a museum in Dallas, Texas and most recently at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore.  All documents and petitions in the exhibit are naturally reproductions.  To make the exhibit special to Lancaster, local curators assembled a complementary exhibit based on Lancaster's own President James Buchanan and Congressman Thaddeus Stevens.  
Stories posted throughout the display tell
the story of the founding of our country.
Click on images to enlarge.
These two Lancastrians were both powerful politicians, but had totally different views about what powers were permitted and prohibited by the Constitution.  The exhibit is somewhat a hands-on exhibit, allowing viewers to vote and attempt to find (in my case guess) answers to questions about the Bill of Rights.  I, at one time about 60 years ago, knew more about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights being I learned about it in American History class in 10th grade, but today I was glad to have visual aides telling me about each Amendment and the rights it gave to every citizen of the United States.  
Our Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to our Constitution, is rooted in English tradition.  But, its creation is a vital part of the remarkable story of American independence.  
As you enter the Amending America area you can see plenty of visuals.
The Bill of Rights represented a joining of the ideals of freedom colonists had come to expect from government and the novel idea of limited government.  
The upper part of one of the displays on The Bill of Rights.
These ideals and the men leading the way were what made the Constitution "admirably calculated to preserve the Union."  The Constitution became a contract with the people, one they could change through the unique Article V, which defined the amendment process.  Twelve amendments were proposed by the First Congress after many citizens expressed support for them.  
The bottom of the display told of events that followed.
Out of those 12, 10 were ratified by the states and became known as our Bill of Rights.
  A few quick facts told in number form in the exhibit were: 11,000+ = number of amend- ments that have been proposed since 1787, 27 = number of ratified amendments from those 11,000+ proposals and 10 = number of ratified amendments that became the Bill of Rights.  The exhibit told about "amendment eras" such as the Founders era (1789-1810) which was the generation that wrote the Constitution and considered it a work in progress and changed it 12 times, the Civil War era (1860-1870), with the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, and the Progressive era (1910-1930, which involved expanding citizen's rights through amendments.  
Each of the first 10 amendments has a large title telling
what each amendment did.   
Amendments are important to the Constitution and take time to pass.  Some were talked about for decades before being passed.    Amendments are much different than laws which get passed quite often and deal with existing problems while by passing an amendment you change the structure of our government.  
Exiting the "Amending America" display you came to the display telling
of the part that President Buchanan and Congressman Thaddeus Stevens did.  
I enjoyed viewing the many displays on each of the 10 Amendments, but what I enjoyed the most was the exhibit created by LancasterHistory.org about the impact of President Buchanan and Congressman Thaddeus Stevens.  This separate display was remarkable and told of Lancaster's role in determining the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.  The following photos will give you a very basic idea of what the main traveling exhibit was like.  Tomorrow I will take you with me as I visit the auxiliary exhibit on Buchanan and Stevens.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.