Extraordinary Stories

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The "War Is Hell Museum" Story

Brochure and tag worn at the Medical Museum
It was an ordinary day.  Standing with my Granddaughter, Camille, in one of the displays at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland.  After reading about and viewing the display she gives me a, "That's really gross!" And ... I must admit I agreed with her.  It truly is unimaginable how soldiers in the Civil War, both Union and Confederate, could have endured the horrible pain and suffering associated with being shot or injured in battle.  We were standing in front of an interactive display that told of different soldier's mishaps and what happened to them.  Several frames, which featured a short story and sketch or early photo of a soldier, could be opened to see what happened to that soldier.  
My granddaughter opens one of the frames that shows the results
of a statement on the front.  In this display pictures of soldiers
are displayed telling you what malady they had when they
enlisted and whether they became a soldier or were sent home. 
And ... some of it was really gross as my grand- daughter said.  The museum, which is billed as the #1 Tourist Attraction in Frederick, is located in the historic district of downtown Frederick in an old building that was perhaps a downtown store at one time.  The museum presents the challenges faced by doctors and surgeons during the Civil War and highlights the innovations that resulted from that era.  
This is a surgeon's operating kit.
Fields such as neurology and plastic surgery made great advance- ments during this era.  One display showed a picture of a soldier who had most of his lower face missing and what it looked like after surgery and skin grafting.  Not the same as today, but it was amazing what they could do with the resources they had at the time.  
The rear of the Autenrieth Medicine Wagon
can be seen extending from the wall.
As Camille and I went from one display room to the next, we got to see just how horrible war really can be.  One display showed the rear of a Autenrieth Medicine Wagon and how it was equipped.  There were three types of medicine wagons that were used during the Civil War.  One would be used to restock field hospitals, one would be used as a "clean up" crew after battles and collect the deceased while another one would be used as a type of ambulance and be a mobile surgical wagon.  An early medicine wagon was constructed in 1862 according to plans of Union Medical Director Jonathan Letterman.  
An etching of what the wagon looked like.
This Autenrieth wagon was unique in that it contained sliding shelves and drawers to hold medicines and supplies as well as a sliding flat work surface that could be pulled out when the back of the wagon was opened.  This surface could be used as an operating table right in the field.  Eventually, the medical wagon would be considered one of the greatest accomplishments of the Civil War.  
This is a painting of a river boat hospital.
Our modern ambulances are based on this medical wagon. We also discovered that river boats and steamships were used as hospital rooms.  Each ship would have a surgeon and assistant surgeon.  
A real life display showing a surgeon preparing to
amputate a soldier's leg.
Railroad cars were also modified to transport the wounded from the front line to hospital centers.  Railroad cars specifically produced for medical transport were being built by the Philadel- phia Railroad Company by 1863.  The medicine used by both sides in the Civil War is pretty much no longer used or is perhaps what we would consider to be over-the-counter medicine today.  
Another display shows a soldier with hospital knapsack.
A few facts I should share are: Anesthesia was used in at least 95% of major surgeries, there were twelve African American men who served as Union surgeons during the war, prior to the Civil War any system of hospitalization was virtually unknown in America, many women served as nurses in the military hospital making nursing an accepted profession and the success of the hospitals during the war led to an increased acceptance of hospitals as places of healing as they are today.  

I believe we both walked out the door of the museum with a better under- standing of how terrible war can be and what the young men who fought for both sides had to endure for years.  The lucky ones escaped without needing any medical attention or had to suffer a medical fate I wouldn't wish on anyone.  And, I can't imagine the stress and life-altering impression the war must have made on those who had to treat those wounded.  This museum certainly lays fact to the saying of "War is Hell!!"   It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.           

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The "Hey, How About A Bronze Statue" Story

This is an etching of the scene at Stevens' deathbed in Washington, D.C.
It was an ordinary day.  Just celebrated the anniver- sary of Thaddeus Stevens' death in Washing- ton, D.C. at the age of 76.  He died at midnight on August 11, 1868 at his home on South B Street which is located near the Capitol.  The original New York Tribune newspaper article which talked about his death was an extensive story on the front page of the newspaper on August 13. The article told that the house in which he died was "were born and matured most, if not all, of those important measures of legislation which have become woven into the history of the Republic, and which will remain a monument more enduring than bronze to the memory of the great Pennsylvania."  Only problem is ... there isn't a statue anywhere in Washington, D.C. to honor "The Great Commoner."  
Statue at Thaddeus Stevens College
of Technology in Lancaster, PA.
The only statue that exists, as far as I can determine, is in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in front of the Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.  The home and law office where he lived with his long-time housekeeper, before he sold an adjoining house to her, has been preserved in downtown Lancaster.  His housekeeper, Lydia Hamilton Smith, was a woman of mixed race which probably was talked about throughout his lifetime. It was said that Stevens', who was a champion of woman's rights and minorities, had a cistern behind his home that included a small passageway which was used for runaway slaves.  He also was said to have employed a spy who would learn the plans of slave hunters and pass the information on to those slaves. I should tell you that it was never proven that he did this, but I guess it was possible considering his views on slavery and minorities.  
A drawing of Stevens' home and law office in downtown Lancaster.
As a U.S. Represen- tative, Stevens played a crucial role in the abolition of slavery and was instru- mental in the creation and passage of three amend- ments to the U.S Constitution. So, why is there not a monument in bronze to honor Stevens?  There is a building, Stevens Hall, which is located at Gettysburg College, named for him in Gettysburg, PA with a statue of Abraham Lincoln in front of it.  
The bronze plaque that is
displayed at our new bridge.
Click photo to enlarge.
My goodness, Thaddeus Stevens had provided the land for Gettysburg College when it was founded in 1832.  You think they would at least put a statue somewhere on the campus.  After all, he was an avid abolitionist and supporter of freedmen during Reconstruction.  We at least have the only bronze statue in front of the college we named after him here in Lancaster, PA and have recently named a new bridge leading into the city of Lancaster from the north to honor him.  We recognize his value and importance to United States history, and will continue to celebrate, yearly, the anniversary of his death with a ceremony at his gravesite in Shreiner-Concord Cemetery which was one of the few cemeteries at the time in Lancaster that would allow people of color to be buried there.  He was truly "The Great Commoner."  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This is Stevens final rites at the Shreiner-Concord Cemetery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
A great etching of Thaddeus Stevens.  My youngest son was named after him when born in the Bicentennial year of 1976.

Stevens' granite stone in the cemetery at the corner of W. Chestnut and N. Mulberry Streets in downtown Lancaster.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The "City Mayors Come & Go, But Some Are Harder To Get Rid Of" Story

The 247 East Orange Street home of Mayor John Passmore.
It was an ordinary day.  Hoping my story title would fit in the place provided by Blogspot, since it is a fitting title for my story today.  Story's about Lancaster, Pennsylvania's first mayor, John Passmore.  Now, my story is as much about Mr. Passmore's residence as it is about his being a mayor.  
The carriage stepping stone and hitching
post still remain in front of the home.
John Passmore was born in 1774 in Newcastle, Delaware and later moved to Lancaster where he entered the office of the Honorable James Hopkins as a law student and eventually was admitted to the law practice in 1797.  In 1809 John was appointed Prothonotary of the Lancaster District of the Supreme Court by Governor Simon Snyder and in 1818 was appointed an alderman of the city of Lancaster, PA.  Later that year he was appointed to be the first Mayor of Lancaster, a position to which he was twice re-elected.  He was the Mayor until 1820.  He lived in a home at 247 East Orange Street which was located at the corner of Orange and Shippen Streets.  The house was originally built in the 1780s by merchant Thomas Poultney, and later sold to Dr. Christian Neff, and is in the Georgian style of architecture.  
The historical marker that was placed
in front of the home in 1950.
Mayor Passmore was the third owner of the home.  Down the street from Mr. Passmore's home, at 215 East Orange, lived diarist Christopher Marshall.  Eventually James Buchanan, later to become President of the United States, bought that home and was neighbors with John Passmore for a few years.  Neat feature of the Passmore home was the mirror that would allow one to look out an upstairs window and see who was knocking at the front door.  Originally there was a sundail mounted on the outside wall of the house near the front door.  On my visit today to take photos I didn't see either the mirror or the sundial, but the hitching post and carriage stepping stone were still in place in front of the home.  John Passmore died in his home at the age of 52 in 1827.  This 480 pound man was so large that there wasn't a hearse in the city large enough to hold his large wooden coffin so a large wagon was called to the home to take him to his grave. The home remains in near-perfect condition to this day at the corner of Orange and Shippen.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The "A Neat Addition For Your Smartphone's Camera: The Photoshoot" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Enjoying my LIEQI 3-in-1 photo lens kit that I recently purchased on Amazon.  The lenses fit onto my Smartphone by the use of a clip that hooks over the camera lens on the phone.  And, the quality of the the resulting photographs is great.  Yesterday I wrote of the three different lenses while today I will show you a couple of photos taken with the Macro lens, which is my favorite of the three lenses.  I showed the lens kit to friends one evening last week after returning home from eating and they said it would make a great stocking stuffer for their three daughters.  The kit really isn't a replacement for high quality lenses for a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera (DSLR), but for the amateur photographer, such as myself, it helps with speciality photos you may want to take.  Hope you enjoy the results I obtained with the macro lens that comes with the kit.  All photos in this photoshoot were taken with my iPhone.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - remember to click on the photographs to get a better view.

"Hens and Chicks" 
A single plant aglow after a rain. Taken with the macro lens.
Seashells from various Caribbean islands.
A lone urchin shell.
The Hibiscus plant.

The two above photos show the red part known as the stiga and the anthers under them.
The daisy
and … a visitor to the flower that I happened upon.
Liriope grass we have growing in a garden yields this purple flower.
That flower actually opens to yield what you see above.
This is a night-blooming lilly about to open.
The center of the lilly is poetry in motion.
The leaf of this night blooming day lily is hiding something!
Ah!  It is a spider beginning to form a trap for other insects.
This is the night blooming day lily after opening.
The center of the lily is about to open.
Water on the plant adds a new dimension to the lily.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The "A Neat Addition For Your Smartphone's Camera: The Device & Samples" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just opened the package that was left at the rear door a few minutes ago.  It was about two weeks ago that my friend Sue, who lives in State College, PA sent me an email telling me to open the link she shared to my Facebook Page.  Link was to a product the I knew I just had to have as soon as I read about it.  A company by the name of Lux HD450 had just released a super-premium line of auxiliary Smartphone lenses that bring professional image quality to today's Smartphone cameras.  The set of three lenses included a Macro, Wide Angle and Fisheye as well as a 3-in-one universal clip lens.  Checked out Amazon and found something very similar known as LIEQI.  Price really surprised me when I saw it; kit sold for $9.99.  
Snaps over the camera of the Smartphone.
Clicked order and within a few days I had my Smartphone lenses.  Guess I should tell you that I only got my iPhone half-a-year ago and it is my very first Smart- phone.  I just managed to learn how to use the features it offers and now I have something new to add to it.  I have been using my Sony DSLR for just about all my photographs I take, but after seeing my initial results, I may have to plan to take some with my Smartphone.  
I took this photo of my rear deck with my phone in the Pano mode.
Some comments for you about the kit I just received after giving it a try for a couple of days: (1) The fisheye lens doesn't give me the same result as my fisheye lens I used to have before I loss it on one of the Caribbean islands we visited.  I tried the square mode, but the circular effect I got with my old lens made it look more like the traditional fisheye.  
This is from the same spot with the camera in Photo mode.
(2) The wide angle gives a more distorted look than a DSLR wide angle lens, but most people won't notice.  I actually like the panoramic feature on the Smartphone just as much as the wide angle. (3) The macro lens is the one lens that is amazing.  It gives results that look as if they were taken with an expensive DSLR macro lens.  
This is with the new wide angle lens attached to the phone.
I'm not too impressed with what that lens can accomplish.
Took me quite a few tries before I partially mastered how close you must be to get results that are perfectly focused.  The results I got with my DSLR with my zoom/ close-up lens were decent, but not as detailed as the LIEQI macro.  And, the neat feature with the LIEQI is that if can be used on the Apple, Android or virtually any other Smartphone.  The bracket that comes with the lenses is easy to clip to the phone and I found that it was easy to line up with the lens on the phone.  I have included some samples that you can judge for yourself.  I plan to continue to use at least the macro for my photos I take.  Definitely worth the money it cost.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - Tomorrow I will take you on a photo shoot showing you before and after shots using my new Macro lens.

This photo and the one below were taken with the Fish-Eye lens.  Again, just Okay, but not real spectacular.
This was with the Macro lens.  It is remarkable!  You must move very close to the object since you can't zoom anything, but the results are very nice.  The following four photos are more examples of the lens.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The "Canals And The Era Of Water Transportation: Part II - Lancaster's County's Boon" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Yesterday's story told of the canals that were built in Lancaster County in the 1800s.  Today I will take you on a visual journey along the canals that ran from the Chesapeake Bay north to the Juniata River.  This canal was hand dug, lined with hand-cut stone with the excavated "fill" thrown along the water's edge to produce a tow path.  A covered bridge connected Columbia, PA, about 20 miles to the west of Lancaster, on the east side of the Susquehanna River, to Wrightsville, PA, on the west side of the river.  
Columbia is located at the top of this sketch. The Pennsylvania
Railroad tracks are along the edge of the city, along the river.
Between the railroad tracks and the river is the canal. 
The Pennsyl- vania Canal was on the east side of the river while the Susque- hanna and Tidewater Canal was on the west side of the river.  A two-tiered towpath was constructed along the south side of the covered bridge that ran across the river for transporting canal boats from the Pennsylvania Canal across the river using teams of horses and mules walking on the towpath.  The canal boats would then link with the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal for their journey to Baltimore or to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal which opened in 1840.  The only problem faced by the canal boat operators was the winter ice and floods that closed the canals.  Eventually the weather problems as well as the increase in railroad routes led to the decline of the canals, causing the canal at Columbia to be closed in 1901. The following photos are from a variety of sources from in old books to old photos found Online.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This view of the canal at Columbia is looking south toward the covered bridge.  The piers of the bridge in the background are still in the river.  You can see the lock and basins in the foreground.
The Susquehanna Canal parallels the Pennsylvania Railroad at the base of Chickies Rock near Columbia as seen on this 1908 postcard.  Note the new utility poles that are not yet wired.  Chickies Rock is a county landmark.  Near its summit was an amusement park which was accessible by trolley line from Columbia.  This scene is looking south along the Susquehanna.  
A postcard showing the canal basin.
Here you can see the many canal boats loaded with coal and the piles of coal that are between the canal and the Susquehanna River.
A photo from a book on the Pennsylvania Canal
A covered bridge over the canal in Columbia.
 So what remains?  Here are the remains of one of the outlet locks at Columbia, PA.  The land wall is looking towards the river.