Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Today In Wyoming's History: July 30

Today In Wyoming's History: July 30:

1918. Poet Joyce Kilmer, U.S. Army sergeant, killed in France.


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree .

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Does anyone here have an Ipad, and if you do, what do you use it for?

I keep seeing them in the hands of lawyers and other businessmen, but I'm not sure why.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Today In Wyoming's History: July 25 The Bannock War.

Today In Wyoming's History: July 25:

1895 Bannock Indians surround 250 settlers in Jackson Hole but are dispersed by the 9th Cavalry.  This was part of the Bannock War of 1895, which was spared by the State of Wyoming prohibiting the killing of elk for their teeth and the subsequent arrest of several Bannock hunters that year.
Bannock Indians in Jackson's Hole by Frederic Remington.
What an amazingly late Indian War.  And frankly, I wasn't even really familiar with the Bannocks being in Wyoming.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Today In Wyoming's History: The British in Wyoming

Today In Wyoming's History: The British in Wyoming: Some time ago I did an entry here on the Irish in Wyoming , which has turned out to be one of the most popular threads on the blog.  People...

British Royal Baby Name Watch: Æthelred the Unready

Right now, the American press is camping outside the hospital in the UK where the "royal baby" is in residence, in part waiting for the announcement of what he'll be named. British bookies (the British bet on everything) are taking bets on that topic.

It seems that the royal baby is always given a name of a prior British monarch. That's fine with me, but I think this go around they ought to reach back and get a nifty one from antiquity. Which is why I'm backing a name rich with English history: 


Now that's a good Saxon name.

It hasn't been used since 1016, in part because the last monarch named that was, well, unready. Also, the Normans came in and spoiled the whole thing just 50 years later and everybody started getting much blander names, like William or Henry.

Enough already.  Let's go back to the monarchy's beginnings, even if the current occupants of the English throne descend from Germans who didn't have anything better to do when the English tossed out one of the occupants of that position.  Time to bring back 


The British Royal News: Why?

I know that Prince William and Princess Kate having a baby is some sort of news, but can anyone explain to me why it is receiving the same level of news attention that Neal Armstrong landing on the moon, or the Fall of Baghdad gets, at least here in the US?

I get that it impacts the line of succession of the British royal throne, but why do Americans care. Didn't we reject all that gold plated plush silliness in 1776? 

And it isn't as if they're the only monarchy still around.  Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands all have European royal families who retain thrones.  At least France, Spain and Greece still have royals who can be identified, even though their countries aren't constitutional monarchies.  Even the Russian imperial line has identifiable descendants, in spite of the disaster of the Russian Revolution.  Jordon and Saudi Arabia have monarchies that actually rule, if people like to observe that sort of thing.  Japan's imperial crown has been occupied by the same family for much, much longer than the English throne has.  Indeed, England has a pretty pronounced history of having booted royal families out, or having their lines die out, and whatnot so that the current group of monarchs, who descend from a family imported from Germany, haven't really been on the throne all that long, in historical terms.

Maybe its just television, which likes big flashy shows, which most European monarchies seem to have grown out of, but the whole thing is a mystery to me.  They aren't, after all, our kings and queens. 

Holscher's Hub: A Natrona County Homestead

Holscher's Hub: A Natrona County Homestead:

I'm not sure of the vintage of this one, but it was occupied for a long time, probably as late as the 1970s.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Oregon Trail in Converse County.

Above is an Oregon Trail marker, placed in 1913, south of Douglas Wyoming. The Oregon Trail itself is visible directly behind it, being the strip of green sagebrush that's grown up over it in the prairie.

The white marker on the top of the hill is a marker used to mark the course of the trail.


 Looking down on the trail.

 The trail is visible in this photo, across the highway, where it goes up the side of a hill.

Erosion in the path of the trail.

Holscher's Hub: An Albany County High Country Homestead

Holscher's Hub: An Albany County High Country Homestead
 Note the horses in the abandoned barn.

This homestead is clearly a 20th Century homestead, and quite near the one pictured in the thread immediately below.  It has a surprising number of outbuildings so the ranch that was headquartered here must have employed some cowboys in addition to the employing the rancher and his family.

Both of the homestead pictured in these two thread are quite high altitude, and were probably late homesteads.

Holscher's Hub: A 1910 Homestead

Holscher's Hub: A 1910 Homestead:

A high country homestead in the Laramie Range, in Albany County.  A  sign indicates that the homestead was filed in 1910, which would explain the high altitude nature of the homestead.  This one must have been occupied until fairly recently, nad might still be during part of the year given the modern plate steel sign.  At least one of the outbuildings appears to probably date from at least as recently as the 1950s.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Contempt of Court

I don't follow the news of criminal trials, or even civil trials, that occur outside of the local area.  I suspect that's surprisingly common for lawyers.  You work at law all day, so you probably don't enjoy the shallow news accounts that the media provides on these events elsewhere.  But, like everyone else, I did pick up a bit of the recent Florida v. Zimmerman trial.

I don't know that there's a really newsworthy story in this trial, other than to the extent that the news media and fractionalism made one.  From the very beginning, the story was basically about a person who exercised the ancient doctrine of self defense against a perceived threat. The right to defend your person is an ancient legal one.  English Common Law always recognized it, and Roman Law also did.  And it happens more often than we might suppose.

The only reason that this story hit the press in the first place is that Florida has a "Stand Your Ground" law, Zimmerman was carrying a concealed firearm, and the decedent was a black teenager.  In other words, the story was tailor made to be misconstrued.  From the onset the subtle theme was that Treyvon Martin was shot because he was a black teenager wearing a hoody, and Zimmerman was a while racist taking advantage of Florida's laws on carrying firearms (which the media hates) and Florida's Stand Your Ground laws (which the media hates) to commit a murder.

There was never any evidence of that story to start with, and even those witnesses sympathetic to a conviction of Zimmerman really didn't support it. Zimmerman, to start with, turns out to be ethnically Hispanic, so in the terms of the slippery fictional definitions of race, he isn't "white" by ethnicity.  There wasn't anything to suggest he targeted Martin because he was black teen as much as it seemed that Martin was in the neighborhood in odd conditions.  There's no evidence of which I'm aware that Martin was in the neighborhood for nefarious purposes, and I'm not suggesting that he was, but apparently there's some evidence that Martin misinterpreted Zimmerman as a homosexual predator and may have doubled back to assault him in some sort of misguided proactive effort to keep him from following him home.

A person, at least in most places, is generally entitled to defend yourself, even up to the point of using deadly force if necessary (but only if necessary) in order to keep yourself from serious bodily harm. That's been very modified here and there over the eons, and it's not a safe assumption anywhere.  It probably never was really a safe assumption anywhere.  But the evidence to charge Zimmerman was wholly lacking, and it shouldn't have occurred.

Indeed, the original prosecutor wouldn't charge him, and somebody else was brought in who did largely as a result of political pressure.  

That Zimmerman was acquitted under these circumstances is s stunning triumph of justice.  I can be pretty cynical about such things, but in this instance, the jury system worked perfectly.  For those who argue about t he jury system being the best protection for the innocent, this case is a modern shining example.  The verdict will be unpopular and criticized and came in a politicized and racially charged atmosphere. That the system worked is absolutely stunning.

That the charge was made in the first place, however, and that such contempt is being shown for the verdict, should be worrisome in the extreme.  The charges fit into a worrisome and developing class of political charges on crimes that should not be prosecuted or shouldn't even exist.  This harkens back to Athenian democracy when individuals could be condemned to death just because the crowed could vote to do it, and in modern terms, we should begin to pause when we criticize the mob in Cairo, as we're beginning to heed the mob in our streets as well.  The mob knows nothing of the law, and acts on emotion.  Here, the mob did, and is, acting on emotion.  In recent years we've seen businessmen and politicians similarly charged with crimes, and often convicted, partially on the basis that their actions were unpopular, which is not a crime or shouldn't be.

And the ongoing criticism is appalling.  Justice Holder even opined that Stand Your Ground laws should be repealed, when he should well know that this event should have come out with the same verdict under the Common Law.  Shame on you, Holder.  And to suggest, as is now being done, that Zimmerman should be now prosecuted for a Civil Rights violation is absurd.

The entire event is a tragedy. But to suggest we toss out the law in order to make a social justice point does violence to the very concept of social justice, and is a disturbing trend indeed.

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
A Man for all Seasons, by Thomas Bolt.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wyoming Roundup: More than Meets the Eye: I-80 Has Many Worthy Stop...

Wyoming Roundup: More than Meets the Eye: I-80 Has Many Worthy Stop...: By Dina Mishev I loved most everything about Wyoming from the moment I moved to the state nearly 20 years ago. With the exception of I-80....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


World War Two poster urging people not to travel for their vacation, so as to keep space on trains for servicemen.

I don't know if anyone has ever written a history of vacations, let alone vacations in the US as a (dieing) institution, but somebody should.  Indeed, it'd make a good topic for a book, albeit a book I'd be unlikely to read myself.

There are a lot of various concepts of what a vacation even means, and we can certainly say that they aren't something that, for the most part, stretch into vast antiquity, at least as we presently understand them, for most people.  Of course, for most they probably weren't needed either.  Still, there are surprising antecedents here and there.

America, and by that we can say the whole of North America, started off as an agrarian society.  Agrarians don't take a lot of vacations, and of course in the 18th Century you couldn't have taken a modern type vacation if you'd wanted to.  It isn't like you could hop in the car and drive to the beach or something.  But that doesn't mean that these societies were without something sort of akin to a holiday.

For the wealthy there were a seasonal migration at that time.  Or a series of them. A pretty good description of this, no doubt taken from actual life, is given in Pride and Prejudice.  In that book we see the wealthy from the cities relocate in the Spring to their estate, to be followed by some sort of big ball, and depart again in the Fall, living in the city during the winter.  And, as the book relates, various balls and festivals occur throughout the year. That's probably fairly accurate, and describes at least life in upper class Europe at the time.  War and Peace, set in the same period, shows something similar for 18th and early 19th Century Russia.  Now, of course, that sort of life would not describe anything approaching what most people experienced at the time, but it does give us more of clue than we might suppose.  For one thing, it shows the highly seasonal nature of life at the time, driven, in part, by the agricultural year and also, in part, by the Liturgical Calendar.  Even for common farming peoples this would have had an impact. There would have been gatherings of various types associated with the yearly rhythm of farming, and some of these would have been associated with what amounts to a big party.  That's still the case for rural people today.  Brandings, for example, in the West occur in the Spring and nearly all of them are followed by a party immediately thereafter.  As branding season is, in fact, a season, that means that from some point in late April through early June there's a lot of such events.  Shipping, which occurs in the Fall, is similar.

In earlier days harvesting was a major such occasion.  And it had a religious expression as well in that Thanksgiving was a Holiday in the true sense. A day that was holy, in that it was for giving thanks to God for the harvest.  It wasn't the only such day, of course. All over the Christian world holidays were Holy Days, with many being Holy Days of Obligation.  In addition to the services of the day, there would typically be gatherings. As travel was slow and arduous, and in some times of the year climatically dangerous, those events could stretch over a period of days.

Religious Holidays were indeed quite big events in some communities; tracing that feature back to the early history of the Church.  Big events like Christmas and Easter saw people on the road quite often. But significant Saints days, for certain communities, took on a festive air.  St. Patrick's Day is still with us in that fashion, although it's tended to loose it's religious theme for most revelers.  Carnival, i.e., Marti Gras ("Fat Tuesday)" is likewise associated with a religious event, that event being the beginning of Lent.  Like St. Patrick's Day, it's lost is religious meaning in the modern world and probably many revellers don't even know that it has one, although 

Not that there wasn't some touring in the pre automobile days, even by those who were not fantastically wealthy.   B. B. Brooks gives a good account in his biography of a hunting trip that took him and his family from Converse County Wyoming up to near Lander, in Fremont County, Wyoming.  It was quite the trip, and involved a lot of fishing, but they did undertake it.  Brooks became a wealthy man, but at that time he was really just starting to enjoy financial success as a Wyoming rancher.

Paintings depicting vacationing Japanese circa 1855.  The vacation isn't unique to Europeans and North Americans.

Theodore Roosevelt gives another good account of such a trip, a hunting trip, in one of his Collier's articles. Roosevelt, of course, was well to do, but he was not fantastically wealthy as some imagine. Both of these involved a period of weeks.  Another such a trip was set out a few years ago in an Wyoming Wildlife article, about an early Wyoming naturalist who undertook a local trip of that type into Yellowstone National Park.  That particular family was not wealthy at all.  What characterizes all of these trips, of course, is time.  They were conducted by means of common to the people who engaged in them, i.e., horse and wagon, but the real luxury these people had, as we'd view it, was ample time.

For the really wealthy, a big tour of that era could be undertaken of course. Using the Roosevelt's again, but looking at the period of T. R.'s youth, his family did a grand tour of the Middle East and Europe.  I'd stated a moment ago, of course, that T. R. was well to do, but not fantastically wealthy (he actually had monetary concerns to some extent for much of his life) and I'd note that this was a trip undertaken with his parents.  His father was quite well to do.  And you can find examples in the 19th Century of people undertaking big tours in North America.  As an odd example, a few of the very few non Indian casualties of the Nez Perce attempt to flea to Canada were members of a party vacationing in Yellowstone.

Those are all week long trips, but local trips of that type did occur.   The "picnic", sort of a day off in the country, was a fairly pronounced 19th Century miniature "holiday" for example.

1896 Calendar depicting a rather boozy picnic in the works.

And there were other such outings by that era. Trips to the beach, or some local wild lands.  Hunting trips. The track. 

It wasn't until the industrial era that we really began to get, however, the modern concept of a vacation.  Industrial life changed everything for people, and that had a lot to do with it.  It's popular to note that there must have been something advantageous to people about the industrial life, as so many rural people moved off the countryside into the cities to engage in it, and in developing parts of the world they still do, but what might be missed about that is that economic conditions in any one era force a lot of people into their work conditions and, by extension, their places of residence.  In the modern world nothing gives better evidence of that than the fact that what a lot of people do as soon as they retire is to abandon the place they've lived for decades and take off to one which they declare they always wanted to live in.  And it's hard to believe that anyone's real desire is to work in a cubicle, but a lot of people, including highly educated people, do.

Indeed, as a total aside, and the topic of an upcoming post, after I started this post, a month ago, Gallup released a poll finding that a whopping 70% of Americans "hate" their jobs.  In looking up the poll, I found that its findings had been exaggerated in the headlines, and actually 70% reported that they were "disengaged" from their jobs. But still, that's extremely disturbing.  It might say something about the need to take vacations, however.  It probably says more about that than many of the professional reactions on how to ensure workplace engagement at any rate.

The conditions of industrial employment changed the nature of daily work for a large majority of people in the industrial world, over time.  Working conditions became oppressive for many people by their nature, but after a time, it came to be the case that people, both blue collar and white collar, had sufficient surplus income in order to take a little time off.  As things progressed, the ability to take that time off evolved into a right.  This was quite an evolution from a world in which people in a "master servant" relationship generally worked six days a week, about twelve hours a day.  It's easy to forget now, but the change to a more endurable work day, and a five day work week, combined ultimately with some vacation time off, was a triumph of organized labor in North America.  Other Western nations saw this development too, and a week or more off became the norm in many of them.

 Satiric effort by Puck, depicting a stylish young woman on vacation, with various men attempting to photograph the "scenery" according to the caption.  Not only had vacations become common, but the snapshot as well.

Even with the Great Depression, in the US a traveling vacation, or at least a trip to somewhere near, had become quite common, the combination of the collective impact of the automobile, organized labors efforts, and the impact of an increasing degree of wealth.  People began to travel for vacation.  Travel by train for long trips was the norm, but even long drives by automobile became very common.

 Puck, in 1914, making fun in the Innocents Abroad type of way.

Post war, the concept of a vacation was fully entrenched.  The introduction of air travel slowly gave rise to some really long distance traveling.  Travel was very expensive at first.  When it was first introduced in the 1920s long distance air travel was very expensive indeed. But by the 1960s it was starting to come down and became inexpensive enough that flights to Hawaii or Europe became affordable for middle class Americans.  That accelerated a phenomenon that was already occurring, that being being the development of "tourist areas" or even "tourist traps" and also the "tourist industry."

The tourist industry, I'd note, is a big deal for Wyoming, even though I don't think most Wyomingites really realize it, unless they're directly involved in it.  Tourism is a pretty big sector of our economy here, probably falling in right after oil and gas exploration.  That tourism would become a major industry for a state really says something about the evolution of tourism.  If we went back a s century we'd find areas where tourism was pretty significant, say various East Coast beaches, or certain communities here and there, but to have it be a big deal for a state, and it is a big deal for several states, would have been pretty much inconceivable.  That people would take trips to distant states, such as Alaska or Hawaii, and that such tourism would really matter to those states, would have been completely unimaginable. And that American would routinely travel abroad to such localities as Europe, New Zealand or Australia would not have even crossed people's minds.

With all this being the case, you would think that vacations had become so fully part of the American culture as they have, for example, in the French culture.  But not so.  Amazingly, vacations are on the decline, a product of an increasingly difficult market for workers, globalization, and probably just the American "work ethic."  Real wages are also declining.  Now, we find, a majority of Americans do not take the full amount of vacation that they're entitled to, and indeed many take none.  I've frequently been in the "none" category myself.

This isn't good.  Vacations serve a natural desire to satisfy our curiosity about one thing or another, but in other ways, they serve to reconnect us with a more natural condition which we instinctively crave, that being the ability to be in nature, or see its wonders, or just have fun with our family and fellows.  To forgo them puts people in a pretty grim situation. And a general decline in what seemingly had become an institution is a disturbing tread.

July 10, 1913: Death Valley . . .


That's hot.

Really hot.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Today In Wyoming's History: July 9, 2013: Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo Parade...

Today In Wyoming's History: July 9, 2013: Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo Parade...: Center Street, Casper Wyoming, 7:00 a.m. Today is the Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo Parade Day, in Casper Wyoming, for 2013. A...

Holscher's Hub: Lahaina Cannons.

Holscher's Hub: Lahaina Cannons.: The Lehaina Cannons, two cannons raised from a sunken Russian warship that went down in 1816 off of Honolulu.  The guns were moved to th...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Being surprised by past conditions

As everyone who stops in here knows, one of the purposes of this blog is supposed to be to explore historical conditions.  The blog itself, of course, meanders a fair bit, so a person could be legitimately excused for not knowing that, but that's the general theme of things here.

Given that this is the authors' focus, you'd think that the authors themselves wouldn't be surprised by the very things they note, but in fact that's not always the case, which demonstrates, I guess, how accustomed we can become to noting things in our own neck of the woods, while running off of general assumptions in regards to other areas.

People stopping in here have no doubt noticed that there are suddenly a lot of photos or reflected posts on Hawai'i up here and that the authors have recently been there.  For me, it's not the first time, but the first time in a very long time.  I think I was last there in about 1975 or so, but frankly, it could have been as long ago as 1972 or 1973.  It's a while back.

At that time, I was pretty young, and while I recall being there, I also frankly wasn't as prepared, rather obviously, to be surprised by one thing or another of the type we generally note here.  This time, much older than I was back then, things are a bit different.

In travelling to Hawai'i, I'll note that we went to Maui and Oahu.  Last time, I went with my mother to Oahu and then to Maui.  We went to Oahu as my mother had a great aunt who lived there, and who actually had been born and raised there.  So we spent most of our time there.  I recall that Maui, where one of her daughters lived, was less developed than Oahu  and I remember visiting the extremely impressive Haleakalā National Park.  I also recall that my cousin was married to a Native Hawaiian and that he was quite the hunter, which really impressed me.  But I didn't run around looking to make observations on old Hawai'i.

 Hunting is a traditional activity of the Polynesians and is very much a local activity in Maui.

I didn't this time either, but perhaps for some reason, I can't help but not do that. So I did a bit. And there were plenty of things that surprised me.

For one thing, I was surprised by the serious nature of cattle ranching on Maui. Frankly, I shouldn't have been, but for some reason I assumed that ranching on Maui was probably a touristy remnant of days long gone by. Not so. There are cattle everywhere outside of town.  And a lot of the country looks like pretty good cattle country to.

I feel downright stupid in making that observation, as its' probably the same sort of observation that tourists make here that I find rather lacking in one way or another.  "You have a lot of cattle here!"  Well, no kidding.  Well. . . they have a lot of cattle there too. And reading up on it, cattle have been a pretty big deal in rural Hawai'i for a really long time.

One thing I wouldn't have been prepared for at all are some of the efforts that were made to develop the cattle industry beyond that which it was.  For instance, one of the islands visible from the southern coast of Maui is a small island most recently used by the Navy as a target range.  Now its a state park, closed to general access, but at one time in the late 19th Century a Wyoming rancher and his partner tried to make the entire island a cattle ranch.  I would never have guessed that.  I guess that also says about how lucrative big time ranching in general was, and how comparatively cheaper Hawaiian land was, prior to air transportation (and more on air transportation in a moment).  No way a Wyoming rancher could buy an island like that today.

 Kahoʻolawe.  During and after World War Two this was a Navy target range, but in starting in the mid 19th Century it was ranch land, and was one big ranch owned by a partnership made up of Wyoming rancher Angus McPhee and Maui landowner Harry Baldwin from 1918 up into the 1940s. Even at the time it was first a target range, it remained a ranch.

That cattle were and are such a big deal shouldn't have surprised me, as pig have been since before European contact.  Pork is a major Polynesian food item, and the pigs sure didn't swim to Hawaii.  Indeed, there were no mammals at all on the Hawaiian Islands before the Polynesians started to colonize them around 1100. They brought the pigs with them.  Before that, the islands were the domain of birds and spiders.  Some really big birds too.

Some of the birds are now extinct.  That's not a surprise to me, but what probably is a surprise to many is that the Polynesians had a major hand in that, in the early colonization process.  The Hawaiian Island were partially deforested in the process of Polynesian colonization, and some of the really tiny remote ones were virtually completely deforstested.  Bird life also took a pounding.  I'm not saying, however, that the Polynesians were bad people for doing that.  They were trying to survive against incredible odds, and to the extent that they recreated the islands to suit their needs, well, it's pretty impressive really.

If pigs are no surprise to me, and cattle shouldn't be, one animal that really, really is, is the horse.  I wouldn't have expected any significant horse use on the islands at all, outside of ranching, but I was very far off the mark.

Saddle Horses today on Haleakala, Maui, Hawai'i.

Horses were apparently introduced to the island relatively shortly after European and received very widespread use.   That really shouldn't have taken me off guard, given the general difficulty in getting around the island, or in transporting anything, at the time.  The last Crown Princess of Hawai'i, Victoria Kaʻiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn, actually died after dying from a cold she caught while riding on Oahu, although her heath had otherwise become weak by her concerns over the fate is the islands and her loss of climatic acclimation by living abroad.  Still, it's interesting that riding had become common in the islands.

The Hawai'ian monarchy had actually established a cavalry unit in order to be able to rapidly deploy troops in an environment in which it otherwise was difficult to, and the U.S. Army consistently deployed cavalry to the islands after the US annexed them in 1898.  Foreign invasion of the islands was a major military concern for the US and while we now principally think of the Navy in this context, the Army had a major role in defending the islands.  A lot of that mission was fulfilled by cavalry, the only type of unit that was capable of going from one spot on the islands to another quickly.  Cavalry remained stationed in the islands as least as late as the 1930s.

I don't know if it was the Army that brought polo to the islands, but I've read that George Patton, who was station in Oahu in the 20s or 30s, played a fair amount of polo while stationed there, which isn't surprising as polo was a huge Army deal at the time.  I noticed that Maui has a polo grounds, which doesn't mean the Army brought it there, but I do wonder.  Anyhow, an area has to be pretty horsey before polo will show up there, particularly a place like Hawaii as it isn't as if it'd be easy to ship your polo pony there, or that it'd be even easy to ship a horse from one island to another.  Anyhow, it says something about how common horses had become.

Indeed, horses were such a factor in the Army's role in Hawaii that Hawaii was one of the first locations in which the Army made a dedicated effort to phase them out.  Mechanization of artillery started to come in during World War One, but it was still something that was somewhat underway as late as World War Two.  Anyhow, while a surprising location, to me, for such an effort, Hawaii was one of the areas where the Army mechanized artillery nearly immediately after World War one.

One thing that very much surprised me, and shouldn't have, is the lack of sea transportation in the islands. As close as they are, you'd think that all the major islands would have ferry services.  They do not.  There are ferry services that serve very nearby islands. For examples, the islands that are within very close proximity of Maui have ferry services, which makes sense. But if its a major island, it won't be in ferry contact with the others. That struck me as really odd, until I realized later that the economics of it just don't allow for that in the modern era.

Traditionally, of course, the Hawaiians traveled from one island to another by seagoing outrigger canoes.  But you can't carry much in a boat of that type.  The Polynesians themselves used more substantial boats, albeit still pretty small, for long distance travel  No doubt that was the norm in the islands up through, and after World War Two, as well. That is, people who lived there went from one place to another by boat.  I guess a ferry existed that operated between Maui and Oahu within the past 15 or so years.  So why not now?

 Traditional outrigger canoe.

Well, it probably doesn't make economic sense.

In my mind's eye, I imaged a situation, for example, where a businessman in Oahu might want to go to Maui for the day and work.  A car ferry would allow him to take his car over, do his work, and catch the ride home that evening.  Makes sense, right?

Probably not.  For one thing, being a landlubber, I probably don't' appreciate the number of hours involved in a trip of that type.  It'd probably be a three day deal, allowing for transportation. And in thinking on it, it makes a lot more sense to just fly over to Maui, rent a car, do your work, and go home.  That's probably a lot cheaper.  Indeed, depending on prices, that's what I'll do quite often if I need to go to a town or city over five road hours away.  I can do it quicker and cheaper by flying and renting a car. That should have occurred to me.

Pearl Harbor, by air.

Maui, by air.

So that air travel has become as vital, for intra islands transportation, as it has become for intra state travel in Alaska, shouldn't have surprised me.  I'm still not entirely convinced that some sort of passenger ferry wouldn't be somewhat viable, but it probably isn't.

On air travel, the airplane has made modern Hawaii what it is, for good or ill.  That's not a criticism, just an observation.  Hawai'i is beautiful and much of it remains unspoiled, but frankly Honolulu is a place that I think only a person who loves really big cities would love.  It's an obvious major destination for Japanese tourists, and has been for decades. Signs are frequently in English and Japanese. Chances are to residents of crowded Tokyo, it's pretty neat.  But no matter what, you couldn't have done a Japan to Hawai'i vacation without the airplane.

For that matter, you really had a hard time doing one from the US to Hawai'i, although one of my grandfathers had done just that. As a young man, his health deteriorating, he was sent to Oahu to live with relatives there.  This was prior to World War One, and it involved a long sea voyage, quite obviously, as part of the trip.  His health was pretty bad at the time, and they sent him there for the weather, activity and to relax, which he apparently did.  I've seen one photo of him from that time period (I never met him myself) and his is indeed a skinny, very sick looking, young man in the period.

But that a rarity indeed, made possible by his father assisting in it and by the fact that his cousins and aunts were living there, making it somewhat cheaper than the norm.  For most people, traveling to the islands wasn't even a remote possibility until the airplane made it easy, although tourism was already a factor in the islands economy in the early part of the 20th Century. Still, on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, while there were hotels there, they weren't garden variety tourists for the most part, but fairly well heeled ones.  

The pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel, built as a luxury hotel (which it still is) in 1927.  As a complete aside, this photos has two Japanese tourist in the foreground, with one posing for the other with arms raised.  While not to seem culturally insensitive, this seems to be very much a Japanese cultural affectation, as Japanese tourists seem to invariably strike one of about three poses when being photographed.  This is one, with the person being photographed having his fingers in the "V" sign.  The same sign, with arms at the side is very common, and young female tourists seem to like to pose for male companions in a hip swung sort of pose with arms at the side as if pointing to something, no matter how dense the crowd near them may be.

Air travel to the islands was, at first brutally expensive, and prior to World War Two it was something that was really only undertaken by the very well to do.  After the war, however, air travel, while still not cheap, became much more affordable.  By the 60s it was very affordable, and now, while not cheap, it's well within the reach for Middle Class Americans.  In the meantime, air travel has expanded to where it is now possible to fly directly to Maui as well, which was not the case until 1983.
The first intra island air travel was on a plane like this. Well suited for its role, it'd be slow for most air passengers today.  Model at the Pacific Aviation Museum.

 Pan American in its post World War Two glory days.  This aircraft model, at the Pacific Aviation Museum, depicts a Pan American Strato Cruiser, a commercial airliner variant of the B-29 Stratofortress of World War Two.  Pan American used this long range aircraft to replace its prewar flying boats.  This airplane was the type that was used to fly all the way to Japan, with stops in Honolulu and Wake Island.

While tourists come to Hawai'i by plane, it's still the case that a lot of what's used in the islands still is local in one sense or another.  I've spoken elsewhere about local breweries, which tended to be lost in the US and reappear, but they were never lost in Hawai'i, other than during prohibition.  And the same is true of a lot of other products, some being surprising.  Portuguese sausage, for example, has a long local history, reflecting the immigration of Portuguese farmers to the islands in the early 20th Century.  And the islands still farm sugar cane and mill sugar, shipping the product back to the US.

Anyhow, some odds and ends in observations.  And I guess a final comment.  I wonder what it says about a person who picks up such observations while on such a trip? 

Friday, July 5, 2013

The end of the Anglo Californian

Yesterday, July 4, 1915, is the anniversary of the sinking of the Anglo Californian, and also the anniversary of the death of its heroic captain, Frederick Parslow, who received the Victoria Cross due to the action.

PARSLOW Frederick Daniel: Posthumous award. Merchant Marine. Horse Transport Anglo Californian. Citation: For most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of the Horse Transport "Anglo Californian" on the 4th July 1915. At 8am on 4th July 1915 a large submarine was sighted on the port beam at the distance of one mile. The ship, which was entirely unarmed, was immediately manoevred to bring the submarine astern; every effort was made to increase speed, and a S.O.S. call was sent out by wireless, an answer being received by a man-of war. At 9a.m. the submarine opened fire making occasional hits until 10.30a.m. meanwhile Lieutenant Parslow constantly altered course and kept the submarine astern. At 10.30a.m. the enemy hoisted the signal to abandon the vessel as fast as possible and in order to save life Lt. Parslow decided to obey and stopped engines to give as many of the crew as wished the opportunity to get away in the boats. On receiving a wireless message from a destroyer however urging him to hold on for as long as possible he decided to get way on the ship again. The submarine then opened a heavy fire on the bridge and boats with guns and rifles wrecking the upper bridge, killing Lt. Parslow and carrying away one of the port davits causing the boat to drop into the sea and throwing its occupants into the water. At about 11a.m. two destroyers arrived on the scene and the submarine dived. Throughout the attack Lt. Parslow remained on the bridge on which the enemy fire was concentrated entirely without protection and by his magnificent heroism succeeded, at the cost of his own life, in saving a valuable ship and cargo for his own country. He set a splendid example to the officers and men of the Mercantile Marine.
From:   http://www.militaryhorse.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=9302&start=540

Interesting window into the way things were, almost a century ago.  Not only that Europe's major industrial powers would be at war with each other.  Captain Parslow's cargo was a shipment of 947 horses, going from Montreal to the United Kingdom, for British military use during the war.  A tiny fraction of the number of horses that would be needed.  Interesting to see the extent to which horse transportation remained so critical that late, and even beyond.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Holscher's Hub: Pacific Aviation Museum: Rebuilding a Boeing F4B

Holscher's Hub: Pacific Aviation Museum: Rebuilding a Boeing F4B:

This would have to be like building the greatest wooden model kit, like I used to sometimes get when I was a kid (the frustrating wooden ones that could be powered), of all time.  Pretty neat.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

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