I started this website as a research exercise, something fun to do, and lastly a way to document all of these items for my kid. That way when I move along, and she inherits all of this stuff, she will also inherit the stories that go with them. That brings me to today’s item.
While getting ready to take my kid on her first camping trip I pulled out my Father’s Vietnam era canteen. I procured this from him ages ago back in high school, thus I haven’t really thought much about it. Well, this canteen was very cool to the kid (I should also mention that she’s five). That got me thinking… This is the same thing that has happened with many of the items from my Grandparents; items that they were used to seeing became supercool things to me years later. So, I decided to see what I could find out about the canteen.
The nylon cover is marked as Model 1967. From what I discovered 1967 was the year the military implemented a new change to their gear. Among the changes was the canteen cover. From a website I found they listed these upgrades:
· nylon replaced all remaining cotton webbing items
· aluminum or plastic replaced steel or brass hardware, where possible
· “Hook and Pile” fasteners (Velcro) were used wherever practical to replace zippers or snaps
Now this case, while being nylon, still has brass snaps and steel clips on the back. Most likely this means that it was issued soon after the changes were implemented but before they could change out to the black plastic snaps and aluminum clasps.
My Dad remembers the changes that took place in 1967 and said that this is when they also changed up to plastic canteens. Before then everyone still used metal. It was exactly the same size (1 quart) but he didn’t receive his new one until he had been home for a while and was with the reserves. That is why his is dated 1974 on the bottom.
The canteen is also stamped with a diamond logo and the name Zarn. From what I can tell, Zarn was a plastics company that among other things also made large trash containers and in 1961 the very first plastic milk bottle. They have since been bought by the French company Burelle SA and are now called Plastic Omnium Zarn. As for the liner there are two possible names, DSA and CBS Enterprises Inc., neither of which I can find with any certainty.
So there you have it. The story of a canteen.
This little 15 page publication has a copyright of 1939 and was self published by the author Edward L. Senn. I don’t know when exactly my Grandpa George picked this up, but I am going to assume it was soon after the publication on a trip to Deadwood. By the time The War started he was very busy at working for the The War effort, and in 1944 my mom was born, which of course probably kept them equally busy. So that pretty well dates this item.
The book is decently written and appears to have avoided the old trap of romanticizing The West. Mr. Senn first takes on the lore of the old dime store novel character Deadwood Dick, which apparently was nothing more than that of a fictional character. In the old Blood & Thunder publications of the late 19th century Deadwood Dick was a modern day Robin Hood wholly created by Edward L. Wheeler. Senn notes that as far as he can tell Wheeler never even made it out to the Black Hills. While Deadwood Dick was fictitious, it didn’t stop the name from being attached to three real individuals over a short period of time right around the incorporation of the town of Deadwood in 1876, two of which were involved in theater.
Calamity Jane, as many of the devoted fans of the TV show Deadwood can tell you, was indeed a real person. Senn does an excellent job trying to break down the fact from fiction of Ms. Martha Jane Canary, even pointing out that Jane was likely not her real middle name. While there was plenty of material written about Calamity Jane, including a self aggrandizing autobiography, very little of which was factual. One advantage Senn had was that there were individuals still alive that harked back to those frontier days. From those primary sources and other material he gives a decent picture of her real life…
Marthy, as she calls herself, was born in Missouri in 1852, and her family headed north and west in her early teens. In 1866 her mother passed away in Blackfoot, Montana, and her Father soon followed two years later when they were in Salt Lake City. It is unclear what happened to her siblings other than they all ended up at Ft. Bridger (Wyoming Territory) in 1868. At this point the story gets blurry. As Senn puts it “Thus at age 15 she was thrown upon her own resources at a frontier army post at a time when respectable women were rare at such places and the soldiers were largely derelicts of humanity.”
Senn figures that what most likely happened is she became a “Camp Follower” which is the polite term for prostitute. She claims to have become an Army scout, though there are no Army records to indicate such (and as Senn points out there are some very good military records from that time). Now Senn does come to her defense by pointing out that over time she very well may have come to join scouting parties, which might add some validity to her claims. Either way, she was living a pretty rough life.
Her travels and dates of such are pretty hard to prove, along with when she actually became known as Calamity Jane. Though he was able to show from firsthand accounts that she arrived in Deadwood (either again or for the first time) in June of 1876 with Wild Bill Hickok, “Colorado Charlie” Utter (yes, the one from the TV show) his brother Steve Utter, along with a few others. From there her legend, and her legendary drinking, became history.
While I can find many references to this little pamphlet, and others by Senn just like it, I cannot find much about the man. He appears to have been a journalist in Deadwood going back to 1909, and one of his history books on the early Pioneers of the Black Hills is readily available. He lived until 1951, and is buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood alongside Calamity Jane, Wild Bill, Preacher Smith, and Seth Bullock, which I am sure suits him just fine.
A postcard of the Hall of Science from the 1933 “A Century of Progress” World’s Fair in Chicago. The guide book states it covered about 400,000 square feet, which was massive. In it all of the sciences were represented except astronomy, which was covered by the Adler Planetarium. There were also displays from businesses like the Scholl Manufacturing Company were experts trained by Dr. Scholl examined and helped people with their feet issues.
The building sat caddy corner to Soldier Field (going southeast) on what was called the South Lagoon (now called Burnham Harbor). The parking lot for Burnham Harbor, some bike trails, and part of Museum Campus Drive now cover that spot. It appears that since that time not even the street names remain the same.
My Grandfather kept one of his employment IDs that were issued during The War. As I’ve mentioned, Stewart-Warner in Chicago was heavily involved in the war industry making various gauges, radio components, and the like. Since it is clearly dated as June of 1943 I’m going to assume that he was issued a new card every month. This was the only ID he saved and he glued it down in his scrap book. Fortunately, he only applied the glue to the corners, otherwise I doubt I would have been able to lift this as clean as I did.
I’m going to assume that this 6” square sheet was meant to be put up on your house window to show your financial support for The War. (The tape marks at the top and bottom help back that theory up.) This appears to be a local product from Chicago that maybe my Grandpa George’s work had printed up. (The lack of U.S. Printing Office markings leads me to that conclusion.) He was employed by Stewart-Warner, a company that was heavily involved in the war effort by making radios, gauges, and the like, and I know they held many drives associated with their company.
The 6th War Loan started in 1944 and went up to May of ‘45 when the 7th War Loan kicked in. These loan campaigns were the Federal Government’s means of paying for the war (a novel concept these days). While many propaganda images and films from this campaign exist on the web, there is surprising little written about the actual loan drive itself. As a matter of fact, the only start date of the campaign that I could find was on Wikipedia, but that appears to be wrong since it states it started in November of 1944, while this sheet is clearly marked as being printed in October of that year. (Another shining example of why Wikipedia is a not an academic resource.)
Looks to me like I discovered a good thesis subject for some young budding Ph.D. candidate.
Last week I posted the opposite side of this page from the September 29, 1935 Chicago Tribune. While the Joe Louis fight was interesting, I do believe this was the actual reason my Grandfather kept this sheet.
The 1935 Cubs won the National League Pennant but lost to the Tigers in the World Series (of which I have one of my Grandpa’s tickets). While that would be enough reason to remember that year, there are two other fun facts that made them stand out: This was the last time they ended a season with 100 wins. That alone is a good one, but to reach that record they did so with a 21 game win streak. I’m sure the quote at the top is a reference to that great run, which didn’t begin until near the end of the season on September 4th. Those two facts really made them quite the team.
This photo was taken out along the left field wall. The building that you can see the most of is still there on Waveland Ave, but that area of Wrigley has changed a lot since then. That wall is long gone (and replaced with one that while looking old is clearly not the same) and seats were extended over that area. This means that this view can no longer be seen from the field. Still, that doesn’t stop me from trying to imagine what it was like when my Grandpa saw a World Series at Wrigley.
This full page of the Chicago Tribune is from September 29, 1935. I found it folded up between a bunch of other papers in a box. The photos are from the Joe Louis vs. Max Baer fight that took place in a packed Yankee Stadium. Baer had already been the World Heavyweight Champion by beating Max Schmeling in 1933. Schmeling was from Germany and was considered Hitler’s favorite athlete. It was because of that fight and victory that Baer, whose father was Jewish, wore a Star of David on his trunks in every match after he beat Schmeling. You can clearly see the Star in the fourth picture. As for this match it wasn’t a title bout. So while being a big fight it isn’t either Louis’s or Baer’s biggest bout. Plus, I have no other indication that my Grandpa George was in to boxing (though I wouldn’t have been surprised if he was because he apparently loved all sports). It wasn’t until I finally opened up this sheet did I figure out why I think he kept it. More on that next week.
This is exactly what it looks like, a bus transfer, except this wasn’t from a bus but from a street car line that ran on the north side of Chicago. I couldn’t figure out the name of the company from their initials so I contacted a guy named Bob that runs his own fan page of Chicago transit history. He told me that the N. C. ST. R.R. CO. was the North Chicago Street Railroad Co. They were a private company that held the charter to run rapid transit (a term that apparently existed even back then) on the north side. They went through a few different mergers and eventually were swallowed up in to the modern day CTA.
The N. C. ST. R.R. CO. was a cable car line founded by a guy named Charles Yerkes who had a big influence on public transportation. He was quite the entrepreneur back in his day. Besides this company he also acquired the Lake Street Elevated RR Co. and formed the Union Elevated RR Co. which built the Union Loop in downtown Chicago. The Union Loop eventually became known simply as the Loop, which of course is the foundation of the “L” that still runs today. He eventually sold pretty much everything and moved to London, where he became the backing arm and developer of what became the London Underground. Today his name is all but forgotten, which is rather odd being that he founded both the L and The Tube. The only remnants that I can find are the Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin (run by the University of Chicago) and the Yerkes crater on the Moon. I did find this old brochure from 1889 that has a great art cover showing one of the North Chicago cars along with some photos of how the cable system worked.
I made an attempt to figure out why my Grandpa George put this transfer in his scrapbook. He wasn’t alive in 1899 so most likely he came across it in one of his ancestor’s belongings (much like how his stuff came down to me). I looked up January 26 and it was a Thursday that apparently nothing of interest happened. Most likely one of my relations used this coming home from work and it just by chance was saved. So now, 114 years later, it has managed to end up in my hands.
Ever wonder what an old time Driver’s License looked like? Well, probably not but here you go anyway. It’s just a bit bigger than a modern license except this one is printed on a very thin photo paper. Apparently what they did is take your picture, staple it to the document, then give you a copy. What I find most interesting is that you were allowed to have your photo taken while wearing your hat at a rakish angle.
I’m sure this training went hand in hand with her work with the Civilian Defense during WWII. Those cards show that she was apparently active on the home front during The War. Sadly, I didn’t find these cards until I was cleaning out her basement after she passed away, thus I never had a chance to ask her about what her life was like during that time. Yet another missed opportunity.
While the big names and stories of history are always interesting it is the history of the “common man” that intrigues me the most. I’ve always been drawn to the ephemera of every day life from the past, and of course the oral histories that go along with them. This of course explains why I saved these little bits from her basement.
Patriotic Leagues existed all over the country during the First World War, and were responsible for various organized war effort activities ranging from financial collections, to Red Cross work, to those now classic WWI propaganda posters. While being very common in their day there is surprising little out there on the internet about their form and structure. I managed to find one document from the University of Colorado that gives a glimpse into their function. It appears that each group was responsible for their own creation and mission with little oversight from any official agency. This is most likely the reason why it is so hard to find any background on them. So whatever they did in Chicago, one of my ancestors was apparently involved.
My brother found this in the basement of my Dad’s before his recent move. The Lucky Strikes tin was a common packaging for smokes. The cigarettes were packed into two rows of 25, hence the “flat fifties.” While I can’t date the tin exactly I did find one reference to someone having one with a tax sticker from 1930. I also know that they changed to white tins during WWII because the Government needed green paint. Then the tin disappeared for the war effort, which ended this type of packaging for good. So from that I would bet that mine came from the 1920s or 1930s.
Now inside are all of these dice. At first I thought that they were from the same era, and most likely used by my Grandparents George & Alice (they were known for loving all types of games). But upon closer look it appears that some of these are possibly made from bone, which was once common. Also unlike plastic that would be rather consistent in the quality of the product, you can see that some of the smaller ones are rather irregular in the stamping of the pips. (Yes, that is what the dots are actually called.) So, I would say that there is a good chance that these could date back to the 19th Century. I suppose I should try and find a real expert on these things and see what they have to say.
Happy Valentine’s Day from the 1930s.
Given by my Grandpa George to my Grandma Alice.
My Grand Aunt recently passed away (she was my maternal Grandma’s sister) and a few items from her home made their way down to me. Included in this collection was this postcard from my Grandma to her. Obviously this came from a family trip to Niagara Falls. That would have been my mother with the cough mentioned on the back. Anyway, I was looking at the postmark to figure out the date but it only partially imprinted. So I looked up the stamp and according to the Smithsonian it was commonly used on postcards from 1952-1958. Sure enough that postmark looks like it came from July 1954, which would have made my Mom 9 years old.
There is something oddly fascinating about reading a postcard from the past.
This (U.S.) nickel sized token is a bit of a mystery. I’ve scoured the internet, and even posted this to a website for collectors of oddities and rarities but to no avail. My initial thoughts were that this could be another Civil War token, but a collector of such items said that he couldn’t find it in his books and he didn’t think it was that old. Looking at the shield I would think it was, but I noticed that the old Civil War tokens were in general .01 to .03 cents. So .11 cents seems a bit out of place. The other option I came up with is maybe it was a souvenir from the 1901 Pan-American Exposition World’s Fair held in Buffalo (the one that President McKinley was assassinated at), but I can’t find any evidence to support this theory. I found a few that had been sold on Ebay and the like, yet absolutely no background info. So at this point I’m stuck. Do you know what this is?