These are two old pins I found. The “No Beer, No Work” was an anti-prohibition movement that started in 1919, which was a bit late as far as I’m concerned since the 18th Amendment had already passed. Anyway, the slogan was part of a labor union push that called for a general strike before the amendment could take hold in order to force a repeal. While the slogan is pretty catchy no strike ever came about and of course prohibition took hold. But at least I know that my family stood on the right side of this struggle.
This billing order was from my Great Great Grandfather. I found this while living in the northside of Pittsburgh, which back then was a separate city called Allegheny. Turns out that he not only worked on the same side of town that I was residing, but actually lived in the same neighborhood at one point. Frederick had immigrated from Berlin to the ‘burgh in 1863 and which is where he met his wife who had came from Ireland. They eventually made their way to Chicago which is their final resting place. Anyway, as far as I can tell the address given on this form is where ALCOA has their headquarters and is across the street from the Warhol Museum.
I originally thought that this was from WWII, but after a bit of research I discovered that I was off by a war. These half-dollar sized coins were created by the Treasury Department as a little gesture of thanks to individuals that were Liberty Loan workers during WWI. The Liberty Loans were basically U.S. bonds that individuals bought to help the Government pay for the war without incurring any further debt (a rather novel concept in today’s world). I found an article from the April 14, 1919 issue of “Greater New York - Bulletin of the Merchant’s Association of New York” (Volume 8, No. 15, p. 24) describing these Victory Liberty Loan medals. In the article it mentions that the metal used came from cannon captured by U.S. troops during the Battle of Château-Thierry, which was part of the Second Battle of the Marne. I’m sure these little tokens were appreciated by many that did what they could during the war the end to all wars. At least I know it meant enough to someone in my family that it has managed to be passed down through the years.
This postcard was sent by Frances Zabowski to her daughter, my Grandma Gen, while steaming back to Poland with her husband Antoni to visit the old country. To show that he had made it in America Antoni had shipped back with them the family car to drive around and brought along their eldest son Boniface (Ben) to be the driver. We even have a family photo of my Great Grandma standing in front of this big American car on that trip. This card was written on the voyage over on June 19, 1929 – 82 years ago today. The family story goes that they were on their way back when the market crashed.
Another interesting story I discovered is the one about this ship. The TSS Lituania was built in 1915 and was originally christened the Czaritza and was operated by the Russian American Line. (Over the years she changed names six times.) In 1920 she became the Lituania and was run by the Baltic America Line for 10 years until she was transferred over to Polish control. When WWII broke out her name was the Gydnia and the crew fled to England where the Royal Navy used her for a couple of years. During that time both Winston Churchill and King George VI came on board. In 1941 she was transferred back to Poland (under the Government in exile in London) and participated in the Invasion of Sicily. During the war she was hit by two German aerial bombs, attacked by Japanese aircraft, and hit by a torpedo that fortunately didn’t explode. When the war ended the crew very wisely decided to not go back to Stalin controlled Poland and gave the ship back to England where it became the SS Empire Helford under the Lamport and Holt Line. Her final home was Blyth England where she was scrapped in 1950.
Not only can you find just about anything on the Internet, this particular vessel even has her own Wikipedia page under one of her various names. In this case under her first Polish name the SS Kościuszko; named after the Polish military leader that fought in the American Revolution and led an uprising against Russia and Prussia. This little story I found makes me wonder how many other ships have such an interesting history. Then again, as I’ve tried to show with this site, most things have an interesting history if you’re willing to dig a bit.
Most likely this pin belonged to my Grandpa Pete Kownacki, though it was mixed in with items from the other side of the family. So… Anyway, the story goes that Pete would pick up seasonal work with the Post Office while he was attending grad school at Loyola. This would have been in the 1930s. I recently found this bit out about him, which could also explain why I now have this old metal postal badge in my possession. The coloring of this pin is really bizarre and must be some form of water damage.
I can easily see how something like this ends up lasting longer than the owner. Think about it… How many random things do you have in the back of a dresser drawer that just sit there? Of course nothing is written down about the significance of them, or why it is you even own a particular item. Decades later it gets passed down to some future ancestor that will have absolutely no clue as to where it came from. Think about that one next time you fill up your life with stuff.
The recent good news about Chrysler being out of the dumps reminded me of this postcard. This is the old Dodge Plant, which became known as Dodge Main, in Hamtramck, Michigan. This postcard looks to be from the 1920s and I can guarantee you that my Grandma knew people, or even was related to folks, that worked there.
Hamtramck is a separate city that is surrounded by Detroit and was pretty much built up because of this plant. The plant itself was built in 1910 and instantly the town grew in population as the labor force moved in, most of which were Polish. (Before the plant closed 90%+ of Hamtramck was Polish.) The original plant closed and was demolished in 1980/81 to make way for the monster GM Poletown plant. That plant is so big that it wiped out entire neighborhoods in both Hamtramck and Detroit that were taken over through eminent domain (which was a very ugly fight with the residents). One weird part of the old neighborhoods that remains is a Jewish cemetery that is completely isolated within the grounds of the GM plant. The Beth Olem cemetery is walled-in and only open twice a year for only two hours each time (on the Sundays preceding Rosh Hashana and Passover). Even my cousin that lived in Hamtramck when the plant came down didn’t know about this cemetery. Anyway, I found this site that has photos of it along with some sad stories about the flak people get when they try to visit their ancestors. All in all it’s pretty sad when you stop and think about it.
If you go here you can see the cemetery located within the plant’s grounds.
This caliper belonged to my Grandpa Ehemann. I’m not 100% sure what he did for a living other than my Grandma told me he was a model maker. (Obviously with an instrument like this he was a technical model maker of some sort.) I know that he worked for Stewart-Warner in Chicago during The War, and they made various gauges and instruments. He also had his own side company for a bit fixing radios.
I thought that this cool little case came from this Brown & Sharpe box, but the case is actually a bit too big to fit (the case is just under 6” long by 3” wide). As I mentioned on that other page, Brown & Sharpe still exist making uber high tech instruments. As for this this tool and box, well I doubt I will ever have a reason to obtain such a fine measurement of anything. This doesn’t mean I won’t keep it. It’s just too cool looking to give up.
This tie-clip (at least that’s what I’m assuming) is about an inch and a half long. I hadn’t noticed until recently that it’s marked as the “C&NW Pioneer.” Now my Great Grandfather McDermott, and also his Father, worked for the Chicago and North Western railroad. Since I’ve already made one assumption about this piece, I’ll make another and guess that this most likely came from my Great Grandfather. (I doubt it’s old enough to date all the way back to my Great Great Grandfather.)
The Pioneer is an actual train that I found plenty of references about on the web. It was the very first locomotive to run in Chicago back in 1848 (built in 1837 and delivered by schooner to the new city). I’m not sure for how long it was in service, but I do know that a new tender and car where built for it to be part of a display at the 1948 Chicago Railroad Fair (that I also have something from). (I also found this site that someone posted old slides they had purchased, one of which is of the Pioneer on its display train for the Fair.) Today the engine sits in a new display area at the Chicago History Museum.
The C&NW was bought by the Union Pacific in 1995. At one point the C&NW operated over 12,000 miles of track, but by the time they were purchased it was down to around 5,000. I’m not a train historian by any means, but to me this is an example of where we have gone wrong with transportation in this country. Maybe someday we will be able to once again not only rival, but beat other countries when it comes to good rail service. At least I sure hope so.
I think this Junior Police badge came down the line to me from my Grandpa Pete. About 1934 he worked as a funds administrator for social welfare and relief programs as part of FDR’s New Deal. His area was Princeton and Spring Valley, Illinois, which is relatively close to Peoria. So that is my guess as to how this came into my possession.
His time in small town Illinois was short lived. Back then (and still to this day) the majority of Illinois doesn’t exactly fall in step with Chicago. So, when the Government assigned a Chicagoan (even though he had only been in Chicago a year) as the administrator of funds, the local populace bristled with indignation. On top of that my Grandfather’s given name was Piotr. So I’m sure the locals seeing that rather ethnic name didn’t help matters. My father has a collection of articles from the local press that refer to him as “King Pete” and overall they are quite the example of early 20th Century Yellow Journalism. Needless to say this hampered his work and it wasn’t long before my Grandparents returned to the big city.
I have no clue as to what this old button is about. It was found among some other old pins that I know came from either my German or Irish side of the family. I did some various Google searches and nothing came up that I can relate to this item. I do know that it is from the early part of the 20th Century, and came from Chicago. Maybe it is related to The Great Depression (soup kitchens and the like). Do any of you happen to know what this little button is about?
This silver dollar sized token came from the 1897 meeting of the National Education Association in Milwaukee. (I know that they currently hold annual meetings, but back then I can’t be certain how often they met.) The NEA formed in 1857 and today it is the largest professional employee organization with well over 3 million members. They represent every level of faculty & staff that work in the education field ranging from Pre-K through graduate school, and apparently one of my ancestors was once a member.
This NEA medal has a hole in the top that I believe was added. There was a trend back then of taking tokens like this and then converting them into necklaces. So I believe this is what happened here. Besides that hole, it is in pretty good shape. The details of Milwaukee Bay are still nice and crisp and the Wisconsin State Seal on the flip side is also pretty decent (thought it appears the State Seal has changed a bit since then). I know this came from my Mom’s side of the family, but as to which ancestor owned this I can’t be certain. I do know that this side of my family had a line that lived in Fond du Lac, so maybe that is the side this came from.
I guess I’ve got something to look into.
As I am sure you are well aware, this is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Low and behold I actually have something from the family that relates to this… It is a 1st edition of The Loss of the SS Titanic by Lawrence Beesly.
Mr. Beesly was a survivor of the Titanic, and just 6 weeks after his ordeal he wrote about his experience in what became a very popular book. Now since he was on the Titanic researching information about him was rather simple.
Beesly was 34 years old when he boarded the Titanic on a trip to visit his brother in Toronto. He taught science at Dulwich College, and had recently resigned his position to take this trip. While I can’t find a reason as to why he resigned one could guess that it might have had something to do with his wife passing away just a few years earlier. Anyway, he purchased a 2nd Class ticket for £13 and was on his way.
As the story goes “Beesley had been in his cabin (D-56) reading when the collision occurred, he only noticed a slight heave of the engines and the regular dancing movement on his mattress seemed to stop. Beesley stopped a steward to ask what had happened but was advised that it was nothing. He went up to A-Deck while the boats were being loaded but then decided to return to his cabin, as he did so he noticed a strange sensation as he descended the stairs, the stairs seemed to be level but his feet did not fall quite where they should. He donned his Norfolk jacket, stuffed some books into his pockets and then headed back to the A-Deck.” (I have to admire the fact that one of his first thoughts was to save some of his books.) The story continues that by this time the ship was listing badly. At some point the deck hands started loading men onto the life boat he was in front of so he followed orders and got on. From the way it reads it doesn’t sound like he had any clue as to the severe shortage of boats.
Beesley made it back home, remarried, and had more children. (One of his sons married Dodie Smith, who was the author of many plays and books including The Hundred and One Dalmatians.) He continued to teach and even played golf in The British Open. He was often cited as a source in regard to the Titanic and was an extra in the film A Night to Remember. He passed away on St. Valentine’s Day in 1967 at the ripe old age of 89.
The book itself is in very good shape. I’ve included the images that appear inside, some of which give some great details of the ship. The book is still easily available both in print format and as a download. There is even a new edition coming out this month with a forward by Nicholas Wade, the science correspondent for the New York Times, who happens to be Beesley’s grandson.
One interesting side note about Beesley is that there are two press photographs taken inside the Titanic’s gymnasium before she launched that have him in the background. That alone would have made him interesting.
The 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair was commemorating the centennial of the founding of Chicago. While this postcard doesn’t show the entire Fair it does give the viewer a bit of perspective on the enormity of this creation. I remember my Grandma Alice telling me stories about the Fair and how it lifted the spirits of so many that needed lifting because of the Great Depression. As a matter of fact, it was so successful that it was extended into 1934. The success of this fair is probably why she kept so many mementos (a few of which I’ve already posted).
The back of the card states “A view looking south over the World’s Fair Grounds showing the General Exhibits Group in the foreground: also showing Time and Fortune Pavilion, Firestone Exhibit, Paris, Thermometer, etc.” (The thermometer is that large tower in the background on the left.) With all of these buildings (most of which were in the now classic Art Deco style) you would think that at least a few of them remain. Sadly, this isn’t the case. You’d be hard pressed to find any remnants from this event, which is not only sad but also weird considering the size and the fact that the number of visitors that attended was over 40 million!
An old pin from my Grandpa George on this May Day, or what was often referred to as the International Workers’ Day. I know he had his own side business repairing radios, along with his day job at Stewart-Warner (in Chicago), so I would imagine this is why he was a member of the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America.
The UE organized in 1936, and while their charter was rejected by the AFL, it was accepted by the CIO. The Union grew to an impressive membership of well over half a million members after WWII, but soon after split from the CIO. (Apparently this split was caused by some institutionalized racial discrimination on the part of the CIO.) This split caused the CIO to create its own union covering the same types of workers. This new union poached many members from the UE.
This was also during the era of McCarthyism, which seriously attacked the UE. Members were fired, blacklisted, jailed, and their leader even faced possible deportation. Through all of that the union managed to remain and is still a strong force today. Remember the Republic Windows and Doors shop that closed in Chicago right before Christmas in 2008? (The manner in which it closed was in violation of Federal law.) This was the one that then President-elect Obama visited to show his support of the workers that had occupied the building in an old fashioned sitdown strike. Well, that was the UE at work.
Today their numbers are much smaller at roughly 35,000 but as shown above they are still quite active. Their ranks include workers from many varying fields ranging from the people that build locomotives to the Ohio Turnpike employees. The UE is also considered one of the most democratically run unions because of the high input that their members have in the direction and policies of the organization.
With the warm weather upon us, and schools about to let out, the summer vacation time is upon us once again.
The summer vacation really became a part of Americana in the 1950s. The old jingle “See the USA in your Chevrolet” was copyrighted in 1950. This came along with a push from any and all organizations that had something to gain from people getting out there and taking a road trip. Included in this list would be the local Chamber of Commerce, as we see here in this pamphlet for Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
This brochure on one side totes all the benefits of visiting Great Smokey Mountains National Park, while the other side is classic boosterism. This propaganda offers some interesting insight into life 60 years ago. For one, we know thing cost more now than back then. Well this brochure reinforces that with the subtlety of a hammer. Some of the new civic works in Gatlinburg, along with their price tag, include:
New city water system: “three quarters of a million dollars”
New highway construction with a new sewer system: “one and a half million dollars”
New golf country club: $250,000
New civic auditorium: $400,000
The brochure also states that Great Smoky Mountains NP is the most visited of the National Parks, a fact that remains true today. Along with this bit of trivia the brochure also informs the potential visitor that “At all times dress for both men and women is carefree, but in good taste.” The American Legion & Elk’s Club are present “to add to your enjoyment” along with a large list of entertaining activities in and out of the Park, including: motoring, quin-pin bowling, roller skating, candy making, trackless train, and television.