Saturday, November 30, 2019

Data: Are you using a polymer-based neuro-relay to transmit the organic nerve impulses to the central processor in my positronic net? If that is the case, how have you solved the problem of increased signal degradation inherent to organosynthetic transmission across --

Borg Queen: Do you always talk this much?



Gosh, my interpretation of "Black Friday" seems so different from everyone else's....


Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee


Monday, November 25, 2019

November 20 1851 -- The Cleveland, Painesville & Ashtabula (CP&A) Railroad opens. It is Cleveland's second railroad, and first connection to the East Coast.

But first, they had to fight the Erie Gauge War...


* * * * * * *


Geographically, Ohio is cut off from the East Coast of the United States by the Appalachian Mountains. Despite extensive access to fresh water, excellent hardwood forests, large amounts of game, and fertile soil, Ohio lacked capital for the first 60 years after its founding. This was the era of hard money: Without physical cash, gold, or silver, building had to be by hand. There was almost no industry except for small cottage iron works.

An individual could take a wagon from Ohio over the Appalachians or along the Lake Erie shore. Wagon travel took at least a week to reach Buffalo or Baltimore. There were no roads, only paths through forest. Sometimes, when the forest became too dense,

Ohio's only connection to the rest of the world was via the Ohio River and Lake Erie. Nonperishable goods could take the two-week journey to New Orleans, but Ohio produced little of these. Agricultural products, Ohio's biggest economic sector by far, could rarely survive the trip. Moreover, only the counties along the river flourished.

Schooner traffic along Lake Erie could carry goods faster and cheaper. Ship traffic was limited to times when the lake was free of ice, usually only April to late November. Lake shipping was miniscular until New York state built the Erie Canal, which opened in 1825. The canal connected Buffalo, N.Y., to the Hudson River and New York city. This encouraged growth in counties along the lake shore.

Most of Ohio lay somnolent.

Inspired by the incredible success of the Erie Canal, former Cleveland mayor Alfred Kelley, now an Ohio state legislator, sponsored legislation to built a canal linking the Ohio River with Lake Erie. The "Ohio and Erie Canal" would, at last, open the vast interior of Ohio to efficient bulk transportation.

The O&E Canal opened between Cleveland and Akron in June 1927, reaching the middle of the state in 1831 and the Ohio River in 1832. Most goods flowed from mid-state north to Cleveland, where perishable foodstuffs could make the two-day journey to Buffalo in great time.

The canal was obsolete almost as soon as it opened. Steam-powered locomotives finally became commercially viable in the 1820s, and by the mid-1830s were carrying large loads as well as passengers.

Alfred Kelley had the foresight to realize that railroads were the future. He accepted the presidency of the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad (CCC) in August 1847, and by February 1851 the railroad was open from the Ohio River to Lake Erie.

Rail shipments still had to be unloaded at Cleveland and be shipping via schooner to Buffalo...


* * * * * * * * *


Meanwhile, in Chicago...

Illinois was growing FAST. Vast iron and coal deposits had been found in upper Michigan. Chicagoans wanted to reach the East Coast. NOW.

In 1832, the Michigan Territory chartered the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad to run from Adrian, Michigan, to Toledo, Ohio. This gave agricultural and timber producers in the Michigan interior access to Lake Erie ports. The line finally opened in 1837. The cities of Sandusky and Elyria, which lay between Toledo and Cleveland, and opened a rail link with Cleveland in 1853.

In 1846, a rail link between Buffalo and the Pennsylvania state border opened. A Pennsylvania railroad, the Erie & North East, opened to connect Erie, Pennsylvania, with this New York line.

To complete the line between Buffalo and Michigan, only two short rail links remained to be completed: Between Erie and the Pennsylvania-Ohio border, and between the Pennsylvania-Ohio border and Cleveland.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


This was more difficult than it sounded. Each state jealously guarded its economic independence. Getting incorporated required an act of the state legislature, and they refused to grant them to out-of-state companies. There were no interstate corporations because federal law did not permit them without state acquiescence.

A group of businessmen from Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, and Lake counties undertook the effort to build to the east. They obtained a state charter in 1847, but fundraising languished until they hired Alfred Kelley to be the railroad's president.

Kelley had a stellar reputation as a builder after bringing the O&E Canal in on time and under budget, and for building the CCC. His reputation alone brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in invesment money from the East Coast.

Construction on the CP&A began in January 1851. Kelley, who knew the geography of Ohio better than anyone after spending five years personally walking the route of the canal, chose a route that closely followed the shore of Lake Erie.

This three-mile wide strip of land, tucked between the Portage Escarpment and the lake, was almost completely flat from Cleveland to Buffalo. That meant that the longest and heaviest trains could travel the route, unlike trains which had to climb ridges, hills, or mountain ranges.

Kelley personally chose the firm of Harbach, Stone & Witt to construct the railroad. Harbach was the engineer who helped Kelley survey the route. Amasa Stone was a bridge builder from Connecticut. Stillman Witt was railroad agent and mid-level superintendent on a railroad running from Boston to Albany, N.Y.

They built FAST.

Regular trains began running on the 71-mile line between Cleveland and the Pennsylvania state line on November 20, 1851.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



All that remained to be built was the 25.5 miles between the Ohio-Pennsylvania border and the city of Erie.

The people of Erie suddenly realized that railroads would doom their port town. No more would schooners dock there to transport goods and produce to Buffalo. No more would ships from Cleveland stop there. Erie would become just another stop on the rail line between Chicago and Buffalo.

Massive political pressure was placed on the Pennsylvania state legislature to refuse ANY charter to a railroad to connect the CP&A with the Erie & North East (E&NE).

Alfred Kelley spotted a way around the problem. Pennsylvania had been building its own network of canals. The work had gone slowly and corruptly. The system was still not finished, and now railroads were making it obsolete.

One of these feeder canals was the Franklin Canal. The canal was unfinished, and the board of directors of the Franklin Canal Company knew it was a white elephant. They had gotten the state legislature to grant them a charter to build a railroad along the canal towpath.

Work on the Franklin Railroad never got underway. Linking the farms and small coal mines of the region to Erie just wasn't going to be profitable, and the railroad had raised no money.

Alfred Kelley and his legal team discovered that the Franklin Railroad was permitted to build "branch lines". What if the Franklin Railroad built north to Erie, and then constructed a "branch line" 25.5 miles west to connect with the CP&A?

On August 26, 1850, the CP&A signed an agreement with the Franklin Canal Company to build the branch line. Two CP&A division presidents were seated on the Franklin Canal Company's five-man board of directors.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * *


The people of Erie were greatly alarmed by the Franklin Road's "branch line" -- particularly since no work seemed to be done on the main line.

The only saving grace was that the CP&A and the Franklin Railroad were both building tract that was 4 ft 8 1⁄2 inches wide.

The Erie & North East's track was 6 feet wide.

Clearly, shipments would need to be unloaded in Erie and stored. There would be a huge demand for cartage men, wagons, horses, wagon repair shops, stables, hay farmers, and the like. Passengers would need places to stay overnight, to eat, to drink. They would buy things in Erie while waiting for the next train east.

In April 1853, the Erie & North East announced it was changing its track to the "standard" gauge of 4 ft 8 1⁄2 inches.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *


The Franklin Railroad's branch line had almost reached the Ohio border. Suddenly, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania sued to prevent the branch from opening, claiming that the canal company had violated its charter. The case went to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It ruled that the canal company had the right to build its branch line, but that Pennsylvania state law prohibited the construction of any railroad within 5.5 miles of the state border without the express consent of the legislature.

Alfred Kelley then found a way around this obstacle as well. Pennsylvania state law permitted the construction of privately-owned "spur lines" of up to 6 miles in length. The intent of the legislation was to connect factories, farms, mines, or other real estate to state-chartered railroads. Spur lines were not governed by the border-limitation law.

Kelley personally bought the 5.5 mile right-of-way between the Ohio border and the end of the Franklin Railroad, and funneled CP&A money into the coffers of private individuals. These individuals then built the link between the two roads.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *



The people of Erie went ballistic.
v The city threatened to revoke the Franklin Railroad's ability to build a line through town. The railroad threatened to bypass Erie altogether.

The Erie Gauge War broke out on December 7, 1853. The E&NE began to alter its gauge all along its line. Urged on by the Erie mayor Alfred King, mobs in Erie and the nearby village of Harborcreek tore up the E&NE's and Franklin Railroad's track, demolished several of their bridges, and assaulted railroad officials. When the railroads tried to re-lay the track, the mobs attacked the construction workers and tore the rails up again. The CP&A threatened to raise a private militia to protect its property.

Despite a Pennsylvania Supreme Court injunction against them, the rioters continued to attack both railroads and a United States Marshal proved unable to stop the violence and destruction of property. Railroad officials and some members of Congress began to call for federal troops to be sent to Erie to enforce the law. Some townspeople seized and jailed the U.S. Marshal on January 12, 1854 (although they released him two days later). President Franklin Pierce declined to send in federal troops to enforce the court's orders.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly revoked the Frankin Canal Company's charter on January 28, 1854, and the state took control of the company. A jubilant crowd tore up the connection between the two railroads at Sassafras Street in Erie, and "sentinels" were posted by the townspeople to ensure no new connection was made.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *


Pennsylvania Governor William Bigler had no intention of offending the New York City banks which had financed the CP&A, Franklin Railroad, and E&NE. He quietly allowed the CP&A to continue to operate the Franklin Railroad on behalf of the state, allowing it to keep 53 percent of the gross revenues.

The state of Pennsylvania wanted to get the railroads connected without a resumption of violence. On May 5, 1854, the General Assembly enacted legislation permitting the CP&A to build a line from the Ohio-Pennsylvania border east to Erie. The law also allowed the CP&A to purchase the Franklin Railroad, provided that the CP&A connected with the Erie and Sunbury Railroad (a small line stretching southeast from Erie) at Erie's harbor. The CP&A was also required to purchase $500,000 of Erie & Sunbury stock to help that line complete its track. The CP&A was also required to build a spur to the Erie docks. Although CP&A officials called the legislation a bribe and modern historians consider it blackmail, the CP&A complied with the terms of the law within months.

Just when the two railroads connected is the source of some dispute, but it is likely that they were connected on April 1, 1855.

The city of Erie continued to oppose the link between the CP&A and the E&NE. The city took the CP&A to court, but in January 1856 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an injunction against the city preventing any further interference with the railroad link.

Between October 1867 and June 1869, the CP&A absorbed all the other railroads on the line between Chicago and Buffalo. This created the Lake Shore & Southern Michigan Railway, one of the greatest and most profitable railroads of the Gilded Age.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Ellie Mae tried to take on more than she could chew today! LOL

Roger was tolerant, and just let her bark and run around.


Ellie Mae takes on Roger

Saturday, November 23, 2019



It's an American Thanksgiving tradition....

Babes in Toyland is a 1934 Laurel and Hardy musical based on Victor Herbert's popular 1903 operetta. Produced by Hal Roach, written by Frank Butler and Nick Grinde, and directed by Gus Meins and Charles Rogers, it was distributed by MGM.

The 1934 film makes use of many of the characters in the operetta as well as several of the songs, but the plot is almost completely original.


* * * * * * * *


RKO Pictures acquired the rights to the operetta in 1930 and intended to hire Walt Disney to make a Technicolor animated film. When Disney's cost estimate came in, the studio felt it was too high. Hal Roach then acquired the rights from RKO in November 1933.

The original play has children Alan and Jane in the hands of their evil uncle Silas Barnaby, a spider-turned-human being who wants to steal the fortune they have inherited. They run away, pursued by Barnaby's two henchmen. They have adventures on the ocean, in the Kingdom of the Spiders, and eventually in Toyland. Meanwhile, Barnaby forces Mary Mary Quite Contrary into marriage, but is defeated by Little Miss Muffet.

Roach's preliminary script, written in just five days in early December 1933, largely kept the operetta's story. He wanted Stan Laurel to play Simple Simon and Babe Hardy to be the Pie Man. He intended for Our Gang kids to play various roles, and for Roach Studios stars Charley Chase, Thelma Todd, and Patsy Kelly to co-star. Roach picked 21-year-old Henry Brandon for the role of Barnaby after seeing him on stage made up as an old man.


* * * * * * *


Preproduction began in January 1934. Roach hired Raymond McCarey (famed director Leo McCarey's younger brother) to direct. It seemed a good choice, as McCarey was a well-regarded director of comedies. The film was budgeted at $150,000, then $250,000. To make it, MGM advanced Roach $250,000. That sounds ominous, but this was typical of MGM's relationship with Roach.

It was quickly apparent that the script wouldn't work. Stan Laurel had always written the duo's scripts, and now Roach was cutting him out of that process. Laurel openly mocked Roach's script, humiliating Roach in front of cast and crew.

Laurel demanded to write the script and, as usual, got his way. He got together with Frank Butler, head of the scenario department at the studio. Butler assigned writer Nick Grinde to work with Laurel and director McCarey to hammer out a new screenplay. They jettisoned Alan and Jane, tossed out the henchmen, turned Little Miss Muffet into a cameo, got rid of the spider plot, and junked the three-act narrative of the play. Instead of using the entire Roach Studios contract players ensemble, the film was now a Laurel and Hardy starrer. Two entirely new characters were created for Laurel and Hardy, and the Boogeyman were added as Barnaby's lackeys.

It's not entirely clear how or why, but the script kept Laurel and Hardy off-screen for long periods of time. Little Bo Peep and Tom-Tom the Piper's Son were the romantic leads, and they had just as much screen time. Laurel and Hardy's antics move the plot forward and provide key foreshadowing, but they don't appear to be the stars.

Roach hated the new script, particularly the Boogeymen. Laurel didn't care.


* * * * * * * * *


The village of Toyland was designed by Chris Christensen, an architectural draughtsman hired specially for the movie. It built on two soundstages knocked together to create a set 250 feet wide and 500 feet long. The frames of the buildings were of lumber or iron, and covered with wall board, chicken wire, burlap, and plaster. The buildings were painted in vivid colors, leading Stan Laurel to regret that the film wasn't shot in Technicolor. Roach Studios had to hire a hundred cabinetmakers and ironworkers, and more than two hundred extra carpenters and painters, to build the set.

A third soundstage was used for the Boogeyland set. Roach Studios raised an enormous amount of trees, shrubs, flowers, and ferns for use in its own films, but the Boogeyland set required so many more plants that a dozen nurseries were hired to bring in more trees and ferns.

Motion picture film in those days needed a huge amount of light to register an image properly. A set as large as Toyland was usually an outdoor one, filmed in bright sunshine. Because Toyland was on a soundstage, an unprecedented amount of lighting equipment was needed. The Roach Studios rented almost all the motion picture lights they could find in Hollywood, and leased roughly 20 generator trucks to power them. A whopping 812 lamps -- from arc lights to baby spots -- were needed to light the set.


* * * * * * *


Makeup for the role of Barnaby proved troublesome. Roach thought he'd hired an old man with whiskers, but Henry Brandon was a clean-cut 21-year-old. The makeup man didn't seemed able to come up with the right look for Barnaby. He was fired. Another three makeup men tried, and were fired also. Finally, Roach turned to Jim Collins, a makeup artist with Paramount who'd worked with Lon Chaney. It was Collins who came up with Barnaby's look. It required a chin-piece to extend the jaw, whiskers made of goat hair, and a wig more like a mane than human hair. Collins added spectacles to complete the effect.

Roach Studios had a costume design shop, but no fashion designer like Irene, Edith Head, or Robert Kalloch. For minor characters like Tom Thumb, Santa Claus, the Toymaker, Old King Cole, Simple Simon, Little Miss Muffet, and others from fantasy, the studio itself created the cotumes. Another 100 period costumes from Roach Studios' own stock were used for Toyland villagers. Two hundred more period costumes were needed for background characters, so the studio went to Hollywood costume houses and rented them off the rack. Three hundred wigs were created by wigmakers throughout California, and cared for by 12 hairdressers on the set.

Roach Studios designed the costumes worn by Laurel, Hardy, Felix Wright ("Tom-Tom"), Charlotte Henry ("Bo Peep"), and Marie Wilson ("Old Mother Hubbard"). Worried about Barnaby's costume, Raymond McCary asked Henry Brandon if he had something in mind. Brandon said he had a friend, Corliss McGee, the costume designer at the Pasadena Playhouse, who could help. McGee designed Barnaby's hat, jabot, jacket, trousers, and shoes, which were then manufactured by the Roach Studios costume department.

Each of the leads had a costume in triplicate, in case of damage or soiling.

Two hundred Boogeymen costumes were created, each with its own rubber mask designed by Robert Cowan.


* * * * * *




The special effects are all practical. The rodent that looks vaaaaaguely similar to Mickey Mouse was a trained capuchin monkey in a suit. The crocodiles in the moat separating Boogeyland from Toyland are also real. Six to nine feet in length, they were rented from a local reptile farm. In the finale, several Boogeymen fall into the water. These were expert swimmers, not your average extra. Several lifeguards and reptile-wranglers stood by in case the crocs got hungry.

The designer of the mouse, Cat-and-the-Fiddle, and Three Little Pigs masks and costumes is lost to history.



L.A. French did the stop-motion and miniature sequences.

Somewhere along the line, the decision was made to try to license the Three Little Pigs, Mickey Mouse, and an instrumental version of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" from Walt Disney. Roach wrote to Disney to ask permission, and Disney graciously and warmly granted it.


* * * * *


Principal photography began on August 9, 1934. A week into shooting, Roach called a meeting with Laurel, Roach Studios director Charles Rogers, and McCarey. Rogers was one of Laurel's best friends, and he'd directed many Laurel and Hardy shorts. Laurel and Rogers showed up early, and Laurel berated Roach -- criticizing McCarey's work and demanding that Rogers replace him. When McCarey arrived, Roach was holding his head in his hands, groaning. McCarey was told he now had to share directorial duties with Rogers. McCarey began arguing with Laurel and Rogers, and punched Rogers in the nose. He was fired.


Rogers shot all the scenes with Laurel and Hardy, and Roach Studios director Gus Mein shot the remainder of the film. Shooting was fairly relaxed. Laurel and Hardy each had about four or five old vaudeville friends whom Roach had hired as gofers for the stars. Laurel, Hardy, and the gofers would begin each morning telling jokes among themselves for two hours, until everyone was laughing hysterically. Then Stan Laurel would say, "Let's get down to business". He'd say, "Babe, do this, and I'll do this, and Henry you do this." When Henry Brandon, appalled, asked if they were going to rehearse, Laurel blanched. "Do you want to RUIN it?"

On August 14, Stan Laurel fell off a raised platform in the set and tore ligaments in his knee. He was put in a cast, and the production was temporarily halted for two weeks on August 18.


The script's ending was changed at the last minute for cost reasons. Originally, Barnaby was to have tied Tom-Tom the Piper's Son to a rocket. Tom-Tom is freed by Stan and Ollie, and Barnaby is accidentally tied to the rocket by the two. The rocket launches into the sky, and its exploding sparks spell out "The End". This proved too much; instead, some A-B-C blocks fall on Barnaby, killing him.

The film was completed on November 3, 1934.


* * * * * *


Babes In Toyland had a final cost of $421,810 ($8.1 million today's dollars), double the budget of any previous Hal Roach film.

Despite very good reviews, it barely broke even, making just $13,853 on its initial release. At least it made money; most Laurel and Hardy films didn't!


* * * * * * * * * * * *



Hal Roach was only able to license the rights to Babes in Toyland from the Victor Herbert estate for 10 years. After this license lapse, the film could no longer be shown.

In 1945, Herbert's estate made a new 10-year licensing agreement with Federal Films. Federal was planning a big-budget remake in Technicolor with George Pal doing the stop-motion work. To win the rights from the Herbert estate, Federal Films also purchased the negative of the 1934 film from Hal Roach Studios for $3,000. Federal Films went bankrupt in 1950, and the 1934 negative was seized by Pacific Finance Loans.

Pacific Finance Loans licensed the picture to Lippert Pictures later in 1950. Lippert cut eight minutes from the film, and retitled it March of the Wooden Soldiers. The opening tune was trimmed, and the "Go to Sleep (Slumber Deep)" number, Barnaby's attempted abduction of Bo Peep, and Barnaby's fistfight with Tom-Tom all deleted.


Lippert's version was released without a copyright notice even though this was required by law. Because it was lacking, Lippert's version entered the public domain. For decades thereafter, Lippert's version (and bootleg copies of it) were screened, shown on television, and sold on VHS.

Auerbach Film Enterprises purchased the copyright to the entire 1934 film from Pacific Finance Loans some time thereafter. The Herbert estate's license for Babes in Toyland expired in 1955, meaning Auerback Film could not show or distribute the picture any longer. Nevertheless, Auerbach Film renewed the 1934 full motion picture's copyright in 1962, extending the copyright to 1990.

In 1976, Congress adopted a new copyright act. This extended the full 1934 motion picture's copyright to 2009.


The Herbert estate's copyright expired in 1978, placing the operetta in the public domain.

Auerbach Films sold the copyright in the film to Prime TV in 1980. The copyright was then sold to WPIX in 1983, which was later purchased by Tribune Broadcasting. In 1991, Tribune passed the copyright to The Samuel Goldwyn Company.

The Goldwyn Company restored the film in 1991. The original footage was put back, the film cleaned and repaired, and a colorized version released. (The colorized version has its own copyright, which lasts until 2096.)

The Samuel Goldwyn Company became part of Orion Pictures in 1996, which in turn was bought by MGM in 1997.

In 1998, Congress passed yet another copyright act. This effectively extended the film's copyright to 2029.

Legend Films licensed Babes in Toyland from MGM in 2006. Using digital restoration techniques, the film was restored to the best it looked since its 1934 release. Legend Films released the picture as March of the Wooden Soldiers, even though the titles feature the original title and opening credits. Legend's version is available in B&W and color. Both versions have copyrights that last until 2101.

Friday, November 22, 2019

I'm gonna need rubber pants for this...


Two coyotes in the back yard this morning. A big male, silvered brown in color. A big female, tawny blonde.

They leapt the fence into the back yards of 1243-1247-1251 Yellowstone, and stood there for 15 minutes.

The male seems to have gone north onto Woodridge, cutting across the unfenced back yards. The female went west onto Yellowstone, probably headed for the ravine between Edison-Woodridge Roads and Glen Allen Drive.

Coyotes in the back yard is not unusual.

Coyotes seen there during DAYTIME is.

(random coyote photo attached)


Thursday, November 21, 2019

New Federal Election Commission disclosures show that the Republican National Committee paid Books-a-Million just over $94,800 in October to buy up copies of Donald Trump Jr.'s book.

If you wonder why the book hit best-seller lists, you can thank the RNC and that Russian autocrat who bought 10,000 copies, too.


hee hee hee hee hee


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A 1907 Model H two-door Landaulet automobile by the Garford Manufacturing Company of Elyria, Ohio.

It featured a four-cylinder gasoline engine capable of 30HP.

The Studebaker Company of South Bend, Indiana, entered the automobile market in 1902. It didn't make its own vehicles, but rather contracted with other companies and then sold their product under the Studebaker name.

Garfords were the most expensive cars sold by Studebaker. They were favored by women, and mostly used for city travel.

This model was built for Bertha Palmer, wife of Potter Palmer (who owned the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago). It is painted in her favorite colors, heliotrope (purple) and amaranth (red). The interior features mauve velvet, beveled glass, cherry wood, and tapestry trim.


1907 Model H - Garford Manufacturing Co


1907 Model H interior - Garford Manufacturing Co


1907 Model H dashboard - Garford Manufacturing Co
the angry lamb - Woodland Cemetery



Boy, that's one angry lamb.
When writing history, a person has to pick and choose. This sounds outrageous and unethical and wrong, but it's the truth.

I repeatedly come across sources that make fundamental claims about things: Date of birth. The size of a piece of stone. A person's full name. The number of children. The date when something opened or was established.

Verify, verify, verify.


Take, for example, the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898. This incident sparked the Spanish-American War.

Just how many people died on the Maine? You'd think the U.S. Navy knew how many people were assigned to the ship, and how many were accounted for after the disaster.

Nope.

The majority of sources say the ship carried 354 crew. Other sources say the crew numbered 327, 328, 350, 355, 358, 374, and 375.

The number of dead is also difficult to determine. Sources claim 252, 260, 262 264, 266, and 274.

It doesn't even matter if one sticks to official U.S. Navy sources. Their figures vary so widely, I have expect writers were just half-remembering and not actually citing any real statistic. Other official U.S. government sources are no more accurate.

In any number of cases, the mistake is repeated endlessly by other writers who fail to verify. Take the case of Cleveland Mafia leader Alfred Polizzi. His nickname was "Big Al". Somewhere along the line, in a game of historical telephone, this got changed to "Big Owl". Otherwise excellent histories of Cleveland and organized crime perpetuate the error.

When I wrote about him, I had to ignore these errors. I could cite numerous sources about the "Big Al" name. I chose not to cite any with the "Big Owl" name. Theoretically, I should have used a footnote or some other means of nothing the discrepancy in sources, but I knew that merely legitimized the error. So I chose not to.

In a number of cases, I've discovered that only one or two sources cite accurate information, while a wide number cite inaccurate information. I'll use another example from Cleveland history: In December 1928, a nationwide meeting of Mafia figures was held at the Hotel Statler in Cleveland. Cleveland police, pretty much idiots at the time, busted the meeting before everyone arrived. Most mafioso hadn't even arrived for it yet; those who were arrested had committed no crime. Far less famous than the Apalachin meeting, this neverless was almost as important.

Most sources don't talk about why the meeting was called. Those few which do blithely declare, in a short phrase, that the meeting was set up to annoint Joseph Porrello as the boss of the Cleveland crime family.

The only in-depth analysis of the Hotel Statler meeting, however, concludes that the event was called to confirm Joe Masseria of New York City as the "boss of bosses" in the United States. Masseria had been the de facto boss of bosses since the death of Umberto Valenti in August 1922 and the dismantling of Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila's Brooklyn organization in 1926. (D'Aquila was the only possible successor to Valenti). Most of Masseria's extended family lived in Cleveland, making Cleveland the most likely site for a confirmation meeting.

Moreover, the "let's annoint Porrello" theory ignores the role played by Cleveland mafioso Salvatore "Black Sam" Todaro. He'd defected from the Lonardo mob the year before, and by all accounts had seized control of half of Cleveland's corn sugar supply business (corn sugar being the key ingredient in bootleg whiskey) and almost all of the illegal brewing and distilling business. Todaro didn't have the muscle of the large Porrello clan, but he had everything else. Without Todaro, the Porrello's had nothing but hired muscle.

Federal law enforcement and a few sources say the Porrellos shared power with Todaro (and vice versa), concluding that there was no "boss" for the Cleveland mafia. This actually fits well with the idea that the Hotel Statler meeting was NOT called to annoint Porrello but rather to appoint Masseria as "boss of bosses".

So does a person cite all the other sources, most of which provide no analysis or ignore the Todaro role? Or does a person cite the best source possible?

I emphasized the latter in my writing. I acknowledge that law enforcement didn't really know the reason for the Hotel Statler meeting, due to the bumbling of Cleveland police. So I chose to also cite the other sources. After all, it's possible that Porrello was being named boss in name only (a "technical appointment"), although no source admits that. But there's enough doubt to make it reasonable to cite the other (probably inaccurate) sources.

That's how history works.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Above the Arctic Circle (roughly), the sun sets tomorrow for the last time this decade. It will not rise again in some places for 65 days.

Although the sun will not rise above the horizon, these places still get several hours of twilight each day.


"I don't wanna get up, and you can't make me."


Ellie Mae is not a morning girl

Sunday, November 17, 2019



November 17, 1894 – H. H. Holmes, one of the first modern serial killers, is arrested in Boston, Massachusetts.

His "castle of death" is now notorious. But I have never been able to find a floorplan that actually lays out what Holmes did. Has anyone seen such a thing????


* * * * * * * *


Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett) graduated from the University of Michigan's medical school in June 1884.
Holmes arrived in Chicago in August 1886, and became a well-respected pharmacist.

He purchased an empty lot across from the drugstore where he worked, and in 1887 began construction of a two-story building with retail space on the first floor and apartments above. In 1892, he added a third floor, ostensbily for use as a hotel.

The 1893 World's Fair opened in Chicago in May 1893. More than 750,000 people attended the fair, roughly half of them from out of state.

It's well-known today that Holmes intended for his building to be a death-trap. The second and third floors contained hidden rooms and passages. Several rooms were soundproofed; others were hermetically sealed, and could be filled with gas using controls in Holmes' own apartment. There was a small maze of tight hallways which seemed to go nowhere. Several rooms were outfitted with chutes that dropped straight down to the basement. Some walls were hinged, and could be moved from the outside (but not inside). There were false partitions, and hiding places beneath the floors.

In the basement, Holmes had vats of acid and quicklime, even a crematorium to dispose of bodies. There were surgical tables where bodies could be dissected, and a charnel pit.

Holmes left Chicago in July 1894. He moved to Fort Worth, Tex., where he engaged in insurance swindles and attempted to build a second "death castle". This failed, and he moved to St. Louis and tried more insurance scams. He then relocated to Philadelphia, killing his co-scammer Benjamin Pitezel. Then the killed three of Pitezel's five children.

His Chicago building was gutted by fire in August 1895.

When Mrs. Pitezel asked police to find her husband and children, they quickly focused on Holmes. The bodies of the kids were discovered, and Holmes was caught in Boston, Mass., just before fleeing the country. Holmes confessed to 27 murders in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Toronto (although some of the murders he confessed to never happened).

He may have killed as many as 200 people in Chicago, although historians now think that is very exaggerated.

Holmes was hanged on May 7, 1896. He was buried in Section 15 of Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, Pennsylvania. His coffin was encased in cement, so that it would not be dug up and his corpse sold by grave-robbers.

Erik Larson's 2004 book Devil in the White City juxtaposes Holmes' killings against the conception, development, and operation of the World's Fair. Unfortunately, Larson relies on a number of tabloid and sensationalist accounts of the Holmes affair, almost all of which are inaccurate and highly exaggerated. Adam Selzer's 2017 book HH Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil tries to separate fact from fiction, and is likely a better historic account even if not as well-written or as popular.