Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shorpy, Urchins, & This Fabulous Century

Funny how these interweb things happen. You do a google search for one thing and stumble upon another.

Today i discovered Shorpy.

"December 1910. "Shorpy Higginbotham, a 'greaser' on the tipple at Bessie Mine, of the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Co. in Alabama. Said he was 14 years old, but it is doubtful. Carries two heavy pails of grease, and is often in danger of being run over by the coal cars." Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine."

For some reason his face resonates with me. My Welsh ancestors were coal miners in Van Meter, Pennsylvania - site of the Darr Mine explosion of 1907 where 239 souls died. My gramma still talks about buying things at the "company store" and her father, my great-grandfather Williams, died of the black lung...

this picture also makes me think of the New Babbage urchins...and how these kids i think would fit in right fine with our tribe of scamps.

Old photographs have always spoken to me. When in was in Kettering junior high i found in my school library a Time-Life set called This Fabulous Century
and i poured over every one....looking at the pictures of everyday life in those times. into the faces of the people. The homes from plain homesteads, farmhouses to the opulent Victorian parlours where the "limbs" of pianos were covered up so as not to alarm the corseted ladies.

Though out of print now, these gorgeous hardcover books with lush fabric print covers can be found from resellers on Amazon.

i have several of these books i saved from a friends weeded library collection with the covers on...though the pretty fabric covers would look nice on my shelf...the librarian in me can't discard the plastic cover protection.

Photo by fernfern

so, when i came across these pics...for some reason...they touched me. Learn more about the real Shorpy here...
and if you're like me and love old photographs i invite you to visit and follow the main Shorpy pageSyndicate content History in HD: "Shorpy is a vintage photography blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago."

Here's an example of the yummy vintage photography fare:

Here's a fascinating example from my backyard of Washington, DC circa 1915
Fairview Hotel
Washington circa 1916. "Fairview Hotel, 1st Street and Florida Avenue." The proprietor is former slave and "colored philosopher" Keith Sutherland. See the comments below for more on him. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size. -- AMAZING!

Washington Post, Feb. 21, 1933.

Sage Dies

Former Slave Prophesied
Voters' Landslide for Roosevelt.

"Keith Sutherland, colored philosopher and prophet whose political forecast won him the thanks of President-elect Roosevelt, fulfilled his final prediction Sunday when he folded his hands about a Bible and died at his home, 1640 Eleventh street.

The former slave felt the approach of death Friday, his children said. He called his family together and instructed them to prepare a funeral, saying that he would die on the Sabbath.

Last August Sutherland dreamed of a great voters' landslide for Franklin D. Roosevelt. The dream was so "clear" that he wrote Mr. Roosevelt a description of it. Mr. Roosevelt responded with a "thank you" note saying he found the prediction "very encouraging."

For the past half century Sutherland has kept a restaurant in Washington where the walls were posted with his prophecies, many of them showing unusual foresight.

He was 79 years old. Funeral services will be held tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the P.A. Lomax funeral home, Fourteenth and S streets. Interment will be at Harmony Cemetery. He is survived by four children."

Read more about this photo and about "Hell's Bottom" here

Once Dominated a Notorious Section of the City.


Reminiscences of "Hell's Bottom," Which Formally Kept the Police Department Busy, Recalled by "Keitt" Sutherland, the Odd Character Who Figured as Self-appointed Arbiter of all Brawls –- His Curious Resort in Center of that Section.

Washington Post, February 4, 1900.

Steampunk Waterslide: 1904

Off South Bass Island in Lake Erie circa 1904. "The Water Toboggan. Put-In Bay, Ohio." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

Read more & comments here

Photo credits:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Illustrated Police Budget: The Inquest


Mr. G.P. Wyatt, the Coroner for the Southern District, opened the inquiry into the circumstances of the woman's death to-day.
A boy with a blank dead wall of a face lumbered heavily into the witness box.

He was Robert W. Burgess, the son, who on going into the front room in the early morning, stumbled over the corpse of his mother lying in her nightdress behind the connecting door, between the bed and the door that led from the front room to the passage.

With many a halt and stumble he told how his mother "sometimes did mantle-making, but not often;" how, in spite of the fact that she did little or no work, she was able to pay the rent and provide him with food; and how he last saw her alive at ten minutes to eleven on Friday night, when she went out showily dressed, saying that he was to sleep, and not stir from the next room.

"She often went out at that hour nearly every night," he added, and his head drooped. "That was the last time I saw her alive." At this juncture a post-card, received by the deceased woman and found in her room at the time of the discovery of her body, was handed by the coroner to the witness.

Yes he recognised the postal-card. He had seen it in her room on Friday. This card, which is more than likely to have an important bearing on the result of the investigation, told of rooms in Lime Street, Brixton, engaged by the writer for Mrs. Waknell, was signed, "With you last night."

The date on the postcard (Friday) made it clear that the writer had been in Mrs. Waknell's company twenty-four hours before the murder. Harriet Burgess, the daughter of the dead woman, told briefly of the relations that that had existed between her mother and step-father.

For five years Mr. Waknell had lived with her mother, occupying the position of a shop-walker, and had continued in work until her mother inherited money, when he gave up his situation. "Constantly quarrelling" was the witness' reason of the cause of the final separation.

"Was Waknell left-handed?" said Mr. Wyatt, breaking in upon Miss Burgess' graphic account of a domestic fight between Waknell and her mother. The significance of the coroner's question is evident in view of the fact that the wound in the throat runs from left to right, and had therefore been inflicted with the right hand, a circumstance which would support a theory of suicide.

Miss Burgess replied, "I often saw him strike my mother, but I cannot say that he was not left-handed." And the jury by their questions supported the girl in her inferential suggestions against Waknell, blissfully unaware that he had already surrendered himself to the police and fully and satisfactorily accounted for his movements at the time of the murder.

The evidence given by Dr. Frederick Fielder completely disposed of any lingering theory of suicide. "The wound in the heart, which was the fatal wound," he said, "could not have been self-inflicted."

Finally, Cornelius Crayford, a police-constable, swore that he had met the deceased in the Effra Road going in the direction of her home. "Generally she had a man with her," said the policeman. "This time she was alone and sober." "Murdered by some person or persons unknown." said the jury, and thus for the present the case stands.

The Police on Monday arrested a man on suspicion of being connected with the tragedy. The outside of his shirt-cuffs -- especially the right one -- it is stated, bore bloodstains, and there was blood on his night-shirt and the sheets of his bed.

It is stated that the man arrested is known to have been intimately acquainted with Mrs. Waknell.

See Brixton Water Lane photos

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown

THE TIMES Tuesday 15th May 1900


Mr. G. P. Wyatt, coroner, held an inquest at the Lambeth Coroner's Court yesterday on the body of MARY KATE WAKENELL, aged 42 years, the wife of Arthur Norman Case Wakenell, a shop assistant, who was found murdered at 44, Water Lane, Brixton, on Saturday morning.

Robert Burgess, a son, said that his mother and stepfather separated some five years ago. The witness last saw Wakenell eight or nine weeks ago, when he passed the house on the opposite side of the way and went into the Royal Oak public house.

His mother never met his stepfather, so far as he knew, outside; in fact she did not want Wakenell to know where she lived.

His mother got her living by mantlemaking, but had not done much the last few weeks.

The witness and his mother occupied two rooms in the basement at 44, Water Lane, for which they paid 7s. per week. His mother slept in the front room, and the witness in the kitchen at the back.

When he returned home from work shortly after 10 o'clock last Friday night his mother, who appeared as usual, was dressing to go out. He gave her some money, and about half an hour later she left the house.

She frequently went out at nights and drunk a little too much at times. He went to bed soon alter she had left, and did not hear her return.

At a quarter to 8 o'clock on Saturday morning he went into his mother's room and found her lying on the floor in her nightdress with a pillow over her face. He removed the pillow, thinking she was in a fit, and then saw a quantity of blood about her. He immediately called down the landlady.

There was a passage from his mother's room door to the area door leading to the street, and this was wide open when he went for medical assistance. His mother usually locked it when she came in at night. He identified the scissors produced as belonging to his mother.

Harriett Ada Burgess, a daughter of the deceased woman, stated that her stepfather was employed by Messrs. Parking and Gotto for some 14 years. He married her mother on September 3, 1892.

Her mother subsequently succeeded to some money, and he then left his situation and lived upon her. If she would not give him money to get drink he used to strike her. The witness was under the impression that her mother had met him about nine months ago at Camberwell.

Dr. J. F. Fielder, of 12, Water Lane, stated that he was called in and found the woman lying on her back with her legs drawn up. There was a cut wound on the neck 3"in. long. On the left side of the body near the upper border of the fourth rib, close to the armpit, was inserted one blade of a pair of tailors' scissors. The right eyelid was blackened as from a blow of considerable violence. Death had occurred some four hours previous to his arrival.

He subsequently made a post mortem examination of the body. There had been at least six attempts to cut the throat. There were seven stab wounds which lead punctured the liver, and another had penetrated the right ventricle of the heart.

The spleen was also punctured, and there were other minor wounds about the body. The wounds were V-shaped. He could not say whether theinjuries were inflicted by a right or left handed man.

It was impossible for the wounds to be self-inflicted.

The scissors produced were capable of inflicting all the injuries. In his opinion the blow she received over the right eye would be sufficient to stun her and prevent her from screaming.

Inspector D. O'Sullivan, of the W Division, stated that he was called and examined the room, but found no signs of a struggle. The police were instituting inquiries into the affair.

Police-constable Crayford, 141 W, stated that he had known the woman by sight for about four mouths. He last saw her shortly after midnight on Friday; she was then in the Effra Road, going towards Water Lane. She appeared quite sober. He had seen her out late at night with different men.
The jury returned a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.

Source: Brixton Guide

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Mysterious Murder in Brixton Water Lane, London, SW9

THE TIMES Monday 14th May 1900

MURDER AT BRIXTON, 1900, 44 Brixton Water Lane, Brixton

One of those mysterious murders which now and again shock London came to light at Brixton on Saturday morning. For some time past Mrs. Mary Kate Waknell, a middle-aged woman living apart from her husband, and a lad of 16 years named Robert Burgess, her son by a former marriage,
have occupied apartments in a house in Water Lane, Brixton, a thoroughfare in close proximity to the main Brixton-road. The house, which is in the occupation of several families, stands back from the road and is approached by a long forecourt. There is a separate entrance to the basement rooms occupied by Mrs. Waknell and her son. So far as can be ascertained Mrs. Waknell went out about 11 o'clock on Friday night and returned soon after midnight, it is believed, alone.

Nothing occurred during the night to attract the attention of the other occupants of the house, and it was not until the boy Burgess (who slept in the back basement room) arose on Saturday morning and went into his mother's apartment that it was found a murder had been committed.

The woman, clothed only in her night attire, was found lying on the floor in a pool of blood and with a pillow over her face. There was a horrible gash in her throat, and an exceedingly sharp pair of scissors was found embedded in her left breast in the region of the heart. It is said that there were also stabs about other part of the body. There were no signs of a struggle, the contents of the room being
undisturbed, but it is significant that the front door was found open. The scissors were the property of the woman, and were used by her in her trade as a mantle maker. The medical man who was called in had a difficulty in deciding that it was impossible for the wounds to have been self-inflicted. The police are making all possible inquiries, but the assailant left not a single vestige of evidence which could be followed up, and the officers engaged in the case freely confess that they are without a clue.

The inquest in fixed for to-day.

Source: Brixton Guide

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Steamy Gents for Charity Calendar

The warm ladies of the New Babbage Ladies Fire Brigade announce that they have coerced, charmed, and convinced, a select group of the handsome, talented, & canny, Steampunk gentlemen of New Babbage have to donate their time and....... their flesh to raise money for two important New Babbage institutions.

photo by satori.marat
The amazing R.F. Burton Library tier fund and the New Babbage Ladies Fire Brigade station house.

These two institutions need your help to keep them running in the city of New Babbage. Time and talent have been donated by many people to have these two amazing builds in our community but the full weight of support have been shouldered by a quiet few but can now be shared by many with your generosity!

Photo by Elina Koskinen aka Mr. Holmes
And you will get a steamy calendar to gaze upon! Please consider purchasing one or both of the Men of New Babbage calendars for only $300L each - a vendor will be placed in the R. F. Burton Library and selected generous merchants throughout the city.

Miss Sera and I were treated by the talented Mr. Koskinen to a sneak peek of this herculean undertaking and bring you a teasing glimpse of the results.

We gazed around in rapt admiration of the amazing calendar creation

I also could not help but admire the handsome view
.....of the alluring backside
of the calendar pages.

Two amazing calendars....lavishly appointed and art directed by our own texture titan Mr. Tinus Koskinen...bring first 12 New Babbage gents in an amazing display of manliness, clever building prowess, and some...[gasps] shirtless!

Mr. Koskinen sent out this message to a select few Gents in New Babbage saying:
"Gentlemen of Babbage,
The fine dames of the Babbage Ladies Fire Protection Brigade have chosen you to represent the men of Babbage in a calendar celebrating our diversity. This struck me as a perfect opportunity for you gentlemen to showcase what brought you to the attention of the ladies. A chance for you to tell Babbage of your uniqueness, of your history, of what makes you a Gentleman of Babbage. I would recommend that you create a scene that showcases you in a defining action, from your current role in Babbage or something from your backstory. Example: I am working on a scene from the flash fiction story, me playing cards in a dark smokey bar, with threats obvious around me."

and now the New Babbage Ladies Fire Protection Brigade cordially invites you to attend the Fundraiser Calendar Release Party!

Please join us this Tuesday from 5pm to 7 pm slt at the R.F. Burton Library in Babbage Canals. There will be music, dancing and refreshments available, so come out and support the Brigade and our Library Fundraiser. Pray, RSVP here.

The second calendar which will feature a certain clockwinder, Mr. Tenk and a shirtless Dr. O!

A huge thanks go out to Miss Serafina Puchkina , Miss Jedburgh Dagger, Mr. Tinus Koskinen, Miss Ahnyanka Delphin, Miss Viv Trafalgar all the generous gents and many more...please forgive me if i have missed your name or contact me in high dudgeon so that i shall include you here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Steamfish: Virtual Learning the Steampunk Way!

Mermaid Sculpt by super talented (and dishy!) Mr. Jasper Kiergarten

On-line Virtual Environment for Education

The Voyage of the Stella Maris

After nearly a year at sea, the research vessel Stella Maris has made a risky decision. What happens next depends on you.
from Rezzable:
"How to get – and especially, keep – modern, tech savvy kids interested in clinical trials and scurvy? Simple, just give them the opportunity to experience the disease for themselves. This quest leaves players stranded on a ship where they have to complete a set of challenges in order to rescue themselves. The young minds learn fast as they help the ship’s doctor cure the crew. Creating an educational game interesting and fun to keep kids playing, whilst still accurate and informational enough to teach them about clinical trial and scurvy was a very big challenge. Created for Rezzable Inc, in partnership with YTouring of London, Steamfish was designed for high school students and teaches the principles and history of clinical testing, via immersion in a game - a steampunk-shipwreck version of the Lind Scurvy Trials of 1748."

Read the rest of the article and see more awesome pictures from the co-developer Miss Viv Trafalgar, talented second life builder and gifted educator! This project also involved the brilliant minds of Miss Ordinal Malaprop (yes, she has fans! - see?)

and the talented Miss Ianthe Farshore.

Miss Viv Trafalgar also happens to be an incredibly talented Second Life seamstress!...i can't resist her gowns!

Created for Rezzable Inc, in partnership with YTouring of London, Steamfish was designed for high school students and teaches the principles and history of clinical testing, via immersion in a game - a steampunk-shipwreck version of the Lind Scurvy Trials of 1748.

See it for yourself, on Rezzable Alpha Grid - Starting in January.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Steampunk Field Trip: ISTE Goes to Caledon

Last month i blogged about Caledon Oxbridge University..i even made the below Go!Animate vid (which i'll shamelessly post again cause they have a super new widget! LOL) introducing it...well, if you'd like to learm more about the Steampunk aesthetic, the Steamlands of Second Life and take a genteel walking tour of the university pray come dear ladies & gents and join us!

Tuesday, January 26, 5-6 PM SL (8pm EST)
ISTE Speaker Series Event
Join ISTE Island for a Steampunk field trip touring the beautiful Victorian campus of Caledon Oxbridge University.

View! The beautiful campus of Oxbridge! See! The 6 Colleges of Learning with a guided tour!
Experience! The Interactive exercises! Ride! The self guided horse drawn sleigh!
Obtain! Free full avatars and prizes (free full avatars are for 30 days or less new to SL residents only)

The party of interested ladies and gentleman will kindly meet at ISTE island for a brief introdcution to the Steampunk aesthetic and the Steamlands of Second Life. Then we all shall be transported the beautiful Victorian campus of Oxbridge University for a genteel walking tour of the grounds led by entrepid Steampunk, Oxbridge Professor, ISTE educator, and former Pirate, Capt. Redgrrl Llewellyn of New Babbage.