Category History

Maud Allan

I can’t help but think that Maud Allan would have been better off with a few cast changes in the play that was her life. Born Beulah Maude Durrant in Toronto in 1873, she spent her childhood in San Francisco before traveling to Germany at age 22 to study piano. While she was away, her […]

On a Painting that Might Be R.G. Shaw II

The following story is repeated, with the photo above, many times on the Internet: “Artist R.G. Harper Pennington in one of his paintings depicted a nude Robert Gould Shaw II as the character ‘Little Billee’ from the bohemian novel Trilby by George du Maurier. This painting hung in the bedroom of Henry Symes Lehr, the […]

Pig Sticking

I was reading about polo in India and the role played by the British military in bringing polo from India to England, and thence to the United States, when I came across another British sport in India that involved a spear rather than a mallet, and an enraged boar rather than a ball. Pig sticking […]

Tea Island

Tea Island photographed by Seneca Ray Stoddard, circa 1880 I love Lake George, islands and tea, so it was inevitable that I write something about Tea Island. The southernmost island in the lake, it has agreeably posed for many photographers. One of the best known is Seneca Ray Stoddard, who in his Lake George; A […]

Cheese: From Sandy Creek to the White House

On occasion, one experiences a confluence of comments on the same subject that amounts to a sign, a call to action. And so it was last week when Shannon and Marcia both mentioned cheese. Shannon turned my attention to a list of legendary parties that included President Andrew Jackson’s Cheese Party at the White House. […]

Watching Golf

My wife thinks I have gone around the bend because I have begun watching golf on television. I have never played golf, unless you count courses with a windmill hole. But I enjoy watching, and I have a regimen that I find very fulfilling. First, I place a pint of excellent beer within my reach. […]

My Aunt Mary Meets Big Bertha

Big Bertha I didn’t know my Aunt Mary. She was my grandfather’s sister, and he never said a word about her. But I do know that in May of 1916 she helped out at a 10-day bazaar raising money for the widows and orphans of German soldiers who had fallen in battle in the Great […]

Why Grandma Hated Catholics

I grew up in a family that taught its children to distrust and dislike Roman Catholics. My father’s father believed that if John F. Kennedy became President, the Pope-o-Rome (one word) would relocate to Washington D.C., and rule the nation. I believed his attitude came from his rural Baptist background, a distrust of The Other, […]


I don’t know where you stand on reincarnation, but let me give you a tip: Given a choice, don’t come back as an elephant. Especially if you’re going to be anywhere near people. :: Old Bet – 1816 :: In the summer of 1816, Hackaliah Bailey took Old Bet on a tour of New England, […]


Talaat Pasha taught me a new word: escheat. When a person dies with no heir, his land and estate escheat to the government. The term comes from the Latin ex-cadere, to “fall out”, via medieval French, escheoir. As Interior Minister and one of the leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress that controlled the […]