The City of Lighters and Other Paris Fun Facts

Everyone knows that French food is one of the most well-crafted and esteemed cuisines in the world, but not many people know why or how it came to be. In David Downie’s new book, A Taste of Paris, he dives into the history behind the food with a researcher’s wild abandon for discovery and a humourist’s eye for fun.

Last time we were reading about the City of Light here on the blog, we were exploring it through the paintings and photographs of writer Janice MacLeod in her book, A Paris Year.

Janice and her Paris Year!

This time around, we are deep in the archive vaults of Parisian history alongside author David Downie as he takes us on an epicurean tour of the food that made France famous. Magically, in just 280 pages, David manages to condense centuries worth of feasting into a tidy timeline that begins in 53 B.C. and ends in present day.

“What is thrilling at least to me,” David declares in the starter portion of the book, “is to speculate on how in modified and sometimes-hard-to-recognize forms many foods and food-related habits have survived the ravages of time, the invasions and massacres and floods and fires, the plagues and changes in religion or political and economic systems, and live on in Paris today.”

It is with that keen interest that David dissects how, when, where and why the French have cooked, created, dined and dallied their way to the top of the menu board. Along the way, we learn about colorful characters like…

Queen Caterina de Medici – wife of King Henry II (1519-1589)

Queen Caterina, wife of King Henri II who chewed tobacco leaves to relieve her headaches which started French women’s universal love affair with nicotine.

We also learn about the histories behind an assortment of interesting neighborhoods, buildings, and restaurants that all contributed to the food scene both ancient and modern…

Clockwise from top left: Le Marais historic district, Palace de Versailles, Hotel de Cluny dating to the 1300’s, Verjus restaurant

…and we learn fun facts galore on a myriad of kitchen topics like these…

  1. Butter knives were invented so that people couldn’t pick their teeth at table.
  2. During the Middle Ages, long before the invention of plates,  bread was baked in cutting board shapes and used to hold piles of food for individual eaters. Once the food on top of the bread was consumed, the bread was given to peasants or animals to eat.
  3. Artichokes are considered an aphrodisiac, especially in Italy.
  4. One in three French people smoke (hence the city of lighters!)
  5. In-home cooking spaces in most French houses didn’t exist until the late 18th century.
  6. Below is one of President Obama’s favorite restaurants near the Eiffel Tower…

La Fontaine De Mars

Paris is a city continuously simmering in centuries of tradition. A delightfully unique aspect of David’s book is that he shifts back and forth between present day and the past, so you absorb plenty of history along the way but you also directly understand the correlation between what’s changed and what hasn’t.

While you don’t need to be a European history scholar or a devout foodie in order to tuck into this culinary aspect of the city, it helps if you have a special interest in old world events and a basic understanding of the fine-tuned culture of the Parisian lifestyle because David presents so much interesting, thoughtful information.  You’ll want to marinate in his chapters for a bit instead of rushing through them in one quick read. I was lucky enough to receive this advance copy of the book several months ago. One of the fun aspects of reading it over the summer was keeping Pinterest close-by so that I could look up the people and places of Paris while I was learning about them through David’s eyes.

With a wonderfully engaging voice and an ability to colorfully (and often times humorously) describe a building or a banquet, David treks you around town with insight and intimation. One of my favorite lines in the book came forty pages in when he writes about the 3rd-century Roman bath complex at Cluny as “a charming jumble that looks like a mouthful of broken molars repaired with elaborate fretwork crowns.” Admittedly, I had no idea what the Cluny bath house looked like, but thanks to David’s description I could get a pretty good impression of it.

Other intriguing sections in the book included the eating habits of Versailles’ residents, the symbolic imagery found in The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry,  and the gregarious life surrounding French food writer, Maurice Edmond Sailland a.k.a Curnonsky (1872-1956).

A snippet from the Taste panel of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry created in 1500.

But not everything is champagne and caviar and easily expressed. Amidst all of these fascinating history lessons, David also dives into his own food experience which began in Paris in the 1970’s. With his modern eyes, he retraces his food steps taken four decades ago to see how, and if, the landscape he once personally adored still holds up to the memories he stored. He also talks about the future of French food among the booming explosion of other newly exalted food scenes in other cities. Can Paris hold up to the competition?

Described best as  part guidebook, part history class and part personal memoir, A Taste of Paris pushes you to make notes, take notes, look for more, explore more… which brought me to quickly wish for two things that the book did not have – detailed maps of the areas where David traveled and an index for quick reference.  Then I discovered, as I finished the last page that David does offer both maps and an index of sorts. He and his wife offer walking tours of Paris through his website where they take you on all sorts of off-the-beaten-path adventures. That’s ten times better than a paper map and a list of page numbers! You get the guy (and the guide) in person, all to your yourself!

While we often don’t even think about the fact that millions of people have experienced both good and terrible situations treading upon the very ground we also walk upon so nonchalantly every single day,  David reminds us that the veins of history are deeply wound up in the practices and procedures of our modern lives. That flaky croissant, that steaming cup of hot chocolate, that celebratory pop of champagne were all born a long time ago yet they continue to intrinsically impact us as we move towards the future. In detailing the anatomy of a cuisine, David dissected a city whose culture has influenced a collective conscious of eaters around the world and that is pretty remarkable.

Whether you get the chance to meet up with David in Paris and peruse the food scene together or you simply read about his city in your city, A Taste of Paris is as satisfying as falling in love with a new museum exhibit. It will broaden your point of view, make you think, ask questions, ponder your own country’s evolution of food practices and ultimately make you appreciate how far we have come, as a civilization, from the days of heaping breadboards and kitchen-less houses.

Cheers to David for peeling back the layers of French food culture in such an interesting way!

Find A Taste of Paris available here. Learn more about David and his other Paris based books here. And if you find yourself in the City of Light(ers) take David’s tour and watch the book unfold before your eyes.


Suzy Snowflake and the Marshmallow World

Washington DC, 1922

Washington DC, 1922

How very exciting this week has been for snow lovers around the U.S.! With all this winter white floating and flying around the country, February is chalking itself up to be one of prettiest winter months on record. Sadly there has been no snowy weather to report from Ms. Jeannie’s city but that’s okay because today snow scenes are not hard to come by as we travel back in time to some of the biggest snowstorms of the 19th and 20th centuries.

This post is all about the beauty of the blizzard as experienced from all sides of the States, north to south, east to west. We are also introducing two new (but actually old) snow songs that every once in a while get lumped into Christmas song rotation but actually have nothing to do with the holiday itself. Instead, these two whimsical melodies express all the hap-hap-happy joy found in a good day of snow.  So grab your mug of hot chocolate, turn up the volume and enjoy the snowstorms to come…

Suzy Snowflake debuted in 1951 and quickly became a popular hit for Rosemary Clooney for the next three decades.

New York City circa 1917

New York City, 1917


Boston circa 1875

Boston, 1875


Detroit circa early 1900's

Detroit,  early 1900’s



Possibly this is Suzy Snowflake herself circa 1963!


New York City, 1892

New York City, 1892


Minnesota, 1940's

Minnesota, 1940’s



Kentucky Mountains – early 19th century


Chicago 1956

Chicago, 1956


Eagle River, Wisconsin, 1911

Eagle River, Wisconsin, 1911


Belfast Maine, 1952

Belfast, Maine, 1952


Chicago snowplows, 1908

Chicago, 1908


New Jersey, 1926

New Jersey, 1926



New York City, 1905


Seattle 1916

Seattle, 1916


Washington DC, 1922

Washington DC, 1922


Mckenzie Pass, Oregon, 1929

Mckenzie Pass, Oregon, 1929


Connecticut, 1888

Connecticut, 1888


It’s A Marshmallow World was first recorded in 1949 and was performed by Bing Crosby. This version (Ms. Jeannie’s favorite!) by Brenda Lee debuted in 1964.

Wisconsin, 1925

Wisconsin, 1925


Vermont, 1940

Vermont, 1940


Ohio 1952

Ohio 1952


Colorado, 1906

Colorado, 1906





Alaska, 1910

Alaska, 1910


Tennessee 1918

Tennessee 1918


Buffalo, New York 1977

Buffalo, New York 1977


San Francisco, CA 1887

San Francisco, CA 1887


Harrisburg, PA circa early 1940's

Harrisburg, PA circa early 1940’s

Cheers to happy snowmen and winter site-seers! May your snow day, however you are experiencing it, be merry and bright!

All photos courtesy of pinterest and ebay. Click on each for more detailed info. 

Derby Day Fun: Pick A Winner, Win A Prize


It’s Kentucky Derby time dear readers! As you know from past years, this is always a fun and festive time in the land of Ms. Jeannie. The roses are blooming, the mint is growing and the party planning is underway. Post time for the big race is Saturday (May 7th) at 6:34pm, where 20 horses will compete in the 142nd run for the roses. As of this (blog) post publication time, the field is large this year with 26 entrants in possible contention, which means six names will drop off before Saturday.

It’s a big guess as to who will make the final list and who will win the Derby. Anything is possible in horse racing and nothing can be left up to certainty until hooves pass the finish line, which is one of the elements that make this Saturday so exciting. In honor of such spirited sportsmanship, Ms. Jeannie is hosting a little competition of her own right here on the blog. Post the name of the winner in the comments section between now and 5:45pm on Saturday and you’ll win a very cool vintage prize that will be mailed out to you on Monday.

Here are all 26 entrants compiled in three sets in random order. Pick your favorite, type their name in the comments section below this post and Ms. Jeannie will be in touch if you (lucky you!) have chosen the winner!


2016 Kentucky Derby Entrants: 1.Lani 2. Outwork 3. Suddenbreakingnews 4. Brody’s Cause 5. Gun Runner 6. Discreetness 7. Nyquist

You can only enter once, so make your selection count!


8. Dazzling Gem 9. Mo Tom 10. My Man Sam 11. Creator 12. Adventist 13. Shagaf 14. Fellowship 15. Trojan Nation 16. Exaggerator

You can be easy breezy about this whole contest by picking a horse by name or face value or you can read up on each of the entrants on 


17. Cherry Wine 18. Tom’s Ready 19. Laoban 20. Mor Spirit 21. Destin 22. Oscar Nominated 23.  Mohaymen 24. Majesto 25. Whitmore 26. Danzing Candy

Good luck dear readers and happy guessing! Contest winner will be announced early next week!!!

Catch up on past Derby Day festivities here.  Photo credits of all racers in this post courtesy of:, coady photography,, dylan buell, el porto roberto, horse racing nation,, clb photography

On The Campaign Trail in 1896


The flag of the United States of America in 1845 contained 27 stars.

Pomp and circumstance, stars and stripes, drum rolls and fifes, please! Election day celebrates its 175th birthday today!

Tucked in between Sunday and Wednesday, Congress chose the first Tuesday in November 1845 as the official day to declare this political event a national holiday. Ideal for voters who would have to make a day’s journey into the county seat to cast their vote (Monday) without disturbing the nation’s religious rest day (Sunday) or encroaching on merchant market day (Wednesday) Tuesday was the perfect day in the week to call upon the country to exercise it’s political powers.

In 2013, Ms. Jeannie’s mom sent a box of family treasures and interesting antiques that had been collected or used by various family members over a century ago. Contents included a civil war inkwell used by Ms. Jeannie’s great great grandfather Albert…

Albert's inkwell that he carried with him throughout the Civil War.

Albert’s inkwell that he carried with him throughout the Civil War.

and a silk scarf monogramed for Ms. Jeannie’s great, great grandmother Martha at the World’s Fair in 1893…

Silk Handkerchief Souvenir from the World's Fair Chicago 1893

Silk Handkerchief Souvenir from the World’s Fair Chicago 1893

Another fantastic wonder included in the box was this pair of campaign buttons for Republican presidential nomination William McKinley and his vice presidential choice Garret Hobart.


Dating to 1896, the set is comprised of a 2″ inch round button badge and a 3″ inch tie clip encased in gold medal. McKinley was running on the platform of maintaining the gold standard as the foundation for the U.S. economy so almost all of his political swag included gold colors to communicate his cause.

There were gold campaign posters…


and gold bug pins…


There were gold campaign ribbons…


a bevy of gold buttons some featuring the pair, some just featuring McKinley…


and even a gold umbrella for rainy day rallies!


Donald Trump and his love of all things gold would definitely have approved of the McKinley/ Hobart campaign colors!

McKinley’s platforms of protection, sound money and reciprocity turned out to be winning tickets as he defeated Democratic hopeful William Jennings Bryant to become the 25th President of the United States with Garret Hobart at his side.

Get lost for just a minute in the patriotic spirit of the day with this footage from the National Archives as you take a walk along the parade route with spectators at McKinley’s inauguration in March 1897.

Striving for hope, opportunity and prosperity for citizens of the United States, McKinley barreled through his first two years as President before tragedy struck the White House in 1899 with the death of Hobart from a heart condition. McKinley, carrying on, campaigned and won a second term in office in 1901, this time with Theodore Roosevelt as his VP. But by 1901, McKinley himself would be dead – the third US President to be assassinated.


The last portrait photograph of President McKinley . Taken in Buffalo, eight days before he died. Photo courtesy of McMahan Gallery and Archive.

It is easy to get caught up in the hoopla of contemporary political campaigning and to forget the hundreds of campaigns that came before. In 1896 these two gentlemen, McKinley and Hobart  were the dream team of the Republican party – riding high on their hopes and ideals for a better country and more golden skies ahead. Not much has changed in that department over the course of a century and half. Politicians still seek the same things – a better way of life for all. We are lucky in that way. To  live in a country where we have the freedom to express our views, the encouragement to strive towards our dreams,  and the support to accomplish our goals not only as individuals but also as Americans.

Happy Election Day dear readers!!!

Detecting A Case: Part Two


Here we are dear readers with part two of the sleuthing and solving saga involving an exciting and mysterious piece of paper found in an old book!

In case you need a refresher… last week, Ms. Jeannie blogged about how she found a note in an old 1940’s art book entitled Masterpieces in Color. This week we are taking a good long look at the note and determining its age and possible author.

First things first, here’s a full view of what we are working with in clue department…


A lovely, sentimental handwritten note on White House stationary! How exciting! If you are having trouble reading it from the photo this is what the note says:


Merry Christmas. I found this in a bookstore here. It is from an ambassador’s estate and has some nice reproductions from a good cross-section of art history. Tell everyone there hello for me.

Love, Jay

Who is this Jay? What’s his connection to the White House? And who is Kay or the ambassador for that matter?! And just when was this note written?

Here is what we know for certain…

Fact #1: The book was published in 1945. Fact #2: The book was purchased second-hand. Fact #3: It was a gift for Kay from Jay. Fact #4: The note was written on White House stationary.

Armed with that info, Ms. Jeannie began by researching letterhead from past administrations. It was her theory that White House stationary changed with every new President, so that offered help in determining the age of the note. When she found a picture of this stationary, she knew she found her administration…


Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States served in office from 1974-1977. You’ll notice it is the exact same font and layout on Jay’s stationary. To be certain of this letterhead, Ms. Jeannie also researched stationary from Kennedy, Nixon and Carter administrations, which produced no similarities.

So with the administration decided, Ms. Jeannie continued on with her second theory… that Jay was part of the higher echelons of the White House staff, because it didn’t seem probable that everybody (meaning all workers) at the White House would have access to White House stationary – even if they were just scratch pads or notepads. What if an inappropriate note was misplaced and found its way out into the world? Surely there is some sort of protocol for what is being written on paper that represents the highest form of government in the country. Don’t you think dear readers?

Continuing in that same vein Ms. Jeannie combed through the names of Ford’s administration on the lookout for our Jay. Thanks to the help of the Gerald Ford Presidential Library – she found a Mr. Jay F. , who served on the legal team as counsel to the President. (Ms. Jeannie is not including his last name here because he is still alive and because this would seem like some sort of breech of privacy.) But she can share that he is pictured somewhere in here…


How exciting! Which one could he be? The guy on the crutches? Or the one in the thick black glasses? The suited sitter on the couch or the shy stander with his back to the camera?  Half the fun of this detective project was just looking at these retro white house pictures:)

In the course of her research, very easily Ms. Jeannie came upon Jay’s email address. Pretty confident in her deductive reasoning regarding this whole quest Ms. Jeannie sent Jay a message hoping to appease her curiosity about such a prominent previous book owner.

Some days went by. There was no news from Jay. Ms. Jeannie waited. More days went by. Ms. Jeannie continued waiting. And still no news arrived.

In the meantime during all this waiting, Ms. Jeannie worked on a  completely different research project. Very randomly, she happened upon this image…


The same stationary font! On a letter from Eleanor Roosevelt! Written twenty years before Gerald Ford’s administration! Oh my. So it seems, dear readers that not ALL stationary changes with each administration. Ms. Jeannie’s first theory was wrong!

It’s been close to two weeks and still there is no response from hypothetical Jay. Of course, there is a whole slew of reasons why he might not have responded from the trivial to the extraordinary, with the very first and most obvious reason being that he never even received or saw the email. But it wouldn’t be fun to pester him again, so Ms. Jeannie’s giving this one over to the hands of fate.

The art book was published in 1945 which gives it dozens of decades of possible Jay connections. Even though Ms. Jeannie still believes she has hit the mark with the Ford administration, she’ll continue poking around the staff files of previous presidents. It’s a case not yet closed, which means there is more to the story yet to come! If our letter-writer is meant to be found than we will find him!

And if anyone out there is a presidential paperwork scholar, please weigh-in with your theories about who our characters might be. Half the fun of connecting the past with the present is daydreaming about what could have been and what might have happened. Happy speculating dear readers!

On This Day in 1915: A Writer Travels the Sea of History

On this day, May 7th, exactly 100 years ago a handsome American writer was traveling by boat to London for what he hoped to be a successful theater run of his first play. The writer was 39 year-old Justus Miles Forman and … Continue reading

Finally, The Fireworks!

As you might recall dear readers, Ms. Jeannie got rained out this past 4th of July in the fireworks department. But as luck would have it, a friend of the Jeannie’s cleaned out her garage over the long holiday weekend and discovered two forgotten bags of fireworks from long ago. Knowing what a big fan, the Jeannie’s are of such entertainment , she dropped them by for a little Labor Day celebration fun.

fireworks2 024

The weather cooperated (thank you Mother Nature!) for a few hour break between rainstorms. Just enough time to enjoy a pre-fireworks patio dinner and the after dinner treat of a little light show. Here’s some photos from the display…









And the big finale…



Labor Day is actually the celebration of  American worker’s and all the strength, perseverance and endurance it takes to continue to make our nation great. Ms. Jeannie was thinking about this as she watched (and photoed!) the fireworks and thought what a lovely and fitting tribute the light show actually was.

Here they are, just small little individual rockets of paper, kind of like people . But when ignited or inspired they shoot to the moon and make a splash of color across the atmosphere, leaving a bit of awe and wonder in their wake.


It doesn’t really seem to matter whether you watch a big show like Macy’s 4th of July Spectacular or just a humble homegrown attempt – either way it’s still marvelous.  Just like people, just like workers, just like America.

Happy Labor Day dear readers! If you are watching fireworks anywhere this weekend, send Ms. Jeannie a picture or share your holiday plans below in the comments section.

Cheers to all the hard workers!

A Holiday Tradition – Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Oh dear readers… it has been many, many weeks since Ms. Jeannie has been able to be in touch. She has missed all of you dearly. November found her busy with house guests and shop sales and holiday preparations. And although time is pressing and it seems like every moment is accounted for these days, Ms. Jeannie wanted to stop and say a big-hearted THANK YOU to all of you lovely readers. It is such a joy to be able to share these vintage adventures with all of you.  And she hopes for more exciting time travels in the New Year.

As we approach the big day, Ms. Jeannie is looking forward to one of her most favorite Thanksgiving family traditions – the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Watching the parade is a highlight every year in the Ology household dating all the way back to when she was a little girl, in love with giant balloons and Broadway musicals.

Usually she watches it every year on TV, while she is cooking, but one year, when she was 8, her older brother and sister surprised her by taking her into the city to see the parade in person! The whole entire event was a treat!  The streets were so crowded, and Ms. Jeannie so little, that she wound up spending most of the time on her brother’s shoulders. Having a 6′ foot tall big brother does come in handy! But whether you are there watching the festivities in person, or home watching it on tv – the level of energy and excitement is felt either way (as least to Ms. Jeannie!).

In 2014, the parade will be celebrating it’s 90th anniversary! So she thought it would be fun to take a look back at some vintage parade footage…

Here’s the parade in 1954. Check out those vintage floats and the tree at Rockefeller Center!

We have this man to thank for the creation of the giant balloons that have floated down the parade route for over 85 years…

Anthony Frederick Sarge (1880-1942), puppeteer and illustrator

Anthony or “Tony” as he was known, moved from Germany to New York City to test out his puppetry skills on Manhattan streets.  Word got around that he was quite talented and Macy’s executives asked him to design a Christmas window display featuring his marionettes. That led to designing giant balloons for the parade. His first big balloon creation, Felix the Cat, debuted in the Thanksgiving Day parade in 1927.

Felix the Cat float, 1927. Photo courtesy of

The address of Macy’s was sewn into the fabric of all the balloons and at the the end of the parade route they were let go from their tethers and left to float high above Manhattan.  A few days later they’d float back down from the sky, withered and exasperated, and a prresent was waiting for any person who found them and returned them back to Macy’s.  Can you imagine finding a giant Felix in your back yard?!

If you live in the New York area, you can go up to the streets surrounding the Museum of Natural History and watch the balloons being blown up the night before the parade. It is magical to see these flat pieces of billowy material take shape before your eyes. A bit of whimsy in the urban environment of hard lines and hard stone. Ms. Jeannie used to take her dates – it was very romantic and holiday-ish.

In this parade footage from 1935, you can see that it is quit tricky to maneuver the balloons. But no one seems to mind the minor faults and frailties of the procession. Even the street dogs are enjoying the spectacle!

Happy Happy Thanksgiving from Ms. Jeannie and the gang. We hope this is your most delicious and festive one yet!

Following a Trail of Clues: Discovering a Historic Photograph

The moment Ms. Jeannie saw this picture,  was the moment she loved it…

Vintage travel photo

Can’t you just feel the excitement of the people as they watch the plane sail by? Even though we can’t see their faces, you can tell by their posture that they are captivated. Ms. Jeannie loves the composition of it too… how you can see the silhouette of the hats and hairbows, the angle of the treeline and the plane just about to leave the picture.

On the reverse side of the photo it was stamped with this information…

Fox Tone photo processing information

The copyright year was dated 1927… the place… San Antonio, Texas.  The 1920’s was the time of early aviation when  figures like Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh were flying about the skies conquering goals and testing limits. It was an exhilarating time in history – full of promise and potential. The aeronautical industry was on the cusp of blooming, and travelers were about to witness a whole new sense of freedom and independence.  This got Ms. Jeannie to thinking about what a unique little gem she was holding on to. That perhaps there might be an interesting story behind this photograph.  So she put her research hat on and got to work.

As it turns out, 1927 was the year that Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris in the Spirit of St. Louis. He was only 25 at the time – and many people doubted that such an attempt could be successful.

photo courtesy of

Could the plane in Ms. Jeannie’s photograph be involved in such a tremendous way?  Ms. Jeannie started down that research road next, comparing a bunch of Spirit of St. Louis photos to her photograph to see if they were similar.

A side view of the Spirit of St. Louis. Photo courtesy of wikipedia.

Aerial view of S.O.S.L. This photo is AMAZING!

Up in the air view…photo courtesy of

They do look similar to Ms. Jeannie’s airplane, don’t they?

Closeup of Ms. Jeannie’s photograph. You can see similarities in the overall shape, the wing span and the wheels.

At this point, Ms. Jeannie thinks these two planes resemble each other close enough to start assuming that it could be the Spirit of St. Louis. She has one other clue that might aid in her investigation. If you remember, the photo processing mark on the back was stamped San Antonio, Texas, so now she needed to figure out why the Spirit of St. Louis would have been in Texas.

As it turns out, (thanks to after Lindbergh returned home from Paris, he embarked on a nationwide victory tour sponsored by aviation enthusiast /businessman Harry Guggenheim.

Harry Guggenheim (1890-1971)

Many people had doubted that one man could pull off such an endeavor, Harry Guggenheim included.  Needless to say, when Charles was successful in his 33 hour flight, there was much fanfare and celebration. Charles became world famous overnight! Suddenly everybody wanted to see, know and hear from this magnanimous man.

With the help of the Guggenheims – America got to do just that.  Paid for by a fund set up by Harry and his father to promote aviation research and education, Lindbergh aboard the Spirit of St. Louis, visited 48 states and 92 cities on what became known as the 3 month long Guggenheim Tour (aka the US Victory Tour).

Stops along the US Victory Tour. Photo courtesy of

While in each city, Lindbergh gave speeches detailing his flying adventures. Here’s a program from his stopover in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on August 27th, 1927. You can get a good sense of the level of pomp and circumstance involved in the tour.

Lindbergh Day in Sioux Falls, South Dakota – August 27, 1927

Along the tour, Lindbergh spent three days in Texas – September 26th – September 28th, 1927,  stopping in  Abilene, Fort Worth,  and Dallas and flew over the following cities:   Crosbyton, Stamford, Roaring Springs, Jacksboro, Bridgeport, Alvarado, Hillsboro, Waxahachie and Denton.  Ms. Jeannie’s photograph could have been taken at any one of those places, with the film then being developed in San Antonio.

Now that Ms. Jeannie had a plausible situation surrounding her photograph, she contacted the website about her theory and included a picture of the photograph.  A few days later, a consultant for the Lindbergh family contacted Ms. Jeannie with verification that her photograph was indeed a picture of the the Spirit of St. Louis flying over Texas on the Victory Tour. How exciting!!!

Ms. Jeannie loves that even after almost 100 years, Lindbergh is still surprising people! See more of Ms. Jeannie’s historic photograph in her Etsy shop here. Do you have any stories about Lindbergh in your family? If so, please comment with your stories! And if you are not familiar with the site – stop by and have a visit – it’s a wealth of information and photos!

Ms. Jeannie’s true travel adventure into the land of discovery!

News of Titanic: Six Faces Behind A Historic Event

One of the things that Ms. Jeannie appreciates most about antique items is there ability to hold up.

Maybe it’s because we live in such a throwaway society now, where things are made flimsier and not meant to withstand decades upon decades of use. But antique items were built to last. Generally she finds them to be more sturdy, more durable or perhaps it could be that they were just better taken care of.

Just this week, Ms. Jeannie added two paper items to her shop, which are both around the 100 year age mark…

Early 1900’s Lowney’s Chocolate and Bonbons Paper Box

Original May 3rd, 1912 Virginian Pilot Newspaper

These two are  just amazing to Ms. Jeannie… century old paper that is still usable in one form or fashion today!

Let’s take a closer look at the newspaper. Fascinating on many different levels but possibly most enjoyably relevant  now that we are coming up on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic on April 14th, 2012. This newspaper edition came out just 3 weeks following the epic diseaster. Having never learned about the Titanic in school,  Ms. Jeannie gained knowledge of the event, primarily from two cultural arts experiences.

The first was a play, called the Unsinkable Molly Brown…

The Unsinkable Molly Brown Broadway play poster

And the second was, of course, the movie starring Leo & Kate. Somewhat sheepishly, Ms. Jeannie admits to seeing this movie five times in the theater.

One of Ms. Jeannie’s favorite scenes from the movie.

Each time, she enjoyed it for something different… the costumes, the acting, the history, the romance, the weight of the drama. But let’s face it, Ms. Jeannie is a loyal romantic and when something moves her… she’s committed.

Years following the movie, Ms. Jeannie attended a lecture at her local library presented by one of the divers who helped unearth Titanic artifacts from the ocean floor. The artifacts went on tour as part of the  traveling Titanic exhibit.

In the lecture, the diver talked about the physical aspects of the job…the long hours…the tedious technical process… the beaurocratic red tape that had to be sorted through just in order to be able to dive)… the excitement of meeting and working with James Cameron…and the vast amount of state of the art equipment they were able to use to explore the site.

He also discussed the emotional impact the dive had on him. The most surprising aspect for him was the amount of shoes that he saw down there in the sand.  Hundreds upon hundreds. Mens, womens, childrens. Party shoes, work books, slippers. These turned out to be taboo items. It was agreed by all parties involved, that the shoes should remain at the bottom of the ocean. Somehow they seemed too personal, too human, to bring to light again.

After the lecture, Ms. Jeannie dove  into lots of research regarding Titanic, learning the whole story from construction to destruction. Having been on one luxury cruise liner as a teenager, herself (The Queen Elizabeth 2, which also sailed from New York to Southampton, England) Ms. Jeannie could really understand the excitement behind the whole cruise experience. The QE2 was  not quite as opulent as Titanic, but it was a pretty luxurious experience all the same.

The Queen Elizabeth 2, considered to be one of the last great transatlantic ocean liners.

It was one thing to read about the Titanic as an event that happened in the past, with the ability afforded of 100 years of condensed research. But it is something entirely different to read about the events surrounding Titanic as they were occuring.

The articles from Ms. Jeannie’s original Virginian Pilot newspaper add a personal glimpse of the aftermath as events were unfolding.  In this edition, light is shed on the lives of six people involved with Titanic that rarely get mentioned, with the exception of one,  in regular news features.

There are primarily five articles that reference the Titanic in this edition, which was published, May 3rd, 1912,  just three weeks after the sinking.

Two articles appear on the front page. The first one is in relation to a memorial service for Major Archibald Butt that was attended by President Taft.

President William Taft

Archibald Butt (1865-1912) was a military aide to both President Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.

Major Archibald Butt

He also held a career in journalism and was in the Spanish American War. He died on the Titanic at the age of 46, along with his partner, painter Frances Davis Millet.

Francis Davis Millet

Francis’ body was recovered from the wreck site but Archibald’s never was.  In 1913, a memorial fountain was constructed for both Francis and Archibald in President’s Park, the gardens that surround the White House.

The article in the newspaper…

THERE WERE TEARS IN TAFT’S EYES AS HE PAID TRIBUTE TO MAJ. BUTT                                                                      Guest of Honor at Augusta on Occasion of City’s Memorial Service to Memory of Victim of the Titanic Disaster 

Self Sacrifice A Part of His Nature

Augusta, Ga., May 2 – Coming as a friend to pay tribute to the memory of a friend President Taft spent today in Augusta as the guest of honor for the occassion of the city’s memorial service to the memory of Major Archibald Butt, one of the victims of the Titanic diseaster of April 14.

The memorial services were followed by an informal reception at the commercial club, where Taft met many of his old friends and afterward the President was entertained at the home of Landon Thomas. He left on his return to Washington at 3:50 p.m.

Tears in His Eyes

The President was  visibly affected by the tributes paid to Major Butt. There were tears in his eyes as he called upon memories of the man who was his aide ever since he entered the White House and who had traveled thousands of miles with him.

Mr. Taft made only a short speech but he came near breaking down twice. ‘Never did I know how much he was to me until he was dead,” said the President. “Lacking nothing of self – respect and giving up nothing he owed to himself, he conducted himself with a singleness of purpose and to the happiness and comfort of the President who was his chief. To many fine qualities he added loyalty and when he became one of my famoily (typo) he was as a son or brother.”

Why He Never Married

Mr. Taft told how he met Major Butt, first in the Phillipines and later as aide to President Roosevelt. He dwelt on Maj. Butt’s devotion to Mr. (frayed edges along the fold marks make this part of the article difficult to read)…

…President “that Archie never married because he loved his mother so. The greatest sorrow of his life was when she left him.”

Mr. Taft concluded with a word more as to Mr. Butt’s spirit of  self-sacrifice. “Self sacrifice,” he said “had become part of his nature. If Archie could have selected his time to die he would have selected the one God gave him.”

The second mention of Titanic…  a photo, clip and article about Guglielmo Marconi,  the inventor of the of the wireless telegraph used to transmit messages from the Carpathia regarding the details of the Titanic sinking.

Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) was an Italian born inventor and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics. In 1897, he founded the Wireless Telephone and Signal Company, (later renamed Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company) which set off a string of events that led to his pivotal connection with Titanic.  It was his wireless telegraph system that allowed for outbound ship communication to land-based wireless stations. Also, it was his Marconi employees that operated the radio equipment aboard Titanic and his equipment that sent the distress signals.

Underneath his picture in the newspaper, begins the following caption:

“G. Marconi, the noted wireless telegraphy inventor. He posed for the above photograph just before sailing for Europe  on the Kaiser Wilhelm III., after having testified before the Senatorial Committee regarding the conduct of the Marconi wireless stations during the attempts that were made to secure definite information from the rescue ship Carpathia regarding the details of the Titanic tragedy…” This caption is followed by an in-depth article of speculation surrounding Marconi’s involvement in the distress messages sent from the ship.

To read Marconi’s full testimony before the United States Senate, along with other key characters, visit the fascinating Titanic Inquiry Project here

A third article on the front page (tied into the senate hearing details surrounding Marconi) titled “The Search for Bodies Abandoned at Present”  details how the  Western Union Cable ship, Minia,  would be returning to Halifax with 15 bodies after searching the waters around Titanic.

Western Union Cable Steamer, Minia. photo courtesy of

Here is the article in full:

THE SEARCH FOR BODIES ABANDONED FOR PRESENT                     Minia En Route to Halifax with Fifteen of Dead — New York Investigation Yesterday Failed to Reveal New Facts

New York, May 2 – The Western Union cable steamer Minia which has been searching the scene of the Titanic wreck for bodies is returning to Halifax with 15 bodies and will dock Monday, according to a wireless message received here this afternoon by the White Star Line. This means, officials of the line state, that the search for bodies has been abandoned for the present and may be postponed indefinietly.

The message states that the Minia found the bodies widely scattered over a great area, so that search became daily more difficult.

Most of the bodies now on the Minia it is believed are those of members of the Titanic’s crew.

Seven dead bodies buoyed up by life belts together with parts of the wreckage of the Titanic were passed on April 26 in latitude 41.13 and longitude 49.34 by the steamer Gibraltar, which arrived today from Middlesboro.  When the bodies were sighted the Gibraltor was stopped but no signs of a living person could be seen and the steamer proceeded.

May Abandon Search

Halifax, N.S.,  – May 2 – White Star Line officials here had a lengthy conference today with Captain Lardner of the Mackey-Bennett, discussing the utility of a proposal  to send out a third steamer, the Seal, to search for further bodies of  Titanic victims.  Captain Lardner expressed the conviction that it would not be possible to find any more. The idea, it is likely, will be abandoned.

The bodies of the fifty-nine unidentified victims, seven of them women will be buried tomorrow. Fifty-six will be placed in one common grave in Fair View cemetery and three, who were Catholics, will be interred in Mount Olivet.  Twenty-seven have been shipped to friends. Eleven more will go tomorrow.  This will leave ninety-three bodies still at the morgue, claims for which a majority of which have been sent in.  Some of these will likely be buried in Halifax.

At the funeral services tomorrow 100 seamen from the Niobe will assist in the services.

Here is a photo of Captain Lardner and his crew…

Captain Lardner is in the second row, third from the left. Photo courtesy of

According to an interior article in the newspaper, funeral arrangements were also being made for John Jacob Astor who was the wealthiest person on the Titanic to perish. His body was recovered on April 22nd,  by the Mackey-Bennettt crew.  His pregnant wife, Madeleine survived.

John Jacob Astor IV (1864-1912)

Madeleine Astor (1893-1940)

From the newspaper…


Rhinebeck, N.Y. , May 2 – The body of Colonel John Jacob Astor arrived at Ferncliffe, the Astor estate near this village, this afternoon and funeral services will be held here from the Church of the Messiah of which Colonel Astor was a warden, at 12′ o’clock Saturday.

Every f lag in the village was at half mast, when the body arrived, accompanied by Vincent Astor. The services will be conducted by the Rev. Ernest Saunders, pastor of the Church. A special train will bring a large funeral party from New York.

Ferncliffe, later renamed Astor Courts. Photo courtesy of

On a side note, Astor Courts, was the venue for Chelsea Clinton’s recent wedding.

Underneath Astor’s funeral notice is a photo of Natalie Harris Hammond, wife of John Jays Hammond, who was a prominent mining engineer, diplomat and philanthropist. Natalie was appointed secretary of the  committee of prominent capital women organized to raise funds for a Titanic memorial.

Natalie Harris Hammond, wife of John Jay Hammond

Not much is written about Natalie Harris Hammond, except what Ms. Jeannie found in the newspaper above. There was a monument erected in 1931 in honor of the men who gave their lives so that women and children could escape in lifeboats, but there is no specific mention of Natalie Harris Hammond’s name in association with the sculpture or memorial. Most likely this is the cause that Natalie was appointed to. The memorial was made possible through donations given by women across the country, usually in small denominations, $1.00 or $2.00 at a time.

Here’s a photo of the memorial, which was designed by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and sculpted by John Harrigan.

Women’s Titanic Memorial in Washington DC made possible by the Women’s Titanic Memorial Association

It is lovely to see how just a little bits of contribution can turn into something remarkable.

The last mention of Titanic in this newspaper edition is that of Mrs. Louise Robins, wife of Victor Robins who was manservant to John Jacob Astor aboard Titanic.

From the paper:


New York, May 2 – Papers in the first suit for damages brough (typo) by a relative of a Titanic victim were filed in the Federal District Court here today. The suit, in admiralty, is brought by Mrs. Louise Robins, a widow of Victor Robins, Col. John Jacob Astor’s valet, and is the suit in which the testimony of J. Bruce Ismay and officers of the sunken steamer is desired. It charges negligence on the part of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company and asks for $50,000 damages and costs.

Ms. Jeannie couldn’t find any follow-up info on this lawsuit, but she is still searching. .. if anyone has any info they would like to provide, please send it along!

If you would like to purchase Ms. Jeannie’s original May 3rd, 1912 Virginian Pilot newspaper, and read all these above mentioned articles in person, you can do so by clicking on the picture below…

Original May 3rd, 1912 Virginian Pilot Newspaper