Roy Chapman Andrews: The Real-Life Indiana Jones

As a testament to Harrison Ford’s acting abilities, we are all familiar with the face of Indiana Jones…

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. Photo via pinterest.
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. Photo via pinterest.

He captivated audiences in four Indiana Jones movies: Raiders of the Lost Ark – 1981, Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom – 1984, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – 1989, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull  – 2008 and now there are rumors that he’ll be starring in a fifth Indiana Jones movie at some point in the near future.  That’s one impressive character career!

But did you know that the real inspiration for Indiana Jones looked like this…

Roy Chapman Andrews (1884-1960)
Roy Chapman Andrews (1884-1960)

Meet Roy Chapman Andrews – a Wisconsin-born naturalist, explorer, taxidermist and all around adventurer. Ms. Jeannie first became familiar with him, when she listed this book in her Etsy shop…

All About Dinosaurs published in 1953 by Roy Chapman Andrews
All About Dinosaurs – published in 1953 –  by Roy Chapman Andrews



At first glance it looks like a beautifully illustrated children’s book about the rise and fall of dinosaurs – but in actuality, this book is so much more – it’s part memoir, part textbook, part field guide to Andrew’s firsthand experiences unearthing dinosaurs in Mongolia and the Gobi dessert in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Roy Chapman Andrews. Photo ourtesy of
Roy Chapman Andrews. Photo courtesy of

Written in 1953, after he had retired as the Director of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Andrews set about recording his adventures. This book in particular, was geared towards children in hopes of inspiring future generations of scientists. And Andrews had a lot to share with his young audience.

Credited with bringing back the first known fossil dinosaur eggs to the Museum, from an expedition he led in the Gobi Desert, Andrews believed in his natural instincts when few others did.

Andrews and the soon to be famous eggs found in the Gobi Desert in 1931. Photo courtesy of
Andrews and the soon to be famous fossilized eggs found in the Gobi Desert in 1931. Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History.
Here they are on display at the museum. Photo courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History.

In true pioneering style, Andrews led teams of scientists into the uncharted shifting desert sands via automobile and camel in the 1920’s. Industry professionals doubted his abilities, doubted his hypothesis’ and frankly, doubted his mindset.

Mongolia was off the radar. How could anything scientific be uncovered in a sandy landscape that was constantly windswept, arid and blazing in temperature? Plus there were warring tribes, logistical difficulties and governmental red tape to overcome. Now, does that sound like a task for Indiana Jones or what?

Andrews camp-site in the Mongolian desert. Definietly a cinematic site! Photocourtesy of
Andrew’s camp-site in the Mongolian desert. Definietly a cinematic site! Photocourtesy of

Andrews wasn’t intimated by any of these challenges. He was confident in his own abilities and that of his team and was certain that they would find something out there in the sand. And of course, with the dinosaur eggs, later with other fossils, he did. And of course, he returned to the States with fanfare and celebration and new celebrity status.

The accessories of an exotic explorer - a camel, binoculars ando courtesy of a foreign guide! Phot
The accessories of an exotic explorer – a camel, binoculars and a foreign guide! Photo courtesy of

Andrews worked on excavations in the Gobi Desert until 1930 when both political roadblocks and the Great Depression stymied the project. He returned to New York as a larger than life figure where fans waited with baited breath to hear about all of his exotic tales. Four years later he became director of the American Museum of Natural History, which now holds the largest collection of fossil amphibians, reptiles and birds in the world. In 1942, he retired to Carmel, California to set pen to paper and record the first-hand accounts of a lifetime spent studying his passion.

Not a bad lesson to teach children. Believe in yourself and your abilities, set your mind to task and you’ll have nothing standing in your way.

SPECIAL NOTE: While Ms. Jeannie was preparing this blog post, her All About Dinosaurs book sold.  It was purchased as a birthday present for a 10 year old boy named Finley.  Ms. Jeannie hopes you will all join her, dear blog readers, in wishing Finley a most happy birthday. And to Finley – may this year be full of thrilling adventures and daring discoveries:)

“Always there has been an adventure just around the corner–and the world is still full of corners.”– Roy Chapman Andrews        



A Brief History of Poison Ivy

You may have noticed that Ms. Jeannie has been absent from the blog for a few days. Unfortunately, in all the excitement and anticipation of good gardening days, Ms. Jeannie, unknowingly,  pulled out a whole patch of poison ivy vines. With her bare hands.

This little garden patch was in her friend’s poolside landscaping bed that contained beautifully tall stalks of salvia, a pink climbing rose bush, a flowering mystery plant, a ton and half of weeds and the unforseen poison ivy. Focusing more on the mystery plant then the ivy , Ms. Jeannie just jumped right in to pulling weeds, dreaming all the while about the garden utopia she could create here at the  pool.

Needless to say, day 3 of the rash yielded a trip to the doctor after both her eyelids were swollen shut. Magically, overnight, it seems that Ms. Jeannie had turned into a puffin.

While waiting in the doctor’s office, Ms. Jeannie wondered where poison ivy originated from. Surely it had to be in the same importation category as those fish that have feet and the beetles that destroy pine trees by the thousands.

Ever the researcher, (swollen eyes or not!) Ms. Jeannie was surprised to learn that poison ivy is native to North America.

She also learned that it is a relative of both the cashew and the mango.  Mustard gas used in World War I was inspired by it, and in the 1960’s, Poison Ivy was a DC Comic book character.

Ironically enough, there is a DC comic book for sale on Etsy that features Poison Ivy…

1960’s era DC comic book featuring Batman’s enemy, Poison Ivy from GrannysCoolStuff

In 2001,  Poison Ivy underwent an image makeover courtesy of artist Brian Bolland. Clearly, a touch more sexy then the 60’s version.

Promotional Cover for Batman Gotham Nights cover, 2001 by artist Brian Bolland.

Poison Ivy was first recorded in North America by Captain John Smith in Virginia in the early 1600’s. John Smith was an English explorer who established the first North American settlement at Jamestown, Virginia.

Captain John Smith (1580-1631)

He was the the person to give poison ivy it’s name as it reminded him of the English ivy that grew in his homeland. This is what he recorded…

“The poisonous weed, being in shape but little different from our English ivie; but being touched causeth reddness, itchings,and lastly blysters, the which howsoever, after a while they pass away of themselves without further harme; yet because for the time they are somewhat painefull, and in aspect dangerous, it hath gotten itselfe an ill name, although questionless ofnoe very ill nature.” – Captain John Smith, 1609

Incidently, European explorers in the 1800’s transported poison ivy to England and Australia to be used as decorative plantings in cottage gardens as the leaves turned a brilliant red/orange in the fall.  Sorry about that dear ones. How dreadful!

Urushiol is the oil found in poison ivy that causes an allergic reaction. The word urushiol is derived from the Japanese word for lacquer, which is kiurushi.

Urushiol can be found in all traditional Japanese and Chinese laquerware. Because urushiol is poisonous to the touch until it dries, it takes a skilled dedicated artist to work with the product. As many as 200 coats of lacquer are applied to one object, with drying and polishing occurring between each application.

Prized for being one of the strongest adhesives in the natural world it is extraordinarily durable and is resistent to water, acids, alkali and abrasion.

18th century laquered Japanese writing box.

This just goes to show you that beauty can be be derived from all situations, whether it is perceived as good or bad!

Ms. Jeannie found these great items on Etsy that would have been super useful had she had them on hand before the start of her gardening project.

Poison Ivy Relieve Salve by bcbontanicals
Detox Blend from rootsandflowers
Vintage Gardening Books from theArtFloozy

That being said she will stock her medicine cabinet  in case she stumbles across the ivy again. Right now that thought makes her wince, but, just like any weed, a true gardener can never be knocked down!

Ms. Jeannie has come away from this whole experience learning one big lesson when it comes to digging in the dirt. Definitely look before you leap, my dears, look before you leap.

The Start of the Sunflowers

Today Ms. Jeannie started planting her summer garden.

Bed of sunflower seeds all planted!

It’s been a very mild winter this year in the South, so she could have started much earlier, but every once in a while, a folklorish sounding thing called blackberry winter  hits our region, which sort of fools you into thinking that spring has sprung. But then a wicked Mr. Frost comes calling, and knocks out all the early garden preparations.   Usually this happens around Eastertime, if it occurs at all, but this year Ms. Jeannie is throwing caution to the wind and planting early. Hopefully it will all work out.

Ms. Jeannie likes to order seeds from her favorite company, Botantical Interests.  They have a lot of heirloom varieties,  organic mixtures and seeds that always sprout. Plus they have marvelous looking seed packets that contain all sorts of fun growing information. They contain drawings of what the seedlings should look like too, which is helpful if you have a weed prone garden or aren’t quite sure what is what!

Pretty packaging!
…and informative too!

This year Ms. Jeannie is keeping things simple by just planting sunflowers and herbs. She will leave her vegetable growing to the local farmers and just shop for them at market each week.

Ms. Jeannie always likes to be a little out of the ordinary, so she has ordered 4 different varieties of red sunflowers, two fuzzy yellow sunflowers and one white sunflower.  Ms. Jeannie finds red sunflowers to be most elegant in a bouquet and since many people aren’t familiar with them, she enjoys a bit of the surprise element!

Martha Stewart put together this beautiful bouquet.

Urn style planters serve as great vases for sunflowers. Their tall yet curvaceous lines balance the bold roundness of the sunflower face. Urns are usually heavier too, which is good, because some mammoth varieties can reach heights up to 9′ feet tall!

The botanical name for sunflower is Helianthus, which comes from the Greek word “helios” which means “sun” and “anthos” which means “flower.”  Although native to North America, sunflowers were first discovered by European explorers in South America, but Native American tribes had been growing, cultivating and defining them from the beginning.  Native American tribes used the flower petals for dye, the seeds for food, the oil for ceremonial body painting and the stalks for fiber.

Explorers brought seeds back to their native countries, so that by the late 1500’s sunflowers were a common site throughout Europe.

Sunflower Field – Bordeaux, France. Photo by robsound

By the 18th century though that Europeans began cooking with sunflower oil. If you have never cooked with sunflower oil, it is supposed to contain the highest levels of Vitamin E, of all the cooking oils. It is light in taste and color. and is low in saturated fat. Learn more here.

Sunflowers can even be used as birdfeeders! Thanks again crafty Martha for supplying us with this pretty feeder idea:

To make your own birdfeeder like this one click here.

Because of their warm, cheerful coloring and their dramatic size and shape, sunflowers have been a subject for artistic study for centuries. Probably, the most recognized paintings of sunflowers would be those of Vincent Van Gogh:

While Ms. Jeannie does love all these paintings, she does wish that Van Gogh had painted more red sunflowers! As a gift recently, she did receive the new Vincent Van Gogh biography by Steven Naifeh and Gregory Smith…

Book Cover

…perhaps she will learn more about the inspiration behind all those sunflower portraits! Maybe he’ll even address the red ones! If anyone has already read this book, please let Ms. Jeannie know what you thought of  it. She always enjoys a good book review.

On Etsy, there is a glorious amount of sunflower-related items, but red sunflower items are a little more niche. Ms. Jeannie was happy to come across these items:

1970’s Ceramic pitcher from Vintagality
Duralee Red Sunflower Pillow by PopOColor
Red Sunflower Card from Teroldegoandtomatoes
Large Decorative Clipboard from ConfettiStyleDesigns
The Kernal Kozi from HollyWorks
Glowing Golden Sunflower Pendant from Bella Grethel
Sunflower Bowl from betsybpottery

Ms. Jeannie couldn’t resist these yellow sunflower items either:

Sun King – 11×17 Fine Art Photography from sintwister
Sunflower Tote Bag from jjmillistration
Vintage 1960s Sunflower Tunic Dress from digVintageClothing
Reverse Me Dotty Apron in Sunflowers & Paisley from bdoodles

Ok, garden. Ms. Jeannie can’t wait to see your pretty faces. So start GROWING!

“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows follow behind you.”
~ Maori Proverb