Winding Down Summer

A sea of hats and suits for New York Yankees opening day in 1923
Bain News Service, P. (1923) Yankee Stadium opening day, 4/18/1923. , 1923. 4/18/ date created or published later by Bain. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ggb2006011183/.
Labor Day Weekend is here in the United States and that means summer is unofficially over. Straw Hat weather is still in play though. That is an old fashioned term in which men wore straw hats and summer clothing generally from May 15 to September 15. Then straw hats and summer clothing were put away and warmer winter clothing would be put on. Men were expected, even if it was warm, to wear heavy clothing right up to May 15. Today of course that tradition has faded though the hats remain. If you look back at photographs taken at ball games between 1920-1960, most men wore hats and even ties. My how fashion has changed. Today at most sporting events most wear casual clothing such as caps, jeans, and tee shirts. The only people who are dressed formally are league officials.

Summer of course is the warmest time of the year whether in the north or south hemispheres. Days are longer and when clocks are set an hour ahead, you seem to get more sunlight. It is really an illusion we are giving our ourselves. And once the Summer Solstice has come and gone, there a slow but steady decrease in sunlight. By September those seconds of less sunlight have become minutes. The sun is now setting earlier than it did and with the Autumnal Equinox people who left home at 6:30 am in sunlight will soon be in darkness. The days start to become cooler especially the more farther north you are.

Labor Day Weekend though is the time to have one final blast of summer before autumn and then winter sets in. People go out and enjoy a long weekend. Mostly it is a time to relax, go out and have some fun, and toast the end of summer. Retail stores are already clearing space for Halloween and having sales on summer goods. All the goods to be sold at Christmas are already in transit on ships to arrive at major ports and then transported to distribution centers. For now all that needs to be done is to enjoy this last hurrah of summer. Have a nice weekend everyone.


Happy Sunday

Image:Petr Kratochvil(publicdomainpictures.net)


The Day Pompeii Died

Vesuvius from Portici by Joseph Wright of Derby(1734–1797)
Image:Public Domain

On 24 August 79 AD, one of the most destructive volcanic eruptions occurred in ancient history. Located in the Campania region in the Bay of Naples, the ancient city of Pompeii and those who lived around it never saw Mount Vesuvius as a threat. Their knowledge of volcanoes was limited and it had not erupted dangerously in recent memory so its dangerous past was unknown to them. As one expert put it, this volcano is a low frequency high impact one.

Pompeii
In 79 AD Pompeii was not unlike a vacation resort we know today. Wealthy Romans vacationed here and built beautiful houses and villas. Locals benefited as it meant these Romans were willing to spend money on fine foods and all kinds of other luxuries. Shops, cafes, taverns and other places flourished from the tourists who came and stayed a while. With open area squares and marketplaces, it was a busy place. It is estimated by scholars that up to 20,000 people lived here in 79 AD. In 63 AD, Pompeii and Herculaneum were shaken badly by an earthquake that damaged many houses and damaged infrastructure. Excavations have shown that by 79 AD they were still repairing the damage done from that earthquake. And that more recent ones had occurred as well.

The Last Day of Pompeii by Karl Bryullov (1799–1852)
Google Art Project
Public Domain

The Eruption of 79 AD
It was a normal day like any other. The occasional rumbles from the mountain had not particularly alarmed anyone. Around noon on 24 August 79 things changed forever. Mt.Vesuvius erupted with a massive 10 mile mushroom cloud sent into the stratosphere. All the ash and pumice would rain down over the area for the next twelve hours. At this stage it was still possible for those who could to flee. Those who remained would see it get steadily worse. Night would become day. Hot ash and pumice would fall continuously causing buildings to collapse from its weight. It became terribly difficult to breathe as well. The next morning the dawn would not be seen. And early in the morning of 25 Aug, a pyroclastic surge swept through the area. This superheated poison gas and pulverized rock traveled over 100 miles per hour. Unless you were outside the radius of the surge or deep underground, it would kill you. By the time the volcano subsided the next day, Pompeii and Herculaneum were covered completely by volcanic ash as was another town Stabiae. Those who came back to find relatives or view the scene were startled. The cities were completely buried and would remain so until the first excavations in 1748.

Pliny The Younger, staying west across the Bay of Naples, recorded what he saw in two letters he sent to Tacitus. Sadly his uncle, Pliny the Elder, would perish when he went over in his boats to Stabiae. Pliny wrote the eruption lasted eighteen hours with Pompeii buried under 14-17 feet of ash and pumice.

Vesuvius has erupted many times since. The most catastrophic one was in 1631 where it destroyed many villages under lava flows and 3,000 people died. Its last major eruption was in March 1944 and destroyed several small villages with lava. The eruption was seen from Naples and damaged (thanks to hot ash and other things)or destroyed up to 88 B-25 medium bombers based in Terzigno, Italy. The volcano is kept under constant watch to prevent anything on the scale of the eruption of 79 AD to the people who live under its shadow.

Pompeii, with Vesuvius towering above.(2010)
Author: Qfl247 (Wikimedia Commons)

Significant excavations beginning in 1927 have revealed much of what life must have been like before the destruction. More somber were the finding of some 2,000 bodies. Volcanic ash hardened and preserved the outlines of their bodies. Once the flesh had gone, the outline remained but filled in with plaster revealed those final moments of their lives. Many of the homes that have been excavated display much of how the wealthy lived in Pompeii. Ironically the city was built with materials from the last catastrophic earthquake called Avellino Eruption that occurred during the Bronze Age.


Major Decision in Titanic Bankruptcy

The bankruptcy proceedings of Premier Exhibitions have been lumbering on for a while with not much to report on. But on 17 August a major decision was made. Premier decided to put up for sale a certain set of artifacts known collectively as the French Artifacts. These artifacts were brought up as part of a joint project but were excluded from the salvage award currently in place as they were property of the French government.

Premier filed to put these up for sale. Papers were served on French Embassy notifying them of the claim and their right to challenge it in court. Well they did not do so. As a result a default judgment has been entered against them with a finding that France had no interest in the French Artifacts. After some formal paperwork is done, the next step will be to come up with a satisfactory method of auctioning them off so that debts can be retired and creditors paid.

The artifacts covered under the current salvage award are unaffected by this decision.

 

 

Premier Exhibitions Update: Artifact Bidders Confirmed

Titanic Leaving Queenstown 11 April 1912. Believed to be the last photograph of ship before it sank.
Public Domain

Premier Exhibitions has confirmed it has received multiple letters of intent to be a stalking horse bidder for its assets which include the Titanic artifact collection. Both the company and the equity security holders committee will assess the bidders qualifications and announce on 25 September 2017 who the stalking horse bidder will be. An auction, if needed, will occur by 30 November 2017 and other bidders will be able to bid at that time.
Source: Premier Exhibitions Titanic Artifact Bidders Confirmed (bankruptcompanynews,26 Jul 2017)


Queen Mary Titanic Exhibition

RMS Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA
David Jones from Isle of Wight, United Kingdom
derivative work: Altair78 (talk)

Queen Mary is hosting Titanic in Photographs-The Exhibition. The exhibition has photographs that span its beginnings until it sank in 1912. According to Long Beach Press Telegram:

Located in the stern of the ship, next to the Engine Room, the new educational gallery area features over 100 images that document the ship-building process through completion, immersing visitors on a journey through the Titanic’s luxurious amenities, from its staterooms and First Class Lounge to the Turkish bath, swimming pool, and Grand Staircase. The photos are paired with dozens of artifacts — like silverware, crystal, and china — from the Titanic, as well as from two sister oceanliners, the Olympic and the Carpathia.

The exhibition opened on July 4 and will run till July 2018. For information on hours and tickets, go to www.queenmary.com/tours-exhibits/titanic-in-photographs


Casablanca-As Time Goes By

Friday is here and time for a musical interlude to welcome the weekend. Casablanca (1942) is one of the top 10 American movies of all time. It had great acting, a compelling story line, and some great music such as As Time Goes By sung by Dooley Wilson. Most of those involved in the movie thought it would be rather ordinary run of the mill movie that would likely be forgotten in a year of so. But world events, namely the invasion of North Africa in 1942 by the Allies propelled this movie into the realm of great movies. If you have not seen it, you should.


IL Duce Gets The Boot

Benito Mussolini
Public Domain

On 25 Jul 1943, the long time Fascist dictator of Italy Benito Mussolini was deposed. He was deposed by his own Grand Council who had come to believe he was no longer able to govern. Italy had suffered a string of military defeats and the war itself was unpopular with large portions of the population. Mussolini himself appeared tired and overwhelmed by the military failures. Power was transferred to the king and Mussolini barely reacted to what was going on. A few tried rallying support on the council for Il Duce (the title he had given himself as fascist leader)but he appeared unable to choose a course of action. When Mussolini attended his routine meeting with King Victor Emmanuel III, he was told that General Pietro Badoglio would become prime minister. He was arrested after leaving the meeting. News of his dismissal was greeted with enthusiasm by most Italians. In public Badoglio said the war would continue but secretly he was negotiating an armistice with the allies which was signed on 3 September 1943. He also dissolved the Fascist Party.

Aftermath
Germany would invade Italy after it signed an armistice with the Allies in September 1943. Mussolini would be freed by German paratroopers, brought to Germany, and then sent back to rule from Lombardy in the newly formed Italian Social Republic. Meanwhile the Badaglio government, which had fled south to Allied controlled Italy, declared war on Germany. Northern Italy would remain under German control until April 1945. Mussolini would later be captured by partisans and executed along with his mistress trying to flee certain Allied capture on 26 April 1945.

History Channel-This Day In History
Bibliography.com-Benito Mussolini


SS Eastland Rolls Over:800-850 People Drown

SS Eastland circa 1911 Photo: public domain (Library of Congress)
SS Eastland circa 1911
Photo: public domain (Library of Congress)

On this date in 1915, the passenger ship SS Eastland rolled over while docked in the Chicago River. 844 passengers and crew were killed making it the largest loss of life from a shipwreck on the Great Lakes.

The SS Eastland was owned by St. Joseph-Chicago Steamship Company and was launched in May 1903 . Problems were discovered from the start. Design flaws made it top heavy and its center of gravity was too high. When lots of passengers congregated on top deck, the ship would list. While some modifications fixed issues, there were still listing problems. SS Eastland also achieved notoriety in August 1903 for a mutiny by the ships firemen. On 14 Aug, while traversing between Chicago to South Haven, Michigan some fireman refused to stoke the fires because they had not received their potatoes. The captain ordered the men arrested. Two firemen who did not participate in the mutiny had to stoke the fires until they docked. The six men were arrested by the police and later the captain was replaced.

Source:The Tacoma Times (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88085187/1915-07-27/ed-1/seq-7/) This image is now in public domain.
Source:The Tacoma Times (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88085187/1915-07-27/ed-1/seq-7/)
This image is now in public domain.

On 24 Jul 1915 the Eastland and two other passenger steamers were chartered to take employees of Western Electric to a picnic in Michigan City, Indiana. For the workers, it was a major event since many did not take holidays. Boarding began at 0630 and by 0710, the ship had reached its capacity of 2,572. The ship was packed and passengers filled every possible place on the upper decks. The ship had already begun to list to port and the crew tried to balance the ship using the ballast tanks. That did not work. Numerous passengers passengers apparently rushed to the port side making it worse. At 0728, the ship lurched sharply to port and rolled over to rest on the river bottom twenty feet below the surface. Because so many were below decks to keep warm, they were trapped by the sudden rollover. Heavy furniture-pianos, bookcases, tables-crushed many inside.

The Kenosha responded immediately and came aside to allow those stranded on top to jump aboard. But for those trapped below, there was no rescue. The bodies were retrieved and taken to temporary morgues.

The president and three officers of St. Joseph-Chicago Steamship Company were indicted for manslaughter. The ship’s captain and engineer where charged with criminal carelessness as well. However during an extradition hearing (all six were in Michigan and had to be extradited to Illinois to stand trial) the federal judge believed there was not enough probable cause citing lack of evidence and refused to extradite. He further said the captain and engineer were merely doing their jobs.

Ironically because of the 1915 Seamen’s Act passed after Titanic’s demise, the additional weight of the lifeboats probably worsened the top-heavy issues of the ship.

A historical marker along the Chicago River marks the event. Plans are also underway to construct an outdoor exhibit where Eastland sank.

Eastland Goes Navy
The Eastland was raised and sold to the Illinois Naval Reserve and commissioned USS Wilmette . She was reconfigured as a gun boat and primarily used for training. Her only action came after the war when she was tasked with sinking a captured German U-Boat in 1921. Most of her career after that was training naval reservists. In 1941, her training duty was altered to train naval armed crews on merchant ships. Her most prestigious task was to take President Roosevelt and others to Whitefish Bay to plan war strategies in 1943. She was decommissioned in 1945 and sold for scrap in 1946.

Sources:
1. SS Eastland (Wikipedia)
2. Eastland Memorial Society
3.Eastland Disaster Historical Society

Titanic Weekly News Roundup

August is nearly here and summer is in full bloom. Titanic news has been quiet. There are still news stories out there about the Premiere Exhibitions bankruptcy and the possible sale of Titanic artifacts.  Analysts hope Premier  is able to get out of the hole it is in. Ditto for the shareholders who are hoping that at long last perhaps the company will get back on track.

Of course the debate raging in some circles is over Titanic artifacts. Premier has a difficult time trying to sell them before as the salvage award restricts their sale and it comes with restrictions for the buyer. James Cameron is diving into the fray trying to raise money to buy them. The best outcome might be for some government or government backed entity to buy them. The huge price tag keeps most museums and institutions from really pursuing the matter. Of course all bets would be off should Premier decide to liquidate rather than reorganize.  And no one is talking about that right now.

The International Ice Patrol has for a long time depended upon planes to spot and help track icebergs. Their work is very important for everyone who transits across the North Atlantic. And thanks to their work, the threat of icebergs to ships has been greatly reduced. Now they are making changes. Instead of flying planes as much, the Ice Patrol is implementing the use of satellite technology to detect and monitor icebergs. The problem though is that satellite images only detect icebergs only 50% of the time compared to using planes. For the moment a combination of planes and satellite images are going to be used to monitor icebergs. (Keeping an Eye on What the Arctic Throws Down Iceberg Alley,newsdeeply.com,21 July 2017)

Molly Brown was one of the people that became well known after Titanic sank. Her 150th birthday was recently celebrated at her home in Denver, Colorado. As befitting her style, it was celebrated as a block party. Food, entertainment and tours of her home (now a museum) were done. She was quite a gal.

Have a great Sunday everyone.


Commentary on Titanic news and other related items.

%d bloggers like this: