Tag Archives: history

Toilet Paper Debate Resolved

The ongoing debate over toilet paper orientation seems to have been answered more than a century ago.

According to an 1891 patent by New York businessman Seth Wheeler, the end of a toilet paper roll should be on the front, or in the “over” position.  Advocates of the “off-the-back” position, please take note and flip that roll over when you get home.  The science has been settled, the guy who invented the stuff says so.

toilet paperMr. Wheeler, the man behind the Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company, is also the reason we’re able to tear off perfect squares in the first place: Albany Perforated originally patented the idea for perforated “wrapping” paper (a more modest name for toilet paper) in 1871.

“My invention … consists in a roll of wrapping paper with perforations on the line of the division between one sheet and the next, so as to be easily torn apart, such roll of wrapping paper forming a new article of manufacture,” Wheeler’s 1871 parent read.


QSL cardIn the days of old, when listening to AM radio was a major part of American home entertainment, the sensitivity of your radio receiver was a source of great pride. Some people made a hobby of cruising the dial, especially at night, seeking out new, distant stations. When they found a new one they would listen for the station’s address, send a post card to that station with the day and time they were listening and something about the program content they heard. Upon receipt and verification, the station would send back a QSL Card. Each station had their own unique design. Some young folks collected these QSL cards like others collected baseball cards. I guess the QSL collectors were the geeks of the days of old. Any broadcasting station likes to know how far their signal reaches, so they like to get confirmation from distant listeners.  Continue reading QSL?

All About Nails

square nailsHand-forged nails were the first manufactured fasteners and they date back to Biblical times.  As people first used hewn beams, timbers, planks, and whole logs to build with, the early hand-made versions were spikes.  With the development of the split wood shingle, nails of about 1″ long came into use.  When sawyers, and then sawmills, began cutting dimension lumber, the sizes and varieties greatly expanded.  Thus, over time, nails developed in different sizes, shapes, and used different heads to fasten lumber and wood.

These fasteners have always been in demand.  Some blacksmiths made only nails and they were called “Nailers.” Nails were so scarce (and expensive) in pre-1850 America that people would burn dilapidated buildings just to sift the ashes for nails.[1] They did so because pulling the fasteners would have damaged most of them.  After the nails were recovered, a blacksmith could easily straighten any nails that had been bent during construction.   Continue reading All About Nails

Happy Michaelmas Day

Michaelmas Day
The Archangel Michael

Michaelmas, or The Feast of Michael and All Angels, is celebrated in Europe on the 29th of September. As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days; in England, it is one of the “quarter days”.

St Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels. Michaelmas occurs at the time when the darker nights and colder days begin – the autumnal equinox – the celebration of Michaelmas is associated with encouraging protection during these dark months. It was believed that negative forces were stronger in darkness and so families would require stronger defenses during the late fall and winter months of the year.

Around the time of the fall equinox, Michaelmas marked the end of the harvesting season with great fairs and festivals. Traditional foods for Michaelmas include goose to bring prosperity, new wine, and cakes of oats, barley, rye, and carrots.

Once the harvest was in, farmers would pay their yearly rents to the landowners.  Many farmers included “a goose fit for the lord’s dinner” with their rent payments. Especially if the tenants required a delay in payment, they may have placated their landlords with gifts of geese as interest.  Continue reading Happy Michaelmas Day

Labor Day

labor dayLabor Day means different things to different people, just as many holidays do.  It seems that to most people, most holidays mean a day off of work — and little more.  I know very few people who actually spend any time reflecting on, much less celebrating the meaning of, most holidays.  But Labor Day has some unique qualities that bear looking at and at least acknowledging.

Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country, said Samuel Gompers, founder and long time president of the American Federation of Labor.  All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another.  Labor Day…is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation.

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.  It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.  Continue reading Labor Day

Seeking the History of the Screened Porch

Anyone who has experienced one has to admit that a screened porch is a wonderful addition to any house. A screened porch offers the breezes, scents, sounds, and sights of being outdoors – but without the bugs and the blazing sun. In rural areas – before air conditioning became rampant – many people used a screened porch as a bunk room on particularly sweltering summer nights.

Source: underthegables.blogspot.com/
Victorian home with a sleeping porch on the second floor. Usually built off a bedroom, the sleeping porch was screened in on three sides for maximum air circulation.

But like so many brilliant architectural adaptations, the screened porch has been shoved aside by more modern innovations and changes in lifestyle. Conversion to a year-round sunroom or blown out into a larger deck or patio that offers a full open-air atmosphere, the screened porch is fast becoming a nostalgic memory.

Have you ever wondered who first thought of enclosing a porch with window screening? Let’s have a seat in the Wayback Whensday machine and see what we can find out. Continue reading Seeking the History of the Screened Porch

Back In The Day: A Miner’s Life

I found this brief tale of a miners life fascinating and wanted to share it.  A link to the original source is below. Miners cabin of old.

Back in the day breakfast consisted of Bacon, biscuits, black coffee, a pull from the whiskey bottle and then cigars or a chaw from the plug of tobacco. Being a working miner living in a shack was a tough but rewarding existence. Daily survival was the driving force. Hunting & chopping wood was required to live. There were no supermarkets or mini malls. There was no air conditioning, running water, jacuzzi tubs, high speed internet, smart phones, big screen TV’s, or mail order warehouses that sell every widget know to man. In the summer we were hot, in the winter we froze.

If you were lucky enough to find some color in the rocks you had to constantly look over your shoulder for the next backshooter trying to steal your claim or from taking a shot at you from a distance! Old miners lived high on life, adventure, hard work, sweat, Elk loin & Elk jerky, but most of all whiskey straight from the bottle! — with Link Borland wannabe.

Original Source

Yahoo Mountain Dew!

I felt like doing a “Way Back Whensday” post here at Random Thoughts today and I’ve elected to poke into the history of something that is near and dear to my heart on a couple of fronts.  The soda pop marketed as Mountain Dew is one of my favorite ”treat” beverages (I prefer the diet version) and the term “mountain dew” has been slang for moonshine for hundreds of years.  The Tennessee county I live in has a well deserved reputation for having been the moonshine capital of the world during the heyday of that illegally produced corn whiskey.  There is even a moonshine museum down the road in Cosby!  Sorry, they do not give out samples.

mountain dew
A sign in Tonto Arizona

Mountain Dew was born here in the hills of Tennessee in the 1940s.  Barney and Ally Hartman, who ran a bottling plant in Knoxville, coined the name of their product from the colloquial term for moonshine whiskey.  The Hartman’s Mountain Dew, however, was a lemon-lime flavored mixer for whiskey, not originally intended to be drunk alone.  But that changed quickly enough.

Continue reading Yahoo Mountain Dew!

Ice Cream Sunday

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day. He recognized ice cream as a fun and nutritious food that is enjoyed by a full 90 percent of the nation’s population. In the proclamation, President Reagan called for all people of the United States to observe these events with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.” With this in mind I thought I’d talk just a bit about ice cream and its history.

Did you know…

ice cream, making,familyEach American consumes a yearly average of 23.2 quarts of ice cream, ice milk, sherbet, ices and other commercially produced frozen dairy products.

The Northern Central states have the highest per capita consumption of ice cream at 41.7 quarts.

More ice cream is sold on Sunday than any other day of the week.

Ice cream and related frozen desserts are consumed by more than 90 percent of households in the United States.  Continue reading Ice Cream Sunday

Wayback Whensday: Bush Brothers & Company

It is Way Back Whensday and so I’ve gone digging through the annals of history (or at least my articles index) to find something of historic significance that may also prove entertaining for you. Here is the story of a local agricultural company with deep roots.

These days a lot of large, industrial companies take it on the chin for their lack of concern over ecologic and community issues.  Bush Brothers & Company, headquartered in Knoxville TN with processing plants in Chestnut Hill Tennessee and Augusta Wisconsin is not one of those.  But that’s not surprising given the values and community concern of the company’s founder.

A History of Bush Brothers & Company

In 1867 Andrew Jackson “A.J.” Bush was born in the community of Chestnut Hill Tennessee, where he lived for most of his life, leaving only to receive a college education at nearby Carson-Newman College.

In 1891 A.J. married Sallie and they rapidly produced 6 children; four boys and two girls.  Both A.J. and Sallie had a deep interest in their community and love for their family.  In addition to being a mother of 6, Sallie acted as a midwife and nursemaid as well as training young girls the fine art of proper household management.  A.J. had been a school teacher since graduating college, and was elected to the local school board.

Bush Brothers, Bush Bros., beansA.J. was always looking for ways to help his community and had developed an interest in the trade business.  He decided to serve both interests by creating the A.J. Bush & Company General Store, which provided a convenient location for local residents to barter for goods that were not locally produced, as well as a training ground and legacy for his children to insure they would have a livelihood when grown. Continue reading Wayback Whensday: Bush Brothers & Company