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COOL PEOPLE -THE CARTER FAMILY

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The Carter Family

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BIOGRAPHY

The most influential group in country music history, the Carter Family switched the emphasis from hillbilly instrumentals to vocals, made scores of their songs part of the standard country music canon, and made a style of guitar playing, “Carter picking,” the dominant technique for decades. Along with Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family were among the first country music stars. Comprised of a gaunt, shy gospel quartet member named Alvin P. Carter and two reserved country girls — his wife, Sara, and their sister-in-law, Maybelle — the Carter Family sang a pure, simple harmony that influenced not only the numerous other family groups of the ’30s and the ’40s, but folk, bluegrass, and rock musicians like Woody Guthrie, Bill Monroe, the Kingston Trio, Doc Watson, Bob Dylan, and Emmylou Harris, to mention just a few.

It’s unlikely that bluegrass music would have existed without the Carter Family. A.P., the family patriarch, collected hundreds of British/Appalachian folk songs and, in arranging these for recording, enhanced the pure beauty of these “facts-of-life tunes” and at the same time saved them for future generations. Those hundreds of songs the trio members found around their Virginia and Tennessee homes, after being sung by A.P., Sara, and Maybelle, became Carter songs, even though these were folk songs and in the public domain. Among the more than 300 sides they recorded are “Worried Man Blues,” “Wabash Cannonball,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “Wildwood Flower,” and “Keep on the Sunny Side.”

The Carter Family’s instrumental backup, like their vocals, was unique. On her Gibson L-5 guitar, Maybelle played a bass-strings lead (the guitar being tuned down from the standard pitch) that is the mainstay of bluegrass guitarists to the present. Sara accompanied her on the autoharp or on a second guitar, while A.P. devoted his talent to singing in a haunting though idiosyncratic bass or baritone. Although the original Carter Family disbanded in 1943, enough of their recordings remained in the vaults to keep the group current through the ’40s. Furthermore, their influence was evident through further generations of musicians, in all forms of popular music, through the end of the century.

Initially, the Carter Family consisted of just A.P. and Sara. Born and raised in the Clinch Mountains of Virginia, A.P. (b. Alvin Pleasant Delaney Carter, December 15, 1891; d. November 7, 1960) learned to play fiddle as a child, with his mother teaching him several traditional and old-time songs; his father had played violin as a young man, but abandoned the instrument once he married. Once he became an adult, he began singing with two uncles and his older sister in a gospel quartet, but he became restless and soon moved to Indiana, where he worked on the railroad. By 1911, he had returned to Virginia, where he sold fruit trees and wrote songs in his spare time.

While he was traveling and selling trees, he met Sara (b. Sara Dougherty, July 21, 1898; d. January 8, 1979). According to legend, she was on her porch playing the autoharp and singing “Engine 143” when he met her. Like A.P., Sara learned how to sing and play through her family. As a child, she learned a variety of instruments, including autoharp, guitar, and banjo, and she played with her friends and cousins.

A.P. and Sara fell in love and married on June 18, 1915, settling in Maces Springs, where he worked various jobs while the two of them sang at local parties, socials, and gatherings. For the next 11 years, they played locally. During that time, the duo auditioned for Brunswick Records, but the label was only willing to sign A.P. and only if he recorded fiddle dance songs under the name Fiddlin’ Doc; he rejected their offer, believing that it was against his parents’ religious beliefs.

Eventually, Maybelle Carter (b. Maybelle Addington, May 10, 1909; d. October 23, 1978) — who had married A.P.’s brother Ezra — began singing and playing guitar with Sara and A.P. Following Maybelle’s addition to the Carter Family in 1926, the group began auditioning at labels in earnest. In 1927, the group auditioned for Ralph Peer, a New York-based A&R man for Victor Records who was scouting for local talent in Bristol, TN. The Carters recorded six tracks, including “The Wandering Boy” and “Single Girl, Married Girl.” Victor released several of the songs as singles, and when the records sold well, the label offered the group a long-range contract.

The Carter Family signed with Victor in 1928, and over the next seven years the group recorded most of its most famous songs, including “Wabash Cannonball,” “I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes,” “John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man,” “Wildwood Flower,” and “Keep on the Sunny Side,” which became the Carters’ signature song. By the end of the ’20s, the group had become a well-known national act, but its income was hurt considerably by the Great Depression. Because of the financial crisis, the Carters were unable to play concerts in cities across the U.S. and were stuck playing schoolhouses in Virginia. Eventually, all of the members became so strapped for cash they had to move away from home to find work. In 1929, A.P. moved to Detroit temporarily while Maybelle and her husband relocated to Washington, D.C.

In addition to the stress of the Great Depression, A.P. and Sara’s marriage began to fray, and the couple separated in 1932. For the next few years, the Carters only saw each other at recording sessions, partially because the Depression had cut into the country audience and partially because the women were raising their families. In 1935, the Carters left Victor for ARC, where they re-recorded their most famous songs. The following year, they signed to Decca.

Eventually, the group signed a lucrative radio contract with XERF in Del Rio, TX, which led to contracts at a few other stations along the Mexican and Texas border. Because of their locations, these stations could broadcast at levels that were far stronger than other American radio stations, so the Carters’ radio performances could be heard throughout the nation, either in their live form or as radio transcriptions. As a result, the band’s popularity increased dramatically, and their Decca records became extremely popular.

Just as their career was back in full swing, Sara and A.P.’s marriage fell apart, with the couple divorcing in 1939. Nevertheless, the Carter Family continued to perform, remaining in Texas until 1941, when they moved to a radio station in Charlotte, NC. During the early ’40s, the band briefly recorded for Columbia before re-signing with Victor in 1941. Two years later, Sara decided to retire and move out to California with her new husband, Coy Bayes (who was A.P.’s cousin), while A.P. moved back to Virginia, where he ran a country store. Maybelle Carter began recording and touring with her daughters, Helen, June, and Anita.

A.P. and Sara re-formed the Carter Family with their grown children in 1952, performing a concert in Maces Spring. Following the successful concert, the Kentucky-based Acme signed A.P., Sara, and their daughter Janette to a contract, and over the next four years they recorded nearly 100 songs that didn’t gain much attention at the time. In 1956, the Carter Family disbanded for the second time. Four years later, A.P. died at his Maces Spring home. Following his death, the Carter Family’s original recordings began to be reissued. In 1966, Maybelle persuaded Sara to reunite to play a number of folk festivals and record an album for Columbia. In 1970, the Carter Family became the first group to be elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which is a fitting tribute to their immense influence and legacy. ~ David Vinopal, Rovi

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THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND PHOTOS OF THE DROUGHT STRICKEN AREA OF THE AMERICAN MIDWEST

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The Great Depression

  • The Great Depression (1929-39) was the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world. In the United States, the Great Depression began soon after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. Over the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, causing steep declines in industrial output and rising levels of unemployment as failing companies laid off workers. By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its nadir, some 13 to 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half of the country’s banks had failed. Though the relief and reform measures put into place by President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped lessen the worst effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the economy would not fully turn around until after 1939, when World War II kicked American industry into high gear.

The American economy entered an ordinary recession during the summer of 1929, as consumer spending dropped and unsold goods began to pile up, slowing production. At the same time, stock prices continued to rise, and by the fall of that year had reached levels that could not be justified by anticipated future earnings. On October 24, 1929, the stock market bubble finally burst, as investors began dumping shares en masse. A record 12.9 million shares were traded that day, known as “Black Thursday.” Five days later, on “Black Tuesday” some 16 million shares were traded after another wave of panic swept Wall Street. Millions of shares ended up worthless, and those investors who had bought stocks “on margin” (with borrowed money) were wiped out completely.

As consumer confidence vanished in the wake of the stock market crash, the downturn in spending and investment led factories and other businesses to slow down production and construction and begin firing their workers. For those who were lucky enough to remain employed, wages fell and buying power decreased. Many Americans forced to buy on credit fell into debt, and the number of foreclosures and repossessions climbed steadily. The adherence to the gold standard, which joined countries around the world in a fixed currency exchange, helped spread the Depression from the United States throughout the world, especially in Europe.

Despite assurances from President Herbert Hoover and other leaders that the crisis would run its course, matters continued to get worse over the next three years. By 1930, 4 million Americans looking for work could not find it; that number had risen to 6 million in 1931. Meanwhile, the country’s industrial production had dropped by half. Bread lines, soup kitchens and rising numbers of homeless people became more and more common in America’s towns and cities. Farmers (who had been struggling with their own economic depression for much of the 1920s due to drought and falling food prices) couldn’t afford to harvest their crops, and were forced to leave them rotting in the fields while people elsewhere starved.

In the fall of 1930, the first of four waves of banking panics began, as large numbers of investors lost confidence in the solvency of their banks and demanded deposits in cash, forcing banks to liquidate loans in order to supplement their insufficient cash reserves on hand. Bank runs swept the United States again in the spring and fall of 1931 and the fall of 1932, and by early 1933 thousands of banks had closed their doors. In the face of this dire situation, Hoover’s administration tried supporting failing banks and other institutions with government loans; the idea was that the banks in turn would loan to businesses, which would be able to hire back their employees.

Hoover, a Republican who had formerly served as U.S. secretary of commerce, believed that government should not directly intervene in the economy, and that it did not have the responsibility to create jobs or provide economic relief for its citizens. In 1932, however, with the country mired in the depths of the Great Depression and some 13-15 million people (or more than 20 percent of the U.S. population at the time) unemployed, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt won an overwhelming victory in the presidential election. By Inauguration Day (March 4, 1933), every U.S. state had ordered all remaining banks to close at the end of the fourth wave of banking panics, and the U.S. Treasury didn’t have enough cash to pay all government workers. Nonetheless, FDR (as he was known) projected a calm energy and optimism, famously declaring that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Roosevelt took immediate action to address the country’s economic woes, first announcing a four-day “bank holiday” during which all banks would close so that Congress could pass reform legislation and reopen those banks determined to be sound. He also began addressing the public directly over the radio in a series of talks, and these so-called “fireside chats” went a long way towards restoring public confidence. During Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office, his administration passed legislation that aimed to stabilize industrial and agricultural production, create jobs and stimulate recovery. In addition, Roosevelt sought to reform the financial system, creating the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to protect depositors’ accounts and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to regulate the stock market and prevent abuses of the kind that led to the 1929 crash.

Among the programs and institutions of the New Deal that aided in recovery from the Great Depression were the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which built dams and hydroelectric projects to control flooding and provide electric power to the impoverished Tennessee Valley region of the South, and the Works Project Administration (WPA), a permanent jobs program that employed 8.5 million people from 1935 to 1943. After showing early signs of recovery beginning in the spring of 1933, the economy continued to improve throughout the next three years, during which real GDP (adjusted for inflation) grew at an average rate of 9 percent per year. A sharp recession hit in 1937, caused in part by the Federal Reserve’s decision to increase its requirements for money in reserve. Though the economy began improving again in 1938, this second severe contraction reversed many of the gains in production and employment and prolonged the effects of the Great Depression through the end of the decade.

Depression-era hardships had fueled the rise of extremist political movements in various European countries, most notably that of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany. German aggression led war to break out in Europe in 1939, and the WPA turned its attention to strengthening the military infrastructure of the United States, even as the country maintained its neutrality. With Roosevelt’s decision to support Britain and France in the struggle against Germany and the other Axis Powers, defense manufacturing geared up, producing more and more private sector jobs. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 led to an American declaration of war, and the nation’s factories went back in full production mode. This expanding industrial production, as well as widespread conscription beginning in 1942, reduced the unemployment rate to below its pre-Depression level.

When the Great Depression began, the United States was the only industrialized country in the world without some form of unemployment insurance or social security. In 1935, Congress passed the Social Security Act, which for the first time provided Americans with unemployment, disability and pensions for old age.

Drought-stricken areas of the American Midwest from which thousands of farm families migrated during the Great Depression. Click any thumbnail for a slideshow. This gallery has 32 images. Sort by most recently added.

HIWAY AMERICA – ALL ABOUT HOBOS AND THE HOBO MUSEUM, BRITT, IA

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HIWAY AMERICA – ALL ABOUT HOBOS AND THE HOBO MUSEUM, BRITT, IA

Hobo’s Meditation by JIMMIE RODGERS (1932)

http://youtu.be/HQ_xj3aDjWU

DEDICATED TO DAVE CHRISTY 

Hobo, 1894

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Hard Times in America
In the period from 1893 to 1896 America suffered a severe economic meltdown that was surpassed in its tragic impact only by the Great Depression that followed four decades later. The causes were complex. They included a public panic to cash in paper currency for gold, a subsequent depletion in the country’s gold reserve and bankers calling in their loans to private industry as the value of the dollar continued to decline.
Members of Coxey’s Army on their way
to Washington, 1893

A domino effect resulted as major companies such as the Northern Pacific Railway, the Union Pacific Railroad, and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe declared bankruptcy. An estimated 15,000 companies failed. The price of farm products plummeted, forcing many farmers to loose their farms and their livelihood. The crush of so many defaulted loans led some 500 banks to close their doors – taking their depositors’ life savings with them. Unemployment soared.

There was no government assistance. In Ohio, Jacob S. Coxey – owner of a failed business – decided to take matters into his own hands. In a move that foreshadowed the Bonus Army of 1932, he began a march on Washington in order to force the government to provide relief for the unemployed. As he made his way to the capital he was joined by what he proclaimed was an army of 100,000 destitute. However, when he entered the city he had a following of only 500. His plea fell on deaf ears as both the President and Congress refused to meet his demands. Coxey and his followers were subsequently arrested for trespassing.

The nation’s roads and railways were filled with the unemployed searching for a better life. They became hoboes, panhandling their way across the country in search of a job. Among them was eighteen-year-old Jack London, future author of Call of the Wild (1903).

“Thirty days, said his Honor, and called another hobo’s name.”

London described his experiences as a hobo in a book entitled The Road. We join his story as he arrives in Niagara Falls, NY aboard a freight train. Walking into town in search of food, he runs afoul of the law:

‘What hotel are you stopping at?’ he queried.“The town was asleep when I entered it. As I came along the quiet street, I saw three men coming toward me along the sidewalk. They were walking abreast. Hoboes, I decided, like myself, who had got up early. In this surmise I was not quite correct. . . The men on each side were hoboes all right, but the man in the middle wasn’t. . . At some word from the man in the centre, all three halted, and he of the centre addressed me. He was a ‘fly-cop’ and the two hoboes were his prisoners.

He had me. I wasn’t stopping at any hotel, and, since I did not know the name of a hotel in the place, I could not claim residence in any of them. Also, I was up too early in the morning. Everything was against me.

‘I just arrived,’ I said.

‘Well, you turn around and walk in front of me, and not too far in front. There’s somebody wants to see you.’

I was ‘pinched.’ I knew who wanted to see me. With that ‘fly-cop’ and the two hoboes at my heels, and under the direction of the former, I led the way to the city jail. There we were searched and our names registered. I have forgotten, now, under which name I was registered.

From the office we were led to the ‘Hobo’ and locked in. The ‘Hobo’ is that part of a prison where the minor offenders are confined together in a large iron cage. Since hoboes constitute the principal division of the minor offenders, the aforesaid iron cage is called the Hobo. Here we met several hoboes who had already been pinched that morning, and every little while the door was unlocked and two or three more were thrust in on us. At last, when we totaled sixteen, we were led upstairs into the courtroom. . .

In the court-room were the sixteen prisoners, the judge, and two bailiffs. The judge seemed to act as his own clerk. There were no witnesses. There were no citizens of Niagara Falls present to look on and see how justice was administered in their community. The judge glanced at the list of cases before him and called out a name. A hobo stood up. The judge glanced at a bailiff. ‘Vagrancy, your Honor,’ said the bailiff. ‘Thirty days,’ said his Honor. The hobo sat down, and the judge was calling another name and another hobo was rising to his feet.

The trial of that hobo had taken just about fifteen seconds. The trial of the next hobo came off with equal celerity. The bailiff said, ‘Vagrancy, your Honor,’ and his Honor said, ‘Thirty days.’ Thus it went like clockwork, fifteen seconds to a hobo and thirty days.

They are poor dumb cattle, I thought to myself. But wait till my turn comes; I’ll give his Honor a ‘spiel.’ Part way along in the performance, his Honor, moved by some whim, gave one of us an opportunity to speak. As chance would have it, this man was not a genuine hobo. He bore none of the ear- marks of the professional ‘stiff.’ Had he approached the rest of us, while waiting at a water-tank for a freight, we should have unhesitatingly classified him as a ‘gay-cat.’ Gay-cat is the synonym for tenderfoot in Hobo Land. This gay-cat was well along in years — somewhere around forty-five, I should judge. His shoulders were humped a trifle, and his face was seamed by weather-beat.

For many years, according to his story, he had driven team for some firm in (if I remember rightly) Lockport, New York. The firm had ceased to prosper, and finally, in the hard times of 1893, had gone out of business. He had been kept on to the last, though toward the last his work had been very irregular. He went on and explained at length his difficulties in getting work (when so many were out of work) during the succeeding months. In the end, deciding that he would find better opportunities for work on the Lakes, he had started for Buffalo. Of course he was ‘broke,’ and there he was. That was all.

‘Thirty days,’ said his Honor, and called another hobo’s name.

Said hobo got up. ‘Vagrancy, your Honor,’ said the bailiff, and his Honor said, ‘Thirty days.’ And so it went, fifteen seconds and thirty days to each hobo. The machine of justice was grinding smoothly. Most likely, considering how early it was in the morning, his Honor had not yet had his breakfast and was in a hurry.

But my American blood was up. Behind me were the many generations of my American ancestry. One of the kinds of liberty those ancestors of mine had fought and died for was the right of trial by jury. This was my heritage, stained sacred by their blood, and it devolved upon me to stand up for it. All right, I threatened to myself; just wait till he gets to me.

Jack London

He got to me. My name, whatever it was, was called, and I stood up. The bailiff said, ‘Vagrancy, your Honor,’ and I began to talk. But the judge began talking at the same time, and he said, ‘Thirty days.’ I started to protest, but at that moment his Honor was calling the name of the next hobo on the list. His Honor paused long enough to say to me, ‘Shut up!’ The bailiff forced me to sit down. And the next moment that next hobo had received thirty days and the succeeding hobo was just in process of getting his.

When we had all been disposed of, thirty days to each stiff, his Honor, just as he was about to dismiss us, suddenly turned to the teamster from Lockport — the one man he had allowed to talk.

‘Why did you quit your job?’ his Honor asked.

Now the teamster had already explained how his job had quit him, and the question took him aback.

‘Your Honor,’ he began confusedly, ‘isn’t that a funny question to ask?’

‘Thirty days more for quitting your job,’ said his Honor, and the court was closed. That was the outcome. The teamster got sixty days all together, while the rest of us got thirty days.

References:
London, Jack, The Road (1907).

How To Cite This Article:
“Hobo 1894: Hard Times in America”, EyeWitness to History, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2007).

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 Boxcar Willie Getty David Redfern 1989

BOXCAR WILLIE : Hank And The Hobo (train country song)

http://youtu.be/oh5hV2M22nk

Death of the American Hobo (Documentary)

http://youtu.be/LWHh9W5IeBo

THE HOBO MUSEUM

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Strangest Museums: Hobo Museum

Rachel Freundt
The Hobo Museum, Britt, IA
Housed in the former Chief Theater, the Hobo Museum celebrates the vagabond lifestyle, which happens to have a stringent code of ethics. It’s full of drifter memorabilia from the likes of Frisco Jack, Connecticut Slim, and Hard Rock Kid. Hobo crafts, art, photographs, and documentaries depicting the unorthodox way of life are also on display. It’s brought to you by the Hobo Foundation, which hosts an annual convention in town. hobo.com

What are Hobo Signs ?
Depression era symbols used by hoboes. In their travels for work, hoboes made marks with chalk, paint or coal on walls, sidewalks, fences and posts. The signs were meant to let others know what was ahead. (some call them the secrete language of the hoboes)

1. Good road to follow
2. Religious talk will get you a free meal
3. These people are rich (Silk hat and pile of gold)
4. Camp here
5. You may sleep in the hayloft here
6. Warning: Barking Dog
7. House is well-guarded
8. This is not a safe place
9. Good food available here, but you have to work for it
10. If you are sick, they’ll care for you here
11. This community is indifferent to a hobo’s presence
12. Authorities are alert: Be careful
13. Officer of the law lives here
14. Courthouse, precinct station
15. Jail
16. Free telephone (Bird)
17. Beware of four dogs
18. No use going this direction
19. Dangerous drinking water
20. Doubtful
21. A judge or magistrate lives here
22. Here. This is the place
23. A kind old lady (Cat)
24. Hit the road! Quick!
25. A beating awaits you here
26. A trolley stop
27. “Ok, alright”
28. This way
29. A gentleman lives here (Top Hat)
30. Police frown on hobos here (Handcuffs)
31. A man with a gun lives here
32. There is nothing to be gained here
33. The road is spoiled with other hobos and tramps
34. Good place to catch a train
35. Hold your tongue
36. A crime has been committed here. Not a safe place for strangers
37. Halt
38. Dangerous neighborhood
39. An ill-tempered man lives here
40. Be prepared to defend yourself
41. A doctor lives here. He won’t charge for his services
42. Keep quiet (Warns of day sleepers, babies)
43. The owner is in
44. The owner is out
45. There are thieves about
46. A dishonest person lives here
47. An easy mark, a sucker
48. Good place for hand out
49. There is alcohol in this town
50. Fresh water and a safe campsite

The hobo signs were copied out of a book called
“Hobo Signs by Stan Richards & Associates”

 

This is a rare example of tramp art in that I have found no references
in tramp art books to this wonderful pillow form.  Its rarity is further
exemplified by the materials used: cloth, heavy carpet-like fabric and a
stuffing of sawdust.  A great deal of time, skill and passion produced this
sturdy object.  It has the classic pyramidic shape repeated with precision in
row after row of a deep red heavy fabric on the top.  The edges where the top
meets the bottom are notched similar to tramp art woodcarvings. The bottom
exposes a smooth fabric that probably covers the entire object and displays a
light rust color.  The dimensions are 9″ x 9″ square and 4.5″ high, in the
middle. The pillow weighs just under two pounds – 1lb. 15 oz.

The following is a beautiful example of bottle art

done by Carl Worner at some time in the early 1900s.
see more at  http://sdjones.net/FolkArt/worner.html

 

The following are some examples of beautiful old
time wood carving.  Notice the intricate detail and the skillful carving of the
balls in cages and chain links.

 

   Next are some great carvings by our modern day
artist “The Tanner City Kid”.  Note that the chain links are fully functioning
links as in a steel chain and the balls in the cages are loose movable objects
that are carved from the interior wood during the hollowing out process.  I
think you’ll agree with me that Tanner’s work is as skillful as any of the old
timers.

HIWAY AMERICA – COWBOYS, AND THE NATIONAL COWBOY MUSEUM, OKLAHOMA CITY, OK

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HIWAY AMERICA – COWBOYS, AND THE NATIONAL COWBOY MUSEUM, OKLAHOMA CITY, OK

Cowboys

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I had nothing to look forward to in civilization, I was crazy about guns.
Frank Mayer, buffalo hunter
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In 1865 thirteen million buffalo roam the Great Plains. This vast untouched wilderness divides America but the rail road cuts through the continent. And on the trains come a million unemployed Civil War veterans.

Their targets are the 900 kilo buffalo, each capable of stampeding at 55km an hour and crushing man and beast before them. So hunters shoot from 180m. A good shot aims for the lungs and drops the target without the rest of the herd even noticing. In this way, 8,000 buffalo a day are slaughtered. And they’re all killed just for their hides. Worth $3 each, one million are shipped out in 1872 from Kansas alone. The long strips of buffalo leather are used in Northern factories as drive belts, and other pieces become coats and shoes.

The Native American tribes on the Plains had depended on the buffalo.

“The buffalo were our strength. From whence we came, and at whose breast we suck as babies all our lives.” Black Elk

The buffalos’ sinews become bow strings, bones become cups and spoons, and its skin is used for clothing, tepees and coffins. Native Americans have co-existed with them since the last Ice Age. In just a few decades, the source of their entire culture is destroyed. In 1865, thirteen million buffalo roamed. By 1889, just 85 wild buffalo exist in the whole of the United States.

COWBOYS AND FARMERS

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“For a brief moment the cowboy was king of the West…(He) was created and sustained by the railroad.” Hugh Brogan

Cattle replace buffalo. In Texas, there’s six million. Worth only $4 there, they’re worth ten times that back east. But in 1868, the rail-road stops 1600km short of the herds. To transport them across the west, the cowboy is born. After the civil war, 60% of the South’s population lives in rural poverty. You could either farm, or try to find work as one of the 35,000 cowboys around which now iconic towns like Dodge City are born. For a dollar a day they need to be skilled horseman enough to guide wild herds prone to stampede through even wilder lands: And good enough with a gun to fight off rustlers after their $200,000 herds. In 1873, Colt releases the six shooter, Colt 45, also known as ‘The Peacemaker’. It costs $17, half a cowboy’s monthly salary, with its six bullets costing half a day’s pay.

“Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal” Post Civil War slogan

One out of three cowboys is Hispanic or African Americans. Many, such as Nat Love, go from slavery to a dangerous, but undeniable freedom:

The buffalo and other game, the Indians, the delight of living, and the fights against death that caused every nerve to tingle, and the everyday communion with men, whose minds were as broad as the plains they roamed, and whose creed was every man for himself and every friend for each other, and with each other till the end.

But barbed wire signals the end of the cowboy’s way of life. In just twenty years, two and a half million settlers have covered over 2 million square km of open range with farms, setting cattle rancher against homesteader. In the same year Colt releases the gun that will make the ‘Wild West’ famous, an unknown farmer invents something that will end forever the cowboy. In autumn 1873, Joseph Glidden, using a coffee grinder, crudely fashions some steel bars, and binds some barbs between two lengths of wire. His barbed wire design divides the plains into farms and ranches and blocks the cattle trails. Within 10 years, Glidden sells enough barbed wire to go around the world, 25 times. The open plains end forever.

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The Last Cowboy Song-Ed Bruce

http://youtu.be/GKeDcF1v_Y4 

“When you call me that, smile,” the hero said to the bad man in that first of thousands of cowboy novels, Owen Wister’s “The Virginian.” Even before that book’s publication in 1902, the cowboy had become a part of the American psyche. Something there was about him—tall in the saddle, alone, facing danger, one man against nature’s vast, treeless plains and humanity’s outlaws—that appealed to people and made the cowboy a folk hero, a half-real, half-mythological symbol of the American West.

NationalCowboy.jpg - © Adam Knapp, Licensed to About.com, Inc.

 © Adam Knapp, Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Billy the Kid : Documentary on the Outlaw Billy The Kid (Full Documentary)

http://youtu.be/peMYV393xLQ 

THE COWBOY MUSEUM

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Background:

Established in 1955 with the purpose of honoring the American cowboys, what was then called the Cowboy Hall of Fame has become today’s National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. The 200,000 square foot facility features Western and Native American artifacts, sculptures, art and historical galleries. It is one of Oklahoma City’s more popular attractions and one of the most respected museums of its kind in the United States.

HIWAY AMERICA-THE ATLANTIC CITY BOARDWALK, ATLANTIC CITY N.J.

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BEACHES & BOARDWALK

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Duality, Atlantic City’s 3D Lightshow at Boardwalk Hall

http://youtu.be/P6APD4x9Mb0

 THE BOARDWALK VIDEO

http://youtu.be/cp-MXQF3MYE

Atlantic City Beach: 1900 to 1910

http://youtu.be/AYBFWE1UKWo

Miss America Winners 1921-2013

The Miss America Pageant began as a marketing idea. The Businessmen’s League of Atlantic City needed to develop a plan to keep tourists on the boardwalk past Labor Day. They organized a Fall Frolic and held it on September 25, 1920. There were many events that day, but the most popular was a parade of young women being pushed along the Boardwalk in rolling chairs. Ernestine Cremona, dressed in a flowing white robe, was in charge of this event. This event was such a success that a similar one was planned for the following year, and so on. At the same time, in an effort to increase circulation, newspapers on the East Coast had begun sponsoring beauty pageants judged on photograph submissions. The Businessmen’s League of Atlantic City got ear of this and decided to capitalize on this idea. They invited the winners of these local newspaper beauty contests to the next Fall Frolic to compete in an “Inter-City Beauty” Contest. This contest had two parts—a popularity contest and a beauty contest. The winner of the beauty contest, the “Most Beautiful Bathing Girl in America”, was to be awarded the title of “Golden Mermaid”. On September 8, 1921, one hundred thousand people came to the Boardwalk to watch the contestants, a turn out much more than the Businessmen’s League of Atlantic City had expected. A panel of artists serving as judges named sixteen-year-old Margaret Gorman of Washington, D.C., the winner of both contests and awarded her a $100 prize. When Gorman returned in 1922 to defend her laurels, she was draped in the American flag and called “Miss America”.

http://youtu.be/2T1vqCrtlkI

Beaches with boardwalks offer big benefits!

Sun, sand, towering resort hotels, the bustling boardwalk, the awe-inspiring Atlantic — this is one beach party you don’t want to miss. The South Jersey beaches of Atlantic City are famous, and rightly so. Everything you could possibly want is right here within walking distance, from shops to five-star restaurants to casinos, attractions and great shows — all benefits of being one of the few American beaches with boardwalks. What better way to cap a day of shopping, shows and gourmet dining than a sunset walk on the beach? And should you want to venture into the waves, you can surf, fish, parasail or embark on a relaxing cruise.

Construction on Atlantic City’s world-famous Boardwalk began in 1870, and from then on it has become an icon in America as one of the few beaches with boardwalks. Stroll along the Boardwalk and enjoy ocean views on one side and shopping on the other, ranging from high-end retail to saltwater taffy shops.

Atlantic City Beach and Boardwalk activities include surfing, kayaking, windsurfing and fishing. Explore the Boardwalk and beaches in Atlantic City here. Make Atlantic City’s beaches your destination for summer fun – start planning your trip today!

About the Atlantic City Boardwalk

The Boardwalk in Atlantic City starts at Absecon Inlet and runs along the beach for four miles to the city limit. An additional one and one half miles  of the Boardwalk extend into Ventnor City. There are many retail stores, restaurants, and amusements on the Boardwalk as well as world famous Casinos. Several piers including Morey’s Piers extend the boardwalk over the Atlantic Ocean.

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Labor Day stems from deadly labor strike, but few Americans know the history

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A labor movement in Chicago in 1894 left 30 Pullman workers dead, and later spurred Congress and President Grover Cleveland to pass a bill creating Labor Day. But the history of this holiday is rarely taught in schools, and there are few full-time labor journalists to write about working class communities.

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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, August 31, 2014, 7:31 PM

16 Vintage Photos of Labor Day Celebrations

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IMAGE CREDIT:
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

While most of us now celebrate Labor Day with barbecues or end-of-summer vacations, the holiday was originally much more focused on labor unions and was meant to celebrate the economic and social contribution of blue collar workers. In fact, the holiday was only made a federal celebration in 1894 in an attempt to placate labor unions after the famous Pullman Strike, which resulted in 30 deaths. This labor-centric meaning is particularly apparent when looking at vintage photos of the holiday like these, which are courtesy of the Library of Congress.

1. PARADES GALORE

Original documents aiming to establish Labor Day as a holiday called for a parade that would be followed by family-friendly festivities. As a result, parades were a huge part of the celebrations during the early days of the holiday as you can see in the top picture from the Fireman’s Labor Day Parade from 1929.

2. UNIONS UNITING

Not only were the unions a big part of the reason the holiday was created, but they continued to be a big part of the celebrations for years to come. In fact, many of the early parades were made up largely of groups of different local union workers, like the Women’s Auxiliary Typographical Union pictured here in 1909.

3. FUNDRAISING FOR STRIKERS

The parades also provided unions with a good opportunity to raise funds to support striking union workers, like this man was doing on behalf of the Furriers Union in 1915.

4. FUN AND GAMES

Of course, like modern parades, there were still plenty of fun sources of entertainment for kids. These four clowns, for example, were happy to amuse the crowd in the Silverton, Colorado parade of 1940.

5. THE BAND MARCHES ON

Similarly, even a small silver mining town like Silverton, Colorado had a high school marching band present to bring a little marching music to the parade, as you can see in this 1940 image by Russell Lee.

6. THE FLOAT WITH THE MOST

As the years wore on, the floats got more elaborate and the parades started attracting larger crowds as well. Here’s a group that was fortunate enough to have balcony seating for the 1940 Labor Day Parade in Du Bois, Pennsylvania, as photographed by Jack Delano.

7. PATRIOTS UNITE

When WWII rolled around, the unions continued to provide floats for the parades, but they focused their float themes on patriotism and winning the war. In 1942, photographer Arthur S. Siegel captured the Detroit Local 600 of the Congress of Industrial Organizations showing their electrical workers electrocuting Hitler.

8. OUTHOUSE HQ

Even the clowns at that 1942 Detroit parade had it out for Hitler, showing his headquarters were holed up inside of an outhouse all while promoting bonds to support the war effort. Photograph by Arthur S. Siegel.

9. RAISE THE FLAG

Even in the midst of electrocutions and outhouses though, the Detroit parade still made a place for this adorable little girl with her American flag to show her support for the war effort and Labor Day festivities. Image taken in 1942 by Arthur S. Siegel.

10. CONTESTS FOR KIDS

As for those family-friendly festivities, well, those varied from location to location, although classic picnic games like potato sack races seemed to be pretty popular across the board. I don’t know who won this particular race shot in 1940 by Russell Lee in Ridgeway, Colorado, but I’d put my money on the big kid on the left.

11. KIDDIE RIDES

Depending on the size of the festival, some places would even put up fun carnival rides for the kids. I particularly love this picture of a tiny miner from Silverton, Colorado, taken by Russell Lee in 1940.

12. FAMILY TOGETHERNESS

The best part of the Labor Day past and present might just be families getting to spend a nice weekend together, like these miners enjoying the holiday with their youngsters back in 1942. Photo taken in Silverton, Colorado by Russell Lee.

13. FRIENDLY COMPETITION

Not everyone put away their tools on Labor Day. In fact, the miners of Silverton actually competed to show off who was the best driller. Here’s one participant hand drilling on a massive boulder, as photographed by Russell Lee.

14. RACING THE DAY AWAY

Of course, while many people enjoyed watching contests on Labor Day, most didn’t want to work on the holiday. That’s why going to the race track was so popular in Benning, Maryland back in 1916. Labor Day races like this one included both motorcycle and car events.

15. BARBECUE FOR ALL

While many modern Labor Day celebrations revolve around backyard barbecues, they used to be much larger, community affairs. In fact, this 1940 celebration in Ridgeway, Colorado required dozens of volunteers to prep, cut and serve the massive, free barbecue that fed practically everyone in the whole town. Photo by Russell Lee.

16. WAITING FOR A FEAST

Despite the rain, everyone at the 1940 Ridgeway barbecue seemed grateful to wait in line for such a delicious Labor Day treat, presumably only furthering that feeling of community. Image taken by Russell Lee.

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Cookouts now mark Labor Day, instead of parades honoring country’s labor movement, says AFL-CIO honcho Richard Trumpka.

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ZUMWALT, LARRY

WASHINGTON — Monday is the day to celebrate the American worker and his sacrifices and economic and social achievements.

You do know that, right?

If you don’t, you’re not alone.

Few recall the bloodstained origins of this holiday as we fire up the grill, throw on the burgers and dogs and turn on the U.S. Open tennis or maybe the Yanks, Mets or another ballgame.

And, in a sign of the times, the Sunday morning network news shows didn’t even offer their usual, token pre-Labor Day weekend spot for the head of the nation’s labor movement.

“No,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka when I asked him. “No invitations this year.”

President Grover Cleveland signed legislation to create Labor Day.ANONYMOUS/APPresident Grover Cleveland signed legislation to create Labor Day.

I told the former mine worker-turned-lawyer that there seems to be a precious lack of understanding of the holiday’s origins.

In fact, it stems from an awful confrontation in Chicago in 1894 that saw federal marshals and the Army kill 30 striking Pullman railroad strikers.

Soon after the Pullman walkout ended, Congress and President Grover Cleveland quickly passed and signed legislation for the holiday.

That history is rarely taught in schools and there are few full-time labor journalists anymore.

So with many millions jobless or involuntarily working part-time, we’ll have a few pro forma parades, but not much else.

Americans will be grilling hot dogs on Labor Day rather than honoring the history of the holiday.BOB FILA/KRTAmericans will be grilling hot dogs on Labor Day rather than honoring the history of the holiday.

“Unfortunately, I think your analysis is spot on,” said Trumka, who will take part in celebrations in his native Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, while President Obama does the same Monday with one in Milwaukee.

“From assembly lines to classrooms, across highways and steel mills, American workers strengthen the foundation of our country and demonstrate that our economy grows best from the middle out,” Obama says in his formal holiday proclamation.

Yes, but sadly, “There is virtually no labor writing anymore and little, if any, reporting on the working class or working class communities,” said William Serrin, a longtime NYU journalism professor and former New York Times labor writer.

“It could be a gold mine of important stories. It’s a shame,” he said Sunday.

Hey, anybody need another burger?

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/history-labor-day-forgotten-article-1.1923299#ixzz3C4zAQri9