Thursday, January 29, 2015

The British Ship Toxteth -- January 29, 2015

The drawing is from the 26-September-1897 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image for a larger view.

Toxteth is an area within Liverpool. 

The British Ship Toxteth Was Twice Placed on the Drydock.
Her Damages Found to Be Greater Than Was at First Suspected.

The British ship Toxteth came off the Merchants' Drydock yesterday, after a thorough overhauling. Including a small amount of ballast the ship weighed 2200 tons, and a force of engineers watched her night and day to make .sure that the huge mass did not take a list. Had she done so both vessel and floating-dock would have been wrecked. All's well that ends well, however, and the Toxteth is now
safely moored at Harrison-street wharf.  Besides being one of the largest vessels that has ever been handed on the Merchants' drydock she has the distinction of being the first iron or steel vessel that has been recalked here in the ordinary course of events. All of her bottom to the seam above the turn of the bilge has been attended to, and also the decks and the cement in the lower hold. The Toxteth is
now as good as new, and as soon as she is out of the hands of the marine surveyors will be ready for a charter.

The Toxteth has been a very unlucky ship of late. She left Newcastle, N. S. W.. for Panama in charge of Captain Dunn with a cargo of coal. On March 8 last she went ashore in Parita Bay at low water.  When the tide made she was kedged off, but went on again next day at 5 a. m. at the top of high water. On this occasion she remained on the beach with over 4000 tons of coal in her hold for a fortnight.  Captain John A. Bromley was in Panama and the owners of the ship cabled him to take charge of affairs. He at once sent a schooner with thirty-five men aboard to the scene to lighter the ship and was proceeding to Parita Bay with the steamer Ancona when the news came that the Toxteth was off the beach and on her way to Panama. On her arrival Captain Bromley took command and Captain Dunn returned to England via San Francisco.

At Panama the crew of the ship deserted in a body and Captain Bromley had to get men to supply their places the best way he could. They were a motley crowd and only lasted for the trip to this port. The Toxteth arrived here on August 11 last and a few days later went on the drydock. The marine surveyors looked her over and decided that all she needed was a cleaning and a coat of paint. This was quickly done and the vessel was then supposed to be ready for a charter. She was given another overhauling in the stream, and when the cement in the hold was removed it was found that the vessel was more severely strained than was at first suspected. Many of the rivets were sprung, some of the beams were bent and it was evident that the vessel would leak in a seawav.

Wednesday last she was put on the drydock again and over 100 men were put to work on her. During the three days she has been on the dock over $20,000 has been spent on her, nearly all of which went out in wages. Ever since the first survey men have been at work on the vessel, and now Captain Bromley considers his ship the equal of any vessel afloat as far as seaworthiness is concerned.

Captain Bromley is well known in San Francisco, having been here in a number of vessels, his last command being the clipper ship Conishead.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Career Day/Fire/Robbery -- January 28, 2015

It has been an exciting few days.  Monday morning the radio went off and the announcers on KCBS said that there was a four alarm grass fire in Pacifica.  They didn't say where except that it was near the home of one of the announcers.  Later they said it was in the canyon behind Rockaway Beach and that Terra Nova Boulevard was closed.  I decided to work from home.  My wife had to drive out to the beach in Linda Mar to get to Highway One.  The condos and homes up the hill were evacuated, but no homes were damaged. 

Tuesday morning the announcers on KCBS said thieves had driven an SVU through the front window of the Wells Fargo History Museum on Montgomery Street and made off with the gold nugget collection.  These jerks should remember:  Wells Fargo Never Forgets. 

Later on Tuesday I went to Saint Anthony-Immaculate Conception School in San Francisco for Career Day.  They sent us around in pairs.  My partner used to be a nanny.  Her talk about all the opportunities it opened up was very interesting.  First we spoke to 5th and 6th grades, then 4th, then K and 1st.  I adjusted my talk about Wells Fargo and IT for each group.  I didn't mention three-tier architecture to K and 1.  The kids asked good questions.  In K and 1 they all said what they wanted to be.  They mostly wanted to be police officers.  Later I told the policeman that he had been a big hit.  Someone mentioned that the fire department was coming later.  He said that then they would all want to be firefighters. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wallace the Untamable Lion -- January 27, 2015

Scranton Tribune, 11-January-1894

Wallace the Untamable Lion was appearing in the theater of the Eden Musee in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Museums like the Eden Musee were popular places of entertainment, featuring novelties, educational items, menageries, lectures, freak shows and anything else that might make a buck.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sunday, January 25, 2015

First Transcontinental Telephone Call -- January 25, 2015

100 years ago today, on 25-January-1915, Alexander Graham Bell, who is often called the inventor of the telephone, made the first transcontinental telephone call from Manhattan to San Francisco.  Bell's old associate Thomas Watson answered the call in San Francisco.  This was done to promote the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which would open in San Francisco on 02-March-1915.  From the Bennington Evening Banner, 27-January-1915. 

Direct Telephone Line Open Across the Continent
Bell Telephone Engineers Extend Long Distance Line to the Pacific Coast --- Science and Inyentive Genius Finally Overcome Great Obstacles

Distance -- 3503 miles.
Twelve States Covered.
Miles of Copper Wire -- 14,020.
Weight of Wire Over 3000 tons. 
Poles on Line -- Over 140,000.
Speed -- One-fifteenth of second.

Crossing the continent from Boston to San Francisco in one-fifteenth of a second is an actual accomplishment.  Direct conversation between the two cities so far apart was established for the first time, the other day, over the longest telephone line in the world more than 3500 miles.  The successful consummation of this great work is an epoch in history -- the acme of telephone attainment.  It is an achievement made possible only by the scientific study and persistent effort of the engineers of the great Bell system.

As an event, it is on a parity with the opening of the Panama canal. It is another connecting link that physically binds the far east and the far west of America into one complete union.

Four Thousand Miles Instantly

One-fifteenth of a second! Like a flash of lightning goes the spoken word through storm and sunshine over thousands of miles. It starts in Boston at 4 p. m. and, paradoxically, reaches San Francisco three hours earlier. The time schedule has been turned topsy turvy. While you wink, your speech has been carried nearly half way around the world.

Imagine a giant with lungs powerful enough to carry his voice 3500 miles through the air. Picture him standing on the dome of the Massachusetts State house and yelling "Hello" as loud as he could. Four hours later it would-be faintly heard at the Panama-Pacific exposition.  Blow up a million pounds of dynamite in Boston common and the sound would travel but a few miles. And yet the telephone Wizards with a tiny wire have outdistanced nature, Surely brains and energy have won a great victory

In 1849 "Pike's peak or bust" was the slogan that dominated those tardy pioneers and urged them forward. In 1909, to paraphrase this, the slogan of the telephone engineers was "the Golden Gate or bust." That was the goal upon which they set their eyes more than five years ago. The long distance lines had already been extended as far west as Omaha. Two years ago Denver became a reality by
telephone, and now, in one long jump of over 1500 miles, the Pacific coast has been reached.

Think for a moment what the open line of the Boston-8an Francisco direct line means. It has made Massachusetts and California neighbors. It will carry the business message from the Atlantic to the Pacific quicker than a man can write a letter and it gives him an answer at once. It has annihilated distance, its commercial value is priceless.

Boston Men Built the Line

Across twelve .states! Do you realize what that means? Have you ever traveled to the farwest? On the fastest trains it takes five days and five nights -- 120 hours -- to go from Boston to San Francisco. And yet it will only be a little while before the business man can sit comfortably in his office and travel instantly by telephone between the two cities over tons of copper wire.

The opening of this line has a peculiar significance to the people of Boston and New England, for it was in Boston that Professor Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, less than forty years ago. A little later the longest toll line in the world stretched from Boston to Lowell and the service was poor and intermittent. How marvelous has been the progress.

And the men who were associated with Bell in those telephone pioneer days and developed his great idea until one in every eight persons in the United States is connected by telephone, are Boston men. Many of them are living today.

Theodore N. Vail, president of the American Telephone and Telegraph company, has been in the telephone business almost from the beginning.  Today he is perhaps the greatest constructive business man in the world.

John J. Carty, chief engineer of the company, the master mind in scientific telephony, was a Cambridge boy who worked as an operator in the early days for $5 a week.

Thomas D. Lockwood, general patent attorney of the company, a telephone expert for nearly forty
years, lives in Melrose.

Thomas A. Watson, the youthful mechanic who assisted Bell in his early experiments and who was the first person in the world to hear the human voice over a wire, lives in Braintree and in Boston. 

Some Facts and Figures

At the present time there are two complete physical circuits. each 3505 miles long, between the two cities.  Then, by means of a wonderful development of' electrical study, in the transposition of the two circuits according to a certain scientific formula, a third circuit, called a "phantom" circuit is created, making it possible for six people to talk at one time -- three at each end -- over these two pair of wires.

There are 14,020 miles of hard drawn copper wire in both of these circuits. Each circuit mile of wire
weighs 870 pounds, so that the entire weight of both circuits -- four wires -- is over 3000 tons. This tremendous weight is supported by 140,000 poles.
Telephoning over such a great distance would have been absolutely impossible without another wonderful invention -- the repeating, or loading coils. Without any technical description, it is sufficient to say that these loading coils are placed at various points along the line and give the
electrical waves additional force and power.

The line from Boston to San Francisco runs direct to Buffalo, 465 miles; thence to Chicago; 605 miles, to Omaha 500 miles, to Denver. 685 miles, to Salt Lake City 680, miles and to San Francisco 770 miles, a total of 3505 miles.

A spur line runs from Chicago to Pittsburg, 545 miles, and thence to New York, 310 miles. Another spur connects Buffalo and New York, 350 miles.

On the same day the line between Boston and San Francisco was opened telephone conversation was established between New York and San Francisco. Professor Bell talked from the New York end and his early associate, Thomas A. Watson, from San Francisco.

An interesting fact in connection with the opening of this line is that Professor Bell used at the New York end an exact reproduction of his first crude instrument. At first it could be used only a few feet. That that Instrument could be used in talking between New York and San Francisco is due to the skill and inventions of those engineers who followed Bell after his retirement from the telephone business, in the perfection of the telephone and of switchboards, cables and the hundreds of other accessors
to successful telephone transmission.

Looking Backward to the Beginning

On the evening of Oct. 9, 1876, the first long conversation over the telephone was made by Bell and Watson.  They talked for three hours over a telegraph line between Boston and Cambridge. It was the wonder of the day. In May, 1877, a Charlestown man leased two telephones -- the first money ever paid for telephone service. The same month the first tiny and crude telephone exchange was born with five telephones connected.

By August there were 778 telephones in use -- all in Boston and four men had an absolute monopoly of the telephone business. A little later Theodore N. Vail was prevailed upon to resign from the government mail service and become general manager of a little telephone company that was hardly organized and had no money. Month after month the little Bell company lived from hand to mouth. No salaries were paid in full. Often for weeks, they were not paid at all. In 1880 John J. Carty timidly asked for a job as operator in the Boston exchange. He showed such an aptitude for the work that he was soon made one of the captains.

In 1893 Boston and New York were talking to Chicago, Milwaukee, Pittsburg and Washington, and one-half the people of the United States were within talking distance of each other.  The thousand-mile talk had ceased to be a fairy tale.

Several years later the. line was pushed over the plains to Omaha, and subsequently nearly 600 miles were added, enabling, the spoken word in Boston to be heard in Denver.

The Boston-San Francisco line will probably not be offered for general commercial use until the early summer. 

Telephone engineers have dreamed of the time when the wires would span the continent. That time has come. For the; moment it seems as though there is no other great thing for which to strive. And yet progress in telephony in the United States is making such tremendous strides that no man can prophesy the wonderful things that may be done in the future.


Today is the start of Catholic Schools Week.

I'm grateful that my parents put me in Catholic schools for 12 years.  I'm also grateful to my teachers. 

Good Shepherd in Pacifica gave our daughter a great education and continues to do the same for many other children. They are having an open house today from 11am to 2pm.  The school is worth considering if you live in or near Pacifica:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Battle of Dogger Bank 100 -- January 24, 2015

The First Battle of Dogger Bank took place 100 years ago today, on 24-January-1915.  The British decoded German intercepts and knew that a squadron had sailed to bombard defenseless British towns.  The British battlecruiser squadron under Admiral David Beatty surprised Admiral Franz Hipper's squadron.  The British destroyed armored cruiser SMS Blücher. The Germans badly damaged Beatty's flagship HMS Lion.


London Reports that a four-funneled German cruiser, badly damaged, was sighted off Holland coast early today, strengthened the growing conviction here that Germany's losses in yesterday's North sea battle were greater than indicated by the admiralty's official statement.  This said the cruiser Bleucher had been sunk and two other cruisers injured, but that these two got away safely.

Dutch reports said crippled cruiser, apparently of type of Strassburg or armored cruiser Roon, was limping at half speed toward island of Borkum off the mouth of Ems river. That the German warcraft was one of lighter cruisers engaged by British destroyers after Bleucher had been sent to bottom was belief in naval circles here. Admiralty today had no details of this supplementary engagement, but expressed confidence that German casualties would be increased materially in additional reports.

Two more German battle cruisers that attempted to dash toward British coast are reported badly pounded by British guns. No reports from German sources of loss of life aboard German cruisers that sought refuge behind mine area have been received here, but admiralty is confident that casualty lists are large. So far as is known only 123 of Bleucher's crew of 885 were saved.

Exulteration (What a word! - JT) over England's naval victory here today took form of a demand that England now "wipe out the German navy." That Germany anticipates just such a move is indicated in dispatches from Copenhagen. They report great activity at German naval base at Kiel and evidence of preparation to meet an English raid.

"We have humiliated the baby killers who shelled unprotected English coast towns," declared one English paper today. "It is now duty of our navy to finish work."

Sinking of Bleucher particularly aroused wild enthusiasm here because the Bleucher, according to best reports, was one of German battleships which bombarded Scarborough and other English coast towns. 

Vice Admiral Beatty was England's hero today. His rout of German raiding fleet off Holland coast yesterday, coupled with his victory off Heligoland on Aug. 28, have marked his as the most brilliant British naval commander of the war.


I was sad to learn of the death of Mr Cub, Ernie Banks.  Let's play two.  I'm sorry he didn't live to see the Cubs win a World Series. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

News of the Week January 23, 1915 -- January 23, 2015

The 23-January-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Lighthouse at Scarborough, England, bombarded by German fleet.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  On 16-December-1914, the German battlecruiser squadron, commanded by Admiral Franz Hipper, shelled British port cities including Scarborough, North Yorkshire.  The raid killed 137 people, including many women and children.  These raids on undefended towns allowed British propagandists to give Hipper the nickname "The Baby Killer." 

"Start of Bronx Cross Country run with hundred of entries.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  I haven't been able to find anything about this race. 

"The $300,000 fire at the terminal station, Camden, N. J.  Copyright, 1915, Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  On 03-January-1915, the ferry terminal of the Reading Company, a major railroad, caught fire and burned.  More than 100 firefighters were injured. 

"Firing French 155 millimeter gun at the front in Belgium.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe Daily News."  This is probably a de Bange.  Early in the war, the French had a shortage of field guns larger than the famous 75.  This is the first Pathé newsreel we have seen. 

"Rescuing the injured in the recent New York subway fire.  Copyright, 1915. Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  On 05-January-1915, an electrical fire at West 55th and Broadway spread smoke through the IRT subway. 

"Barney Oldfield ready to start race against Bob Burman at Los Angeles.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe Daily News." Barney Oldfield was a pioneering race car driver.  Bob Burman died in a 1916 race.