Thursday, October 30, 2014

Grace Slick 75 -- October 30, 2014

Happy 75th birthday to Grace Slick.  I remember the Jefferson Airplane when I was very young. 

She wrote in her autobiography about getting arrested four times for Driving Under the Influence while not actually being in an automobile. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Over the Top -- Chapter 3 -- October 28, 2014

Arthur Guy Empey was a member of the US Cavalry who resigned to volunteer for the British Army during World War One. He was wounded during the Battle of the Somme. When the US entered the war, he tried to rejoin the Army, but was rejected because of his wounds and possibly because of some disparaging comments about American draftees. He wrote a book, Over the Top, about his experiences during the war. With the 100th anniversary of the war, I thought it might be interesting to post his story. Empey later became a prolific pulp magazine author, a movie star and producer, and a playwright.

CHAPTER I -- From Mufti to Khaki
CHAPTER II -- Blighty to Rest Billets


UPON enlistment we had identity disks issued to us. These were small disks of red fiber worn around the neck by means of a string. Most of the Tommies also used a little metal disk which they wore around the left wrist by means of a chain. They had previously figured it out that if their heads were blown off, the disk on the left wrist would identify them. If they lost their left arm the disk around the neck would serve the purpose, but if their head and left arm were blown off, no one would care who they were, so it did not matter. On one side of the disk was inscribed your rank, name, number, and battalion, while on the other was stamped your religion.

C. of E., meaning Church of England; R. C., Roman Catholic; W., Wesleyan; P., Presbyterian; but if you happened to be an atheist they left it blank, and just handed you a pick and shovel.

On my disk was stamped C. of E. This is how I got it: The Lieutenant who enlisted me asked my religion. I was not sure of the religion of the British Army, so I answered, “Oh, any old thing,” and he promptly put down C. of E.

Now, just imagine my hard luck. Out of five religions I was unlucky enough to pick the only one where church parade was compulsory!

The next morning was Sunday. I was sitting in the billet writing home to my sister telling her of my wonderful exploits while under fire -— all recruits do this. The Sergeant-Major put his head in the door of the billet and shouted: “C. of E. outside for church parade!”

I kept on writing. Turning to me, in a loud voice, he asked, “Empey, aren’t you C. of E.?"

I answered, “Yep.”

In an angry tone, he commanded, "Don’t you 'yep' me. Say, 'Yes, Sergeant-Major.'"

I did so. Somewhat mollified, he ordered, "Outside for church parade."

I looked up and answered, "I am not going to church this morning."

He said, "Oh, yes, you are!"

I answered, "Oh, no, I’m not!"-—But I went.

We lined up outside with rifles and bayonets, 120 rounds of ammunition, wearing our tin hats, and the march to church began. After marching about five kilos, we turned off the road into an open field. At one end of this field the Chaplain was standing in a limber. We formed a semicircle around him. Over head there was a black speck circling round and round in the sky. This was a German Fokker. The Chaplain had a book in his left hand—left eye on the book—right eye on the aeroplane. We Tommies were lucky, we had no books, so had both eyes on the aeroplane.

After church parade we were marched back to our billets, and played football all afternoon.


The Giants lost the sixth game.  10-0. 


Update 29-October-2014

The Giants won the 7th game 3-2.  Tim Hudson went fewer than 2.  Affeldt came in and did well.  Then Madison Bumgarner came in and pitched the last five.  So the Giants have won the World Series three times in five years.  Bumgarner is the MVP.  He had three wins in the World Series.  It was a heck of a season.  The Royals put up a great fight. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dylan Thomas, 100 -- October 27, 2014

Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet, is famous as a man who liked to take a drink now and then.  We didn't know that when we read his poems in high school, but it helped to explain why he didn't live to see 40. 

Dylan Thomas was one of many cultural icons who appeared on the cover of the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Knox Patrol Wagon -- October 26, 2014

The Waterless (air-cooled) Knox automobile was manufactured in Springfield, Massachusetts. I like the name Waterless Knox. It reminds me of a Doctor Seuss character. This image, of a Knox police patrol wagon, is from Scientific American, 01-January-1905. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.


Madison Bumgarner defeated the Royals 5-0, pitching a complete game shutout.  The Giants lost Thursday in Kansas City and Friday in San Francisco, bot won Saturday night.  The Giants lead the series 3-2. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

New Cat #12 -- October 25, 2014

I took this photo on 18-October-2014. 

I took this bonus photo on 10-October-2014. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Hyderabad Near to Destruction -- October 24, 2014

The drawing is from the 13-June-1899 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image for a larger view. The text is from the 12-June-1899 Call.  Hyderabad reached San Francisco on the afternoon of the 11th after a troubled passage.  I posted an earlier report here:


A Close Call of the Hyderabad.


Sails Blown From the Bolt Ropes, Running Gear Chafed Away and Vessel Thrown on Her Beam Ends.

The overdue British ship Hyderabad reached port yesterday afternoon. She was 106 days coming from Newcastle, N. S. W., and 25 per cent premium had been paid to reinsure vessel and cargo. The Italian bark Mario, which sailed nearly a month after her, beat the ship by six days into port.

The Hyderabad had a most exasperating voyage. Nothing but light winds and calms were encountered until the coast of California was reached, and then a northwester was run into that nearly piled the vessel up on the Farallones. In fact in order to wear ship in a hurry some of the sails had to be cut away and then it was touch and go with vessel and all on board.

For weeks the Hyderabad never changed her position and the wear and tear on the sails and running gear was worse than if she was in the hardest gale that ever blew. In three weeks she only covered forty-two miles and nearly all of that was made by drifting with the current. On May 24 (Queen's Birthday) the ship whs eighty-nine days out and 1560 miles from San Francisco. Both captain and crew were sick and disgusted, and it began to look as though there was a hoodoo on the ship.

A change was coming, however, and when it started it came with a rush. Last Sunday week a breeze sprang up and that day the Hyderabad logged 205 miles. The next day, June 5, it was blowing a gale and big seas were constantly breaking aboard. A squall struck the vessel, bringing her up in the wind and laying her over until the lee rail was under water. It looked for a moment as though all was up with the Hyderabad, but Captain Scott ordered the topgallant and upper topsail halyards let go and away went the sheets. This saved the masts and eased up the ship.

"The decks werre full of water to the rail." said Captain Scott when speaking of the danger. "and nothing could be done to save the sails. Five of the crew were injured by being washed into the scuppers and some of them only escaped being washed overboard by a miracle. The ship was lying aback in the trough of a heavy sea with her main hatch under water. All the running gear had gone out through the ports and was by degrees chafed off. By 8 p. m. it was blowing a living gale. Three upper topsails, three topgallant sails, the mainsail, cross jack and main topmast staysail were carried away and the braces and running gear chafed off.

Just as we got straightened out a bit the Farralones loomed up black and threatening. All the the sail we could carry was set In order to clear the rock, but at midnight it seemed as though we were going to strike. I had to wear ship in a hurry, and in order to get her round I had to order the three lower topsails cut away. We got out of that scrape, but the gale did not abate any and the next day (June 6) we lost three royals and two small staysails. Oh, I tell you we made up for the months of calm we had gone through. Why, the wind took those sails out of the gaskets as though they were so much brown paper. It was June 9 before the gale subsided and we were able to lay our course for San Francisco again.

On June 9 the five disabled members of my crew were able to be about again and then I made an estimate of the damages received during the gale. Besides all the sails I lost the upper topsail and topgallant sail chain sheets were broken, the jack stays and screw dogs were broken and torn away from the yards, sheaves in yardarms broken and chain gear aloft damaged. How was that for a wind up to three months of light winds and calms?

"During our spells of light weather we had two other encounters with islands, but, thank God. the ship was never in danger. On April 4 we drifted past Sophia Island and on April 13 we were three miles off Hulls Island. I saw a tall flagstaff and two huts and one building, but no sign of life. I hoisted our flag and signalled, but no one responded. There was evidently no one on the island and I suppose the huts flagpole were put up by a British man-of-war. This has been about the longest voyage the Hyderabad has ever made. On her last trip from Newcastle to San Francisco she made the run in fifty-eight days."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pier 1 -- October 23, 2014

Pier 1, just north of the Ferry Building, is the headquarters of the Port of San Francisco.