Saturday, June 30, 2012

Barn Swallows and Windows (Random Pointless Photos)

Step 1: I get a bright idea. While the adult barn swallows are off catching bugs, I crack open the top window sash, point my camera out and get a pretty clear shot of the chicks poking up out of the nest.

We Are Hungry
(Click on images to enlarge)

Step 2: An adult barn swallow comes back, sees the open window and freaks out, swooping back and forth in front of me and chirping angrily.

Shut that d--- window

Step 3: I shut the window. The barn swallow calms down, backs off.

Step 4: While mother and father feed babies, I take crummy shots through the closed window.

Feeding time 1

Idiot with Camera

Here's a bonus hummingbird.

Hummingbird at feeder

The Return of Dr. Dwight

Ruth Mackey had last seen her husband, Dr. Dwight Mackey, in October 1918, when she went east to tell him goodbye as he prepared to sail for France. After nearly nine months of waiting, she got word that he had arrived back on American soil just after Independence Day 1919, and was at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

On July 11, Dr. Dwight returned to Hobart. The Gazette's account helpfully noted the doctor's improved surgical skills:

Dr. Dwight Mackey
(Click on image to enlarge)

South of Ainsworth, down on the farm of Otis and Minnie Guernsey, their eldest son Will's return from the service was honorable but less glamorous. He had been in the army for a year and 14 days and had never left the U.S. His father was glad to see him back "just in time to help put up hay."

♦ "Additional Local News." Hobart Gazette 18 July 1919.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 10 July 1919; 17 July 1919.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 18 July 1919.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Chaperone (WWI-Era Photo Album)

Chaperone, 41a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

She looks as if she's here to make sure none of the young Epworthites get up to anything wrong at the convention. Perhaps she pulled that fellow aside to give him a talking-to about the way he was grabbing that young woman. It is the same guy, isn't it? — although his hat has acquired some new decorations.

I think that's the high school behind him. No identifying notes for either of the photos on this page, unfortunately.

These nameless young women are lined up in front of the M.E. Church on Fourth Street:

In front of M.E. Church, 41b

They're all lovely, but I wish the photographer had focused more on the street. Wouldn't it be nice to know exactly how the north side of that block of Fourth Street looked in 1918?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Early Morning Fishing (Random Pointless Photos)

Maya and I went to Fred Rose Park early this morning, before the heat wave. There were already people out in boats on Lake George.

Boat on Lake George
(Click on images to enlarge)

Boat on Lake George 2

Another View of Chester's Camp

Chester's Camp, west view
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Russell S. Rein.

Here we have a view of Chester's Camp different from the one I previously posted — the photographer is standing further to the west. This photo may have been taken the same day as the first; the main buildings look the same, and there's that guy in the apron, who may be John Chester but I have little hope of ever knowing for sure.

Here we can see a little more of the camping area. Someone has set up a tent. Perhaps the Chesters have not yet built the cabins that would eventually house their guests … or the people with the tent just liked roughing it.

The highway itself looks so small and narrow!

The owner of this image, Russell S. Rein, kindly sent it to me after coming across my blog. He is webmaster of the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association site — which is still under construction, but you can already see that the Association has a number of interesting historical images from along the Lincoln Highway in Indiana. They are seeking additional information and images relating to tourist camps like John and Emma Chester's.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Common Mallow

I have been seeing this low-growing plant everywhere, in parks and at people's houses, and I have been diligently ignoring it because I assumed it was some kind of domesticated flower. This morning I took the trouble to check Newcomb's Wildflower Guide and what do you know, it's in there.

Common Mallow
(Click on images to enlarge)

This particular specimen is from Deep River County Park, at the north end of the parking lot. (You can see the curb in the picture.)

Common mallow is edible; this site has some information about how parts of the plant can fill the roles of okra and egg whites.

Common Mallow blossom

♦    ♦    ♦

In barn-swallow news, the chicks have hatched! I can't see into the nest, of course, but for several days I have noticed the barn swallows perching on its edge and reaching down again and again as if feeding tiny chicks. This morning I finally saw a little open beak stick up out of the nest.

Ross Township Column!

Like Nessie breaking through the surface of the loch for an instant, a Ross Township column makes a sudden, brief appearance in the Hobart News of July 18, 1919. How long has it been since we've had an Ainsworth social column?

Ross Township Pick-Ups
(Click on image to enlarge)

After this one issue, the Ross Township gossip vanishes again.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Spreading Dogbane

Spreading Dogbane
(Click on images to enlarge)

Another not-very-abundant shrub in Jerry Pavese Park. My dog found it. It is mildly poisonous, and so could possibly kill a dog (or any mammal), or at least make it sick, but according to Jack Sanders: "No dog would be foolish enough to eat the leaves, which have an intensely acrid taste: the plant was once called bitterroot." While this plant was sometimes used in the past to treat people bitten by mad dogs, American dogbane likely got its name by being mistaken for some similar-looking European plant.

The interior construction of its pretty little blossoms is dangerous to flies, however. Apparently as they are sipping the nectar, their little tongues get wedged in by scales deep inside the blossom; and flies don't have the strength of larger insects, like butterflies and bees, to pull their tongues back out. And so sometimes they die there, hanging by their tongues. What a way to go.

Spreading Dogbane blossoms

Making a Face (WWI-Era Photo Album)

Convention Day, 40a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Our album owner has added a note behind this photo:
Convention Day
June 18
… just to confirm what we could have guessed.

It almost the same crowd as the last unfocused photo; but this time the focus is even worse. And the lovely young woman whom I accused of sticking her tongue out is now back to her usual dignified self.

But wait …

Making a Face, 40b

Isn't she making a silly face now??

That guy at the far left, half in the picture — or maybe somebody off camera — has said or done something to draw attention and laughter.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Buttonbush

(Click on image to enlarge)

Found by chance in Jerry Pavese Park. It doesn't seem abundant; I've come across only one, a little west of the dock, which is no accident because this species likes wet places.

There's nothing particularly interesting about this shrub, but it does have cute blossoms.

Buttonbush blossoms

Ad Hoc Ambulance

A frightening accident: overturned car, broken ribs, crushed chest, cuts and bruises — and it's a civilian volunteer who takes the injured to town for treatment in his ordinary automobile.

Accident, Gazette, 7-18-1919
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart Gazette of 18 July 1919.

The "corner south of Ainsworth" would be, I suppose, the intersection of the Lincoln Highway and present-day State Road 51.

Carl Dorman was part-owner of the Fifth Avenue garage in Gary, or at least he had been before he joined the army in 1917 (see "Carl Dorman Joins Army," Hobart Gazette 26 Oct. 1917).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Focus on Cars (WWI-Era Photo Album)

Cars in focus, 39a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

No identifying notes on this page of the album, but I think we're back to the Epworth League convention of June 1918. And though our photographer has botched the focus once again, he's managed to get pretty good detail on the cars in the background at right.

Notice the young woman at right — is she or is she not sticking her tongue out at the camera? We've seen her often before, and up until now she always gave me the impression of being at once vivacious and dignified. I guess she could be silly, too, when it suited her.

I wish the young man at right had not chosen that exact moment to look away from the camera. I think that might be "Myself," the owner of the photo album, but we have no identified pictures of him in profile.

They are on the grounds of the high school, with Fourth Street and the M.E. Church behind them.

On the same page, more by-now-familiar faces, still unidentified.

In front of high school, 39b

The high school is behind them.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Twenty-One Years for James and Effie

On the evening of July 14, 1919, James and Effie Chester were surprised in the Water Street home by family and friends come to help them celebrate their 21st wedding anniversary. They had been married that very day in 1898, when James was about 23 years old and Effie Spencer about 27.

I've never seen a picture of James, but his 1918 draft card describes him as "Bald headed." As for Effie, I know almost nothing about her. Again, on the draft card, James gives her name as "Mrs. May Chester," and I do find a May Spencer in the 1880 census, living in Hobart, her age matching Effie's, and her birth state, as well as her father's and mother's, matching those she gave to the 1920 census-taker. So perhaps that's her, but I can't say for certain.

The reports don't say exactly who attended the anniversary party, but James' sister Luella Olson was in town from Fort Wayne, along with her husband Charles and daughter Flossie, staying with sister Carrie Raschka; no doubt the Olsons as well as the Raschkas were among the guests. Someone came in from East Gary — probably brother John Chester and his wife, Emma; and there were guests from Ainsworth as well, so likely the families of Charles Chester and Lovisa Chester Nelson were represented.

♦    ♦    ♦

Another ad from our old friends, Lee & Rhodes, on the front page of the Hobart Gazette of July 18, 1919.

Lee & Rhodes ad
(Click on image to enlarge)

1880 Census.
1900 Census.
1920 Census.
♦ "Given Pleasant Surprise." Hobart Gazette 18 July 1919.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 17 July 1919.
WWI Draft Cards.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Carrie Zobjeck and Friend (WWI-Era Photo Album)

Because yesterday we had news of Mary Zobjeck's death, today let's leave aside the Epworth League for a moment and look at a photo of one of Mary's daughters, Carrie:

Carrie and Helen, 18b
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

The handwritten note behind this photo reads:
Carrie Zobject & Friend June – Wm Ramsay's Back Yard 1918
Carrie, the oldest of the Zobjeck children, was born in 1890, so in this photo she would be about 28. In March 1919 she married Julius Jorden (or Jordan) and the 1920 census shows the young couple with their infant daughter living in the household of her widowed father, crowded in with her seven siblings.

Poor Helen is known to posterity only as Carrie's friend.

On the same page we find this photo:

Jennings girl, 18a

The handwritten note behind this one reads:
Jenning's Girl
June 1918
Wm Ramseys Back Yard
"Jenning's Girl" is a mystery. So too is William, or Bill, Ramsey, whose missing photo we've already encountered. Wherever he lived, it seems to have been a nice location, bordering on a lake, and if that is his house in the background, it's quite substantial.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Shocking Death

I'm sure that headline crossed the mind of the Gazette's editor, but human decency forbade him to use it. I am under no such constraint.

August Schultz obituary
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart Gazette of July 11, 1919.

In spite of August Schultz's being "a well-known citizen" of Ross Township, I have not found anything in my notes about him. Perhaps because I tend to overlook people who aren't doing interesting things like getting arrested or having their houses burn down.

This page from the Gazette is full of news of other acquaintances — the untimely death of Mary Zobjeck, the popularity of Lee & Rhodes' public drinking fountain, a visit from the young Mr. and Mrs. George Yager, a move by Charles Maybaum from farm to city, etc.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Barn Swallow in Flight (Random Pointless Photos)

It is very difficult to photograph a barn swallow in flight. I've been trying.

Barn Swallow flight 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

Barn Swallow flight 2

Barn Swallow flight 3

Barn Swallow flight 4

Barn swallow flight 5

Barn swallow flight 6

Barn swallow flight 7

Barn swallow flight 8

Crowd on a Bench (WWI-Era Photo Album)

I can sympathize with our photographer. My camera has automatic focus and I still manage to get about half of my pictures out of focus.

Here "Myself" has got a whole crowd out of focus.

Crowd on a bench, 38a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

After all, I suppose the photo is not entirely wasted. We can recognize Miss Nickel Plate at right in the back row, as well as a couple other familiar but unidentified faces.

On the same page, some well focused young women, including, at right, the one who smiles like a Dalia.

Young Women, 38b

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Where the Marshal Could Find Him

Motorcycle racer, 1919
(Click on image to enlarge)
A motorcycle racer (Ralph Hepburn) in 1919.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Now I understand why I could not find Marion Hoover in the census: his name was actually Marvin. In less than a month's time, Marvin went from outlaw biker to something of a local hero. And if Marshal Rose was still after him, he could find him in the winner's circle at the Crown Point racetrack on Independence Day.

Hoover, News, 7-10-1919
(Click on image to enlarge)

A week later, the News reported another victory for Marvin at Crown Point, although this time he won only the first race.

Inspired, perhaps, by Marvin's successes, local bikers organized themselves into the Hobart Motorcycle Club "for pleasure, profit and mutual benefit," and no doubt Marvin was one of the two dozen initial members. I'm surprised he was not one of the officers — Emerson Whisler was president, Milton Ballantyne vice-president, Bert Hoff secretary, and Elmer Ballantyne treasurer. (As to what relation, if any, this club bears to these guys, I can only speculate.) The club leased the Valparaiso Fairgrounds as the venue for their races.

The July 31 News, which reported on the motorcycle club, also carried this article:

Hoover article, News, 7-31-1919

as well as this notice:

Hoover notice, News, 7-31-1919

I suppose this would be the Hoover Motorcycle Shop recalled by an old-timer in 1979.

The 1920 census shows a W. Frank Hoover living in Hobart, married to Ida; his sons Marvin, then 21, and Willard, 18, had probably been the "& Sons" part of the business — four-year-old Robert was just a bit young to be involved. However, W. Frank and Marvin both told the census-taker they were carpenters, while Willard described himself as a wage-earning machinist in a shop, so we shall see what becomes of the motorcycle business.

♦    ♦    ♦

And here's what was playing across the street from the motorcycle shop:

Gem, News, 7-31-1919
(Click on image to enlarge)
From the Hobart News of July 31, 1919.

I'd heard of Harold Lockwood, but I did not know until just now that he died of the Spanish influenza.

Hadn't heard of Elsie Ferguson.

1920 Census.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 10 July 1919; 17 July 1919.
♦ "Notice to the Public." Hobart News 31 July 1919.
♦ "The Hobart Motorcycle Club, Organized with Two Dozen Members." Hobart News 31 July 1919.
♦ "W.F. Hoover & Sons to Open a Motorcycle and Repair Shop." Hobart News 31 July 1919.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Smooth Sumac

Smooth Sumac plant
(Click on images to enlarge)

I believe this is smooth sumac, found in Jerry Pavese Park. (I keep calling everything "Wildflowers of Ainsworth" because this is the Ainsworth blog, gosh darn it.)

I used to think all sumac was poisonous, but now I've learned (thanks to Newcomb's Wildflower Guide) that poison sumac is only one variety, and it grows in swamps. It must be pretty dangerous stuff, as Mr. Newcomb includes an italicized comment in its description: "Very poisonous at all seasons."

However, I can't find anyone who says that smooth sumac is poisonous. The worst I've found is this site, which calls it a "woody nuisance."

A close-up of the blossoms, which I've never paid much attention to before:
Smooth Sumac blossoms

A Big Hug (WWI-Era Photo Album)

Gal Pals, 37a
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Unidentified, but surely this is still the Epworth League Convention in Hobart, June 1918. And behind them, the high school.

I'm looking at the young woman on the right and wondering if she could possibly be Dalia Messick — that smile! But Dalia was only about 12 years old in 1918, too young to join the Epworth League — not that a bright and sociable 12-year-old would necessarily be chased away if she started hanging around with the conventioneers. But I'm not sure the girl in the photo looks as young as 12. That smile notwithstanding.

On the same page, once again, Miss Nickel Plate, and how I wish I knew who she was!

Miss Nickel Plate, 37b

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Portable Housing

I've mentioned Eugene Chandler here and there, only, it seems, in connection with his misfortunes, such as the time he broke his collar bone in the Ainsworth barbershop disaster, or when his young family fell ill with the Spanish influenza.

Eugene's father, Sylvester, was the only son of Thomas Peach Chandler, who settled in Lake County in 1854 on an 80-acre farm about a mile west of the village of Deep River. Eugene, born in 1886, grew up in the Deep River area. He was a farm boy, and after his marriage to Carrie Schnabel early in 1910, he continued to farm, but on other people's land. For example, the birth of his first child in 1910 finds him on the farm of his uncle, Nathaniel P. Banks, south of Hobart; soon thereafter he moved to the W.B. Owen farm (the location of which I don't know), and then in 1911 to the Kruse farm southeast of Ainsworth. In 1915 he moved from there to "the Gordon farm," somewhere south of Hobart.

That's a lot of moving. But the Gordon farm was the last stop before Eugene finally got a farm of his own. In July 1919 he bought the Anna Franz farm, an 88-acre spread about three miles west of Hobart. That farm had no house, no barn, no improvements of any kind, so the little Chandler family remained on the Gordon farm, to harvest their season's work and await the completion of their new home.

Now we have to mention another of Eugene's misfortunes. About 6:30 on the morning of July 29, someone passing by the Gordon farm noticed smoke coming from the top of the farmhouse, and alerted the Chandler family. Eugene and Carrie got their children safe, and by quick work managed to save most of their furniture and personal effects. But in spite of the best efforts of the Hobart fire department, the house was destroyed. The News added:
Mr. Chandler's loss is fully covered by insurance, but even so, that does not replace eighty gallons of pure cider vinegar, some fifteen gallons of lard and forty or fifty quarts of canned fruit.
If those items were of home manufacture, they represented a tremendous amount of work.

And there was the Chandler family, with their old house in ruins and their new house not yet even begun. So they turned to the 1919 version of a mobile home — bought a small house in the village of Wheeler and simply had it picked up and moved to the Gordon farm.

By mid-August Eugene had broken ground for a brick house on his new farm. James H. Carpenter was to build it.

1874 Plat Map.
1891 Plat Book.
1900 Census.
♦ "Additional Local News." Hobart Gazette 15 Aug. 1919.
♦ "Death of an Old Citizen." Hobart Gazette 4 Nov. 1904.
♦ "Fire Destroys Residence of Gordon Farm South of Hobart." Hobart News 7 Aug. 1919.
♦ "House on Gordon Farm Burns." Hobart Gazette 8 Aug. 1919.
Indiana Marriage Collection.
♦ "Local and Personal." Hobart News 10 July 1919.
♦ "Local Drifts." Hobart Gazette 2 Sept. 1910; 17 Nov. 1911;
WWI Draft Cards.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Railroad Maintenance (Random Pointless Photos)

It was a lovely summer morning, and there I was at my computer, cataloguing my microfilm notes, when I became aware of an approaching sound — a low, measured, rhythmic thump … thump … thump … like the heartbeat of a sleeping universe that dreams only pleasant dreams.

As the thumping grew ever louder, I got up and went outside. Found out it wasn't actually the heartbeat of a sleeping universe that dreams only pleasant dreams. It was this thing:

Roadmaster 2000
(Click on images to enlarge)

This thing is a ballast tamper. It's equipped on each side with quadruple pairs of prongs that end in flat paddles.

Prongs up

Those prongs plunge down into the ballast on both sides of each and every tie, to firm up the ballast under the tie. The slow thumping I heard was just the rhythm of raising and lowering the prongs, and I'm sure there was tremendous power behind each plunge down into the crushed rock.

Prongs down

The machine had to move with painful slowness, with a stop for each tie. Operating a ballast tamper must be an exercise in patience.

Afterwards, along comes this guy, with a ballast regulator, who gets to move faster. On his first forward sweep, those adjustable wing-like plows on the side dig into the crushed rock and raise it up, along with any vegetation and dirt that has wandered among the rock. The whole side of the right-of-way gets a facelift.

Ballast Regulator 1

The operator adjusts the angles of the plows and makes a second sweep backwards, doing the same thing in the other direction.

Ballast Regulator 2

Then the side plows are raised up out of the way, and the rear plows come down for the next forward sweep.

Ballast Regulator 3

Then all the plows get raised, the operators backs the machine up, and the final forward sweep is done with the big wire brush in front lowered, I suppose to clear rock fragments from the top surface of the ties. The spinning brush can send pieces of crushed rock flying five or ten feet, in spite of that protective hood.

Ballast Regulator 4

Once the ballast regulator did its thing, I thought the show was over. I went back in the house.

After a time, the house began to shake — worse than the ballast tamper had shaken it, worse than any 40-mile-per-hour freight train ever shook it. The windows rattled, the walls hummed, the foundation vibrated.

I went outside again, to find this weird thing:

Track Stabilizer 1

It's big, all right, but it was moving slowly; how was it shaking the very earth under my feet? Its business parts seemed to be only a couple of discs resting on the top of the rails, as if polishing them smooth.

Track Stabilizer 2

I had to do some internet research. Turns out my world was being rocked by a dynamic track stabilizer. "Horizontal vibration" indeed.

Well, children, that was today's lesson in railroad maintenance. One of these days I will get back to writing about history.