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History Magazine - October-November 2017

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9 The Billiken Craze
9 Irish Clay Pipes
9 The Videophone
9 Berners Street
Hoax of 1810
Wreck of the
SS Edmund
The Rose Without a Thorn
oct/Nov 2017
Secrets of the Desert
Hermits, Monks & Monasteries
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The Irish Clay Pipe — Page 8
Jack Dempsey — Page 12
Bring on the Clowns — Page 21
Opening Notes ........................................................... 6
Bluetooth; Chapbooks
The Irish Clay Pipe ...................................................... 8
Joseph Grandinetti looks at the history, popularity and decline
of the iconic Irish smoke
Jack Dempsey: The Life of the "Manassa Mauler" ..12
Brian D'Ambrosio looks at the life of the heavyweight champion
from southern Colorado
The Rose Without a Thorn ....................................... 16
Laura Grande tells how Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of
Henry VIII, continues to fascinate – and confound – historians
Bring on the Clowns ................................................ 21
Gloria Tietgens Sladek discovers that the clowning spirit
is as old as civilization itself
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"The Most Famous House in All of London"........... 24
David A. Norris looks at the Berners Street Hoax of 1810
Cover Credit:
Courtesy of the Jack Dempsey
Birthplace Society
History Magazine October/November 2017
Secrets of the Desert — Page 35
Wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald — Page 44
The Billiken Craze — Page 49
The Forward Pass..................................................... 31
David Funk looks at the play that saved the game of American football
The Secrets of the Desert ....................................... 35
David Lewiston Sharpe examines hermits, monks
and early Egyptian monasteries
The Videophone: Unwanted Orphan.................... 40
Garry Berman suggests that the videophone concept may have
failed in its early incarnations, but has become entrenched in
21st century life
The Wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald................ 44
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Or see the order form
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Laureen Sauls-Lessard looks back at the 1975 marine tragedy
on Lake Superior
The Billiken Craze.................................................... 49
James Breig looks at how an odd toy captured the world,
but cost its creator a fortune
Hindsight .................................................................. 53
A look at books and other media for your consideration
Questions or comments?
Call 1-888-326-2476 or visit
October/November 2017 History Magazine
Modern Technology or Viking King?
t is mid-tenth century Denmark and King Harald Blåtand has
accomplished an almost impossible task. He has unified a number
of warring factions, who were previously blood enemies, in the early
Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Through
extraordinary public works projects and abandoning pagan beliefs, he
has forged an innovative, centralized economic system. Today, he
is more commonly known by his unusual English name of Harald
Bluetooth. There are several theories as to how he came by this name.
One theory states that it is possible that he had a bad tooth that was
dark − hence the name “Bluetooth”. Another supposes that because he
was royalty, he dressed in blue and was given this nickname.
King Harald reigned from 958 to 987 AD. According to author and
historian Jonathan Clements, Harald accepted Christianity, possibly because of political expediency, in a time when much of Europe was heading in that direction. The move was advantageous when dealing with
other rulers who had already converted. Harald also oversaw, according
to Clements, the construction of five massive ring forts. “The Trelleborg
forts were an impressive symbol of kingly power and are thought to have
functioned as places to collect the king’s tax.” King Harald “…made a
decisive step towards Denmark as a centralized kingdom”.
Public domain
Over a millennium later, in the
latter part of the twentieth century, King Harald Bluetooth’s
name once again became famous.
An amazing achievement in modern technology enabled data to be
wirelessly and securely exchanged
between a number of different
electronic devices. In the 1990s,
the communications technology
giant, Ericsson, commissioned an
employee of theirs to “replace
cables, without using more power
than a cable….”. Dr. Jaap Haartsen
and his associate Sven Mattisson
developed what we now call
rom the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, first in Britain and
then in America, peddlers known as “chapmen” hawked their
trinkets and notions far and wide as they travelled through towns
and across the countryside. These wandering vendors, although sometimes viewed with suspicion, were nonetheless met with a warm welcome wherever they went. They brought news and gossip to the ears of
rural residents anxious to hear what was happening in faraway places,
or even just a few miles down the road. These tradesmen carried with
them an assortment of useful items – everything from scissors, gloves,
ribbons and whistles, to buttons, spices, and seeds – but one of their
most popular offerings was the humble chapbook.
Chapbooks, “penny merriments”, or “pennyworths”, were short,
inexpensively made, paper booklets, priced at about a penny each.
Although the booklets were “cheap”, the word “chap” likely owes its
origins to the Old English “céap” meaning, “trade”. Designed for the
poorer classes, chapbooks covered every subject imaginable, with
something for everyone, young and old.
A typical chapbook was about fourteen by eleven centimeters (or
roughly six by four inches) in size and ranged in length from eight to
forty pages. Flimsy creations lacking protective covers, chapbooks were
rarely long-lived. Some of them resembled do-it-yourself kits of yesteryear, with purchasers obliged to assemble the chapbooks themselves.
They would slit the folded pages and then stitch or pin them together.
History Magazine October/November 2017
Chapmen travelled from house to
house offering their wares for sale.
Chapbooks usually sold out quickly.
The peddler, dated 1868. Library of Congress
The booklets might be well designed, or might suffer from
poorly set type and off-kilter images. Enchanting woodcut illustrations accompanied the text,
but no one minded when the pictures and text were mismatched.
Chapbooks appeared as anonymous works, with content often
lifted from unnamed sources.
In an age of increasing literacy,
pennyworths played an important
role in transmitting folklore and
“Bluetooth” technology. Interestingly, Ericsson’s lab is located in
Lund, Sweden which is, of course,
in modern-day Scandinavia.
The idea of what to name the
new technology came from a totally different source. According
to Intel Free Press News, one of
Intel’s mobile computing engineers named Jim Kardach “was
instrumental in bringing together
Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia, and
Toshiba to form the Bluetooth
SIG in 1998.” SIG stands for
Special Interest Group. Kardach
played “mediator” and the companies “quickly agreed on a
common goal to create a small,
low-power consuming, low-cost,
short-range radio with built in security and the ability to connect
with other devices.” While the planning was going on, Mr. Kardach
was reading a book about Vikings
wherein King Harald Bluetooth
culture. Even in rural areas, some
people could read, at least at
an elementary level. A neighbor
might read a chapbook to a
friend, or school-age children
might share stories from a chapbook with their parents. In this
way, the contents of chapbooks
circulated through communities.
Some chapbooks were simple
alphabet books. Others designed
for children offered a selection of
well-known nursery rhymes or
fairy tales. Crime stories or certain humorous tales recounted in
pennyworths were often meant
for adults. One found collections
of riddles and songs, moral tales
and prophecies. Some religious
groups distributed their tracts
in chapbooks known as “godlinesses”. And chapmen had their
own special chapbooks, providing
maps and information about
towns they would visit.
In later years, abridged versions
was mentioned. He suggested
naming the technology after the
Viking who unified Denmark and
much of Scandinavia. It made
sense in light of the fact that the
goal of this new technology was to
unify electronic devices.
The familiar Bluetooth logo also
has significance. Harald Bluetooth’s initials, H and B were chosen. The early Scandinavians used
the Norse runic alphabet so the
symbols for H and B were combined to design the familiar logo.
Now in 2017, in the twenty-first
century, Bluetooth technology is
used by a majority of consumer
electronics ranging from medical
devices, sport and fitness devices,
cars, smart homes and TVs, and
is in a constant state of development. Today, Bluetooth has united
the technological world and King
Harald’s name will live on indefinitely.
— Bonnie Hart
of popular fiction appeared in
chapbooks; many people first read
Robinson Crusoe, for instance, in
this format. Serious philosophical
works of a political nature, such
as Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man,
reached a large audience thanks to
its publication as a chapbook.
As newspapers and novels became more widespread and available to a greater segment of
the population, the sales of
chapbooks declined. By Victorian
times, they were referred to as
“penny dreadfuls” and were considered distinctly “low class” and
sensationalist in nature. But over
time, pennyworths assumed new
forms to suit modern tastes,
evolving into magazines for adults
and storybooks for children. The
“chapbook” of our time, treasured
once again as it was centuries ago,
is an attractive vehicle for sharing
— Sue Lisk
Volume 19 Number 1
Edward Zapletal
Rick Cree
Lianna LaLiberte
J-Mac Images
Marianne Reitsma
Jeannette Cox
Jennifer Cree
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October/November 2017 History Magazine
The clay pipe given to me by my
cousin, made at least a century ago
in Andrew Curley’s shop in
Knockcroghery, county Roscommon.
Image courtesy of the author
t an extended family gathering in county Galway last summer, my cousin David Quinn placed a small weathered clay
pipe in my palm. He had found it, remarkably unbroken, in
a bog located within a few miles of the homestead of our
ancestors. The gift embodied our shared passion for antiquity and it completely fascinated me. It had a bone-like patina from
age and use. The pipe’s bowl was black inside with the soot of its
last smoke, at least a century before. Barely visible on the stem was “A.
Curley”. I learned this was Andrew Curley, operator of a bustling clay
pipe factory in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Knockcroghery, county
Roscommon. As we’ll see, the little town’s lifecycle in the industry mirrored the broader trajectory of clay pipe popularity in Ireland.
Tobacco had been used for many
centuries in the Americas by the
time it crossed the ocean with returning European explorers and
seafarers. Columbus’ journals
refer to “certain dried leaves
which gave off a distinct fragrance” received from natives and
then naively discarded by the
captain and crew. By the second
half of the 16th century, tobacco
smoking was introduced to England and by proximity, Ireland.
Historical opinion varies on
whom deserves credit for the introduction; be it formally by
the likes of Sirs John Hawkins,
Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh, or
more clandestinely in port cities
via Portuguese or Spanish sailors.
What’s certain is that intrigued
observers soon became users.
Within a short span of years,
smoking caught on at Elizabethan
court and the Queen’s mimicking
subjects fanned the flames of the
fashionable new habit.
History Magazine October/November 2017
For the first hundred years,
tobacco remained relatively expensive and was attainable only
in small quantities to the middle/
lower classes. To render smoking
economical, early pipes were
made of English or Dutch clay
and had tiny bowls that held just a
smidgen of the prized commodity.
As tobacco use spread, sides
were chosen: those touting its
remedial and medicinal
benefits versus the opposed,
who warned of irreparable
harm to bodies, minds,
and souls
(yes, the Church weighed in).
Sovereigns were also quick to
impose taxation. But demand
surged anyway and tobacco farming in the American colonies
boomed in response. Relations
improved between Spain and
England as they carved up the
“New World” and a favorable
trade atmosphere enabled prices
to ease.
By the mid-1700s, clay pipes were
commonplace in Irish homes.
Over the next century and a half,
even the humblest of thatched
cottages had a niche near the
hearth reserved for pipes. During
these times, most of Ireland’s
population lived an agrarian
hand-to-mouth existence; their
survival tied to subsistence farming on small holdings rented from
wealthy (and often absentee)
landlords. Men and women alike
turned to their pipes for a calming bit of respite from the desperation.
The instrument of choice was
the duidin (pronounced “doodjeen” - a diminutive of the Gaelic
word duid, meaning stump).
These portable short-stemmed
clay pipes had “stumpy” bowls
and were sturdy enough for
frequent use, yet quite susceptible
to breakage when dropped. But,
broken duidins were actually inexpensive enough to be disposable. The notion of a “throwaway
item” was previously absurd for
the resourceful peasantry. Another novelty of clay pipes was
their adornment in an otherwise
harshly utilitarian world for
household objects. Pipe makers
often stamped decorative images
into their products. Advertisements, political slogans and even
Irish independence propaganda
were popular themes, transforming the modest duidin into a form
of personal expression.
Clay pipes were fixtures in rural
Irish life. They were wedged in
mouths at weddings and wakes,
and close at hand for all other occasions, be they private or gregarious. To ward off solitude and
the elements, neighbors often assembled nightly in a hospitable
home for storytelling, singing,
and good old gossip. Picture it:
the group huddled around an
eloquent elder, who would set a
wood splinter aflame in the turf
fire, spark up his duidin and take
a long draw. As he weaved an engaging tale, he would pause to
take a puff, empty spent ashes
from the pipe, to pinch some
tobacco into the bowl, and/or to
reignite it… cleverly keeping his
audience suspended. The pipe
itself was as vital to the story as its
An illustration of a farmer in rural Ireland
with his duidin ca.1890. Library of Congress
witty ending.
Traditional Irish wakes were a
ritualistic fusion of ancient Celtic
practices with Christian influences. The deceased would be laid
out in their home and the viewing
was at least a two-day vigil, a
combination of grieving and
carousal. Hosting a “proper” wake
obliged the immediate family to
provide adequate food, drink, and
at least a gross of duidins (12
dozen) – an absolute necessity. It
would be ill-mannered for an attendee not to accept a pipe, and in
doing so, they often said, “May the
Lord have mercy upon their soul.”
This custom led to a wake pipe
itself being dubbed a “Lord ha’
mercy”. Since the body was not to
be left unattended until the burial, proceedings carried through
the night. Successive waves of
mourners became unrecognizable
in the clouds of duidin fumes.
This wasn’t entirely unintentional. Old beliefs held that pipe
smoke hid the corpse from unfriendly spirits, helping to usher
the departed in a safe journey
Manufacturers sprung up across
Ireland, churning out clay pipes in
the expected spots like Dublin,
Waterford, Cork, Belfast, and so
on. But near the country’s geographic center, the unassuming
town of Knockcroghery became a
center of productivity as well.
Pipe making started there around
Some old fractured clay pipes found in Ennis, county Clare and the Shannon River
near Limerick. Note that several have intricate designs imprinted on them.
Image courtesy of the author
October/November 2017 History Magazine
Andrew Curley “pipe manufacturer” and family, including his son Patrick, in the
1901 census of Knockcroghery in county Roscommon. Image accessed at
1700 and the first written reference to a Knockcroghery pipe
maker, Thomas Buckley, appeared
in the 1749 census of the Diocese
of Elphin. In his 1832 Statistical
Survey of the County of Roscommon,
Isaac Weld devoted a few insightful pages to the place, saying it
was “prosperous, owing to its little
manufactory of tobacco pipes…
which has been established for a
considerable time.” Eight kilns
sustained the town’s output of
about 500 gross of pipes per week
and Weld remarked that the
“humble” Knockcroghery specimens were “as tough and as white
as that of the pipes of superior
size and workmanship from other
countries.” Among the few criticisms was his astonishment that
women weren’t permitted to work
in production. Weld “attempted
to use a few words in argument,”
mentioning women’s utility in
pipe making in Holland and other
countries. His complaint was
hastily snuffed out.
The craft in Knockcroghery
flourished through the next several decades, peaking near the
turn of the 20th century. It was
called “the home of the Irish (pipe
making) industry” in a 1901
article in The Globe, a London
newspaper. The same year, the
Irish census shows 11 out of its 23
households involved in the trade,
as were all four in Creggan, a
small annexed townland. A handful operated onsite facilities and
others had family members employed as pipe makers/finishers –
including a few women! There
were at least two larger clay pipe
factories; one owned by Andrew
Curley near the town center (the
maker of my duidin) and the
other was William Curley’s, less
than a half mile away. The two
were not brothers, but likely
shared some degree of cousinship.
Andrew operated his busy pipemaking shop with his son, Patrick.
William Curley’s business was
somewhat grander in scale and he
appears to have been a masterful
marketer based on his prolific
newspaper advertisements.
In a lengthy letter in the Westmeath Examiner in April 1883,
William Curley advocated for the
importance of pipe making to
Ireland as a native industry and
boastfully proposed “I can give
employment to twenty men and
their families and…I can supply
as good an article as any foreigner.” In October of 1885,
via the Roscommon Messenger,
William declared he could deliver
his “celebrated tobacco pipes in
any quantity which may be required to any part of the country…supplied by either rail or
cart.” He added, his pipes “were
so well known, that they did
not need any recommendation
(and)… were better value than
those that could be obtained in
England or Scotland.”
In this photo from around 1900, an older
member of the staff at Belmont House
in county Carlow is enjoying her clay
pipe, a typical duidin. Image by permission of Carlow Historian, Michael Purcell
History Magazine October/November 2017
William Curley died in the winter
of 1909, succumbing to bronchitis. The 1911 census shows his
widow Bridget as the owner of
his pipe factory and down the
road, Andrew Curley’s facility
was carrying on as well. But the
census revealed more. Compared
to a decade earlier, the number
of pipe making households in
Knockcroghery dropped more
than 50 percent. This reflected a
wider reality that the industry was
waning, in Ireland and beyond.
Some pipe smokers were swapping their clays for briar and
meerschaum models, but the
allure of mass-produced cigarettes
was at the core of the decline.
During World War I,
tobacco companies doled out
complimentary cigarettes to
military men and by 1916,
they were included in soldiers’
daily meal rations.
The promotion paid off after
the armistice, as millions of cigarette smokers returned to their
homes and spread the habit – just
as pipe-smoking Elizabethan
courtiers had done over 300 years
The tragic end of the Knockcroghery era occurred in the early
morning hours of 21 June 1921,
in the midst of troubled times
during the War of Irish Independence. The afternoon before, a
popular British Brigadier-General
was boldly assassinated in
Athlone, about 10 miles away. In
the ensuing hysteria, misdirected
vengeance placed Knockcroghery
in the crosshairs. A sizable group
of enraged “Black and Tans” (an
appendage of the British military
forces) disguised in plain clothes
and masks, stormed the village.
They summarily set the homes
and shops ablaze; including the
clay pipe factories. An article in
the Irish Independent described
the scene at Andrew Curley’s. His
son Patrick said, “he was aroused
by the crashing of glass. His door
was burst in and two men wearing
trench coats entered…without
getting time to dress, he was put
out at the muzzle of the revolver.
The floor was sprinkled with
petrol and the house set on fire.”
In the wake of the chaos, all of the
village’s buildings, save a scant
few, lay scorched in complete
ruin. Claims were filed, some
Some late 19th century/very early 20th century pipe heads unearthed recently in
Knockcroghery; including specimens from both William and Andrew Curley, two
bearing slogans of the Irish self government movement ("Home Rule" and "43"), a
decorative weave design, and the popular "Ben Nevis Cutty" style. Image courtesy
of the author
damages awarded, and there was
rebuilding in the next few years,
but clay pipe making did not resume in the community. Andrew
Curley died at 85 years of age in
October of 1923; the official cause
of death was simply “old age”.
But presumably the elderly pipe
maker’s heart had shattered
beyond repair, like one of his
duidins, during the terrible events
of June 1921.
Ethel Kelly, coincidently a native
of Athlone, moved to Knockcroghery and unknowingly purchased the prior home of Andrew
Curley. Digging around her property while gardening, she unearthed multitudes of broken clay
pipe bowls and stems. She researched and discovered the history of her home, and in 1997,
Ethel’s artistic inclinations led
to a renaissance. With original
molds from the 1890s and using
traditional techniques, she began
handcrafting clay pipes in her
shop, which doubles as an educational visitor center. Visit online
2675925.aspx. Old Andrew Curley
would surely be pleased and Isaac
Weld’s objection proved visionary
– it took an enterprising woman
to bring back Knockcroghery’s
clay pipe manufacturing!
with a keen enthusiasm for
genealogy, history, and ethnic
culture. He contributes regular
articles to Internet Genealogy
and Your Genealogy Today
magazines. He resides in
Mountain Top, PA with his
wife and children.
October/November 2017 History Magazine
Undated photo of Jack Dempsey.
Courtesy of the Jack Dempsey
Birthplace Society
History Magazine October/November 2017
ack Dempsey was born on
the eve of 24 June 1895, in a
log cabin in the frontier
town of Manassa, Colorado.
Hyrum and Celia Dempsey
......had stopped with their brood
in the southern part of Colorado,
in the San Luis valley, on a meandering passage from Mudfork,
West Virginia.
Around 1880, a missionary
group of Latter-Day Saints visited
Dempsey’s parents and converted
them to Mormonism. Jack’s parents arrived in the company of
“350 Mormon Saints”, as the original settlers adapted to the western soil.
Hyrum Dempsey, a schoolteacher, descended from Irish
stock and there was a hint of
“Indian blood in both parents”
revealed in Jack’s “blueblack
hair and high cheekbones”. They
named him William Harrison
Dempsey and called him “Harry”,
but at 16, he went his own direction and adopted his own names.
The future heavyweight boxing
champion was born into a community of pioneers that had been
able to withstand cold, epidemic,
hunger, pain and the rigors of
frontier life.
In his early years, Jack recalled
enduring adversity and facing
down any challenge that confronted him. While he never adhered to Mormonism in his adult
life, he did often comment that
his upbringing in Manassa was
where he learned to “enjoy work”
and “to look on the bright side”.
Like other frontier boys, he
loved the outdoors. He learned to
fish, to swim, and to enjoy the
beauties nature provided. Jack
rode astride his horse, “Topsy”,
and usually headed for the swimming hole near local “Dead Man’s
Gulch”. Another place of popularity was “the Devil’s Kitchen”, a
rocky hill projecting from the
bank of “Little River”, south of
Manassa. The rocky formation
provided ovens and tables and
chairs for cooking and eating. Jack
and his friends cooked hot dogs,
boiled eggs, and baked potatoes.
Jack attended church and Sunday school in the San Luis Stake
Tabernacle, which was built the
year that he was born. He’d ride
burros on Sunday afternoons. He
indulged and reveled in fisticuffs
as a child. One incident occurred
when a fellow student handed
Jack some paper to be burned in
the old pot-bellied stove which
heated the room. Concealed in the
paper was a shotgun shell. The
teacher reprimanded Jack when
the explosion disrupted the class
and her instruction. Jack accepted
the lecture without complaint,
but as soon as school was dismissed, he soundly thrashed the
guilty classmate.
On a visit to Manassa years
later, his first question was, “Is
Mooney Daniels still around here?
I liked that guy. He was the only
boy in town I couldn’t lick.” Many
locals were proud to admit that
Jack had at one time or another
rubbed their noses in the dirt.
Dempsey’s father and his two
older brothers worked as miners,
and the family moved frequently
around Colorado and Utah in
pursuit of mining jobs. At the age
of 8, Jack Dempsey took his first
job picking crops on a farm near
Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Dempsey started boxing in
the Colorado mining camps in
1914 under the nom de plume of
“Kid Blackie”. For about three
years, “Kid Blackie” fought in
mountain mining camps, often
bare-knuckled for a dollar a fight,
feeling lucky indeed when he
received two. His transportation
was the rods of railroad cars.
Between saloon bouts, he labored in the mines, shined shoes,
picked fruit and hustled odd jobs,
riding the rods on trains and
sleeping in hobo camps.
His good friend, Frank Daniels,
recalled one of Jack’s “hobo trips”
in one of Jack Dempsey’s biographies.
“We went to Salt Lake City
where we lived for a week in a
saloon. You see, in those days we
could get free food with an occasional five-cent beer. Jack carried
with him an old worn-out pair of
boxing gloves and often picked up
a buck fighting anyone who cared
or dared, to exchange punches
with him. It was on this trip that
I saw him kayoed by Jim Flynn
in the first round in Murray,
Utah. But it wasn’t long until the
decision was well reversed.”
Jack Dempsey fights Jess Willard on 4
July 1919 in Toledo, Ohio. Courtesy of
the Jack Dempsey Birthplace Society
Meanwhile, his older brother,
Bernie, was boxing as Jack
Dempsey, having borrowed the
name of an old-time middleweight known as “the Nonpareil”. One night in Denver,
Harry substituted for Bernie and
was introduced as Jack Dempsey.
At age 19, the name stuck. (Manassa was “only one of many stops
for a drifting family”, but years
later, the fact that Mrs. Dempsey
had given birth there inspired
Damon Runyon, the sportswriter,
to christen the new champion the
“Manassa Mauler”.)
Such was the start of a long,
successful career.
On 4 July 1919, Dempsey was to
wrest the heavyweight championship from Jess Willard who
weighed in 58 pounds heavier
than Jack, five inches taller, and
with an advantage of six inches in
reach. Willard went down seven
times in the first round, and “one
left hook had broken his cheekbone in 13 places”. After two more
rounds, the vulnerable Willard
was spared further shellacking
when one of his cornermen signaled surrender by throwing a
towel into the ring.
Dempsey drew boxing’s first
million-dollar gate in fighting
Frenchman Georges Carpentier
on 2 July 1921 and boxing’s
largest paid attendance in his
rematch with Gene Tunney on
22 September 1927. (Tunney dethroned a rusty Dempsey, on 23
September 1926, in front of
120,000 fans in Philadelphia.)
The second Dempsey-Tunney
fight has remained one of the
most discussed in the history of
Seventy-four radio stations
carried the Dempsey-Tunney bout
to a potential audience of 15
million listeners. After Dempsey
floored Tunney in the seventh
round, Dempsey made the mistake of not returning to a neutral
corner and the referee, Dave
Barry, stopped the count and
escorted him across the ring.
Once undistracted, the referee
began the count all over. Tunney
rose to his feet at “9” – it was
established that he had had
about 14 seconds to recover – and
won a solid decision, scoring a
knockdown in the ninth round.
Dempsey followers believed
October/November 2017 History Magazine
Tunney was rescued by the long
count; Tunney always insisted he
was “in full control” throughout.
In his autobiography, Dempsey
conceded that he forgot all about
the ‘neutral corner’ rule: “It’s hard
to stop what you’re doing, standing over a guy and waiting for him
to get up.”
He continued to be active in the
ring until 1940 when he retired to
attend to his many business interests, include one as a successful
restaurateur in New York City.
While tallies vary and official
records are murky, one source
lists that he had a total of 81
bouts, winning 60 (49 by KO),
losing seven times (the remainder
were draws). In 1950, Dempsey
was named by the Associated
Press as the greatest heavyweight
of the First Half of the Twentieth
Dempsey achieved eminence in
a sport that has not always been
free from suspicion of corruption,
yet no breath of impropriety had
ever been associated with his
name. In a foreword to a biography he authorized to be written
about himself, he set down his
philosophy: “In looking back at
my days in the ring, I pride myself
that I always was honest with
the public and with myself.”
Sportswriter Grantland Rice said
Dempsey “was perhaps the finest
gentleman, in the literal sense of
gentle man,” he had met in half
a century of writing sports;
Dempsey “never knowingly hurt
anyone” except in the line of business.
In 1979, Dempsey suffered a
small stroke and was plagued by
heart problems to the end of his
life. He was hospitalized in April
1982 when a pacemaker was implanted. He spent most of his later
years enjoying “a simple, private
life” with his fourth wife.
“The Manassa Mauler”, although buried in a New York City
Billboard advertising for the Jack Dempsey Museum in Manassa, Colorado.
Courtesy of author’s collection
Jack Dempsey’s birthplace cabin Manassa, Colorado. Courtesy of author’s collection
cemetery on Saturday, 4 June
1983, lives on in the memories of
those who remember him as one
of the all-time sports giants.
Dempsey appeared during the
dedication of the Jack Dempsey
birthplace museum 23 July 1966.
At that time, Dempsey’s cabin –
lined with photos of the highlights of his career – was moved to
the city park and refurbished.
History Magazine October/November 2017
works in, and writes from
Missoula, Montana. He
contributes regularly to multiple
publications on a vast variety
of subjects. His most recent
contribution to History Magazine
was a piece on American
painter Grant Wood, which
appeared in the June/July
2017 issue.
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A portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger
which is believed to be that of Catherine
Howard, although it’s unlikely we’ll ever
know if it is or not. Public domain
he letter fits onto a single piece of parchment paper, its
slanted cursive writing riddled with spelling errors, revealing
the young age and substandard education of its writer.
Addressed to a “Master [Thomas] Culpeper” this missive is
the only known document that can be directly attributed to
Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of England’s King Henry VIII.
Throughout the centuries, this note
– which inquires after the health
and wellbeing of her alleged lover
– remains the only source from
which historians can glean information into the overall character of
Catherine Howard.
Unsurprisingly, this has proven
to be a daunting task and, depending on which Tudor historian you
speak to, some charge that the letter
is not one of love at all, but of a
young, easily manipulated queen
desperately seeking to appease her
Since her execution for adultery
on 13 February 1542, the court of
public opinion has called Catherine
everything from naïve and dimwitted to a spiteful and “emptyheaded wanton.”
Did Catherine actually carry out
an illicit affair with the king’s
friend and courtier, Thomas
Culpeper, or was she under duress
at the hands of a master manipulator who threatened her undoing?
And, if she did consummate her
relationship with Culpeper, what
were her motivations for engaging
in such risky behavior, especially so
soon after the beheading of Anne
Boleyn over similar accusations?
Although her exact date of birth is
unknown, it’s generally accepted
that Catherine was born in Lambeth, outside London, in the year
1523 to Lord Edmund Howard and
his wife Jocasta (Joyce). Her father’s
family descended from elite stock,
earning an aristocratic pedigree
thanks to her wealthy grandfather,
Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of
Norfolk. In fact, Catherine’s father’s
sister, Elizabeth Howard, was the
History Magazine October/November 2017
mother of Henry VIII’s second
wife, Anne Boleyn, making the two
women first cousins.
However, despite their respectable lineage, Catherine’s father
struggled to make ends meet and
keep his family of 10 children properly fed and clothed. Himself one
of about 22 children, Lord Edmund
was ultimately left very little by way
of his family’s estate.
As a result of her father’s financial situation and her mother’s
death when she was only five years
old, Catherine was sent at the
tender age of nine to live with her
step-grandmother at Chesworth
House near Horsham in Essex.
Yet, the household of Agnes, the
Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, was
anything but idyllic. All the young
women living under the Duchess’
roof shared a room called “the
maidens’ chamber” which was supposed to be locked at night in
an effort to protect the women’s
virtues from the men who lived
on the property. Unbeknownst to
the lady of the house, however,
many of the young men had their
own set of keys and would come
and go around the premises as they
With more than 100 people living
on the grounds of Chesworth
House, Catherine met more than
her fair share of available gentlemen. Her first recorded affair
occurred in 1536, when Catherine
was only 12 or 13 years old, and was
wooed by her decade-older music
teacher, Henry Mannox. Although
general consensus suggests that
the two never consummated their
relationship, there was just enough
inappropriate interaction that it
caught the notice of the other girls
in the room.
As Catherine later recalled during her interrogation for adultery
against the king, “at the flattering
and fair persuasions of Mannox,
[and] being but a young girl, I
suffered him at sundry [different]
times to handle and touch the
secret parts of my body.”
This was not, however, the case
with Francis Dereham. Mannox
was soon cast aside in favor of the
handsome gentleman-pensioner
who also resided near the grounds
of Chesworth. And it was this
clandestine affair with Dereham
that would later precipitate the
downfall of Catherine. The pair
almost certainly consummated
their relationship and were precontracted (promised marriage) to
one another by 1538, even referring
to one another openly as husband
and wife.
“He lay with me naked and used
me in such sort as a man doth
his wife many and sundry times,”
Catherine later told her interrogators.
When the Duchess caught wind
of the affair from a jealous Mannox,
it caused her much distress and she
immediately sent Dereham to live
under the service of Catherine’s
uncle, the Duke of Norfolk. Although it’s unknown what transpired between Catherine and
Dereham as they were separated, it
would appear that the teen quickly
lost interest in her suitor – especially after she was sent to serve as
a lady-in-waiting to Henry VIII’s
new queen, Anne of Cleves. However, the fast-paced life at court and
palace intrigue proved more than
Catherine could handle and she
soon found herself in over her head.
It was no secret that the king was
displeased with his new bride,
the plain-faced younger sister
of the German Duke of JulichCleves-Berg. Henry and Anne of
Cleves had married on 6 January
1540, after the prodding of Henry’s
chief minister Thomas Cromwell
who preferred Anne to other
prospects because she identified
as Lutheran. A Reformer at heart,
Cromwell sought a religious ally
after Henry’s last marriage to the
Catholic Jane Seymour.
But after a series of costly political blunders, not least of which
was his insistence on the union
with Anne of Cleves, Cromwell was
ultimately executed on 28 July
1540. Henry’s seven-month marriage was annulled shortly before
Cromwell’s death on the grounds of
But the king didn’t mourn the
dissolution of yet another marriage
– in fact, he already had his eye on
a potential new bride.
When discussing meteoric rises
in history, few were as quick and
unexpected as that of Catherine
Howard. Contemporary documents report that, shortly after
being appointed as lady-in-waiting
to Anne of Cleves, Henry fell in
love with Catherine. She was a
pretty face and had a youthful exuberance – something the once
handsome, athletic and playful king
could appreciate.
Henry wasted no time, quietly
marrying Catherine on the same
day as Cromwell’s execution.
Catherine was 18 or 19 when she
was introduced to Henry – approximately 30 years his junior.
Granted, the new teenage queen
wasn’t particularly intelligent, but
she was not, as many have surmised
over the years, illiterate. And, while
she was brought up poor, she still
came from an illustrious family.
After the debacle that was his brief
marriage to Anne of Cleves, Henry
also took satisfaction in being attracted to his new bride (although
no authenticated portrait of her
exists, contemporaries describe her
as petite, pretty and fair-skinned).
Henry was recorded calling his new
wife a “blushing rose without a
thorn”. In answer to this compliment, Catherine chose as her royal
emblem a rose with a crown and
declared her motto to be, “No other
wish but his.” For her devotion,
Henry lavished her with attention,
gifts and expensive properties.
While many Tudor historians
posit that Catherine truly did care
deeply for the king, as demonstrated by her genuine concern over
his ongoing health issues, she was
not immune from the attentions
of some of the gentlemen at court,
sometimes even welcoming the advances. She was young, impressionable and pleasure-seeking – and
when Henry’s friend and courtier,
Thomas Culpeper, made his presence known, Catherine fell under
his spell.
It was during 12 days in March
1541 that Henry fell ill and took to
his private chambers, refusing to let
his wife see him in agony (the ulcer
on his leg, the result of a long-ago
jousting accident, flared up on
occasion and left the king incapacitated and in a foul temper). While
Henry was out of commission,
Culpeper and Catherine embarked
on their affair.
Culpeper composed himself well
October/November 2017 History Magazine
to his will? In Tudor England, a
pre-contract was grounds for annulling a marriage, especially if
engagement had been purposefully
withheld from the king. Culpeper’s
personal history of abusive behavior suggests his motivations, whatever they may have been in the
end, were purely selfish and opportunistic. It’s unlikely that he truly
held any genuine affection for the
young queen.
An official portrait of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein. Public domain
at court and earned the confidence
of the king despite their age difference – Culpeper was in his mid-20s,
the king was 50. But it was those
close ties with royalty that had gotten Culpeper out of trouble a few
years prior to meeting Catherine
when he raped the wife of a parkkeeper and killed a villager who
tried to intervene and stop the
assault. Henry pardoned him,
essentially citing a “boys will be
boys” attitude.
For all his good looks and seemingly personable nature, Culpeper
had proved he had a dark side – but
what was his motivation for entering an affair with a young queen,
a dangerous decision under most
circumstances, but especially when
dealing with as erratic a king as
By all accounts, the king was
now overweight, crippled by his
ulcerated leg and often in a foul
mood – and his direct heir was his
three-year-old son, Edward, who
would be far too young to rule
should Henry suddenly die. Was
the timing of Culpeper’s seduction
of Catherine mere coincidence or
was he trying to wedge his way
closer to the throne by wooing the
potential queen regent? He would
most likely have already been familiar with Catherine’s past dealings with Mannox and Dereham,
having his own personal ties to
Chesworth House through numerous companions who had also lived
there. Could Culpeper have used
his knowledge of Catherine’s sexual
history and pre-contract with
Dereham as blackmail to bend her
History Magazine October/November 2017
It’s here we must remember that, at
the time Dereham seduced Catherine
under her step-grandmothers roof,
she was no more than 14 years old.
And she was even younger than
that when Mannox first made his
attempts. Therefore, Catherine’s
earliest interactions with men were,
by and large, sexual in nature. To
put it bluntly, she was taken advantage of by people who should have
known better. And now married
to a man in his 50s known for
discarding wives and mistresses he
deemed unworthy of his attention,
Catherine continued to be easily
swayed – as renowned Tudor historian Antonia Fraser pointed out
in her book The Wives of Henry
VIII, the teen was “reckless, [but]
not devious.”
And so it was that, eight months
into her marriage to the king,
Catherine penned the letter now
made famous for its apparent professions of love for Culpeper. “I
heard you were sick and never
longed for anything as to see you,”
she wrote. The letter, which now
resides in the Public Record Office
in London, continues: “It makes
my heart die to think I cannot be
in your company” and it’s signed,
“Yours as long as life endures.”
Catherine’s habit for indiscretion had finally caught up to her.
As Alison Weir wrote in her book
on the six wives, “[Catherine] had
been playing with fire…and [was]
incredibly foolish.” Where once
she could have gotten away with
nighttime visits from suitors under
her step-grandmothers roof, she
wasn’t prepared for the gossip that
swirled around court.
The missive, with its misspelled
words and crooked writing, has
been analyzed to death. Once generally taken as clear evidence of the
queen’s love for Culpeper, a more
recent generation of historians dismiss the notion, suggesting instead
that Catherine showed signs of
being under duress. She appears
eager to please, some suggest,
perhaps because he’s holding her
past over her head as a warning.
Catherine’s flowery language and
the self-proclaimed “great pains”
that were taken in writing to him
are seen as discomfort with her
current situation.
However, it could still be argued
that she cared for Culpeper,
although it was likely more lust
than love that the young teen felt.
She took a great risk in writing to
him, and it’s unlikely she would
have done it unless she was gravely
concerned about her lover’s
Catherine Howard’s letter, which now resides in the Public Record Office in London.
well-being. Like her concern over
Henry’s poor health, Catherine
was eager to please and wanted life
to continue being pleasurable. Yet,
her reckless abandon in writing
what she likely saw as an innocent
letter sent to a close companion
would ultimately lead to her death,
further highlighting her naivety
and trusting nature.
In the end, it caught up with her.
Word got out that Catherine was
less than truthful about her sexual
history and Thomas Cranmer, the
Archbishop of Canterbury, took it
upon himself to inform Henry on
2 November 1541. According to
the Act of Attainder, it was considered treason to marry the king
without confessing your sexual
history to him. It was now inevitable that Catherine would lose
her life.
Dereham was apprehended and
confessed to the pre-contract
under torture. Perhaps in an
attempt to save his own skin, he
pointed his interrogators in the
direction of Culpeper. When the
king learned of Culpeper’s betrayal
and subsequent arrest, he was
Henry’s reaction to the news was
strikingly different than when he
learned of the alleged affairs of his
second wife, Anne Boleyn. He’d
been indifferent, almost carefree,
when Anne, her brother, George,
and some close companions were
put on trial and summarily executed. It becomes clear that even
Henry had been aware that the
claims against his former wife had
been bogus – a convenient character assassination that gave him
what he ultimately wanted…room
to marry Jane Seymour and rid
himself of the Boleyn family.
But with Catherine, he was
caught off guard. He was embarrassed that he hadn’t picked up on
it and angered at the thought that
October/November 2017 History Magazine
the entire country knew he was a cuckold. He directed the majority of his anger toward Dereham
for being the “spoiler” of his young bride.
On 12 November, Catherine was confronted by
Archbishop Cranmer, she was in “such lamentation and heaviness, as I never saw no creature, so
that it would have pitied any man’s heart in the
world to have looked upon her.” Cranmer, who’d
had to negotiate the majority of the king’s marital entanglements over the years, was struck by
her naïve and child-like response. It aligns with
the character she displays in her letter – like
many teens, Catherine lived in the moment,
leaving potential consequences to be dealt
with afterward. Like a child, she likely never,
even in her wildest dreams, thought it would
come to this. Henry never saw her again after
her arrest.
On 22 November, she was demoted from
queen and was indicted two days later for leading
“an abominable, base, carnal, voluptuous and
vicious life” before marriage “like a common
harlot…maintaining however the outward appearance of chastity and honesty.”
On 10 December, Dereham received the full
traitor’s death: by the laws of treason, he
was hanged, drawn, castrated and quartered.
Culpeper, being of higher rank and a former
favorite of the king, had his sentence reduced
and was beheaded.
Always eager to please and devastated that
she’d let the king down, Catherine requested
a block so that she “might know how to place
herself ” when her day of execution arrived.
And so it was that on 13 February 1542
Catherine stood on the scaffold inside the walls
of the Tower of London to say her final words.
They were not, as legend would have it, a profession of love for Culpeper. Catherine never said,
“I die a Queen, but I would rather die the wife
of Culpeper” – although it does make for great
television. In the end, during her final moments,
she comported herself professionally, and with
a clear head, admitted her shame for offending
the king.
Catherine was beheaded and taken to the
Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula for burial next to
Anne Boleyn. Catherine Howard had been queen
for 18 months and was no more than 20 years
old at the time of her death.
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History Magazine October/November 2017
Toll-Free Customer Service Line: 1-888-326-2476
Public domain. Published before 1923,
and public domain in the US
Commedia dell’arte scene in an Italian
Landscape, circa 17th/18th century by
Pieter van Bredael (1629–1719).
n the background, you hear the bellow of an elephant and the roar
of a tiger. High on a bleacher beneath the Big Top, you enjoy the
smells of hot dogs and pink cotton candy. Red and gold uniforms
dazzle as the band plays “Entry of the Gladiators” or the rousing
“Caesar’s Triumphal March”.
Twirling acrobats and daring aerialists thrill you. Their sequined
costumes sparkle. Bareback riders
balance on prancing horses as you
watch enthralled.
Still, something is missing. You
join the crowd shouting, “Bring
on the clowns!”
But what is this fascination with
clowns and how did it all begin?
About 2500 BC, Egyptians were
entertained by wandering jugglers
and musicians. They were called
court jesters, professional fools
employed by a medieval ruler to
amuse him. Sometimes they were
called buffoons, wearer of the cap
and bells. The fool often carried
a Marotte, a stick with tassels and
a carved head. This stick was used
as a protection for his master. He
could be seen with a tail on his
clothing and ears on his hood,
signifying how empty-headed he
was. Later, the hood became a
three-pointed cap with bells.
In England, Shakespeare gave
the clown a speaking part in some
of his tragedies – for example, the
gravediggers in Hamlet.
When a pygmy clown performed as a comic for Pharaoh
Dadkeri-Assi, he brought riotous
laughter to his court. Greek burlesque and traces of clowning in
Rome are found in history as
kings and nobles had clowns of
their own. No one is sure where
the origin of the word clown was
born, but it’s possibly Scandinavian for the word clod or lout.
Clowns are loved the world over
for their playfulness and irreverence. As early as 1818 BC, China
enjoyed these pranksters. Ancient
Greek comics were often padded to
appear fatter than they really were.
In Rome, the clown often wore a
patchwork coat and a pointed hat.
It was common for the clown to be
the butt of tricks and abuse.
And down through history,
clowns have delighted most societies. In the Middle Ages, the
clown was considered a professional actor. Commedia dell’arte
was a type of Italian comedy,
which had a stereotyped plot,
improvised dialogue and stock
characters. Acrobats, jugglers and
clowns all performed in ancient
times. In the sixteenth century, one
of those clowns was Harlequin.
October/November 2017 History Magazine
Acting as a comic valet, he wore a
black mask, and carried a bat,
which he often used to hit his unfortunate victim.
Clowning is a dignified art.
Clowns must not do or say anything offensive. Clothing that’s in
bad taste that the clown might
wear is frowned upon. Everything,
even the laughs, are planned by
the professional clown.
The first circus troupe in America, introduced in Philadelphia
in 1724, featured a clown ropewalking and sword dancing. Small
troupes traveled by wagons on
rough, backcountry roads, and
sometimes stretched canvas between trees and poles to make a
tent. If it rained, they couldn’t
perform. They weren’t paid unless
there was a big audience. On the
day of the circus, clowns led the
parade into town, announced
the time of the performance and
entertained with wisecracks and
funny acts.
Ever since the first elaborately
carved and brilliantly painted
circus wagon rumbled down Main
Street, clowns have fascinated
crowds with tumbling acts and
antics. Sometimes these funny or
sad-faced comedians are called
buffoons, jesters, fools, or jokers.
In the circus itself, a clown is
called a “Joey”. The name was
given in honor of the English
clown, Joseph Grimaldi, who lived
from 1778 to 1837. He was famous for his expressive face and
body and his sense of timing. He
did the regular physical tricks
such as pratfalls, tumbling and
slapstick. He performed in fulllength acts and was a dominant
figure at the time.
Clowns honor a moral code that
insists no “Joey” exactly copy
another clown’s facial decorations
or costume. One of the greatest
American clowns was Dan Rice
(1823-1900). He wore a beard and
dressed like Uncle Sam. Because
of his popularity, he was paid
the huge sum of $1,000.00 a week
for two performances a day. That
was even more than President
Lincoln earned! In 1870, when his
show played in Iowa in the town
of McGregor, there were five
brothers fascinated by his performance. Because of this, these
brothers decided to start a circus
of their own, which ultimately
became the famous Ringling
Brothers Circus.
The Ringling Brothers later
bought another circus, Barnum &
Bailey, and clowning reached an
even higher pinnacle. Now oversized props, bright sparkling costumes and loud explosives gave
the clown audience even more
reason to laugh.
In the late 1960s, there were less
than 200 professional circus
clowns in America. Because of this
The Strobridge Litho. Co., Cincinnati & New York: “The Barnum & Bailey greatest
show on earth Wonderful Performing Geese, Roosters and Musical Donkey.”
Public domain. Published before 1923. Library of Congress
History Magazine October/November 2017
declining profession, Irvin Feld, in
1967, purchased the circus and
founded the first school to train
clowns, the Ringling Bros. and
Barnum & Bailey Clown College.
After Feld’s death in 1984,
Kenneth Feld, his son, took over.
The college closed in 1997. But
many of the school’s graduates
were now teachers. Today’s clowns
are now hired based on auditions.
Clown college graduates offer
the entertainment that clowns
have given us for many years and
will continue to offer the joy audiences have enjoyed since the
beginning of clowning.
Emmett Kelly, the famous
tramp clown with his sootcovered face and down-turned
white mouth, “Weary Willie”, will
be remembered as the most popular. He was 40 years old when his
sad-faced hobo in oversized rags
found a home with the Ringling
Brothers Circus from 1942 to
1956. Wearing tattered clothes,
big floppy shoes, and a bowler hat,
he charmed both young and old.
Charlie Chaplin made millions
laugh as “the Little Tramp clown”.
Born in England, he and his
brother Sidney, along with Stan
Laurel, toured the United States
with their vaudeville act. He made
many silent movies, including
“The Gold Rush” and “The Great
Dictator”. After he developed his
tramp personality, he became
famous throughout the world.
One of his sayings was, “A day
without laughter is a wasted day.”
America’s greatest clown may be
Red Skelton. He made numerous
movies, and had his own radio
and television shows. Like other
clowns, he had a tramp clown character in “Freddy the Freeloader”
and “Clem Kadiddlehopper”. His
father, who he never knew as he
died before Red was born, had
been a clown with the Hagenbeck
& Wallace Circus. When Red
Skeleton was only 16, he clowned
in the same circus his father had.
He sang, did stand-up comedy
and in 1936, he joined vaudeville.
By then, he had made it to Broadway!
Clowns have always been colorful. The black-faced clown used
burnt-cork to darken his face.
White-faced clowns often wore
red and white striped leggings
and shoes with pom-poms. They
might appear half-bald with red
hair sticking out in back, below a
dunce-like cap.
Some clowns walk on stilts. Sitting on a high wagon, they put
their feet in the stilts, then slipped
their costumes over their heads.
Clowns are creative. Adrien
Wettach caused the audience to
roar in laughter with his struggle
when a stool was too far from a
piano – so he moved the piano!
There are a few types of clowns.
The classic clown is called the
white-faced clown. Playing it
straight, he is often the ringleader
and the most intelligent type of
clown. He wears white grease
paint so that all the audience can
see him. Whiteface is known as
the court jester of the Middle
Ages. The clown Pierrot had a
flour-whitened face and it is
believed that he started the whitefaced clown tradition.
Then there is the Auguste
clown: the funniest and least intelligent of the clowns. He wears a
flesh-toned makeup and draws an
outline around his features and
wears a gaudy, oversized, bright
costume where nothing matches.
The greatest influences when developing the Auguste were the
famous Fratellini Brothers. Albert
Fratellini gave the clown his red
nose, which has since become
common with clowns.
Still, the most popular of
clowns is the tramp clown. With
his unshaven face, and his tattered
clothes and red nose he is the
down-on-his luck clown.
Some people have Coulrophobia, an uncommon word meaning
a fear of clowns. But most people
find clowns fun, colorful, entertaining, and interesting characters.
Hunter Doherty, a.k.a. “Patch
Adams”, a young doctor who entertained as a clown for hospital
patients in the 1970s, was born on
28 May 1945. He is an American
physician, clown, author, and comedian who gathered volunteers
from all over the world to travel
internationally as clowns to entertain and cheer patients, orphans,
and others. Since April 2015, he
serves as Assistant Secretary of
Health for Holistic Health.
Big Apple Circus of New York
has a Clown Care Unit that had
its beginning in 1977. There are
other hospital clown programs in
US hospitals and many around
the world, including Hong Kong,
Austria, France, etc.
More sophisticated than in the
beginning, circuses today are
often held indoors. Some clowns
abandon traditional costumes
and wear a small amount of
makeup. Others, like Oleg Popov,
a well-known Russian clown,
wore slightly unconventional
clothes, but his appearance and
antics alone brought laughter to
the crowd.
Recently, the Ringling Bros. &
Barnum and Bailey Circus had
their final performance in May
of this year, after 146 years under
the Big Top. Still, the clowning
spirit, as old as civilization, will
continue to amaze and entertain.
So, join me in urging, “Bring on
the clowns!”
is a freelance writer who loves to
dwell in the history of ordinary
things. She has written for
children, women’s fashion,
and Christian magazines.
October/November 2017 History Magazine
Crowds of tradesmen and servants, as
well as numerous police officers and a
few high dignitaries, were all victims of
the famous “Berners Street Hoax” of
1810. Public domain
trolling through London one day in November 1810, playwright, writer, wit, and bon vivant Theodore Hook pointed to
a respectable, but rather ordinary-looking house at No. 54,
Berners Street, in Westminster, London. “I’ll lay you a guinea,”
said Hook to a friend, “that in one week, that nice quiet
dwelling shall be the most famous house in all of London.” Intrigued,
Hook’s companion took the bet. To win that guinea, Hook set to
creating one of the most elaborately embroidered practical jokes of all
time: the Berners Street Hoax.
Theodore Hook was born in
London in 1788. His father, James
Hook, was a writer of popular
songs. Young Theodore was gifted
with musical ability, quick wit,
and charm. At the age of 16, he
co-wrote a play with his father
and made a name for himself in
London’s social scene. His talents
amused the fashionable world,
but Theodore Hook lacked the
discipline to apply himself to
lasting achievements. Instead, his
accomplishments came in the
form of well-timed bon mots at
social gatherings, and in increasingly elaborate and spectacular
practical jokes.
History Magazine October/November 2017
Laying the foundations of his
Berners Street plan, Hook (and
perhaps some associates who were
in on the scheme) sent hundreds
of letters and messages throughout London. Then, he took lodgings on Berners Street, across
from No. 54, and waited until the
27th of November.
The first sign that Hook’s
scheme was in motion was the
cry of a chimney sweep early on
the morning of the 27th. One,
and then another, and then several more chimney sweeps appeared at the door, all of them
clamoring to get to work at No. 54
Berners Street, the home of a lady
known to history only as Mrs.
Tottenham. “The neighborhood,”
went one account, “resounded
with the cries of ‘sweep’, uttered in
every variety of tone, and proceeding from the crowds of sooty
urchins and their masters …”
Mrs. Tottenham’s servants tried
to repel the battalion of chimney
sweeps. Then, clattering toward
the house came several horses
pulling “heavy wagons, laden with
chauldrons of coals”. The coal
wagons ground to a halt, unable
to maneuver past each other
and hemmed in by chimney
sweeps and passersby attracted by
the commotion. “About a dozen
traveling-chariots”, their drivers
expecting to pick up passengers
from No. 54, pulled up behind the
coal wagons.
Other carriages approached,
and their drivers had to stop further and further from the center
of the growing crowd. “Medical
men with instruments for the
amputation of limbs, attorneys
prepared to cut off entails,” and
professional men of every stripe,
from the clergy to portrait artists,
stepped out of their stalled vehicles and tried to push their ways
to Mrs. Tottenham’s door. Elbowing their way alongside the doctors and lawyers were several
“cleanly, cook-like men,” with
freshly baked wedding cakes for No.
54. Butchers, each bearing a leg of
lamb, and fishmongers laden with
their wares, followed them. An undertaker arrived with a coffin for
the no doubt mortified, but still
living, Mrs. Tottenham.
Looking from his window,
Hook watched the spectacle from
his rented rooms. Below him
in the street, at about 11 am, a
splendid carriage jostled its way
through the throng of tradesmen
and bystanders. Accompanied by
two liveried servants, out of the
carriage stepped the Lord Mayor
of London. When he learned he
was the victim of a prank, the
Lord Mayor stalked back into his
carriage and ordered the driver to
take him to the Marlborough
Street Police Office.
At the police office, the Lord
Mayor told a magistrate that “he
had received a note purporting to
have come from Mrs. Tottenham,
which stated that she had been
summoned to appear before him,
but that she was confined to her
room by sickness, and requested
his Lordship’s favor to call on her.”
Informed that Berners Street was
engulfed in chaos, the magistrate
dispatched several police officers
to keep order.
In the afternoon, Berners Street
“was in the greatest confusion, by
the multiplicity of trades people,
who were returning with their
goods, and the spectators laughing at them.” When the police
arrived from Marlborough Street,
they found “six stout men bearing
an organ, surrounded by coalmerchants with permits, barbers
with wigs, mantua-makers with
band-boxes, [and] opticians with
their various articles of trade…”
Other dignitaries besides the
Lord Mayor answered an invitation to Berners Street. Responding to letters promising to reveal
a spectacular scheme of fraud, the
heads of the Bank of England and
the East India Company arrived at
Mrs. Tottenham’s doorstep. Even
royal personages were lured to the
house at No. 54; accounts variously state that the Duke of York
and Albany (a son of King George
III), or the Duke of Gloucester (a
nephew of the king) were taken
London writer, wit, and man-abouttown Theodore Hook planned and carried out the Berners Street Hoax.
Public domain
New arrivals continued to swell
the crowd. Hook himself described the scene in his semiautobiographical novel Gilbert
Gurney, with Berners Street deluged with “… piano-fortes by
dozens … two thousand five hundred raspberry tarts, from half-ahundred pastry-cooks – a squad
of surgeons – a battalion of physicians, and a legion of apothecaries
– lovers to see sweethearts; ladies
to find lovers – upholsterers to
furnish houses, and architects to
build them – gigs, dog-carts, and
glass-coaches, enough to convey
half the freeholders of Middlesex
to Brentford…”
The police tried to disperse the
crowd, but a new wave of arrivals
poured in after 5 pm. “Servants of
every denomination” had come
to see about new jobs. It took the
police several more hours to clear
the street, and they succeeded only
because Hook had at last expended
his entire arsenal of phony messages, orders, and invitations.
Some similar pranks had unfolded recently in the city, but
Hook’s version was much more
ambitious in scale than anything
attempted before. London’s newspapers carried accounts of the
peculiar incident. News of the
“Berners Street Hoax” spread
through England’s newspapers and
jumped across the Atlantic. By
1811, readers as far away as New
Orleans and Kentucky were devouring press accounts of the tale.
While many a Londoner was
amused by the spectacular caper,
some of those who were personally involved were outraged at
the waste of their time. Some
shopkeepers and merchants were
out of pocket for lost or spoiled
goods. And, bringing so many
people into a tremendous and disorganized crowd gave London’s
pickpockets a banner day.
Some suspicion turned toward
Hook, who was known in London
society and theatrical circles for
his mischievous sense of humor.
This suspect, according to a later
biographer, “… found it convenient to be laid up for a week or
two by a severe fit of illness, and
then promoted re-convalescence
by a country tour.” By the time
Hook returned to London, the
trail of the perpetrator of the
Berners Street Hoax had gone
cold. Although he was later
universally acknowledged with
planning the prank, he never
faced legal consequences for it.
October/November 2017 History Magazine
Berners Street in Westminster, London, appears in the upper center of this map detail from 1830. Many of the narrow surrounding
streets were jammed with crowds, carts, and carriages during the Berners Street Hoax. Public domain. Wikipedia
Through the influence of powerful friends including the Prince
Regent (the future King George
IV), Hook was appointed as
treasurer of the island colony of
Mauritius. Unfortunately, he knew
nothing about finance or management. In 1817, he was arrested
and sent to England for trial when
a massive embezzlement scheme
came to light.
Legal proceedings over the
Mauritius matter dragged on
until 1824. Investigations found
that low-ranking officials were
the actual thieves, and Hook
was found innocent of criminal
charges. But, in civil court, he was
held liable for the shortfall. He
spent two years in a sponging
house, a privately-run debtor’s
prison where one could live under
house arrest in better conditions
than in jail. In confinement, and
after his release, he wrote numerous stories and novels, but never
managed to pay off his debts.
Before he died in 1841, Hook
earned one more unique distinction. In the year 1840, Great
Britain introduced the world’s
first postage stamp. Shortly afterward, Hook received in the mail
a picture painted on a piece of
cardboard, with a stamp attached
to it. In 2002, the item, regarded as
the world’s first postcard, was sold
at auction in London for £31,500.
Fittingly for something involving
Theodore Hook, the card was a
joke. It was a satirical caricature
of Britain’s postal workers.
History Magazine October/November 2017
Hook may have appreciated a
little finale to his Berners Street
Hoax. In 1821, US newspapers
picked up a tale of a fantastic
prank played on the resident of a
house in London. After the story
had spread to several papers,
other newspapers published a
note under the headline, “A Double Hoax”. The extraordinary tale
of the Berners Street Hoax, which
was, by then, ten years in the past,
was spreading as a brand new
story in US papers.
DAVID A. NORRIS is a regular
contributor to History Magazine,
Internet Genealogy and Your
Genealogy Today.
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Sammy Baugh throwing a pass in a NFL
game for the Washington Redskins
against the Chicago Bears in 1942. This
is just to show a good old illustration of
a forward pass motion with a legendary
quarterback and player in American
football. Baugh is a College Football
and Pro Football Hall of Fame member.
Courtesy of the Associated Press
n the sandy beaches of Cedar Point, Ohio in the summer of
1913, Notre Dame quarterback Gus Dorais and tight end
Knute Rockne practiced offensive pass patterns as time
permitted when they worked there as lifeguards. It was in
preparation of a showdown with Army that November that
Notre Dame coach Jesse Harper scheduled in a highly-publicized
match-up at West Point.
Army had an open date on their
schedule due to Yale disputing
eligibility rules. Midwestern
schools refused to schedule Notre
Dame due to the belief that they
didn’t have high enough academic standards and for their
anti-Catholic views.
But even on the sandy beaches
where they practiced passing patterns, it was a sight unfamiliar to
those that had been watching.
When the game was in its infancy
in the 1800s, the passing game –
or forward pass – was virtually
unimaginable and wouldn’t be
legal until after the turn of the
The forward pass served as a
way to not only open the playbook and speed the game up, but
it very likely saved the game from
extinction in America from its
overly violent ways.
On 1 November 1913, Notre
Dame used the forward pass as a
primary strategy to defeat a powerful Army squad that led to
widespread media coverage and
perception of them being the first
to use it. In that contest, Dorais
completed his first 12 passes and
threw for three touchdowns.
One of his three touchdowns
was when Rockne – a future head
coaching icon – caught a 40-yard
pass from Dorais after beating the
secondary on the play. Notre
Dame led 14-13 at halftime.
After confusing Army with a
heavy passing attack in the first
half, Army geared up to stop it
in the third quarter. But Dorais
reverted to running the ball
with Ray Eichenlaub shredding
the Cadets defense. When Army
switched back to stopping
Eichenlaub in the last quarter,
Dorais once again opened it up
by throwing all over the confused
Army defenders. Dorais threw for
243 yards and completed 14 of 17
passes in a 35-13 win for Notre
Notre Dame had shocked the
world, and it changed the public
perception of fans and statisticians in the game of American
football in the process.
The game of American football
had come a long way at that
point, as it was initially played
under rugby-type rules in an era
where padding and protection
were nonexistent – save for the few
that wore leather helmets.
On 6 November 1869, Rutgers
and Princeton played the first
historic game in New Brunswick,
NJ on a field that was 120 yards
long with 25 players on each
side. Scoring resembled that in
traditional soccer as a point was
scored every time a goal was
scored with the first team to reach
six being declared the winner.
October/November 2017 History Magazine
Rutgers won the game 6-4.
In 1874, Harvard and McGill
University played two games
against each other with the second under rugby rules as it permanently replaced soccer-style of
play. This was significant in that
players were allowed to run with
the ball in that second game.
By 1880, the line of scrimmage
was established as the starting
point of a play.
In 1882, significant changes and
rules were added by Walter Camp.
“The father of American football”
– as he was referred to – created
the change of possession if a team
didn’t advance the ball five yards
in three plays (or “downs”). This
was especially necessary because
it was common for teams to hold
possession of the ball for entire
halves of games.
Later, he created a point system
for touchdowns, field goals,
safeties, and conversions. It
wouldn’t be until twenty years
later that it was settled that
touchdowns would be worth six
points. Further, he had a hand in
establishing the number of players on each side to eleven, and it’s
been that way ever since.
Other innovations would come
along, but none quite set the tone
for the viciousness, violence, and
dirty play than mass-momentum
plays that would eventually give
the game a dark eye.
By far, the most famous of these
mass-momentum plays was the
introduction of the “flying
wedge” play by Harvard’s Lorin
Fuller Deland in 1892.
Deland invented the play after
studying the military tactics used
in previous wars, especially those
under Napoleon Bonaparte. It’s
commonly used as a successful
and forceful strategy to combat
enemy lines. It’s “V-like shaped”
formation has also been used by
police forces to counter riots.
In football, it was designed to
plow through defenders as well as
provide a shield to protect the
The Notre Dame
football team in
1913. Knute
Rockne is the
one holding the
football and
Gus Dorais is to
his left. Both
played a huge
role in upsetting
Army and forever changing
the game in the
public’s eye.
Public domain.
History Magazine October/November 2017
team’s ball carrier. The end result
usually meant a pile of bodies
being tangled upon one another.
Nonetheless, Deland practiced
this strategy in the early fall of
1892, but saved using the play
until the second half of the game
against Walter Camp’s Yale squad
in their championship game.
Despite the play catching Yale by
surprise, the Bulldogs prevailed
in the game with a 6-0 win over
The play caught on at programs
across the country, but it also
helped escalate the number of
deaths and crippling injuries in the
sport for over a decade. In fact,
Army and Navy were banned from
playing each other from 1894 to
1898 because of the rough play
between the two schools.
In 1894, Harvard and Yale
played in a game that was so
violent in nature that it’s often referred to as the “Hampden Park
Blood Bath”. This highly publicized contest between the two
helped to increase the negative
reputation of the sport.
From 1880 to 1905, it was reported that over 300 deaths occurred on the field as well as over
1,100 serious injuries.
By 1905, football had reached a
level of violence never seen before. That year alone, 19 deaths
occurred on the field while 159
players were seriously injured
throughout the season. The
heightened amount of deaths and
injuries on the field that year
were more than enough to involve then-US President Teddy
Roosevelt to get personally involved. Furthermore, Harvard
President Charles William Eliot
threatened to abolish football
at the school if violence couldn’t
be subdued.
Roosevelt, a once strong advocate for the physicality and brutality of the sport, warned that if
changes weren’t implemented
that football would have to go.
And because of the threat of
Eliot, who ran what was then a
highly profitable and powerhouse
football program at the time,
Roosevelt knew it had to be done
as soon as possible.
In March of 1906, a meeting
was held that established what is
today known as the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and
began the turning point in solving many of the sport’s violent
issues and dirty play. New and revised rules were put in place after
the meeting at the request of
Among the changes were ten
yards were now needed to gain a
first down, 45-minute halves were
reduced to 30 minutes, tackling
out of bounds was forbidden, and
six men were required to be on
the line of scrimmage.
But by far the most significant
changes were the legalization of
the forward pass and banishment
of mass-momentum plays.
Teddy Roosevelt in 1904 as US President. He played a vital role in threatening to abolish the game of American
football if changes weren’t made to
stop the
escalating deaths and crippling injuries
in the game. That led to rules such as
the forward pass being legalized.
Public domain. Wikimedia Commons
Bradbury Robinson as a student at
St. Louis University in 1908. He was the
first to throw a legal forward pass in a
football game in 1906. Public domain,
Wikimedia Commons
The forward pass was not well
received at first, and strategists
saw it as a desperation gadget play
instead of a primary way to advance the ball on offense.
Another major reason it wasn’t
initially accepted was because of
the rule of turning the ball over at
the spot of an incomplete pass –
which was the equivalent result of
a punt on an early down. The pass
also had to be thrown five yards
from behind the line of scrimmage as well as a minimum of
five yards to the left or right of
center. A pass twenty yards or
longer was illegal. Those rules
were revised in 1912.
It also didn’t help that pass
interference calls were many years
away, so that in itself further
decreased the odds of completing
a pass thrown.
As far back as 30 November
1876, illegal forward passes had
been attempted in games. In a
game between Yale and Princeton
that day, Camp threw an underhand pass to Oliver Thompson
for a touchdown – while in the
process of being tackled – which
would be allowed to stand after a
Princeton protest and a referee’s
coin toss.
In 1895, in a game between
North Carolina and Georgia, a
forward pass was illegally used
on a punt attempt when the
punter tossed a pass that George
Stephens ran 70 yards for a gamewinning touchdown.
Ten years later, Fairmont College’s (now Wichita State) Bill
Davis completed a toss to Art
Solter in an experimental game
that allowed the use of the forward pass against Washburn University.
However, on 5 September 1906,
St. Louis University Bradbury
Robinson threw the first legal
forward pass in college football
history against Carroll College
in Wisconsin. The pass fell
October/November 2017 History Magazine
incomplete. But his second attempt did not as he became the
first player to throw for a legal
touchdown when Jack Schneider
caught a twenty-yard pass from
Robinson. St. Louis ended up
winning the game 22-0.
During the season, St. Louis
used the pass enough due to practicing it constantly – which led to
an undefeated campaign for the
program – under the direction of
head coach Eddie Cochems. They
outscored their opponents 407-11
during the 1906 season.
Despite this, their contribution
and innovation of using the pass
has been obscured to some degree
by Sammy Moore of Wesleyan
being inaccurately named the
first passer to throw for a touchdown a month after Bradbury
Robinson first accomplished the
In October 1908, Purdue fell
behind in a game against Chicago
and used passes in a desperate attempt to get back in the contest.
But Chicago intercepted a pass
and returned it for a sixty-fiveyard touchdown as they routed
Purdue in the game 39-0. The
term “interception” had not yet
been coined in football at the
Seven years later, when Notre
Dame shocked the football world
by defeating Army using the pass
as a primary strategy, it incorrectly
persuaded many in society that
they were the first to use it due to
the mass amount of media coverage the game received. Furthermore, the movie Knute Rockne
All American in 1940 implied they
developed the forward pass.
Nonetheless, the game at West
Point served its purpose as Notre
Dame put themselves on the map
and discredited the notion of
eastern schools being superior to
those west of them.
But more importantly, emphasis on the forward pass became
Knute Rockne running with the ball for a touchdown after catching a pass from
Dorais against Army on 1 HM109 Forward Pass V2November 1913. Courtesy of the
New York Times and Notre Dame Football Archives
more important as a result of the
game, and was now an accepted
strategy in American football. At
the end of the month, Princeton
completed a pass against Villanova from a halfback to end for
a big play in the game.
However, that was rare for an
eastern school at the time to use
the forward pass as Midwestern
schools would use it with more
regularity in their games.
The forward pass slowly caught
on, and curbed the violence in the
game to a degree. It also began to
become a game based more on
speed and precision than that of
brute force and strength.
For the next several years, rules
were revised for eligible receivers,
passing only behind the line of
scrimmage, and any player on the
defensive side being able to intercept a forward pass by an offensive player.
While the National Football
League and Canadian Football
League would eventually come
along and use the play, it’s the forward pass that evolved to a focal
point of strategy, in general, from
the college game that allowed
them to do so.
The forward pass was the saving
play in American football in more
ways than one. It’s a play that is
now most synonymous to the
game we now watch. From legends such as Sammy Baugh,
Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, and
Tom Brady, football on all levels
History Magazine October/November 2017
now revolves so much around the
pass and play of the quarterback.
In turn, the position is also the
most scrutinized in sports due to
the amount of responsibility
quarterbacks have on the field.
It took a number of players
dying for Teddy Roosevelt to get
involved and threaten banishment of the game. The game
of football is now much faster
and still violent in nature, but
padding, helmets, and rule
changes to protect players have
also come a long way since the
pre-forward pass era. However,
controversy exists due to longterm health concerns of players.
But without question, the forward pass – along with Teddy
Roosevelt’s insistence – played
perhaps the biggest role in advancing the game of football
forward to becoming America’s
most watched sport."
DAVID FUNK is a freelance
writer and blogger living in
North Carolina that has written
extensively about sports history
on his own website. He enjoys
fitness training, traveling, and
attending sporting events of
all kinds – with baseball,
independent wrestling, and
college football as his favorites.
Loris Romito, Wikimedia Commons
Monastery of Saint Paul the Anchorite.
n an English translation of writings pertaining to the ‘ancient
monks of Egypt’, published in 1696, the Egyptian abbot Piammon
reports that there were three sorts of monks in those early days –
the last being of morally ‘reprehensible’ attributes, when compared with the best of them. A second more salubrious sort is the
anchorites, of whom two in particular compete for the status of the
‘first monk’. These, Piammon wrote, ‘became already perfect in their
conversation’, and ‘have chosen the secrets of the desert’.
When we think of monasteries
and monks, it is often the case
that one would call immediately
to mind the bells tolling in towers
of an abbey; the floating, rhythmless chant of hooded, shuffling
figures; and from a more practical
perspective, their year-long toil in
fields and fisheries. Yet the cycle
of prayers and praise, and their
living fruitfully off the land, had
its origin in the stark and burning
silence of the Egyptian desert.
The two personalities who loom
large against this frugal, sandy
scene are Saint Paul the Hermit
(not to be confused with the latecomer disciple namesake of the
New Testament) and Saint Anthony – he of the ‘Temptations’.
Both lived in the 3rd to 4th centuries AD, a little in advance of
the time that Constantine was beginning to establish Christianity
as the ‘official’ religion of Rome.
Paul and Anthony seem to have
found themselves in the stony
sun’s anvil of Egypt’s eastern
desert, between the life-giving
river Nile and the Red Sea.
Perhaps they also ‘found themselves’ in the new agey sense too.
But what was it about the cleansing purity of the desert – or its
vast vacuum – that drew these two
One commentator, James
Cowan, who has travelled with
Saint Anthony as his ‘guide’, has
October/November 2017 History Magazine
written that their rejection of the
world allowed them somehow to
come to terms with ‘an elusive yet
fecund emptiness’. It seems to
have allowed Saint Anthony to
clear his mind at least and, as
he revealed when criticized by
a philosopher for appearing to
possess no books, read nature (his
only ‘book’ according to his own
terms) directly in ‘God’s language’.
Saint Anthony’s early biographer,
Saint Athanasius, said that
Anthony ‘could not endure to go
to school and had a strong desire
to live like a plain man dwelling in
tents, as we read in Jacob’. As for
possessing no books, Athanasius
goes on to suggest that in any
case, ‘he held so fast, that his mind
was as good as a library to him’.
Paul the Hermit seems to have
preceded Anthony, and his
‘monastery’ was a simple cave, at
least traditionally. Despite their
craving for solitude, it turns out –
again according to tradition – that
Paul and Anthony were living on
two sides of the same mountain.
A more nuanced term than
‘hermit’, both are described as anchorites. This derives from the
Greek anachoresis, defining an act
of ‘withdrawing’. Anthony’s sense
of a loss of meaning, or a loss of
belief, in terms of classical ideals
– those of Rome, or Athens –
forced him to step back and consider what he truly thought and
felt, and what ideals in thinking
and feeling potentially presented
themselves, either for civilization
or even for the soul.
This was a time of transition. It
was the era of the twilight of the
gods, those ageless pantheons
of pagan deities in their myriad
In some sense, the appearance
and rise of monasticism was a
kind of spiritual ‘re-boot’. It was a
reaction to the youthful religion’s
Emperor Maximinus II.
Shakko,Wikimedia Commons
escalating submission to imperial
pressures. Those early desert fathers developed a fundamental
need to go back to first principles
in a space devoid of distractions.
As one writer has it, religious experience, acting by example, even
an identification with the church
as proof of sincerity – all aid in
their formation of a monk’s life.
Also, importantly, guilt plays a
part too; alongside economic
drives. In one way, some may have
avoided obligations to the state –
tax, significantly – for which a
kind of hidden existence proved
a useful exchange or alternative.
It might seem too as if being a
monk was a kind of equalizing
maneuver. But some saw it as a
way of proving themselves worthy
of a more elevated position in the
Church hierarchy – with an eye
keenly fixed on the role of bishop,
maybe even Pope.
Even speaking more generously
– and less cynically – a fairer
analysis can see the unity of the
hermitage, and its transformation
into the community of monastic
cells, as nevertheless presenting
a paradox. The solitude of the
History Magazine October/November 2017
desert cannot be endured and
won over; it is, oddly enough,
something clearly to be shared,
“Don’t you think this loneliness is
inspiring?” Dialogue becomes a
necessary development of retreat.
Ultimately, for Anthony, he left
the wilderness, and returned to be
among people when matters required. After two decades in the
desert, he attended his mind to
the issue of Christian persecution
in Alexandria, under the Emperor
Maximinus II. The church historian Eusebius deals with the matter in part in the ninth book of his
Ecclesiastical History. Maximinus
had tried to impose propitiation
(an atoning sacrifice) to the old
pagan gods, by means of which to
guarantee a control of Roman
channels for produce and commodities. In the end, it failed,
and ultimately, he backed down –
allowing worship to continue and
for churches to be built.
Whether Saint Anthony had
‘plot turning’ influence is not entirely clear. He was heading for
martyrdom, willingly. But this – if
he thought it might have proved
the route to ending the persecutions – was not the result. The
likelihood of wider civil unrest
would plausibly have proved the
greater motivator, in backing
down from imposing the might of
the Roman pantheon on an increasingly pious Christian populous.
Within a few years, in any case,
Constantine had successfully
vanquished the army of gods with
his politically charged interpretation of monotheism – no doubt
driven by an inner yearning for
divinity unaligned, fundamentally, with much from any external spiritual source. It is a to-ing
and fro-ing, as is much along the
course of history, in which the
rudder of morality can hold true,
despite its fragility in the face of
the storm.
One can see, however, that the
role of reformer in monasticism
shows how retreat, reflection and,
frankly, revival feed the driving
force in its movement. To revive
obedience to laws and practices
of the church could be seen to
regroup collective effort –
through encouraging an individual way of life that consolidated
inner resolve – and reinstate those
practices that had waned or which
had become lost. It would not
have to mean a life severed from
all association, but recognition
that social organization can
sometimes prove to be its own
worst enemy.
Realigning core thoughts and
principles must have seemed the
only way, if the corruption and
power-playing of empire were to
be truly eradicated.
The patriarch Saint Jerome wrote
a biography of Paul the Hermit,
the Vita Pauli. In this he describes
the meeting between the two ascetics, a journey which is colored
by a series of fantastic encounters.
On his way to Paul’s hermitage,
Anthony meets a hippocentaur.
This is a creature half man and
half horse; then he finds himself
confronted by a faun, another invention of antiquity – or mythology – appearing in front of him
before his final purifying handshake with Paul. Anthony’s erstwhile co-traveler, James Cowan,
emphasizes how men like Saint
Anthony ‘usurped the position of
the oracles in late antiquity’; well,
late antiquity itself had already
begun to see a decline in such
portents. The moral essay writer
Plutarch, a priest of Apollo, spoke
of the ‘obsolescence of the oracles’
before his own day in the early
2nd century AD. Certainly, something was in the air.
Similarly, in the centuries in
which Plutarch was writing and in
Diego Velazquez - St. Anthony the
Great and St. Paul the Hermit. Wikimedia
which Saint Anthony makes his
appearance, the old gods of Egypt
were still actively entertained. But
it was also a time of transition
for them. Before long, the temples
on the island of Philae deep in
the south of Egypt were closed,
as Christianity gained the upper
In the painting by Diego
Velazquez, the painter presents a
kind of storyboard with the actual
meeting between Anthony and
Paul in the foreground. In one
sense, the opulent art of Velazquez
presents part of the ostentation
to which the monks life stands
in opposition. But adopting the
story of Anthony, he convincingly,
if provisionally, approaches humility.
By the time they meet, Paul the
Hermit had already been living in
seclusion in the desert for ninety
years – according to tradition.
Artistic license, indeed – if not
tradition – is the driving force it
seems not merely for the storyboard painting by Velazquez. The
original biography, the Vita Pauli
by Saint Jerome, appears to be
something of a fictionalization of
events too. His narrative draws on
the learned tradition of Classical
literature which puts the skill of
the writer center-stage in the
business of storytelling. Jerome –
patron saint of librarians – was
keen to show Paul the Hermit as a
man educated in terms of the
Greek and Latin heritage. This
contrasts with the history Athanasius, addressing the life of Saint
Anthony: ‘his mind was as good as
a library’.
The ‘university of life’ was not
sufficient for Jerome’s projection
Grünewald Isenheim Altarpiece (St. Anthony on right). Wikimedia Commons
October/November 2017 History Magazine
of Paul the Hermit. And so, it was
important to show that Anthony
was on the back foot in terms of
his ‘natural erudition’ opposing
the learning of Paul. It is Anthony
who journeys two days to visit
Paul; it is Anthony who hurries to
be there, in time to see the ancient
anchorite before he dies and
presumably attempt ‘last rites’,
but arrives late when Paul has
already ascended – like Christ or
Elijah – into the vaporous embrace of heaven.
Paul has already been ninety
years in the desert; Anthony
spends twenty – roughly 286-306
AD if history holds true – before
‘giving up’ and returning to
civilization. Also, tellingly, the
life of Anthony by Athanasius is
frustratingly reticent on the topic
of the elder hermit. This, in part,
supports the notion that Jerome
may indeed have made the whole
thing up – if he is attempting to
gain the upper hand in claiming
for Paul the primordial status
of the first monk, for the subject
of his exercise in classical hagiography (the writing of the lives of
It is all a little like a written
record of a debating society –
irrespective of fact, what matters
is how persuasive the argument
presented proves to be. Can
Jerome and Athanasius, between
them, argue effectively across the
debating chamber of Early Christian self-sacrifice for their respective pet saint or ascetic?
It has also been argued that
Jerome was writing up an oral
tradition passed down – or even
invented – by means of which a
single individual can be credited
with the volition of a whole
movement enacted by a community. One figure, after all, from
late antiquity itself, supports the
statistical fact that upwards of
50,000 monks inhabited urban,
rural and desert sites across
Monastery of St. Anthony Egypt. Credit: Tentoila, Wikimedia Commons
Monastery of St Anthony. Credit: Berthold Werner, Wikimedia Commons
History Magazine October/November 2017
Egypt. The desert, says Athanasius
himself, was ‘turned into a city,
by monks that left their estates
and houses’ for ‘the Heavenly
City’. So it was for Anthony and,
therefore, following Athanasius’
broader assessment, surely a
larger contingent way beyond
the scope of one man’s power to
But we should not diminish
the inspiration of someone such
as Anthony; even if there was
something in the air already, it
could have taken one person to
give it a push. Figures such as
Martin Luther, speaking for the
Reformation and Protestantism,
mustered comparable leverage.
Despite his disillusionment
with loss of pagan spirituality,
Anthony’s realignment with a
perceived ‘soul’ of nature – or a
reacquainting with the essence of
the natural world – brings him
back to the same fundamental
phenomenon. The pantheon of
gods is simply a prism which
colorfully refracts a single source
for spiritual origins; each god is
one aspect of the same divine
essence. Similarly, the variety of
nature even in the desert shows
God, for Anthony, multiplied infinitely despite apparent unity.
Hence, I suppose, his perfunctory rejection of libraries when
one encompassing tome for him
will suffice – the world itself.
Booth, Phil, Crisis of Empire: doctrine and dissent at the end of late antiquity
(Berkeley, CA: U. of California, 2014)
Cowan, James, Journey to the Inner Mountain: in the desert with St Anthony
(London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2002)
Rebenich, Stefan, ‘Inventing an Ascetic Hero: Jerome’s Life of Paul the First
Hermit’, in: Jerome of Stridon, ed. A. Cain and J. Lössl (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009)
Tracts theological. I. Asceticks, or, the heroick piety and vertue of the
ancient Christian anchorets and coenobites. II. The life of St. Antony out
of the Greek of St. Athanasius (London, 1696-7)
freelance writer and musician
based in the UK. He has published
on Egyptology, history, language,
and the arts. He is currently
researching and writing a book on
the phenomenon of the creative
impulse, Rhythms of the Soul;
elements of his research are
presented in this article.
Here’s some
of what’s
Bat Masterson ● Frederick C. Crawford
Boston Press and the Halifax Explosion
Jessie Harlan Lincoln • Colonel Park
Marcus Whitman • Baron de Steuben
Henry Bosse • McSorely’s Pub • Revenge of the Swiss
Final Contents Subject to Change
October/November 2017 History Magazine
The 1964 ad introducing
the Picturephone to the public.
Author’s collection
mong all of the Big Ideas that have been developed and introduced to the masses for acceptance or rejection throughout the
past hundred years or so, one would think the concept of the
videophone should have been an outrageously popular innovation for home use. Its best facets were perhaps not so much
geared for quick phone calls between friends planning to meet at the local
shopping mall or restaurant, but more for those separated from loved
ones by thousands of miles, and perhaps waiting months or years between
opportunities to see each other in person. After all, having a chat on the
phone is all well and good, but wouldn’t having a real face-to-face talk
truly be “the next best thing to being there?”
History Magazine October/November 2017
Evidently not – at least not from
the mid-1960s onward, when,
despite a good deal of hype and
advertising, the Bell System’s Picturephone flopped – several times.
Just to backtrack a bit through
history, the idea of being in one
place while seeing the image as well
as hearing the voice of another person transmitted from a distant location began to make the rounds
not long after Alexander Graham
Bell’s invention of the telephone.
Bell himself once predicted, during
the earliest days of experimental
television, that “the day would
come when the man at the telephone would be able to see the
distant person to whom he was
As early as October of 1906,
The New York Times reported in an
editorial that two American inventors, William Thompson and J.B.
Fowler, working independently,
had each invented an apparatus
that could supposedly transmit
both sound and images simultaneously. Each man even called his
own device a “televue”, but details
were not released pending their applications for patents. Their work
on their respective devices did not
come to fruition. But the growth
of radio and early development of
television in the 1920s and 1930s
gave new life to the idea of a combination telephone and video
contraption. Indeed, various early
experiments with television could
also be counted as tests for primitive versions of the videophone,
especially when sound and images
where transmitted together between laboratories.
A year after Scots inventor John
Logie Baird made headlines by presenting a working apparatus that
transmitted live, moving images
through the air, a major step forward took place in 1927, when a
television experiment achieved
what might be considered threequarters of a successful videophone
transmission. In Washington, DC,
Secretary of Commerce (and future
president) Herbert Hoover sat
before an apparatus to deliver a
brief speech to a small group at the
Bell Telephone laboratory in New
York. After Hoover spoke, others in
the room in Washington, including
AT&T Vice President J.J. Carty,
took turns in front of the transmitter, and carried on their own twoway conversations with the participants in New York. However, the
New York group could only receive
the images, not send their own.
“The speaker on the New York end
looked the Washington man in the
eye as he talked to him. On the
small screen before him appeared
the living face of the man to whom
he was talking.”
In April of 1930, it was announced that AT&T and Bell engineers in New York City successfully
conducted an experiment with 2way television, and what we would
now refer to as the first ever twoway video chat. A participant in
each lab – one at the AT&T building in mid-town, the other in lower
Manhattan – sat in a small booth
directly facing the camera behind a
glass plate, which also served as a
viewing screen. Each was able to see
and hear his counterpart in a lab
elsewhere in the city.
A year later, a two-way video
transmission between novelist
Fannie Hurst and her husband also
took place at the AT&T building
and Bell Laboratories a few miles
away. It was not reported at the
time whether or not there was an
audio component to the connection (if so, it would have been via
telephone line), but the spouses, at
the very least, were able to smile
and wave to each other for the duration of the transmission. Hurst
described it as “the greatest thrill of
an eventful life.”
Experiments also took place in
England and Germany throughout
the 1930s, as part of each country’s
efforts to create a fully functioning
electronic television system.
But the true era of the videophone, such as it was, began in
August of 1956, when Bell Laboratories announced the development
of the “Picturephone” and demonstrated the invention with a link-up
between New York and Los Angeles.
Bell technicians reported the results
of their successful experiments at a
joint meeting of the Institute of
Radio Engineers and the West
Coast Electronic Manufacturers Association. The system, they said,
was designed to use regular phone
lines for the audio portion of the
calls, but users of the 2 by 3 inch
screen would need an extra wire
installed for the video portion.
However, unlike television, which
transmits images at 30 frames per
second, the picturephone could
send only one picture every 2 seconds. The development team freely
admitted that many technical obstacles needed to be overcome before the Picturephone could enjoy
widespread use.
On 20 April 1964, the Picturephone was demonstrated for the
public for the first time at the Bell
Pavilion of the World’s Fair in New
York. The first conversation took
place between William Laurence,
science consultant to the Fair and
former science editor of The New
York Times, and Donald Shaffer,
managing editor of the Anaheim
Bulletin, who was at the Bell exhibit
in Disneyland. Visitors to each
exhibit on opposite ends of the
country were encouraged to have
their own video conversations with
whoever happened to be on the
other end at any given time.
Several weeks later, Lady Bird
Johnson, wife of President Lyndon
Johnson, helped inaugurate regular
Picturephone service between New
York, Washington, and Chicago.
For the event, she conducted a conversation with Dr. Elizabeth Wood,
a scientist with Bell Labs. Wood
spoke from a specially-constructed
booth for the videophone, located
in the Grand Central Station terminal. Two other identical booths
were installed, one at the Prudential Insurance building, and one in
the National Geographic Society
building in Washington, DC.
Also present at the event were
two teenagers, both born deaf –
Howard Mann of Chicago, and
Laura Rabinowitz of Queens, New
York. They demonstrated one truly
profound use for the device, which
enabled them to see each other
from a thousand miles away and
have a conversation with each other
using sign language.
But the service heralded on that
day was limited to those three public Picturephone booths, although
each booth was big enough to hold
five people. At a cost of $16 to $27
for three minutes, however, demand was limited.
Another possible use suggested
for the Picturephone system involved stay-at-home shopping. A
1966 Time magazine essay, predicting what daily life would be like in
the year 2000, spoke of how “the
housewife should be able to switch
on to the local supermarket on the
video phone, examine grapefruit
and price them, all without stirring
from her living room.” However,
skeptics warned that “remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will
October/November 2017 History Magazine
A new and improved version several years later did little to boost interest.
Author’s collection
flop – because women like to get
out of the house, like to handle the
merchandise, like to be able to
change their minds.”
Indeed, in the late 1960s, it
seemed the only place most people
would see two or more individuals
having a live conversation via video
was on television programs with
sci-fi elements, such as The Man
From U.N.C.L.E and Voyage to the
Bottom of the Sea.
In 1970, an improved version of
the Picturephone was introduced,
for office and/or home use. The
system still needed 3 pairs of wires
to connect both sound and picture,
as well as an amplifier every mile
along the way to boost the signal;
long distance service would still not
be available just yet.
But AT&T company officials remained relentless in their optimism, despite a still wary public. In
1970, using the city of Pittsburgh
as its guinea pig, the company
announced in an ad that “Picturephone service is a reality in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By the
middle of 1971, it will be in
Chicago and Washington, DC. By
1976, it will be established in 27
cities around the country.” But the
video component still offered only
black & white video at 250 lines of
resolution, and a screen five inches
square. Moreover, the voice and
image of a transmission were not in
total synch.
The ad pressed on, with an
History Magazine October/November 2017
almost unnervingly honest assessment of its own product:
“Unfortunately, Picturephone
service can’t be everywhere at once.
Because to prepare for it means
building and installing a new kind
of network over the framework of
the existing one. And it means creating a different kind of telephone
circuit (transmitting a picture over
phone wires requires a circuit capacity 300 times wider than the one
that carries a voice).” But the copy
promised a big payoff: “As facilities
grow, users will find countless new
possibilities for Picturephone service. Discussing layouts, viewing
charts, and getting computer information via a picturephone/computer hookup are just a few of the
areas being pursued right now.”
One Bell official that year kept
himself perched firmly on the
fence, by speculating that “Picturephone will either be a large success,
and growing, or it will have
flopped” by the end of the decade.
Some engineers, not employed by
Bell, suggested the fanciful possibility that two-way phone conversations would ultimately use the
television set itself, rather than a
separate device for videophone
In theory, the Picturephone
system was to have 100,000 subscribers nationwide by 1975,
1,000,000 by 1980, and 3,000,000
by the mid-‘80s. But a year after
the installations in Pittsburgh, only
33 picturephones were in use in the
entire city, and, by 1973, the effort
to market Picturephone nationwide
was abandoned – but not forever.
In 1992, AT&T tried yet again,
unveiling a color Picturephone, and
then introduced a wireless version
in 2000. The concept still failed
to catch on with the public. As
tech writer Frederic D. Schwarz
concluded in an issue of American
Heritage Invention and Technology,
“Picturephone remains one of
technology’s most prominent
examples of an elaborate solution
in search of a problem.”
In practical terms, it became apparent that people answering
phone calls at home didn’t necessarily want to be caught off guard
not looking presentable (or fully
dressed), or catching a glimpse of
a messy home exposed to the
videophone caller. And, of course,
the option of switching off the
unit’s camera tended to defeat the
purpose of having it at all.
But the story wasn’t over yet. As
has been the case in many aspects
of modern life, the exploding
growth of the Internet throughout
the 1990s brought with it new possibilities for communication, unforeseen only a decade earlier. The
free Skype service, created by a
small group of European inventors
in 2003, and owned and operated
by Microsoft since 2011, had once
again made live video chats not
only possible, but far easier and
more common than in the struggling Picturephone days. Skype, in
particular, has become a widespread means not only for friends
and relatives to video chat, but also
for those such as servicemen in the
military to connect with their loved
ones from half a world away.
Expectant wives of those in service
have been able to have their far-off
spouses “present” in hospital delivery rooms. The simple placement
of a laptop or smartphone beside
a bed has allowed many military
fathers stationed overseas to witness the arrival of their newborns
in real time.
Apple’s Face Time has also become an influential player in the
video chat realm since its introduction in 2010, and earlier this year,
the Canadian-based Kik video chat
app company bought the popular
Rounds app, allowing up to six
users to video chat simultaneously.
Back in the realm of pop culture,
an Emmy-winning episode of the
hit sitcom Modern Family, airing in
February of 2015, cleverly reflected
the explosion of live video chat use
in recent years, and reached an
apex of sorts in how self-referential
mass media has become. Titled
“Connection Lost”, in which a
perceived family crisis throws the
Pritchett and Dunphy households
into an escalating panic, the entire
episode is presented solely via
laptop and smartphone screens
throughout a running series of
streaming video connections
among the family members.
So, while the original incarnation
of the videophone failed to catch
on with the public in the 1960s, the
concept refused to die, and virtually crept up on us in these early
years of the 21st century. It has
become commonplace, without
the fanfare and almost desperate
pleas for acceptance that accompanied the original Picturephone’s
troubled existence.
GARRY BERMAN is the author
of five books on various aspects
of entertainment history and
popular culture, including Best
of the Britcoms, We’re Going to
See the Beatles! and For the First
Time on Television. He lives in
New Jersey with his wife, Karen.
Make History Magazine
Part of Your e-Library!
October/November 2017 History Magazine
SS Edmund Fitzgerald c. 1971.
Photo by Greenmars, Wikimedia Commons
he Chippewa say that when the underwater panther takes a
ship, it doesn’t give it back. They call this stormy force
Mishipeshu and he lives under the waters of Lake Superior,
a.k.a. Gitchee Gumee. He seduces mariners with crystal waters so clear that you can see all the way down to the stones on
the bottom, and then suddenly erupts to lasso his cold dragon fog
breath around another victim. It was one of these foggy squalls that
captured the SS Edmund Fitzgerald on 10 November 1975, taking her
down. All hands on the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, known as “The Pride of
the American Side”, were lost that day.
The National Transportation
Safety Board and the Marine Accident Report documents the ship
was in a severe storm and operating on a reduced speed. There
were no distress calls heard by
other vessels or shore stations.
The sinking of the SS Edmund
Fitzgerald is the most mysterious
and notable maritime tragedy attributed to a fresh water lake in
the world. The tragedy took the
lives of 29 men who were sons,
brothers, fathers, and husbands.
Their loss affected dozens of families and friends of the shipping
The 729-foot ship was headed from a mill in Superior,
Wisconsin to Zug Island in the
Detroit River when it sank. The
voyage was to be the last for the
ship’s Captain Ernest McSorley
before he retired. A crewmember
History Magazine October/November 2017
named Robert Rafferty was not
even scheduled to be on board,
but was filling in for another
member who was sick.
The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was
named after Edmund Fitzgerald,
president of Northwestern Mutual
Life Insurance Company. The Great
Lakes Engineering Works built her,
and the engine by Westinghouse
Electric Corporation. It was christened on 8 June 1958 in River
Rouge, Michigan and it’s maiden
voyage followed on 24 September.
She was the largest ship on the
Great Lakes, measuring 729 feet
and weighing 13,632 tons.
The National Transportation
Safety Board determined that the
probable cause of the accident
was from sudden massive flooding of the cargo hold and the collapse of one or more hatch covers
and a list. Also, before the hatch
covers collapsed, flooding into the
ballast tanks and tunnels through
damage on the topside and into
the cargo hold through nonweather tight hatch covers caused
a reduction of freeboard and the
list. The hydrostatic and hydrodynamic forces imposed on the
hatch covers by heavy boarding
seas at this reduced freeboard and
list caused the hatch covers to collapse. Freeboard is the distance
between the waterline and the
main deck of a ship. The angle of
list is the degree to which a vessel
heels (leans or tilts) to either port
or starboard. A listing vessel is
stable at equilibrium, but the distribution of width aboard (often
caused by uneven loading or
flooding) causes it to heel to one
side. Contributing to the accident
was the lack of transverse (slanting) weather tight bulkheads in
the cargo hold and the reduction
of freeboard authorized by the
1969, 1971, and 1973 amendments to the Great Lakes Load
Line Regulations.
The waters of Lake Superior are
legendary. No one knows exactly
how many victims Mishipeshu
has claimed, but according to the
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum,
there are over 6,000 shipwrecks in
the Great Lakes, having caused an
estimated loss of 30,000 mariners’
lives. Approximately 550 wrecks
are in Lake Superior (with at least
200 along the treacherous coastal
shoreline where there is no safe
harbor between Munising, Michigan, and Whitefish Point). Many
are yet to be discovered. The
Edmund Fitzgerald lies just 15
miles to the northwest of Whitefish Point. Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow’s famous poem The
Song of Hiawatha dates back to
1855 and mentions the waters of
Gitche Gumee as the shining bigsea-water. The 1878 dictionary of
Father Frederic Baraga, the first
one written for the Ojibwa language, refers to Lake Superior as
otchipwe-kitchi-gami – the sea of
the Chippewa people. Lake Superior is the largest fresh water lake
in the world, containing an eighth
of the world’s fresh water. At its
deepest point, it measures 1,333
feet in depth, with an average
water temperature of 34 degrees F.
Approximately two hundred rivers
and thousands of streams feed
into it, but the grand waters only
have one outlet – Saint Mary’s
River that connects it to Lake
Huron. It extends 350 miles in
length and up to 160 miles in
width. Lake Superior rests in a
cradle of ancient Precambrian
rock on the southern tip of the
Canadian Shield.
The Chippewa tell of the great
underwater Mishipeshu and that
he is the ultimate metaphor representing the power, mystery and
natural danger that comes from
these sacred waters. With razorlike spikes on his back, the face of
a lynx or panther, and the body of
a sea serpent, this creature demanded respect. The Chippewa
offered tobacco and prayer to the
creature spirit before they embarked out onto the waters in
their canoes. The calm waters of
Lake Superior can be quickly
The National Transportation Safety Board map of probable course of SS Edmund
Fitzgerald and Arthur M. Anderson. Public domain. Wikimedia Commons
October/November 2017 History Magazine
transformed into raging squalls
and huge waves from the northern, northeast, and northwestern
gales that often suddenly crop up.
These gales sweep over the open
water, quickly picking up momentum and causing huge waves,
some up to 40 feet high.
Pictographs of Mishipeshu can
be found in several areas around
the Great Lakes including at
Agawa Bay, Lake Superior National Park, in northern Ontario,
north of Sault Ste. Marie.
Mishipeshu is the most important
of the underwater animals for the
Chippewa. They were said to live
in the deepest parts of lakes and
rivers, where they can cause
storms. Some traditions believed
the underwater panthers to be
helpful, protective creatures, but
more often, they were viewed as
malevolent beasts that brought
death and misfortune. They often
needed to be placated for safe
passage across a lake. As late as
the 1950s, the Prairie Band
Potawatomi Nation performed a
traditional ceremony to placate
the Mishipeshu and maintain balance with the Thunderbird. Their
emblems appear together on ancient native garb representing
these powerful creatures of the
water and the sky and the Canadian Museum of History includes
an underwater panther in its coat
of arms.
The remains of the SS Edmund
Fitzgerald were found 15 miles
west of Deadman’s Cove, Ontario
on 14 November 1975 by a US
Navy Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft
equipped to detect magnetic
anomalies with submarines, piloted by Lt. George Conner. It lay
in two pieces. The Navy conducted further surveys and other
research expeditions followed
● In a 1980 research dive expedition, marine explorer JeanMichel Cousteau, the son of
Jacques Cousteau, sent two
divers from RV Calypso in the
first manned submersible dive
to Fitzgerald. The dive was
brief and speculation was
that the Fitzgerald had
broken up on the surface.
● In 1989, the Michigan Sea
Grant Program organized a
three-day dive to survey
the Fitzgerald. The primary
objective was to record 3-D
videotape for use in museum
educational programs and
production of documentaries.
Supporting participants
included the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), the
National Geographic Society,
the United States Army Corps
of Engineers, the Great Lakes
Shipwreck Historical Society
(GLSHS), and the United
States Fish and Wildlife
● In 1994, Canadian explorer
Joseph B. MacInnis organized
and led six publicly funded
dives to Fitzgerald over a
three-day period. Harbor
Branch Oceanographic
Institution provided Edwin A.
Link as the support vessel,
and their manned submersible, Celia. The GLSHS
paid $10,000 for three of its
members to each join a dive
and take still pictures.
● In 1994, sport diver Fred
Shannon of Deepquest Ltd.
organized a privately funded
dive using a Delta Oceanographic’s submersible. They
conducted seven dives and
took more than 42 hours of
underwater video while
Shannon set the record for
the longest submersible dive
to Fitzgerald at 211 minutes.
● In 1995, MacInnis led another
series of dives to salvage the
bell from Fitzgerald. The Sault
Tribe of Chippewa Indians
backed the expedition by
co-signing a loan in the
amount of $250,000.
● In 1995, divers Terrence Tysall
and Mike Zee were the only
people known to have
touched the Fitzgerald
wreck. They set records for
Relative position of the bow and stern sections of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald as
mapped by the United States Coast Guard. Public domain. Wikimedia Commons
History Magazine October/November 2017
The bell from the SS Edmund Fitzgerald on display at the Great Lakes Shipwreck
Museum. Photo by Duchene9, Wikimedia Commons
the deepest scuba dive on the Great Lakes and the deepest
shipwreck dive, and were the first divers to reach Fitzgerald
without the aid of a submersible.
Now the family members of the crew could find peace with successful access to it. The Canadian Government and family survivors of the
crew gave their approval to access the ship and the bell was recovered
on 4 July 1995, as they watched from onboard the ship Northlander.
A series of dives using a specially designed dive suit called the
“Newtsuit” by Phil Nuytten of Vancouver, BC was used to recover the
bell. A diver named Bruce Fuoco used the system at a depth of 535 feet
along with a special underwater cutting torch to separate the bell from
the roof of the pilothouse. He cut the original bell from the SS Edmund
Fitzgerald and replaced it with a replica that had the names of the
crewmembers inscribed on it.
The SS Edmund Fitzgerald Crew Members were:
- Michael Armagost
- Frederick Beetcher
- Thomas Bentsen
- Edward Bindon
- Thomas Borgeson
- Oliver Champeau
- Nolan Church
- Ransom Cundy
- Thomas Edwards
- Russell Haskell
- George Holl
- Bruce Hudson
- Alan Kalmon
- Gordon MacLellan
- Joseph Mazes
- John McCarthy
- Captain Ernest McSorley
- Eugene O’Brien
- Karl Peckol
- John Poviach
- James Pratt
- Robert Rafferty
- Paul Riippa
- John Simmons
- William Spengler
- Mark Thomas
- Ralph Walton
- David Weiss
- Blaine Wilhelm
Afterward, the family members placed a wreath on the water following
the bell recovery. The bell was then transported aboard HMCS
Cormorant to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where it was displayed to the
public. On Friday, 7 July, the bell was formally presented to the family
members by Diane Cunningham,
Ontario Minister of Inter-Governmental Affairs. In a ceremony
titled “Call to the Last Watch”, the
bell was then tolled 30 times, 29
for each man who lost his life on
the Fitzgerald, with the final toll
for all sailors who have died on
the Great Lakes.
There are some who are superstitious and believe there is a
curse of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.
On 23 February 2015, a US
freighter called the SS Arthur M.
Anderson was trapped in ice near
Conneaut Harbor, about 75 kilometers northeast of Cleveland,
but Canadian coast guard ships
Friggon and the Samuel Risley
came to their rescue. Two Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers also
freed both the Anderson and a US
icebreaker that were stuck for
five days on southern Lake Erie
where the ice was up to three
metres thick. The SS Arthur M.
Anderson was the last ship in
radio contact with the SS Edmund
Fitzgerald before it sank in 1975.
It was also the first rescue ship
on the scene in a vain search
for Fitzgerald survivors. The SS
Edmund Fitzgerald rests 530 feet
below Lake Superior, but it is not
forgotten. It is forever memorialized in Canadian singer and
songwriter Gordon Lightfoot’s
song The Wreck of the Edmund
Fitzgerald. The Great Lakes
Shipwreck Historical Society also
sponsors an annual Edmund
Fitzgerald Memorial Ceremony at
the museum at Whitefish Point in
Paradise, Michigan.
a freelance writer living in the
Missouri Ozarks. Her stories are
featured in several magazine
publications including History
Magazine and Wild West
Magazine. She likes to collect
antique silver and metalware
of historical significance.
October/November 2017 History Magazine
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n the 1980s, an engineer who worked on space missions for NASA
submitted an application to the US Patent Office for “a toy squirt
gun which shoots a continuous high velocity stream of water”.
Dr. Lonnie Johnson, who perfected the Super Soaker in his garage
during his off-hours, became a multimillionaire.
Eighty years earlier, a demure illustrator and art teacher named
Florence Pretz created a small statue of a squat, Asian-featured elf.
Called the Billiken and nicknamed “the god of things as they ought to
be”, it became an international fad. It seemed as if everyone had to
have one on their office desk or home mantel, predating such later
Florence Pretz’s Billiken drawing on her
1908 patent application. Public domain
20th-century “gotta-haves” as
hula hoops and Cabbage Patch
dolls. But her 1908 creation
brought Pretz almost no monetary reward due to predators
who duped her out of her rightful
Pretz’s story of artistic achievement and financial failure began
when she brought the Billiken
into existence in Kansas City,
Missouri, where she was born in
1885. “I was playing with some
modeling clay one day and ‘Billy’
began to take form,” she would recount later. “I hadn’t the slightest
idea that anyone would want to
buy him.” But that genesis account omits part of the story of
the Billiken’s birth. In fact, Pretz
had already worked as an illustrator for “While Billiken Slept” and
follow-up short stories that ran in
1907 in Canadian West magazine.
For tales of Billiken the Fairy,
she drew cherubs with gossamer
wings and antennae who flitted
around the pages.
A year later, Pretz got a patent
so she could begin selling her new
version of the Billiken, now in the
form of three-dimensional statues
and dolls. The cherubic fairy of
1907 had been transformed into a
chubby, grinning, wingless god.
“Get one,” an early advertisement
trumpeted, “the latest fad – makes
a nice present – brings good luck.”
Another crowed, “Get a Billiken,
the God-of-Things-as-They-Oughtto-Be.” The ad quoted Billiken
himself as promising, “As long as I
smile at you bad luck can’t harm
you….Grin and begin to win.”
As sales zoomed, a magazine for
storeowners crowed about “The
Craze for ‘Billiken’” and introduced Pretz, based on her own
words, as a “girl artist, whose luck
was down at the heels….One day,
seized by a freakish impulse, she
October/November 2017 History Magazine
made Billiken, and…said to herself: ‘There’s my mascot.’” Another magazine dubbed the image
“the latest thing in novelties,”
while The New York World newspaper described the artist as feverishly making statues “as fast as her
hands could turn them out.”
In fact, the artist realized early
on that she could not meet the
growing demand for Billikens on
her own. Pretz turned to investors
who guaranteed her a monthly
income of $30 from the mass
production and sales they could
oversee. While a magazine article
declared that she was “making a
small fortune” from her statues,
she earned only the promised
$360 annually and nothing more.
As for the investors, they raked in
hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Just a year after the toy hit the
markets, a Seattle, Washington,
newspaper headlined a full-page
article about her with the words
“Little God of Luck an Ungrateful
Wretch!” The subhead noted,
“Brought Luck to Everybody but
His Maker.” As a result, a men’s
club in Seattle took pity on the
forlorn creator of the fad and
raised $1,000 for her. The artist
thanked the group, but declined
their gift.
Meanwhile, newspaper ads for
Billikens grew larger in size, and
the price doubled to $2. “I’m all
over the land,” the new ad ran.
“Thousands of men and women
believe in me.”
drive-in movie theater in Alaska
took the title, as did an oil company, a motorists’ club, a women’s
group in California and a Class B
baseball team in Indiana. In Cairo,
Illinois, a Great Lakes steamship
was christened Billiken. Perhaps
the oddest use of the Billiken
image was by a hat store in Hawaii
that stuck a drawing of the toy on
its newspaper advertisement. To
M. McInerny Ltd., the sketch
would draw attention to its
Stetson hats and Italian imports.
The ad’s last line assured buyers
that “Billiken will smile on you for
your choice.” Recognizing that
another fad had been supplanted,
The Duluth News-Tribune informed
readers that “the billiken has
taken the place of the Teddy Bear”.
The statue also transmogrified
into dolls and drawings. Newspapers began running full-page
illustrated stories, such as the
adventures of “Billiken and
Bobby”, a series in a Washington,
DC journal. Readers soon noticed
that the most famous resident
of that city, President William
Howard Taft, resembled a somewhat elderly Billiken. When the
Chief Executive summered in
Beverly, Massachusetts, the locals
were “inclined to regard Mr. Taft
as a sort of Big Billiken,” the New
York Times disclosed. The craze
also showed up in vaudeville
What had begun as a doodle
in an artist’s notebook and
a clay model boomed into
a nationwide craze.
Not content just to own one,
people began to name everything
after the toy. Dogs, horses and
pigs were dubbed Billiken. A
This full-page Billiken tale appeared in The Washington Star in 1909. Public domain
History Magazine October/November 2017
venues, such as “The Dancing
Billiken” by Payne and Lee, who
claimed to be the “Originators of
the Billiken in Vaudeville”. Ed
Wynn, who would later host his
own TV variety series and appear
in such movies as “Mary Poppins”,
performed on stage in a sketch
titled “The Billiken Freshman”.
The Washington Post declared that
the bit “captured top honors” as
well as “enthusiastic applause”. A
recording, “The Billiken Man”,
was released (and can be heard on
YouTube). “Billiken, Billiken, you
funny creation,” the lyrics go, “you
look so cute, that you’ve a queer
Quickly, the doll went international. In Sydney, Australia,
female auctioneers vied for a free
trip to London by showing off
their skills in a contest that asked
them to pitch three items: an
ostrich boa, a silver salver and a
Billiken. A down-under magazine
informed readers that “both in
London and America now the
craze is for a ‘Billiken,’…a little,
red-headed, ivory-finished alabaster figure four inches high.”
As 1909 came to an end and
money poured into the Chicago
bigwigs’ coffers, Pretz grew
angrier. A Missouri paper
reported that “she has smashed
the last of the idols she formerly
had prized. She turns aside
from the shop windows to
avoid seeing one. She disliked
even to talk of ‘Billiken.’”
The exasperated artist firmly
told a reporter that “I’m out of
patience with the whole subject.”
Asked if she wanted to see one of
her creations, she responded, “I
do not,” and vowed to throw it
The origin of the word “Billiken” is murky. The Oxford English
Dictionary’s entry, with a lower-case ‘b’, defines the word as
“a small, squat, smiling figure used as a mascot” and presents its
earliest usage as 1914. The OED’s quotation is from “Man Upstairs”
by P.G. Wodehouse: “When you send a girl three bouquets, a
bracelet, and a gold Billiken with ruby eyes, you do not expect
an entire absence of recognition.”
The venerable dictionary surmised that the word is “probably”
the combination of the male name Billy and the suffix “kin”, a
However, both the word and the fad appeared earlier than 1914.
Florence Pretz’s patent application is dated 6 October 1908, and
she illustrated what were called “Billikens” for 1907 stories in a
Canadian magazine.
Moving farther back in time finds “Mr. Moon: A Song of the Little
People,” a poem published in 1896 by Bliss Carman, a Canadian
poet (1861-1929). His verse begins, “O Moon, Mr. Moon,/When
you comin’ down?/Down on the hilltop,/Down in the glen,/Out
in the clearin’,/To play with little men?/Moon, Mr. Moon,/When
you comin’ down?” The poem later goes to this section:
“O Mr. Moon,/We’re all here!/Honey-bug, Thistledrift,/White-imp,
Weird,/Wryface, Billiken,/Quidnunc, Queered.”
Billiken can be found even earlier as a surname. An 1885
Minnesota newspaper shared the comic (and probably fictional)
story of Mrs. Billikens versus a rat. A journal in Louisiana, dated
1893, announced an upcoming concert by local people, including
Minnie Billikens. A search of the surname at turned
up nearly 500,000 responses, the earliest being Milton Billiken, a Civil
War veteran from New York State.
Whatever its origin, Florence Pretz’s Billiken remains the most
famous of all.
against the wall if someone
handed her one.
It’s a good thing that she averted
her eyes because, although the
craze waned, it lasted well into
the 19-teens, as the name Billiken
marched on. Terriers, collies,
Airedales and French bulldogs
sported the moniker in dog
shows. A company sold Billiken
Shoes for children, and a housecleaning outfit in Utah took the
name. Schools were offered
scripts for “The Billiken Frolic”, a
play written for eight boys, and a
1915 college songbook included
words and music that began, “I’m
the god of Luckiness, observe my
twinkling eyes”. A vaudevillian
named Kate Elinor dubbed herself
“The Human Billiken”. In 1914, a
book titled, “Who Was Who 5000
B.C. to Date,” listed among the
famous “Bs” – Buffalo Bill Cody,
Bismarck and Billiken, “a funny
little fellow who…made many
people laugh.” In Argentina, a
named Billiken was founded in
1919 and continues to publish
nearly a century later.
Even the Japan Society, situated
October/November 2017 History Magazine
Pretz drew illustrations for a 1920 Spanish schoolbook. Public domain
on Broadway in New York City
and dedicated to AmericanJapanese amity, noticed that the
divine statue with its Asian appearance had been “adopted in
Japan and is widely worshipped
there as ‘the god of America’s
success.’” In Chicago, the Bud
Billiken Club was established to
support poor black children,
among them famous jazzman
Lionel Hampton. The club survives to this day. Another musician of the era was singer Billiken
Johnson, known for a singular
talent: imitating train whistles
and other sounds, which also can
be heard on YouTube. Even The
American Magazine of Art took
notice of the toy, albeit not positively. In a critique that demanded
better American war memorials,
the author bemoaned that, without such efforts, they would remain “in the same class as the
Teddy bear and the Billiken,”
which were “hardly to be classed
among our major civilizing
As the money continued to roll
in, but not in her direction, Pretz
remained “very loath to speak of
her famous invention,” reported
The Omaha World Herald. She
confided to a reporter that she
had “consulted lawyers and did
what I could [to win back her
copyright] but without success.”
Had she prevailed, she guessed
that she would have become a
millionaire. Absent the rights to
her creation to pay her bills, Pretz
returned to illustrating schoolbooks, magazine articles and department store ads for Bullock’s
in Los Angeles. She had moved
there with Robert Smalley, a car
dealer from Lincoln, Nebraska,
whom she married on Valentine’s
Day 1912.
Ten years later, newly divorced
from Smalley and the mother of a
daughter named Jane, Pretz lived
with her parents in California.
There, she came up with a new
idea: Pot Hounds. As reported in
Crockery and Glass Journal, the
“little plaster figures…present the
alley pup in all his glory.” The idea
went nowhere. Seven years later,
Pretz tried again to reprise her
Billiken success by obtaining a
copyright for a wrapping paper
with an “ornamental design.” It
was yet another grasp at what was
no longer reachable.
Both the creator and her creation faded into obscurity. In
1908, the word “billiken” appeared only 65 times in a search
History Magazine October/November 2017
of scores of US newspapers. A
year later, that number soared to
more than 3,000, only to recede
into the hundreds in subsequent
years. Florence Pretz Smalley, 84,
died in California on New Year’s
Eve 1969, but her creation lives on
in the 21st century at St. Louis
University. Its sports teams are
nicknamed the Billikens because,
in 1911, a chubby coach was
thought to resemble the idol.
While green-coated leprechauns
raise cheers at Notre Dame and
a Trojan soldier in armor sparks
excitement at the University of
Southern California, the Billiken
mascot rouses SLU students to
shout for their alma mater in a
tribute to a forgotten fellow
Missourian whose creation once
fascinated the world.
The Billiken squats at St. Louis University.
JAMES BREIG is an awardwinning writer who has been a
syndicated TV critic, an essayist
on subjects ranging from religion
to flags, and a historian who
specializes in the 18th-20th
by Stephen Taylor
Born in Scotland in
1772, Lady Anne
Barnard lived at the
heart of Georgian
society. She wrote
one of the most popular ballads of her
day, captivated Sir
Walter Scott with her poetry, rubbed
shoulders with the Prince of Wales, and
dazzled Samuel Johnson with her
repartee. Lady Anne’s charisma and talent were undeniable; she was well
known as both a beauty and a wit.
However, she was also seen as an eccentric – an artist defined by her defiance
of convention.
Lady Anne had romantic affairs with
several prominent men, but she married none of them. She preferred to live
independently – even traveling alone to
Paris during the upheaval of the French
Revolution. When she did marry, it was
to an impoverished army officer many
years her junior. The pairing scandalized polite society. Hounded by gossip,
the couple escaped to the Cape Colony
– England’s first African possession –
where Lady Anne painted the vibrant
landscapes and penned her memoirs.
An indefatigable diarist, she proved
herself one of the extraordinary chroniclers of the era.
Stephen Taylor draws on Lady Anne’s
private papers, including six volumes of
her never-before-published memoirs,
to construct a vivid biography of her
remarkable life. Illustrated with Lady
Anne’s own drawings as well as portraits
by her contemporaries, Defiance offers a
lively and wholly absorbing portrayal of
a woman far ahead of her time.
1944 DIARY
by Hans Keilson
Hans Keilson’s 1944 Diary, written while he was in hiding from
the Nazis in the Dutch city of Delft, was rediscovered among
Keilson’s papers in 2011 following his death at age 101. While in
Delft and living with members of a Dutch resistance group,
Keilson was working on two “masterpieces”, the novels Comedy
in a Minor Key and the Death of the Adversary, both published
in the United States in 2010 by FGS. Damion Searls, the
translator of 1944 Diary from the German, calls the diary a
“spiritual X-ray of the mind and heart” behind the work Keilson produced
during his time underground. In addition to the two novels, Keilson also wrote
dozens of sonnets to Hanna Sanders, a young Jewish woman also in hiding, with
whom he was having an affair. These sonnets appear in translation at the back of
this volume.
This diary is as much a document of Keilson’s survival as of the moral and
artistic struggles he faced during 1944. Both harrowing and beautiful, it is a
revelatory look at one of Europe’s most important novelists at a key moment of
the twentieth century.
Published by Farrar, Straus, Giroux
256 pages; ISBN: 978-0-374-53559-9
Price: $25.00 (US) $35.00 (CAN)
Published by W.W. Norton & Company;
400 pages; ISBN: 978-0-393-24817-3;
Price: $28.95
October/November 2017 History Magazine
by Tristan Donovan
Board games have been with us longer than even the written
word. But what is it about this pastime that continues to captivate us well
into the age of smartphones and instant gratification?
In It’s All a Game, British journalist and renowned games expert Tristan
Donovan opens the box on the incredible and often surprising history and
psychology of board games. He traces the evolution of the game across cultures,
time periods, and continents, from the paranoid Chicago toy genius behind
classics like Operation and Mouse Trap, to the role of Monopoly in helping
prisoners of war escape the Nazis, and even the scientific use of board games
today to teach artificial intelligence how to reason and how to win. With these
compelling stories and characters, Donovan ultimately reveals why board games
have captured hearts and minds all over the world for generations.
Published by Thomas Dunne Books; 304 pages; ISBN: 978-1-250-08272-5
Price: $26.99 (US) $37.99 (CAN). Also available in E-book.
by R. David Cox
Robert E. Lee was many things – accomplished soldier, military engineer, college president, family man, agent of reconciliation, polarizing figure. He was also a person of deep Christian conviction.
In this biography of the famous Civil War general, R. David Cox shows how
Lee’s Christian faith shaped his crucial role in some of the most pivotal events
in American history.
Delving into family letters and other primary sources – some of them newly
discovered – Cox traces the lifelong development of Lee’s convictions and how
they influenced his decisions to stand with Virginia against the Union and later
to support reconciliation and reconstruction in the years after the Civil War.
Faith was central to Lee’s character, Cox argues – so central that it directed and
redirected his life, especially in the aftermath of defeat.
Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; 368 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7482-5; Price: $26.00 (US) 21.99 (UK)
by Isobel Charman
The creation of a zoo in Dickensian London – when only one
other existed across the world – is a story of jaw-dropping audacity. It is the
story of trailblazing scientists, rival zookeepers and aristocratic naturalists
collecting amazing animals from all four corners of the globe.
It is the story of a weird and wonderful oasis in the heart of a swirling city,
and of incredible characters, both human and animal – from Stamford
Raffles and Charles Darwin to Jenny the orangutan and Obaysch the celebrity
hippo, the first that anyone in Britain had ever seen.
Against a background of global Empire, domestic reform and industrialization, this is a new history of a new world.
Published by Pegasus Books; 368 pages
ISBN: 978-1-68177-356-8; Price: $27.95
History Magazine October/November 2017
Heritage Travel!
Now Available
Your Genealogy Today
presents — Tracing Your
Ancestors: Heritage Travel:
Tips, Tricks & Strategies
This new edition to our Tracing Your
Ancestors series is co-authored by
genealogy educators and lecturers Lisa A.
Alzo and Christine Woodcock. Here is some
of what is included in the issue: Ten Things
You Should Know Before You Go; How to
Hire the Right Guide; Awesome Travel Apps
for the Heritage Traveler; Immersion
Genealogy; Build an Itinerary with Trello;
Journal Your Journey; Preparing Travel to
Your Ancestral Homeland; Social History
Museums; Food, Family & Folklore; After the
Tour: Prepare to Tell Your Story; Speaking
Your Ancestors’ Language, and more.
68 Pages. Magazine format.
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