Saturday, January 31, 2015

Insurrection Week

Welcome to Mexican Insurrection Week. We will be looking at old pictures from the Mexican Revolutions. I say revolutions, because Mexican history is littered with one revolution after another. I must say that I have trouble sorting out the good guys from the bad guys. For example, there are cases where the government became oppressive and a populist leader would organize the working class into a revolution. Then when successful, that populist leader would often be no better than the corrupt government that was brought down. So, I will not try to sort out the Good, the Bad and the Ugly this week, but will present pictures from the uprisings. We start with this picture of a rebel scout. The picture was from the 1911 revolution.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sharecropper Shack

This is a picture of an old Sharecropper Shack near Olive Hill, North Carolina. I actually find the cabin quiet attractive, and I would have no problem living there. You can see it is designed to allow a breeze through the cabin in summertime, and the large fireplace would keep it toasty in the wintertime. The picture was taken in 1939.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Massive Logs

Today's picture shows an Old Timers cabin made from some pretty massive logs. I guess you build with what you have, and this guy had big logs. The cabin was near Lake Itasca in Minnesota.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cabin and Mansion

Today we see a modest log cabin, with an immense mansion in the background. I would imagine life wat quite different in those two places. The picture was taken in 1902 near Stamford New York. I think the large building was actually a hotel, and I learned that it burned down in the spring of last year in a huge fire that completely destroyed it. No word on the fate of the small cabin.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wood Cabin

Today's picture shows a wooden house that would be fairly typical of 100 years ago. The picture was taken in 1935, but the house was old at the time the photo was taken. It looks like probably the downstairs had living and kitchen areas, and upstairs had simple sleeping quarters. Note that the fireplace was in the center of the house, and would have been able to keep the entire house warm. A very modest, but completely adequat home.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Old Cabin

This picture features an old log cabin. The picture was taken in Alabama, and the house probably belonged to a sharecropper. The picture was taken in 1937. Notice that there are almost no windows.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


The centerpiece of homes a hundred years ago was a functional fireplace. You can see this photo of a home from 1935 has a prominent and functional fireplace. The fireplaces were designed to actually heat the home. Today, most fireplace inserts to not provide any meaningful heat, and in fact, since most pull air for the fire from the home interior, they actually create a draft that draws more cold air into the house than the heat they produce. In other words, most modern fireplaces have a net negative heating effect on the house. The fireplace above is large, built with real fire bricks, and could be used for heating or cooking.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Log Cabin

Welcome to Simple Homes Week here at OPOD. We will be going back to a day when people had modest simple style homes. Today's picture was taken in 1895, and shows a rustic log cabin.

Sometimes I wonder if we have gone to far in the grandeur of our homes today. I wonder if the complexity of our homes does not generate more stress than what is really needed . . . stress from making the payments, to keeping them clean, and keeping them repaired. 

While certain modern conveniences make life easier, at what point is enough enough? I think perhaps we hit the optimum house styles in the 1950's and 1950's. I grew up in a small modest house in the 1960's. The house was warm in winter, cool in summer, and had indoor plumbing. I think that is about all you really need.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Molly Brown

We finish up Women Week with this picture of the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown. She was somewhat of a celebrity of the early 1900's as is remembered as one of the survivors of the Titanic disaster.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Blanche Scott

Today we feature a picture of Blanche Scott. Blanche was the first woman to fly an airplane solo. the picture was taken around 1910. Blanche lived up until the 1970 but I never heard of her before seeing this picture.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Woman Racer

Today we have a picture of a woman race car driver. While we do not know her name, we do know it was very unusual to have women race car drivers at this time. The picture was taken in 1916.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Florence Nightingale

Today we feature a photograph of Florence Nightingale. She is remembered as the founder of modern nursing. She rose to prominence in the Crimean War, where a group of women she trained provided care for wounded soldiers.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Madam Curie

From old west outlaws to Nobel prize winning physicists, we plan to cover the spectrum this week. Today's picture is Madam Curie. She is remembered as the discoverer of radiation. She discovered and isolated two radioactive isotopes, and she won two Nobel prizes. She was one of the first genuinely renowned woman scientists.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Belle Starr

Today we feature a picture of Belle Starr. Belle was a notorious outlaw and part of the James-Younger gang. She had grown up with the Youngers and James. She was a crack shot and exhibited exceptional horse riding skills. Her story includes tales of cattle rustling, theft, bribery, bootlegging and more. She remains one of the most colorful characters of the American West.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Welcome to Women Week here at OPOD. We will be looking at women pioneers . . . that is, women who stepped out ahead of their time into positions of notoriety. We start with sharpshooter Annie Oakley. The picture above was taken in 1922, which was later in her life. She is posing with a rifle given to her by Buffalo Bill Cody. 

Annie was one of the first women "superstars". She was prominently featured in the Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West Show. Her shooting prowess was legendary. She could split a playing card, edge to edge, at 30 yards. She could shoot dimes out of the air with a rifle, and she could shoot the cigarette out of someones mouth at a great distance. This was truly an amazing woman.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Back before the days of cars, Wheelwrights were the tradesmen that built and repaired wagon wheels. It required both woodworking skill, as well as skills similar to a blacksmith. In fact, some blacksmiths were also wheelwrights. The picture above was taken in 1903. Probably not many wheelwrights left outside the amish communities.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Today's trades picture is of welders. Actually, the process the man is doing in the picture I believe is more suitably called brazing. It looks like he is melting a brass rod with a small torch to join two pieces of metal together. The picture was taken in 1942, and the women were being trained to work in aircraft construction as part of the war effort.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Carpenter Shop

Today's picture shows men working in a carpentry shop. The picture was taken in 1939 in Lufkin, Texas. Back when I was in school, we were all taught how to use tools like this radial arm saw. I got really good skills in shop class that I still use today. It would be a rarity today to have a school that still taught carpentry and cabinetry. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Today's picture is from the 1920's, and shows a machinist. I believe he is working on a lathe. This old school style of machine work is also becoming a lost art. Today, most machining is done with computer automated CNC machine, which directly do the cutting from the computer generated files. Few people today would know how to operate a traditional lathe or milling machine.

Monday, January 12, 2015


The trade we look at today is the trade of Blacksmith, an almost completely lost art today. The blacksmith could fabricate, fix, build and adjust. Also, it was common for blacksmith to shoe horses, as they had the tools to make and fit the shoes properly. This picture is from 1937 and shows a horse being shod in a blacksmith shop 

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Trades Week continues here at OPOD with this picture of a Farrier. A Farrier is one who cares for horses feet. This would be to reshoe the horse, but it also often involves trimming the horses hooves. This is actually almost becoming a lost art and many who have horses have difficulty finding people to do this job. It is a rather specialized job, in that horses would prefer you not mess with their feet, so the work must be done in such a way to not overly agitate the horse, which is hard.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Welcome to "Trades Week" here at OPOD. We will look at the world of work 100 years ago. We begin with this picture of a man who is working as a cobbler. The picture is from 1903.

It is amazing to me how 100 years ago the work people did was so tangible and meaningful. People built things, fixed things, grew things or improved things. Today, it is hard for most people to really explain what their work is, and what meaningful things they accomplish. 

I think shortly we will be returning to an era where people with tangible skills will be respected and rewarded. I tell students that most young people would be better off going and getting a relevant technical vocational degree than getting a four year degree. Right now, many diesel mechanics are starting out at higher wages than first year lawyers. There is a shortage of Diesel Mechanics, Certified Welders, Instrumentation specialists and electronic technicians. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Beach Scene

Today's picture is a photochrom from 1902. It shows visitors at the Coney Island Beach. Really an interesting perspective with the colors.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Indigenous Filipinos

One of the interesting practices of Coney Island and other entertainment venues of the early 1900's was to bring in indigenous people groups and put them on display. Here you can see a group of Filipino Natives in loin clothes. I am not exactly sure how this worked. To us, it looks quiet degrading. I wonder if the subjects of the display felt exploited, or whether they were enjoying the trip to America, and laughing at the crazy people willing to pay to see them.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Looping Roller Coaster

Today we have a picture from about 1900. I am surprised to see that they had looping roller coasters even back then. The picture was taken at the Coney Island amusement park.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Railroad at Coney Island

Today's picture shows the miniature train at the Coney Island amusement park. I always thought these little trains were the most fun rides at a park. This one looks to have a very finely detailed locomotive.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Beach Scene

This is another scene of the beach at Coney Island. It was taken around 1900. This must have been the place to go in the summer, as it is very crowded. Like yesterday, you can see people really wore a lot of clothes to the beach.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Beach at Coney Island

Welcome to Coney Island Week here at OPOD. We will be looking at images from the recreation spot of past days. The picture above shows the beach around 1900. These pictures really show how much our culture has changed. You are struck by the level of modesty, and the proper attire worn by even those that are not swimming.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Atlantic City

Donkeys appear to have been very popular at Atlantic City during the early 1900's. One wonders if people rode their donkeys to the beach. I would think it more likely they were rental donkeys . . . sort of like how you can rent a bicycle or surfboard nowadays at the beach. In any event, this will wrap up Donkey Week, and I hope you all have enjoyed it.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


In this picture we can see that donkeys have also been used for recreation. The picture was taken in Atlantic City on the beach. You can see a donkey pulling a small cart, and you can see three donkeys taking some beach goers for a ride. The picture was taken around 1900.