Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring Garden

Today's picture shows a woman tending her spring garden. The picture was taken in 1944 in New York. I can not help but admire her hat. It is a great gardening hat, as it provides shade all the way around, and would protect both the face, neck and ears from the sun. If you spend the winter inside, it is very easy to get a burn as you move out in the spring to garden.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Planting Garden

Today's picture shows a young lady planting her garden. The picture was taken in 1943 near Washington DC. I think spring planting is the most enjoyable part of gardening. It feels good to finally get out in the sun after a cold winter. How many of you have a garden in the works this year?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Boy Gardening

Today's picture shows a young man gardening. I am guessing he is about 12 years old. The picture was taken in 1942. Close examination of the picture reveals that he has a pack of Bull Durham in his shirt pocket. So, as much as I like that he is gardening, I am a little distressed that he is smoking already.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Woman Gardening

Today's picture shows a woman working in her garden. The picture was taken in Louisiana in 1940. It looks to me like those are big onions in the foreground and cucumber vines on the trestles. This garden looks to have more weeks than the garden we looked at yesterday.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Spring Gardening

My peach trees are blooming, the days are getting longer, and the weather is warmer, so spring is in the air in West Texas. So, this will be gardening week here at OPOD. I hope you will share your gardening experiences, past and present.

This picture is from 1940, and it shows a woman with her garden. I must say that is a fine looking garden she has, and I note that there are no weeds. Those look like cabbages to me, but I am not for sure.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Radio Room

Today's picture shows the Radio Room on a coast guard cutter. You can see three very large transmitters in the picture, and the radio operator is sitting in front of the receiver. The picture was taken in 1928.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Clock Radio

Today's picture is from 1924, and it shows the first clock radio. No, it did not play music, the radio was for remotely setting the clock. Back before high speed communication, a real problem was there was no way to synchronize clocks and timekeeping in different location. Two towns miles apart, might be working on two different clocks. What one town said was noon might be 12:30 in the next town over. This actually caused quiet a bit of trouble for train travel. The device above had a radio receiver, and hence all such clocks could be set via radio waves from a central location, helping to synchronize clocks over a vast area. All clocks did not have to be like the one above, but if each town had such a clock, others could set their watch from it. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


One of the early innovations in the field of Radio was the teletypewriter, more commonly known as the "teletype". It was a huge advancement in technology. It allowed transmission of printed material over the radio waves. As an operator typed on a standard keyboard, the typing generated a different tone for each letter. That tone was then broadcast over the airwaves to another teletype station. That station would tune into the string of tones, and convert them back to letters, and then print them on a typing device. This was really revolutionary technology at the time.

HAM operators still use a form of teletype known as RTT or PSK-31. It works almost identical to the original teletypes, but the terminals are personal computers instead of typewriter type devices. It works, though just like the early systems in that the information is conveyed by broadcasting a series of tones over the airwaves.

Monday, March 21, 2016


This picture is from 1937. It shows a man testing a transceiver for communicating with aircraft. You can see how large and bulky communication devices were back in the day.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Tube Radios

Welcome to Old Radio Week here at OPOD. We will be looking back at the early days of radio communication. We start with this picture, of a man working on debugging a radio. As you probably know, the early radios were made with Vacuum tubes. The tubes were expensive, ran hot, used lots of power and were prone to failure. So, back in the day keeping a radio working was a big deal. This picture was taken in 1929.

I will admit that I recently got my HAM radio license and have really gotten into the hobby. Interestingly, some of the best equipment in the HAM world still uses Vacuum tubes. In the end, there are some things that still work best with the old tubes. 

What I really like about HAM radio is that is is both and art and a science. The guy that talks the best and farthest is not necessarily the guy who spends the most on the radio. It is all about designing, building and testing an antenna system. So, it is not like a cell phone that you just take out of the box and turn on, it is about designing an optimum overall system for your location. I am very new to the hobby, but have really been enjoying it. I have six students that have also passed their HAM license test, and they are really getting into the hobby as well.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Old Car

Today's picture shows an old car loaded up with children. The picture was taken in 1905, so this is a very early automobile, but I am not sure of the make or model. An interesting picture none-the-less.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Chalmers Automobile

Today's picture shows an example of a Chalmers Automobile. Perhaps more interesting than the brand of car, is that the car is driven by a Native American family. I wish I knew the story behind the picture, but was not able to find any information. The picture was taken in 1915.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Model T Fords

Automobile Week would not be complete without some pictures of the Model T, one of the most popular cars ever produced. This scene is from Riverside California, and the picture was taken in 1915.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Today we look at another of the classic autos that went belly up. Studebaker was one of the premier badges in the auto industry. They started in the mid-1800's making wagons, and then make electric cars in the early 1900's. They then went on to make classic gas powered motor cars. They went belly up in the mid-1060's.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Packard Motor Company

One of the big names in the early days of automobiles was the Packard Motor Company. Packards were big, elegant cars. The example above was from the early 1900's. Note the use of snow chains on the back tire. I did not know that chains had been used that early.

In any event, Packard made great cars that are still treasured today by collectors. The company went out of business in the late 1950's.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Marmon Motor Company

Welcome to Old Car Week here at OPOD. WE will be looking back at the early days of the automobile. We start with this picture of a Marmon Motor Car. Marmon is a car brand mostly forgotten today but they were a maker of premium automobiles. They produced their last cars in the 1930's and the company mostly succumbed to the financial stresses of the  great depression. Certain parts of the company survived making long haul trucks. Today, some aspects of the company survive as the Marmon Group.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Bridge Failure

I am noticing a common theme on a lot of the train wrecks I have been looking at this week . . . failed bridges. It appears that often a flood or other event can weaken a bridge, but not give any outward signs of damage, then when the train goes over, the weight of the train causes a collapse of the bridge. This picture was taken in 1902 in Maricopa County, Arizona. This must have been a terrible mess to clean up.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ship Run Aground

Today's picture shows another ship run aground. When this happens, it is a pretty tough job to get it loose. This one happened in 1917 at Point Augusta, Alaska. It looks like tug boats are in the area trying to help the ship get unstuck.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ship Wreck

Today's picture shows a rather peculiar shipwreck. It is a canadian ship making a gold shipment, and the accident occurred in 1910. The ship was travelling in heave fog at high tide and rammed into the rocks. Momentum of the ship carried it forward into the precarious position. Then the tide went out, and the ship was left completely out of the water. Amazingly, the ship was salvaged and put back into service.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Great Train Wreck of '87

Today's picture shows the great train wreck of 1887. It happened in Illinois. A train trestle had been weakened by fire earlier in the day, and then the passenger train passed over at high speed, the trestle collapsed and the train crashed. over 80 people were killed in the accident. At the time, it was the worst train wreck to ever occur as far as casualties go.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Train Crash

Train Wreck week continues here at OPOD with this train crash from 1909. As best I can tell, it looks like a locomotive and train crashed into the back of another train. Despite how bad it looks, given the locomotive was not derailed, the crash could have happened at relatively low speed. It is very hard to stop a train, and a slight miscalculation can lead to disaster.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Train Wreck

Welcome to Train Wreck Week here at OPOD. We will be looking at pictures of things that have gone wrong. We start with this picture from Paris. One can not help but wonder what the train was doing on the second floor of a building, but I am assuming ground level is higher on the other side of the building. The accident occurred because the train was brought into the station too fast, and then the brakes failed. In any event, this certainly qualifies as "Something Went Wrong"


Most of you know that I teach High School and have some really incredible students. If you have kept up with them, they design and build sophisticated instrument packages, and send them to space on carefully designed High Altitude Balloon flights. They are dubbed the Space Cowboys and have done some incredible things. It started out as a joke one day, that they wanted an ambulance to reconfigure into their chase vehicle. They wanted to instrument the ambulance with every imaginable piece of high tech gear. Well, what started out as a childish dream became a reality last week as the kids were presented with their own Ambulance. They have dubbed the vehicle the HAMbulance as it will have every imaginable piece of HAM equipment inside. Below is the picture where the students are being given the keys to the new Chase Vehicle.

It is great to work with kids who not just dream big, but then make it happen!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Bobby Leach

Bobby Leach was the second person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel. He accomplished this in 1911. He spent the next six months in the hospital recovering from broken knee caps and various other traumatic injuries.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Looping Bicycle

Back in the early 1900's people were doing stunts in every imaginable way. This is a picture of a Bicycle loop. The performer was Diavolo. I guess if you hit the loop fast enough, the centrifugal force would be greater than the force of gravity, and you could make it around the loop.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wing Walker

There were lots of crazy things going on in the 1920's but one of the most crazy was "Wing Walking". This was the practice where stunt men (and sometimes women) would leave the cockpit of the plane and walk out to the edge of the airplane wing. The picture above shows Jersey Ringel, one of the famous Wing Walkers of the day.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Fearless Freddie

There were a lot of crazy stunts going on in the early 1900's. This picture shows Fearless Freddie as he jumps from a moving automobile onto a ladder connected to a biplane. Freddie Lund did many spectacular aerial stunts. He was the first to do an outside loop in a commercial aircraft. He did die in an airplane crash, so perhaps he was a bit too fearless.