Monday, May 30, 2016

Part of our long weekend involved one of my favorite hobbies, visiting lonely old cemeteries and taking a look at the stones. This being Memorial Day weekend we were especially lucky to find the grave of a man who participated in the reason for the observance, the Civil War. B. R. Cawthorn was a part of Company B of the 78th Indiana Infantry, a unit mustered in August of 1862 Indianapolis from residents of western Indiana (Putnam, Parke, Hendricks, Wayne, and Clay Counties). They deployed to protect the port of Evansville to combat guerrillas from Kentucky. In spite of its strategic significance, the south never really made an attempt to occupy Evansville. Incursions into Indiana would come to Franklin and Uniontown, but never Evansville.

Still, Mr. Cawthorn served his country with pride and dignity and now he rests in the quiet churchyard of Union Chapel Baptist Church with lichen growing on his simple headstone and an American flag gently fluttering by its side. Thanks for your service, Mr. Cawthorn.

Happy Memorial Day

It all started with the Civil War. More young men died on the battlefields of the Civil War than anyone could have imagined, so many that it inaugurated the creation of the United States' first national cemeteries. After the war, towns and cities across the country began venerating the dead with springtime ceremonies, prayers, and floral decorations of the graves of soldiers. Like most holidays and observances, the birth of what was then called Decoration Day was an organic affair and nobody can be sure where the movement began, but in 1966 the US Government weighed in, declaring Waterloo, NY the birthplace of Memorial Day. The claim is that Waterloo had a tradition of closing businesses and decorating the graves of the fallen with flowers and flags, but I catch a whiff of coastal hubris. Heaven forbid it should be some little town in the lucky we are to have the stake driven in a nice, respectable, East Coast town. Anyway, I digress...

In 1868 General John A. Logan of Murphysboro, IL leader of a Union soldier's organization called for a national day of remembrance. He selected May 30th because it didn't coincide with the anniversary date of any specific battle, proclaiming "The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land." The holiday would retain its name through World War I and II, though it slowly was morphing from a remembrance of those who fell during the Civil War and becoming a remembrance of American deaths in global conflicts. It would take decades and an act of congress before the name was officially changed.

In 1968 the federal government enacted a bill called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which, as the name implies, moved some holidays to Mondays in order to create three-day weekends. The date change not only moving Decoration Day to the last Monday in May as well as changing the name to the now familiar Memorial Day.

The change wasn't universally popular, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) campaigned to return to the date of May 30 in spite of the arbitrary nature of that date. In a 2002 Memorial Day address VFW stated, "Changing the date merely to create a three-day weekend has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day." Still, we celebrate the day with flowers and visits to the cemetery to adore graves with flags or wreaths or, more likely, barbeque with the family. In the end that's what they fought for, isn't it? The freedom and safety to enjoy a warm spring day with the ones you love without fear?

The Funnies - Suspension Problems

"And then they jump beneath the wheels, and bust a lot of springs."
The Judge Magazine, July 1920

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Funnies - The Racing Spirit (1922)

"Come on, Kitty - I'll race ye."
Life Magazine, 1922

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Funnies - Not Enough Cylinders (1922)

"G'wan, I tell yer! I wouldn't be seen dead in a four-cylinder car!"
Life Magazine, 1922

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Funnies - Scattered all over the Earth (1922)

"My family is scattered all over the earth."
"My, my, aren't those automobiles terrible?"
Life Magazine, 1922

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Happy Siblings Day

Old Lady: Oh! Shame, little girl! You shouldn't say you hate anyone.
Little Girl: I guess I got a right to hate me own brother if I want to, ain't I?
Life Magazine, January 5, 1922

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Funnies - In 1950 (1922)

In 1950
"I saw a pedestrian on the road yesterday."
"What! A live one?"
Life Magazine, 1922

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Happy May Day!

Quote for May

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

- William Shakespeare

Poem for May