Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Come Along and Ride This Train: Duluth's Historic Depot Offers Glimpse of Another Influence on Bob Dylan

The history of our country is interwoven with the history of the railroad. For a good read about this history you might enjoy Stephen Ambrose's Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869.

Before railroads, waterways were a primary means of transportation. This is why cities historically rose up at the edge of bodies of water, and why rivers--the Seine, the Mississippi, the Potomac--are so famous.

On one occasion when Abe Lincoln was a young lawyer, he became involved in a case that involved a railroad bridge over a river. In preparing for the trial it became apparent that someone would have to decide who had the right of way, the boats or the railroads. What Lincoln learned from this experience showed him the future, which is why the Transcontinental Railroad was initiated during Lincoln's first term as president.

My daughter Christina with her husband Joey and my grandson Wally.
Point of Information: All 3 are Dylan fans, including Wally.
The city of Duluth is a prime example of the impact of waterways and trains. By means of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway, Duluth became the biggest inland port in the world for a period of its history, due chiefly to the rich natural resources here. During Lincoln's presidency Northern Minnesota was populated by immigrants who were offered free 40 acre plots if they would cultivate and use it.

Until the railroad was completed, the region's growth was but a trickle. Upon getting connected by rail to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, 3,000 arrived overnight. The people already here used chalk to draw spaces the size of cots on their wooden floors, renting those spaces out to these newcomers seeking a roof over their heads.

This is the "dashboard" of a massive steam engine.
Trains also figured prominently in the transport of iron ore from the Iron Range to the Twin Ports, and to this day run continuously. Duluth's Historic Depot captures much of this history. The Lake Superior Railroad Museum has seven steam, 14 diesel, and two electric locomotives; and more than 40 other pieces of rolling stock, including an enormous snowplow and another giant contraption for keeping the rails cleared.

This aspect of life in the Northland might explain why the words "train" and "trains" appear more than 45 times in Bob Dylan's songs, plus additional references to railroads. Two albums have railroad-themed titles, Slow Train Coming and Blood on the Tracks.

You can walk inside many of these cars and sense the life lived here.
Because railroads were the new highways, they also had "hitchhikers" who rode the rails from place to place looking for work. Hobo camps sprang up where the railroads ran. There were three in Carlton just south of Duluth, and others along the way. Hemingway wrote about these things in some of his Nick Adams stories.

One of the highlights of Duluth Dylan Fest most years has been the Blood on the Tracks Express, a train ride with electric and acoustic acts performing at each end of the train, along with a V.I.P. car. Dylan fans coming from out of town will want to include the Depot and Train Museum on their list of things to see while in town. It's the starting point for Bob Dylan Way.

* * * *
One of the highlights for Dylan fans this year was the release of Bootleg Series #15: Travelin' Through, more than half featuring Dylan making music with his friend and fellow Columbia recording artist Johnny Cash. Dylan and Cash not only shared Nashville connections but also this connection with the common folk who worked in the rail yards and drifters who dreamed of a better life farther down the line, as Johnny Cash sings in Folsom Prison Blues. And it's especially fun to hear Dylan sing Johnny's song on Bootleg 15. "And I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when..."

If you live in the Northland you regularly hear them whistles blow, coming 'round the bend.

Here's a picture of Johnny Cash atop a railroad car in a photo taken for the cover of Orange Blossom Special. Released in 1965 it was Cash's 21st album. This particular page from the Bill Pagel Archives has Bob Dylan's assessment and flamboyant signature.

Trains are a central feature of both the Northland and American history.
Related Links
What's It Like to Live Through a Northern Minnesota Winter?
Historic Architecture: Duluth's Union Depot
Duluth's Major Railroads
Bob Dylan's Train Tracks from his Drawn Blank Series

Monday, December 30, 2019

What's It Like to Live Through a Northern Minnesota Winter?

The Minnesota Stomp and Other Winter Adventures

Photo by Galina N on Unsplash
People sometimes ask how we survive here in Minnesota when 30 below days are considered routine each year. (I've seen 42 below twice since living here.) I began thinking I should do a blog post about the lined pants, choppers, snowmobile boots and parkas we wear. Then Susie suggested that instead I do a post about some of our rituals, which outsiders will no doubt consider unusual. Here's some of what we came up with.

1. Climbing up to the roof with boiling hot water in a teapot.
This is probably something you've never had to deal with where you live. I've twice had to go up on roof with a teapot of boiling hot water to pour down the exhaust pipe so that the toilet flushes properly. It seems weird, but after trying to clear the toilet with a snake a friend of mine suggested this and --Voila! --it worked.

2. Heating a key with a match to unlock the trunk
Last week I heated up a key with a match so I could open the lock on my wife's trunk. (Her key wouldn't turn. I didn't know where the de-icer was.)

3. The Minnesota Stomp
If you live in Minnesota you'll notice this unusual ritual. When there's snow on the ground, people have learned to stomp their feet when they walk into the house, to get the snow off their boots. If several people arrive at the same time to a party they will all be stomping there in the foyer. Eventually we leave our shoes by the door and head into the house. We do this for about six months.

4. Warm your hands inside your jacket under your arm pits. 
My brother-in-law Lloyd, who lives in Thailand, sent this one and the following. "I tell my students some of these things and I don't think they believe me."

5. In the Old Days
My father-in-law and his brother (Lloyd's dad and uncle) owned a plot of land in Payne where they would go to fell lumber for the woodstoves. Sometimes the temperatures dropped to 40, 50 and even 60 below and they were in the middle of nowhere. Lloyd shared this and the next as well.)

I once asked Dad how they used to get the truck started in really cold winter weather, up at Payne, where there was no electricity, no battery charger, no telephone, no nothing, and the truck had a 6-volt battery that barely turned the engine over even under the best of conditions.

First thing they did when they arrived was to take the truck battery into the shack and put it pretty close to the wood stove. They drained both the radiator fluid and the oil, and brought those into the shack, too. When it came time to leave, they'd put the oil back in first, then the radiator fluid, and the battery last. Then hoped to God it would start.

If it's not quite so cold and your electric engine heater isn't working, you can just warm up the oil pan  by putting some coals from the wood stove (or glowing charcoal) in a shallow pan, and shove it under the engine pan for about 15 minutes. I used that method more than once, and it works well.

You can also heat the oil pan with newspaper soaked in used motor oil and lit with a match, but that of course has flames. If it's necessary to use the newspaper method, Dad told me to put the newspaper on a steel snow shovel, so it could be pulled out quickly, if necessary. I don't think I ever did it that way, because I always had coals in the wood-stove.

6. How to Start an Old Tractor 
Obviously not the tractor referenced in this story, though a Farmall H
And here's how I used to start and run the old Farmall H in winter, before Albie Gorder helped me put a newer engine in it that could handle an electric starter. (Grandpa Hoad's 1942 Farmall H was a war model, and that's why it had steel wheels and a special fly-wheel that you couldn't use an electric starter with even if you had an electric starter.)

I've used this method more than once. You can ask Harrold (our brother-in-law). He was with me when we drove the tractor back and forth up and down the hill on the Birch Point Road, with the radiator shrouded in blankets in weather well below zero. Lloyd wrote this years ago ...

How to start a Farmall H with a hand crank, and a leaky radiator and cracked block so you've got to run water in it instead of antifreeze, when it's 30 below zero:

1. Put 2 five gallon pails of water on the wood-stove the night before.
2. When you get up in the morning, take the water off the stove and let it cool until you can stick your hand in it for 5 seconds without cooking it.
3. When you're coffeed up and got your boots, three jackets, two hats, and mitts on, take the two pails of water out to the tractor. Try not to spill any in your boots.
4. Jam the clutch pedal in with a stick, so you won't have to try to turn the whole gear box over when you crank the engine, because that 90 weight is thicker than molasses in January, and you WON'T be able to turn it over, even if you try.
5. Pour the first pail of water into the radiator with the radiator and block drain plugs removed, so the water just runs through onto the snow. That will pre-warm the block a little.
5. Quickly find the whittled wooden plugs in the snow under the seat of the tractor, and tap them into the long-ago stripped holes in the bottom of the radiator and the side of the cracked block.
6. Pour the second bucket of hot water into the radiator.
7. Set the choke to full, and the throttle to half (or a little more).
8. Crank her over a half a turn, slowly, so it DOESN'T fire, until gas is squirting out of the carburetor.
9. Set the choke to 2/3 full.
10. Crank her over fast this time, and hope to God it starts.
11. If it doesn't fire at all, it's probably because you forgot to pull the kill switch out. Do that quickly, then repeat steps 8 through 10.
12. If it fires, but doesn't start, repeat steps 8 through 10.
13. If it doesn't start in about 3 tries, get the water out of it QUICK, or you'll crack the block even worse. Then go back in the house and start over at step one, and cut your wood the next day instead of today.
14. If it does start, hang three blankets over the front cowling of the tractor to keep the fan from sucking cold air in and freezing your radiator.
15. When she's warmed up a good half an hour, (you can go in and have some coffee while doing that), take the stick off the clutch pedal, and verrrry slowly let the clutch out until you get the gear box turning. Then give that about 10 minutes to warm up before you try putting your belt pulley in gear to turn the saw rig. (If there's snow or ice on the pulley, you make a torch out of a twisted up sheet of newspaper and melt it off so your belt will stay on.)
16. Once you've got everything spinning, you can run her all day that way. You don't shut her down at noon, of course.

* * * *

That's just one of the luxuries of being your own boss in Northern Minnesota.

For the record, this is the part of the country where young Bobby Zimmerman grew up.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

A Batch of Mark Twain Sayings and Quotes, Just Because

Question: Was Mark Twain born in Florida or Missouri?
Answer: Both. He was born in Florida, Missouri.

Sometime in the past two years I discovered Wikiquote. It's a great way to get acquainted with authors and famous people by things they have written or said. I've done a number of blog posts that were borderline listicles with a little information about someone and quotes that illuminate more of their ideas, etc.  A few examples include Thomas Sowell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and James Baldwin.

So without further adieu, a batch of quotes from one of the pithiest author/orators of the late 19th century.

* * * *

"I haven't a particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices whatsoever."

"An experienced, industrious, ambitious, and often quite picturesque liar."

"If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything."

"I was sorry to have my name mentioned as one of the great authors, because they have a sad habit of dying off. Chaucer is dead, Spencer is dead, so is Milton, so is Shakespeare, and I’m not feeling so well myself."

"Definition of a classic — something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read."

"To create man was a fine and original idea; but to add the sheep was a tautology."

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

"Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising."

"Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist but you have ceased to live.

"It may be called the Master Passion—the hunger for Self-Approval.

"France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country.

"Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned."

"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform."

* * * *

Here are a three interesting perspectives about Mark Twain by major literary figures.

William Faulkner was apparently not impressed with Twain. He described Twain as a "hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven 'sure fire' literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy."

Ernest Hemingway seemed to have a different take when he wrote "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. But it's the best book we've had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since."      . 

Finally, in a letter to Twain near the end of his life, George Bernard Shaw offered this assessment: "I am persuaded that the future historian of America will find your works as indispensable to him as a French historian finds the political tracts of Voltaire."

Friday, December 27, 2019

Top Blog Posts from 13 Years of Blogging Here at Ennyman's Territory

Live, from Duluth.
Just out of curiosity, I looked back to see what I could learn from reviewing thirteen years of analytics. It started as an inventory of the top blog posts of the decade.

Here's some of what I found.

First, I sure didn't have very many visitors for those first several years. In retrospect, I'm not even sure why I kept going. Nevertheless, every once in a while something would flash like lightning, strike a chord, run like the wind, take off like a rocket, blaze like a wildfire and go bananas. Or something like that.

Here are the top blog post from each year (in terms of pageviews) since we started.

A Trip to the Morgue

Curses, Foiled Again

Dali: Madman or Geniu?


Five Minutes with Painter Marcia Baldwin

Was Robert Hughes Right About Basquiat?

What Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot May Have Been Fighting About in Dylan's Desolation Row

A Visit with Karl Erik Andersen, Founder of ExpectingRain.com

Scott Warmuth Sheds Light On Some of the Games Dylan Plays

Dylan Mural Makes Monumental Impact In Minneapolis

Photos and a Note from Glasgow as Dylan's Never Ending Tour Leaves Fans Warmed in the British Isles

George Harrison & Friends: The 1971 Concert for Bangladesh

Dylan at the Beacon--Philip Hale Shares Why Fans Keep Coming Back for More

Dylan closes out another show at the Beach. Photo courtesy Philip Hale

THANK YOU to everyone who has stopped by Ennyman's Territory over the past thirteen years. I know there are always other things to do, to watch, to read, so I generally try to make it worth your while to visit when you can. If you're reading this then it means you made it through 2019 and are not on any lists of people we'll miss. May your 2020 bring you unanticipated blessings. And yes, I'm talking to you.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Tragic Implosion of Venezuela

Source: DataIsBeautiful.com  Click to enlarge.
In 1950 Venezuela was the 4th wealthiest nation per capita in the world and the richest nation in South America. Can you believe it? Today millions have fled the country into South American neighbors with massive increases in crime and cultural challenges.

The country's difficulties didn't happen overnight, but when nations fail they fall hard. This year the inflation rate increased 10,000,000%, which is a number that doesn't even make sense.

What's going on? Venezuela sits on the richest oil reserves in the world. Well, it's another case of the richest getting richer while the food lines grow longer. Children faint in school from hunger. The murder rate has skyrocketed.

Photo by Richard Jaimes
According to a 2018 article in Foreign Affairs titled Venezuela's Suicide, "Its schools lie half deserted. The health system has been devastated by decades of underinvestment, corruption, and neglect; long-vanquished diseases, such as malaria and measles, have returned. Only a tiny elite can afford enough to eat. An epidemic of violence has made it one of the most murderous countries in the world. It is the source of Latin America’s largest refugee migration in a generation, with millions of citizens fleeing in the last few years alone."

A year later and it seems everyone with means to do so has fled, though many from the educated and professional classes have remained and continue to protest their government. As of last week more than 16,400 protests have taken place this year alone.

According to a May New York Times article Venezuela's collapse is the worst ever that has not been caused by war.

Pray for the good people of Venezuela.

Related Links
Venezuela on the Brink
Venezuela's Suicide: Lessons from a Failed State
U.N. News: Misery for Venezuelans continues

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

It's That Time of Year: Christmas Tree History, Ant Hill Art and the Nutcracker

Photo by vasudha nagaraju on Unsplash
On Christmas Eve I stumbled upon the following video, Casting a Fire Ant Colony with Molten Aluminum. Because I'd taken a metal sculpture class in college, I was seduced into watching. (Among other things, I did a casting of my baby shoe.)

So I watched, in part because I've always been mildly fascinated by ant farms, ant colonies and the underground worlds they build and inhabit. The video is very short and I think you'll enjoy it. When you get to the end the finished casting seemed to resemble a Christmas tree to a certain degree, which is why I am sharing it here. I'm certain this will be the first time you've seen an ant colony converted into a tree.

Speaking of Christmas trees, when we think of Christmas how many of you think of Tschaikovski's Nutcracker Suite? It's from his ballet The Nutcracker, gaining wider exposure through Disney's Fantasia. Here is a fragment... the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, illustrated by DoodleChaos.

According to Wikipedia, major American ballet companies generate around 40% of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker. The Minnesota Ballet performs it here in Duluth each year.

* * * *

The above was a rather circuitous route to reach this link to a brief history of the Christmas tree. Be sure to read it all because there will be a quiz afterwards.

For a glimpse of one facet of the Hannakuh, here's an article from our local paper that talks about some of the symbolism in Jewish holiday meals.

Whatever your traditions, may they be meaningful to you as you share them. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

O Henry's Famous Christmas Tale: The Gift of the Magi

A Nativity scene. Photo by Batang Latagaw on Unsplash
Tonight it's Christmas Eve, the night before Christmas. It's also a season of traditions. Finding and decorating the Christmas tree, wrapping presents, spending time with family--these are all part of the experience of Christmas for many. And in each home there may be found additional traditions such as kissing under the mistletoe or leaving hot chocolate and cookies for Santa.

In this home one of our traditions has been watching A Christmas Carol each year. It began when the kids were young. It was on television at that time and we recorded it on our VHS videotape machine. This version featured George C Scott in the role of Scrooge.

For years we watched that tape till one year our grown children were in California and we purchased the DVD so we could watch it there in the hotel room we were staying.

Another tradition amongst Christians is the creche, a small (or large when outdoors) presentation of the Nativity scene featuring the baby Jesus in a manger, surrounded by his mother Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, animals and the three kings, sometimes called the three wise men or Magi, from the East.

Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash
All this to say that even though churches sing "We Three Kings" at this time of year, it is almost a certainty that these men were not present that first night when shepherds were visited by angels and told of the holy birth. And they probably weren't even kings.

The story is found in Matthew 2 where it states that after Jesus was born, Magi came to Jerusalem from the East asking King Herod, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?"

To some this might seem a curious thing because the birth took place in Bethlehem. But when you think about it, these were foreign dignitaries of sorts, and they assumed (incorrectly) that the way to find the newborn king was to go through the proper political channels.

If you recall the Old Testament story of Naaman, a similar incident occurs. Naaman, commander of the Syrian armies, acquired leprosy and was devastated. His wife's young cleaning lady said that there was a God in Israel that could heal him.* He, too, followed proper political channels and went first to the king asking for help. The king was Ahab, who thought this move was a ploy by the powerful Syrian commander to pick a fight and wipe Israel off the map. (You can read the rest of the story in II Kings 5)

In the story of the Magi, King Herod was similarly disturbed, not by the Magi in this case, but in the threat to his reign by this newly born purported heir to the throne, according to the Scriptures. Privately and with devious intent, he shared that according to the prophet Micah the birth of this king was to have been in Bethlehem. He said, "Go find him and then report back to me."

They went, but did not report back, having been warned in a dream to not do so. When Herod discovered he'd been tricked, that they had gone home, he ordered that all boys two years old and under be killed. (Matthew 2:16-18) Our actions reveal our hearts.

The fact that Herod had all boys up to age two slaughtered seems to suggest that the Magi arrived sometime after the birth announcement to the shepherds. It may have been even a year later and Herod simply chose two years as the cutoff in order to be sure it was settled. God, however, had already given Joseph a heads up, also in a dream, and the family had moved to Egypt for a while, out of harm's way.

Wikipedia has this to say about the word Magi: The word magi is the plural of Latin magus, borrowed from Greek μάγος (magos), as used in the original Greek text of the Gospel of Matthew (in the plural: μάγοι, magoi). Greek magos itself is derived from Old Persian maguŝ from the Avestan magâunô, i.e., the religious caste into which Zoroaster was born (see Yasna 33.7: "ýâ sruyê parê magâunô" = "so I can be heard beyond Magi"). The term refers to the Persian priestly caste of Zoroastrianism. As part of their religion, these priests paid particular attention to the stars and gained an international reputation for astrology, which was at that time highly regarded as a science.

When I lived in Puerto Rico, the holiday season stretched from December 25 (the day of Messiah's birth) to January 6, designated Three Kings Day, as if there were indeed a separation of time, though not that much later.

The Matthew account also says nothing about the number of Magi. We apparently say three only because the gifts they brought were three in number--gold, frankincense and myrrh.

* * * 
Earlier this month I published A Brief Glance at the Life of William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. O Henry on Medium. While assembling that overview of his life I remembered several of his surprise twist ending stories that I enjoyed reading while growing up, including this one, "The Gift of the Magi" which was published in 1905.  

The title ties it to the Christmas season. Sentimental and sweet, it has a good message about sacrificial giving. Here's the beginning, with a link to the rest of the story below.

T h e  G i f t  o f  t h e  M a g i

ONE DOLLAR AND EIGHTY-SEVEN CENTS. That was all. She had put it aside, one cent and then another and then another, in her careful buying of meat and other food. Della counted it three times. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was nothing to do but fall on the bed and cry. So Della did it.

While the lady of the home is slowly growing quieter, we can look at the home. Furnished rooms at a cost of $8 a week. There is little more to say about it. In the hall below was a letter-box too small to hold a letter. There was an electric bell, but it could not make a sound. Also there was a name beside the door: “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”

When the name was placed there, Mr. James Dillingham Young was being paid $30 a week. Now, when he was being paid only $20 a week, the name seemed too long and important. It should perhaps have been “Mr. James D. Young.” But when Mr. James Dillingham Young entered the furnished rooms, his name became very short indeed. Mrs. James Dillingham Young put her arms warmly about him and called him “Jim.” You have already met her. She is Della.

Della finished her crying and cleaned the marks of it from her face. She stood by the window and looked out with no interest. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a gift. She had put aside as much as she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week is not much. Everything had cost more than she had expected. It always happened like that.

Only $ 1.87 to buy a gift for Jim. Her Jim.

* * * *
To finish, visit The Gift of the Magi.

Related Link
Here is an illuminating passage pertaining to the Magi from Chapter 8 of Alfred Edersheim's The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.

*Proof that you do not need to be in politics you influence the fate of nations

Monday, December 23, 2019

Annual Round Up: Top Ten Blog Posts of 2019: It's Dylan Nearly All the Way

Photo courtesy Laura Leivick
Fifty years ago the Beatles made their last public appearance on the roof of Apple, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, Woodstock and Altamont rocked then shocked the world. These events were all during Bob Dylan's private period when he was quietly enjoying his family and making music with The Band. Other than a performance at the Isle of Wight, it was a quieter year outside the public eye.

I'm willing to bet that very few people would have expected him to be still on the road doing nearly 100 shows a year on his Never Ending Tour. What a long strange trip it's been.

* * * *
As has been my custom in recent years, I've taken an inventory, reviews the stats, and now present a summary of my Top Ten blog posts for the year, based on Pageviews. Three of these top ten posts were reviews of Dylan's latest tour across the waistline of our country from L.A. to his 10 shows at the Beacon in New York, with a final stop in DC.

All in all, it was another strong year for Dylan. The much anticipated Martin Scorsese documentary about The Rolling Thunder Revue finally arrived, as did Dylan & Me, Louis Kemp's collection of stories about his boyhood friend. Bootleg #15 was also a welcome addition to every collector's treasure trove of Dylan CDs, vinyls and memorabilia. But this fourth quarter leg of his Never Ending Tour, well, that was the cat's meow, the bee's knees, the icing on the cake, and any other over-worn expression you want to choose.

Without further adieu, here were the most read stories of 2019 here at Ennyman's Territory.

21 Questions: Dylan Fest Trivia 2019

Bob Dylan’s “With God On Our Side” Addressed A Fundamental Divide In American Culture, and Still Does

Sunday Night's Blood Moon, Plus More Buddy Holly Memories and Insights

Warm Welcome for Dylan in Minnesota: Bringing It Home at the Mankato Civic Center

Laura Leivick's Take On Bob Dylan's December 5 Show at the Beacon

Dylan's Blowing in the Wind Gets a New Twist in Super Bowl LIII

Spotlight on Rolling Thunder: Louis Kemp's Dylan & Me, and Scorsese's Netflix Release on the Revue

Trivial Pursuits: Bob Dylan's Favorite Monopoly Piece

"Go Away Bomb:"---Dylan Writes A Song for Izzy Young

Dylan at the Beacon--Philip Hale Shares Why Fans Keep Coming Back for More

Related Links
Planning for Duluth Dylan Fest 2020 has been underway since late summer. The schedule is taking shape. To stay in touch with breaking news on events visit www.bobdylanway.com/dylan-fest.php

Gift ideas for the holidays:
Dylan & Me: 50 Years of Adventures
Travelin' Through  
Christmas in the Heart

A song by song breakdown from Lloydville of Dylan's Christmas in the Heart
[EdNote: Make time to read all the track by track analysis here. You'll gain a far deeper appreciation for this album than you initially conceived possible.]

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Those Topps 1962 Civil War Cards Were Graphic But We Loved Them

"It's a nice set, but it could be a little gory for kids,"--Jerry Rockoff  

Card #1 in the set. John Brown's attempt to instigate a slave rebellion.
Did you collect Civil War Cards when you were a kid? I was ten the year they were produced and sold. My brother and I nearly acquired the entire 88 card set. What I remember most was the graphic nature of the violence portrayed in vivid color. Explosions would be bright yellow and red. Many of the cards portray men being killed in some of the most brutal ways.

I never made a connection between the year they came out and the notion that it was a product of the Civil War's Centennial. It was, in part, a way to learn more about our history and the war that so divided our nation.

Each card was numbered in a manner that corresponded with the historical moment it occurred. On the back was a newspaper account of the event pictured on the front. For example, the first card in the set is titled The Angry Man. When you turn it over you see a story about John Brown's raid on the arsenal at Harper's Ferry, October 16, 1959.

The Battle of Bull Run had many lessons for historians.
The newspaper stories were written by Topps associate creative director Les Brown in a manner that suggested they were authentic accounts. According to psacard.com, "The cards were the brainchild of Brown and Topps executive Woody Gelman. Gelman had recalled the 1938 Gum Inc. Horrors of War series and wanted to create a similar Civil War set. The cards were distributed in one-cent and five-cent wax packs with gum and a replica Confederate dollar bill. The dollar bill dominations ranged from $1 to $1,000."

What prompted this blog post was some cleaning I've been doing in a futile attempt to downsize my belongings. I came across a binder containing 78 of the 88 cards in that set.

This was one of my favorite cards at the time.
The titles of the cards tell a lot. Death Fall (showing a hot air surveillance balloon in flames), Painful Death (showing a soldier throw from his horse, impaled on spikes), Massacre (showing Union soldiers being massacred in White Oak, Virginia), Wall of Corpses (showing soldier using corpses as a barrier so they can shoot the enemy), Fight For Survival (also at Fredericksburg) and many similar horrors.

We each had favorite cards and one of mine was Bridge of Doom which portrayed a dynamited bridge explosion with bodies flying into the air. Quite a few of the cards have the word Death in the title such as Death Barges In, Bullets of Death, Shot to Death, Jaws of Death and Death in the Water, to name a few.

Card #3: Fort Sumpter. If you're ever in Charleston, the war started here.
All my life I've been interested in the Civil War. Perhaps this TOPPS card series was the impetus for that fascination. In fourth grade we had a very large American Heritage book about the Civil War in the back of the classroom. Whenever I had the chance I would study the battle maps that illustrated the troop movements and told stories in a visual way. (For the record, I loved maps and in my fourth grade Iowa Test I was scored at the 12th grade map reading level.)

* * * *

I don't think the Civil Ward Cards conveyed the real sense of war being a horror. We somehow looked at the horrific pictures with fascination. The stories were educational though. We learned about many of the significant people and places of that period in time.

If you still have your cards, but don't have a complete set, you can finish yours off by means of eBay. Or you might want to sell your cards to the highest bidder so someone else can complete his or her set.

Topps has primarily been famous for its baseball cards, so the Civil War set was a bit of a departure. The success led to another set of cards that stirred imaginations: Mars Attacks.

Related Links
Civil War cards on eBay
Partial set on eBay
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Saturday, December 21, 2019

Daniel Boone Was A Man

"I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks."--Daniel Boone

Portrait of Daniel Boone by Alonzo Chappel
I've been reading an interesting book by Daniel Immerwahr titled How to Hide an Empire. It's a book about all U.S. holdings outside the 50 states. The introduction provided new insights (for me) into the Pearl Harbor assault that became the basis for this blog post on Pearl Harbor Day.

Published in February of this year, it was named one of this year's ten best books by the Chicago Tribune. On Amazon it is self-described as a "pathbreaking history of the United States’ overseas possessions and the true meaning of its empire."  The subtitle of this book is A History of the Great United States.

The first chapter of Immerwahr's book is titled The Fall and Rise of Daniel Boone. For what it's worth, I am a direct descendant of Daniel Boone, so when I see a full chapter on his life written as an intro to an important book, it catches my interest.

I'm pretty sure I've read more books about this pioneer who opened the Wilderness Road than most Americans, and most of my peers. That he has been a personal inspiration goes without saying. The URL for this blog is Pioneer Productions.  (pioneerproductions.blogspot.com)

While researching my roots, in order to verify the historical narrative that had been passed down through the family, I discovered that our Newman lineage wasn't descended from just one, but from two daughters of Daniel Boone. A pair of second generation cousins married to become the progenitor  of the Newman line.

All this to say that I know quite a bit about the Boone legacy, and have been continually learning more. For example, it wasn't until I moved to Northern Minnesota that I learned what he did for a living. He was a long hunter. Or, in the lingo of this region Up North, he was a Voyageur.

Voyageurs were French Canadian trappers and hunters who would go off into the wilderness for months at a time and return with beaver pelts and other game that they had gathered and hauled back to be sold in the markets back East. The Upper Midwest has a more recent history of these kinds of men, by which means I came to understand that Boone was a similar specimen from a much earlier earlier time.

As a long hunter, he learned the best routes to where the most wild game could be found. Through these explorations he learned of the Cumberland Gap which enabled him to gain access to regions West of the Appalachian Mountains. As a result he was commissioned to cut a 200 mile swath through the mountains that would later be tagged the Wilderness Road.

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AND SO it was interesting to discover this first chapter of the book dedicated to shining a light on this frontiersman. These long hunters were not all that respected by the powers that be. They lived on society's fringe and were, to some extent, nonconformists. According to Immerwahl, "The founders viewed frontiersmen like him with open suspicion."

Immerwahr, though, sheds additional light on another aspect of Daniel Boone's story: his international fame. He was increasingly well known in Europe.

Best book on the life of Boone.
During his lifetime, he was not respected by the powers that be, Immerwahr says, nor did he have high regard for them. At one time he oversaw a million acres in Kentucky and lived as a surveyor. Unfortunately, because he failed to properly file "deeds" the many friends whose lands he surveyed lost their land and he made right to them by giving them his own land. In the end, he had no land of his own which prompted him to leave the country.

He pretty much despised the legal systems that robbed him of everything he had so that in his twilight years he and his living sons moved to what is now Missouri which was a French territory that eventually became U.S. territory through the Louisiana Purchase.

His reputation grew after his death. James Fennimore Cooper based his Leatherstocking novels on the exploits of Daniel Boone. Boone also became famous in Europe, as noted in this section of an Amazon account of his life.

The legend of the American frontier is largely the legend of a single individual, Daniel Boone, who looms over our folklore like a giant. Boone figures in other traditions as well: Goethe held him up as the model of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "natural man," and Lord Byron devoted several stanzas of his epic poem Don Juan to the frontiersman, calling Boone "happiest of mortals any where." 

But folklore is not history, and we are fortunate to have a reliable and factual life of Boone through the considerable efforts of John Mack Faragher. The contradictory admirer of Indians who participated in their destruction, the slaveholder who cherished liberty, the devoted family man who prized solitude and would disappear into the woods for years at a time--the real Boone is far more interesting than the mythical image, and in this book we finally catch sight of him.

What Immerwahr notes is that the people on the fringe, who had once been "banditti" (white savages) and a thorn in the side for the "gentlemen" rulers who attempted to maintain control of the young nation's development, were later being called pioneers and spoken of as heroes. In other words, historians re-branded Daniel Boone and his ilk.

Boone was a peaceful man whose one regret was that in the defense of Boonesboro and the settlements of Kentucky he was forced three times to take the life of a Native American. He was a man highly respected by the Native tribes and at one time he was adopted into an Ohio tribe where he lived for two years. His was a remarkable story and he was a man bigger than life.

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Daniel Boone (November 2, 1734 [O.S. October 22] – September 26, 1820) was an American pioneer, explorer, woodsman, and frontiersman whose frontier exploits made him one of the first folk heroes of the United States. Although he also became a businessman, soldier and politician who represented three different counties in the Virginia General Assembly following the American Revolutionary War, Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now Kentucky. Although on the western side of the Appalachian Mountains from most European-American settlements, Kentucky remained part of Virginia until it became a state in 1791.

As a young adult, Boone supplemented his farm income by hunting and trapping game, and selling their pelts in the fur market. Through this work, Boone first learned the easy routes westward. Despite some resistance from Native American tribes such as the Shawnee, in 1775, Boone blazed his Wilderness Road from North Carolina and Tennessee through Cumberland Gap in the Cumberland Mountains into Kentucky. There, he founded the village of Boonesborough, Kentucky, one of the first American settlements west of the Appalachians. Before the end of the 18th century, more than 200,000 Americans migrated to Kentucky/Virginia by following the route marked by Boone.

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As for me, he was and always will be my great-great-great-great-great-great Grandfather.

Related Links
History.com on the creation of the Wilderness Road
History.com: 8 Things You Might Not Know About Daniel Boone 
10 Best Quotes from our Favorite Outdoorsman
Who Was Daniel Boone?

Friday, December 20, 2019

A Visit with Transition Life Coach Yana Stockman

A couple weeks ago I heard an inspiring talk by Yana Stockman on the topic of career self-sabotage. It was interesting on a number of levels as she briefly outlined the self-limiting beliefs that hold us back. After offering a prescription for overcoming our self-defeating behaviors she closed with this quote from Zig Ziglar: "You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness."

Her personal life story began with a happy childhood in Ukraine. Since then she's lived in several countries, and visited at least 25. Academically she laid a foundation in psychology, but found her special interest was more in helping people who were on a career path but who had gotten stuck along the way.

EN: What is life coaching?

Yana Stockman: Coaching is a partnership that helps a person create and adapt to change to live the life they desire. Coaching can be focused toward leadership coaching, transition coaching, or overall life and career coaching. It is designed to create a personal or professional change or help a person through a change that’s already underway in life. All coaching is based on a premise that you already have the necessary inner resources to make the changes to which you aspire. By working with a coach, we are able to more clearly identify those resources and put them into actions to achieve desired goals.

EN: How did you come to pursue life coaching as a career?

YS: My personal development journey started over 10 years ago when I received my MA in Psychology and Coaching certification from Europe.

I came to Minnesota as a counselor to pursue International Social Work, transferred to Duluth through the University of Maine. I was exploring the psychology field and coaching was in the early stages at the time.

This industry has grown 12 percent from 2012. It is valued at an estimated 2.4 billion and growing. I truly believe in human potential and through the last several years I keep coming back to coaching by educating, motivating and creating more awareness about personal development.

Coaching applies psychological theories and concepts--its aim is to increase performance, achievement and well-being in individuals, teams and organizations.

By focusing on a familiar niche – my life transitions, what brought me across continents several times in the first place, living through them, learning from them -- I re-discover strong needs from people that are going through life changes and life transitions on a daily basis in their personal and professional lives.

It's also well aligned with my mission to contribute into people’s lives. In addition, the coaching practice fits my personality. I live by it daily. I believe that self-discipline, positive thinking, goal setting and applied actions could unleash power within anyone who will set their focus on it.

EN: What kinds of clients do you serve?

YS: Motivated individuals who feel stuck, uncertain and have lost their motivation while facing life transitions.

I serve many men and women in their thirties and forties, business owners, operational managers, new to a city area, region, or country. For men who work under pressure and women in leadership roles who want to achieve the life they really want and deserve, my role is to be as a support while breaking through and staying on as an accountability partner to maintain their success.

As a life coach I am motivated to create productive sessions, so that people feel more confident and productive and carry that energy through the rest of their transition process. The happiness associated with having a clear vision and witnessing them achieve their goals is extremely validating and a rewarding outcome that results from life coaching sessions.

EN: What are some of the problems people bring you?

YS: The focus of each session is based entirely on the aspect of your life that needs to be improved. A better question might be: “What is on a person’s mind lately and what would be the ideal outcome?” General topics are:

Personal Growth:
• Gaining clarity on where you currently are in life and what your purpose is
• Discovering solutions to life’s challenging events
• Increasing life satisfaction level
• Positive mindset

Professional Growth:
• Change in job status or career
• Ways to increase your energy level
• Using your strengths and talents to accomplish work projects
• Finding sources of motivation

• Defining goals and developing a plan for making them a reality
• Creating and implementing new habits, systems, or patterns.

•Changes in family structure or new family role.
•Getting through the transition when a relationship is ending or starting

EN: What are some transitions that are especially difficult to deal with?

YS: It is very individual how transitions look for each person, but when going through transitions what is common for all is Uncertainty. Loss of clear vision on what’s next leaves most people paralyzed and anxious. We usually face life changes without warning and a transition during that period could be unexpected and dramatic.

Loss of sense of where persons fit in their career or in life in general, a new role as a parent or owner, the loss of a home, moving to a new place, a new economic status such as bankruptcy or unexpected increase of lifestyle level, fame, illness. Whether the transition has a positive or negative impact on one's life, it gives us a chance to learn about our strengths and redirect us to perspectives that we did not recognize before. They let us reflect on new choices, stability, and personal discoveries we could make even when they force us to leave the familiar behind and adjust to new ways.

EN: One of the things you focus on is helping people get unlocked or unstuck.

YS: Find fuel, drive, potential or benefit from the situation or for the situation.

Each circumstance or life obstacle has both a positive and negative impact on our lives.
We tend to get stuck in a paralyzing, non-driven mode, simply out of self-defense to protect ourselves from being hurt and exposed. But inaction doesn’t generate progress or traction to move forward. Our comfort zone and non-productivity spiral back into a habit that will not resolve the “stuck” feeling.

EN: What are some of the things that hold people back?

YS: Here are just some of the things holding people back.

• Not taking responsibility for the choices people could/can make. It's up to us to make empowered choices and adopt winning beliefs. Otherwise we keep self-doubting ourselves and get victimized by situations or by making wrong choices.

• Fear of letting go of the familiar. In order to grow and start new/fresh we have to test and learn what works and what does not.

• Lack of skills. If we've never been in this new situation before it doesn’t mean it's never been done or lived before us. In an era of information and experimental sources and services we are 100% fortunate compared to 100 years ago.

• Feeling vulnerable and exposed. Asking for help takes courage. Having the courage to share with a friend, coach, someone you know well could offer constructive advice and an objective ear. It also relieves us from carrying it all inside and gives us self-confidence to acknowledge your true-self.

EN: Why are people so afraid to dream?

YS: It boils down to simple fear of judgment: what people around will think about our dreams, fear of never having those dreams, and fear of letting ourselves down because of it. Often, we tend to over-analyze and make false future predictions about what might or could happened.

Don’t let anything talk you out of your desired state of mind. Vocalize your dreams. Create a vision and follow it. Apply small action steps to be closer your dream and find a like-minded community that maintains ideas which relate to your dreams. Experiment with opportunities and simply believe in what you wish and let it lead you wherever you want to go!

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To learn more about Yana Stockman and life coaching, visit her website at www.yanastockman.com 

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