February 2012

Posted by Ellen

Boys playing marbles in May 1940, in Woodbine, Iowa. I don't know when exactly American children gave up marble-playing, but by the late 1950s, when I was a serious student of childhood fun in America, nobody played with marbles any more.

They still rode bikes, however. And there were other games in which you could lose all your stuff, such as flipping baseball cards.

In 1940, Woodbine, Iowa, was a relatively prosperous place, center of Iowa's apple-growing industry, which was the second-largest in the nation. But a freak blizzard in the early fall of that year, about six months after this picture was taken, froze the trees before summer's new growth had hardened off; all but the very oldest trees turned black and died, and Woodbine never really recovered economically.

Posted by Ellen

Were it not for cellphone cameras, this fact would probably be even littler known.

Posted by Ellen

The sun sank in the west, and then it was dark in Yosemite Valley.

Posted by Ellen

Another hour's work, and Bernard Zike will have the seat of this chair completely restored. People from all over New England bring worn-out old chairs to Bernard's workshops in Warren and Portland, Maine, where he and his partner, Marion Puglisi, work centuries-old caning and rushing techniques, often with reeds they've harvested themselves from local ponds.

Would-be apprentices from all over the country seek them out in hopes of mastering the craft, though many will give up their dreams when they learn how much patience is required. After more than twenty-five years of experience with traditional tools and all kinds of natural seating, it still takes Bernard almost a full day of work to repair a single chair bottom.

This is one of Bernard and Marion's winter chairs; it will spend the winter in their shop. It belongs to some of Maine's summer people, who drop off broken chairs when they close up their summer homes in the fall, with the expectation that when they reopen their summer homes next spring, they can reclaim the chairs, and they'll be good as new.

Posted by Ellen

Even back in 1905, most towns didn't put nearly as much Disney into their post offices as did Saginaw, Michigan.

The building survives today, though now it's a museum, officially the Castle of Saginaw County History. The current Saginaw post office, shown below per Google Maps, is just a post office.

Posted by Ellen

Valentine's Day is all about the stuff that blooms in the garden of life. Or something. Best wishes to all.

Posted by Ellen

The electrical engineers of the navy frigate USS Ingraham pose for their official cruise portrait. From left to right: EM3 Huggins, EM3 Miller, EM1 Nkwanga, EM3 Acostasoto, EM1 Gillespy, EM2 Genaovargas, Ensign Stein.

The Ingraham left its homeport of Everett, Washington, last September for a six-month deployment with an international force trying to suppress drug trafficking in the waters off Central and South America.

The thing around Acostasoto's neck is an electrical shore power cable.

Posted by Ellen

This is what you'd see if you confronted a spider head on from a distance of 12 millimeters (about half an inch), magnified 50-fold with a scanning electron microscope. Below is the mouth of a caterpillar, magnified 10,000 times, as viewed from a distance of 5 millimeters.

Posted by Ellen

Climbers retrieve their packs and stow their gear after a day on the rocks in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada.

Posted by Ellen

Not every mountain range could live up to the name The Remarkables, but these peaks on the South Island of New Zealand do a handsome job of it.