Author Archives: clem.law@usa.net

1917 Boys’ Life: Signaling and Beans

1917JuneBLCover

A hundred years ago this month, both the front and back cover of the June 1917 issue of Boys’ Life magazine featured signaling methods. In the cover art shown above (with no attribution to the artist that I could find), a Scout is shown relaying a semaphore message to a distant point.

1917JuneBLBackNot to be outdone, the back cover, an ad for Colgate toothpaste, used International Morse Code to proclaim the messsage, “I BRING GOOD TEETH GOOD HEALTH.”  Since the nation was at war, the ad also reminded Scouts “how soldiers and sailors benefit from good teeth, and that they must have them to pass the physical examination.”

But the wartime service promoted by most of the magazine was the Scout’s duty to feed the nation and the troops.

It proclaimed that “no organization in the United States acted more promptly than the Boy Scouts of America when Congress declared, on April 5th, that a state of war existed between our country and Germany.  ‘Be Prepared’ is the Boy Scout motto, and more than a quarter of a million Scouts proved they WERE prepared.”  One of the first actions suggested was that in every large city, the Scouts should mobilize, march to the City Hall, and offer their services to the Mayor.  According to the magazine, many Scouts immediately did exactly that.

Mobilized Scouts offering their services at an unnamed city hall.

Mobilized Scouts offering their services at an unnamed city hall.

But the biggest task undertaken by Scouts was to help win the war through the gardening movement. As soon as the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that every citizen was needed to increase the food supply, the National Headquarters of the BSA issued an emergency circular urging every scout to start a garden and persuade nine other people to do the same.

The slogan adopted was, “every scout to feed a soldier.” It meant that every Scout was expected to raise enough food to feed himself, thus freeing up enough food to feed the soldier.

Almost immediately, National Headquarters fired off a telegram to London, to none other than Herbert Clark Hoover, who was already “famous for his great efficiency in managing the enormous relief work among stricken peoples of Europe.” The cable read:

Two hundred fifty thousand Boy Scouts of America tender services as your aides as producers and conservers of food as service to our country.

Mr. Hoover immediately cabled back his response, and his response was that Scouts should raise beans:

The prime service of our Country in this War is ships and food, and we can here display the true American ability at great efforts.

In order to provide the food necessary we must from this moment eliminate all waste and stimulate food production at every point. We must send to our Allies more wheat, corn, beans, meat, bacon and lard than we have ever sent before if their men are to fight and their women and children to live; and our people must economize and eat other things.

Among these foodstuffs couldn’t the Scouts take as their own province the stimulation of bean production, for there is not only a great shortage at Europe and at home, but they are the best of foods. Let them help make America able to export ten times as many beans as she ever exported before. To do this, let the Boy Scouts see to it that they are planted everywhere, so that the biggest bean crop ever known shall be the war contribution of the Boy Scouts to America and her Allies.

(Signed) Herbert C. Hoover.

Theodore Roosevelt, upon receiving a copy of Hoover’s telegram, signaled his assent: “I think Mr. Hoover’s suggestion that the Scouts take as their own province the stimulation of bean production is particularly good. Let each Scout start a garden and thereby help feed the soldiers.”

Scouts clearing idle land in preparation for a crop. The caption notes that fire is a useful ally, but the Scouts watch it closely. In a month, this field was to be covered with navy beans.

Scouts clearing idle land in preparation for a crop. The caption notes that fire is a useful ally, but the Scouts watch it closely. In a month, this field was to be covered with navy beans.

The magazine noted that navy or field beans were an easy crop to grow. They would show good yields even on poor soil or thin soils. They could be planted late, after the rush of other planting had subsided, and required only a third of the cultivation required of corn. With a good season and average care, a yield of 10 to 25 bushels per acre was to be expected. Their high food value and ease of storage made them an excellent war crop.

The magazine also noted that many Scout camps would turn into farms. Since there was a scarcity of farm help, the Scouts would help to fill the gap. Even though they would learn to plant and pick, there would still be plenty of fun after the day’s work was over.

Finally, the magazine announced that the BSA would be offering a War Service Emblem for Scouts who were responsible for starting ten gardens or inducing ten people to increase their garden acreage.



1937 Admiral 955-8K Chairside

1937JuneRadioRetailingShown here from 80 years ago this month is the Admiral model 955-8K chairside radio, as it appeared in the June 1937 issue of Radio Retailing.

The three band set featured automatic tuning, and in addition to the standard broadcast band, covered police and international shortwave bands. The walnut cabinet stood 24 inches high and featured an 8 inch electrodynamic speaker.

The semicircular front featured a built-in ashtray. The eight tube lineup consisted of 6A7, 6D6, 75, 80, and two each of 76 and 42.

The accompanying ad billed this and the rest of Admiral’s lineup as “America’s smartest radios for 1938.”



Get Your Eclipse Glasses and Hotel Rooms Now!

Path of Totality. NASA image.

Path of Totality. NASA image.

On August 21, 2017, a total eclipse of the sun will be visible as it passes across the United States from Coast to Coast. This is the first time an eclipse has been visible from coast to coast since 1918. I have seen partial eclipses, and they are a somewhat interesting phenomenon. However, I have never witnessed a total eclipse of the sun, and my family plans to travel to Nebraska to view it.

The total eclipse will be visible only on a band about 70 miles wide stretching from Oregon to South Carolina.  If you are not within this band, you might not even notice the eclipse if you’re not watching for it.  But within this band, the sky will become dark, stars will be visible, and only the sun’s corona will be visible.

During the approximately two minutes of totality, it is safe to view the sun with the naked eye.  But even if only a tiny portion of the sun is visible, then it is necessary to use eye protection.  Therefore, if you are planning to view the eclipse, two things are necessary.

1.  Get Your Eclipse Glasses!

First of all, you will want to get a set of eclipse glasses, such as the ones shown here.  With these glasses, which cost about $2, you will be able to safely view the eclipse if you are not in the path of totality, or if you want to look at the sun before and after totality.

During a 2015 partial eclipse in England, there was a shortage of the eclipse glasses.  In the days leading up to the eclipse, thousands searched in vain to find a pair, but there were none available, or they were available only at grossly inflated prices.  These glasses are still readily available online at reasonable prices.  I recently purchased 10 pairs of the glasses shown here, and they were shipped to me in about a week.   The total price for 10 pairs, including shipping, was about $17.  I’ll post a review in a few days, but they appear to be well made for what they are, and they have the appropriate ISO safety certification.

Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone else who has ordered in advance.  I suspect that, just like in England, there will be a huge demand at the last minute.  Stores won’t have them, and it will be too late to order online, or online suppliers will also run out.  Therefore, I strongly recommend that you order now while they are still available.  The set of ten that I ordered can be ordered from the following Amazon link:

Numerous other options are available on Amazon at this link.

In the Twin Cities area, I am only aware of two stores selling eclipse glasses.  They are:

2.  Make Your Hotel Reservations!

The other item you will want to consider is traveling to view the eclipse.   The partial eclipse that will be visible in most of the United States is certainly interesting, but for most, the total eclipse, visible only in a 70 mile wide band, is a once in a lifetime experience.  Most Americans are within a day’s drive, and it’s certainly worth the drive.  Surprisingly, some hotel rooms are still available, even though many cities along the path have been booked solid for months.  My family will be staying in Hastings, Nebraska, although that city is now completely sold out.

If all else fails, I would recommend simply driving to the path of totality, and sleeping in your car if necessary.  However, rooms are still available in many cities on and close to the path of totality.  The following table will give you some idea of what is available.  As you can see, the last hotel room in Casper, Wyoming, is a modest motel going for $800 a night.  But even though rooms are filling up fast, the following table gives you some idea of what is available.

This table shows availability at Hotels.com, as of June 16.  As you can see, many cities still have bargain hotels available.  This will certainly change as the eclipse gets closer, so. I encourage you to do as I did and make your reservation now.

I have included a link to the least expensive hotel in the city.  In some cases, this hotel might be a few miles from the path of totality, so you will still have to drive to the location of the eclipse.  But by booking a nearby hotel, you will make the process much easier, since you won’t have to worry about driving all night or sleeping in your car.  This chart shows availability for the night of August 20, the night before the eclipse.  The time of the eclipse will vary by location, but will be around midday on Monday, August 21.

As of today, inexpensive rooms are still available in Lincoln, NE, Kansas City, MO, Columbia, MO, Jefferson City, MO, St. Louis, MO, Paducah, KY, Nashville, TN, Greenville, NC, Columbia, SC, and Charleston, SC.  But I guarantee that will no longer be true in a couple of weeks!

Before I made my own hotel reservation last year, I did check on campground availability.  At that time, the campgrounds I checked were already sold out.  However, you may wish to check on campgrounds, including state parks on or near the path of totality.  (See the list of Nebraska State Parks at the end of this post.)

The links below are to the least expensive hotel in the area, as of June 16.  There might be other hotels that are more suitable or closer to the path of totality.  But this will give you an idea of what is available.

City Lowest price City Percent Booked Link to Least Expensive Hotel
Salem, OR Not Available 100.00%
Jackson, WY Not Available 100.00%
Casper, WY $801 96%
1st Interstate Motel
Glendo, WY Not Available 100.00%
Alliance, NE Not Available 100.00%
Grand Island, NE Not Available 100.00%
Lincoln, NE $43.00 76.00%
Americas Best Value Inn Lincoln Airport
Kansas City, MO $42.00
Super 8 Lenexa Overland Pk Area
Columbia, MO $43.00 78.00%
Frontier Motel
Jefferson City, MO $50.00 Almost 100%
California Motel
St. Louis, MO $39.00
Motel 6 Hazelwood
Cape Giraredeau, MO Not Available 100.00%
Carbondale, IL Not Available 100.00%
Paducah, KY $180.00 98.00%
Wingfield Inn
Nashville, TN $50.00 72.00%
Super 8 Nashville Downtown
Greenville, NC $44.00
Days Inn Washington NC
Columbia, SC $42.00 74.00%
Budget Inn Express-columbia
Charleston, SC $60.00 93.00%
Econo Lodge North

 

Nebraska State Parks

It does not appear that there are any reservable campsites at Nebraska State Parks in the path of totality. But the following Nebraska State parks have sites available for reservation as of June 16. Most of these are north of the path of totality, some as much as a hundred miles or more. But for those visiting Nebraska from the north, one of these parks might be a good option, since you can camp there, and then drive to view the eclipse Monday morning.

  • Branched Oak SRA
  • Calamus SRA
  • Chadron SP
  • Eugene T. Mahoney SP
  • Fort Robinson SP
  • Fremont SRA
  • Lake Wanahoo State Recreation Area
  • Lewis and Clark SRA
  • Louisville SRA
  • Niobrara State Park
  • Platte River SP
  • Ponca SP
  • Rock Creek Station SHP
  • Two Rivers SRA
  • Willow Creek SRA



Using Your Flashlight in a Blackout, 1942

1942June15Life

75 years ago, Americans were preparing for the possibilities of blackouts in case of enemy air raid. In this day’s issue of Life magazine, June 15, 1942, Eveready carried this ad explaining the importance of keeping a flashlight, and how to use it during a blackout.

The ad first admonished that every home should have one or more flashlights, but that before buying new ones, old ones should be inspected to see if they could be repaired. In many cases, only a new bulb or lens, or a fresh set of batteries was required. The flashlight should be kept in a convenient accessible spot, and always put back.

During a blackout, it was important to never point the light toward an unshielded window, skylight, or open door. Outside, the flashlight should be shielded. This could be accomplished by covering the lens with two layers of newspaper.

If unshielded, the flashlight should be used outside only when absolutely necessary, taking care to never point it even slightly upward, and never toward reflective objects.

And, of course, the flashlight should have Eveready batteries, with an extra set of spares.



1942 Rochester, MN, Flood

1942June15BC

This photo of a flooded KROC, Rochester, MN, appeared in Broadcasting magazine 75 years ago today, June 15, 1942.

The picture was apparently taken on June 4, 1942, during a localized flash flood  along the Cascade creek which caused one death. Between June 3-5, the Rochester airport had recorded 3.26″ of rain, with 2.33″ of that falling within a single day. The creek basin had apparently received even higher rainfall.

The magazine noted that the station staff had to ignore the biggest news story of the year as it literally flooded right into the station’s doors. Due to wartime restrictions on weather reports, the announcer on duty had to ignore the waters rising around him, despite his strong desire to tell listeners about it as the water slowly climbed to waist depth.

“Just as the tubes began to sizzle,” they cut power and waited calmly for three hours until being rescued. While they waited, they were said to amuse themselves by warding off the rabbits, field mice, gophers, frogs, and pheasants that had sought sanctuary on the tiny island.

Damage was estimated at $1500, and the station was back on the air in less than 12 hours.



Radio Facsimile: 1947

4.1" facsimile receiver for connection to FM radio

4.1″ facsimile receiver for connection to FM radio

Today, we take a look at a technology that never caught on, namely, broadcast facsimile.

Seventy years ago this month, the June 1947 issue of FM and Television carried an article optimistically entitled, “Facsimile is Ready for Home Use,” detailing both the technology and the economic aspects. At that time, a standard had not yet been adopted, and the author, the magazine’s publisher Milton Sleeper, noted that this was the first step necessary to get the technology off the ground. Home receivers were ready to hit the market for $100, but sales were unlikely unless consumers knew that the set could be used to receive future facsimile broadcasts from any FM station.

The author advocated for a standard of a 4.1 inch width, 105 lines per inch, 3.43 inches per minute. He noted that this would require a subcarrier with an audio signal ranging from about 2-5 kHz, which he pointed out would be well within the flat-response range of all FM receivers. Others were apparently pressing for an 8.2 inch width, which he noted would require greater bandwidth.

The “chicken and egg” problem, of course, was content. As he noted, newspapers weren’t particularly keen on providing content to a free competing service. Even if they could be convinced, there was little interest in starting the service before receivers were on the market. And receivers wouldn’t be on the market without content.

Few, if any, technical barriers stood in the way. Sleeper describes how he set up a demonstration at a trade show on short notice. He was given the idea the day before the show, and managed to get the equipment installed at a station that same evening. The station had an experimental license, and apparently broadcast the facsimile over its normal audio channel. The receiver could be plugged in to any FM receiver, and was also set up in short order.

Sending unit, ready to plug in to FM station's audio line and play.

Sending unit, ready to plug in to FM station’s audio line and play.



Cooking With Sugar Rationing

1942JuneRadioMirror

Sugar rationing took effect in the United States in May 1942, and the next month, CBS radio personality Kate Smith stepped up to the plate in the June issue of Radio Mirror with recipes with which the housewife could conserve the commodity, but still prepare deserts.

Smith knew that her readers would accept rationing for what it was–“an emergency method of making quite sure that everyone gets all the sugar he needs and that no one gets more than he really needs.” She also knew that her readers wanted to make sure that they didn’t use their portion wastefully.

Therefore, she presented these recipes showing how delicious deserts could be prepared with other sweetening agents such as corn syrup, prepared pudding mixtures (which used dextrose), molasses, and honey.

Her sugarless layer cake used corn syrup, and the molasses cake used molasses along with a bit of brown sugar. She suggested that an easy and delicious filling for either cake could be made with a package of chocolate pudding mix and milk, following the package directions, but with a bit less milk. Instead of frosting, the cake could be covered with nut meats, currants, or raisins, or a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar could be used.

She also included a chocolate souffle recipe using a packaged pudding mix, and baked stuffed oranges using corn syrup or honey.

For glazing a ham, she included a recipe with a corn syrup glaze.

 



Mirrorphone, 1942

1942JuneNationalRadioNews

Shown here on the cover of National Radio News, June-July 1942, is the Mirrorphone from Western Electric. The magazine noted that the magnetic tape recording device was being used by radio announcers, actors, and in speech classes as an aid to speech improvement.

It recorded the subject’s voice onto a steel tape, which was presumably in n endless loop. A switch provided for immediate playback, allowing the speaker to detect and correct errors of pronunciation, emphasis, or tone.

The recorder automatically erased previous recordings.

The magazine noted that the device was in use by a number of radio stations, dramatic groups, and speech classes to train thousands of new telephone operators and secretaries in government agencies and war industries.

More information about the Mirrorphone, along with photos, can be found at this link.



1957 Five Transistor Loudspeaker Superhet

1957JuneRadioElec

Sixty years ago, the transistor radio was starting to become more and more a reality, as shown by this project in the June 1957 issue of Radio Electronics.  A year earlier, the magazine had carried plans for a four-transistor superheterodyne pocket receiver.  and had announced that “this is it,” in that the transistor could finally be used in a usable radio that could be built by the average hobbyist.  The project shown here was an update of that project, and featured one thing missing from the earlier set, namely a speaker.

1957JuneRadioElec2This set boasted loudspeaker volume on many local stations, with the sound audible as far as 10-15 feet away in a quiet room. For distant stations or for private listening, an earphone jack was provided.

The set featured five PNP transistors, with four 2N1112A’s as converter, first and second IF, and detector, and a 2N138 providing enough audio to drive the speaker.  The set was powered by a 4 volt battery.  A specific battery was mentioned, but the article noted that three N cells providing 4.5 volts would work well.

1957JuneRadioElecSchematic



Lidice Massacre, 1942

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Lidice Massacre, June 10, 1942, at Lidice, in the current Czech Republic. In retaliation for the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhard_Heydrich
Hitler and Himmler ordered the destruction of the village of Lidice. On this day, the 173 male residents over 15 years of age were executed by shooting. The 184 women and 88 children were deported to concentration camps, where they were gassed.

Unlike most atrocities, the Nazis bragged about this one. The German radio station, received by the Associated Press in New York, reported “all male grownups of the town were shot, while the women were placed in a concentration camp, and the children were entrusted to appropriate educational institutions.” A total of 340 died in the reprisal.