Valentine’s Day 100 Years Ago And Beyond

Since this past Wednesday was Valentine’s Day, I wanted to take a look back through our newspapers and see if Valentine’s Day was celebrated one hundred years ago. Valentine’s Day landed on a Thursday, February 14, 1918. As most everyone knows, 1918 was a time of difficulty since the world was in the middle of World War I. World War I would not end until 11 November 1918, so in February, the war was still going strong.

I searched through five different newspapers, the Shakopee ArgusShakopee Tribune, Jordan Independent, New Prague Times, and the Belle Plaine Herald, to see if there would be any advertisements about the romantic day that is now so eagerly celebrated. Unsurprisingly, much of the newspapers were chalk full of information concerning the war at a local, state, and international level. The entire newspaper was not all doom and gloom, however. There were advertisements for local theatre shows and information on local individuals and their recent visitors. I had been expecting the heavy focus on the war in the newspapers, but was surprised to find that there wasn’t a single mention of Valentine’s Day in any of the newspapers published in February 1918.

In fact, I found mention of other days that were celebrated in February in 1918 that are not observed today, or if they are, only in certain states. The most mention was that of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12. In 1918, all four newspapers had advertisements for the celebration of his birthday, but no mention of Valentine’s Day. Today, only Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and New York celebrate February 12 as Lincoln’s Birthday. The advertisement below is from the 8 February 1918 edition of the Shakopee Tribune. Also mentioned in the 1918 newspapers was the celebration of George Washington’s birthday, February 22. In modern-day Minnesota, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington’s birthdays are celebrated as Presidents’ Day, which occurs on the third Monday in February.

Although Valentine’s Day is not an official holiday, I still found myself searching for that word ‘holiday’ when it came to that romantic day. An article in the Shakopee Tribune, published 8 February 1918, page 2, featured mention of holidays, as well as Abraham Lincoln’s and George Washington’s holidays. Again, no mention of Valentine’s Day, although the day most certainly was observed by Minnesotans at this time.

It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a New Prague Times article that was published the previous year, in 1917, that I found any evidence of Valentine’s Day. Amidst the information concerning local matters on the home-front of the war, there was this lovely advertisement that popped out at me.00001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To my delight, there was yet another advertisement in the 8 February 1917 newspaper a few pages over.

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Buoyed by this discovery, I searched the Belle Plaine Herald in both February 1917 and 1918, and was pleased to find another, small, advertisement concerning Valentine’s Day in the 8 February 1917 newspaper, but again, no mention of Valentine’s Day in the 1918 newspaper. 

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It is interesting to know that Valentine’s Day was a day worthy of printing advertisements for in Scott County in 1917, but not in 1918. Perhaps individuals in the county could feel the end of the war, and wanted to focus on what was occurring overseas in their newspapers? That is, of course, just speculation on my part. What I do know is that WWI ended in November of 1918, and Valentine’s Day was once again a day to show off in the newspapers.

I did not search Scott County newspapers in the period of World War II, but instead chose to see what we had for Valentine’s Day memorabilia in the collection. We have many Valentine’s Day cards in our collection, and I chose a few of the cutest, and loveliest, to show you. Valentine’s Day is often thought of a day simply for couples, but as many of these cards indicate, it can also be a day for loved ones, be they from a daughter to a father, or a grandchild to their grandparent. These cards below range from the 1950s to the 1990s, and all were written with love. I hope that you have had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, whether you celebrated it on Wednesday, or plan to do so over the weekend. Or any day you please. Enjoy these cards, and if you’re interested in learning more about Valentine’s Day in Scott County, feel free to stop by.

2015.13.221954Notermann 1961.1978 (2)1978 (3)1978 (4)1978198019911995

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Images of Football in Scott County

With the Super Bowl in Minneapolis this weekend, what better occasion could there be to share some historical photographs of football in Scott County from our collection? Pictures that begin around 1890 show an interesting progression of equipment, from padded body suits with a simple leather cap to the more recognizable shoulder pads and hard helmets with facemasks we’re familiar with today. Many of the later images were captured by LeRoy Lebens as part of his work as the official photographer for the Waniyetu Shakopee High School Yearbook, which are a part of his larger collection we are currently inventorying here at SCHS. If you’re interested in learning more about sports in Scott County or the LeRoy Lebens photo collection, come by and see us at the Scott County Historical Society!

1 20050600009 Frank Dierberger of Shakopee 1890
1890- Frank Dierberger of Shakopee
2 19990530075 Rock Spring 1905 George Vierling, Reno Ketterer, Ed V. Mertz, Math Klinkhammer, Joseph R. Witt, Emil Strehlow
1905 Rock Spring Team- George Vierling, Reno Ketterer, Ed V. Mertz, Math Klinkhammer, Joseph R. Witt, Emil Strehlow
3 20060180211 BP Minn Valley Champions 1914 Lorenz Woods, Bill Crahan, Emmett O'Neill, James McDevitt, Martin Donovan, George Brown, Mike Pendy, Tom Sheehan, Leo Pendy, Herman Beutow, Bo
1914 Belle Plaine Minnesota Valley Champion Team- Lorenz Woods, Bill Crahan, Emmett O’Neill, James McDevitt, Martin Donovan, George Brown, Mike Pendy, Tom Sheehan, Leo Pendy, Herman Beutow, Bob White and John Weibeler
4 20120140821 Leo Hartmann SHS 1922
1922- Leo Hartmann of Shakopee High School
5 20090490024 1922 SHS Team
1922 Shakopee High School Team
6 20090490015 1936 SHS Football
1936 Shakopee High School Team
7 20110200081 SHS 1939
1939 Shakopee High School Team
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1939 Shakopee High School Team
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1942 Shakopee High School Program
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1955 Shakopee High School
11 20130312840 SHS 1958
1958 Shakopee High School
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1958 Shakopee High School
13 20130315539 Small Fry 55-60
Shakopee “Small Fry” League 1955-1960
14 20130317865 Small Fry 55-60
Shakopee “Small Fry” League 1955-1960
15 20080050107 69-72 Sans is 16
Just for fun, from the Maurice Stans collection, the 1969-1972 Nixon Administration Cabinet as a football lineup. Maurice Stans can be seen in the middle of the middle row as #16

The Unboxing of Fallout Shelter Items – 56 Years Later

The very last donation of 2017 was given to SCHS by the Rahr Malting Company on December 21, 2017. It was exactly as if the we had received an early Christmas present. The donation consisted of five boxes, of both the small and large variety, and all that was written down on the paper was that they were civil defense supplies from 1962. Needless to say, it was very exciting opening and uncovering the items inside of these civil defense boxes. As it turns out, these boxes were like a Christmas gift to SCHS, just opened up fifty-six years after they were originally packaged. Although it may have felt like Christmas here at the museum, the items in these boxes were originally packed for a much darker and serious purpose: in the event that a fallout shelter was needed in the future.

The Rahr Corporation, established in 1847 in Michigan, has since expanded to several different locations, one of them happening to be on 1st Avenue West in Shakopee. The facility in Shakopee was built in 1937, and had been added onto in 1954, 1977, 1981, 1994, and 2016.1 The information that many may have forgotten, however, was that the Rahr Malting Company was designated as a fallout shelter in 1961-1962 for the citizens of Shakopee. The boxes that were donated to SCHS were chalk full of fallout shelter items, many of them having been undisturbed for more than fifty years.

Included in the items were lists for Medical Fallout Shelter Kit “A”, which was one of the smaller boxes that could treat 50-65 shelter occupants, and for Medical Fallout Shelter Kit “C”, which was one of the larger boxes that could treat 300-325 shelter occupants. Each list identifies the items and the quantity of each item. Kit “C” contained the exact same items as in Kit “A”, just in larger quantities due to the larger number of proposed occupants. Also included was a brochure titled Fallout Shelter Medical Kit Instructions, dated July 1962, as well as a thicker brochure titled Family Guide: Emergency Health Care, which detailed instructions on caring for individuals while in a fallout shelter. These lists and brochure can be viewed below.

The items that were packed in these boxes were medical supplies, which would be extremely necessary in the event of needing a fallout shelter. Any and all items that could fit were made to sit inside their own individual brown cardboard box, the name of the item written on the front of the box. Items included several different kinds of bandages, scissors, thermometers, tweezers, safety pins, isopropyl alcohol, surgical soap, toothache remedy, eye and nose drops, diarrhea medication, many different kinds of pills (sulfadiazine, penicillin, aspirin, cascara (a laxative)), as well as tins of baking soda, petroleum jelly, and bottles of table salt. Also included were small bottles of iodine pills that would have been used to treat water in fallout shelters. All of these items were necessities when living in a closed off fallout shelter, be it with either 50-65 people, or 300-325. These items were chosen and packed with care, ready to offer aid to those who were sick. Although many of these items were labeled as being packed and stored in 1962, we, unfortunately, don’t have information on which building on the Rahr Malting campus was to be used as the fallout shelter.

Nonetheless, these items are a museum’s treasure, and very much a look into the past when nuclear war felt very much like an imminent threat. These boxes stored in the Rahr Malting Company show that a very national fear was felt by everyone everywhere throughout the United States, even in small Shakopee, Minnesota.

Many of these items have not been viewed since the 1960s, so I am pleased to allow you a secondhand look at these fallout shelter items. Enjoy.

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All of the items unpacked from their boxes, gathered together by type of item.

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(https://www.rahr.com/rahr-malting-co/shakopee-malthouse)

Harvesting Ice

Back in the days before refrigerators and freezers, harvesting ice was a major wintertime business in Scott County. In the month of January when the ice was “ripe,” men would go to work cutting blocks of it out of local lakes and the Minnesota River.

In the book As I Remember Scott County, Frances Brandl of Belle Plaine, whose brothers ran an ice harvesting business, details this process:

Cutting ice was a very hard, heavy job. First of all it was cold, very cold, during the month of January. At times it was also wet, should one slip and fall into the lake, which happened.

The ice was sawed with a long heavy saw with a wooden handle on one end. The ice blocks were sawed 18×36 inches. The depth varied with the winter. Blocks had to be sawed very straight on all sides or they would not pack tight in the ice houses. The ice was covered and packed tight with saw dust.

Farmers loaded ice onto horse-drawn sleds and hauled it back to their farms, while icemen went door-to-door in town selling blocks to families for their iceboxes. Harvested ice was also used by grocery stores, saloons, creameries, meat packers, and breweries. In fact, all of the breweries that existed in Scott County prior to Prohibition were located along the Minnesota River or another stream or creek to allow for easy access to ice, and the breweries all had ice storage facilities as well.

Ice harvested in the winter months was used throughout the spring and summer – the sawdust or straw it was packed in kept it from melting. In addition to preserving food, this ice made possible a favorite summertime treat: ice cream.

Below are photos from the SCHS’s collection of a 1905 ice harvest on the Minnesota River. These photos depict a complex operation that involved cutting blocks of ice by hand and then using a wooden pulley system and conveyor belt to move the ice. To find out more about ice harvesting and other fun local history topics, visit us in person or check out our collections online.

Ice harvesting on the Minnesota River at Shakopee
Ice harvesting on the Minnesota River at Shakopee. This photo shows a man holding a long wooden pole. Behind him is a wooden pulley system and conveyor belt used for moving blocks of ice.
Workmen cutting ice
Workmen cutting ice on the Minnesota River at Shakopee. They are standing on a wooden boardwalk placed over the frozen river.
Wooden pulley system and conveyor belt
Close-up of the wooden pulley system and conveyor belt used to move blocks of ice.
Pulley system and conveyor belt
Another view of the pulley system and conveyor belt. The ice visible in the foreground of the photo appears to have been scored.
Workmen cutting blocks of ice by hand
Men standing on the narrow wooden boardwalk cutting blocks of ice by hand.
Front side of wooden pulley system
The front side of the wooden pulley system and conveyor belt. The wooden pulley system is constructed along the shore of the river. The front side shows areas divided by vertically placed pieces of wood. Blocks of ice available for purchase are stacked within each stall. The image is looking down into one stall, which contains blocks of ice, five workers and a wooden conveyor belt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handwritten Recipes

December is a special time for many people – it is a month full of wonder, for the holiday spirit is just around the corner. For many of us in Minnesota, it is a time of beautiful snow flakes outside and of cuddling together with a blanket before a fire or a television. December is a time of sweet smells of crisp air, pine trees, and of course, delicious aromas of food.

Nothing brings individuals together like that of a warm meal or tasty dessert at the table. Before long, families and friends will be together to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. In honor of this time of feast, I thought it appropriate to look through SCHS’s collections and see what we have concerning food and their recipes.

The first thing that came to mind was cookbooks. We have many different types of cookbooks – indeed, the museum holds nearly fifty-five cookbooks, many from the various churches or clubs in the county, and standard cookbooks manufactured from around the United States. The oldest cookbook we have is one from 1890 called the “Compendium of Cookery and Reliable Recipes”. Upon seeing that SCHS has so many cookbooks, my interest was piqued on what we had for handwritten recipes.

A recipe can tell you a lot about the people that used it. A recipe can give one hints of their heritage, pride, and interests. Specific ingredients in a handwritten recipe can also give us insight on the easy or difficult times individuals faced, depending on whether or not ingredients could be gathered. Unfortunately, due to their profound usage in a kitchen, many recipe cards may not live very long lives. Many get wet, torn, or perhaps just thrown away. Many do not get the chance to be preserved in a museum. Below are a handful of handwritten recipes that are being preserved here – for yourself, and for future generations to view. These recipes were all handwritten on some medium of paper, be it notebook paper, recipe cards, or other types of paper.  The most interesting handwritten recipes that I found, however, were written on wallpaper samples!

Please enjoy looking at the handwritten recipes below. The first recipe was most likely written between 1910-1940. The wallpaper sample recipes were most likely written between 1925 and 1935. The last recipe was written in 1985.

Take a look through your own collections and see what interesting recipes you can find! Try some out – particularly for a delicious Christmas dessert. Most of all, please do your best to preserve such lovely recipes. The future’s generations stomachs will thank you!

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Paintings from Scott County Residents

Halloween has come and gone, and so November follows quickly behind. The first snowfall has already occurred, but luckily for us, it hasn’t been able to stick around. Before we know it, though, snow will be piled up around us.

Instead of focusing on the cold and dreary colors that will come soon, I feel it important to take a look at some colorful paintings that have been done by wonderful Scott County artists. Their bright and beautiful colors will surely amaze, whether they were done with oil, watercolor, or acrylic paint. We have many paintings, several from the same artists,  but I have chosen to pick a variety of paintings to show the diversity of the painters and their skills throughout the county.

I like to think that pictures – or paintings, in this case, are worth a thousand words, so without much more to say about these paintings, I leave you to take a look at them below and enjoy.

I hope that these paintings brighten your day. Thank you to the artists who have taken their time to paint such wonderful images that are close to their hearts, as well as donating them to SCHS so we may preserve them for future generations. Feel free to visit SCHS to see these paintings in person, or donate paintings of your own.

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Oil painting of the Moses Starr Titus residence in Shakopee, 1868. Artist unknown.
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Painting of a street scene in Prior Lake 1965. Artist: John McGuire.

 

 

 

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Oil painting of Josephine Sand Grommesch, Scott County pioneer woman. Artist: Patricia Kness, great-granddaughter,
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Painting of St. Paul House, 1971. Artist: LeRoy Lebens.
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Painting of Dallas Cowboy Tony Dorsett, date unknown. Artist: Dave Tommy (a Shakopee HS student)
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Watercolor painting of Dr. Nevin’s House in Shakopee, 1993. Artist: Susan Melchior.
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Pastel and acrylic painting of Joan of Arc, undated. Artist: Lorraine Coller.
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Watercolor painting of Murphy’s Landing, 1993. Artist: Susan Melchior.
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Watercolor painting of the Old Monnens Farm in Shakopee, 1992. Artist: Lila Greenwood

Ghost Towns of Scott County

Merriam-Webster’s definition of a ghost town is: “a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted usually as a result of the exhaustion of some natural resource.”1

It is sad to say, but Scott County has its fair share of ghost towns. Below is a list of those ghost towns, with years that the towns were founded and/or ended. As you can see, many of these towns only lasted a handful of years, at most.

  • Louisville, 1854
  • Mount Pleasant, 1856
  • Bellefontaine, 1856
  • St. Lawrence, 1856
  • St. Joseph, 1858
  • Dooleyville: 1855-1870
  • Yorkville
  • Merriam Junction, 1866-1871
  • Helena, 1887
  • Village of Joel: Blakeley Township 1897-1917
  • Brentwood, 1860
  • Luxembourger – early 1900s
  • Lydia

Why did these towns disappear? Many of these towns contained grist or sawmills, a post office, church, school house, hotel, general store, creamery, newspaper, tavern, blacksmith, and of course residential houses. So why, with all the apparent success of a growing town, did these towns die out?

For many of these towns, the main reason was location, as well as mode of transportation to the town. Several of these towns were built near rivers, as that was one of the main sources of transportation at the time. For St. Lawrence, the building of the railroad spelled the end for the town. The river was no longer used, and no main roads were built to the town. For Merriam Junction, a town built right on the railroad, the invention of the automobile was its downfall. All that is left of the town is an old dilapidated railroad depot.

For towns like Yorkville and Brentwood, animosity between their neighbor towns caused them to struggle with their business. Yorkville residents were seen as a threat by those in Chaska Township, and many Yorkville residents were lured over to the other side. Brentwood was on the other side of the railroad tracks to Jordan, and held possession of the depot. Jordan residents disliked this fact, and eventually Brentwood was incorporated into Jordan, disappearing entirely.

No matter the reason for its disappearance, the fact remains that these towns that once flourished are no longer standing. Even though many of these towns have little to indicate where they once stood, their memories are still held in the minds of once residents, as well as their family members. These towns still stand in photographs, newspapers, and postcards. Take a look at a few of the photographs the SCHS has in its collection of some of the ghost towns in the county. Place your mouse over the photo to see the town.

 

If you wish to learn more about the ghost towns of Scott County, please contact the SCHS for more information. If anyone happens to have photographs or information on any of the ghost towns in the county, please let us at SCHS know. We would greatly appreciate the information! Of course, if you’re feeling adventurous, go right ahead and do your own exploring of Scott County’s ghost towns!

Source:

1 (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ghost%20town)

Storytelling

Everyone has a story – or two – or more.  Some are amazing, or outrageous, or heart-warming, or funny, or depressing, or frustrating, or… The thing is, these personal stories are what we usually take with us to the grave.  They are also the “special something” that makes history come alive.

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Our mission is to search, save, and share the history and cultural heritage of Scott County, which includes our stories.  In our collection we have stories on paper – journals, letters, postcards, books, etc.  We also have stories on cassette tape, video cassette, and digital files. However, not everyone kept a journal, or it’s still packed away in someone’s attic. Stories on cassette tapes, videos or digital files really aren’t very useful if you don’t know what’s on them – what topics were covered.  It’s the transcripts that make the stories easy to search and use.

The SCHS conducted a six-year project to collect stories from the “Greatest Generation” a few years ago.  With the help of dedicated volunteers, stories were collected on cassette tape from over 130 people in our county – over 70 with WWII Veterans.  With the help of the women at the Shakopee Women’s Correctional Facility, all the tapes were transcribed, an intern converted the tapes to digital files, and we used snippets for an award-winning exhibit on WWII.

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Because we were able to access the transcripts, we could choose snippets of stories to use in exhibits.  Because they were digitally accessible, it was fairly easy to locate and pull out the snippet we chose, and convert it to the proper format for use.

Hearing someone’s voice describe something you are looking at, or a scene in the past, it creates images in your mind and through their voice, you are able to experience the past in a deeper and richer way.


I don’t know about you, but there are many times I’ve thought – Dang, wish I had thought to record my Mom’s stories about when she was little.  Or… it would be great to hear Grandpa talk about how he made special lures for fishing.  You know…, family lore and stories.  These stories provide an anchor to our past, share special skills, link us to communities, and more.  Unfortunately, we usually think of recording stories after the person has passed away.

At SCHS we thought of this too.  To help capture and save those stories, we partnered with the Scott County Agricultural Society (SCAS), to create a mobile recording studio, named the “speak easy“.

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The speak easy, is ADA compliant (it kneels to the ground, has a ramp, and space inside for wheelchairs); is comfortable (designed to look like a comfy kitchen); includes easy to use, professional recording equipment; and is available for anyone to use.

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With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s a wonderful time to think about actually capturing those family stories before they slip away.  

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We are here to help with advice on what questions to ask, how to ask them, how to capture the stories, and what to do with them once they are recorded.

The speak easy is available for rent – contact us for information at info@scottcountyhistory.org or give Kathy a call at 952-445-0378.

 

HATS OFF TO YOU

Hats serve in a variety of ways: as protection from the elements, identify your occupation, serve as a status symbol, a must for ritual clothing, and of course serve as a fashion statement.  Style and use of hats has changed over time.  Fashionable hats more replaced the bonnet in the late 1800s.  By the beginning of the twentieth century, hat styles began to change by the decade.  The close fitting cloche hat of the 1920s covered short bobbed hair.  During the turbulent 1930s and 1940s, Hollywood glamour influenced women’s hats when feathers, veils, and more masculine style hats became popular.  Hats decreased and increased in size throughout the 1950s and 1960s until concern for maintaining the latest hairstyle became more important than wearing a hat.


Identity and Belonging:

A school baseball team. Muslim women at the grocery store.  Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts at summer camp.  What do these groups have in common?  They all wear headgear, along with other clothing that indicates their collective identity.  The emphasis is on the group, not the individual.

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Cultural Identity:

People with a common ancestry often wear distinctive hats that proclaims national identity, clan affiliation, political beliefs, or common cultural interests.

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Protection for Work and Sport:

We take for granted that workers in heavy industry or dangerous jobs wear standard safety helmets.  In fact protective headgear was confined to a few industries until recently, and become compulsory in those industries only around the 1950s.  Likewise, head wear for hockey and football players, motorcyclists, and race car drivers was standardized only recently.

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Religion and Ritual:

Head wear plays a prominent role in religion, social rituals and ceremonies: many people demonstrate their faith and relationship with God by covering their heads.  The Sikh wears a turban, observant Jews a Yarmulke, and a nun a coif.

Rites of Passage:

During significant events in our lives, such as marriage or bereavement, we often participate in public rituals that require particular dress, especially headdress.  Often these rites of passage have sacred as well as social significance.  For example, the white bridal veil symbolize physical and spiritual purity.

  • Although women of many different cultures have worn veils of some sort for centuries, the white wedding gown and veil tradition is barely a hundred years old.

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Ceremony:

Hats worn for public ceremonies is often spectacular.  Military headdresses worn on ceremonial occasions impress onlookers, as well as foster regimental pride and allegiance.  Indeed, all manner of “pomp and circumstance” requires its particular head wear: civic parade, powwow, royal visits, changing of ceremonial guards…

Authority and Status:

Hats convey power.  Hats such as a tall black top hat represent prestige and social standing. Some such as an army helmet proclaim military might, others identify professional authority such as a police hat or nurses’ cap.

  • Originally nurses wore practical, white, pleated cap and apron of the maidservant – signifying respectability, cleanliness and servitude. As the nursing profession gained recognition, nurse’ caps became less utilitarian and more symbolic, a badge of office and achievement.  Since the Second World War, the cap has lost much of its significance and has virtually disappeared.

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Fashion Hats, 1890-1920:

By the 1890s, the bonnet was declining in popularity and the jaunty hat, perched on top of the head, was considered more suitable for the “new girl” of the period, for whom tennis and bicycling, working in an office and participating in higher education were now acceptable pursuits.

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Women of the 1920s adopted a boyishly tubular silhouette and covered their cropped hair with a close-fitting cloche hat in symbolic rejection of the previous image of femininity.  The chic cloche proved to be an ideal design for mass production; with a few snips, tucks and stitches by a skilled milliner, the hat was ready to wear.

 

The 1930s offered a dizzying parade of imaginative hat styles, including some fanciful and surreal shapes.  Hollywood had an influence on increased glamour and drama in design and lent themselves to the cult of personality, centering on film stars such as Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and Humphrey Bogart.

During the war years the trend towards variety and ingenuity continued as an antidote to the anxieties and rationing of wartime.  Dramatic feather trimmings were revived and the veil reappeared.  Women’s hats often borrowed masculine hat styles, such as the fedora, which complemented the padded-shouldered, tailored suites.  These masculine styles, when combined with feminine trimmings such as feathers and veal, and worn at a coquettish, forward-slanting angle, gave a new meaning to the feminine image.

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After the war, hats became part of the New Look launched by Christian Dior.  Headwear was either very small or very large, hairstyles were neat, and close to the head and make-up included mascara-ringed eyes.  But the hat was in decline by the late 1950s.  Reduced to whimsy and novelty, it began to lose its outstanding place at the head of fashion.

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By the 1960s, the hat represented attitudes to femininity that seemed outdated.  The youth movement jettisoned hats along with gloves, stockings, and bras.  What was new and exciting was hair, teased into bouffant and beehives, and professional hairdressers took over from milliners as the creators of headdress.


Under the Veil:

The veil is the only head covering virtually exclusive to women.  It has been worn since ancient times and is still worn by women who follow a religion that requires the hair, and sometimes the fact to be covered in public.  Many Islamic women wear the Hijab as part of a dress code prescribed in the Koran.  The Hijab denotes both female modesty and reserve, and female dignity and respect.

Cultivated Cloche

The Cloche hat, so simple and modern, nevertheless blinkered its wearer no less than the poke-bonnets of the 1800s.  It dictated a stance that became characteristic of the period, since it was necessary for the wearer to lift the chin and peer imperiously down the nose.  The cloche led to society’s tolerance of eye and lip cosmetics, which gave definition to the face.

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Where did the Mortarboard come in?

The mortarboard’s historical roots can be traced to the medieval square biretta worn by both clergy and laity to indicate social status.  As the affairs of the Church and academe became separated over the centuries, so did their hats.  The biretta was modified to become the head wear of the clergy, and the mortarboard (or flattened square tam), became the hat of the academic.

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The Cap:

A cheap, simple, visor, cloth hat moved from the baseball diamond to perch on more heads than any other kind of head wear today.  The proletarian baseball cap is anti-elitist, deliberately shunning high fashion.  The cap can proclaim a wearer’s affiliation with a particular team; be an emblem of solidarity with workers; a memento of a special place or event; and show what kind of beer you drink or music you like.  Worn with designer jeans it can become trendy, when worn back to front it can mean peer identity or a badge of defiance.

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It is difficult to imagine today, but in the past almost everyone had at least one hat for each season of the year – straw hats for spring and summer, and felt or fur hats for fall and winter.  Upper-middle-class women had a whole collection of hats to suit different times of the day and to match their outfits, which they replaced each year.  Others of more moderate means had a milliner re-trim or recondition the previous year’s model to produce the new year’s shape.  Hats were worn in all public places, including on the street, in restaurants, for visits, and in the theater.  Men were expected to remove their hats in the company of ladies and indoors.

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Many words and phrases connected with hats have become part of everyday language.

When a person puts on their thinking cap to give a problem careful thought, there are mentally imitating the teachers and philosophers of the Middle Ages who often wore distinctive caps that set them apart from those with less learning.

The expression mad as a hatter has been in use ever since Lewis Carroll wrote of the Mat Hatter’s tea party in his famous children’s tale, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published in 1865.  Carroll was referring to the industrial disease caused by inhaling the fumes of mercuric nitrate, used in the felting of animal furs for hat making.  It caused twitching, nervousness and irritability – just like the antics of the Mad Hatter.

bee in his or her bonnet.   eat your hat.   hold onto your hat.   hats off to you!   feather in their cap.    Keep it under your hat.   She’s setting her cap for him.   I’ve thrown my hat in the ring.   If the cap fits, wear it!.   You’re talking through your hat.   That’s really old hat. Home is where one hangs one’s hat.


This blog post is based on a past SCHS exhibit

The First World War

Post by SCHS Intern: Aaron Sather

The First World War, also often called the Great War or the War to End All Wars, was a massive conflict that has shaped the world in numerous ways. It marked the end of many Empires such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, German Empire, Russian Empire, and Ottoman Empire. It was also a beginning for many new Nation-States that were formed out of remains of these Empires. While some Empires and Nations were involved in the conflict directly for all four years, the involvement of the United States is radically different than those on the continent of Europe. Many isolationists were antagonistic towards going to war, but eventually war was declared and the United States directly involved. Everyone in the United States, the State of Minnesota, as well as Scott County was involved in the conflict to a varying degree.

The first and most obvious avenue of involvement for American men in the war was direct military service. When the United States declared war in the Spring of 1917 the US Navy, though expanded due to the relationship between naval power and empire building, had limited utility due to the prevalence of U-Boat tactics. Dreadnoughts could blockade ports but engagements between naval squadrons remained limited. Meanwhile the US Army was grossly undermanned and ill equipped to fight the war expected of them on the Western Front, and later in the east against the rising Bolshevik threat in Russia. The United States needed to recruit, train, equip, and feed its Army before deploying the American Expeditionary Force to Europe. This process took months, and it was not until the summer of 1918 that the AEF began arriving in France en masse, often still lacking adequate arms and training. Many would receive weapons and training from the French. All states and counties in the United States were expected to provide men for the war effort. Scott County has changed drastically since the First World War as it was much more agricultural then. Being a food resource rather than a military manpower resource less enlistment was expected of Scott County to preserve its workforce and keep food flowing out of its fields. Even so 453 people were enlisted for military service from the county, 14 of whom would perish in service to their country. While enlistment rates for the county were at half the national average, the casualty rates remained the same as the rest of the nation. The brutality of the Great War is what drove these casualty statistics.

The type of combat varied incredibly across all fronts. From the brutal maneuver warfare of the massive Eastern front, to the chaotic asymmetrical warfare of the Middle East and Africa fighting was brutal. The Great War often remembered through the lens of the Western Front. Static lines were literally dug in the ground and the fighting descended into trench based warfare. Machines were developed to gain an advantage over the enemy, often with an incredible capacity to end human life. Tanks were developed to smash through heavily fortified lines, airplanes were used to reconnoiter and harass enemy positions (including civilians) and chemical weapons were developed to spread terror and death across vast swaths of territory. All off this technological development came due to the need of ascendancy on the battlefield and contributed to the wars brutality.

The American Expeditionary Force, under General John “Black Jack” Pershing, arrived in France and was engaged in horrendous trench warfare. There are many battles that display the severity and danger of the war, but the Battle at Verdun shows the horror that was the Great War the men from Scott county would find themselves in. General Falkenhayn, the German mastermind behind the battle, planned to “bleed France white” by taking the French village of Verdun and the surrounding forts. This plan was not to gain Verdun for any strategic importance but rather than to kill as many French soldiers as possible. Verdun was a place of great importance to French pride and so they defended it with vigor. The French motto “Ies ne passeront pas” or “They shall not pass” appeared in French propaganda. Thousands of French soldiers came to the defense of Verdun, some claim around 60% of the entire French army was rotated through the Verdun lines over the course of the 9 month 3 week and 6 day battle, and thousands died in the brutal battle of attrition. Artillery was used so extensively during the battle that trees still struggle to grow in some places around the site of the battle. In the end the French held, but their victory was a pyrrhic one. This was the type of war the American men were entering.

American involvement would allow French and British Units to finally receive much needed support, stepping in to bolster the Anglo-French lines after nearly three years of attrition and loses. American units were not broken up and assigned to allied units as Pershing wanted the AEF to stay American, though African American Units (the military was still segregated) were loaned to the French who had no issue using colored troops. A notable example of African American men in the war are the Harlem Hellfighters or the 369th Infantry Regiment, getting their nickname from the enemy and not themselves. After helping their allies hold the line the allies went on the offensive. Once enough Americans had arrived in France for the AEF to mount their own massive Meuse-Argonne Offensive, part of the greater 100 Days Offensive that finally pushed German forces back beyond the Hindenburg Line. Their lines shattered and now facing a combined Anglo-French-American Offensive free to maneuver unrestricted by prepared defenses and their people starving the German Empire signed the Armistice on November 11th, 1918. Though men were the ones who fought the war they were not the only ones involved in the it.

Men were the ones who were almost always on the frontlines of the war doing the fighting, asides from Women’s Battalions of Provincial Russian Government, but women also contributed greatly to the war effort. Women contributed to the war effort in whatever ways that they could. Some would become nurses and actually join the military such as the US Navy, caring for the sick and the wounded and being with the dying. Others would join the Red Cross, working to collect supplies to support the war effort and helping in any ways that they could. Even by writing simple letters to their husbands, sons, or brothers ensuring that all was fine on the homefront was crucial to the war effort. Commanders needed their soldier’s minds focused on what they needed to do, not the what-ifs of home. These women were not only writing letters saying things were OK with the family, they were the ones who actually mad things OK. As the heads of the household women took on a new double burden if a male left their household. Not only would they have to still cook meals for their families to eat, no easy feat due to rationing, but in some cases, they needed to step into the male’s place in the economy by also working. Some British Women would work night shifts at a munitions plant, leave work early in the morning to get in line at the grocer, get home and take care of the house and family, and then go back to work in the late evening, somehow trying, or not, to fit in sleep. Though Scott County women did not experience the direct danger of being near a warzone they still made great sacrifices and contributed to the war effort.

Americans contributed to the war effort in any way that they possibly could. Men, many in Scott County, would stay at home and continue farming to provide food for the war effort. Others would go off to fight and die thousands of miles away from all that they knew. Women would continue running their households to keep moral on the homefront as high as possible while trying to keep their loved ones abroad in high spirits as well. Some would even take on positions in the workforce, albeit temporarily. African-American men, though struggling with the injustices of a legal racial divide still devoted themselves to the cause, with their wives and sisters standing behind them and the nation. The people of Scott County, and the men, women, and children of the United State of America banded together behind the cause for war regardless of race, religion, color or necessity because they were all Americans and thought it was morally what needed to be done. This unity is what helped the United States help win the First World War.

USS Texas
USS Texas, a New York Class Battleship, and the only surviving Capital Ship in the world to have served in both World Wars and is still seaworthy today. According the Mahan’s “Influence of Sea Power Upon History” whomever controls the seas controls the world. Many Empires built intimidating Dreadnought and Battleships, though they rarely met in direct confrontation during the First World War with the Battle of Jutland being the exception. They were often used to impose blockades instead. Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomsaint/8039763196 labeled for non commercial reuse
Verdun-shell-holes
Verdun shell holes still visible today. The destruction destroyed thousands of human lives but also ravaging the landscape. Even today “red zones” remain in France where plant life is still unable to grow due to heavy metal concentration in the soil and people cannot go due to unexploded munitions. Image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Verdun_5.jpg labeled for noncommercial reuse
Aerial reconnaissance
An aerial reconnaissance photograph of the opposing trenches and no-man’s land between Loos and Hulluch in Artois, France, taken at 7.15 pm, 22 July 1917. German trenches are at the right and bottom, British trenches are at the top left. The vertical line to the left of centre indicates the course of a pre-war road or track. Image and Caption Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aerial_view_Loos-Hulluch_trench_system_July_1917.jpg labeled for noncommercial reuse.
Pershing propaganda poster
Propaganda poster of Pershing’s Crusaders. Image credit: https://c1.staticflickr.com/4/3048/3049886600_3af715fdf0_b.jpg labeled for noncommercial reuse