Little Chicago

Back in the mid-20th century, Shakopee had a bit of a reputation.  In a time when gambling and liquor were illegal, they were both pretty easy to obtain in Shakopee.  Restrictions on drinking and gambling made both of these activities lucrative for the business minded.  Gangsters and unscrupulous business people used corrupt officials, money, and force to keep their illegal activities unchecked and underground.  Shakopee became one of the area’s worst known offenders earning it the nicknames “Little Chicago” and “the local Las Vegas.”

In Early 1920, America enacted the 18th Amendment, also known as Prohibition, a movement that had been building in America well before 1920.  It was spurred on by heads of church, political figures, business leaders, and social reformists worried about what alcohol was doing to America and they sought to rid their country of this moral threat.  There was also a great deal of distaste for Germany at this time, it having been an opponent of America in World War I.  Seeing as most beer brewers had German surnames, this drew American distrust and ire (Holmgren, 2005).  Think “Freedom Fries” of the early 2000’s.  Their venture “succeeded” and Prohibition was put into action January 17, 1920, guided by what was known as  the Volstead Act.

While the 18th Amendment, in broad terms, made it illegal to sell, make, or transport alcohol, the Volstead Act determined what violation meant and how it should be persecuted.  The Volstead Act stated that possessing, selling, manufacturing, bartering, or transporting anything that had an alcohol content above 0.5% was an in violation of the Amendment.  Juices and ciders below this limit were permissible.  There were few exceptions to this rule.  This act still allowed alcohol to be used for medicine, sacrament, science, and industry.  It also permitted physicians to prescribe up to one pint of alcohol per month to patients.  Those permitted to have alcohol needed permits and were required to keep records for the sale of all alcohol.  First offenders could be fined up to $1000 dollars and imprisoned for up to six months.  Second offenders could be fined up to $2000 and faced imprisonment for up to five years.

Scott County, in the summer of 1919, had 40 licensed saloons in Shakopee, Jordan, New Prague, Belle Plaine, New Market, Prior Lake, and Savage.  When the 18th Amendment came into effect, many of these businesses had to make changes.  At least, they had to give the appearance of change.  Some chose to serve soft drinks and root beer instead of alcohol.  Others changed to ice cream parlors. Sometimes both ice cream and soft drinks were served. One man planned to sell tobacco, merchandise, and a low to no alcohol malt beverage referred to as near beer.  Other local businesses like the St. Paul hotel and Minneapolis House kept on as just hotels (Shakopee Argus, 1919).  Some planned to continue on their businesses and practices with full intention to abide by the new laws but for various reasons, many did not.

A general issue that the 18th Amendment faced was the concept of supply and demand.  First: with supply cut short, the ability to provide alcohol became extremely profitable.  Second: Minnesota’s proximity to Canada, which had enacted its own form of Prohibition in 1920.  Unlike America, they repealed their Prohibition after only two years as opposed to America’s 13 years.  This meant the flow of alcohol from Canada reached the Twin Cities quite readily.  Third: like most everywhere else, police and federal agents lacked the manpower to have any hopes of giving the new law any teeth.  A fourth problem encountered in this area reached back years before Prohibition even began.  This problem being a culture of corruption and lax policy enforcement already in place.

In Minnesota, the 18th Amendment was preceded by strict gambling laws enacted in 1851.  Put simply, Minnesota had outlawed all forms of gambling.  Even playing Bingo for charitable causes was illegal until 1945 (Williams, 2005).  This was already poorly enforced and helped set a groundwork for further corruption.  Some businesses had slot machines, pull tabs, and other forms of gambling that they kept “secret”, usually with the help of letting police or politicians in on the take.  Other businesses were willing to leave their gambling out in the open without fear of repercussion. With gambling laws already being ignored, and/or profitable, it was easy to get police and politicians to lay off enforcing liquor laws.

It is not surprising that these elements allowed the Twin Cities to become a haven of criminal activity.  These factors drew in some of the most famous gangsters of the time like Alvin Karpis, John Dillinger, the Barker Family, and “Baby Face” Nelson.  The picture at the top is of our own local celebrity, Isadore “Kid Cann” Blumenfeld.  In the picture, he is celebrating after being acquitted of the most high profile murder of his career, the murder case of Walter Liggett (Foster, 1999).

In 1920, Leon Gleckman was “the kingpin of the St. Paul liquor industry.”  In St. Paul, he installed his own chief of police.  This man, Thomas Brown, maintained his position through the entirety of Prohibition and even two years afterwards.  He was not removed until wiretapping revealed his corroboration with criminal activities in 1935.  Brown and his corroborators allowed organized crime to operate with very little to stand in its way (Foster, 1999).

In March of 1921, raids were conducted in Scott County and surrounding areas.  In Carver County, ten arrests were made and one complete still was found with large quantities of mash.  Mash being the fermented mixture of cornmeal, sugar, water, and yeast used to make moonshine.  Four arrests were made in Jordan and it was claimed that 100 gallons of liquor was seized, 25 gallons having come from one house alone.  Three arrests were made in Belle Plaine, along with two others in Chaska.  R. H. Mies, the mayor of Hampton was arrested for having approximately 10 gallons of liquor in a restaurant he owned.  Near Fish Lake, police expected to find stills but only found liquor.  In New Market, a man was raided after drunkenly bragging that he had already made $16,000 off of the sale of illegal liquor.  Shakopee stands out slightly in this list of raids, with only one arrest.  One arrest but seven other cases that were pending further investigation.  The reason for this?  Those seven were being investigated on suspicion of having been tipped off to the raids (Jordan Independent, 1921).

Raid
Authorities conducting a raid.

Operators in Shakopee had local police and politicians deep in their pockets.  Businesses, such as the Rock Spring Cafe, had runners to inform them of when raids were coming and safe houses to house their illicit materials.  Informants in the police department, much as in the case of Thomas Brown of St. Paul, profited from keeping gambling dens and speakeasies informed.  In later years, corruption was so bad that Shakopee’s mayor at that time, Mayor Cavanaugh, requested Pat Thielen become a police officer so there would be someone he could trust in the police department.  After making thirty-two arrests, people tried to use threats and whatever other leverage they had to stop him (Thielen).  This is one of the reasons Shakopee became known as “Little Chicago.”  It became known for its blatant disregard of gambling and liquor laws.  Betty Dols, Scott County Historical Society’s librarian, once wrote, “Anyone over sixty years of age can remember when there were slot machines in every bar, restaurant, store and cafe in Shakopee.” (Dols, 2003)  In fact, one reason Mayor Cavanaugh sought out Pat Thielen is because Governor Youngdahl gave a deadline to have Shakopee cleaned up or he would step in.

Shakopee also gained repute from its most famous establishments, The Millpond Club and the Rock Spring Cafe.  The Rock Spring Cafe was a curious case in which gambling and drinking was done in an exclusive basement room.  It was exclusive for two reasons.  On one hand, it only catered to wealthy patrons from out of town, mostly customers from the Twin Cities.  Secondly, only those that were well known to the man guarding the basement were allowed to enter.  People could come here to drink and gamble safely because the Rock Spring Cafe always had the aforementioned runners prepared to warn of any incoming raids.  The Millpond Club was renowned for its gambling.  It was said to have any of the same methods of gambling that could be found in Las Vegas.  They protected their business with political arrangements.  No police interfered with their business, even after they were robbed at gun point.  Instead, the Millpond Club beefed up security by installing a bulletproof enclosure in the gambling room that contained a guard armed with a shotgun.

Smashing Slot Machines
Authorities destroying slot machines.

As mentioned, Shakopee’s unsavory reputation did not go unnoticed.  Governor Youngdahl had turned his focus on cleaning this city up.  In the late 1940’s, police enforcement was increased.  Illegal activities were finally punished as they were supposed to be.  Governor Youngdahl also reduced Shakopee’s liquor licenses from 9 to 5 (Dols, 1999).  In time, Shakopee lost its role as a destination for debauchery and its title of “Little Chicago.”

Sources:

Holmgren, Chuck.  (2005, February 4).  It’s the Booze Talkin’: Prohibition and the Gangster Film.  Retrieved from https://http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA03/holmgren/prohib/prohib. html.

N/A.  (1919, June 27).  Saloon Men Are Readjusting Businesses.  Shakopee Argus.

Williams, John.  (2005, March).  Gambling in Minnesota.  Retrieved from: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/gambhist.pdf.

Foster.  (1999).  For the Record: 150 Years of Law and Lawyers in Minnesota.  Minnesota: Minnesota State Bar Association.

N/A.  (1921, March 24).  Prohibition Officers Active Herabouts.  Jordan Independent.

Pat Thielen.  Transcript from a tape recording.

Dols, Betty.  (2003).  Gambling in Shakopee.  Shakopee Heritage Society Newsletter, 1, 9, 2-3.

Advertisements

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

75 Years Ago in Review

The end of the year is often a time for reflection and looking hopefully forward to a new year.  75 years ago, as the end of the year approached, people were reflecting on the great conflict that their country was embroiled in.  In the midst of World War II people were focused on the victories, the losses, the gains, and the sacrifices made.  The December 31st edition of the Shakopee Argus-Tribune provides us with a list of significant events of 1942 to help us reflect on our past.  As we reflect on the passing of 2017 let us also take a look at what weighed most significantly on the minds of Americans in 1942.

Information was added to help clarify some of the details listed in the paper.  It should also be noted that the information presented by the paper does not always match more recent reporting of these events.

Events of World War II
January
1st– Hitler takes command of retreating Nazi army on Moscow front.
2nd– Japanese forces take control of naval bases in the Philippine cities of Manila and Cavite.
11th– Japan invades the Netherlands East Indies.
12th– Japan invades the Dutch East Indies
19th– Japan takes the port at Burma, present day Myanmar.
23rd– Australia calls on the U. S. to help fend off Japanese forces.
25th– Dutch and American forces take 33 Japanese ships in the Makassar strait.
26th– American Expeditionary Forces land in North Ireland.
31st– Malaya falls and Japan drives forward into Singapore.

February
3rd– Nazis rush air and tank reinforcements to the battlefront in southern Russia.
4th– American Expeditionary Force gives aid to the Far East Allies in the Asiatic-Pacific theatre.
6th– A key oil town in Borneo, an island in Asia, is captured by Japan.
13th– Hitler’s fleet escapes from Brest, Belarus and retreats to Kiel, Germany.
15th– Singapore falls to Japan.
16th– Dutch forces destroy 100 million dollar oil fields on the island of Sumatra.
19th– Japan drops first bombs on Darwin, Australia. The Battle of Darwin was Japan’s largest attack since Pearl Harbor and was the largest single attack made on Australia by a foreign power.
20th– Japanese forces land on Timor Island.
21st– A Dutch and American air fleet launches an attack on Japanese ships either causing damage to or sinking 19.
28th– British parachutists and Commandos invade a radar array in northern France.

March
1st– The Japanese 2nd Division unloads 50 transports at Merak, Java where they are invading.
3rd– Archibald Wavell is dropped as the chieftain of the Allied forces.
7th– Japan invades New Guinea at two sectors, the regions of Lae and Salamau.
14th– American forces land in Australia.
17th– MacArthur and aides escape from Philipines, where they were surrounded by Japanese forces, and land in Australia.
19th– A Japanese invasion fleet headed to Australia is defeated by American forces.
25th– U. S. Navy raids Makin island, a Japanese seaplane base and Japan’s easternmost line of defense.
27th– Chinese destroy a trap in Burma relieving British forces.
29th– British Commandos wreck a Nazi-held St. Nazaire port.

April
1st– Hand-to-hand combat with Japanese forces occurs in Bataan.
4th– U. S. Navy admits that three warships were sunk by Japanese planes.
8th– Axis desert forces move against British forces in Libya.
9th– Bataan falls. 36,000 U. S. soldiers are taken prisoner.
10th– British-Indian self-rule parley collapses.
13th– Pierre Laval named vice premier of France.
16th– Royal Air Force blitz on German industrial centers goes into its fifth day.
18th– Tokyo bombed by U. S. Air Force, referred to as the Doolittle Raid.
22nd– Commandos raid France at Boulogne and rout the Nazis.
30th– Royal Air Force bombs Paris industries.

Airplane

May
1st– Hitler and Mussolini meet at Salzburg with the focus of discussion being Germany’s campaign against Russia. Japan is not included in the meeting.
5th– British forces backed by U. S. forces occupy Madagascar in order to prevent Japan capturing Madagascar’s ports and to protect Allied shipping lines.
6th– The island of Corregidor, in the Philippines, falls to Japanese forces. 7,000 U. S. troops surrender.
8th– U. S. forces sink 13 Japanese warships in the southwest Pacific.
25th– Allied planes sink an Axis submarine off the coast of Brazil.
27th– Nazis launch an attack on Gazala, Libya in an effort to capture Tobruk.

June
1st– Nazis are trapped in a Libyan desert. Japanese submarines are sunk in Sydney harbor.
2nd– Nazi industrial city of Essen “smashed” by 1,000 Royal Air Force planes.  According to the World War II Database website, the damage dealt by this attack was not significant.
4th– The naval operating base and U. S. Army base at Dutch Harbor in Unalaska, Alaska is bombed twice by Japan.
5th– Japanese forces attack Midway island.
6th– The U. S. Navy smashes the Japanese fleet at Midway Island.
10th– British announce 183,550 casualties during first two years of war ending September 2, 1941 including 48,973 killed and 46,363 wounded.
12th– Japanese forces land in the Aleutian Islands at Kiska Harbor.
21st– Tobruk, a British stronghold held since January 22, 1941 surrenders to Nazi desert fighters.
25th– Nazi General Erwin Rommel drives 60 miles into Egypt; British abandon the Egyptian cities of Solum and Sidi Omar.

July
1st– Germans capture Sevastopol after eight-month, 25-day siege.
6th– U. S. made General Grant tanks battle Nazis in African war.
8th– Nazi 35,000-ton ship Tirpitz, torpedoed twice by Soviet submarines.
16th– Soviets place German losses for period, May 15-July 15, at 900,000 men. Germany admits their own losses as 399,000 killed in action.
19th– German drive eastward to Stalingrad and southeastward to Rostov slowed by Soviets. Royal Air Force and Russia both bomb the Vulkan submarine yard in Berlin. Most bombs miss their targets.
23rd– One of the largest U. S. convoys to cross the Atlantic reaches North Ireland.
26th– U. S. pilots in action over France, flying British Spitfires. One American-piloted Spitfire shot down by Nazis.
27th-Russian admit Rostov, Gateway to Caucasus, falls after evacuation of troops.
31st– According to U. S. Naval official, 10,000 Japanese soldiers stationed in the Aleutian Islands.

August
10th– Marines land in the Solomon Islands where Japan was building naval and air bases. U. S. Navy raids Japanese positions at Kiska in the Aleutian Islands.
14th– German military begins march on Stalingrad.
19th– Ten thousand Allied troops, mostly Canadians, supported by British Commandos and a few score U. S. Rangers raid Dieppe, France, for nine hours. Casualties heavy on both sides. Overhead 1,000 British planes engage the enemy.
21st– Japanese forces attempt to retake Solomon Island positions but are repelled by U. S. marines.
22nd– Fifteen Jugoslavian guerrilla planes bomb Axis garrison and Nazi troop columns west of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.

September
3rd– U. S. pilots down German Focke-Wulf bomber near Iceland, report U. S. military authorities.
4th– Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell’s headquarters in Chungking announces that bomb loaded U. S. fighters hit Japanese forces in five different Chinese zones.
6th– Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Axis forces begin retreating. Allies bomb Axis African sectors.
9th– All 1,600 passengers and crew members saved when 24,289-ton U. S. navy transport Wakefield (formerly luxury liner Manhattan) swept by fire at sea. Wakefield saved and brought to Atlantic port by tugs.
13th– House to house, see-saw battle between Nazis and Russians in progress at Stalingrad.
14th– New type Nazi stratosphere bomber reported flying over England on reconnaissance flights at 40,000 feet.
16th– U. S. 19,900-ton carrier Yorktown reported sunk on June 7 during the Battle of Midway. Vichy French officers reject armistice terms offered by British occupying Madagascar.
23rd– Tobruk attacked from sea while British mobile units raid Axis African positions 500 miles behind lines.

October
3rd– U. S. Army troops, supported by the Navy, occupy Andreanof group of the Aleutian Islands, between Japan held Kiska and Alaskan Dutch Harbor.
17th– A large force of U. S. troops arrive in the Republic of Liberia.
20th– Total of 530 Axis submarines announced destroyed by British and U. S. Navies since the war began.
23rd– Japanese mining installations in North China bombed by U. S. planes in successful attack.
24th– British start African campaign to drive Axis out of continent.
25th– First U. S. air raid on Hong Kong destroys docks and railroad yards in the region of Kowloon.
26th– Naval officials announce that aircraft carrier, Wasp, sunk off Solomon Islands on September 15. Serious fighting continues on Guadalcanal with heavy Japanese losses. Guadalcanal is an area Japanese forces attempted to claim in order to limit Allied forces supplies and communication.

November
1st– U. S. Army troops reinforce marines on Guadalcanal. Australian and American forces push Japan back on New Guinea. U. S. air force bombs Japanese forces daily on Aleutian Kiska.
7th– U. S. troops land in French Africa (French Morocco, Algeria) under commander-in-chief Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower to forestall successful Axis invasion which would endanger America.
8th– Vichy French government breaks relations with U. S. for first time since 1778. Nazis retreat to Libyan border.
11th– Axis forces invade unoccupied France; Italians also land on Corsica. Under orders from Admiral Jean Francois Darlan French, North Africa surrenders to U. S. troops. Tunisia continues fighting.
12th– Second naval battle of Solomon Islands begins.
13th– French garrisons in Tunisia reported battling Axis forces landing by sea and air. Admiral Jean Darlan assumes responsibility for French interests in Africa.
16th– U. S. naval authorities announce crushing defeat of Japanese navy in second naval battle of Solomons: 23 ships sunk, 7 damaged, with enemy casualties near the 40,000 mark.
18th– Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain, former prime minister of France, appoints Pierre Laval dictator of Nazi-occupied France.
24th– Russian offensive smashes across Don River, Germans lose 50,000 men in pincer dive.
27th– French scuttle fleet at Toulon, 62 ships sent to bottom of harbor to avoid seizure by Hitler.
29th– Prime Minister Churchill appeals, via radio, to Italian people to overthrow their dictator, sue for peace.

December
1st– Russia continues to advance in two large-scale offensives. Allied parachutists seize airfield near Tunis.
2nd– U. S. push German forces to the sea in Tunisia. Admiral Jean Darlan assumes African rule in Henri-Philippe Petain’s name.
5th– Pearl Harbor disaster reviewed: 10 ships, floating drydock sunk or damaged; 247 planes destroyed or disabled; 4,575 casualties.
7th– Office of War Information reveals 53,307 casualties in first year of war.
14th– Nazis retreat from stronghold at El Agheila in Libya after a battle with forces from the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
15th– U. S. troops capture Buna from the Japanese, following the fall of Gona, in New Guinea.
17th– Units of Erwin Rommel’s Nazi forces retreating from El Agheila cut off by British in Libya.

DOMESTIC
January
1st– Sales of new cars banned pending rationing.
5th– Congress reconvenes to discuss the war. In this session Congress discussed methods of raising money for the war effort, lowering the draft age, providing support to dependents of soldiers, and expanding the power of the President for emergency situations.
6th– War draft of 1942 announced.
10th– Industrialists protest automobile labor-management plan, rejected.
11th– Office of Personnel Management orders halt in private home building.
14th– Donald Nelson, now chief of all war production. He helped to convert commercial production factories into war time factories and identify ways for the military to save money on its materials.
16th– Sumner Welles asks for a Pan-American anti-Axis front at Rio.
19th– Roosevelt asks congress for another 28 ½ billion dollars.
21st– Office of Personnel Management abolished by Donald Nelson.
22nd– South American anti-Axis compact completed.
28th– Nation told 80 Nazi U-boats off East coast.
30th– Price control bill passes. President Franklin Roosevelt’s 60th birthday.

Buy War Bonds

February
4th– Congress working on loans to China.
5th– Giant Japanese spy ring disclosed on West coast.
10th– House kills so-called “frivolity” in Office of Civilian Defense. The Office of Civilian Defense was intended to help protect civilians, maintain morale, and promote civilian involvement in defense.
16th– U. S. registers nine million more for draft.
25th– Two waves of planes seen over Los Angeles causing an immediate blackout. Anti-air weaponry opened fire over the period of a few hours. This event was later determined to be a false alarm after finding no evidence of an attempted enemy air raid.
28th– Bill to end 40-hour week defeated.

March
2nd– Automobile rationing begins. Automobile production was often halted and sales were limited to priority cases.
3rd– Army air force now an equal branch of army. The Army Air Force was put under its own control instead of being under the control of the Army Field Forces.

6th– All new and used typewriter sales are halted.
8th– Supreme command of all U. S. naval operations given to Admiral Ernest King.
11th– U. S. fixes used tire price.
12th– House farm bloc kills sub-parity bill.
13th– First wartime lottery since 1918.
24th– U. S. takes over strike-bound Toledo, Peoria and Western railroad. After refusing to let The United States District Court arbitrate on a strike, Franklin Roosevelt seized the railroad from Peoria and Western through executive order.
25th– Charles Lindbergh offered position in Henry Ford’s bomber plant.
27th– U. S. unifies command to end U-boat menace.

April
1st– Senate defeats ban on 40 hour week.
2nd– All bicycle sales halted.
7th– Plan to halt production of most durable goods.
23rd– Sugar for restaurants and other food services cut by 50 percent.
24th– U. S. opens sedition quiz of suspects. Suspects were brought in and interrogated to determine if they were guilty of sedition.
27th– Thirteen million sign labor questionnaire.
30th– Report three Nazi bids for peace since first of year.

May
1st– Plans to draft women for war service temporarily abandoned.
2nd– Director of Defense Transportation, Joseph B. Eastman, announces
restriction of competing train and bus service.
4th– National sugar registration for ration books begins, first of four days.
12th– House passes (102-40) increase in pay to $50 for army and marine privates, navy and coast guard apprentice seamen.
16th– Earl Browder, former secretary of the American Communist party, has four-year federal sentence commuted to 14 months already served.
19th– East coast gas rationing to be put on national scale, Roosevelt hints.
26th– Commercial air service for 25 cities, 21 routes, curtailed by Civil Aeronautics board.
27th– Total of 13,600 women apply as candidates for officer’s training school of the Women’s Army Auxiliary corps: WAACs.
28th– On the grounds he is a Communist party member, Harry Bridges, Australian born West coast Congress of Industrial Organizations leader, order deported by Attorney General Francis Biddle.

June
1st– First eastern statewide surprise blackout held in New Jersey. Blackout drills were done in order to prepare civilians for air raids.
7th– Virtually entire Japanese population of West coast (99,770) moved inland.
9th– William Dudley Pelley, a member of the para-military American fascist organization called the “Silver Shirts”, indicted on charges of sedition by Indianapolis, Indiana grand jury.
18th– Prime Minister Churchill makes third visit with the President of the United States, at Capitol.
23rd– Genealogy magazine editor reveals President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill are eighth cousins, once removed- both descended from Mayflower passenger John Cooke.
26th– Naval expansion bill of over 8 ½ billion dollars passed by senate for 1,900,000 tons of ships.
27th– Eight highly trained Nazi saboteurs caught by FBI. Four landed on beach in Florida, other four landed on Long Island. Nazi sub used in operations. Long Island landing effected on June 13, Florida landing on June 17.

July
1st– Navy’s giant 70-ton patrol bomber, Mars, makes official tests over Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.
8th– Seven-man military commission, appointed by President, begins secret trial of eight Nazi saboteurs in Washington.
10th– Elmer Dais, director of the new Office of War Information, names new assistants, says OWI shall try to give American people an accurate picture of nation’s war activities.
17th– Super-powered troop carrier command announced by Lieutenant General Henry H. Arnold, chief of army air forces.
29th– Henry Ford urges world federation after present war to prevent another “more terrible conflict.”

August
1st– Local police and FBI agents round more than 80 Japanese, Nazis and Italians in New York city and Philadelphia.
2nd– Charles Lindbergh testifies at sedition trial of William Dudley Pelley, Indianapolis.
8th– Six of eight Nazi saboteurs executed in the electric chair at Washington, D. C. Two others (who turned over state’s evidence) sentenced to prison.
14th– Commemorating first anniversary of Atlantic Charter President sends message to Churchill reaffirming principles for a happier world.
19th– James Bennett Jr., attorney general of New York defeats White House favorite Senator James M. Mead for Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
25th– Pending stabilization of farm prices and wages at present level hinted by the President during press conference.

September
2nd– John McCloy, assistant secretary of war, says 500,000 American fighting men and technicians are now abroad.
10th– Creation of Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying command, headed by Nancy Harkness Love, announced by war department.
13th– Selective Service Director Major General Hershey says married men with children face draft in 1943.
21st– War Production Board Chairman Donald Nelson forecasts great civilian economy to win war. Japanese sponsored disobedience program in Chicago broken up by FBI.

October
1st– President Roosevelt ends two-week, secret circle trip of nation.
3rd– Office of Economic Stabilization created by the President to stabilize farm prices, rents, wages and salaries.
7th– United Mine Workers Cincinnati convention votes to withdraw its 500,000 members from Congress of Industrial Organizations.
9th– U. S., Britain announce willingness to give up extra-territorial rights in China. Ethiopia joins United Nations. War Production Board orders all except small gold mines to cease operations. There is a raise in food price.
12th– Department of Justice’s petition for injunction against James C. Petrillo’s ban on commercial recording dismissed by Chicago U. S. District court.
14th– Wendell Wilkie arrives in Washington to report to President Roosevelt on his 31,000-mile trip. American Federation of Labor president William Green re-elected at close of Federation’s convention in Toronto, Canada.
21st– 4,000 experienced miners undergo a furlough because of shortages in copper, lead, molybdenum, and tungsten.
22nd– Draft bill rider by Senator Josh Lee (Democratic) Oklahoma, banning sale of alcoholic beverages in or near military reservations defeated by Senate: 49-25.
26th– In a New York broadcast Wendell Willkie, reporting on his globe-circling trip, renews his demand for a second front in Europe.
27th– War Manpower Commission Director McNutt announces plan to freeze all necessary skilled dairy, livestock, and poultry workers.
29th– War Secretary Stimson announces army trucks now using all of the 1,671 mile Alcan highway.  The Alcan highway was built to connect Alaska to the United States through Canada.

November
1st– U. S. takes over all short-wave broadcastings for use by the Overseas Division of the Office of War Information.
2nd– To relieve growing coal shortage in West, United Mine Workers executive committee authorizes seven-day work week.
4th– Republicans make new gains: 19 in Senate, 42 in the House of Represenatives.
9th– President scores France’s chief of government, Pierre Laval, and expresses regret that Laval forced diplomatic break of U. S. and France.
14th– Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, a renowned airplane pilot, and crew members rescued. His crew was sent to the Pacific to inspect military equipment and personnel but they ended up getting lost.
18th– President orders registration of 600,000 youths who reached 18th birthday after July 1st.
20th– Women’s Auxiliary Reserve in the Coast Guard termed “SPARs.” SPARs is a contraction of the group’s motto “Sempur Paratus, Always Ready.”
24th– Saboteurs sentenced in Chicago: Men get death, women get 25 years in jail.
26th– All war industries continue working while nation celebrates Thanksgiving.
27th– Virginia conference of the Methodist Church South demands through their official organ that song “Praise the Lord” be eliminated from radio broadcasts.
28th– New ration book (Number 2) to be issued toward end of year, or first part of 1943.

Food Ration (Edit)

December
1st– Gas rationing begins on nation-wide basis.
2nd– Governor Herbert H. Lehman of New York becomes director of foreign relief and rehabilitation.
4th– President orders Works Progress administration abolished.
7th– Harrison E. Spangler, Iowa, named chairman of Republican party.
11th– Approximately 660,000 war workers frozen to jobs in Detroit.
15th– Office of Population Affairs orders change in heating oil rationing for North zone.
17th– Leon Henderson, director of Office of Price Administration, announces resignation.

 

Other Sources:

Wells, Kathryn and Jack Mulholland.  “The Japanese bombing of Darwin Broome and northern Australia.”  Australian Government, 9 June 2015.  http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/japanese-bombing-of-darwin.

Commonwealth of Australia, The Japanese bombing of Darwin Broome and northern Australia, viewed 21 December 2017.

“Chronology of 1942 San Francisco War Events.” The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco, http://www.sfmuseum.org/war/42.html. Accessed 20 December 2017.

Miller, Robert L. Hitler at War: Meetings and Conferences, 1939-1945. Enigma Books, 2015.

Chen, C. Peter. “Battle of Gazala.” World War II Database, https://ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=262. Accessed 20 December 2017.

“Record of the 77th Congress (Second Session).” CQ Press, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre1942121500. Accessed 20 December 2017.

McCarthy, Stephanie E. Haunted Peoria. Arcadia Publishing, 2009.

“Air Force History.” Military.com, https://www.military.com/air-force-birthday/air-force-history.html. Accessed 20 December 2017.

Glines, C. V. “Captain Eddie Rickenbacker: America’s World War I Ace of Aces.” HistroyNet, 12 June 2006, http://www.historynet.com/captain-eddie-rickenbacker-americas-world-war-i-ace-of-aces.htm.

“What does SPARS stand for?” The University of Iowa Libraries. http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/wwii/id/2037. Accessed 20 December 201

THE LUTEFISK LAMENT

Thanks to SCHS volunteer Paul for sharing with us this holiday season.  Enjoy!

‘Twas the day before Christmas, with things all a bustle.
As Mama got set for the Christmas Eve tussle.
Aunts, uncles, and Cousins would soon be arriving,
With stomachs all ready for Christmas Eve dining.
While I sat alone with a feeling of dread,
As visions of lutefisk danced in my head.
The thought of the smell made my eyeballs start burning.
The thought of the taste set my stomach to churning.
For I’m one of those who good Swedes rebuff,
A Scandahoovian boy who can’t stand the stuff.
Each year, however, I played at the game,
To spare Mama and Papa the undying shame.
I must bear up bravely.  I can’t take the risk
Of relatives knowing I hate lutefisk.

Then out in the yard I heard such a clatter.
I jumped up to see what was the matter.
There in the snow, all in a jumble,
Were three of my uncles who had taken a tumble.

From out in the kitchen an odor came stealing,
That fairly set all of my senses to reeling.
The smell of the lutefisk crept down the hall,
And wilted a plant in a pot on the wall.
Uncles Oscar and Lars said “Oh, that smells yummy,”
And Kermit’s eyes glittered while he patted his tummy.

Mama announced dinner by ringing a bell.
They rushed to the table with a whoop and a yell.
I lifted my eyes to heaven and sighed,
And a rose on the wallpaper withered and died.
Then Mama came proudly with a bowl on a trivet.
You would have thought that the crown jewels were in it.
She set it down gently and then took her seat.
And Papa said grace before we could eat.
It seemed to me, in my whirling head,
The shortest of prayers he ever had said.

Then Mama raised the cover on that steaming dish,
And I had to face the quivering fish.
The plates were passed for Papa to fill,
While I waited in agony, twixt fever and chill.
He dipped in the spoon and held it up high,
As it oozed to plates, I thought I would die.

Then it came to my plate, and to my fevered brain.
There seemed enough lutefisk to derail a train.
It looked like a mountain of congealing glue,
Yet oddly transparent and discolored in hue.
With butter and cream sauce I tried to conceal it,
I salted and peppered, but the smell would reveal it.

I drummed up my courage, tried to be bold,
Mama reminds me, “Eat before it gets cold.”
Deciding to face it, “Uffda,” I sighed.
“Uffda, indeed,” my stomach replied.

Then summoning up resolve for which we are known,
My hand took the fork as with a mind of its own.
And with reckless abandon the lutefisk I ate,
Within 20 seconds, I’d cleaned up my plate.
Uncle Kermit flashed me an ear-to-ear grin,
As butter and cream sauce dripped from his chin.
Then to my great shock, he spoke in my ear,
“I’m sure glad that’s over for another year.”

It was then that I learned a great wonderful truth,
That Swedes and Norwegians from old men to youth,
Must each pay their dues to have the great joy,
Of being known as a good Scandahoovian boy,
And so to tell you all, as you face the great test,
“Happy Christmas to you, and to you all the best.”

 

 

Most people attribute this poem to “Boone & Erickson” – a team of WCCO radio personalities in the Twin Cities who recorded it years ago – or “Anonymous.”  The actual author apparently is a man named Dan Freeburg, who copyrighted it in 1978 but seemed to have given up trying to enforce it. 

Holiday Shopping 100 Years Ago

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving, but also Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. The holiday shopping season is here, and in this day and age, the options seem endless. But what about 100 years ago? Where did people do their holiday shopping back then, and what kinds of gifts did they buy?

There was of course no online shopping in 1917, nor were there big-box stores. People shopped at local establishments; places like Moses Cash Bargain Store in Jordan, Bailey Bros. Department Store in Belle Plaine, M.J. Berens & Sons in Shakopee, and Piesinger’s Drug and Jewelry Store in New Prague. Store ads in the local newspapers featured lots of gift ideas. Holiday shoppers could buy baking dishes, ice skates, and tools at the hardware store; fountain pens, fancy stationery, perfume, cigars, candy, and nuts at the drug store; and slippers, combs, handkerchiefs, ribbons, toys, and clothes at the department store. Additionally, jewelry stores offered an array of fine jewelry and watches (along with items you probably wouldn’t see today like ivory sets and vest chains), and confectionery shops sold all manner of candy and treats.

Holiday shopping ads were plastered throughout Scott County newspapers in 1917, yet the holiday season that year was a somber one. The United States was in the midst of World War I, so any celebrations were tempered by the thought of loved ones far away fighting in the war. The war affected holiday shopping and gift-giving in a few important ways. First, in keeping with the wartime spirit of saving and rationing, there was a strong emphasis on practical gifts. Shoppers were encouraged to buy items that were useful – something the recipient may have planned to purchase anyway. Ads were peppered with phrases like “sensible giving” and stores promised merchandise that was useful and necessary (while still sentimental). WWI also meant that holiday shopping ads featured gift ideas for soldiers, items like trench mirrors, cigarette cases, wrist watches, rosaries, wool socks, writing sets, and toiletry bags. The war’s influence even filtered down to children’s toys. For instance, an ad for Penner’s Confectionery in New Prague listed the following toys for sale in 1917: guns, toy soldiers, destroyers, machine guns, cannons, and torpedo boats.

Below are some examples of holiday shopping ads published in Scott County newspapers 100 years ago, in December 1917. To check out more of these ads, visit the SCHS Research Library, and be sure to check out our WWI exhibit, “The Great War in Scott County”, currently on display. Happy Holidays and happy shopping!

NP Times Dec 13 p 10Xmas Ad 4 JordanXmas Ad BP Herald p 3Xmas Ad p 4 BP HeraldXmas Ad Scott County Argus p 4

 

 

Food Will Win The War

After nearly three years of war, by 1917 Europe was facing starvation.  Farms were transformed into battlefields or left un-planted as workers were forced into service.  Transportation routes were disrupted, making access to food challenging to say the least.

On August 10, 1917, congress passed a controversial piece of legislation:  “An Act to Provide Further for the National Security and Defense by Encouraging the Production, Conserving the Supply, and Controlling the Distribution of Food Products and Fuel.”  It also banned the production of “distilled spirits” from any produce that was used for food. This Act created the Food Administration and the Fuel Administration; President Wilson appointed Herbert Hoover to head the Food Administration.  This gave Mr. Hoover authority to fix food prices, license distributors, coordinate purchases, oversee exports, act against hoarding and profiteering, and encourage farmers to grow more crops.

World War I came to the United States in the midst of the Progressive Era – when efficiency and expertise were highly valued.  This mindset provided a platform for the government to establish agencies to address issues of economy, society, and production for the war effort, and avenues to motivate people.

In January 1918, President Wilson issued a proclamation calling upon Americans to demonstrate their patriotism by following Hoover’s guidelines.  Hoover did not want to impose rationing, so he pushed compassion and patriotism to encourage volunteerism for food programs.

Hoover introduced “Meatless Tuesdays”, “Wheatless Mondays”, and “Sweetless and Porkless Saturdays”.  Local food boards offered guidance to comply with these programs by demonstrating how to prepare meals, alter recipes, and preserve food, such as canning.  They also encouraged development of  “Liberty Gardens” where people could grow their own food.  Homeowners were urged to sign and publicly display pledge cards that testified to their efforts to conserve food.  As a result of these efforts, food shipments doubled within a year, while consumption in the US was reduced by 15% between 1918 and 1919.  This continued after the end of the war as an effort to feed millions of displaced people in Europe.  Hoover earned the nickname “Great Humanitarian” for his efforts. (He insisted on no salary – arguing it would give him the moral authority he needed to ask Americans to sacrifice to support the war effort.)

To provide adequate nourishment to troops and allies, a series of posters were created to encourage reducing consumption on the home-front to secure food needed for troops – such as meat, wheat, fats and sugar.  Slogans like “Food Will Win The War” and “Sow The Seeds of Victory” encouraged people to eat locally, reduce waste, and alter eating habits to allow for increased food shipments to soldiers.

07-0059a

4-P-129_2006_001_AC.jpg    4-P-59_2006_001_AC-2.jpg

All of these posters testify to the intent of the government to mobilize the food effort during World War I. As much as possible, it did so under a banner of volunteerism, rather than coercion. In doing so, the Wilson administration created a program that affected the everyday lives of Americans during World War I.  These programs also paved the way for future home-economics!

Local Scott County Newspapers:
January 1917: “Would you help a starving child?.. Thousands of babies in war-torn Europe are starving this winter.  The Children’s of America’s Fund is rushing aid as fast as possible.  Ten cents will give a starving child a day’s life, three dollars a month’s life.”

“Government Fixes Wheat, Flour Prices.  For the first time in U.S. history, the government has taken a hand in price-fixing of farm products and food products.  The first items being regulated are wheat and flour.  Since August, prices in local markets have been governed buy the National Food Control Board.”

“With cream $.46 pound, live hogs $14.80 per hundred weight, wheat $2.37 and beef on the hoof $.11/pound in local markets, it is apparent that the farmer is getting war-time prices for his products.  One way to fight the high cost of living is to either plant a garden and take care of it or increase the garden you already have.”

April 1917: “There will be little or no waste land in Jordan this season.  The high cost of every kind of food causes people to think.  Every available bit of vegetable garden land will be put to use.”

“Meatless days are being observed by millions of Americans on Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are being observed as wheatless days, thereby helping conserve the food supply.”

May 1918: “Don’t forget to provide against possible sugar shortage by planting some sorghum.  It can be planted until May 10. An experience farmer suggests breaking up a corner of pasture land and fencing it off, then planting the tract to sorghum.”

November 1918:  “The world is hungry.  America now plans on relieving the distress in Austria, Russia…in addition to what it had been doing before the Armistice.  We must all co-operate to eliminate waste, to save our of our abundance in order that the needy of other lands may have food.  Food won the war.  Food will save humanity.”


You are invited to learn about Thanksgiving in WWI at SCHS on Thursday, November 16 with a talk at tasting of WWI recipes. (click on the image below to register)

WWI -Tksgivng-FB-1

 

Thoughts and Scribblings…

 

treaty of mendota
Treaty of Mendota

A while ago I asked one of our volunteers to take a stab at writing a blog post.  He wasn’t sure what that meant, but did since he’s a newcomer to our area, he dug up some history of our county.  Here are his Thoughts and Scribblings!

August 5, 1851: The Treaty of Mendota, in which the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute bands of the Dakota “sold” most of their land in the southern part of the state, was signed by Governor Ramsey and Luke Lea, representing the United States, and Little Crow, Medicine Bottle, Good Thunder, Six, and Wabasha signing for the Dakota.  Other bands had previously “sold” their land in the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux.

August 4, 1854: Congress approved legislation guaranteeing pre-emption for Minnesota settlers squatting on lands that had not be surveyed.  Technically, the land could be sold only after being surveyed, but settlers had poured into lands “purchased” from the Native Americans, sometimes making substantial investments before the surveyor completed their work.  This act, sponsored by delegate Henry H. Sibley, allowed the settlers to purchase their land after the fact of settlement.

All this lead to an interesting question: What is Scott County?

Well, in no particular order…

  • Scott County was established and organized by the MN Legislature on March 5, 1853, and named in honor of General Winfield Scott (who never set foot in Scott County).
  • The county has a total area of 368 sq. miles of which 356 (96.8%) is land and 12 sq. miles is water.
  • It is the third-smallest county in MN by land area and the second-smallest by total area.
  • Now mostly farmland, it was initially an oak savanna and a mixture of grass and clusters of trees that grew parallel to the river valley.  The savanna bordered the “Big Woods”, a closed-forest savanna that covered most of MN before it was logged in the mid-19th century and converted to farmland.
oak-savanna
Oak Savanna
  • Scott County is home to several historic, scenic, and entertainment destinations, including Canterbury Park, The Landing, Elko Speedway, Mystic Lake Casino, the Renaissance Festival, Valleyfair Amusement Park, Blakeley Bluffs, and more.
  • This area was first inhabited by two bands of the Santee Sioux (Dakota), the Mdewakanton and Wahpeton.  Their semi-nomadic life followed a seasonal cycle.  In the summer the villages were occupied, but in the winter the groups separated for hunting.  They had many permanent villages along the MN River and trails leading to these settlements and to the Red River Valley in the north and Prairie du Chien to the Southeast.  These trails were later used by fur traders and settlers; known as the “ox cart trails.”  Later these trails became highways such as Hwy’s 13 and 169.
  • The MN River and Ox cart trails were the primary transportation routes.  The first settlers were Yankees, followed by Germans, Irish, Czechs, and Scandinavians, each bringing their own traditions and religions.  Most settlers became farmers.
  • The county has seven cities – Belle Plaine, Elko New Market, Jordan, New Prague, Prior Lake, Savage, and Shakopee (the county seat); 11 townships – Belle Plaine, Blakeley, Cedar Lake, Credit River, Helena, Jackson, Louisville, New Market, Sand Creek, Spring Lake, and St. Lawrence; and 10 unincorporated communities – Blakeley, Cedar Lake, Helena, Lydia, Marystown, Mudbaden, Spring Lake, St. Benedict, St. Patrick, and Union Hill.

Another blog post will explore how each of the major communities within Scott County came to be (and why), and how they developed.

This blog post was written by SCHS Volunteer Paul Keever – Thanks Paul!

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.

child-1293438_640

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.

music-1436277_640

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“.

speakeasy-1

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.

speakeasy-4

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

speakeasy-2

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.

19990830005  20010410002

 

 

 

 

Cultural Identity:

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

20170080003

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.

20040310001

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.

20000310044

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.

20110480004


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.

19990530015

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.

20040400009

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.

20040470023a

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.

20040400001

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.

20120140722.jpg

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.

19990610001


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.

20060180190


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