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Today In History: St. Valentine’s Day – The Washington Herald, February 14th, 1910
|| 2/14/2010 || 10:28 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Scan of the newspaper article Today In History from the Washington Herald, 100 years ago

St. Valentine’s Day has degenerated somewhat in recent years, and is now generally observed by the sending of jocular pictures with suitable verses attached, or an equally ridiculous sentimental picture card. Formerly the proper ceremony of the day was the drawing of a kind of lottery, followed by ceremonies not much unlike what is generally called the game of forfeits.

In Pepy’s Diary we find some notable illustrations of this old custom. It appears that married and single were then alike liable to be chosen as a valentine, and that a present was invariably necessarily given to the choosing party. “Noticing the jewels of the celebrated Miss Stuart, who became Duchess of Richmond,” he records, “the Duke of York, being once her valentine, did give her a jewel of about £800; and my Lord Mandeville, her valentine this year, a ring of about £300. These presents were undoubtedly given in roder to relieve the obligations under which the being drawn as valentines places the donors.”

Notwithstanding the practice of “relieving,” there seems to have been a disposition to believe that the person drawn as a valentine had some considerable likelihood of becoming the associate of the party in wedlock.

It was supposed, for instance, that the first unmarried person of the other sex whom you met on St. Valentine’s morning in walking abroad was a destined wife or a destined husband. Thus Gay makes a rural dame remark:

“Last Valentine, the when birds of kind,
Their paramours with mutual chirpings find,
I early rose just at the break of day,
Before the sun had chased the stars away;
A-field I went, amid the morning dew,
To milk my kine (for so should housewives do).
Thet first I spied- and the first swain we see.
In spite of fortune shall our true love be.”

St. Valentine’s Day is alluded to by Shakespeare and by Chaucer, and also by the poet Lydgate, who died in 1440. One of the earliest known writers of valentines, or poetical amative address for this day, was Charles, Duke of Orleans, who was taken at the battle of Agencourt.

The origin of these peculiar observances of St. Valentine’s Day is a subject of some obscurity. The saint himself, who was a priest of Rome, martyred in the third century, seems to have had nothing to do with the matter beyond the accident of this day being used for the purpose.

Just why St. Valentine was chosen the patron of love seems a little obscure. Wheatly says: “He was a man of admirable parts and so famous for his love and charity that the custom of choosing valentines upon his festival, which is still practiced, too rise from thence.” While Dr. Butler, in his “Lives of the Saints,” says: “To abolish the heathens’ lewd custom of boys drawing the names of girls in honor of their goddess, Februata Juno, on the fourteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints on the billets that were drawn.” and thus in the mutation of time the custom has grown which now takes the form of “valentines.”


February 14 is the date which Gray and Bell each received a patent for the first telephone in 1876; it is the birthday of Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock (1824); Charles L. Sholes, father of the typewriter (1819); Samuel Osgood, the first Postmaster General (1748); the day on which the United States flag was first seen in foreign lands and saluted in 1778, and upon which the battle of St. Vincent, in 1797.


This newspaper article was transcribed from the scan of the February 14th, 1910 edition of the Washington Herald from the Chronicling America newspaper collection and is in the public domain.



Discontinuing FeedBurner – Time To Update Your RSS Feed
|| 2/12/2010 || 12:27 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

No More FeedBurner

Back in September of 2009 I decided to try using FeedBurner for my blog’s RSS feed. For the most part I thought it worked fine, but that was until I posted the 1910 Newspaper Publication Calendars. Due to their size, they completely clogged up my blog RSS feed to the point where only two blog entries were syndicated during the entire month of January. Instead of arbitrarily limiting the size of my future blog entries, I’ve decided to just get rid of FeedBurner and go back to my original RSS feed system. Granted I might change this again sometime in the future, but for now you can resubscribe to:

https://www.nikolasschiller.com/blog/wp-rss2.php


I use Google Reader to read most blogs RSS feeds.



Looking At Google Looking At My Blog
|| 2/11/2010 || 12:51 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Above is a series of screen grabs showing Google’s webcrawler traversing my blog. From this robot’s data collection, the harvested content makes its way into Google’s servers, and ultimately into your search results.



YouTube Videos & Photograph From Last Weekend’s Historic Snowball Fight In Dupont Circle
|| 2/10/2010 || 2:19 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

The video above contains four short video clips I recorded from my Canon SD750 on February 6th, 2010 in & around Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. The video clips show the what the snowball fight looked like when I arrived, a dance party, a fallen tree on New Hampshire Avenue, and an SUV pulling a snowboarder. The camera is rather beat up and there is a noticeable dark spot on camera lens– sorry!


This is my favorite video of the snowball fight. It was filmed from a building overlooking Dupont Cirlce:


At least there were no guns.



The Noyes Armillary Sphere Described In The Historic American Buildngs Survey #532
|| 2/9/2010 || 2:00 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

National Park Service Photograph of the Noyes Armillary Sphere in Meridian Hill Park in the District of Columbia taken in the 1965

National Park Service Photograph Courtesy of the Library of Congress

According to page 39 of the Historic American Buildngs Survey #532 published in 1987 [PDF via the Library of Congress]:

The sculpture which contributed most sucessfully to the architectural design [of Meridian Hill Park] was the 6′ high armillary sphere. Money for the construction of the sphere was donated by Bertha Noyes, a well-known Washington artist and founder of the Washington Arts Club, in memory of her father and her sister. Paul Manship had constructed a model for an earlier proposal for an armillary sphere. For lack of funds, that sphere was not realized, later when the Noyes Armillary Sphere was constructed by Carl Paul Jennewein, he based his design on the earlier Manship model. The sphere was located in the exedra on axis with the cascade, south of the reflecting pool. This location was proposed by Ferruccio Vitale, and the foundation was designed by Horace W. Peaslee. Congress approved the location within Meridian Hill Park on June 10, 1932, subject to the final approval of its location within the park by the Commission. The sphere, which was of great interest conceptually as well as visually, was described by historian James Goode as follows:

In spite of its seemingly contemporary design, the armillary sphere is, in face, an ancient astrological instrument. The armillary sphere was frequently used in Europe in the seventeenth century to illustrate the Ptolemaic theory of a central earth; it used metal rings which illustrated the nine spheres of the universe. The usual device, a skeleton of the celestial globe with circles arranged into degrees for angle measurement, represents the great circles of the heavens. The latter includes the horizon, meridian, equator, tropics, and polar circle. The Noyes Armillary Sphere includes a series of bronze rings on which are also found the symbols of the zodiac and the hours, given in Roman numerals. A bronze arrow forms the axis, and, in the center, a small winged genie greets the sun. (James M. Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D.C., The Smithsonian Institution Press, 1974)

The armillary sphere suffered serious damage during the late 1960s and was removed for repair. Its whereabouts is presently unknown. The armillary sphere was worked in bronze, and placed on a green granite pedestal. Other significant park embellishments were wrought in iron. For example, at the north end of the park, a wrought-iron fence is decorated with small armillary spheres, reflecting the significance of the Noyes Armillary Sphere.


This article and photograph was obtained from the Library of Congress and is in the public domain. They are being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to advocate for a replacement armillary sphere in Meridian Hill Park.



Armillary Sphere Donated to ‘Federal City’ by Author; Ancient Astronomical Device Links Early Chinese to Modern Americans – The Washington Post, November 10, 1936
|| 2/7/2010 || 1:37 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

No one knows where the Noyes Armillary Sphere is today. Over the last few years I have personally called the Smithsonian & the National Park Service inquiring about the sculpture’s existence, but all have said it is lost. I genuinely find that difficult to believe because its not a small sculpture, but a rather large one. Some day in the future I would like to see this sculpture replaced and over time I hope to post more photographs and articles about this lost sculpture of Washington, DC.

According to the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System:

The sculpture originally consisted of two equal rings representing the Meridian and Equator, intersecting to form a sphere. Each intersecting ring was divided into areas representing the equinoxes and the Arctic and Antarctic regions. A wide bronze ring was adorned with the signs of the zodiac…. The base of sphere designed by Horace Peaslee, the architect of Meridian Park. The sphere was accepted by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in 1929, and was purchased with funds donated by Bertha Noyes, founder of the Washington Arts Club, in memory of her sister Edith. The sphere was vandalized during the 1960s and was removed from the park for repair. During this time, the sphere disappeared, with only the small winged figure of a child remaining.


National Park Service Photograph of the Noyes Armillary Sphere in Meridian Hill Park in the District of Columbia taken in the 1930's

National Park Service Photograph Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Armillary Sphere Donated to ‘Federal City’ by Author; Ancient Astronomical Device Links Early Chinese to Modern Americans.


The bronze sphere, 16 feet in circumference, bears the words: “Given to the Federal City, MCMXXXVI, for Edith Noyes.” It is the gift of Bertha Noyes, noted Washington artist, in memory of her sister.

Although the origin of the armillary sphere as an astronomical instrument is shrouded in mystery, its invention is usually credited to China, where it was first in use in approximately 200 B. C.

The Noyes memorial was designed by C. Paul Jennewein, New York sculptor, whose other works in Washington include the statue of a nude with fawn in Judiciary Square which was erected in memory of Joseph James Darlington, a District Supreme Court justice. Its placement in 1922 stirred a heated controversy.

Mounted on a granite pedestal three feet in height, the sphere has the signs of the Zodiac in relief on the outside of the great circle, within which are cleverly contrived the hours of the day marked in Roman numerals. In the center is a winged figure of a child greeting the sun.

At the base is a tablet, also of bronze, which corrects minor variations of the dial at different times of the year. Adjustments were made by a Columbia University astronomer in order that the instrument might be scientifically exact.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Washington Post historical newspaper archives. This article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to advocate for a replacement armillary sphere in Meridian Hill Park.


Related Armillary Sphere Entries:



Vote Victory Result Of Luck, Hard Work, Some Sweat, Tears – The Washington Post, March 30, 1961
|| 2/2/2010 || 11:29 am || + Render A Comment || ||

This newspaper article highlights some of the work that was undertaken to ratify the 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution. Two curious items that I learned from transcribing this article was that the Washington Post sent out a team of correspondents to 44 state capitals to cover the ratification process and that Tennessee was the only Southern state to ratify the Constitutional Amendment. As I have noted here & here, Arkansas was the only Southern State to flatly reject the Constitutional Amendment based mostly on the racial makeup of the District of Columbia. Nonetheless, I’ve got to wonder that with all the technological innovations in the last 50 years, would it be easier to pass a Constitutional Amendment nowadays than it was then?


Vote Victory Result Of Luck, Hard Work, Some Sweat, Tears

23d Amendment Had Close Calls, Many Friends

To the Washington resident starved for the vote the Constitution offered cake: He could be elected President of the United States.

Until the adoption of the 23d Amendment yesterday the Constitution denied him bread: the right to vote for the great office to which he always has been eligible to be elected.

Amending the Constitution is extremely difficult. The approval of two thirds of the members of both Houses of Congress must be won, then the approval of three fourths of the states (either their legislatures, as in the case of the 23d Amendment, or of specially called state conventions, as the case with the 21st Amendment repealing prohibition).

Amended 12 Times

And in the 170 years since the Bill of Rights went into effect the job has been done only 12 times. Several attempts have failed.

The 23d Amendment hardly had the intoxicating, thirst-slaking appeal of the prohibition-repeal Amendment. That it went through 39 states faster than the 21st went through 36 is astonishing.

It is astonishing even if you know of the confluence of luck and circumstance- including the dedicated, devoted work of many persons to a democratic principle, of the fortuitous political self-interest of some, even of the desire to use the presidential vote to head off home rule- that lie behind the 23d’s passage.

The whole story can never be told. But there are several examples of luck and lucky dedication that helped bring the vote to Washington:

+ A ratification resolution squeaked by the Illinois Senate with a 2-vote margin.

+ Tennessee almost certainly would not have ratified had it not been for the decision of Gov. Buford Ellington to rescue an Amendment resolution that a House committee had tabled. Tennessee was the only Southern state that ratified.

+ A House-passed resolution was before the Indiana Senate. Adjournment- until 1963- was but a few days away. It was not realized that the bill had not been lost en route from the printer and was, therefore, not on the Senate calendar.

Because of a routine “How are things going?” phone call from Sturgis Warner, presidential vote counsel to the District Democratic and Republican State Committees, the lost bill was found- and ratified in time.

The GOP-controlled Wyoming Senate got a do-not-pass recommendation from its Judiciary Committee. Under ordinary circumstances that would have been the end of the resolution.

Mary Bruner, District GOP Committee secretary and a former clerk in the Wyoming House, was horrified. She felt that the central problem was that Wyoming legislators did not understand that the Amendment would give District residents the presidential vote- period.

The Wyoming Press Association was meeting at the time in Cheyenne. Mrs. Bruner’s younger brother, Jim Griffith Jr., editor of the Lusk (Wyo.) Herald, had just been elected president.

She contacted him and influential Wyoming friends, including Lewis E. Bates, editor of the Wyoming State Tribune in Cheyenne, and State Treasurer C. J. Rogers.

Even before the Judiciary Committee action, the state’s lone Congressman, Rep. William Henry Harrison (R-Wyo.), had wired compelling appeals for support.

The Senate constituted itself as a committee of the whole, took the Amendment from the Judiciary Committee, passed it and sent it to the House, which later ratified it.

Perhaps it was luck, too, that Washington’s newspapers- divided on home rule and many other issues- were wholeheartedly united in trying to win the presidential vote.

Last September, The Washington Post set up a network of legislative correspondents in 44 state capitals. Especially in recent weeks, they provided The Post with the caliber of phone and wire coverage of fast-breaking news that can come only from experienced, on-the-spot reporters.

Beyond that, these correspondents themselves became interested in the Amendment. Their interest stimulated that of their own and other newspapers, of state legislators and of governors.

Slip-up in Vermont

There was one slip-up. The Vermont Senate had passed a ratification resolution. One day, the Vermont correspondent reported that the House had ratified. The report was duly printed.

Next morning, the office of Rep. Robert T. Stafford (R-Vt.) said there must have been a mistake- that the House had approved on a second, not a third and final, reading.

The cleark of the Vermont House, Dale Brooks, confirmed this. He said the House was in session at the moment (the morning of Friday, March 10) but was tied up with a fish and game bill. He doubted that final action could come before the following Tuesday.

The Washington Post reporter, almost speechless at the possibility of having to repeal Vermont, managed to ask Brooks if he would call collect whenever the House did ratify. Brooks said he’d be glad to.

Brooks called back within 10 minutes. He said that he had apprised Speaker Leroy Lawrence of the situation, and that the Speaker had suspended legislative hunting and fishing and called up the Amendment resolution, which was passed- unanimously.

For New Mexico’s ratification much credit is due to the wife of George Dixon, The Washington Post columnist. She is the daughter of Sen. Dennis Chavez (D-N. Mex.) Her name is Ymelda as most Dison’s fans know by this time.



This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the Washington Post archives and is not in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.





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