Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bread in Africa

Today's picture was taken in the Sudan in 1936. It shows children selling bread on the streets. Bread appears to be a common part of the diet of just about all people. This looks like a desert, so wonder where the wheat came from to make the flour?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Iraq Bread Vendors

Today's picture was taken in 1932 in Baghdad, Iraq. The picture shows street vendors selling bread. The women have bread in baskets on their heads. It almost makes a festive hat! This bread looks like the bread I used to buy from street vendors in Mexico. It was Good!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dutch Oven Biscuits

This week I continue to reminisce about wonderful bread I have had in my life. This picture reminds me of another favorite . . . Dutch Oven Biscuits. The picture was taken in 1939 near Marfa, Texas. These Cowboy biscuits are made with real buttermilk, and plenty of shortening. They are then cooked in the dutch oven by putting the iron pan over hot coals, and then more hot coals are placed on top of the iron lid.

So, how many of you know how to make buttermilk biscuits from scratch . . . and how many of you could make them in a Dutch Oven? 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Street Bread Vendor

Today's picture was taken in Jerusalem in 1890. It shows vendors selling fresh bread on the street. I have a feeling this bread is delicious. I can remember as a child going to Old Mexico, and vendors would sell bread on the street. It was hot out of the oven, and was some of the best bread I had ever eaten. Wonder if anyone out there has bought bread from a street vendor?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Kiva Oven

Bread Week continues with this picture from 1939 near Taos, New Mexico. Believe it or not, there are still Mexican and Indian women in this area cooking bread like this in outdoor Kiva Ovens. They then sell it on the side of the road. Let me tell you, it is some of the best bread you have ever tasted. It is sold fresh out of the oven, and it is wonderful!


If my calculations are correct, right about now I will be somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, on my way to Kitale, Kenya via London. By the miracle of modern electronics, I was able to write this post before I left, so you could still get your daily picture fix. I have pre-done several days worth, and hopefully I will begin publishing from Kitale, Live, within the next few days.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bread Baking

Welcome to Bread Week here at OPOD. We will be taking a journey through time and looking at bread making traditions throughout time. 

I will have to admit that bread is one of my all time favorite foods. Now, I am not talking about that white stuff they sell in plastic bags at grocery stores, but good, fresh home made bread. Bread is fun to make and nothing is better than the smell of bread cooking in your home. The aroma makes you feel like all is well. Hmm . . . think I might better go start a batch right now.

So, do you enjoy making bread? Do you enjoy eating good bread?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Today's picture s from the 1910's, and it shows a nice farmhouse scene, with a windmill. Looks like the house has a wrap around porch, and a screened in porch. I am not sure what the structure to the right of the windmill is.

Do you know what I see when I look at this picture? I see a Painting Nightmare. The windmill is all wood, including the wind vanes, which means it will need to be painted every few years. In addition the two story houses have lots of hard to get to places. Yes, these folks probably spent most of their time painting.

My goal when we built our house was to build it where there would be no outside maintenance work, with no exposed wood. It is a rock house, with a metal roof. Well, the one tough spot was the columns for the front porch. The balcony above has a poured concrete floor, so the support columns on the first floor front porch had to be structural support and could not be the decorative fiberglass columns. The columns were made of steel, and then covered in wood to look nice. Well, the columns have to be painted every two years. So, if anyone can offer me a solution I would appreciate it. Are there any decorative type porch columns that could be built around steel support columns that do not need to be repainted every few years?

Anyway, I guess my outdoor painting problems are minor compared to the people that lived in this house.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wind Charger

Today's picture was taken in 1939 near Corpus Christi, Texas. The man is setting up a wind charger. The info on the picture said that he was a squatter, so I wonder if he is living in his car, and perhaps scavenged the generator from the car (note that the hood of the car is open). 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Windmill and Tank House

Today's picture is unusual as it shows a wind mill mounted on top of a structure. The building is actually a tank house, and the upper portion has a large water tank and the lower portion is used for storage. I am surprised the wind vanes are so close to the roof line. I would thing that for good airflow you would want the wind vanes further away from the roof. Anyway, and interesting picture from California.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Aeromotor Windmill

Today's picture was taken in Indiana and it shows an Aeromotor Windmill. The Aeromotor Windmill company is still around, and its manufacturing plant is right here in San Angelo. When Electricity came to the countryside, many people turned the windmills off, and "advanced" to electric water pumps. Over time people realized that the cost of electricity in pumping water can be significant, and now many people are once again using windmills as a more efficient source of water in remote areas.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wind Charger

We normally think of early wind power as a means of pumping water, but in the 1920's and 1930's people often built home made "Wind Chargers". These were early devices to bring a little electricity to a home before electricity was available from the utility companies. They systems typically worked like this. A home made wind mill was connected to a car generator. As the wind blew, the generator turned, and charged a battery. The system typically had two batteries . . . one inside being used, and one outside being charged. The batteries would be swapped about once a day. The car battery would be enough to run a radio, and provide a little night time light. A pretty crude system, but much better than no electricity at all.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cowboys by Windmill

I love this picture of Cowboys by a Windmill. The picture was taken near Sheffield in Pecos County, Texas. This is one of the really Old School wooden windmills that you do not see any more. Sheffield is in far West Texas, and is near Interstate 10. It was the location of one of the big oil fields in West Texas.


Wanted to let you all know that I am getting ready to go to Africa. I spent last Christmas there, and fell in love with the place and the people, so am now ready to go back. One of the things I am interested in exploring while I am over there is economic development . . . is there a way to help get more business and entrepreneurial activity going, even if on a very small scale.  I will depart for Africa next Saturday, and not sure on the return date. I plan to provide trip updates on OPOD.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Welcome to Windmill Week here at OPOD. We will travel back to the days that we used the wind for useful work. Windmills were a critical element in settling the west as they brought water to the areas of the frontier not near rivers. Windmills had already been used in Europe for hundreds of years to power flour and other milling operations. Somewhere along the way we decided it was better to strip mine and use coal to make electricity.

Luckily, we do appear to be getting back to wind power. AeroMotor, one of the original manufacturers of windmills for water wells, has a manufacturing plant in San Angelo, Texas. They make windmills just like the original ones in the old West. They ship them all over the country and all over the world. 

Friday, May 18, 2012


Today's picture was taken in about 1910. It shows a woman in Fairbanks, Alaska with Tomatoes from her garden. 

There were some interesting comments yesterday on vegetables today, and how they do not taste so great. Today, vegetables are bred to be robust in shipping and have a long shelf life, not for flavor or healthiness. It is amazing the difference between home grown vegetables and store bought. I grow my lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers in a greenhouse year round. It is funny when I sit and eat lunch with people . . . my salad is BRIGHTLY colored, and everyone else's is pretty much bland white. The difference in both color and flavor is striking.

I wish we would get back to where our food was locally produced by producers in the area who hired people in the area and paid them a fair wage. Unfortunately, those days are long gone.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Picking Peas

Today's picture was taken in Georgia in 1939. It shows a family picking peas in their garden. I really like peas, and my favorite type of peas are Black Eyed Peas. They are not good canned or frozen, but fresh Black Eyed Peas are delicious.

Some interesting conversation yesterday on the 5 cent hamburger, and inflation. When you see a sign that says "5 cent hamburger", your first response is, "Wow I wish they were than much today", and then your second response is, "But people made a lot less back then". So which is it . . . are we getting more burgers or less burgers for an hour of work? 

My opinion is that I am working harder and harder for fewer and fewer burgers. I think not only am I getting fewer burgers for an hour of work, but the burgers are lower quality. I can remember in the 60's going to a diner and getting a huge DELICIOUS hamburger and a Dr. Pepper made with real cane sugar and made up fresh at the soda fountain. A very different dining experience, and one much superior to today's Micky D's. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Watermelon Wagon

I enjoyed the conversation on Watermelons so much yesterday, I decided to feature another watermelon picture today. We had discussed that the best watermelons came from guys selling them out of the back of their trucks. The only thing that could be better than that I bet would be a watermelon sold out of the back of a farmer's wagon. The picture was taken in 1940 in Kentucky.

I find the sign on the window for hamburgers interesting. You could buy a hamburger for 5 cents. The average wage in 1940 was 65 cents per hour, so you could work an hour and buy 13 hamburgers. Today the average wage is $10 an hour, and I would say that the average price of a hamburger is $5.  So a typical person can work an hour and buy 2 hamburgers. Am I doing the math wrong, or are we working harder and harder for fewer and fewer hamburgers?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Watermelon Vine

Today's picture was taken in Kansas in 1939. It shows a man in his garden displaying a fine looking watermelon. 

I have had lots of difficulty growing watermelons in the past. It takes the melons a long time to mature and it always seems like something happens to the vines before the melons are ready. I have tried several times, but have always been disappointed.

Also, it is pretty much impossible to buy a good melon in the grocery stores. The good melons are sold on the side of the road out of the back of old pickups. Wow, now I am hungry for a good watermelon!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gardening in Alaska

Today's picture is from 1916. It shows a magnificent garden near Fairbanks, Alaska. The garden appears to have both vegetables and flowers. The vegetables appear to be some type of cabbage or other leafy green. I am sure they would do well in the cool Alaska summers. Also looks like some plants are growing on the roof of the cabin.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Woman Gardening

Today's picture is from 1940, and it shows a woman planting cabbage in her garden. The picture was taken in Pie Town, New Mexico.

There is sure something fun about gardening. Especially in the spring time when you are going out in the cool sunshine for the first time in a while, and you are planting all the things you are going to grow. I wish more people would discover the joy of gardening. There is just something satisfying about growing your own food.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spring Garden

Welcome to Garden Week here at OPOD. We kick the week off with this picture of a man in his fine looking garden. The picture was taken in 1939 in Marshall Texas.

So I am curious if we have some avid gardeners out there. I am interested in hearing your plans for a garden.

As for me, I have pretty much given up on an outside garden. It has gotten to where the West Texas summers are so hot and so dry, it is hard to make a garden work. Back in the day, you did not think much about your water bill for a garden, but now days you can get a pretty big water bill pretty easily. Last summer I planted a corn patch, and pretty much had to leave the water running all the time to keep it watered. Even with all the watering, the corn did not make, and even if it had, I could have purchased corn at the farmer's market for less than what my water bill was.

So, this year I am focused on the indoor garden in the greenhouse. I have cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, collards and broccoli producing right now. 

As far as outdoor gardening, I am growing garlic. It pretty much grows wild, and does not need to be watered. Also, I have put in an orchard with about a dozen fruit trees.

OK, now let us know what your garden will look like this year!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Blacksmith Shop

We wrap up Blacksmith Week today with this picture of an old Blacksmith Shack. It is a reminder of a quieter and simpler time that is long gone. The picture was taken in 1935 in North Carolina.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Today's picture was taken in 1939. It shows a blacksmith forging a piece of metal. Both men have a hammer, so I am not sure exactly who is doing what. The picture was taken in Lufkin, Texas.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blacksmith at Anvil

Today's picture was taken in South Missouri in 1940. It shows a blacksmith working at this anvil. It looks like he is beating on a plow. 

Can you imagine if someone tried to have a blacksmith shop like this today? For the one guy working at the anvil, there would be two bureaucrats back in Washington making up rules to make sure he was "safe". Then he would have to hire two safety experts to make sure his shop stayed in compliance with the regulations. Then he would need two more people to make sure he was compliant with all the tax regulations. So, in the end you would have 7 people, with one doing real work. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Working Blacksmiths

Today's picture was taken in 1939 in San Augustine, Texas. The picture shows men working away in a Blacksmith Shop. I am assuming the third man who appears to be watching is the customer.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Shoeing Horse

Today's picture was taken in 1940 in San Angelo, Texas. That is about 15 miles from where I live. The picture shows a blacksmith shoeing a horse. Horse shoeing was one of the important jobs of the blacksmith. I have never shod a horse, but I have seen it done several times. The times I saw it done, cussing was a big part of the job. I don't know if everyone cusses when they shoe a horse, but the times I saw it done, the guy was cussing up a storm. As you can see in the picture, the blacksmith has to first position himself in the perfect position to be kicked by the horse. The horse, not being stupid, takes advantage of this situation to at least give an attempt to kick the guy. Next, you can see that the blacksmith must lift the horses leg to work on the hoof. The theory is that the horse should dirstribute his weight to the other three legs, but in reality, the horse will lean on the blacksmith. So the blacksmith is trying to do a tedious job, and the horse starts leaning a good bit of his weight on him. Well, that is when the cussing really gets started. If you have seen it unfold differently, please share your story.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

San Antonio Blacksmith

Today's picture was taken in 1939 and shows a Blacksmith Shop in San Antonio, Texas. You can see all the wagon wheels out front. A lot of the work of a blacksmith was to show horses and fix wagons, so the fate of the blacksmith was pretty much cast with the growing availability of affordable cars.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Blacksmith Shop

Today's picture was taken in 1940, and it shows a blacksmith shop. This would have been a time that was pretty much the end of the era for blacksmiths. It is amazing to think about how much things have changed since the days of the blacksmith. Consider the blacksmith shop . . . a blacksmith would shoe horses, fix broken things, and fabricate things. Almost 100% of anything spent in the blacksmith shop would stay in the local community. The blacksmith would no doubt need helpers, so he gainfully employed people in the community. He would probably also hire young people as helpers, and then they would learn the trade through apprenticeship. Almost everything used to operate that way, not almost nothing does.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Making Furniture

We finish off trade school week with this picture of students learning how to make furniture. The picture was taken i 1899. I am under the impression that until fairly recently a lot of furniture was made in the US in North and South Carolina, but that that too has been pretty much moved off shore.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wood Working Class

Today's picture was taken in 1899, and shows a woodworking class. The striking thing to me in this picture is how much things have changed in the last 110 years. First, look at how trim everyone is. Not an ounce of body fat in this picture. Second, look how neatly dressed the children are. They are striving to look like gentlemen in the hopes that they can one day be part of polite society. Look at how well groomed they are . . . neat haircuts, and hair neatly combed. Also, I would bet they are attentive to the instructor and diligent to follow his guidance.

So as a society when did we decide we wanted to look like thugs, cover ourselves with garish tattoos and piercings, be overweight, and disrespect our elders. Have the changes since this picture been for the better? . . . I think not.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Big Engine

This is another picture from the Hampton Institute in 1899. The students are being taught Mechanical Engineering. I am not sure what type of engine this is, but it is sure big.