Thursday, January 31, 2013

Long Lines

I think another important aspect of the Rat Race is long lines. I think if you are required to spend time each day in some sort of long line, then there is a good chance you are in the Rat Race. One of the things the government is particularly adept at is creating long lines. I am sure we all have our horror stories about the Department of Motor Vehicles or the post office. 

The picture above was taken in San Augustine, Texas in 1939.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tobacco Workers

It looks like the Rat Race started early for some. Today's picture shows a truckload of kids being taken to a farm to pick tobacco. The children were picked up in town at 6:00 AM and were returned at 7:00 PM. That would make for a pretty hard day. The picture was taken in 1917.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Crowded Office

I think two clear signs you might be in the Rat Race are a crowded office, and a high component of clerical work. This picture from 1938 shows a Social Security Office in Washington DC. These people's job was to change the spelling on people's name who have interactions with the Social Security Administration. According to the picture caption . . .

"A coding system, which eliminates all vowels and some consonants and reduces the remaining letters of the alphabet to groups designated by six master, or key, letters is employed in the Social Security Board Records Office. The coding system was adopted as a "foolproof" methods of keeping track of names, whether or not misspelled by their owners in subsequent correspondence. The system also is of great value in simplifying many of the mechanical operations necessary to set up and maintain individual wage record accounts for the millions or workers covered by the Social Security Act. The picture shows employees coding applicants names."

Yes, folks, this is the Rat Race!

Monday, January 28, 2013


I think that secretarial jobs can often have a large Rat Race component. Unfortunately, secretaries are often not treated with the respect and appreciation they deserve. This picture was taken in 1908, and shows a woman with a dictation pad and typewriter.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Clerical Work

Rat Race Week continues here at OPOD with this picture of clerical workers in Baltimore Maryland in 1939. They are all typing up social security cards. I think a key aspect of Rat Race work is not so much that it is hard, but that it is meaningless. It is very hard to be a farmer, but I would bet few farmers feel like they are in the Rat Race.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Rat Race

Welcome to the Rat Race here at OPOD. This week we will be examining various elements of the Rat Race over the last 100 years. The picture above was taken in 1915, and it shows people so busy that they have to sleep in their office. The office is a stock exchange, and the people are office clerks.

I would be interested in hearing your perspective on the Rat Race. What exactly does it mean, and are you stuck in it?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Busy Street

We wrap the week up with this picture of a busy street in New York City. The picture was taken in 1905. It is interesting that not a single automobile can be seen, and in a few short years, the horses and carriages would be almost completely gone. This just serves as a reminder of how quickly things can change.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Snarled Traffic

Today's picture was taken in 1919, and it shows a road snarled with traffic. The picture tends to confirm my speculation that as long as there has been cars, there has been traffic jams. There is no additional information on what has caused the traffic congestion, but you can see there are a number of people walking along the roadway.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Busy Street Corner

Today's picture shows a busy street corner in Washington DC. The picture was taken at the Willard Hotel, at the corner of 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The picture was taken in 1949. I like the wide array of transportation, ranging from foot traffic to streetcar.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Crowded Street

It appears that traffic congestion did not start with the advent of cars. This is a picture of a crowded New York City street in about 1900. You can see the carriages and horse drawn wagons are filling the street.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Congested Traffic

To me nothing screams "Rat Race" more than congested traffic, and those who choose to endure it every day. The picture above is from 1941, and shows the traffic on the weekend of people trying to get out of the city to relax. Luckily, I have no traffic to deal with where I live. I drive 20 miles to work, but maybe encounter 5 cars on the drive. In a former job, I worked in a highly secure facility and you would have to wait in a line a mile long as each car had to be checked as it went through a security gate. Now that was the rat race.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Traffic Jam

Welcome to Traffic Jam Week. This week we will be looking at various traffic snarls throughout the last 100 years. This one is in Detroit Michigan, and the picture was taken in about 1920.

Hope you all will share your traffic stories. How many of you have to deal with snarled traffic on a routine basis?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Women Chain Gang

One comment yesterday . . . really? We are down to just one comment. I guess I better shake things up a little today and not just put up another picture of men in the south in stripes fixing roads. This picture is from East Africa and was taken around 1910. It shows women convicts in chains being used to repair the roads.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Convicts Working

Chain Gang Week continues here at OPOD with this picture of a prison work crew in Georgia in 1941. In addition, below we present another example of Chain Gang music. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Prisoners Working

Today's picture shows convicts working on the road in North Carolina. The picture was taken in 1936. 

Below is another recording of Chain Gang music.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Road Work

Today's picture shows convicts working on the road in Oglethorpe County, Georgia in 1941. I notice that while these groups were called "Chain Gangs", I have not seen any of the prisoners in chains in the pictures we have looked at.

It is interesting that these groups would sing to help pass the time, and would work in rhythm to the song. This is an interesting recording I found of a such a group.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Prison Work Crew

Today's picture was taken in 1936, and it shows a prison work crew. The picture was taken in North Carolina. I wonder when prisoners stopped wearing striped clothing. I routinely see prison work crews picking up trash on the side of the road, but they wear bright orange.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Road Work

Today's picture shows convicts doing road work. The picture was taken in the 1940's. The men would gather rocks, and then use a sledge hammer to break them into little pieces, and then the small chips were used as the base for roadwork. Personally if I were a convict I would rather be out doing work like this than be cooped up behind a fence all day.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Chain Gang

Welcome to Convicts and Chain Gang week here at OPOD. We will be looking at the various activities of the incarcerated of the last century. We start with this Chain Gang picture from Oglethorpe, Georgia in 1941. It looks like it could be a scene right out of Cool Hand Luke. If you have not seen the movie, you should rent it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

White House Sheep

It is amazing to me how elitist Washington DC has become, and how far it has moved away from the common man. I guess it was not always that bad, as reflected in this picture from 1919, when they actually still grazed sheep on the white house lawn. I think sheep, a milk cow, and chickens at the White House would be a good thing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I guess one of the advantages of being the President's son is that you get to have a Pony. This is Archie Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt's son.

I tell you, DADD's stories yesterday of pet raccoons really made me want a raccoon now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pet Raccoon

Presidential Pet week would not be complete without this unusual example of Mrs. Coolidge's pet raccoon. The picture was taken on Easter Sunday, 1927. This has to be one of the most unusual White House pets.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Presidential Pets

This week we are going to look at presidential pets. This one legged chicken was the pet of Teddy Roosevelt. I do not have any other information but there has to be an interesting story behind this.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Back Home

OK, I am happy to announce that I made it back home safely, but I am completely exhausted. It is a very difficult trip. The trip starts with an 8 hour drive across Kenya to go from Kitale to Nairobi. The roads are terrible, and traffic travels the center of a road with no center stripe, and vehicles then dodge each other at the last possible minute, while threading the needle to not hit pedestrians, donkeys, bicycles and scooters on the edge of the road. Then we had an 8 hour wait in the Nairobi airport. You don't want to be on the Kitale to Nairobi road at night, so you have to leave early enough to reach the airport by dark, even though the flight did not leave till very late at night. Then about an 11 hour flight from Nairobi to London, a 5 hour layover in London, a 10 hour flight from London to Dallas, and then a 5 hour drive from Dallas to our home. So, that will wear anyone out, but I am home and that is what counts.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Departing Africa

Alas my time in Africa has come to an end, and I have departed to return to the US. I hope you have enjoyed the updates of my travels as much as I have enjoyed my time here. Now, back to my wonderful home, and the lovely Mrs. PJM!

Friday, January 4, 2013


I am sad to say that my time in Africa has drawn to a close and I begin the long trip home. First up is an 8 hour drive from Kitale to Nairobi. Had a wonderful time here, and can not wait to return.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Culture Clash

I love the contrasts in this picture. In the foreground you see a group of African Natives, and in the background you see a plane from British Imperial Airways. The picture was taken in the Sudanese desert in 1936. The British came to Africa, and now they are gone, and not much has changed in Africa.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bread Vendors

This picture shows bread vendors in a market in the Sudan. You wold be surprised as how good these breads taste, at least the ones I have had. They are baked fresh daily, to be eaten that day, from all natural ingredients without all the chemical additives. Delicious!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Boating the Nile

This picture shows a group boating the Nile. The picture was taken in 1936 near the Murchinson Falls in Uganda. This scene really reminds me of the old movie, the "African Queen". I wonder where that movie was supposed to be set? In any event, it was a great movie.