Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Professor Thaddeus Lowe's Civil War Balloon

Yesterday we showed a picture of balloon Pioneer Professor Thaddeus Lowe. Today we show a picture of the ground operations as his balloon is being prepared for flight. His balloons used a hydrogen gas as the lifting gas. The gas was produced by a process of partial combustion of coal or coke. One assumes that this combustion and generation is taking place in the two wagons at the left of the picture. This picture was taken at the Battle of Fair Oaks, where Lowe's flight provided valuable reconnaissance. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Professor Thaddeus Lowe

This is an amazing picture of a man that could be considered the first professional aviator. The picture shows Professor Thaddeus Lowe. The picture was taken around 1861. Professor Lowe had a practical lighter than air balloon system that could take men aloft in a basket under the balloon. Professor Lowe was used extensively for surveillance in the Civil War. It was an incredible advantage for Union Forces to be able to send Professor Lowe and his associates aloft to go up and peer over at confederate troop positions. It was the first example of aerial reconnaissance. They could go up, see confederate positions, and create sketches of those positions, and then give the Union Forces incredible intelligence.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Balloon Flight

Today's picture shows Albert Leo Stevens after his balloon is aloft. Yesterday we saw him preparing for launch. In this picture we see the entire balloon, and we can tell that in fact the balloon is a gas balloon, not a hot air balloon. The picture was taken in 1911, so most likely the balloon was filled with Hydrogen. Hydrogen has greater lift than helium, but of course one must be concerned that Hydrogen is a highly explosive gtas.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Balloon Flight

This week we will look at some of the early days of flight. I love this picture from 1911, showing a balloonist. I do not see any signs of a burner onboard, so will assume that this was a helium or hydrogen filled balloon. In any event, it really looks like an exciting scene. The balloonist is Albert Leo Stevens.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Marshall Texas

This is an interesting picture from Marshall, Texas taken in 1939. The picture shows farmers picking up supplies in town, and loading them into a wagon. You can see several other wagons in the picture. So, in the late 30's it looks like people were still using horse and wagon, but I imaine it died out pretty quickly after this.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cleburne Texas

This is Horse and Buggy Week, and today's picture delivers up a LOT of horses and buggies. The picture was taken on the town square in Cleburne, Texas. The picture was taken in the late 1800's. One must wonder how someone in the middle could work their way out of the square. Looks like a tangled mess.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Atlanta Carriage

This picture captures the elegance of the Deep South. The picture was taken in 1899 in Atlanta, Georgia. I note that this carriage was designed to be driven by a driver, with a separate compartment for the passengers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Horse and Buggy

Today's picture shows a horse and buggy in front of the Tyler School in Washington DC. The picture was taken in 1899. Notice how nicely all the children are dresses.

Monday, June 22, 2015

King Edward

Today's picture shows King Edward riding in his carriage. In both this picture and the picture yesterday of Roosevelt, it is striking how 100 years ago dignitaries could travel more openly and without all the protection. Just another sign of how many ways things have changed in the last 100 years.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Teddy Roosevelt

Today's picture shows Teddy Roosevelt arriving by carriage. The picture was taken in 1910, so this picture would have been after he was President. Looks like he had quiet the elegant ride.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Welcome to Horse and Buggy Week here at OPOD. We will be looking at days back when you needed a horse go get around. Today's picture is from 1938, and shows an Amish buggy. By 1938 is was just about down to only the Amish still using horses and buggies. Around 1900 cars started showing up but buggies remained dominant. I think it was in the mid-1910's that cars stopped being a novelty and really started replacing buggies. By the 1930's I think wagons and buggies were pretty much a thing of the past.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Stage Band

Today's picture shows a stage band that went by the name Criterion. Interestingly enough, Criterion was a type of fine music box back in the day, so it appears they were alluding to the music box in naming their band.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

High School Band

Today's picture shows a High School bank in Missouri practicing. The picture was taken in 1940. It looks like the girl on the right has a flag.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Middle East Band

Today's picture shows the Baghdad Army Band. The picture was taken in 1932. It looks like a beautiful area they are playing in, and wonders what type of music they would have been playing. It looks like a brass band.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Circus Band

This picture shows the Circus Band for the Barnum and Bailey Circus. The picture was taken in 1910. At first I thought it was a brass band, but then I saw the clarinets on the left.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Drum Major

If this is going to be band week, we have to make sure we do not forget the Drum Major. The picture above is of a drum major on the grounds of the white house. One would hope that his band is in front of him, and that he is not just standing there like lawn art.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Bogtrotters

Today's picture shows a band that was known as the Bogtrotters. The picture is from 1937, and it looks like a bluegrass band. The picture made me wonder about their music, so I was able to find the following recording, if you want to know what they sounded like.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Brass Band

Welcome to Band Week here at OPOD. We will look at the old tradition of people getting together with real instruments and making music. This picture is from 1865, and shows a military band with the 10th Veteran Reserve Corps. Looks like a fine group of musicians.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Spinning Wheel

We wrap up Artisan Week with this picture of a woman working on a spinning wheel. The picture is from 1920. It is amazing to me that people could actually take a lump of wool, spin it into thread, and then make a sweater. To be honest, I am not exactly sure how a spinning wheel works. Maybe someone who has used one could explain.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Spinning Yarn

We continue to look back at the days when people actually worked with their hands. This picture is from 1914, and it shows a couple that have just spun yarn, and they are now rolling it into a ball. They probably raised and sheared the sheep as well.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Gutzon Borglum

Today we feature a picture of sculptor Gutzon Borglum. Gutzon is most remembered for his work on Mount Rushmore. In the picture above, he is inspecting the work on Washington's face. This picture was taken in 1932.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Hopi Weaver

Artisan Week continues today with this picture of a Hopi Basket Weaver. This picture was taken in 1908. Hopi Baskets remain highly prized by collectors to this day.

Monday, June 8, 2015


Artisan Week continues here at OPOD with this picture of Women Weaving. It looks like they are starting with cotton or wool, spinning it into thread, and then weaving a blanket. Wow, can you imagine being able to go from wool to finished blanket all on your own. I bet there would not be more than a very small number of people in this country still able to do this.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Hopi Potter

Today's picture shows a Hopi Potter showing off her work. The picture shows the very fine work of these people with almost no equipment. This picture was taken in 1903.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Zuni Potter

Welcome to Artisan Week here at OPOD. We will be looking at people who make things with their hands . . . almost a lost art in this day and age. We start with this picture of a Zuni Potter. As I looked at fine Indian Pottery in the past, one thing I never thought about is that Indians did not have pottery wheels. You can see that the way she is making the pot is to role the clay into a long tube, and then build the pot by wrapping the tube around, and then using the fingers to press out the tube shape. It is amazing the precision and fineness they were able to achieve using this technique.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Service Station

Today's picture is from the 1940's and shows a scene where there was still "Service" at service stations. It looks like they had two pumps, and attendant dressed nicely in a company uniform.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Old Gas Station

This is a classic picture from 1940 of an old school gas station. Notice the old gravity fed pumps. From all the signage one wonders whether their primary product was gas or booze.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Gas Rationing

Today's picture shows lines at a gas station in 1942. At this time, rationing was in effect, which at times led to gas lines.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Standard Service Station

Today's picture shows a Standard Gas Station. The picture was taken in 1942 in Tracy, California. I am sure this customer did not have to fill his own tank.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Gas Prices

Ahhh, the good ol' days . . . when you could buy fishing worms at the gas station, gas was 20 cents a gallon, and they came out and filled your car, washed your windshield, checked your oil and aired your tires. Now you fill your own car, and can buy lottery tickets, cigarettes and beer. Progress? . . . I think not.