We can thank the Roman Empire (4th-5th century) for crafting this custom of cute little girls, usually tossing rose petals down the aisle, smiling brightly in their 15 minutes of fame—or crying, as the bride ambles down a velvet carpet behind her, to her groom.
In ancient Rome, It’s likely she was chosen to represent the bride in her youth, with the bride following behind. The procession represented the woman being passed from childhood into adulthood, and soon-to-be motherhood. The little girl was typically dressed similarly as the bride and held a basket or a sheath of herbs and wheat, instead of flowers. She would toss them along the path in front of the bride to embody and bring forth fertility and blessings. In some instances, she would carry a ring, or bundle of garlic to ward off bad spirits and offer protection.
Over 1000 year later, when the tradition was adopted into the Elizabethan era, not much changed. Though, the flower girl would now toss rose petals, a symbol of love. She would start from the bride’s house and guide her all the way to the church.
Over the years, the tradition stayed the same, but the dresses changed. They went from bride’s dress copies to elegant puffy things, to a flapper-style dress in the 20’s to slowly what you see today.
The flower girls have always been the youngest person in the wedding party, around the age of 6-8 years old. Today, they are typically a family member, maybe even a daughter, or friend’s child. Some women today even opt to have no flower girl at all. The custom has certainly changed from something that had a strong preternatural belief to the desire to be able to include all ages into one’s ceremony.
Did you have a flower girl? (reply on my Instagram post @Kristina_moore_author)
You hear of child abduction or human trafficking in the news today and it’s something so awful and unimaginable you don’t want to believe it. But would you believe over 5000 children were stolen and illegally sold out of an adoption home in Memphis Tennessee between 1924 & 1950, all at the hands of one woman and an intricate system of connections and societal status. The home: The Tennessee Children’s Home Society, was functioning as an adoption agency with much dire circumstances and unconventional tactics. The head of the facility, Georgia Tann, was a stout woman with short, cropped hair, tiny glasses and a smile with a hidden meaning. She was said to be abrasive and hot-headed with an apt for charisma and gaining prestigious friends.
Before running the TCHS, Georgia grew up in a prominent family in Hickory Mississippi. Despite wanting to become a lawyer, her father and judge, swayed her to find a path into social work after graduating from university; a job more “fit for a woman” he said. She moved around the US, learning and adapting the techniques she would soon use to run the TCHS. Starting under the guidance of Kate McWillie Powers in Jackson, she learned the in’s and out’s, including how to exploit the very lax system for adoption. Eventually she moved to Dallas, and a short stint in New Orleans. But when authorities would start sniffing around, she packed up and moved on. Eventually she ended up as the Executive Director at the Memphis branch of the TCHS. She learned how to work the system and her way into elite society becoming fast friends with the mayor, Edward ‘Boss’ Crump. Through his political connections she was even consulted by Eleanor Roosevelt on child welfare and even personally invited to the inauguration of President Truman. Eventually, it would be some rumors in this exact circle and a run for governor that would unravel the secrets she had been holding behind locked doors.
Georgia Tann knew there was a demand for children with parents that were unable to conceive. She helped to remove the stigma from adoption, making it a completely acceptable option, when before adoption was a frowned upon. she particularly liked the blonde-haired, blue-eyed ones, but she wasn’t known to discriminate. In fact, she even pushed adoption for bi-racial children, who were once only adopted for house slaves and indentured servants. Unfortunately, the good she did was washed away like a sandcastle in a storm when the secret doors to her home were broke wide open by soon-to-be Governor, Gordon Browning.
Georgia and her team had a few different ways to acquire the children, the rarest of them was when the parents brought the children willingly to the TCHS. More often than not, Georgia would steal the babies and children right off of front lawns, playgrounds, or even daycares, where she would have either a fake, or a bribed social worker enter the premise and remove the child under the “orders of the state”. When and if the parents would find their children, there was almost no chance of getting them back. Georgia would falsify documents, including birth certificates, renaming the child completely and telling the parents that there was no such child by that name at the facility. If the parents were lucky enough to afford to take Georgia to court, she would pay off Judge, Camille Kelley, who handled the juvenile cases. Kelley would be more than happy to sign a few papers deeming the parents (or commonly a single mom) unfit and transferring custody of the children to Georgia. The children were commonly told their parents had died to prevent any snooping or spreading of “misinformation” once they were placed in an adoptive home.
In other instances, Georgia would go straight to the hospital and through her system of bribed contacts, the newborn babies would be handed off to a social worker and put in a car to be driven to the TCHS. When the new mother asked about her child, she was told that the baby was born stillborn or died after birth, leaving the mother in anguish while only her body held the reminder of her child.
The adoptive parents Georgia dealt with were typically high-class families, usually recommended by a friend. Including actress Joan Crawford, and a NY governor among others. They were given papers and under the impression that the children and babies were all received through a cooperation between parents and TCHS. Georgia took their fees, pocketing over 70% herself sometimes. If the parents came to question her, possibly when the child admitted to being stolen off a playground, Georgia would threaten to take the child back from the new parents who had been desperately waiting so long and came to love the child. If the parents were willing to give the child back, she would plan to bury them in legal fees, or blackmail them, dropping their status in society. Georgia had a knack for being able to divert issues and blame, including when rumors started to spread about her. She and the mayor, Crump would start switching the spotlight on problems with other adoption agencies in town.
During the holidays, Georgia found the perfect money-making trick: place an ad of a beautiful child in the local paper with a caption that said, “Want a real-life Christmas present? … How can you say no?” These ads actually worked and her sales of the children would sky-rocket. When asked to stop placing the ads by local officials, she refused.
Meanwhile, at the facility, the children were not kept in good circumstances. They were typically unwashed and underfed. The babies slept 5 or 6 to one crib, often left to cry alone with watered down formula or corn mush. Their diapers were rarely changed, and the babies would constantly get sick. At one point, a dysentery outbreak killed over 50 (documented) babies before they got it under control. The TCHS alone even raised Memphis’ infant mortality rate to the highest in the nation.
If the children would misbehave, punishment was swift and harsh. For weeks they could be locked in a closet, fed only water and stale bread. They would be hung from coat hooks for hours and other unimaginable ways of abuse. It was known that sexual assault was happening at the hands of the staff of the TCHS. One particular staff member, the janitor, who had a room in the basement of the house where he was known to take the little boys. Georgia herself would also sexually abuse and rape the little girls. Survivors of the TCHS can recall the bright, frilly nature of her bedroom; once so inviting and calm, now remembered as a torture chamber. This wouldn’t be the end for the children either. Georgia’s vetting process became next to nothing. She stopped doing in-home visits with the adoptive parents; she stopped placing the children and let the parents choose which ones they wanted. This was the dismal concoction for unfit parents to gain access to the children and many faced abuse at the hands of their new family.
Eventually, over time, Georgia got complacent. She still funneled money into her account; charging fees where there shouldn’t be, or charging a fee that belonged to another, more expensive adoption, like an out-of-state adoption. Her (assumed) girlfriend, would pick up children, where she would get five or more for the cost of one, pocketing the rest of the money and forging any documents needed.
By 1949, Gordon Browning was running for governor. There were rumors going around about what was happening at THCS. In an effort to not only humiliate his opponent, but uncover what was happening, he hired investigator and attorney, Robert Taylor, to look into Georgia. Robert went as far as to follow Judge Kelley’s assistant when she went all the way to LA to gather children and bring them back for Georgia. He was able to gather records showing her fraud. But when questioned about it, Georgia stated she was just following procedure by eliminating files. Back then—and in some states still, adoption files were sealed completely with no access. Eventually, Robert made a case against Georgia, and in 1950 she was finally set to go to court. But not for human trafficking, only for the fraud and money laundering. At this point, Georgia was in the very late stages of uterine cancer and she died before the charges were even brought. Days later her friend, Judge Camille Kelley resigned from her post. The TCHS was closed with only 20 children left and none of the staff were charged with any wrongdoing.
To this day, less than 10% of the children from the TCHS were able to find their birth families. Over 500 (documented) children died at the facility at the hands of Georgia and the staff. There is now a memorial where the cemetery is. Crump currently has statues and streets named after him to this day. He died in 1954 with no repercussions for his actions or involvement. Wikipedia doesn’t even mention the TCHS under his name. In a proverbial silver lining, Tennessee strengthened their adoption policies and procedures. As of recently, they are one of the only states to allow unsealed adoption papers, allowing children to see the documents and possibly find their birth parents. This story has been depicted in a couple other movies and shows, a book with survivor interviews and most recently, a novel by Lisa Wingate: Before We Were Yours. Until I read this, I had never heard of this story. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last time things like this have happened in America. There have been a few women following in Georgia’s footsteps, but that’s a story for another time.
Online Sources: Nchgs.org NYpost.com Wikipedia UnsolvedMysteries.com Adoption.com
Podcasts: Southern Fried Crime Most Likely Misinformed
Let Me Remind You…About the Great Fire(s) of New Orleans
It was 1:30pm, on March 21, 1788, the sun was starting to warm the Mississippi shores of Louisiana, or then known as “The Territory of Orleans”. Spring was warming the air and bringing birds to sing their song in the budding trees. It also brought a cool, but very strong wind from the Southeast. Near Jackson square, at the home of the Spanish army treasurer, Don Vincente Jose Nuñez (say that five times fast), the family gathered for a Good Friday meal. A prayer was said and many candles were lit on the alter to pay their respects. Somehow during this meal, the candles managed to catch the home on fire. The wooden structure caught flame like a match struck with a flint.
Don Vincente and his family escaped the home, screaming for the neighbors to get out of their homes. Like many ‘great fires’ throughout history have shown us: wood was a New-World way of building and it was far from fireproof. Unfortunately, when the French settled the New Orleans area, that was their main building material of choice and the French quarter was pretty much one big stack of timbers.
The strong wind carried the lick of the flames to the homes adjoining the Nuñez’s. Many of the women and men ran into the streets, carrying their children and only what they had on their backs. They watched as one-by-one, houses were engulfed by flames; smoke billowing into the sky, blotting out the sun; flames shot out of the windows like a dragon’s tongue tasting the air. The smell of burning timber filled their senses as they ran to get away from the heat of the flames, leaving behind everything they knew of their life just an hour before.
Pedestrians frantically ran to the churches, which would normally ring their bells to alert the residents of the French Quarter to emergencies, but they were denied. The priests refused to ring the bells because it was Good Friday.
Over the next five hours, the flames continued to spread like magnets to metal shavings. More and more homes and businesses catching fire, forcing more people into the streets to watch the destruction, choking on tears, sweat and smoke until finally the fires rescinded to the embers throughout 856 of the 1100 structures in New Orleans. 80% of the city was lost that day. The damage stretched between Dauphine and Chartres along the Mississippi; from Conti to St. Philips.
During the fire, men grabbed whatever they could and moved Her Majesty’s Treasures, any of the auditor’s papers and ammunitions or weapons they had stored. But many people had their own stash of guns and gun powder hidden in their homes, which exasperated the flames, combusting at every chance they got. The only two fire trucks that were in the city were burned as well.
Just like in the normal, New Orleans spirit, people who were unaffected by the fire stepped up and offered to help. Even crowd funding to rebuild the city. The people who lost their homes could apply for a tent to stay in just outside the city, if they had no family to stay with.
When Governor Esteban Miro Wrote to the Queen in Spain, he stated that the damages were estimated to be at $1,080,000, or $3,000,000 including personal belongings. Today, that would equal to over $59,000,000. Never-the-less, they rebuilt and continued on with living… Until 1794, when the second Great fire struck New Orleans.
Less is known about this fire, or how it started, but it happened on December 8, 1794, just a mere six years after the first. New Orleans had already been hit by two hurricanes that year and was not in the mood for something like this. Though this fire did significantly less damage, it still took 212 of the 1100 structures. Among those structures was the jail, where the inmates were moved to a schooner that was held offshore called the Nuestra Señora Del Carmen. They would remain there until February.
A notable man in this story is Andres Almonaster y Roxas. He was born of a noble family and once in New Orleans became the Notary Public. He solely funded the rebuilding of the Cabildo after both fires, along with providing funds for many other charitable endeavors to help the residents of the city.
Some of the structures that escaped both fires are still intact today, unaffected by the fire or time. One of them is a popular bar at the end of Bourbon St. called Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. It has remained mostly unchanged inside and out. Another is the Ursuline Convent, which has been renovated due to the disintegration of the aged building materials.
After the second fire, that was the last straw. New Orleans developed and continues to have strict fire codes. When the buildings were rebuilt, they are what you now see: wrought iron balconies, courtyards and brick or stucco facades. This look has become traditional New Orleans style. To this day you must have a permit for things like, cutting or welding on your property, fumigation, and many more obvious open-flame permits. The houses must be made of more fire-proof materials like brick and abide by a strict building code to avoid repeating history.
Let Me Remind You… About the lost Colony of Roanoke.
It took two and a half months at sea, cramped in close quarters of a handful of ships, bearing the weather of the Atlantic, but in August of 1587, 115 settlers arrived from England and arrived on the shores of what we now call North Carolina. With the summer sun blaring down on them, they finally saw land with a lush, green tree-line and stable ground. With Queen Elizabeth’s blessing, they had four main tasks: try to discover a passage to the Pacific through inland waterways, mine for gold and silver, Christianize the natives and annoy the crap out of the Spanish, not limited to the use of privateering. As the ship rolled in the waves, they looked at the wooded shoreline, summer sun beating down on them and decided to settle on the long, thin island that was once called Roanoke. It was also said to be a stopping point between the West Indies and England while the English privateers fought the Spaniards. I’m not sure how, since the colony of Roanoke barely had resources for themselves…
A few years earlier there had been two expeditions to North Carolina to scout the land for settlement; one that established a relationship with the natives that inhabited the area, and one that ruined the relationship through deceit and cold-blooded murder of the chief. The colonists of 1587 had a lot cut out for them, since many didn’t know how to grow the crops needed for survival in this new land. They had brought provisions, but none that would last forever. Over time, they were able to fortify enough of a relationship with the natives to supplement their resources, but they soon realized that they needed more provisions and more funding from their investors if they wanted to continue their mission.
The main leader of the settlement was a painter, cartographer and explorer, John White. White had tried to employ some other men to return to England to talk to the investors, but they denied and voted that White go himself. Even though White also had a wife, pregnant daughter, and son-in-law, he relented and took sail. Though not before his daughter gave birth to the first English person born in the new land. Named after the queen, Virginia Dare was baptized in the new settlement.
Before White left, he told the people, if they were to have to leave for any circumstances, to go fifty miles inland, off the island of Roanoke. If they were forced to leave because of distress, to leave a marking of the Maltese cross somewhere in view. Again, John White sailed off and another two and half months bouncing through the Atlantic brought him back to England, where Queen Elizabeth had declared war with the Spanish. It was a war that consumed every bit of her navy and she ordered that any functioning boat be used to help fight. This got John White stuck in England, unable to return to the Americas. I assume this also meant he wasn’t able to send word by letter to the colonies to let them know of his delay. What an uncertain time to be in a new world.
Finally, three years later, in 1590, White returned to the shores of North Carolina. They anchored offshore the night they arrived and celebrated their return by playing music and dancing aboard the ship, hoping the people would hear their celebrations. The next morning he deployed the row boats and they made their way to the island. When he stepped off the boat, he was met with only an eerie silence in the crackle of the trees, the crunch of his boots on the rocks and wind rustling leaves overhead. There was not one person left in the area; not even their bones.
White was obviously suspicious, but also curious because everything was still intact. The houses were built in a way to be easily dissembled and taken with them if they needed to move, but here they stood as if everyone just vanished into thin air. Along with that was a new, log fence that was built in the three-year time span he was gone, suggesting they had needed deterrent or fortification from some outside force.
John and his men took a look around for anything they could find and stumbled upon a tree with the words CRO carved in the trunk. There was no understanding of that until they found the word “Croatoan” on one of the fence posts… But no Maltese cross; no distress, just nothing.
South of Roanoke island was another island inhabited by natives who called themselves Croatoans (Now called Hatteras Island). John thought perhaps they went or were taken there. For some reason he didn’t go check himself, but months later sent an excursion instead. Some speculate it was because there was more funding in lost people versus dead ones and he didn’t want to lose the money to further his future endeavors.
No one from the lost colony has ever been found. Despite extensive searches and archaeological digs up until present day, not much has been found in the way of definitive evidence. There has been much speculation, including from the people of Jamestown, which was established in Virginia, 17 years later. They claimed to have seen “light skinned” children and people among the native tribes.
Some main theories to the vanishing of the colony: -They were absorbed into a local native tribe. This also includes the possibility of the group being split in two and going with two different tribes. -Some of the Spaniards that trolled the coast from Florida attacked them. -They tried to sail back to England but their boat was lost at sea. -They went inland as John White advised. But the problem is that he didn’t suggest a direction, so there’s at least a fifty-mile radius to explore.
In more recent (20th century) archaeological searches, a 16th Century ring was found on Hatteras island along with a few other things like a slate and pencil, an English-style sword and pottery shards called “border ware”: a very specific type of pottery also found at Jamestown.
There is, however, a very promising site, cleverly named “Site X” in Bertie County, North Carolina. This is the location of a fort that once stood there. Many artifacts have been found, but nothing that would specifically tie the Dare family to that location. There is one thing that connects the two though: A map that White drew himself. As a cartographer and artist, he made a map of the area and X-ray photos of it show a small marking that had been patched over on the spot of Site X. This could suggest that this had previously been a spot of consideration for settlement.
Another huge find happened in 1937, when Louis Hammond and his wife were road-tripping and he stopped to stretch his legs. He happened to stumble over a large rock with weathered words chiseled out of the stone. He threw the heavy rock in the trunk of his car, as you do, and three months later took it to Emory University where it was examined and miraculously read
Ananias Dare & Virginia went to Heaven, 1591
Any Englishman show [this rock to] John White, Governor of Virginia:
Father, soon after you go for England, we came here. Only misery and war [for] two years. Above half dead these two years, more from sickness, being twenty-four. [A] Savage with [a] message of [a] ship came to us. [Within a] small space of time, they [became] frightened of revenge [and] ran all away. We believe it [was] not you. Soon after, the savages said spirits [were] angry. Suddenly [they] murdered all save seven. My child [and] Ananias, too, [were] slain with much misery. Buried all near four miles east [of] this river, upon [a] small hill. Names [were] written all there on [a] rock. Put this there also. [If a] Savage shows this to you, we promised you [would] give [them] great plenty presents. EWD. (Eleanor White Dare)
Because of another 47, allegedly fraudulent stones that were provided by another man in 1940 (for a reward, of course), It’s hard to say if this stone is real, but a more recent study from an Emory University professor states that it is more likely that this first stone is real. The story of the Dare stones is an interesting one, which I would be happy to cover if you’re interested.
For now, all we know is that 115 men, women and children disappeared into thin air leaving us with nothing but curiosity and speculation and some great tales.
Encyclopedia Virginia How Stuff Works History.com Mental Floss
Welcome to an infrequent little off-shoot of your regular programing. The Let Me Remind You (Quickly)… will be just a shorter read compared to the regular one. A tid bit of knowledge, if you will. Enjoy.
Let me remind you (quickly)… about Play-Doh.
If there’s two things that we don’t use a lot of these days in our homes, it’s wallpaper and coal. But back in the early 1900’s and before, it was common to heat one’s home with a coal-fed boiler or furnace, or even cook over a coal cooking-range. Unfortunately, a by-product of all the coal usage (aside from the asbestos and lung cancer) was soot on the walls. It wasn’t easy to clean off either as you can imagine, and if you’ve ever tried to use a wet rag on wallpaper, you will have found out fairly quickly that you shouldn’t… unless you want rubbed off bits of paper. What people would use, though, was a compound clay or putty that could be balled up and either rubbed on the walls or rolled over the area with the soot to clean it up.
This product was the money maker for the 1912 Cincinnati soap-making company called Kutol, owned by Noah McVicker. But after WWII when natural gas options for heating were adopted more widely used in residential homes, along with the transition from wallpaper to other materials, including paint or a washable vinyl material, the Kutol Products Company started to become obsolete; their biggest asset was no longer needed.
Noah called on his nephew, Joe McVicker to come help save the company from becoming bankrupt, but what he got was something he least expected. Joe’s sister-in-law, Kay Zufall, a school teacher for young kids read an article about using this wall-cleaning putty as a kids craft for molding things into different shapes (sound familiar?). When she brought it to her school and the kids loved it so much, she took the formal idea to Joe and it was a hit.
Originally Joe wanted to call it, “Rainbow modelling compound”. But luckily Kay swayed him in to calling it “Play-Doh”.
In 1956, McVickers took it to a school supplier and some trade shows here and there. By 1958 they made over 3 MILLION dollars (over $77 million today!). General mills originally bought Play Doh from McVickers for the 3 million shortly after, but since then its traded many hands and now resides in the palms of Hasboro.
Did You Know: Play-Doh’s scent is trademarked?
Online sources: Wikipedia Huffpost Thoughtco Otranation
October 31st -1st, marks a chilling turning point for much of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s the perfect time to mark the end of the harvest, the shift of seasons, and the long nights cooling the shorter days. In Ireland, Scotland, & what would soon be a lot of the U.K., a tradition ensued for centuries that many still practice today. It’s one of 4 to 8 (depending what you practice) seasonal holidays representing the switch from the light to the dark; the lighter part of the year giving way to the darker half of the year. It’s called Samhain (pronounced: Sah-win, or Sah-wan). It’s a time to pay respect to your ancestors and acknowledge their past presence once on this earth. It’s considered to be a very special Gaelic holiday, as the veil from the spirit world is said to be at its thinnest, allowing ancestors and other-worldly entities to cross over from their world in to ours. The light from the sun aligns perfectly with the passage tombs dotted around the Irish countryside and shines through the entrance of the tomb, as if someone turned on a light for the first time in six months. The only other time this happens is at the opposite side of the year, known as Imbolc.
In the week leading up to it, farmers would be getting ready by harvesting their crops, and also butchering and curing any livestock. Now that the months were going to be cooler, it would be easier to store the meat. On Sumhain; the eve of All Saints Day, There would be a big festival and families prepare a large feast called the Dum Supper. The family would sit at the table along with a few extra places set for any passed ancestors that may care to take advantage of the thinned veil and join them for dinner. A plate of food would also be placed outside the threshold to appease the deities, or “Aos Si”, passing by.
After their big feast, some would leave the house in a disguise, called “Mumming” or “Guising” to confuse any otherworldly visitors and prevent an unwanted attachment from the darker guests of the night, or the more rabble-rousing supernatural, like fairies, which were known by different names, including “The Shining Ones”. Before leaving, a freshly plucked turnip or gourd would be carved out, often to look like a spirit, and a candle would be shoved inside to act as a lantern as they went door to door saying a verse in exchange for something to eat. Traditionally a “soul cake” was given for a prayer to be said for the homeowner’s dead ancestors. But if the tenant of the home refused to “treat” the guest, the guised person would threaten to create mischief.
Often a large bonfire would be lit in a common place and everyone could come and celebrate. In the earlier days, it would be lit by a druid priest using a friction wheel. The people would gather and light their torches to carry back to their homes where they would relight the extinguished hearth anew, representing the start of a new year.
In 1762, a British surveyor and amateur historian, Charles Vallancy, visited Ireland and observed Samhain. Like a lot of history, Vallancy misinterpreted what he saw and reported the holiday to be satanic in nature. In the 9th century, the Western Christian moved All Saints Day to November 1 and with All Souls day being November 2, it eventually warped in to one day: All Hallows Eve. You can guess where it turned from there.
When the Irish started coming to America, they didn’t stop practicing this tradition and celebrating their Summer’s end. With time and the guiding (more like forceful) hand of westernization, it’s what we know now as Halloween. But, some people, including the Scottish, Wiccans and Pagans still celebrate Samhain as the new year.
How nice would it be to redact some of the immediate gratification associated with Halloween we know today and have the ancestral celebrations we used to; the large family meals and acknowledgement or respect for those who have moved on?
Note: I would recommend diving deep into learning about Samhain and all the cultural aspects of it. I found many podcasts, youtubes and websites that helped me compile this information, but there’s so much more to know, especially since it’s still practiced today. Many of the mentioned traditions have been merged into one communal knowledge pot but may have originally started with, or be practiced by one specific group.
Another short let me remind you… Don’t play with Ouija boards or other portal items on this day (unless maybe you’re a pro) as you may conjure someone not meant to come through the veil.
A Samhain prayer:
A Prayer to the Ancestors
This is the night when the gateway between our world and the spirit world is thinnest. Tonight is a night to call out those who came before. Tonight I honor my ancestors. Spirits of my fathers and mothers, I call to you, and welcome you to join me for this night. You watch over me always, protecting and guiding me, and tonight I thank you. Your blood runs in my veins, your spirit is in my heart, your memories are in my soul.
(Insert family names here)
With the gift of remembrance. I remember all of you. You are dead but never forgotten, and you live on within me, and within those who are yet to come.
Sources: Britannica.com wicca.com Exemplore.com history.com mentalfloss.com Wikipedia.com The Green Witch Youtube Happy Harvest Horror Podcast (and many more that I listened to but had the same info I had already found, or no new, contributable info)
“The mountain that moves.” That’s what the Blackfoot and Kutenai Indians In Alberta Canada called this peak nestled in the base of the Rocky mountains. This did not deter the people who Eventually settled in the little town below it that they called Frank. In fact, they renamed it “Turtle Mountain” after the shape. The original name of the mountain didn’t seem to create any worry for the 600 people who lived there, but in 1903, just 2 years after calling it home, this would prove to be tragic.
At 4am on April 29, 1903, the miners of Frank were already deep in the mountain side. Their wives and children still asleep in their beds below in the town. Ten minutes later, a small rumble turned into a roar as the mountain side– exasperated by the mining– had given way to years of the small movements and completely sheared off, just as the natives predicted.
120 miles away in the city of Cochrane, the roar could be heard echoing off of the mountains, but no one knew what it was. The settlers of Frank, the town named after the Montana miner who founded it in 1901, were not so lucky. Boulders the size of cars rolled and bounced off one another, flowing as easily as water in a riverbed. Trees, rocks and 80-100 million tons of mountainside debris buried a section of the town in less than 90 seconds. When the mountainside finally stopped moving and there was no more rumbling, the residents were 490 feet below the rubble in a state you can only imagine.
Out of the 600 people that day, 90 people perished in the slide. Out of the 90, only 12 bodies were recovered. There are stories about a sole baby found alone. Her name was Glayds Ennis; saved by her mother, who cleared the mud from her airways. Frankie Slide was another name they gave to some other fictional babies who they claimed to be the “only survivor” of the slide, “found on top a boulder”. Unfortunately, this was just a rumor that many people who survived like to take credit for.
17 miners were trapped after the slide. After many hours they managed to dig their way out where they were confronted with a sight that would make their heart crumble and stomachs flip. Once, where they could look down on the houses where their families lived, now all they could see was rock all the way to the other side of the foothills. They rushed down to help, searching for their families, now buried almost 500 feet below with the weight of thousands of tons on them. But it was too late. Without modern day tools—and even with them, the effort was regretfully useless.
Not much more is known about the event that day but if you ask any Albertan, they will be able to tell you about it. Driving through the Frank slide gives off a very eerie feeling knowing what lies beneath. Looking up at the mountain side, you can still see the scar where the rock fell.
In 1906, they built a road through the rubble, and in 1922, during some road repairs, 7 more bodies were recovered, bringing the total to 19 out of 90. It was known to be the largest landslide in Canada to this day. The mountain? It still moves; about 1cm per year. There is a monitoring system along with an interpretive center on the mountain. They say one day there will be another slide. Luckily, there are no homes in the way now. Buildings were moved, including the Frank Imperial hotel, which now sits in Vulcan, Alberta.
If you go to frank today, you could drive right through, barely noticing anything but a bunch of rock and boulders on either side of the road, but the tale is one that will linger forever.
*Edit: from what I hear, that whole area, for miles, is allegedly haunted.
Online Sources: Mysteries of Canada Frankslide.ca the Canadian encyclopedia Youthareawesome.com
About the two Leprosariums you probably haven’t heard of.
Note: Nowadays it is more politically correct to refer to the disease as Hansen’s disease since Leprosy has a negative stigma attached to it. But, since this is referencing a certain time when that was the sole name for it, the main term used will be a variation of Leprosy.
John went to a local physician in Massachusetts. It was a routine check for some symptoms he had been experiencing; dry, scaly skin with lesions, pain in his extremities, pins and needles in his fingers & toes and some eye pains with loss of sight. One of many immigrants new to the USA, what John didn’t know was that just a few years earlier, In 1904, the Massachusetts State Legislature passed a bill that said the state could “…remove any persons with a dangerous disease…[to a place]…judged best for his accommodation and safety to the public…Until free of his disease.” The Dr. diagnosed John with Leprosy—a death sentence in the 1900’s—also a very contagious disease. Immediately the state ripped John from his wife and children, the “American Dream” swiftly becoming a vast nightmare. He was told to pack a simple bag with necessities and was transported by a boat to a small island far off the mainland known as Peneski Island. He was alone and scared, told he would never see his family again and his disease was incurable. But, there were many like him suffering from the same illness and because Leprosy left bubbling or scaly skin, over time causing deformities, they faced horrible discrimination from society. This horrific way being removed from a place of comfort, when you’ve already left everything you know in your home country was bad enough but being extradited from society and removed of your civil rights over a misunderstood disease was quite another.
There was a family that wanted to help though. Dr. Parker and his wife Marion understood what they were getting themselves into when they volunteered to take the spot of a stir-crazed Dr. Louis Edmonds on Peneski Island in 1907. They made it their mission to make the 40+ patients feel as welcome as they could; caring for them and trying to make them feel as comfortable as possible. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t use what we now would consider inappropriate ways of study and treatment, but the patients seemed to like them regardless. The Dr. believed the fresh air would be good for them, and many of them became friends, almost like family to the Parkers.
But, 14 years after they arrived, in 1921, the MA governor, Channing Cox decided that the little funding they received needed to be stripped completely and any remaining patients would be transferred to the Carville Leprosarium in Louisiana while Dr. Parker and his wife would be in charge of getting rid of the structures to prevent the spread of the disease. Dr. Parker, who had given up 22 years of practice and a well-deserved status within the Massachusetts society pushed back against Governor Cox. Repeatedly and so fiercely that an angry Governor Cox announced that not only would Dr. Parker no longer receive his last 2 month’s wages (a total of $333 in 1921, or $4,833 today), his pension would be cut off and any legislators that would try and change this were threatened with personal veto by him.
The remaining 13 patients of Peneski Island were gathered at the warf where they had a tearful goodbye with the Parkers. They were now to be carried by another boat to a place they didn’t know with staff they had never met; a group of nuns known as the Catholic Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (glad I only have to write that out once), who had been treating the patients since 1896. One patient of Dr. Parker’s, John Marketakis penned a letter to Dr. Parker stating his compassion for the way the Parkers treated him and his disappointment in leaving.
“… I wish to meet you again outside some day. I say again I thank you very much. Excuse me because I can’t write very well to write you a few line words pleasant to you.
Farewell, Dr. Parker. Good-bye.”
They travelled the Mississippi river to Carville Louisiana, a small place just south of Baton Rouge, where they docked in front of an abandoned sugar plantation. The previous patients had overseen the restoring of the old home. As they walked up to their new home, they didn’t know what to think. The weather was certainly different than what they were used to as the humidity and warmth made their skin feel sticky. But, the place seemed nicer than Peneski; 16 years before, in 1905, they had built cottages where the old slave cabins used to be; they added a dining hall and even a golf course. But, despite all these comforts, the patients couldn’t help but feel like prisoners still. They weren’t allowed to see their families or leave the compound.
A cure for Leprosy would not be found for 19 more years in 1940, and it seemed like a joyous occasion. Most of the patients were now free to leave the Leprosarium with only outpatient treatments, but as they attempted to reenter society, still with some of the visible symptoms, they were met with disgust, shame and discrimination. Almost all of the freed patients returned to live out their days in Carville.
In 1982, the US Health Department took over the Carville facility and in 1998, 40 patients were permitted to stay. Eventually it was turned in to a youth program center for the National Guard; a sort of boot-camp setting for at-risk kids. Today there is also a museum on site, dedicated to it’s history as a leprosarium. If you wander the property, you will stumble across the graves of the patients who died there.
What happened to Dr. Parker and Marion? They left the island and headed to Montana to be with their son. Unfortunately, within just a few years, Dr. Parker died of Whooping Cough. The buildings on Peneski island were razed and demolished. All that remains today are some weathered headstones representing the people that succumbed to their illness on the island. Today, Hansen’s disease is curable within 1-2 years of multi-drug, antibiotic treatment. Over 95% of people are already immune to it and the only other animal that has been known to carry it are armadillos
Let Me Remind You…About the Plane People of Gander
The plane captain comes over the tinny radio, a short burst of static then the hum behind his words: “Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize in advance, but we will be making a slight detour to an open runway. We’ve encountered some instrumental issues aboard. Nothing to be alarmed about, but we will be landing shortly.”
The people grumbled about missed flights and delayed reunions, some were nervous; their hearts starting to race, all the possible thoughts of “instrumental issues” flipping through their minds—none ending well.
Meanwhile in the cockpit, the pilots fidgeted with the radio, looking for an open runway to land. But, they weren’t the only ones; over 230 planes from all over the world, in what would be called “Operation Yellow Ribbon” were looking for a place to land mid-morning on September 11, 2001.
On 9/11, after the towers were struck, all US airways were shut down and anyone in the air or coming from another country were essentially stranded and had to be diverted. 11 Canadian provinces agreed to allow the planes to land without knowing if any of the planes were compromised. It was agreed they would remain on Canadian soil, full of passengers until the “threat was neutralized”.
One of the cities that took in 53 planes & over 7000 passengers, was a small town in Newfoundland called Gander. Normally just an airport used for long-haul, international fueling stations, and a population of 10,400, the amount of people they would shelter for 2 days was almost the same as their own population.
When the plane finally landed, people looked out the small windows to see a sea of planes, all lining up symmetrically, allowing room for the next plane to land. The same pilot came on the intercom once again and said, “Ladies and Gentleman, I’m sure you’re wondering how all these planes came to have the same instrument issues as us…” He went on to explain the situation that had been happening on land, which lead to their diversion: what we now know simply as “9/11”. The passengers were shocked and horrified, not knowing what to think and unable to contact their loved ones due to a service differences since they were in Canada.
It would take nearly 23 hours to get everyone off the 53 planes. At 6pm, they were told they would be deplaning at 11am. They were handed blankets, pillows and the flight crew tried to make them as comfortable as possible for the night (side-note: could you IMAGINE if this happened to you while you were flying with kids? Anyways…). With the amount of weight from the planes and the warm tarmac, the planes actually started sinking. Luckily, nothing too drastic happened before they were offloaded.
As the passengers got to know one another and settled in for the evening as best they could, the people of Gander rallied. The Mayor spread the word to everyone and one of the greatest acts of kindness, empathy & selflessness prevailed. The people of Gander & Lewisporte (a town nearby) closed schools & churches, and turned any meeting hall, or open area into shelters. They rounded up as many necessities for the “Plane People” (as they would become dubbed) as they could and pulled cots, beds and sleeping mats into these areas. The local hockey rink was turned into the largest refrigerator in the world and Pharmacy’s worked with the Red Cross to distribute medications that were brought for what the passengers thought was just going to be a short trip.
Many families of Gander cooked and didn’t stop cooking until everyone was fed. They donated time and toiletries. They even took them out hiking and sight-seeing and even on mini boat trips. The bus drivers in the area were on strike that week, but once they heard what happened, they banded together and went back to work to make sure the Plane People were able to move around relatively freely.
Many of the citizens of Gander and Lewisporte went much farther, inviting some of the stranded individuals to stay in their homes and use their cars to sight-see. To this day, some remain friends with the people they housed; many going back every year to visit. One couple, the Marson’s even met during their period in Gander and were married within a year!
After about 2-days, it was time to go back to their destinations. The goodbyes were tearful and the Plane People tried to give money to the residents of Gander, none would have it. But neither would one of the passengers: Ms. Brookes-Jones. When she got back on the plane, Delta flight 15, she asked the captain if she might make an announcement to the passengers. In an act of good faith, going against the rules, the captain agreed. She came over the intercom and reminded the passengers of the altruism and gratitude they had just received from a bunch of strangers in a country they are not even from. She expressed that she would like to start a scholarship fund for the students of Gander and Lewisporte and by the time the plane landed, she had over $15,000! Today, according to CitiesofPromise.com, over 2 million has been donated to the Lewisporte Area Flight 15 Scholarship Fund.
Many reenactments have been made about this, including a musical called Come From Away and even a TV series called Diverted.
If you wish to donate to the Flight 15 scholarship fund, you can do so at columbusfoundation.org.
Sources Her.ie USA today CNN Washington Post NY Times
Kristina is the author of The Pecan Trees, a novel set in Texas that has nothing to do with “fun facts” like the blog. Enjoy!
It was September 1-2, 1859, Richard Carrington made his way to his home observatory where he had been spending a lot of his time as an amateur astronomer. He directed his telescope towards the sun, placed his eye against the rim and adjusted the knobs until the big ball of fire and gas came in to focus. For a few days now he had been noticing large amounts of dark spots forming on the surface. This time he was armed with some graphite and paper to sketch the spots. As he was drawing a particularly large spot, a massive, insanely bright light flew out of the sunspot, filling his telescope with a white light, flickering until it died down about 5 minutes later. He knew this was most likely a solar flare –or Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)– and expected the Earth to absorb it, like our electromagnetic field does whenever these things happen. What he didn’t know is that it was only one of the two largest CMEs to hit the earth in over 500 years. Normally such a thing would take days to span the 93 million miles between the sun and the earth. This time though, it only took 17 hours.
Just outside Victoria, Australia, a gold miner was working with a friend and at 7pm, the sky lit up with streaks of pinks and blues and yellows. As each color faded, it gave way to another, more beautiful array of dancing colors, slithering around the sky like an illuminated snake. Similar views were seen from the Caribbean and southern United States, where the sky turned blood red, reflecting the ominous hue off the ocean and the seashells that littered the shore.
Across the Pacific, in the rocky mountains, where the Aurora is sometimes visible, miners awoke to what they thought was dawn. After a few minutes of starting to prepare for work and making their coffee, they realized it was just the Aurora so bright, it mimicked the rising sun. The Aurora Borealis, typically only happens in the far northern and southern parts of the Earth, where the earth’s atmosphere is expelling the electrons, x-rays and other damaging rays the sun shoots at us, producing a magnificent light show that not many people will witness in their lifetime.
Meanwhile, in Boston and the NE US, the telegraph operators were baffled at the short circuiting happening with their devices. Some of the connectors were melting and sparks were shooting out of the wire’s connections. Frederick Royce, a telegraph operator, watched as a perfect arc of electric fire jumped from a ground wire straight to his forehead. A special chemical used on the telegraph paper caused stacks of the paper near the telegraphs to combust into flames, leaving the workers scrambling to put it out. Some of the telegraphs stopped working from this short circuit. Some others were reported to be unplugged from their batteries, but the operators were still able to send messages from Boston to Portland, Maine without being hooked up. The electric charge from the flare was enough to power some of the telegraphs for a few minutes.
When the Earth is assaulted by a direct impact from a solar flare on the scale of this one, X-ray’s , electrons and more X-rays are bombarding the Earth’s magnetosphere, overloading it’s capacity to dispel the rays and charged particles (seen as the Aurora), so the magnetosphere begins vibrating, sending the charge back and forth like a dizzy child until it burns circuits and overloads power-grids. In 1859, when the only real technology they had was the telegraph, this wasn’t so much a big deal.
In 1989, Quebec, Canada was hit with a small solar flare and almost the entire province lost power for over 12 hours. If something like this were to happen again in present day, with the amount of technology we depend on, it would be devastating. People would be without air conditioning or heat; no one could refrigerate food, get water or even drive their cars. People who require things like dialysis or even medicines that need to be kept chilled would rapidly start dying. An electric grid power transformer can take up to 2 years to build. Imagine needing hundreds, or thousands. The scariest part is that scientists, astronomers etc. all agree that we are due for a big one sooner than later.
Wikipedia history.com CME research institute Universe today Energyskeptic