Monday, September 26, 2022

The Elusive Madam Rose

Here is an unusual artifact.  I've had it so long I can't remember where I got it.

The style of the bottle puts it somewhere around 1910, a date also suggested by the presence of a Food and Drug Act stamp from 1906.  Before that legislation you could put anything you darn well pleased into a bottle and sell it.  But who was D.I. Jones?

Most bottles of this type were put up by pharmacists as a sort of side line.  But recently when I decided to compile a list of early drug stores in my town I realized that the name Jones was nowhere to be found.  Something else going on here.

Mrs. D.I. Jones was a milliner.  She sold ladies hats.  From newspaper ads I can place her on Bridge Street in down town Chippewa Falls and date her enterprise from late 1901 to a known departure - both from the business and from town - in early 1913.  In a sense this would be a very reasonable side line for her.  Sell fancy hats to the ladies of the town and naturally they'd be interested in a nice complexion to go with them.  Who prepared the product for her is unclear.

Women in business in that era were uncommon.  Mostly they stayed home, took care of the household, raised the kids.  What women there were in the business community were often there out of financial need, and had constrained roles.  Nurse, governess, seamstress.  Maybe running a boarding house if you were a respectable widow type.  Millinery fits the pattern.  But who really was she?

The common last name combined with the now outdated practice of adopting a husband's name did make it a bit of a challenge, but I discovered that her name was Rose.  This of course makes sense given the name on the cosmetic bottle, and Madam would be a common title for someone in the beauty business.

She was married to David.  Now he's an interesting character.  In the 1900 census he is listed as being an electrician.  But a few years later, and styling himself as "Major" Jones, he was in partnership with a certain "Colonel" Richard H. Cosgriff and doing business as the Twentieth Century Amusement Company.  The 1910 census lists D.I. Jones with the occupation "Carnival Company".  They had a Ferris wheel and a merry go round along with other amusements and took them to county fairs and such around the state.   Oh, and they had a sideline that links to some of my other research.

I've previously written about the Gem Theater.  Well, this item appeared in a local paper:  "Richard Cosgriff and D.I. Jones are making the Gem a real family theater and it is proving a great success."  It does make sense, these guys were in the Amusement business and that tends to be rather seasonal.  Also D.I. being an electrician by trade would be a help.  I'm not sure what role Mrs. D.I. Jones played in the theater.  Her store was on Bridge street (so far I'm not sure where....Chippewa Falls had three milliners on that street in 1910!)  I guess ladies hats were a bigger business then than now.  I'd like to think she picked the name.  Some of the earliest ads for her establishment circa 1901 describe it as "A Gem of a Store".  

I assume that the Face Lotion was sold at the hat shop.  But it is worth noting that it is D.I. not Mrs. D.I. that is listed on the bottle.  Was he selling this concoction at county fairs?

I'd also like to think that the unlikely marriage of the Milliner and the Carney was a success.  But I'm thinking maybe not.  The 1910 census has them living at her father's house (her maiden name was Erickson and the census indicates her family was Norwegian).  She and David appear to have had two children, a boy and a girl.

But three years later the part of the paper that deals with local doings reported that she'd sold her millinery shop and was moving to Minneapolis.  No mention of her husband.  Well maybe it was to be expected.  Throughout history itinerant performers have been regarded with a degree of suspicion.  Even in their modern incarnation as "Carneys" they are figures outside the realm of polite society.  I say this by the way not in judgement but affectionately and based on my brief experiences in that world......

Regards the Twentieth Century Amusement Company I have found some very saucy information that will turn into another post in the near future.  There will be snakes involved.

A couple of images of the box for that Lotion.  Not in the best condition but as it is likely the only surviving example it warrants remembering.

Friday, September 23, 2022

The Politics of Eating Bugs

Various Concerned People have said that we should all be eating bugs.  As a more ecologically friendly way to obtain protein in our diets.  It is sometimes put a bit more forcefully...

It's a tough sell.  Bugs are crunchy.  You can't make kids eat them.  In fact I wonder if the primary method of saving the planet would be depopulation as people avoided becoming parents just to avoid trying to get kids who won't eat asparagus to consume even nastier stuff.

Well there is still a covert effort going on.  It's just in a different aisle of the store.

How about a big ol' sack of meal worms.  In case your chickens are not getting along just fine thanks on table scraps.  What?  They want something more upscale?  Well....

I was hitherto fore unaware of the commercial production of Black Soldier Fly larvae.  Having done a bit of research I can say....just imagine the most disgusting process possible.  Yep, I'm pretty sure you nailed it.   

People of all political persuasions love their pets.  Maybe not in identical ways.  I see my fellow Conservatives being more dog people.  Progressives?  Cats or tiny micro canines.  But hey, we have snacks for everyone's dog.

Want some sorta hippy sounding yoghurt based vegan concoction?

Or are you a follower of the One True Faith, that being how delicious Bacon really is...

I've known some omnivorous dogs in my day.  One previous mutt of ours loved carrots.  But using the same image on each, with the implication that any dog would have equal happiness from these two products?  A Damnable Lie.

Well unless you really believe that "you are what you eat" there's probably no serious political point here.  Capitalism works, so some of these products will vanish unlamented.  

It likely does not pay to think too deeply on such matters.  In another aisle I'm reminded that there are two things you don't want to look into the details.  Politics and....

You could with the contents of a single shopping cart get to an interesting and dark place.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Eyes in the Woods

When we were off on our trip to Illinois I was a bit annoyed by that state's frequent use of highway cameras to enforce speed limits and tolls.  It just seems sneaky although at least for me it is an effective way to modify behaviour.  But my objections to this practice are hypocritical, because as deer hunting season is getting closer I have "trail cameras" out to keep an eye on what's going on in the woods.

Bear in mind that these are cheap models and as such they miss a lot.  Sometimes after I set one up I'll walk in front of it and wave.  And not have those shots turn up later.  But still, you see things....

Deer obviously.  In September you see lots of bucks out there bein' guys.  Come hunting season they get scarce.  When spring comes around and the results of their fall guy behaviour are born they are nowhere to be seen.

Same spot, night view mode.  Looks like a baby bear.  This time of year they are usually bigger, so I guess it could be something else.  A fisher or perhaps a wolverine although they are seldom seen in Wisconsin.

No, not a wolf.  Some neighbors of ours have a giant dog and walk it on many of the trails in this area.

At another camera location a whole herd of deer saunters past.

And after dark there is something interesting going on in those trees...

Flying Squirrel!

Monday, September 19, 2022

Strange Fishing - A Three Generation Tournament

Not really a competition just a chance for grandpa, dad and kid to toss a line into distant waters where species seldom found in Wisconsin might be lurking.  How many different kinds of fish can we catch?

We'll skip the bluegills.

Here's a Long Eared Sunfish.  New species for my grandson.

And another runty little guy, a Green Sunfish.  New species for grandson although he had caught a hybrid before.

Rounding out the sunfish family I caught a Black Crappie.  I was disappointed as these are super common.  The lake also holds White Crappies which would have been a new one for me.  On the other hand the fish was probably very happy to get out of the little lagoon backwater I caught him in.  Something large and sinister was swirling around in there....

My son even caught a desirable fish.....a musky of all things.

Another new species for the youngest generation....the odd looking Fresh Water Drum.

These were all caught in a reservoir.  For a bit of different fishing we went down below the dam that impounds it.  Sort of Idler's Central for assorted fishermen and women.

One thing we caught there was a common Wisconsin river fish, the Shorthead Redhorse.

Most disgusting and exciting fish of the event was caught here.....

This is a Shortnose Gar.  Gar are primitive fish, survivors from a savage age.  They are mostly bone, teeth and attitude.  I don't have great pictures of this guy because we forgot to bring a landing net and once this guy was hauled out of the water he started thrashing and snapping.  This is the best I could manage before he spit the hook and made it back into the water...

I have it on local authority that where we were fishing, in southern Illinois, there is an expression: "Mean as a Gar".  It seems apt.  But since grandson and I shared this catch we each get to add the species to our lists.

In the end, 8 species caught in about 6 hours of fishing.  4 new ones for grandson, 1 for me.  He's pulling away fast.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Ozymandius Plays Through

I don't think Mankind has ever really accepted the concept of Mortality.  Throughout history we have always been painting on the cave walls and chiseling our names into stone.  We want the record of our existence to stand forever.  In fact the classic format for this in ancient times - an inscribed upright slab called a Stele - derives its name from a presumptive proto European word element "stel-" that means to stand or to put in order.  It gives us all manner of derivative words:  pedestal, stalk, apostle and oddly, stallion.

But just because you put up a monument does not mean that your fame or the works of your hand will endure forever.  

On a recent family trip we stayed in an interesting accommodation....the bottom floor of a former country club.  It was actually pretty nice.  I mean, who can't be happy living in a bar?  Out by the driveway, partially hidden by foliage I saw this:

 Here's a closer look.

The unsightly plastic remnant must have been a sign.  It seems the place came across as a bit too posh for its rural surroundings and it changed its name from "Country Club" to "Deer Trail Golf Course".  In the general decline of golf courses in recent years this was not a sufficient move.  The course is returning to nature rapidly.  I think the deer prefer it this way.

I suppose there were over the course of this place's existence thousands of golfers and hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of strokes taken.  The good ones were celebrated for a while.  The bad ones forgotten or lied about.  Eventually like Ozymandius all is forgotten and only the archaeologists, and their grand kids out looking for toads and bugs, can see any trace of their passage.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Forgotten Brewery Caves - A quick visit to Bloomington Illinois

A while back I wrote about a Forgotten Brewery Cave in Bloomington Illinois I opined that a keen eyed observer might well find traces of it.  On a recent road trip I noted that we were passing within a few miles of the site and decided to test this theory.

A few basics.  The location is in Forrest Park, which seems to have had the second r added in recent years.  Prior to that it had been called Stein's Grove or Stein's park after one of the owners of the brewery there.  The cave was known to still be intact in 1947.  In fact I was able to show a few low resolution newspaper photos one of which showed the caretaker E.R. Burnett giving a tour to a couple of anxious appearing children.  As part of my follow up research I discovered high resolution versions of a series of pictures taken this day.  They appear courtesy of the McLean County Museum of History:

The kids by the way are listed as Carol Tudor and Ron Stutzman.  The guy with the lantern is E.R. Burnett.

I was also able to pick up a few more tidbits of information.  The caves - actually brick lined tunnels - were said to be 200 feet long.  And the creek running through the park was called, logically, Brewery Creek.  An old bridge going across it is no longer in use, but is said to have once been the site of a road running through the park.

So....what is there to see in 2022?

OK, I'm going to say something obvious here.  Just because the tunnels probably still exist under Forest Park does not mean you should take a shovel and start digging.  This style of "cave" is not stable.  So the nice people in uniform who will come to have a word with you, and they would do so very quickly, would be doing you a favor.  Have a look but leave this cave alone!

My usual starting point is Google Earth, but it does not show elevation well.  There was no good location near Brewery Creek although I did notice a lot of old bricks laying around, likely the remains of the brewery.  But if you go to a somewhat higher point of the park......

Pretty clear evidence of a sink hole with bits of exposed brickwork.  One of several in fact.  I'm guessing that the sealing of the caves mentioned in local sources consisted of a front loader bashing in the arch seen in the last photo and dumping a bunch of dirt on top.  The tunnel extends some distance out into the center of the park.  I think I see a small depression corresponding to one of the vent holes.  Clearly the structure has not collapsed as that would leave a big trench.  And filling something like this from back to front would be ridiculously difficult.

I really wanted to learn more about E.R. Burnett.  He looks to be around 70 in the 1947 picture.  My best candidate is a fellow named Ellis Retis Burnett who is buried in a local cemetery.  With dates listed as 1893-1956 he'd only be 54 years old in these photos.  But he may have had a hard life.  So far I've found little else.  He probably was in the Navy in World War One.  If my ID is correct he was married to a woman named Odessa and did have children of his own.

Monday, September 12, 2022

One Man Against the Noise Farms

A while back I did a post on YouTube and the odd recommendations their algorithms were sending me.  Subsequently I did hear from people who had similar experiences but in a departure from my usual policy I decided to not post comments and make their discontents potentially visible to the Google Masters.  But my curiosity was stirred.  Could I actually make You Tube stop sending me nonsensical suggestions?

Now lets be honest.  You Tube is great.  If you want to learn about a specific subject or need to get the basics of an unfamiliar task in front of you it is the place to go.  I like it.  But there is the matter of all the useless dreck that goes along with it.  It's just getting in my way, in fact it is making it harder for YT to live up to its potential.  I also don't like to be told what sorts of things I should find important.  I'll make up my own mind, thanks.

After about three weeks of "interaction" with the algorithms I got to the point where YouTube surrendered and instead of suggesting specific videos they just sent me this:

Now that I consider fair.  It asks me what I wish to view instead of pushing various gaudy trinkets on me.   

After about two weeks it reverted to the status quo antebellum and began recommending things again.  So I started a second campaign.

To get rid of nonsense recommendations you of course must turn off History on your YT account and any linked accounts.   Don't make the bots non-life too easy.  You'll still get suggestions based on Channels you follow but that's fair game.  So I see and will occasionally watch videos relating to robotics and Roman archaeology.  But there are entire universes (and metaverses!) of other interests, and absent guidance from deplorable meat puppets the Silicon Overlords unleash a torrent of things they think you should be interested in. 

These include:  music compilations, 12 hour white noise and/or rain videos to help you sleep, endless "gamer" videos ranging from the infantile Minecraft up to abominable first person shoot fests, stupid people doing stupid things on TikTok, political screeds albeit only from one end of the ideological spectrum and a bunch of really odd stuff.  I got pretty grossed out by some veterinary surgery videos.  I had no idea there were so many bulldozers sitting in a shed for 30 years ready to be fixed up.  I am considerably better versed in the cuisine of Japan and local news reports from, I think, rural Pakistan.

So, how to reduce these?

When a video is suggested you can click on the little line in the right lower corner.  It gives you options:

Not Interested

Don't Recommend Channel


Report further breaks down into categories.  Sexual Content, Violent or Repulsive Content, Hateful or Abusive Content, Harmful or Dangerous Acts, Spam or Misleading, Child Abuse.

These are the tools you have, and each deserves comment.

I read somewhere that Not Interested was the most feared feedback to YouTubers.  But it really does not serve my purposes.  Sometimes YT just sends the same video right back to you.  Sometimes sites have an entire array of similar nonsense and will just send you the next one in line (See Noise Farms below).  I still use it for things that are legitimately not of interest to me but otherwise inoffensive.

The Report function initially took a video off my feed with one click.  Now I have to double click the same report, or two different ones, before it goes away.  This is a new since my initial victory.  I try to be fair.  Making kids enter beauty pageants seems like Child Abuse to me.  And I'm repulsed by many things including execrable grammar.

It would seem that the ultimate weapon would be Don't Recommend Channel.  You click on that and YouTube promises: We won't recommend videos from this channel to you again.

Ah, but do they keep that promise?

For a while I was not sure.  So many Youtube sites just swipe the same music and video clips and if the name of the site is in Urdu I won't be able to read it.  But, alas, after many times hitting refresh and nuking a fresh batch of sites I saw old (non) friends reappear.  A gaudy young lady styling herself Lena Slime has a weird make over channel I've dispatched several times.

Because the YouTube algorithms appear to be cheating I don't think they can be defeated.  Oh you can drive them into a corner now and then, forcing them to send you peculiar videos.  I'm actually worried about a Muslim cleric from Indonesia who always appears with his hands held to his face in distress.

But mostly what you get as a last ditch from YouTube are things like this:

Compilations of hours long videos of harps, rain, white noise, Native American flute music,  bootleg soft rock classics, healing Tibetian gongs, etc.  And they just keep coming.  There are entire sites that crank this stuff out.  I call them Noise Farms.  

They never stop coming.  Their name is Legion.  Endless variations on genres, so many variations on phrases like lofi, Ambience, Chill.  Some variants are religious.  Some are Goth.  Some defy description.

Oh I suppose if I were willing to commit to a grinding Western Front war of attrition I might get them all perhaps at the cost of tendonitis in my mouse clicking finger.  But YouTube has a final card to play.  Intermittently they send me recommendations from YouTube Music.  Slightly less bizarre than Sufi Ambience Chill Vibes for Villains to Study By,  these recommendations only come with one available option:  Not Interested.

I'm pretty sure that whatever subroutine of the Youtube algorithm I've been shunted off into already knows that.  And does not give one digital damn.