Saturday, August 27, 2011

Restoring telephone service after Hurricane Hazel in 1954

As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast this weekend, I dug up this 46-page, magazine-style report that was published by the The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania1 and The Diamond State Telephone Company2 57 years ago, in the wake of Hurricane Hazel.

Here's the Wikipedia summary of Hazel:
Hurricane Hazel was the deadliest and costliest hurricane of the 1954 Atlantic hurricane season. The storm killed as many as 1,000 people in Haiti before striking the United States near the border between North and South Carolina, as a Category 4 hurricane. After causing 95 fatalities in the US, Hazel struck Canada as an extratropical storm, raising the death toll by 81 people, mostly in Toronto.
One thing I find interesting about this killer storm is that it struck in mid-October. I don't think many people realize that a significant hurricane can strike that "late" in the Atlantic hurricane season. (If this ends up being an active season in the Atlantic, Irene might be just the start. Shudder.)

The report has a map detailing the path of Hazel through Pennsylvania that October:

The text with that map states: "Lashing out with 100-mile winds at her baleful eye, along a path between Carlisle and Lewistown, blasting forest giants down a 200-mile corridor, ravaging with enormous damage Philadelphia's famous Main Line, grounding power and telephone wires in fantastic and perilous tangles, brushing against an east-bound cold front to deluge the Pittsburgh area with 3.56 inches of water and to flood rivers and creeks -- Hazel was one of the most ruinous storms in the history of Bell of Pennsylvania and Diamond State."

The report states that almost 75 percent of the 127,335 telephones that were knocked out by Hazel in Pennsylvania and Delaware had service restored within 48 hours. (Most phone lines were knocked down by falling trees.)

Here are two additional photos from the report, along with their captions:

Above: HURRICANE HARRIED. Hank Fritz (below), Cable Splicer, and Bud Butler, Helper, both of Main Line District, both veterans of 12 days in New England with Hurricane Edna, put their experience to work in their home state, as they repair Hazel damage.

Above: GETTING THE PICTURE. District report center at Wilkes-Barre, one of six in Central Area, feeds information to area report center in Harrisburg. Pictured in Operation Hazel, Nancy Miller, General Clerk; Ralph Bigelow, Supervising Field Engineer; Barbara Puchalsky and Barbara Kompinski, Clerks; Elizabeth Hebert, Confidential Stenographer; Marie Trudnak, Senior Clerk; Theresa Partika, Chief Draftswoman; and Sammy Viccica, Installation Foreman.

1. The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania is now known as Verizon Pennsylvania.
2. The Diamond State Telephone Company is now known as Verizon Delaware.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Keeping score at the 1982 Little League World Series

As the 65th annual Little League World Series continues this week in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and huge buzz1 continues to surround the Keystone Little League team from Clinton County, I am reminded of the Little League World Series games our family attended in the early 1980s when we were living in nearby Montoursville.

We made it to multiple World Series games in 1981 and 1982 at Howard J. Lamade Stadium. My favorite part, as a 10- and 11-year-old, was how the stadium became a melting pot for baseball players and fans from all over the world -- Europe, Asia, South America, Canada...

The Little League World Series was also where I made my first foray into learning how to keep score in baseball -- a skill that would come in handy during my later career in sports journalism.

One of my first scorekeeping efforts came at the Little League World Series championship game on August 28, 1982, when Kirkland, Washington, defeated Chiayi, Taiwan, 6-0. I sat with thousands of others on the outfield hill at the stadium as Cody Webster (pictured at the top of today's post), Mark Swain and Mark Peterson helped lead Kirkland to the title-game victory, which snapped Taiwan's run of five straight Little League World Series crowns.2

In retrospect, I'd say my scorekeeping skills as an 11-year-old were OK. My first mistake was clearly using a pen instead of a pencil, given that mistakes were inevitable. Also, I got a nice assist from my dad on the Taiwanese names on that side of the scorecard.

This prepared me well for my later professional coverage of the South Penn League, Adams County Little League tournaments, high school baseball and softball in southcentral Pennsylvania, and a couple Baltimore Orioles games.

Here, for posterity, is my full scoresheet from the 1982 Kirkland-Taiwan game. Below that is the Kirkland team picture that was included as part of a four-page program insert on the eight teams in that year's tournament.3

1. Check out this great blog entry on Keystone Little League by York Daily Record/Sunday News business editor Cathy Hirko on The Southpaw.
2. ESPN produced a "30 for 30" documentary on the Kirkland Little League team's championship and its aftermath. I haven't seen it, but this New York Daily News article gives it a mixed review.
3. Fun tidbit: The Latin American representative in 1982 was Coquivacoa Little League of Maracaibo, Venezuela, which included future major-leaguer Wilson Álvarez.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Requiem for a 129-year-old encyclopedia volume

I'm a sucker for an old book that seems to be beyond help or hope. Earlier this year, our family was strolling through the Market & Penn Street Farmers' Market1 in York, visiting old friends and shopping for vegetables.

We came across a shelf full of free used magazines, most of which were 5 to 15 years old. Sitting on the bottom shelf, sticking out like a sore thumb, was a lone, warped volume of an 1882 encyclopedia set:


Clearly, this book couldn't be left behind any longer. It came as absolutely no surprise to my wife that I snapped up the battered book and asked her for a quarter to drop into the styrofoam cup labeled "Donations."2

The book is in bad shape. The back cover is warped and doesn't lay flat; the spine is half-detached from the binding; and two pages, including the title page, are fully separated from the binding.

But it's still a book.

It's 800+ pages are just one volume in a larger compendium -- published in America by S.W. Green's Son from the Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers's Encyclopædia -- of Western civilization's knowledge in the late 19th century.

Some of the contents:

SUHL, a t. of Prussia, province of Saxony, and government of Erfurt, is situated on a small stream, called the Lauter, in a romantic valley on the s.w. side of the Thuringian forest, 32 m. s.s.w. of Erfurt. The Suhl, which in the Sorb-Wendish dialect means salt, is probably derived from the salt springs, formerly much worked. Mining is extensively carried on in the neighborhood, and has been so for centuries. The principal manufactures are iron and steel wares, chemical preparations, paper, and leather. Suhl, celebrated in the days of chivalry as the "arsenal of Germany," still maintains its ancient reputation as manufactory of arms. Pop. '75 10,721. Its history is very interesting; see Werther's Sieben Bücher der Chronik der Stadt Suhl (1847).

TORPEDO. During the war between Great Britain and the United States in 1812-14, this name was applied to certain mysterious boats invented by Fulton and other Americans for the purpose of navigating beneath the surface of the water, and injuring the the bottoms of hostile vessels. In those days of hand-to-hand naval war, these designs (which, by the way, were failures) were looked upon as little less than diabolical. The progress of destructive weapons during half a [century] has removed this aversion.

TOTEM. The ruder races of men are found divided into tribes, each of which is usually named after some animal, vegetable, or thing which is an object of veneration or worship to the tribe.3 This animal, vegetable or thing is the totem or god of the tribe. ... Numerous tribes with totems exist in America, in Australia, the South Pacific islands, and in central Asia; and there are some reasons for thinking that such tribes were once numerous even in Europe among races belonging to what is called the Indo-European division of the human family.4

VAMPIRE (Ger. vampyr), called also by the Servians vukodlak, and by the Wallachians murony, is, according to the popular belief of the Slavonic, Romanic, and Greek population of the Lower Danube and the Thessalian peninsula, a blood-sucking ghost.5 In the mythology of the ancient Greeks, beings of a similar nature existed - the Lamias, beautiful phantom women who, by all sorts of voluptuous delusions, allured youths to them in order to feast on their fresh, young, and pure blood and flesh. And among Greek Christians there is a belief that the bodies of those who have died in excommunication are kept by the devil in a kind of life; that they go forth from their graves by night and suddenly destroy other men, and also by other means procure food, and thus keep themselves in good condition. They are called Burkolakkä, or Tympanitä; and the only way of escaping from their molestation is by digging up their unwashed corpses and burning them, after the removal of the excommunication.

Sweet dreams!

1. Established 1866.
2. I also snagged a 1958 issue of the religious magazine Horizons and two 1970s issues of The Workbasket. Score!
3. Wow.
4. Wow again.
5. This encyclopedia was published in 1882 -- 15 years before the publication of Bram Stoker's "Dracula."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy 125th birthday,
Ruth Manning-Sanders

On this date 125 years ago -- August 21, 1886 -- Ruth Vernon Manning was born to John Edmondson Manning and Emma Manning (nee Brock) in Swansea, Wales. Ruth, the youngest of the three Manning girls, grew up to marry artist George Sanders, become Ruth Manning-Sanders and create a rich literary legacy of more than 90 books (and hundreds of retold folk and fairy tales) during the 102 years of her life.1

Happy birthday, Ruth!

While no book has ever been written about Ruth Manning-Sanders, many have written independently about her contributions to children's literature and folklore, the outstanding quality of her work and her legacy.

So for her birthday today, here is some commentary and praise about Manning-Sanders that I have gathered, interspersed with some photos of the many Manning-Sanders volumes that I am proud and fortunate to have sitting on my bookshelves.

Judith Ridge: "a fantastically eccentric and effective way with language"

Judith Ridge has mentioned Manning-Sanders several times in her blog entries on Misrule, the home of Australian children's books online.

In the June 29, 2010, post "Old Favorites, New Audience," Ridge discusses reading Manning-Sanders stories to a group of contemporary young children:
I decided, though, to read them a story that has stayed with me — dare I say, haunted me! — for more than thirty years. She's perhaps not all that well known or remembered these days, but Ruth Manning-Sanders was one of the most popular authors among my friends. I remember whenever we'd go to the Auburn Library, we'd go straight to the M shelves to borrow (and re-borrow) one of her wonderful collections of folk tales.2 I loved A Book of Folk and Fairy Tales, A Book of Princes and Princesses — I love all of them, but I especially loved A Book of Ghosts and Goblins and in that book, I most especially loved the story "Golden Hair". ... So I read "Golden Hair" to the kids at Oxley Park and I can tell you — this ghost story has not lost a shred of its power to enthrall. And that actually doesn't surprise me. Manning-Sanders was an extraordinary writer, with a fantastically eccentric and effective way with language*.3 It was as much the power of her language as it was her stories that captured our imagination as children — and the children in that classroom at Oxley Park, far from Wales and the west country of England where she lived and worked her days.
Ridge also writes about Manning-Sanders in the blog entries "How Diana Wynne Jones changed my life (In Memoriam)" and "Lucy Mangan's Biblio-Attachments."

I strongly recommend that you check out her website and blog.

TimT: "She comes across as an affectionate aunt"

On the Will Type For Food blog, TimT wrote about Manning-Sanders in the March 29, 2009, post "Ruth Manning-Sanders, revisited." Here's an excerpt:
I'm currently reading Folk and Fairy Tales, as retold by Ruth Manning-Sanders. Right through infants, primary and high school I can remember reading books of fairy tales retold by her: she was a prolific reteller of other people's stories. Check out the selected bibliography of her works on Wikipedia - and it's just a selected bibliography! - including such curios as A Book of Magic Horses. I lost touch with Ruth there for a while, but I'm glad to have got this book of Folk and Fairy Tales from the Flinders Street bookstore. She comes across as an affectionate aunt - a little prim and proper, but never trying to educate her readers. Unlike other writers - say, Thurber or Kipling - she never looks for the 'moral of the story'. In the introduction she writes:

It is the prime requisite of the fairy tale that it should end happily. I remember as a small girl hurling the book I had been reading across the floor in a rage, because the heroine, instead of marrying the hero and living happily ever after, just went and died. A thing she had no right to do.
I also love this anonymous comment on TimT's blog entry, which gets to the root of how Manning-Sanders' legacy is spanning multiple generations: "I came across this blog when searching for old RMS books. I just remembered getting every single one from the library when I was a little girl and devouring them. Now I want my little daughter to discover them too and am looking for the old editions with illustrations as I remember them."

Marcus Crouch: "Every present-day story-teller must be in her debt"

In the February 1989 edition of Junior Bookshelf, Marcus Crouch wrote a tribute to Manning-Sanders in the wake of her death the previous October. Some excerpts:
Her personal preference seems to have been for the humorously bizarre, and she had a liking for dragons, ogres and other grotesques. She liked humble, unheroic heroes, simple people keeping their end up by means of cunning and persistence. ... Every present-day story-teller must be in her debt. Her work is peculiarly suited to the domestic, one-to-one story-telling session. It forges a link between speaker and hearer whose strength is best appreciated in the home rather than the hall and classroom. ... For many long-lived writers, death is followed by eclipse. I hope that publishers will [continue to re-release Manning-Sanders'] priceless treasury of folk-tales. We would all be the poorer for their loss.
I'll second that! It would be great if a modern publisher could reprint Manning-Sanders' anthologies (although only if they remain paired with the wonderful illustrations by Robin Jacques).

1. Information for this section comes from Manning-Sanders' Wikipedia biography, of which I have served as the primary author and culled from a wide range of sources.
2. The library is also where I discovered Manning-Sanders, as I detailed in this previous post.
3. Ridge has footnotes in her blogs, too. This particular one is related to Manning-Sanders:
"*I didn't think of that as a child reader, but I discovered it from the inside years later when I was working at The School Magazine and discovered, to my astonishment and delight, that we had unpublished Manning-Sanders stories on file — and I got to edit some of them! Not that you'd dare do much more than a light run-through for fear of disrupting her delicately, yet complexly constructed prose. Apparently the long-lived Manning-Sanders had a similarly long-living daughter, who sent her mother's unpublished stories to the School Magazine — and I'll leave it at that for Jonathan Shaw to fill out the story in the comments!"
Unfortunately, Mr. Shaw has NOT yet "filled out the story" in the comments of Ridge's blog entry.