Sunday, May 30, 2010

Postcard Friendshp Friday - Memorial Day

"Their's is a deathless heritage: their deeds
Blossom like flowers upon the field of time

And whether told is prose or glowing rhyme,
Seem writ in shining gold to him who reads."

It is so fitting that I found this card posted 100 years ago on May 29, 1910. It was mailed to Mrs. Lewis - possibly and employee - at the Soldier's Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The residential facility was built in 1886 for veterans of the Civil War and continues to serve the needs of veterans today.

The Veteran's Cemetery, on the hospital grounds, was also founded in 1886
and rededicated in 1986

This newer facility still exists and provides medical care and residential facilities to military veterans

Enjoy your weekend, but take time to remember those who died for this great country!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday Reigns!

Meeting of Boleslaw the Valiant, 1st King of Poland, and Otton III, Emperor of Germany (1000 AD) painting by The Brotherhood of St. Luke

Today's postcard was printed in 1939 for the New York World's Fair. The painting of Boleslaw and Otton's meeting was displayed in the Polish Pavilion.

Jan Sobieski III

Today in History has nothing to do with Boleslaw. I just could not find a postcard featuring Jan Sobieski III who on this date in 1674 was crowned King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Sobieski chose Boleslaw's crown for his own coronation and went on to become the most notable of the Polish Monarchs. He was a graduate of the Jagiellonian University (Astronomer,Copernicus, was a student of this University as well). Jan spoke four languages flawlessly and he also learned to speak the Tartar language, studied their military tactics and went on to defeat them in the Battle of Vienna. Sobiesky was a military genius who was hailed as "Saviour of Vienna and Western European Civilization". He brought peace and stability to Poland during his 22 year reign.

Sobiesky had a large head, a rotund body and small feet. A French diplomat described him as being a perfect oval and resembling an egg resting on its small end.

I chose this (very Polish) moment in history because I have been working on my (also very Polish) family tree for several months now.

The idyllic scene of the Polish countryside on this postcard (also printed in 1939) is not as it seems:

Note the stamp.

Poland was under Nazi rule at the time this card was printed. The 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany - the same year as the New York World's Fair - was the catalyst for WWII.

But more about the Polish King: You'll notice that Jan Sobieski, in the above painting, is wearing a crown of laurel leaves - bay leaves, actually. This is the crown of victors. The phrase "don't rest on your laurel's" refers to the crown of laurel.

The leaves of sweet bay, also called bay laurel are bay leaves. These are a wonderful addition to soups, stews, spaghetti sauce and chili. Just use one or two to round out the flavor. I had, for many years, a regular supply of fresh bay leaves from a bay laurel tree growing in my garden until it had to be moved to make room for a patio addition. It didn't appreciate being transplanted, and summarily curled up and died.

This week I finally found, ordered - and received a new one. ( The company I ordered from is Almost Eden, at They have some really unusual and exotic plants!)

I can't speak of Poland without mentioning some of the best food in the world! Pierogi is one of my favorites!
Pass the sour cream, please.

If you happen to have a Babushka who will make paczki for you, you'll know what heaven tastes like.

Boleslaw the First or Jerry the Last - which is it?

But I digress. As usual. My search for ancestors confirmed what I already knew: my family is not descended from Polish nobility - although some of them built carriages for Royalty. During my blog search I found this painting of Boleslaw the Valiant - he is the spitting image of my brother Jerry. Except for the crown.... so maybe....just maybe.....

Polish Nobility and the economic strata within the Noble Estate (Szlachta) is an interesting topic and much too detailed to discuss here. In a nutshell, there were no Polish titles. Those with titles received them as acknowledgement of some good work or perhaps a good marriage from other countries. All Szlachta were considered equal as men whether they owned vast estates or worked the land along side the serfs. That's not to say the big guys didn't pick on the little guys for their lack of carmine robes and a fine steed. Human nature reigns.

For more of the reigning Postcard Friendship Friday posts, visit Beth at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday: Your Norge is Showing!

Picturesque Village in Norge (Norway)

A Christmas Greeting dated 12/24/1917

Note the "Food will win the war" cancellation stamp.

This is the Norge for Today In History: The Airship, piloted and flown by an international crew of 16 crossed over the North Pole on May 12, 1929. (I liked this better than any of the history listed for today, May 14) Although other explorers claimed to have reached the north pole in earlier years, and Richard E. Byrd claimed to have reached the Pole days before the Norge, none of these expeditions were verified and some were thought to be rather dubious claims. Case in point: None of the explorers could provide a picture of themselves with Santa Clause, who we all know has lived at the North Pole for a very long time.

The North Pole lies on the Arctic Continent - the only continent that is made up entirely of ice. No land lies beneath the ice. The land mass shattered eons ago and now a deep sea trench lies beneath.

Magnetic North Pole

Santa Clause took the above picture which explains why you cannot see him.

1937 Norge Range

When I think of Norge, I think "refrigerator". When true Saturday Night Live fans hear "Norge" they think of Lisa Loobner (Gilda Radner) and Todd (Bill Murray) in the kitchen watching the refrigerator repairman (Dan Aykroyd). Every time he bent over to work on the 'fridge his "Norge" would show. Alternative cleavage is today's description of the problem.

You'll have no problems at all today if you stop by and visit Beth at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more Friendship Friday fun!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday - A Pearl of Wisdom

"Pearl " by artist Millicent Sowerby 1878-1967

This beautiful postcard is part of a set and was illustrated by Millicent Sowerby a noted artist who also illustrated many children's books. Born in North Umberland, England, She was the daughter of the illustrator and designer, John G. Sowerby.

I chose this card because it seems a perfect one to wish everyone a Happy Mother's Day!

It was also chosen because Today in History celebrates the finding on May 7, 1934, of the largest pearl in the world.

The Pearl of Allah

The Pearl of Allah was found, not in an oyster, but in a giant clam. It was found off the coast of the Philippines by a Muslim diver who thought it bore the features of a turbaned woman. The pearl is 9 1/2 inches long and weighs 14 lbs and is valued at $40 -60 million dollars. You will notice that it lacks the nacreous glow found in oyster pearls. Instead it resembles porcelain. Like many other large and famous gems, the Pearl of Allah has a very interesting history.

Oyster Pearls

The word "pearl' comes from the Old French, perle. It is one of many organic gems including coral, jet, ivory and amber that have been valued and used as an ornament since ancient times. The Chinese pearl trade was recorded as early as 2500 B.C. Pearls are mentioned in The Bible at least 5 times. The pearl is the June birthstone. It is associated with the moon and signifies truth and beauty.

Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia

Empress Marie, the mother of Tsar Nicholas II, shown here in her coronation gown and cloak, is wearing a headdress and necklaces made with pearls and diamonds. Her amazing 3 piece gown, consisting of the bodice, skirt and train and designed in the Russian Court style, is made of silver thread. The gown was on display with the "Treasures of the Tsars" exhibit in St. Petersburg Florida in 1995. As a volunteer docent I was able to spend intimate hours with this amazing (size 8, petite) gown. The cloak is lilac velvet, silver thread and silk.

But I digress!

The drop shaped pearls are the size of quail eggs!

Interestingly enough, freshwater pearls, from freshwater oysters were so abundant in the rivers of Russia that peasant women wore head dresses and vests sewn with hundreds of pearls.

Girl With A Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

Pearls, a natural work of art are often the subject of man made works of art. Vermeer's painting is as much about the earrings as the girl who wears them. Tracy Chevalier's highly acclaimed historical novel, Girl with a pearl Earring, is a must read. It tells us the story of this young servant girl, Griet who lives in the tumultuous Vermeer household. Vermeer is at first annoyed when she asks if she should wash the windows in his studio and then astounded when she explains that the washing would change the play of light in his paintings. The movie, starring Scarlett Johansson is a beautifully told version of the book and is delightfully filmed in the bright play of light and colors of Vermeer. Read and see for yourself!

Stop by Beth's The Best Hearts are Crunchy for more pearls of Postcard Friendship Friday!