Houston – 51 years ago and now (part 2)

Downtown Houston, Texas mid 1960s

The photo above is from some time around 1965, the summer that I spent in Houston, Texas, with my mom and her new husband, Harry.  We lived in a second floor apartment in an old dilapidated apartment building about 10 blocks from where this photo was taken on Main Street looking to the northeast.  When I stumbled across this photo online several months ago, it was amazing how familiar it looked.  The view down Main Street (below) is almost unrecognizable from what I remember from 51 years ago.

The tall building on the left is the 44 story, 606 ft (185 m) Exxon-Mobil building.  I knew it as the Exxon building. I didn’t know at the time, but, apparently, it had been completed just 2 years before my visit. It was the tallest building west of the Mississippi when it was completed, but was surpassed in 1965 by a building in Dallas. One of the neat features of the building was the observation area at the top.  I went up several times that summer.  The “high speed” elevator made quite an impression on a youngster from a Nebraska  town that had few buildings large enough to need an elevator.

The skyscraper on the right side of Main Street is the 410 ft (125 m) One City Centre, originally called First City National Bank Building. Completed in 1960, it was the first modern office building constructed in downtown Houston.

The image below is from Google Street View (2015 image), taken from a similar vantage point as the top photo.  Main Street now has tracks for light rail. It hardly looks like the same city.  The Exxon-Mobil building and One City Centre can both be seen. The top photo is from a camera using a telephoto lens, which results in some perspective distortion. One City Centre is five blocks further away than the Exxon-Mobil building.  The bottom photo has less perspective distortion (magnification)  so that One City Centre seems even further away.Main Street, Houston, Texas, Google Street View, 11/16/2016

america, american history, commentary, perception, photography, texas, vintage images

On the Electoral College

 Some rights reserved by DonkeyHoteyWhen the electoral college and the popular vote don’t pick the same candidates for President and Vice President, many on the losing side are going to be upset.  It only seems right that the candidate with the most votes should be the victor – and for most elective offices in the U.S., it is. It would be for the presidential election, as well, if the country was a pure democracy.

However, if the country isn’t a pure democracy.  If it were, the campaigns would have been run much differently.

Presidential campaign strategies are not based on the popular vote and candidates don’t focus on the popular vote.  They focus on the states they believe can turn the election results, chasing the vital 270 electoral votes for a win.  Other states are essentially ignored.

If the presidential election was based on the one-person one-vote principle, voters in two-thirds of the country, or more, would be virtually disenfranchised. The largest portion of candidates’ effort, money, and time would spent in the highly populated states and regions, bypassing the concerns, problems, and desires of the voters in the rest of this vast nation.

The United States is a republic with a federalist form of government “where the power is supposed to be divided between the states and the central government and neither is subservient to the other. Both are supposed to get their powers directly from the people.1

Under the United States Constitution, each state selects as many electors as the combined total the number of its U.S. senators and representatives.  In addition, the District of Columbia “gets at most the number of electors it would have if it were a state but not more than the number of electors of the least-populous state (currently 3).2

In the U.S. House of Representatives, each state is represented “in proportion to its population as measured in the census, but every state is entitled to at least one representative. The most populous state, California, currently has 53 representatives. On the other end of the spectrum, there are seven states with only one representative each (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming). The total number of voting representatives is fixed by law at 435.3” The term of office for each representative is two years.  Those states that have more than one representative are divided into districts where each district elects one representative.

The United States Senate is comprised of 100 senators, two from each state who represent the whole state.  The senators for each state serve staggered six-year terms.

Changing the system used for election of the President and Vice President requires an Amendment to the Constitution (Wikipedia).

  1. Darrell Huckaby – Newton Citizen, Newton County, Georgia
  2. Electoral College (United States) – Wikipedia
  3. United States House of Representatives – Wikipedia


License:  Some rights reserved by DonkeyHotey (Billionaires image)
america, american history, commentary, history, life, politics

Dear Jane

Art on Sunday #22

Original Civil War Quilt by Jane Stickle

Original Civil War Quilt by Jane Stickle

Jane Stickle’s 1863 sampler quilt – sampler quilts are comprised of different block patterns that are generally non-repeating – is an inspiration for quilters all over the world.  Located at the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont, the quilt is displayed for only a limited time each year due the fragility of the fabric. Each of the 169 five-inch blocks is in a different pattern as are the outward pointing triangle pieces in the border and the corner pieces, for a total of 225 patterns and a total of 5,602 pieces of fabric.

Karen's first "Dear Jane" quilt "Insanity"

Karen’s first “Dear Jane” quilt “Insanity”

Jane Blakely Stickle was born in Shaftsbury, Vermont in 1817 and by 1850 had married Walter Stickle.  With no children of their own, they took responsibility for at least three other area children.  In the 1860 census, Jane is listed as a farmer living alone, but eventually reunited with Walter. During the early 1860s, Jane created what is now known as the Jane Stickle Quilt, embroidering into it “In War Time. 1863. Pieces. 5602. Jane A. Stickle.”

Karen's second "Dear Jane" quilt, "Insanity Revisited"

Karen’s second “Dear Jane” quilt, “Insanity Revisited”

If she had not signed her name, Jane and her quilt might both have been lost to history.  The quilt was passed down through descendants of relatives – since Jane and Walter had no children – and was “rediscovered” during the depression years by a relative in St. Louis, Missouri.  Knowing that Jane was from Vermont, it was sent to the Bennington Museum.

In the early 1990s, Brenda Papadakis saw the quilt in Richard L. Cleveland & Donna Bister’s book Plain and Fancy: Vermont’s People and their Quilts as a Reflection of America, published in 1991.

The geometry of the block designs quickly captured Brenda’s attention. She spent the next five years researching Jane Stickle’s life and times. She drafted the patterns of the 169 four and a half inch blocks, the 52 triangle border blocks, and the 4 kite-shaped corner blocks and then published those in the book Dear Jane, The Two Hundred Twenty-Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt. Later she made the Dear Jane®; CD Rom available making it possible to customize one’s own version of the quilt from a computer.1

Thanks to remarkable serendipity, the book by Brenda Papadakis, and the internet, Jane Stickle’s quilt and it’s patterns are known by a multitude of quilters worldwide – and many have subsequently created their own interpretation of the quilt using Papadakis’s book and its patterns.

Recently, we took a trip to Texas to see go to the Houston International Quilt Festival where we discovered that they had a special exhibit, “Twenty years of Dear Jane ®.” Below is a few different interpretations of the Jane Sickle 1863 quilt, popularized as Dear Jane ®.

  1. The Dear Jane® History – Blue Cat Creations
american history, art on sunday, photography, quilting, serendipity

Houston – 51 years ago and now (part 1)

In 1965, my sister and I had been living for several years with our grandparents in Nebraska.  In late May or early June that year, I traveled by bus to spend the summer with my mom and her new husband, Harry, in Houston, Texas.

Downtown Houston, then, looked much as it does in the photo below.  The bus terminal was somewhere near the foreground of the photo on the left side of the picture.  They didn’t have a car so we walked back to where they lived.  It wasn’t far, just a few blocks past the tallest building on the left, a second floor apartment in a dilapidated old building on Haley Street.

Houston Texas downtown skyline (abt 1963)

Last weekend, Karen and I visited Houston for the first time in 30 years.  We were there for the Houston International Quilt Festival, held at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The photo below was taken from a second floor convention center balcony.

The downtown area sure has changed since I first saw it as a 13 year-old.  The bottom picture was taken from a vantage point a few blocks to the left, but not too far from that of the top one.  (See the bottom comparison, which points out one building that is in both photos.)

Other than going from and back to the parking lot where we left the car to go to the quilt show, we didn’t walk around the downtown area at all.

As an introverted 13 year-old living in Midtown, I roamed these streets quite a bit.  I could get to just about anywhere downtown with a couple of short walks and a 15¢ bus ride.  The current convention center is about 1.5 miles from where we lived, less than a half hour walk for the youngster I was back then.

Mom worked as a waitress in a hotel coffee shop not far from where these pictures were taken.  There aren’t many images online from that period of time and I haven’t been able to identify if that building even exists.

That area of Houston, as I recall, was slated for some kind of urban renewal, which, from what we saw has long been done.  From Google streetview , the old apartment building is long gone, replaced by newer, nicer buildings.  The whole area has changed.

Two years after the 1965  summer visit, I returned to Houston to live with my mom, sister, and step-dad.  I left at the very end of 1971 when I joined the Navy.

commentary, life, photography, places, quilting, texas, towns, urban, vintage images

iPhone…coming apart

November 8, 2016 – While we were out of the area last weekend, I noticed my iPhone 5 was in worse condition than I thought.

I had noticed a while back that the screen was starting to separate from the body.  I have always kept the phone inside of a protective case, so I have no idea how long this has been going on.

iphone 5 battery swelling failure (I've had this phone almost 4 years)Saturday evening, I did a little bit of research on it.  Apparently, this has been an issue for some iPhone 5s for quite some time.  Most of the time, it’s due to battery swelling. Early on, Apple would just exchange the phone for a new one.  Unfortunately, we’ve had our phones for nearly four years now, so they are long out of warranty.

On Sunday, we were at the Galleria mall in Houston, Texas.  I had thought, when I was researching the problem, that I would stop in the Apple store there, if there was one, and see if I had any options along the lines of repair or replacement.  Sure enough, there was a store, so I went in.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised.  They weren’t able to help me right away, but I got scheduled into a slot and was told that they would text me when it was almost my turn. I was actually walking past the store when I got the text so went right back in. After waiting a short while, one of their Genius team people was able to help me is fairly short order. What he said they could do was to replace the phone for the cost of a battery replacement. Unfortunately, they didn’t have one in stock and we were leaving the next day (yesterday). Fortunately, there was another option. (This turned out to be wrong) He set me up with a customer service appointment for today at 10 a.m. and entered all of the information and conclusions that we came to. My understanding is that they will send me a box to ship the old phone to them and that they will ship the new phone once they’ve received the old one. (Again, wrong.  See explanation below.)

I’m trying to figure out how to do this blogging thing just using my iPad.  We each have a Bluetooth keyboard, so it is much easier typing than trying to type on the touchscreen of the tablet.  I don’t particularly care for the ap that I am using for this post. I’ll have to look to see if there is something else.

November 10, 2016 (continued from November 8) – After I tried to view the post, it disappeared from the ap and I wasn’t able to recover it.  I only discovered about a half an hour ago that the post was posted to the blog as a draft.  I was actually looking for a different draft post when I found it.

The phone: I spent almost 45 minutes on the phone with Apple customer service.  The customer service rep was very good, walking me through everything they needed to do to get this battery replacement swap done.  Then, when he submitted the information on his end, it came back with a cost that was different from the battery replacement cost cited by the people in the Houston Apple store.  It was going to cost over half the price of a new iPhone 6.  He bumped it up to his supervisor who explored several different avenues, none of them satisfactory for me.

Apparently, the only place where the battery replacement phone swap deal can be done at the price quoted is at an Apple store.  The closest is Little Rock (an hour and a half away) and it would likely require two trips as it is unlikely that they would have an obsolete iPhone 5 – even refurbished – in stock.

Nope, not gonna do that.

iPhone 6 public domain image from Pixabay

New phone, paying off over next 2 years.

blogging, blogs, life, now that's cool!, on the road, urban

Eyes of the Great Depression 139

Cotton hoer near Clarksdale, Miss, June 1937

Cotton hoer near Clarksdale, Mississippi, June 19371

Cotton hoer near Clarksdale, Miss, June 1937

Same lady, different photo2

  1. Lange, Dorothea, photographer. June, 1937. Image retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000001326/PP/. (Accessed October 25, 2016.)
  2. Lange, Dorothea, photographer. June, 1937. Image retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000001330/PP/. (Accessed October 25, 2016.)
american history, eyes of the great depression, great depression, history, mississippi, photography, vintage images

Mitchell Pass at Scotts Bluff

Three from the Road #20 – 2010 trip1

Historical Interpreters in Period Dress, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska, July 9, 2010.

Historical Interpreters in Period Dress, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska, July 9, 2010.

In the early years of travel on the Emigrant Trails (Oregon, California, and Mormon), Scotts Bluff in western Nebraska blocked wagon travel along the south bank of the North Platte River, forcing early travelers to swing south and go through Robidoux Pass, a natural gateway in the great bluffs. In 1850, a shorter route was opened through Mitchell Pass, just south of the monument itself and much closer to the Platte River and eliminated the eight-mile swing south.2

Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska , July 9, 2010

A portion of Scotts Bluff  viewed from the remnant traces of the Emigrant Trails in Mitchell Pass

Mitchell Pass is a gap in the bluffs flanked by two large cliffs. Although the route through Mitchell Pass was tortuous and hazardous, many emigrants preferred this route to following the North Platte river bottom on the north side of the bluff. Passage through Mitchell Pass became a significant milestone for many wagon trains on their way westward.3

View from top of Scotts Bluff, Nebraska

View from top of Scotts Bluff

Today’s Scotts Bluff County Road K – Old Hwy 92 – passes through historic Mitchell Pass.  The straight modern road in the photo, it parallels remaining traces of emigrant trails through the pass.

  1. Three from the Road is a series sharing images from places we’ve visited.  Initially, each post included thee images, related by a randomly selected location or topic. Posts now may be random choices or pre-planned sequences.  This post is in a series sequentially sharing images from our 2010 trip west.
  2. Robidoux Pass – Wikipedia
  3. Scotts Bluff National Monument – Wikipedia

Additional References:

3 from the road, american history, history, landscape, nebraska, parks, photography, plains, Travel Photos

Nebraska Landmarks along the Emigrant Trails

Three from the Road #19 – 2010 trip1

"Ancient Bluff Ruins" on the emigrant trails, near Broadwater, Nebraska, July 9, 2010

“Ancient Bluff Ruins” on the emigrant trails, near Broadwater, Nebraska, July 9, 2010

This frequently mentioned landmark is the most dramatic and extensive bluff formation along the north side of the North Platte River. These three erosional remnant buttes were named by English Mormon converts who thought they resembled ancient towers, castles and ruins seen in their homeland.2

Courthouse and Jail Rocks are two rock formations located near Bridgeport in the Nebraska Panhandle.

Courthouse and Jail Rocks

The Oregon-California Trail, the Mormon Trail, the Pony Express Trail and the Sidney-Deadwood Trail all ran near the rocks. The pair of rock formations served as a landmark along the trails for many pioneers traveling west in the 19th century. Many travelers would stray as much as five miles (8 km) from the Oregon Trail just to get a glimpse of the rocks.

Hundreds of westward-bound emigrants mentioned Courthouse Rock (originally also McFarlan’s Castle) in their travel logs and journals. The name “Courthouse” was first used in 1837. In 1845, one traveler described the rock as “resembling the ruins of an old castle [which] rises abruptly from the plain….It is difficult to look upon it and not believe that art had something to do with its construction.3

Chimney Rock, Nebraska , July 9, 2010

Chimney Rock National Historic Site

Designated the Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Chimney Rock is one of the most famous and recognizable landmarks for pioneer travelers on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails, a symbol of the great western migration. Located approximately four miles south of present-day Bayard, at the south edge of the North Platte River Valley, Chimney Rock is a natural geologic formation, a remnant of the erosion of the bluffs at the edge of the North Platte Valley. A slender spire rises 325 feet from a conical base. The imposing formation, composed of layers of volcanic ash and brule clay dating back to the Oligocene Age (34 million to 23 million years ago), towers 480 feet above the North Platte River Valley.4


  1. Three from the Road is a series sharing images from places we’ve visited.  Initially, each post included thee images, related by a randomly selected location or topic. Posts now may be random choices or pre-planned sequences.  This post is in a series sequentially sharing images from our 2010 trip west.
  2. Ancient Bluff Ruins – Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, National Park Service
  3. Courthouse and Jail Rocks – Wikipedia
  4. Chimney Rock – National Park Service


1 comment
3 from the road, american history, history, landscape, nebraska, parks, photography, plains, Travel Photos

John Beauchamp Jones–Senior Clerk in the Confederate War Office

Faces Out of Time #20

I am on my third time blogging my way through the American civil war, “stepping through the war with news, diary and journal entries, and more.” Each post, with very few exceptions, includes an image. For news articles, the image may be a thumbnail of the newspaper’s front page. Diary and journal entry posts are usually accompanied by an image of the author, or, in a few instances, some image relevant to the author.

An image of John Beauchamp Jones – the most prolific Confederate diarist – eluded me. While he is included in two antebellum1 political cartoons,2 there seemed to be no other image available.  Finding nothing, I created a generic image from a photo of a 19th century unidentified man to used with Jones’s posts to use for posting during the sesquicentennial years of the civil war.

For this third time blogging through the war, I tried, once more, to find an image of Jones. The search turned into a minor online research project with 65 end notes, published at American Civil War Chronicles (my site) as John Beauchamp Jones.  During the research, I found three image of Jones, one in a group painting and two photographs.

John Beauchamp Jones in George Caleb Bingham’s “Canvassing for a Vote”3

Canvasing for a Vote: George Caleb Bingham was active in Missouri politics for most of his adult life. Canvassing for a Vote reflects his full faith in the democratic system, even as he recognized its shortcomings.

Canvasing for a Vote4

John Beauchamp Jones (mid 1840s)5

John Beauchamp Jones - Photograph taken only days before his death in February, 1866, from tuberculosis.

Photograph taken only days before his death in February, 1866, from tuberculosis.6

  1. Antebellum – occurring or existing before the American civil war. It is derived from Status quo ante bellum, a Latin phrase meaning “the status before the war.”
  2. Library of Congress Prints and Photograph catalog: Treeing coons and The patriots getting their beans
  3. From Edgar Allan Poe, John Beauchamp Jones, and George Caleb Bingham: Southern Patronage and the Road Not Taken by Robin Grey:
    “Bingham, in fact, is featured as an artist and political stump speaker in Jones’s novel The Life and Adventures of a Country Merchant (1854). Reciprocally, Bingham painted scenes from their lives in Missouri in his famous studies called the Election Series; Stump Speaking (1850 – 51); Canvassing for a Vote (1851 – 52), in which Jones is depicted (the seated figure on the left in the painting accompanying this essay…”
    “This is my own attribution based on photographs of J. B. Jones from various archives. Although other figures in the painting have been identified, this figure has not. It is noted, moreover, in Paul C. Nagel’s George Caleb Bingham that Jones’s autobiographical character Nap Wax (in Life and Adventures of a Country Merchant) was told that ever y citizen in the town was likely to be in the picture or in the Election Series: ‘Me, too, with my pot-belly. I’ve seen the first sketch of it, and it ’ll be a famous picture . . . better than an advertisement.'”
    Read more at Edgar Allan Poe, John Beauchamp Jones, and George Caleb Bingham: Southern Patronage and the Road Not Taken by Robin Grey.
  4. Canvasing for a Vote – George Caleb Bingham, 1852, oil on canvas (Google Arts and Culture)
  5. Clark Brockman, “John Beauchamp Jones” (master’s thesis, University of South Carolina, 1937) A likeness of Jones when he was editor  and majority owner of the Daily Madisonian during President John Tyler’s administration.  Late in September, 1841, Tyler told a friend, “The Madisonian is the official organ and is now enjoying the Executive patronage.”
  6. Clark Brockman, “John Beauchamp Jones” (master’s thesis, University of South Carolina, 1937)
american history, civil war, faces out of time, history, vintage images

Eyes of the Great Depression 138

Eyes of grandmother of sharecropper family near Cleveland, Mississippi. June 1937

Lange, Dorothea, photographer. Grandmother of sharecropper family near Cleveland, Mississippi. June, 1937.

Grandmother of sharecropper family near Cleveland, Mississippi.1

  1. Lange, Dorothea, photographer. June, 1937. Image retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000001328/PP/. (Accessed October 25, 2016.)
american history, eyes of the great depression, great depression, history, mississippi, photography, vintage images