Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Short Timeline and History of Catholic Seminaries in the Eastern United States

I'm involved in putting together a historical journal celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the parish my family belongs to. Located on Staten Island, St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church was founded in 1862 by the Reverend John Barry under the auspices of the Diocese of New York.

Reading over the early history, I was intrigued by the references to Catholic Seminaries, institutions of higher learning charged with preparing young men for the priesthood. There were not very many back in those days and candidates for the priesthood embarked on  long and arduous journeys in order to attend school. Over time and with the increasing amount of Catholics arriving in the New York area, the seminaries moved closer to New York City, the seat of the Archdiocese. Most of the priests in New York parishes today are prepared at St.Joseph's Seminary, commonly known as Dunwoodie, located in Yonkers, New York about 13 miles away from St. Patrick's Cathedral. There were many more to be sure but listed below are the main Catholic institutions.

Pope Pius VI (above) makes the United States a Diocese

1791: St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, St. Mary's (pictured left) was the first Catholic seminary established in the United States. In existence for well over two hundred years, St. Mary's has been owned and operated by the Sulpician Fathers, a community of diocesan priests dedicated to the formation of priests. In 1805, St. Mary's was chartered as a university in Maryland, and in 1822, Pope Pius VII established the seminary the country's first faculty with the right to grant degrees in the name of the Holy See. To this day, the seminary continues to offer the pontifical STB,  Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology Degree and STL Licentiate in Sacred Theology. This privilege was first granted to St. Mary's in 1822 by Pope Pius VII at the request of the Most Reverend Ambrose Maréchal, the third Archbishop of Baltimore. The original St. Mary's Seminary was first located on Paca Street in a historic neo-gothic chapel designed by Maximilian Godefroy. Still there today, it is open for visitors and is adjacent to the Mother Seton House where St. Elizabeth Ann Seton lived while in Baltimore.

1808: Mount St. Mary’s University, Emmitsburg, Maryland
The history of Mount St. Mary’s University begins in the creation of Maryland as a refuge of religious freedom. Catholic immigrants flock to the new colony and in 1789 the pope designated Baltimore the seat of the newly created U.S. diocese. John Hughes (pictured right) built  St. Joseph’s Church in Emmitsburg to serve the mostly Irish Catholic population and when the Rev. John DuBois, who fled France for the United States, he became pastor of Frederick, Md. In 1805, he laid  the cornerstone of Saint-Mary-on-the-Hill, uniting Emmitsburg’s Irish and English congregations. He bought the first parcel of land for what would become Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.

1833: St. Joseph's Seminary, Nyack, New York
On May 29,1833, a cornerstone was laid in Nyack, New York, a place selected by Bishop Dubois. The 165 acre farm was thirty miles from New York and cost $12,000, of which $4,000. was paid in cash. Plans were made for a house eighty feet square, costing $30,000. At that time there were nine churches in the diocese, twenty-four priests and a Catholic population of 150,000, of whom 25,000 were in New York City. Father John McGerry, president of Mount St. Mary's, Emmitsburg, was the first president of Nyack Seminary.

1841: St. John's College (Fordham University), Bronx, New York
Fordham University was originally founded as St. John's College in 1841 by the Irish-born coadjutor bishop (later archbishop) of the Diocese of New York, the Most Reverend John Joseph Hughes. The college was the first Catholic institution of higher education in the northeastern United States. Bishop Hughes purchased most of Rose Hill Manor and Estate in Fordham, the Bronx, at a little less than $30,000 for the purpose of establishing St. Joseph's Seminary in September 1840. "Rose Hill" was the name originally given to the site in 1787 by its owner, Robert Watts, a wealthy New York merchant, in honor of his family's ancestral home in Scotland. The seminary was paired with St. John's College, which opened at Rose Hill with a student body of six on June 21, 1841. The Reverend John McCloskey (later Archbishop of New York and eventually the first American Cardinal) was its first president, and the faculty were secular priests and lay instructors. The college went through a succession of four diocesan priests in five years as presidents, including Fr. James Roosevelt Bayley, a distant cousin of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt and nephew of St. Elizabeth Seton. In 1845, the seminary church, Our Lady of Mercy, was built. The same year, Bishop Hughes convinced Jesuits from St. Mary's College in Maryland and St. Mary's College in Kentucky to staff the new school. The following year, St. John's College received its charter from the New York state legislature. Three months later, the first Jesuits began to arrive. Bishop Hughes deeded the college over but retained title to the seminary property of about nine acres. In 1847, Fordham's first school in Manhattan opened. The school became the independently chartered College of St. Francis Xavier in 1861. 
Interesting Fact:
In 1847, American poet Edgar Allan Poe arrived in the village of Fordham and began a friendship with the Jesuits that would last throughout his lifetime. In 1849, he published "The Bells," to which some traditions credit the college's church bells as the inspiration. 

1864: St. Joseph's Seminary, Troy, New York
Shortly before 1860, Archbishop Hughes had closed St. Joseph's Seminary, Fordham, having found it impracticable to recruit a competent staff of professors able and willing to conduct such an institution. The Sulpicians, to whom he then appealed, found themselves in no position to take this new charge upon themselves because their resources were taxed supplying the needs of seminaries already under their guidance, such as those of Montreal and Baltimore. It occurred to the Archbishop that the most practical way of providing priests for the growing diocese was the foundation of a provincial seminary to the Archbishop of New York and also the bishops of the province might send their ecclesiastical candidates.

1884: St. John's Seminary, Brighton, Mass.
Saint John's Seminary is located in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts and is a Catholic major seminary sponsored by the Archdiocese of Boston. The construction of the Boston Ecclesiastical Seminary began in 1881, and Archbishop John Joseph Williams entrusted the seminary to the Sulpician Fathers. The school was completed in 1884, and the first students began classes there on September 22, 1884. The Seminary's first rector was John Baptist Hogan. In 1892, the Seminary was incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts but in 1911, at the request of Archbishop William Henry O'Connell, the Sulpicians withdrew from the seminary.

1896: St. Joseph's Seminary & College (Dunwoodie), 
Yonkers, New York
St. Joseph's Seminary and College (pictured above), sometimes referred to as Dunwoodie, was founded by the Archdiocese of New York in 1896. Under Archbishop Michael Corrigan, it was originally staffed by Sulpicians and diocesan priests. The seminary's primary mission was to educate men studying for the priesthood. A plot of ground comprising sixty acres, known as Valentine Hill, half-way between Yonkers and Mount Vernon, was purchased for $64,146.77. The site was chosen because of it's proximity to New York. The laying of the cornerstone took place on May 17, 1891 by Archbishop Corrigan, in the presence of about eighty thousand persons.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Sixth Floor Museum: A Must-See Exhibit and Historical Landmark If You Are Visiting Dallas, Texas; From the Cradle to the Grave

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about the assassination of president John F. Kennedy. It was a watershed moment in the lives of most of us back in 1963, one that will never be forgotten. This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to Dallas, Texas...once a place unfairly despised by many Americans because of what had happened there.

Our cab driver gave us two Dallas 'must-dos' on the way to our hotel: having a steak and scheduling a visit to the 'Sixth Floor Museum' at Dealey Plaza, within walking distance of our hotel. Having a steak was already on the agenda, in fact we would have two! I was intrigued but hesitant about visiting the museum thinking it might be a bit tacky or too intrusive but I was very much mistaken.

The grassy knoll and sign.
Walking over to the spot, at the intersection of Houston and Elm Street, I was struck by how much it hadn't changed, how much the image of the book depository and it's environs, had been indelibly etched in my mind. The red brick of the building, the shape of the windows, the tree in front, the 'grassy knoll' and the white structures surrounding Dealey Plaza were overwhelmingly familiar to me and would be to anyone who was glued to their TV sets or devoured newspapers back in November of 1963.

What I didn't know was that Dealey Plaza was the spot upon which the city of Dallas was founded. Not only was Dealey Plaza the birthplace of the city and county of Dallas, founded by John Neely Bryan in the 1840s, but it was also the site of Dallas’ ultimate city planning solution, a vehicular park and a triple underpass. Hailed as the “Front Door of Dallas,” Dealey Plaza served as the major gateway to the city from the west and, equally important, as a symbol of civic pride Built in the 1930s and 1940s during the Texas Centennial and President Roosevelt’s New Deal, these projects were spearheaded by George Bannerman Dealey, an early publisher of the Dallas Morning News, a civic leader, and the man who had campaigned for the area's revitalization. The land was donated by early Dallas philanthropist and business person, Sarah Horton Cockrell. Three streets converge at Dealey Plaza: Main Street, Elm Street, and Commerce Street and they pass under a railroad bridge known as the aforementioned triple underpass. The white monuments lining the plaza are not there to honor President Kennedy, but actually honor previous prominent Dallas residents and predate President Kennedy's visit by many years. There is a Dallas monument to Kennedy, a cenotaph, located one block away.

One of the two spots where the president was hit.
Ironically, Dealey Plaza became a site that served as both “cradle” and “grave”, a historic place where Dallas was born and an American president died.

The Sixth Floor Museum is located in the former Texas School Book Depository built in 1901 on the corner of Houston and Elm streets. In its day, the firm stocked and distributed textbooks for public schools in north Texas and parts of Oklahoma. 

After the book company moved out in 1970, it was hoped that the building would be torn down. Dallas County acquired the building in 1977 with plans to locate county offices on the first five floors and did so in March of 1981. The sixth and seventh floors of the building remained empty.

On President's Day 1989, The Sixth Floor Museum was opened with the many visitors who had come to Dealey Plaza over the years serving as the impetus for the historical exhibition. The museum shows the Kennedy family legacy and the promise of his presidency as well as the assassination site and aftermath. The floors remain in part as they were back then, with the addition of many photo partitions and film kiosks. A recreation of Lee Harvey Oswald's sniper's nest is located in the exact spot and sealed off with a glass partition. Visitors are self-guided through the museum with the help of a headset and the visit should take an hour or two depending on how much time you spend at each exhibit. A gift and book shop is available at the end of the tour. The Museum is owned and operated by the Dallas County Historical Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization and it is a designated National Historic Landmark.

The sniper site from the museum website.
In July 2010, the Museum opened the Reading Room overlooking Dealey Plaza that serves as an environment for those interested in understanding and reflecting on the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. 

After visiting the museum you might want to walk out onto the 'grassy knoll' (this was 'tackily' marked with a plastic sign) and take in the familiar environment where the Kennedy motorcade passed by. Two 'X's mark the spot where the bullets struck the president. This was the area that was the subject of so many conspiracy theories in whether or not Oswald acted alone or in concert with a shooter located somewhere in the grassy area.  

In all, it was a very moving and solemn experience, a reminder, like 9-11, of a very sad time in our country's history.

Another view of the grassy knoll.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Playing the License Plate Game Educates Young and Old in the Geography, History of Our 50 States; Added Bonus: A Quiet Car Ride

When we were kids and our parents took us on long car drives, we had a series of car games that would keep us busy. One of them was the license plate game, a no-frills, no-cost entertainment masquerading as a geography lesson that couldn't be learned as easily in the classroom. With pen or pencil in hand and secretly delighted with the discovery of a west coast plate or even a southern one, we diligently and competitively recorded our license plate discoveries with no prize for the winner other than the satisfaction of beating a sibling. My mother was no fool, the intensity of the game made for a very quiet car ride! Recently on a car trip with my two older grandsons, I was pleased to notice their interest in the same thing.

Many of the plates have changed since the days we played the game and many of the slogans appearing on the plates have changed as well. Being in Texas this past weekend, I noticed the nickname "The Lone Star State" on car license plates and I was curious about where the name came from. The 'lone star' dates back to the days when Texas was part of Mexico. The Lone Star flag was the national flag of the Republic until Texas transferred its status to statehood on February 19, 1846, when it became the state flag. The Texas flag is the only U.S. state flag to have previously served as a flag of the recognized independent country. It is probably the most recognizable flag in our country, second only to the Star Spangled Banner. Attempts have been made to give other nicknames to the state: The Beef State, the Jumbo State,  Super-American State, the Banner State, and the Blizzard State have all been suggested at one time or another. 

So for the record, here are the nicknames, license plate names, official and unofficial from the rest of the 50 states and the District of Columbia:

Alabama has no official nickname but because of its central position in the cotton-growing area it is sometimes known as the Cotton State or the Cotton Plantation State. The first Alabamians were sometimes known as "lizards", which gave the state its earlier nickname of Lizard State back in 1845. In more recent times the state has been known as the Yellowhammer State, from Civil War days, and many people believe that it derives from the species of woodpecker - in reality, it arose from the yellow colour of the home-dyed uniforms that the Alabama troops wore during the Civil War. Occasionally, Alabama also gets the Camelia State. While there is no official nickname for the state, The Heart of Dixie is the most commonly used. It was introduced by the state's Chamber of Commerce in the 1940s for publicity purposes, and in 1951 was approved by the legislature for inclusion on licence plates, although the first of these did not appear until four years later.

Alaska also has no official name but the 49th State is the most obvious, However, Alaska is more commonly, unofficially, known as The Last Frontier, or The Land of the Midnight Sun. Alaska licence plates display North to the Future.

Arizona was called the Baby State when it was admitted to the union in 1912 but it is also known as
The Valentine State, based on the fact that it was admitted on Valentine's Day. Other names through the years were: Apache State, Aztec State, Sand Hill State, Sunset State and Grand Canyon State which is used on the license plates now.

Arkansas was originally called the Bear State but was also known as The Bowie State (after the Bowie knife), The Toothpick State, the Hot-water State (after the numerous hot springs), The Wonder State, The Razorback State, The Land of Opportunity for many years and on the state license: The Natural State.

California was first named The Gold State, because of the Gold Rush of 1848 but also known as El Dorado at one time and The Grape State because of the wine produced there. "Gold" was changed to "Golden" in 1867, and has since been known as The Golden State which is on the licence plates. 

Colorado was admitted to the union 100 years after the founding and then became known as The Centennial State. Because of the abundance of silver mines, it was also called The Silver State, but which Nevada disputed its right to as early as 1871. Colorado remains The Centennial State, but it is The Mountain State appears on licence plates.

Connecticut was first known as The Wooden Nutmeg State, and then just The Nutmeg State. but the fact that the first formal constitution written on American soil, in Hartford, 1639, gave it The Constitution State, a nickname that was made the state's official nickname in 1959, and which appears on licence plates.

Delaware's nickname, The First State, is aptly named because Delaware was the first state to be admitted to the Union in 1787.

District of Columbia is not a state but The Nation's Capital appears on its licence plates.

Florida was once known as The Peninsula State for obvious reasons but was also called The Everglades State, The Orange State, The Citrus State), The Flower State and The Gulf State. The Sunshine State on appears on its licence plates.

Georgia has no official nickname but in the past was known as The Pine State, The Cracker State, The Buzzard State, The Goober State but the name that appears on licence plates is The Peach State because the peach is the official state fruit since 1995.

Hawaii's fans call it Paradise of the Pacific, or Crossroads of the Pacific and sometimes the Pineapple State. The Aloha State appears on the state licence.

Idaho has been nicknamed Gem of the Mountains, or more recently The Gem State. But Land of the Famous Potato and Spud State appear on the licence plates.

Illinois was once called The Sucker State after the sucker fish and was also referred to as Garden of the West, The Garden State and The Corn State being just three of them. But because Lincoln began his political career in Illinois its slogan became Land of Lincoln.

Indiana has no official name but The Hoosier State has been around since the 1830s. "Hoosier" was any rough person in the Wild West,. Indiana licence plates display the motto, The Hospitality State.

Iowa has no official name but "Hawkeye State"is applied to the state perhaps from "The Last of the Mohicans" - alternatively, or as a tribute to the Indian leader, Chief Black Hawk. A popular, recent, semi-official nickname is the Corn State, which has appeared on the state licence plates.

Kansas has had more nicknames than any other state. The Battleground of Freedom, The Garden of the West, The Garden State,  The Squatter State, The Grasshopper State, The Cyclone State and The Dust Bowl State. It has also been called The Salt of the Earth and The Jayhawker State. Kansas itself favored  Sunflower State, which is the official nickname because the sunflower is the state flower). But The Wheat State appears on its licence plates.

Kentucky is known as The Bluegrass State since the time of the Civil War which was derived from the green grass with bluish buds produced in the spring that give the grass a distinctly blue color. Over the years, Kentucky has been known as the Hemp State, the Rock-Ribbed State and the Tobacco State.

Louisiana has been the Pelican State because the Pelican is also the official state bird. It was also called Creole State, the Sugar State, Child of the Mississippi, and the Bayou State which is the name on the state's licence plates.

Maine has been known as the Pine Tree State and the Old Dirigo State. Licence plates in Maine read Vacationland.

Maryland has had numerous nicknames among them Old Line State, from the Maryland Line in the old Colonial army, Terrapin State, Maryland Free State, The Monumental State,  the Oyster State and also the Chesapeake State, the name on its licence plates.

Massachusetts is a commonwealth, usually known as the Bay State alluding to the colony of Massachusetts Bay, but was also known as the Pilgrim State and the Puritan State.  Massachusetts licence plates currently say The Spirit of America.

Michigan was known as The Wolverine State since 1846, though there is no evidence that wolverines actually existed in the state. Michigan is also known as the Lake State, or the Great Lakes State because of its proximity to Lake Michigan.

The official nickname of Minnesota is the North Star State, and the state seal has the motto L'Etoile du Nord on it. It is also known as the Gopher State, the Bread and Butter State or Bread Basket of the Nation, Cream Pitcher of the Nation, and the Wheat State and Playground of the Nation. Minnesota licence plates have 10,000 Lakes on them.

Mississippi was once known as the Mudcat State after a large catfish that lived in the river mud. Also known as the Bayou State, Eagle State, Groundhog State and the Hospitality State which appears on the licence plates. But because of the abundance of the magnolia the modern nickname is the Magnolia State.

Missouri has been known as the Iron Mountain State, Bullion State, the Lead State, the Ozark State, the Cave State, and the Pennsylvania of the West. The modern nickname of the Show Me State which also appears on licence plates, might have been from a phrase included in a speech by a Missouri congressman, William Vandiver.

Montana was the Bonanza State from the rich mineral deposits and the Stub-Toe State but the rich gold and silver deposits have led it now to be known as the Treasure State although the wide open spaces have also produced Big Sky Country appears on the state's licence plates.

Nebraska was once known as The Antelope State and the Black Water State. But the legislatures has already passed an act in 1895 which declared the state as the Tree Planters State. The Cornhusker State, appears on the licence plates.

Nevada was known the Battle-Born State and is still used today, having been officially adopted as the state slogan in 1937.  It has been called sarcastic names like Divorce State  but eventually became the Silver State which is what appears on the state's licence plates today.

New Hampshire was once known as the Granite State, White Mountain State, Switzerland of America and the Mother of Rivers. New Hampshire licence plates have the state motto, Live Free or Die!

New Jersey was once known as Mosquito State, Camden and Aboy State, and the blue uniforms of the Civil war gave it the Jersey Blue State. Today, unofficially,  New Jersey is known as the Garden State, a name dating back to 1876 from a speech at the Centennial Exhibition. It has appeared on state licence plates since about 1954.

New Mexico has been called the Sunshine State, the Cactus State, and the Spanish State. Land of Enchantment appears on licence plates.

Some have called New York the Excelsior State, the Knickerbocker State (named after Dutch settlers pants) and at one time The Gateway to the West. George Washington referred to New York state as "the seat of Empire" in 1784, he set the seed for the state's long-term nickname which appeared in around 1820 - the Empire State. It is this which appears on state licence plates.

North Carolina was once known as the Old North State, Land of the Sky and the Tarheel State which dates back to the mid 19th century. North Carolinians were known as "tarboilers" as early as 1845, also as "Tar Heels". The Wright Brothers launched their first flight in North Carolina and this has led to First In Flight, a nickname/motto which now appears on car licence plates.

A local ground squirrel, the flickertail, gave North Dakota its Flickertail State nickname but it was also have given the state its modern nickname which appears on car licence plates: Peace Garden State. North Dakota was also known as the Roughrider State. where

Ohio was sometimes known as the Yankee State since many settlers had come from New England, but some called it Mother of Presidents, where more than half a dozen presidents had started their lives. However, he state tree, a variety of horse chestnut, gives the state its current nickname of the Buckeye State. Ohio licence plates declare The Heart of it All.

In Oklahoma, many early settlers snuck across the border and made claims there. When the first official settlers were allowed across, they found these "sooners" already in possession of the land that they were hoping to take. This led to the state being called the Sooner State. According to some Oklahoma licence plates, Oklahoma is OK. perhaps a reference to the title song from "Oklahoma."

Oregon was one of several states called the Sunshine State but was also called Webfoot State and Hard-case State. But Oregon's state animal is the beaver so the state is called the Beaver State. Oregon licence plates say Pacific Wonderland.

Pennsylvania has one of the oldest state nicknames which also appears on its licence plates). The Keystone State is from a rally at which Pennsylvania was toasted as "the keystone in the union". It was also called the Coal State and Steel State and the Quaker State.

Rhode Island has no official nickname but as the smallest state is often called Little Rhody or  the Smallest State). In 1847, it was being referred to as the Plantation State. Because of its location, it is referred to as the Ocean State, and this is what appears on its licence plates.

The palmetto palm has been associated with South Carolina since colonial days, and the nickname Palmetto State has been around since 1843. Other nicknames were Rice State, the Swamp State, the Iodine State, the Sand-lapper State, Keystone of the South Atlantic, and the Seaboard State. State licence plates use the first words of the song "Nothing Could be Finer".

South Dakota was once known as the Blizzard State, the Artesian State and the Land of Plenty. It was also known as the Sunshine State until 1980. It is now officially called the Mount Rushmore State, which appears in words on the state flag. Licence plates declare Great Faces, Great Places.

Tennessee is known officially and on its licence plates as the Volunteer State, a name which goes back  either to 1812, when the volunteer soldiers showed particular courage in the Battle of New Orleans, or to 1847 when the Governor called for three regiments to serve in the Mexican War, and 30,000 men volunteered. The state was also known as the Lion's Den, the Big Bend State, the Hog and Hominy State and the Butternut State as a result.

The first settlers in Utah were the Mormons. Its common nickname is the Mormon State or variations Land of the Mormons, Land of the Saints, Deseret State. "Deseret" and the nickname of the Beehive State. The only "non-Mormon" nickname is the Salt Lake State.

Vermont seems to have always been called The Green Mountain State which is also on the licence plates. This name comes from "Green Mountain Boy", a name for an inhabitant going back to 1772, in turn named after the militia of the previous year which was organised to protect the state against the New Yorkers.

Virginia has the oldest state nickname, Old Dominion which derives from Ancient Dominion, the nickname for the state from the end of the 17th century. Also known as the Mother of States and the Cavalier State. Virginia's licence plates say Visit Virginia!

The many forests of Washington state produced the nickname the Evergreen State though it "has never been officially adopted by law". It is also known as the Green Tree State, which appears on its licence plates. It was also known as Chinook State.

West Virginia is usually known, including on licence plates, as the Mountain State. The shape of the state also gave West Virginia The Panhandle State.

Wisconsin is the Badger State a name derived from early lead miners who worked at the Illinois Galena lead mines in the 1830s. The miners from Wisconsin did not live in houses, but in caves in the hillside that looked like badger burrows. The state is sometimes nicknamed the Dairy State and America's Dairyland which is how it appears on licence plates.

The first grant of suffrage in the United States was made in Wyoming in 1869, and for that reason it became known as the Suffrage State or the Equality State. The state's symbol is a cowboy on a bucking bronco and some calling it the Cowboy State. Wyoming's licence plates say, Like No Place on Earth.

By the way, the toy manufacturer Melissa & Doug makes a travel license plate game but below is a link to a simple printout that you can give your kids on the next road trip you undertake.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Texas Fixins': Visiting the Lone Star State For the First Time, I Find I Have a Lot to Learn

Texas, know as 'the Lone Star State' was admitted to the Union on December 29, 1845, the 28th state to do so. It is the second largest state both in size and population and one of very few states that I've never visited. My husband and I are in Dallas for the weekend and I'm going to try to absorb as much about Texas and Dallas in particular as I can. I'll be visiting the 6th Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza, the site of President Kennedy's Assassination in November, 1963.

Doing a little research, I discovered a few interesting facts...there are so more that will be detailed in future posts but I start with the Ten Commandments Texas style which I found pretty funny.

Ten Commandments, Cowboy Style
Cowboy's Ten Commandments posted on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Texas

1. Just one God.
2. Honor yer Ma & Pa.
3. No telling tales or gossipin'.
4. Git yourself to Sunday meeting.
5. Put nothin' before God.
6. No foolin' around with another fellow's gal.
7. No killin'.
8. Watch yer mouth.
9. Don't take what ain't yers.
10. Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff

Dallas the Tv show debuted in April 1978 on CBS as a five-part mini series and then ran for thirteen seasons until May 3, 1991.

El Paso is closer to California than to Dallas

Two United States President's were born in Texas: Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon B Johnson.

The last land battle of the Civil War was fought at Palmito Ranch near Brownsville, Texas May 12-13, 1865 (more than a month after Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia).

The world's first rodeo was in Pecos, Texas on July 4, 1883.

Dallas was probably named after George Mifflin Dallas, Polk's Vice President from 1845 - 1849.

The Flagship Hotel in Galveston is the only hotel in North
America built over water.

The Heisman Trophy was named after John William Heisman who was the
first full-time coach for Rice University in Houston.

The worst natural disaster in U.S. history was in 1900 caused by a
hurricane in which over 8000 lives were lost on Galveston Island.

Dallas city hall was designed by I. M. Pei, the same architect that designed the Pyramid at the Louvre.

The first word spoken from the moon, July 20, 1969, was "Houston."

King Ranch in South Texas is larger than Rhode Island.

Texas is the only state to enter the U.S. by TREATY, instead of by
annexation. This allows the Texas flag to fly at the same height as the US

A live oak tree near Fulton, Texas is estimated to be 1500 years old.

Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. There is no period after Dr in Dr Pepper.

The Capitol Dome in Austin is the only dome in the U.S which is taller
than the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. (by 7 feet).

The name Texas comes from the Hasini Indian word "tejas" meaning
friends. Tejas is not Spanish for Texas.

The State animal is the armadillo. Armadillos always have four babies! They have one egg, which splits into four, and they either have four males or four females.

The first domed stadium in the U.S. was the Astrodome in Houston.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thanks For the Memories; A Great Lady Passes: Delores Hope Dies at the Age of 102

A young Delores and Bob Hope
On Monday of this week, America lost one of it's great ladies. At the age of 102, Delores Hope, wife of comedian/singer/actor and humanitarian Bob Hope, passed away of natural causes in Los Angeles. Bob, her husband of 69 years, died at age 100 on July 27, 2003.

Dolores Hope was born Delores DeFina in the Bronx. Her Italian father and Irish mother produced a child who knew from an early age that she wanted to be a singer. By 1930 Delores had an agent. She changed her name to Delores Reade and began singing in New York City nightclubs. In 1933, she met her future husband at the Vogue Club when he came with a friend to hear her sing. "It's Only A Paper Moon". Enchanted by her beauty and sultry singing voice, he courted her for several months before marrying. 

Delores joined Bob in his vaudeville act before leaving the stage to raise their children: Linda, Tony, Kelly and Nora. All of the children were adopted from an orphanage in Evanston, Ill. 

Dolores returned to the stage during World War 2, when she began helping her husband entertain U.S. troops around the world. She became one of the most loved performers in the show and in Vietnam, Christmas 1966, there wasn't a dry eye in the house when Dolores sang Silent Night. The large audience was quiet but erupted into thunderous applause and a standing ovation when she was finished.

Delores Hope in more recent times.
It was the Vietnam concert tours that first made me aware of Bob and Delores Hope. One of the TV stations would televise a compilation of the USO shows sometime after Christmas. Packed with popular Hollywood stars and singers of the day, I remember watching as a teenager trying to hold back the tears. I've attached two of the clips...if you have time, take a look.

Dolores and Bob continued to entertain troops and even went to Saudi Arabia in 1990 during Operation Desert Storm. She was the only female entertainer allowed to perform in Saudi Arabia. 

Bob Hope was born Leslie Townes Hope on May 29, 1903 in Eltham, London. His English father was a stonemason and his Welsh mother, Avis Townes, was a light opera singer. The family lived in Weston-super-Mare, Whitehall and St. George in Bristol before moving to Cleveland, Ohio in 1907. He became a United States citizen in 1908.

Delores and Bob in one of the USO Vietnam shows.
Bob and Delores Hope were devout Catholics and received numerous honors for the religious and charitable work. They shared the honor when Cardinal Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles presented them with papal honors from Pope John Paul II: Knight and Dame of St. Gregory the Great with Star. She was only one of four women in the world to be presented the Dame of St. Gregory with Star. They both received the Chancellor Medal from the University of California, Riverside.

In September 1999, Dolores received the Terence Cardinal Cooke Humanitarian Award from Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center at their annual Charity Ball at the Waldorf Astoria. She also received the Patronal Medal from the Catholic University of America by Monsignor Bransfield of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. In her hometown, the Bronx, a street was named after her. She was inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame and at the famous New York Botanical Garden.

She has seven Honorary Doctorates. She was the Honorary Mayor of Palm Desert five times, named "Woman of the Year" by the Los Angeles Times and honored with "The Wind Beneath My Wings Award" from the Betty Clooney Foundation. Among her other awards were "Chicago Lady of the Year" from Notre Dame University, the "Eleanor Darnell Carroll Award" from Georgetown University, The Cardinal's Award from Caridnal Mahony and honors from the National Committee of Catholic Women (in Chicago) presented by Cardinal Bernardin. The Helping Hand Organization of Cedars-Sinai Hospital named her "Outstanding Mother of the Year."

Loyola College in Baltimore gave her "The President's Medal." St. Louis University named her "Outstanding Catholic Laywoman." The Holy Family Adoption Service gave her the "Gift of Life Award." Seton Hall College presented her with the "Elizabeth Seton Medal Award" in recognition of her Christian virtues and she is also a recipient of the Humanitarian Scopus Award and the Coveted Criss Award.

And because of her Italian and Irish heritage, she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Humanitarian Services by the National Italian American Foundation; the Distinguished Leadership Award by the American Ireland Fund, and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. 

To sum up her life: WOW!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake Reminds Me of Home-Delivered Foods; When 'Dugan' Was an Eagerly Awaited Envoy From the City

The Dugan delivery truck.
When I was about 4 years old, my family moved from Astoria, Queens (New York) to Lindenhurst, Long Island. Amazingly, I remember many details about the move and where we used to live but I suppose most striking was the contrast between the 'country-like' settimg we found ourselves in with stores and neighbors not as numerous as they were in our former city neighborhood.

Back then, delivery men transporting all kinds of produce were a daily part of life in the suburbs. In the city, we would walk to the corner to get milk, cake and groceries but on Long Island we discovered there were milkmen who delivered dairy products right to your door! Our milk came from Sagtikos Farms located in Bay Shore, Long Island. A silver box had a permanent spot on our front doorstep and magically, fresh milk, eggs and other products appeared. I'm sure my mother ordered these things but to us it was a phenomenon unlike anything we'd ever seen! Not very much information exists about the Sagtikos Farms  but it was probably part of Sagtikos Manor, a historical home located on Montauk Highway in Bay Shore, still there today. I found some photos of antique glass milk bottles from the company online and a mention on a website of diver named Adam Grohman who discovered one of the bottles in the waters off Long Island:
Over the past few weeks, I have come across some neat finds while diving both the South and North Shores of Long Island. My first find of interest is a "Sagtikos Farm" milk bottle. It is a full size glass milk bottle with embossed writing. Additional lettering reads as follows: Long Island Est. 1692 (on the Front) Store Deposit 5 Cents Deposit Bottle - One Quart Liquid. (on the Back) I have done some preliminary research, but I have only found a slogan the company used back in the 1950's "Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be Gay...Drink Sagitkos All the Day!"
I did find out that the name 'Saktikos' is a Native American word meaning "head of the hissing snake" and is derived from the sound of a small stream that flows through the neck of land upon which the Manor lies. And we were happy, healthy and gay back in those early days out on Long Island!

Sagtikos Manor, Bay Shore, Long Island.
Then there was the bread and cake man. 

Our bread delivery came from a company called Dugans. Not fully understanding that he was part of a larger entity, we called our delivery man Dugan and of course became quite enamored of him because he not only delivered bread but oftentimes cakes and cookies. Dugan's started in Brooklyn in 1878 when David H. Dugan started a business with a push-cart selling breads and cakes. A year later he opened up a home baking store with his brother and business thrived. Brooklyn was country-like in the 1800s and the Dugans were delivering fresh baked goods six days a week eventually expanding to many horse and wagons. 
Our 700 horses averaged about 20 miles a day and served about 10,000 customers. By the early nineteen-thirties, the last or the horses went to pasture and the trucks took over pushing the routes far and deep into New York, especially Long Island, suburban New Jersey, parts of Pennsylvania, much of Connecticut and bits of Massachusetts.
Dugan's lasted until October of 1966. For us, our relationship with 'Dugan' probably ended when my mother learned to drive and could get to the the A&P in our town. Dairy and baked goods delivery men are part of the past but personal food services are making a comeback with grocery deliveries being offered by most supermarkets to today's busy working families and shut-ins. 

Entenmann's delivery was by horse and carriage.
There were other companies like this to be sure: Ebingers (founded 1898) in Brooklyn, Horn & Hardarts (noted more for their Automats, founded in 1902), Holtermann's (founded 1878) on Staten Island and Entenmanns, one of the few surviving bakeries from back in the day. Interestingly, all were German-born bakers.

William Entenmann was educated in baking from his father in the family business in Stuttgart, Germany. In 1898 he and his family moved to America with the dream of being an entrepreneur and after some training here in the United States, started his own bakery business in Brooklyn, New York. Like the aforementioned Dugan's, William delivered the bread door-to-door by horse and carriage, later deciding to sell to local markets. Today, the Entenmann's brand has over 100 baked goods and is currently owned by Bimbo Bakeries USA. Seriously!

Entenmanns brand is legion in our family although my husband is a big fan of the Ebinger's Blackout Cake, but another favorite cake is a chocolate-chip loaf cake that I remember from Dugan and more recently, Entenmanns. I had some sour cream left over from another recipe and decided to make sour-cream chocolate chip cake reminiscent of the 'delivered' variety. This comes close and is easy to make.

Sour-Cream Chocolate Chip Cake
Ingredients2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10- to 12-cup tube pan; dust with flour
  • Sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until completely blended. Beat in eggs and then sour cream until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Slowly add the sifted dry ingredients, making certain to scrape the sides of the bowl into the mixture. Stir in the cinnamon and vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips. Mix until batter is well blended.
  • Pour the batter into the pan, spread evenly, and bake 35-40 minutes. (mine took a bit longer to cook, FYI) To test that the cake is done, insert a tester into the center. If the cake is done, it will come out clean, without any batter sticking to it.
  • Cool the cake for at least 20 minutes in the pan. Slide a thin knife around the perimeter and center to make sure the cake is separated from the pan before removing. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to decorate.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wrapping Up Fashion Week 2012, I Choose Wearable Clothing For Real Folks: The Price Tag? That's a Different Story

Left to right: Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors
The best part about Fashion Week anywhere is that it gives us a window into a world where everyone is thin, tall and perfectly or interestingly coiffed, made up or accessorized. It lets you fantasize about what might be if you didn't have kids, grandkids, bills and a not-so-perfect body. The worst part, of course, is the realization that you do have kids or grandkids, bills and that perfectly lumpy physique that you never see on the runways.

Left to right: Milly,  Isaac Mizrahi, Nanette Lepore
But watching the shows is just fun....inexpensive fun...if you're viewing from the safety of your computer, in your robe, in your kitchen, with only a diet coke and English muffin for sustenance. Ah, the sad life of a fashion stalker. As I write this just 186 days and 7 hours remain till Spring. Maybe I should get up?

Left to right: Peter Som, Proenza Schuler, Elie Tahari
By now, I've prowled all of the shows using the website and I'll share the dresses and ensembles I think might be wearable for 'real people'. Hopefully clothing manufacturers feel the same and might actually make some of these dresses in regular sizes with regular prices. If designers could take a page from the success of the Missoni collection that crashed Target's website this week and sold out the designer merchandise before customers could even get to the store, we could perhaps end the budget crisis before the cherry blossoms bloom in Washington!

Left to right: Tracy Reese and Oscar de la Renta

Fashion Week 2012: For the Sheer Fun of It, Designers Are Very Transparent; If You Haven't Already, Get Thee To A Gym!

Embellished see-through gown by Marchesa
Sheer fabrics of the chiffon persuasion seem to be the darling of almost every runway designer showing this week in New York for Spring 2012. The silk version of chiffon dates back to China in the years around 3,000-4,000 B.C. Polyester chiffon has been popular since 1958 and is often used in RTW fashion because of its durability and cheaper cost.

Chiffon of either version comes from the French word "chiffe," which means "rag". The fabric is soft with an ability to flow nicely and stretch, immediately dressing up a fashion item. In fact, silk chiffon was once worn only by the wealthy as a sign of status. Now it is the fabric choice de jour for weddings evening gowns.

Because polyester chiffon costs less and is easier to care for, it is used more frequently than silk in both bridal gowns and prom dresses. In cases where cost and practical concerns are not an issue, silk is still the fabric designers most often choose.
It might be safe to say that the fashions shown here are silk chiffon but there other sheer options.

Batiste is a cotton fabric has a delicate plain weave that drapes gracefully and is used for blouses, handkerchiefs and lingerie as well as infant clothing.

Named after the French town of Tulle (pronounced "tool"), this delicate-looking, lightweight net fabric is manufactured in silk, rayon and nylon; cotton tulle is sometimes starched to add structure. Tulle is machine-made using a bobbinet weaving technique, creating a hexagonal weave that helps this amazingly durable and strong cloth retain its shape. Incorporated into fashion design for its sheer lace look, tulle is a popular material for wedding gowns, formal gowns and ballet tutus. Tulle applied in layers adds volume to garments. The fabric is popular as gift-wrapping and for hobbyists making scrapbooks; it also makes excellent insect netting because of its remarkable strength. Machine-wash or hand-wash in cold water; for best results, dry tulle material and garments flat.

Gauze-like and free-flowing, voile is a material perfect for veils ("voile" is French for veil). This plain-woven, lightweight, classy material has a non-scratchy texture that is kind to skin. Cotton voile makes summer attire breathable, and is well-suited to skirts, blouses and sun dresses. Voile makes elegant curtains and drapes as well as adding volume under garments. 
Oscar de la Renta

An openwork fabric, with patterned open holes is made by machine or by hand. Lace-making is an ancient craft but true lace was not made until the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

Christian Siriano
Georgette is a sheer, lightweight, dull-finished crêpe fabric named after the early 20th century French designer Georgette de la Plante. Originally made of silk and later of rayon or blends, modern georgette is often made of synthetic yarns. Georgette's characteristic crinkly surface is created by alternating yarns in the creation process.

Theyskens' Theory

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fashion Week 2012: 'Style Moderne' Rules the Runway in Vivid Geometrics and Bold Colors

Carolina Herrera
Art Deco or 'Style Moderne' seems to be making a comeback for Spring. Popularized back in the 1920s, dresses were basically tubular: creative seaming, draping, embellishments and abstract, graphic design were added to define the style.

With it's beginnings in Paris, 'style moderne' flourished internationally throughout the 1930s and into the World War II era influencing all areas of design, including architecture (think Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center) interior design, industrial design, fashion and jewelry as well as painting, graphic arts and film. The style represented elegance, glamour, functionality and modernity and drew inspiration from ancient Egyptian and Aztec forms.

And now it's back! Donna Karan showed many tribal prints in her collections but a few pieces had subtle hints of art deco. Carolina Herrera, BCBG Max Azria, Tory Burch, Derek Lam and Alice + Olivia were more obviously smitten with the trend.  

Here's a few from yesterday and today's shows:
BCBG Max Azria

Tory Burch


Monday, September 12, 2011

Fashion Week 2012: As The End of Summer Nears, Fashionistas Look Forward to Next Spring; Loving the 'Little White Dress'

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week started last week but the main shows happened yesterday, today and will continue as the week progresses. Using the website  I linked to several designer shows that I like and noticed some tangents among them and style directions where we might be headed after the long, upcoming winter.

Today's shows included Carolina Herrera (always a favorite for me) and another favorite, Donna Karan. Yesterday Diane von Furstenberg and Derek Lam previewed their collections. I'll go back to some of these designers as the week goes on but today I'll focus on the 'little white dress', perhaps the warm weather equivalent of the 'little black dress'.

Here are a couple of standouts:

Donna Karan, left.

Diane von Furstenberg, right.

Derek Lam, below


L.A.M.B mini dress, right.

Carolina Herrera, below.