Posted in Books, Fictional Feast, Literary Gastronomy

Fictional Feasts / Literary Gastronomy, part 1

Virginia Woolf, who placed much emphasis upon dining within her works, famously said that “one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well” ( A Room of One’s Own, 1929).

I bought the book Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals (HarperCollins, April 2014) when it came out, because how could one not! As an avid reader, I always paid attention to the meals that the characters were having, looking for their raison d’être: did it bring back a memory of family, was it the first meal you had with your (soon to be) significant other; what did J.D. Salinger mean when he picked the cheese sandwich for “Catcher in the Rye”, or Lucy Maud Montgomery for the raspberry cordial of “Anne of Green Gables”.

Come with me as we travel the pages of literature to indulge with the characters, revealing everyday life and its rituals.

Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” (1957): Apple Pie & Ice Cream 

“I ate apple pie and ice cream—it was getting better as I got deeper into Iowa, the pie bigger, the ice cream richer…that’s practically all I ate all the way across the country, I knew it was nutritious and it was delicious, of course.”

Thomas Harris’ “The Silence of the Lambs” (1988): Liver, Fava beans and a nice Chianti*

“A census taker tried to quantify me once. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a big Amarone. Go back to school, little Starling.” 

*Ed Note: the Chianti is the movie line.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” (1925): Cold Fried Chicken and Ale

“Daisy and Tom were sitting opposite each other at the kitchen table with a plate of cold fried chicken between them and two bottles of ale. He was talking intently across the table at her and in his earnestness his hand had fallen upon and covered her own. Once in a while she looked up and nodded at him in agreement.”

Bonus Food for “The Great Gatsby”: Mint Juleps 

And we all took the less explicable step of engaging the parlor of a suite in the Plaza Hotel.

The prolonged and tumultuous argument that ended by herding us into that room eludes me, though I have a sharp physical memory that, in the course of it, my underwear kept climbing like a damp snake around my legs and intermittent beads of sweat raced cool across my back. The notion originated with Daisy’s suggestion that we hire five bath-rooms and take cold baths, and then assumed more tangible form as “a place to have a mint julep.”

C.S. Lewis “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe” (1950): Turkish Delight

“The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very center and Edmond and never tasted anything more delicious.”

Bonus Food for “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe”: Marmalade rolls 

“And when they had finished the fish, Mrs Beaver brought unexpectedly out of the oven a great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll, steaming hot, and at the same time moved the kettle onto the fire, so that when they had finished the marmalade roll the tea was made and ready to be poured out.” 

Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (1964): Bill’s Candy Shop

“Eatable marshmallow pillows. Lickable wallpaper for nurseries. Hot ice creams for cold days. Cows that give chocolate milk. Fizzy lifting drinks. Square sweets that look round.” 

Jonathan L Howard’s “Johannes Cabal the Necromancer” (2009): Peas

(Ed note: a bit gruesome ) 

Then, one morning, the surviving family woke up and found themselves short one for breakfast. They discovered Beatrice tied by her ankles to the chandelier. Her expression was one of purest horror and she was quite dead. There were a lot of peas in the room. The post-mortem discovered another five pounds of them forced down her throat, jamming her esophagus shut and clogging her airways.

Extra: Characters from the Johannes Cabal universe. From left: Satan, Frank Barrow, Leonie Barrow, Johannes Cabal, Horst Cabal, Bones the Carnival Manager, Dennis and Denzil, and Layla the Latex Lady. Image courtesy of AgarthianGuide on Deviantart.com. Here’s the link for more of her Johannes Cabal images: https://www.deviantart.com/agarthanguide/art/Johannes-Cabal-the-Necromancer-Linup-590426600

Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” (2001): Chili 

Laura made a great chili. She used lean meat, dark kidney beans, carrots cut small, a bottle or so of dark beer, and freshly sliced hot peppers. She would let the chili cook awhile, then add red wine, lemon juice and a pinch of fresh dill, and finally, measure out and add her chili powders. On more than one occasion, Shadow had tried to get her to show him how she made it: he would watch everything she did…………….

(Ed note: have you seen the series on Starz? Season 3 just dropped the other night!) 

Edward Gorey’s “The Gashleycrumb Tinies” (1963): Peaches 

“E is for Ernest who choked on a peach”.

Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (1979): Zaphod Beeblebrox’s Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

Take the juice from one bottle of the Ol’ Janx Spirit.

Pour into it one measure of water from the seas of Santraginus V — Oh, that Santraginean water… Oh, those Santraginean fish!

Allow three cubes of Arcturan Mega-gin to melt into the mixture (it must be properly iced or the benzine is lost)

Allow four liters of Fallian marsh gas to bubble through it, in memory of all those happy hikers who have died of pleasure in the Marshes of Fallia

Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qualactin Hypermint extract, redolent of all the heady odors of the dark Qualactin Zones, subtle, sweet, and mystic

Drop in the tooth of an Algolian Suntiger. Watch it dissolve, spreading the fires of the Algolian Suns deep into the heart of the drink

Sprinkle Zamphour

Add an olive

Drink… but…..very carefully…

The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster’s effect is described as “having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon, wrapped ’round a large gold brick.” Or “the alcoholic equivalent to a mugging; expensive and bad for the head.”

Stephen King’s “The Shining”: Wendy’s canned tomato soup and cheese omelette 

“She opened the can and dropped the slightly jellied contents into a saucepan. PLOP. She went to the refrigerator and got milk and eggs for the omelet. Then to the walk-in freezer for cheese. All these actions, so common and so much a part of her life before the Overlook, had been a part of her life, helped to calm her. She melted butter in the frying pan, diluted the soup with milk, then poured the beaten eggs into the pan. A sudden feeling that someone was standing behind her, reaching for her throat.”

Douglas Adams’ “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” (1980): Bovine Quadrupeds

Miliways serves Large fat meaty quadrupeds of the bovine type, with large watery eyes, small horns and what might almost be ingratiating smiles.”

Marcel Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” (English version,1922): Madeleines 

“She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate, a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place.”

Steven Brust’s “Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar & Grille” (1990): Matzo Ball Soup

“Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille has the best matzo ball soup in the galaxy. Lots of garlic, matzo balls with just the right consistency to absorb the flavor, big chunks of chicken, and the whole of it seasoned to a biting perfection. One bowl, along with maybe a couple of tamales, will usually do for a meal.”

J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone” (1997): Pastys

He had never had any money for sweets with the Dursleys, and now that he had pockets rattling with gold and silver he was ready to buy as many Mars Bars as he could carry — but the woman didn’t have Mars Bars. What she did have were Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs. Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things Harry had never seen in his life.
Not wanting to miss anything, he got some of everything and paid the woman eleven silver Sickles and seven bronze Knuts. Ron stared as Harry brought it all back in to the compartment and tipped it onto an empty seat.
“Hungry, are you?”
“Starving,” said Harry, taking a large bite out of a pumpkin pasty.
Ron had taken out a lumpy package and unwrapped it. There were four sandwiches inside. He pulled one of them apart and said, “She always forgets I don’t like corned beef.”
“Swap you for one of these,” said Harry, holding up a pasty. “Go on –“
“You don’t want this, it’s all dry,” said Ron. “She hasn’t got much time,” he added quickly, “you know, with five of us.”
“Go on, have a pasty,” said Harry, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry’s pasties, cakes, and sweets (the sandwiches lay forgotten).

Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” (1965): Shrimp, French Fries, Garlic Bread. Ice cream and strawberries and whipped cream

“Read in the paper, afternoon paper, what they ordered for their last meal? Ordered the same menu. Shrimp. French fries. Garlic bread. Ice cream and strawberries and whipped cream. Understand Smith didn’t touch his much.”

Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” (1960): Calpurnia’s Crackling Bread

“Perhaps Calpurnia sensed that my day had been a grim one: she let me watch her fix supper. ‘Shut your eyes and open your mouth and I’ll give you a surprise,’ she said. It was not often that she made crackling bread, she said she never had time, but with both of us at school today had been an easy one for her. She knew I loved crackling bread.”

Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” (1988): Chocolate Cake

“The cook disappeared. Almost at once she was back again staggering under the weight of an enormous round chocolate cake on a china platter. The cake was fully eighteen inches in diameter and it was covered with dark-brown chocolate icing.”

And in the immortal words of Erma Bombeck…

“Seize the moment.
Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”

What`s your favorite literary recipe or reference? Leave a comment down below!

Featured image: The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, from the color illustrated Nursery Alice, 1890.

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Literature, Travel

Literary Tour: New Orleans

I’ve recently become enamored with the literary tours around the country that delve deep into the writing history of the city you are visiting.  I thought I would share with you, my readers, some of the cities that I’d like to visit and what you can do there, if you are a bibliophile like I am.

I’ve visited New Orleans while driving across country from New York to California, and had a wonderful time. It is one of those places on my bucket list to go back and spend some serious time exploring. The literary history just calls to me, so if you are nearby, please take advantage of it and let me know what you think.

Without further ado, come with me as we stroll Crescent City.

Hotel Monteleone
214 Royal St., between Bienville and Iberville Streets

history_literary
Photo courtesy of The Hotel Monteleone

Hotel Monteleone, a historic New Orleans hotel, has long been a favorite haunt of distinguished Southern authors. Many of them immortalized the Grand Dame of the French Quarter in their works. Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and William Faulkner always made 214 Royal Street their address while in the Crescent City.

In 1999, the hotel was designated an official literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association. (The Plaza and Algonquin in New York are the only other hotels in the United States that share this honor.)

Did you know… You can request the Literary Suites at the Hotel Monteleone, and stay in William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, or the Eudora Welty Suite.

Tennessee Williams Home – A Streetcar Named Desire
1014 Dumaine Street, New Orleans, LA 70116

“Don’t you just love those long rainy afternoons in New Orleans when an hour isn’t just an hour – but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands – and who knows what to do with it?”
~Blanche Dubois

http://www.hnoc.org/collections/tw/twpathindex.html

Tennessee-tux-300

If you’re  planning a trip, there’s the Tennessee Williams/ New Orleans Literary Festival.  being held March 24 – March 28, 2021 (hopefully!).

The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival was founded in 1986 by a group of local citizens who shared a common desire to celebrate the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Don’t forget the Stella and Stanley Shouting Contest!

William Faulkner House
624 Pirate’s Alley, around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral

A little byway to get to the Faulkner House Books

Faulkner-plaque

http://www.nola.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2009/11/william_faulkner_house_in_new.html

Food and Drink… 

Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House
240 Bourbon Street,
corner of Bourbon and Bienville

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Be sure to stop for a drink at the Old Absinthe House, where P.T. Barnum, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, General Robert E. Lee, Frank Sinatra, and Enrico Caruso have come through the doors. The story goes, that Pirate Jean Lafitte and Andrew Jackson planned the Battle of New Orleans there.

Try the Absinthe Frappe (Herbsaint, Anisette, soda water) invented there by Cayetano Ferrer!

Antoine’s Restaurant
713 St. Louis St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Open since 1840, Antoine’s Restaurant has been part of Crescent City history. Franklin Roosevelt, Pope John Paul II, The Rolling Stones, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby have all dined at Antoine’s. Be sure to have the Oysters Rockefeller, try the Baked Alaska, and have a drink at the Hermes Bar (725 St. Louis St.).

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Finish off your days of wandering with some Coffee !

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French Truck Coffee
217 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

This coffee is so good, (my daughter had it while she was performing with her high school jazz band on their NOLA trip right before the coronavirus hit), that we have it shipped to us! When the ROUGAROU coffee comes back in season, I recommend that. One can’t go wrong with LE GRAND COQ ROUGE and LA BELLE NOIR.

or:

side-left-coffee3

PJ’s Coffee – Lower Garden District
2140 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

For cold drinks, try the Original Cold Brew Iced Coffee or the Velvet Ice Frozen Blended in either Mocha or Vanilla.

PS: If you want to delve into local history, let me introduce you to my very good friend, and client, Edward Branley. He is a font of knowledge, having written five books on NOLA history, as well as fiction novels.

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Words

Favorite Words, Recommenced…

If you recall, back in… October… (seems like a lifetime ago in this pandemic), I had a post titled “FAVORITE WORDS and why I love them”. I promised you my next set of words… and here they are. What are your favorite words? Do they come from grandma, family jokes, or a book ? Let me know in the comments.

Petrichor

(n): the scent of rain on the earth

pronounciation: pet-ri-kawr, pe-trahy-kawr

Psithurism

(n): the sound of the wind through the trees

Scripturient

(adj): having a consuming passion to write

Callipygian

(adj.): having shapely buttocks

pronounciation: kal-uhpij-ee-uhn

Palimpsest

(n): writing material used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased; something with diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface.

pronounciation: pal-imp-sest 

Editor Note: Check out the ghost ads that I am researching, since palimpsest is one of my current favorite words from that! Also, be on the lookout for the “FADED” book I’m working on with Edward Branley.

Posted in Quote, Writing

Writing Tip: Facts

Facts, facts, facts; there is nothing but facts.  The writer’s first business is to get at these facts exactly —get the meat out of them— and then, by the most direct method, to transmit them to his readers.  That is the whole substructure of literature; the groundwork —the anatomy.”

—Wolstan Dixey

The Trade of Authorship, 1888, p. 83

Posted in History

Pandemics and Quarantine Through the Ages

What a long, strange trip it’s been since March 2020, when the latest pandemic has hit the country, Coronavirus (COVID-19). Almost 7 months later, we are still wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, and practicing staying 6 feet apart from those of us who aren’t in a nuclear family.  Personally, my college freshman daughter is doing her first semester online, over Zoom calls. This is complicated!

All of this has got me thinking about the past Pandemics and Quarantines through the ages. We’ve had our share: Antonine Plague (165-180), Japanese Smallpox (735-737), The Black Death (1346-1353), Great Plague of London (1665), Philadelphia Yellow Fever (1793), Cholera Pandemics 1-6 (1817-1923),  American Polio epidemic (1916), The Spanish Flu (1918-1919), HIV/AIDS (1981-current), American Ebola epidemic (2014-2016)… the list is massive. For a great visual representation of the history of pandemics, check out https://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-of-pandemics-deadliest/

By now you all should know that I’m a research nut, and love going down rabbit holes. After spending a couple days poring over scientific journals and articles on quarantine, pandemics, epidemics and the like, I realized after a certain amount of time, these things die off; or go silent until we wake it up again.

So, enough rambling… onto the main event: “Pandemics & Quarantine Through the Ages.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in its history of quarantine and isolation, says, “The practice of quarantine, as we know it, began during the 14th century in an effort to protect coastal cities from plague epidemics. Ships arriving in Venice from infected ports were required to sit at anchor for 40 days before landing. This practice, called quarantine, was derived from the Italian words quaranta giorni which mean 40 days.”

This order came from the Adriatic port city of Ragusa (modern day Dubrovnik), which survived and in the Dubrovnik archives city records said that on July 27, 1377 they voted on a proposal that went into law that stated “those who come from plague infested areas shall not enter Dubrovnik or its district unless they previously spend a month on the islet of Mrkan (a nearby uninhabited island) or in the town of Catvat, (a small town south of Dubrovnik) for the purposes of disinfection.”

Did you know? 40 days was chosen because the number had great significance both religiously and historically. Think of Noah’s Ark (40 days/ 40 nights of rain when God flooded the earth); Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days; Jewish people wandered the desert for 40 years.

Alex Chase-Levenson, assistant professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, discussed the first British guide for travelers to Egypt in a guidebook from the 1840s: “Almost the whole introduction was about dealing with quarantine on the return trip. A central rationale for this system was the occasional presence of bubonic plague epidemics in Middle Eastern cities, but even when there were no reports of any disease, every person traveling from the Middle East to Western Europe needed to be quarantined, usually for at least three weeks … The quarantine system ensnared millions of people over its existence, roughly from the mid-eighteenth century to the 1850s. These people had to have their clothes fumigated, had to hand over every piece of mail to be dipped in vinegar and smoked. Sometimes, you can still smell that on early nineteenth-century letters.1

Broadsheets like this one produced for the Parish of Clerkenwell announced outbreaks like cholera, and its symptoms and remedies.

In the Louvre hangs Antoine-Jean Gros’ 1804 work “Napoleon Bonaparte Visiting the Plague- Stricken of Jaffa,” depicting Napoleon’s Syria campaign in March 1799. “Bonaparte, who had become First Consul, wanted it to help clear the accusations of the British press, who had alleged that he had wanted to execute the plague-stricken during his retreat to Cairo. The painting, presented at the 1804 Salon shortly before his coronation – a particularly opportune moment for Bonaparte – is the first masterpiece of Napoleonic history painting.”

Antoine-Jean Gros “Napoleon Bonaparte visiting the Plague-Stricken of Jaffa” 1804, Louvre.

A takeaway from Chase-Levenson: “Quarantine is really the oldest precedent that the government needed to invest itself in the health of the nation as a whole, that putting money from taxation behind a medical measure was legitimate. So, it’s a crucial precedent for our modern understanding that the state should be responsible for public health, for the wellbeing of its citizens. Also: Long before there were passport control lines, quarantine constituted a major border regime. There are many ways this system shaped our understanding of what modern states should do.”2

Interested in knowing more? Book Doctor Dara recommends:


Zlata Blazina Tomic and Vesna Blazina’s book Expelling the Plague: The Health Office and the Implementation of Quarantine in Dubrovnik, 1377-1533, was published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2015.

Jane Stevens Crawshaw’s article, “The Renaissance Invention of Quarantine,” appears in The Fifteenth Century XII: Society in an Age of Plague, edited by Linda Clark and Carole Rawcliffe, and published in 2013.

Note: The Featured Image is an 1892 map detailing the cases of the Russian flu pandemic across the globe in 16 different time periods, from May 1889 to October 1890 from The National Library of Medicine.

Posted in Words

Favorite Words, and why I love them

Do you have a word list, a list of favorite words that you have kept forever? I do. I guess I’ve always been fascinated by words, how they roll of my tongue, when they bring shock, or awe to a conversation. “How do you know this word? Where did you hear that?”

Some words are meant to be spread out in the world, some are meant for those quiet, introspective times, and some are those personal words meant for one-on-one with your significant other, spouse, or lover; bedroom talk that you’d embarrass your kids with if it came out in mixed company.

I remember using a word in a conversation with my dad when I was in college. He looked at me and said “well, I know that’s worth every bit of education you’re getting- that’s a COLLEGE level word!”

I’ve decided to share some of them with you, I’m thinking of making this a weekly thing for a few weeks, and I’m always interested in knowing : What is YOUR favorite word, and why?

Without any further adieu, here’s the start of the “My Favorite Words” list – in no particular order ( of course I have Julie Andrews singing “My Favorite Things” – music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein in my head as I type this).

1736 Canting Dictionary page image courtesy of http://www.fromoldbooks.org

Fernweh

(n, German): An ache for distant places; the craving for travel

pronounciation: FEIRN-veyh

Sehnsucht

(n, German): “The inconsolable longing in the human heart for we know not what”; yearning for a far, familiar, non-earthly land one can identify as one’s home.

pronounciation: /zeɪnˌzʊxt/

Note: Sehnsucht is divisible into two parts: Sehn from sehnen (to yearn)  and Sucht (addiction, craving).

Gezellig

(adj, Dutch): Describes an atmosphere that is warm, softly lit, airy and friendly

pronounciation: heh-SELL-ick

Back in the day I had notebooks full of words, (remember composition notebooks?), now I invite you to join me on my “Wordsmithing” pinterest board and see that I am seriously a crazy word lover.

Until next time,

Dara

Posted in Did You Know ?, Writing

Margins of Protection

#the more you know…


Those margins weren’t inserted as a guide for how many sentences you should fit onto a page, or even to leave space for notes. Manufacturers started applying margins to writing paper to protect your work as rats used to be common in many people’s homes and would snack on paper.

Applying a wide border to paper safeguarded against losing important work by leaving space around the sides for the rats to chew through first, and to protect the writing on the outer edges from general wear and tear.

Posted in Did You Know ?, From The Editor's Desk, Language, Words

Language: Alumnus, Alumni, Alumna, and Alumnae

Today’s Lunchbox Lesson: ALUMNUS, ALUMNI, ALUMNA, and ALUMNAE

These words all describe attending or graduating from a particular school, but they differ in number and gender. Here’s how it works:

ALUMNUS: a singular noun referring to one male attendee
ALUMNI: a plural noun referring either to a group male attendees or to a mixed group of both male and female attendees (but not *only* female attendees)
ALUMNA: a singular noun referring to one female attendees
ALUMNAE: a plural noun referring to a group of only female attendees

Alumnus means “pupil,” or “nursling” in Latin. This is where it gets interesting! The Latin term for a former school is “alma mater,” meaning “nourishing mother.” Thus, an alumnus can be seen as the “nourished one/pupil” of the “nourishing mother,” the school.

These words are Latin “loanwords,” meaning they preserve their original forms when we use them. The difficulty arises because many Americans have not taken Latin, so they are unfamiliar with Latin forms (i.e. genders and plurals). As a result, the words are often used incorrectly.

One fairly popular trend is to avoid using these specific words altogether. Instead, the word ALUM is used for the singular and ALUMS is used for a group. These constructions avoid the possibility of using the Latin words incorrectly. It is considered acceptable for casual writing and conversation, but it is not acceptable (yet) for formal writing. It’s best if you can try to remember the Latin words — and you’ll look smarter too!

Posted in Around Town, Did You Know ?, research

Westward Ho: Ghost Signs in Omaha

In the days of Westward Expansion, before the freeways and highways were taking us places quickly, waves of migrants were inspired by the promises of cheap land and riches, due to the California Gold Rush in 1849 and the Homestead Act of 1862.

Before the interstate billboards, and neon signs, signs painted on bricks helped the businesses advertise their locations and wares. They’re also located on streetcar routes and where pedestrians were able to see them, in a slower time.

Ghost ads give us a glimpse into the past of our towns and cities, the history of the buildings, and that of the surrounding area as well.

Baum-Iron
Baum Iron Company, Omaha, NE. Baum Iron sign is one of Omaha’s most recognizable ghost signs. The business, now Baum Hydraulics, was founded more than 150 years ago.  – photo courtesy of Omaha Magazine

Let’s take a stroll to Omaha, Nebraska. Yes, it was surprising to me to find out that Omaha is one of the main points for ghost advertisements, but after more research, I found out that Omaha served as the eastern terminus and outfitting center for pioneers headed to the west to find their fortune in the California gold fields or to settle available inexpensive land.

Did you know? “The fortunes of Omaha took a positive turn when President Abraham Lincoln selected Council Bluffs, Iowa, for the terminus of the Pacific Railroad, which was subsequently relocated on Omaha’s side of the Missouri River. Actual construction began in 1863, the first step in Omaha’s development into one of the nation’s largest railroad centers.” [1]

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On the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Eggerss O’Flyng building built around the turn of the century near rail lines in downtown Omaha. According to the city of Omaha’s Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission, “Omaha was a major distribution point for a wide variety of goods shipped by rail throughout the west and Pacific northwest.”  Photo courtesy of Waymarking.com

“’They have their own historic value,’ said Ruben Acosta, National Register coordinator at the Nebraska State Historical Society. ‘They oftentimes are one of the very few sources we have as to what businesses were in the building, or what type of economic activity occurred in the district.’

They illustrate the city’s role in the country’s westward expansion, as both a manufacturing center and a trade hub, where ‘jobbing’ wholesalers provided product for retailers throughout the region. And the number of signs for hotels, Acosta said, is evidence of the number of traveling salesmen who did business in Omaha.”[2]

Map of ghost signs of Omaha:

Maya Drozdz, a graphic designer in Cincinnati, says ““I love seeing old examples of graphic design ephemera. The signs were never intended to be permanent, and to see old ones gives me a context for the history of a given area. It gives me a little bit of insight into the kind of community that a neighborhood used to be, or the kind of businesses that used to populate it.”[3]

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Parmer Co. Coffees & Teas, est. 1907. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Interested in reading more? See Part One of the Ghost Ads series on my blog, “Off the Wall: Faded Ghost Ads“.

Do you know of more ghost ads in your cities? Let me know, you might spark some research and a blog post! Find me on Twitter @bookdoctordara.

Featured image of Bull Durham Chewing Tobacco and Butternut Coffee ghost sign courtesy of Omaha World-Herald.

 


1. City-Data: Omaha Furthers Westward Expansion

2. Barbara Soderlin. “Love Letters to the city’s past”. Omaha World-Herald. December 13, 2015

3. Bill Rinehart. Ghost signs: art or pollution? WVXU. January 16, 2015.

Posted in Did You Know ?, Grammar, Words, Writing

Unwritten Rules of English Grammar: ‘Tock-tick’, ‘Dong-ding’, ‘Kong-King’

Thanks to something called ablaut reduplication — a rule stating that, if you repeat a word and change an internal vowel, the order you say them in has to follow I-A-O.

This is why it’s King Kong, Ding Dong, Tick Tock (which sounds right to your ear), and not Kong-King, Dong-Ding, and Tock-Tick (which doesn’t sound right at all!)

Ever wonder why it’s Little Red Riding Hood? The adjective rule helps you remember what order to put things in:  it’s obscure, but yes, it is a thing!

  1. opinion
  2. size
  3. age
  4. shape
  5. color
  6. origin
  7. material
  8. purpose
  9. Noun

ie: little green men, not green little men; and Big Bad Wolf, not Bad Big Wolf.

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And… now you know about the crazy things elements of eloquence* that I, as an editor, know, to help make your manuscript better! #knowledgeispower #research #grammar #saywhat?

*Editor’s Note- The “elements of eloquence” is a great book by Mark Forsyth! Get it and enjoy learning how to turn a phrase.

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Ted Talks, Writing

Where do Ideas Come From?

Ever wonder where ideas come from?

Pad of Paper & Pen

Do they come while you’re daydreaming, or standing in the shower? Do you have a pad / pen nearby to remind you of those ideas when you need them? Some people are visual, and take their cues from images on billboards, memes, or old photos or advertisements.

According to Inc. Magazine, approximately 65 percent of the population are visual learners, around 30 percent of the population is made up of auditory learners, who learn best through hearing, and Kinesthetic learners (those who learn best through lectures and conferences) make up just 5 percent of the population.

Check out Steven Johnson’s TED Talk “Where Good Ideas Come From”:

Need More Ideas?

Check out the Idea Generators: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/idea-generator-brainstorming/

Posted in Language, Words

Word of the Day: elide

Friday Word of the Day

elide
verb \ i-ˈlīd \

elided; eliding
transitive verb

1 a : to suppress or alter (something, such as a vowel or syllable) by elision

b : to strike out (something, such as a written word)

2 a : to leave out of consideration : omit

b : curtail, abridge

Examples of elide in a Sentence

some unnecessary verbiage will need to be elided, but otherwise the article is publishable

the product presentation was not elided—it’s always only 15 minutes long

Posted in From The Editor's Desk

Kanban Boards

Kanban boards were created in the 1950s by Toyota to help their manufacturing and engineering processes go faster. They used physical color-coded cards to communicate throughout the manufacturing floor where the process was and what materials were needed to finish the job.

Taiichi Ohno, industrial engineer for Toyota created the Kanban system to work more efficiently.

Word Nerd AlertKanban is the Japanese word for “visual signal” or “card.”

trello-editorialcalendarboard
Trello editorial board screenshot from the Trello website: https://trello.com/about/logo

According to Inc. Magazine, approximately 65 percent of the population are visual learners, around 30 percent of the population is made up of auditory learners, who learn best through hearing, and Kinesthetic learners (those who learn best through lectures and conferences) make up just 5 percent of the population. So, no wonder Kanban boards are so prevalent in the workforce.

I use Trello for my editorial Kanban board.  Looking back to 2017,  you can see the original blog post where I was toying with the idea of trying out Trello. A year and a half later, I can say that it helps me keep organized, and not let dates slip. I keep a board for each client I am working with, with their individual projects on cards, color-coded for transparency.  I can see at a glance what is coming up, and what is needed to do NOW. I can maneuver the cards to change the priority depending on what comes up at the last minute, and see if I have time in the editorial calendar to fit it in.

I admit I cannot live without my paper planner, Post-it Notes, colored pens, or magnetic clips, however. What happens if the Internet / WiFi goes down?

The first step is admitting you have a problem… 
“My name is Dara Rochlin and I am an office supply junkie”

So, tell me, are you a physical planner type, or a virtual planner? Are you a Post-it Notes on the whiteboard type? Enquiring minds want to know!

Featured image courtesy of LeanKit