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.

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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 Around Town, Editor Notes, Friday Fun, From The Editor's Desk

Coffee Shops, Caffeine, and Editing (or Writing)

Yesterday morning while scrolling social media, to glean ideas for the next (this) blog post, I came across a friend who is traveling this summer in Malaysia, in a Starbucks that is a Signing Store. He had to learn how to “sign” for milk rather than speak Malay.

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Interested? Here’s the link: www.starbucks.com.my/responsibility/signingstore .

That got me thinking about routine, caffeine, and why one chooses Starbucks vs. Coffee Bean vs. the independent coffee shop to go spend their mornings/afternoons. How culturally the experience seems so different depending on where you are in the country, and in the world, actually.

The offerings are very culturally specific and unique (to us Westerners) when one sees different drinks across the world, utilizing ingredients and traditions of that culture.

Smithsonian Magazine’s 2013 article, Coffee Here, and Coffee There: How Different People Serve the World’s Favorite Hot Drink, says in Ethiopia, coffee, called ‘buna’ is “made and served in a traditional table-side ritual that transforms the beans from raw red cherries into toasty, steaming drink, often all before the guest’s eyes. The process can last more than an hour, as the host toasts, grinds and boils the coffee before serving.”

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user babasteve

Personally, I’ve found a little independent coffee shop called Klatch which recently opened in the neighborhood is my current favorite. They have an iced Crème-brûlée coffee that is just spectacular. Perfect for those hot summer days here at the beach. Of course, most days are warm here, so perhaps my usual drink at Starbucks and Coffee Bean has been replaced?

Have you traveled to various countries and had coffee? Tell me what you like on Twitter @bookdoctordara. You never know what might come up in another blog post!

Meanwhile, if you are looking for me, I’ll be in a coffee shop working on editing, researching, and fact-checking;  and wondering which coffee I’ll be drinking that day.

 Interested in this topic? Read More Here:

National Coffee Association’s History of Coffee: http://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee/History-of-Coffee

Mental Floss Magazine (reposted to National Coffee Association) – 5 Attempts to ban coffee in History: https://nationalcoffeeblog.org/2015/12/15/5-attempts-to-ban-coffee-in-history/

Sensitivity to Caffeine – what kind of coffee drinker are you? (Genetics) https://nationalcoffeeblog.org/2018/06/14/which-type-of-coffee-drinker-are-you/#more-10875

Update: The Washington Post just announced the first Signing Store from Starbucks will be in Washington, D.C. My friend started a trend!

 

Featured image courtesy of: https://www.nativenh.com/blog/2018/6/1/coffee-around-the-world

Posted in Around Town, research

Research into the Churches and Parishes of New Orleans

Research, like writing, is never linear. I have a running chat conversation with Edward Branley that delves into many different directions. The beauty of it is, I can search on it and find the conversations that pop up as a “hey, what do you think of this” and use it later on. One perfect example of this was a conversation we had back in November of 2017 about Catholic Churches and Parishes, in New Orleans.

Father Anastase Douay held the first recorded Mass on Mardi Gras  [March 3, 1699] on Louisiana soil near the mouth of the Mississippi River, as part of the founding expedition of Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville. This is the beginnings of New Orleans Catholicism taking root.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Patroness of New Orleans, is believed to have helped the city defend itself against a British attack in the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. Deborah Krause, a Presbyterian minister wrote a historical paper on how “the figure has presided over New Orleans transformation from an 18th century colony to a 21st century republic — and lately to a devastated landscape after Hurricane Katrina.”

The history of churches and parishes have always been fascinating to me. Who builds them, where they’re built, why they’re built in that particular location. Churches, are the building, Parishes are the surrounding neighborhood. Post-Katrina reorganization, there are parishes in New Orleans that have multiple churches. I’m lucky in that Edward always ties churches / parishes into his novels.  For the current novel (almost out, in June!), Trusted Talents, these are all the Churches/ Parishes he mentions:

  • St. Mary’s Assumption Church, Irish Channel
  • St. Alphonsus, Irish Channel
  • Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, main campus of Loyola University New Orleans
  • St. Stephen’s Church on Napoleon Avenue, Uptown
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Kenner
  • St. Mary’s Italian Church, French Quarter (Old Ursuline Convent)
  • Annunciation Church, Faubourg Marigny
  • Our Lady of the Rosary Church
  • Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Chalmette
  • St. Angela Merici Church, Metairie
  • St. Ann Catholic Church, Metairie
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Faubourg Treme
  • St. Anthony of Padua Church – S. Bernadotte Street

    Vienna, Austria:

  • Peterskirche (Church of St. Peter)
  • Vergilius Chapel
  • Stephansdom (Cathedral of St. Stephen)

    Manhattan Beach, California:

  • American Martyrs Church

Wonder why I tease him about needing a spreadsheet to keep it all straight? 

There are many old photos, and many histories listed on all the church websites, which helps date the timeline for the church creation, and even if it has been merged since it was consecrated/dedicated.  Case in point, is St. Stephen’s Church, which is a merged parish now (St. Stephen’s, St. Henry’s and Our Lady of Good Counsel to form Good Shepard).

St Joseph’s Church

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Another bit of interesting that I found during my trip down research lane is about St. Joseph’s Church [1802 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans] .  Dedicated Sunday, December 18, 1892, the original building was across from Charity Hospital. In 1895 under Archbishop Francis Janssens ( the fifth Archbishop) who renovated the ‘old’ church, it became a place of worship for many Negro Catholics under the patronage of St. Katherine. Demolished in 1964, it was rebuilt on the current location in 1866 when Father John Hayden purchased the current plot of land.

Why does St. Joseph’s call to me, other than the history behind it? It has the longest main aisle in New Orleans at 12′ x 150′ long.

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St. Joseph’s Church

The Redemptorists and The Irish Channel:
St. Alphonsus, St. Mary’s Assumption, and Notre Dame de Bon Secours

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The first of three great churches built by The Redemptorists for Catholics in the Irish Channel.  St. Alphonsus for the Irish, St. Mary’s Assumption for the Germans and Notre Dame de bon Secours for the French.

Charles E. Nolan writes in his book, Splendors of Faith: New Orleans Catholic Churches, 1727-1930, “St. Mary’s Assumption formed part of a unique cluster of ethnic Catholic parishes in the South. St. Mary’s Assumption (German speaking), St. Alphonsus (English speaking), and Notre Dame de Bon Secours (French speaking) were all served by Redemptorist fathers who shared a common rectory. By 1885, St. Mary’s Assumption numbered 4,000 parishioners; St. Alphonsus, 5,200; and Notre Dame de Bon Secours, 340.  St. Mary’s Assumption ceased to function as a separate parish after Hurricane Betsy in 1965. Following a decade of repairs, the renovated church reopened on August 15, 1975, as the place of worship St. Alphonsus Parish” (page 97).

Editor side note: The last line on the plaque “as the St. Aphonsus arts and cultural center” is a typo. Someone should tell them to fix it.

Another site I value for research is the New Orleans Catholic Church website. They even give you history of the various pipe organs that are still (sometimes) in use at the churches.

Finally, don’t be afraid to follow an idea or a fragment of a sentence you find when you are reading, you never know where it may lead.  I find that most of the readers are hungry for the historical details you can put in your novel/ manuscript, especially when it furthers your storyline. This is true for real-world places.  One never knows what reader you may spark to learn more.

For more information, check out:

https://nola.curbed.com/maps/new-orleans-oldest-places-of-worship-church-religion-

http://www.nola.com/living/index.ssf/2017/03/closed_catholic_churches_of_ne.html

Restoration of St. Stephen’s church:   http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/article_e251edf8-4719-11e7-8db3-5f938ca9af9e.html


Featured image of “Our Lady of Guadalupe Church” courtesy of Christopher Chen.

“Built in 1826. Originally deemed The Old Mortuary Chapel, Our Lady of Guadalupe incorporates the oldest standing building of worship in its design. The founders created the church to hold funerals for yellow fever victims in the mid-19th century.” 411 N Rampart St., New Orleans.  Information courtesy of : https://nola.curbed.com/maps/new-orleans-oldest-places-of-worship-church-religion-

Posted in Architecture, Around Town

Architectural Tour of Paris: Centre Pompidou

 Fun Fact: When I was in Paris during my HS French trip (too many moons ago) I saw Michelle Lee (of Knots Landing fame) in front of the Centre Pompidou. That has always stuck with me, and is probably dating myself if you know how long ago that show was popular. Somewhere, buried deep in a box in my parents attic is the photo of her I took.

The thing that fascinated me about the Centre Pompidou when I saw it was the bright colors and how weird it was to have the air ducts, elevators, escalators, and pipe systems outside. Turns out… it was an architectural choice when it opened in 1977:   Designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, and enabled them to create huge uncluttered space inside. You can see why it’s nickname is the “Inside-Out Building”.

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Four strong colours – blue, red, yellow and green – clothe the structure and enliven the façade, their use governed by a code laid down by the architects:

  • blue for circulating air (air conditioning)
  • yellow for circulating electricity
  • green for circulating water
  • red for circulating people (escalators and lifts)[1]

To find out more, see information pack on the architecture of the building.

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Place Georges Pompidou – 75004 Paris
Le Marais – 4e Arrondissement

If you go visit, you should find something else to do on Tuesdays, and May 1st, because Centre Pompidou is closed.

Fun Fact #2: The Place Georges Pompidou in front of the museum is noted for the presence of street performers, such as mimes and jugglers.

Did You Know? 

  • It is named after Georges Pompidou, the President of France from 1969 to 1974 who commissioned the building.
  • A fifth floor room of the building featured as the office of Holly Goodhead in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker, which in the film was scripted as being part of the space station of the villainous Hugo Drax. 

[1] https://www.centrepompidou.fr/en/The-Centre-Pompidou/The-Building
Featured Image by © INSADCO Photography / Alamy
Posted in Architecture, Around Town

Architectural Tour of Paris: Carousel in Montmartre

One of the oldest Carousels in Paris is located on the tiny Place St.-Pierre in Montmartre, in the 18th arrondissement on the Rive Droite (Right Bank), near the Eiffel Tower.

When I was in high school, I went on a class trip to France and Switzerland (and drove through the Italian border on the bus so we could say we were in Italy).  I remember vividly the tour of Sacré-Coeur and sitting on the steps of the Basilique. We also rode the Carousel at the foot of Sacré-Coeur.  Imagine my surprise today when I came across this photo of the Carousel in the winter, with snow falling from Pinterest, it transported me right back to Paris, exploring.

Somehow, the snow in the image just makes it so much more magical, and intensifies the beauty. Hard to believe that Paris can be more magical,  but to me, it just is.

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I went searching for more photos of the Carousel, and found the stunning juxtaposition on Flickr of the carousel and Sacré-Coeur by eagle1effi that you can see in the Featured Image up top.

Untapped Cities tells us the history of the Carousel:

Carousels were born from tragedy: A jousting accident killed King Henri II, Catherine de Medici’s husband, in 1559, driving knights to practise a safer alternative to these tournaments, such as spearing suspended rings with their lances. For the birth of the Dauphin, Louis XVI held a carousel festival in 1662 in front of the Tuileries. In true Sun King fashion, it was all pomp and fanfare: 15,000 guests watched knights on their horses participate in jeu de bagues compétitions. The celebration which took three months to organise lasted only three days, but the Sun King did himself proud because the memory of this grandiose fête still lives on: the location where it was held is known today as Place du Carrousel.

Map of Montmartre:

Have you been to Paris? Did you ride the Carousel? Have you visited Sacré-Coeur and sat on the steps of the Basilique? What’s your favorite architecture in Paris?  What other architectural tours would you like me to write about? Tell me in the comments, or on Twitter @bookdoctordara.

For more about other carousels in Paris, check out Carrousels – Merry-go-rounds around Paris by Travel France Online.

Featured Image:
“Auf dem Karussell, on the Carousel: dreaming about : Montmartre, Sacré-Cœur ,”basilique du Sacré-Cœur ” , Amélie auf dem Karussell” by eagle1effi taken May 2008.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/eagle1effi/2465636575

Posted in Around Town, Did You Know ?

New Orleans, Manhole Covers, and Hotels (NOPSI)

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Baronne & Union Streets. Image courtesy of NOPSI Hotel

You may be saying, okay, the Book Doctor needs Coffee (you’d be right!).  What is she talking about, and what does a manhole cover and hotel have to do with New Orleans?

I was doing some research for a GoNOLA article coming out on the New Orleans Public Service Inc (NOPSI) history and the current iteration of the NOPSI hotel that opened in June 2017. A couple of tidbits caught my eye, and since the GoNOLA article is more tourism-based than deep research, I had to post the extras of what I found here.

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New Orleans Public Service Incorporated Building – 1920 Via Franck-Bertacci Photographers Collection. Photo courtesy of Louisiana Digital Library

Did you know?

Back before full electricity, there was a city ordinance in New Orleans that everyone had to carry lanterns. Gas Lighting came to New Orleans in 1824 with James Caldwell and the American Theater.

 

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Front of NOPSI Hotel, courtesy of NOPSI Hotel

Centrally located near the French Quarter and the Warehouse District, the 1920s-Jazz era NOPSI building that was tantamount for your electricity, transportation, and streetcar headquarters has been renovated to the NOPSI hotel at 317 Baronne Street.

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971, and was declared a historic landmark by the Historic District Landmarks Commission in 2011.

The hotel has aesthetic lines that are reminiscent of days past, with the building’s street facades, cast iron rails, and stone panels. The lobby counters are where the customers used to pay their bills.

And, coming full circle (Ed Note: ha!) the circular logo of the hotel is inspired by the manhole covers (look down) on the streets of Crescent City.

 

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NOPSI Manhole Cover featured image courtesy of  http://www.flickriver.com/photos/tags/nopsi/interesting/