Posted in Did You Know ?, Editor Notes, Words

Why is there an apostrophe in Hallowe’en?

One early spelling of “Halloween” was “All Hallows’ Even (Even = evening). The “all” and “s” were dropped, “hallows’ ” and “even” became a closed compound, and the apostrophe took the place of the “v,” giving us “Hallowe’en”—just one of many transitional spellings along the way to “Halloween,” which the Oxford English Dictionary shows as first appearing in 1786.

Other spellings before “Halloween” included “Hallow-e’en,” “Alhollon Eue,” and “Halhalon evyn.”

It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

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Some Info from History.com

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 Buildng – 1920 Via Franck-Bertacci Photographers Collection

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.

 

nopsifeature

 

NOPSI Manhole Cover featured image courtesy of  http://www.flickriver.com/photos/tags/nopsi/interesting/
Posted in Did You Know ?

Inauguration Day Trivia

The shortest and longest inaugural addresses were given by George Washington and William Henry Harrison, respectively. Washington’s second inaugural address was only 135 words long.  William Henry Harrison’s inaugural address was 8,445 words long. Harrison spoke for one hour and 45 minutes in a snowstorm without a coat.

William Henry Harrison also served the shortest presidency. He died of pneumonia a month after his inauguration in 1841.

The Oath of Office is traditionally administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, though not required. There is also no requirement that it occur in Washington, D.C., or that the president place his hand on the Bible. The only thing prescribed by the Constitution is that the president take the Oath of Office.

In 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first president to be inaugurated on January 20. Previous presidents (including FDR for his first term) had traditionally been inaugurated on March 4, but the 20th Amendment, passed in 1933, stipulated a January 20 inauguration.

Calvin Coolidge’s inaugural address was the first to be broadcast on public radio in 1925.

Thomas Jefferson was the first President to be sworn in in Washington D.C. in 1801.

James Buchanan’s inauguration was the first to be photographed in 1857.

A total of four March inauguration dates fell on a Sunday (1821, 1849, 1877, 1917); the swearing-in ceremonies in these cases were all postponed until the next day. Three January inauguration dates have fallen on a Sunday: 1957 (Dwight D. Eisenhower), 1985 (Ronald Reagan), and 2013 (Barack Obama); these three presidents were sworn in privately on the 20th and then a public ceremony was held the next day.


Sources:
http://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/inauguration-trivia-17-facts-and-firsts/

https://blog.newspapers.com/u-s-presidential-inauguration-january-20-2017/

 

Featured image“Remembering Lincoln’s Second Inauguration”

 

Posted in Books, Did You Know ?, Science

That “Old Book Smell”

If you ever wandered up into the attic to look at your grandparent’s old books, or through a used bookstore perusing the shelves, you know that smell.  When you open one of the tomes and flip through the pages, did you ever wonder what causes that “Old Book Smell“? It is sort of a hint of vanilla, maybe a little grassy smell, with some mustiness?

070936-glossy-black-icon-alphanumeric-quote-close1Lignin, the stuff that prevents all trees from adopting the weeping habit, is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how divine providence has arranged for second hand bookstores to smell like good quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us.
Perfumes: The A-Z  Guide by Luca Turin

 

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The Aroma of Books infographic courtesy of Compound Chem

 

In the 1920s and 1930s, Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), an Austrian writer, journalist and playwright was one of the most popular writers in the world, at the height of his career. In The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World, author George Prochnik explains:

070936-glossy-black-icon-alphanumeric-quote-close1[H]e often seemed more concerned with the smell, look, and feel of his work than with the actual words. Printer’s ink struck him as the most fragrant odor on earth — “sweeter than attar of roses from Shiraz.”

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Stefan Zweig. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

 

Prolific author Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), of Fahrenheit 451The Martian Chronicles, and many other works both inside and outside the realm of science fiction whose career spanned over 70 years, believed:

070936-glossy-black-icon-alphanumeric-quote-close1There are two perfumes to a book. If a book is new, it smells great. If a book is old, it smells even better. It smells like ancient Egypt. A book has got to smell. You have to hold it in your hands and pray to it. You put it in your pocket and you walk with it. And it stays with you forever.

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Ray Bradbury circa 1980. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archive / Getty Images)


New York Times
 tech blogger Nick Bilton wrote about wandering into a West Village bookstore on a visit to New York:

070936-glossy-black-icon-alphanumeric-quote-close1I immediately felt a sense of nostalgia that I haven’t felt in a long time. The scent of physical books—the paper, the ink, the glue—can conjure up memories of a summer day spent reading on a beach, a fall afternoon in a coffee shop, or an overstuffed chair by a fireplace as rain patters on a windowsill.

Be sure to check out The New York Times [LENS] which has a beautiful slideshow of old, discarded books.

NYT
By Kerry Mansfield. From “Discarded Books, Recovered Nostalgia” – New York Times

 

For Further Reading: 

The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers’  Is It More Than Old Book Smell?

Smithsonian Magazine “That ‘Old Book Smell’ is a Mix of Grass and Vanilla”

Matija Strlič’s Study in 2009: Material Degradomics: On the Smell of Old Books

Stefan Zweig: Grand Budapest Hotel’s Inspiration

The Smell of Books

The Science of “The Smell of Books”

Note:Old book bindings at the Merton College library, photo by Tom Murphy VII distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

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Posted in Did You Know ?

Leap Year Traditions

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image courtesy of the times dispatch (Richmond, VA.)
February 29, 1912 [page 9, image 9]

Ancient history states that in Ireland, St Brigid of Kildare complained to St Patrick that women waited too long to have men propose to them. St Patrick deemed February 29th (leap day) every four years the one day a woman could propose to a man.

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1940s advertisement

Writing to her father, Ralph Waldo Emerson, in 1860, Ellen Tucker Emerson described a ‘‘leap-year party,’’

acknowledging perhaps you don’t know what that is. The girls take the part which gentlemen usually take … The boys all sat round the room, the girls didn’t sit down and when a cotillion was announced they walked up to the boys and asked if they might have the pleasure of dancing with them and offered their arms, which the boys took and walk out. After the dance they promenaded leaning on the girls’ arms and being fanned. It was very funny and they all had a rousing time.

This quote is taken from Katherine Parkin’s article “‘Glittering Mockery’: Twentieth-Century Leap Year Marriage Proposals” in the Journal of Family History January 2012 volume 37 no. 1,  pages 85-104.

This is probably the start of the Sadie Hawkins Dance. Mental Floss tells us that it came from the mind of Al Capp, cartoonist for the  Li’l Abner comics, on November 15, 1937.

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Li’l Abner was set in Dogpatch, and one of Dogpatch’s residents, Hekzebiah Hawkins, had a daughter referred to as “the homeliest gal in all them hills.” When Miss Sadie Hawkins reached the age of 35 and still had not found a man to marry her (oh, the horror!!), her father put his foot down and declared it Sadie Hawkins Day. Shotgun in hand, the bumpkin declared, “When ah fires, all o’ yo’ kin start a-runnin! When ah fires agin—after givin’ yo’ a fair start—Sadie starts a runnin’. Th’ one she ketches’ll be her husbin.”

Vintage advertisements and trade cards showcased the Leap Year marriage proposal and chase, as well.


Slate magazine illustrated this idea of women proposing to men for Leap Year with postcards from the 1900s.

Why every four years?

The 366th day of the year, arriving once every four years based on the Gregorian calendar. Unless the year is evenly divisible by 100 and not evenly divisible by 400. Let the Daily morning Astorian (Astoria, OR.) explain on February 28, 1884.

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Happy Leap Year ! See you in Four Years!