Link: Halloween History, Lincoln

Posted by admin | Posted in Links | Posted on 29-10-2010

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1865 - Abraham Lincoln

Ward Hill Lamon, a close friend of the president’s, wrote down what Lincoln told him on an evening in early 1865: “About ten days ago I retired very late…,” the president told Lamon. “I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a deathlike stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs.

“There, the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room. No living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed alone…I was puzzled and alarmed.

“Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face covered, others weeping pitifully.

“‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers. ‘The President,’ was his answer. ‘He was killed by an assassin.’”

Read the entire article here.

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Harry Houdini, Debunking, Doyle and Pacts

Posted by admin | Posted in Still photographs | Posted on 18-10-2010

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The following is a post I made in a forum last year, for your halloween enjoyment!

Harry Houdini. We’ve all heard of him - he’s that magician. What many people don’t know is he had a passion for the paranormal and debunking.

Houdini was devastated by his mother’s death in 1920. He frequently visited her grave and was seen speaking to her. He soon began to seek communication with her through a spiritualist. He became frustrated when he realized the psychics and spiritualists he’d visited used techniques that Houdini himself had used in his shows. Thus began his personal crusade to debunk fraudulent spiritualists and photographers. He was always honest about his ‘magic’ simply being tricks, claimed he had an open mind, and wanted protect the people from charlatans only - not debunk the paranormal all together. Throughout this time, he continued to attend seances in a desperate attempt to communicate with his mother.

Following the Mumler fiasco, spirit photography came in vogue, and by the 1920′s was a booming business. Many tricksters were exposed, yet many, such as Mumler, used some techniques that were unknown to scientists and the skeptics. This, of course, was the perfect opportunity for someone with Houdini’s skills to expose people profiting off of the greif of others. He became a member of the Scientific American committee, which offered a reward for proof of the paranormal. The money was reportedly never collected. This challenge was the inspiration of James Randi’s challenge for a million dollars. Unrelated, but he also inspired Penn and Teller to debunk.

Enter Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. He befriended Houdini and contrasted his skeptical view nicely. Doyle was a true believer. The two remained friends through their good hearted arguments, though the relationship was later very stressed by the press. Despite Houdini’s obvious debunking of several tricksters, Doyle openly and publicly refused to believe, on most occasions, that any fakery had been exposed.

There were several methods used to expose spiritualists mediums at the time. Putting them in restraining boxes, moving animated objects where the spiritualists couldn’t interact with them, and attempting to direct the mystical interactions were just a few, and worked well to expose many. However, Doyle claimed Houdini was a “powerful spiritualist medium”, using his powers to block other mediums. He also stated that Houdini’s feats were actually paranormal in nature - a claim Houdini was hard pressed to deny as he refused to expose the methods behind his magic.

In one instance, Houdini had a private show to prove to Doyle he could do the impossible with only trickery. He set up a ball, paint, and a board and instructed Doyle to leave the residence, walk a few blocks using his own route, write something on a paper, put it in his pocket, and return. The ball was then dipped in paint and laid out upon the board, where it proceeded to spell out the exact message Doyle had written in his pocket. The show backfired when Houdini refused to expose how he had done it. The crowd that believed Houdini was a spiritualist medium, much to his displeasure, only grew.

Houdini’s popularity eventually became his demise. After a 1926 show, some students went backstage to meet Houdini. One asked if it was true he could withstand any blow to the stomach, to which Houdini said he could with proper preparation. The student took that to mean it was ok to punch him repeatedly in the stomach several times. Refusing to see a doctor, he continued to perform. He developed a fever and days later died from a ruptured appendix caused by the blows, on Halloween night.

Before he died, Houdini made a pact with his wife and friends, that whoever should die first would come back and make contact. He even gave his wife, Bess, a “secret code” only she knew so she could verify the validity of any contact. For ten years after his death, Bess held seances on Halloween night with no success. Declaring the tenth year the final seance, Bess reportedly said, “ten years is long enough to wait for any man”. Groups of magicians still hold yearly seances to try to contact Houdini.

The following is a photograph made by Houdini to disprove spiritual photography:

There is a lot more information out there, these are simply the highlights that I’ve remembered. He lead a very interesting and mysterious life, and I thought it was well worth sharing.

Some very interesting details on Houdini and Doyle here. More on Houdini here.

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A variety of historically interesting stills

Posted by admin | Posted in Still photographs | Posted on 14-09-2010

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1921 (?) - New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach, right, watching agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid during the height of prohibition

1911 (?) - National Anti-Suffrage Association

1910 - Konopli︠a︡noe pole Title Translation: Hemp field

1882-1883 - Workmen constructing the Statue of Liberty in Bartholdi's Parisian warehouse workshop; first model; left hand; and quarter-size head--Winter 1882?

Little Rock, 1959. Rally at state capitol

March 4, 1861 - Inauguration of President Lincoln at U.S. Capitol

K.K.K. parade, 8/8/25

"The Awakening" - A James H. Hull production for Beaumont Klan No. 7 - KKK, Beaumont, Texas, May 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 1924 / photo by Reeves. Notice the actors in "black face".

1863 - A Virginia slave child in 1863 / Van Dorn, photograph artist, 285 Fulton St., Brooklyn.

Note that I am in no way supporting any of the subjects in these images.  They were chosen because they are historically interesting, and in some cases very sad.

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1862 - The Intrepid

Posted by admin | Posted in Wiggle Animations | Posted on 10-09-2010

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May 31, 1862 - Fair Oaks, Va. Prof. Thaddeus S. Lowe observing the battle from his balloon "Intrepid"

Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe was appointed Chief Aeronaut of the Union Army Balloon Corps in 1861 by Abe Lincoln.  The year after the above photo was taken, Thaddeus resigned because of disputes over his operations and pay.

Following his stint in the war, he spent time on his inventions, creating an ice making machine and a water gas process which produced hydrogen gas from charcoal and steam.  His patents and inventions made him a millionaire.  In 1887 he moved to L.A. building a 24,000 square foot mansion, and opening several ice making plants and even a bank.  In 1891 he opened a railroad company which was initially successful but became costly and he lost the company.  He died at 81 having lost his fortunes, living in his daughter’s home in Pasadena.  Click to read more about him at wikipedia.

Download the original stereo card at the LOC website here.

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1865 - Abraham Lincoln

Posted by admin | Posted in Wiggle Animations | Posted on 01-09-2009

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