Everybody’s Doing It!

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(The First Families at that!)

Ben Franklin invented it and it belongs in every house in America today: big house, little house, or White House. You don’t plug it in you just sit and rock yourself to relaxation… wonderful whether you rock and read, rock to ‘Rock of Ages’, or rock-and-roll.


Authentically Early American, you could pass it off as a family heirloom. It’s satin polished Nutmeg finish Maple with high spindle back.

Weaver’s, our 105th Year of Service

$13.88 Weaver’s third floor

Advertisement on page 4 of Lawrence Daily Journal World, November 13, 1961.

Lyndon B. Johnson’s Christmas Message to Americans in Vietnam, December 23, 1964

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“TO MY fellow Americans in Vietnam, and to their wives, children, and parents, I send warmest Christmas greetings.

Those of us who are at home, full of joy and thoughts of peace, are ever mindful of, and grateful to, those thousands of you who toil today where there is no peace.

You are in Vietnam, far from the places and people you love, because the forces that have given our nation strength and wealth have also placed upon it the burden of defending freedom–even in remote and distant villages.

In every generation the burden of protecting liberty has fallen to a few stouthearted men. We Americans celebrate this holy season in liberty because our forebears had the courage, the determination, the will to sacrifice, that was equal to the challenges before them. Future generations in many lands will spend Christmas days in freedom because there are men everywhere who are equal to this grim challenge in our time.

You who carry freedom’s banner in Vietnam are engaged in a war that is undeclared–yet tragically real. It is a war of terror where the aggressor moves in the secret shadows of the nights. Murder and kidnapping and deception are his tools. Subversion and conquest are his goals. It is a war waged with political, social, economic, and psychological weapons as well as guns and bombs. Thus every American in Vietnam, whether soldier, embassy secretary, or AID official, whether in the jungle, in the mountains, or in the cities, is on the front lines of this struggle.

Those of you who are helping the Vietnamese people to defend themselves against this insidious warfare may serve in places with names that ring strange to American ears: Long Khot, Kien Tuong, Binh Gia. But your sacrifices are known and honored in American towns and cities more familiar to you, for you are meeting your country’s commitment to a world of justice.

All Americans join me in sending thanks–and not at Christmas only, but around the clock, and around the year.”

Lyndon B. Johnson: “Christmas Message to the Americans in Viet-Nam.,” December 23, 1964. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=26769

Hideous Beauty: Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

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The Crystal Palace was erected in Hyde Park for the Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851. Thirteen thousand exhibitors displayed sculptures, jewellery, ornamental scissors, mechanical escritoires, Colt revolvers, patent freezing machines, and the world’s biggest diamond. ‘There were things beautiful, and things hideous,’ wrote Lord Redesdale in his memoirs, ‘For art at that moment had sunk very low: but the general effect of beauty and airy grace, together with the delicate framework and brilliancy of the whole structure, was indelible.’ Schweppes was awarded the catering commission. The sale of alcohol was prohibited, so visitors drank tea, soda water, lemonade and ginger beer.

The eighth Winter Wonderland carnival and Christmas market opened in Hyde Park on November 21 and runs until January 4. It has a skating rink, an ice bar, a circus, a Bavarian beer hall, 54 rides and attractions, and over twenty bars, cafes, and concession stands. In Angels Christmas Market over 200 stalls draped in evergreen garlands and fairy lights sell decorations, crystal lamps, secret boxes, wooden chess sets, handmade silver jewellery, fudge, instant snow, framed charcoal drawings of the Duchess of Cambridge, wood-carved signs announcing ‘It’s 5 o’clock somewhere,’ and masks of the members of One Direction, Gordon Ramsey, Jordan, and Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat.

Screenshot (860)The concession stands are endless variants on a few themes: Pancake House, Original Bavarian Pretzel Store, The Jolly Hog, The Village Hog, Fresh Crêpes, Savoury Crêpes, Belgian Waffles, Spanish Churros. ‘We didn’t have to wait too long to be served some food but it wasn’t British,’ wrote a senior contributor on Trip Advisor. Half-pint polystyrene cups of mulled wine are £5. An ear of hot buttered corn is £3.50. One litre steins of Bavarian Gold are £10 and require a £5 deposit for the glass. Speakers on the roofs of the huts discharge an endless stream of Christmas music and hits. When a Child is Born, Eye of the Tiger, Summer Loving, Wonderful Christmastime, and the radio edit of Blurred Lines. ‘Wre-eh-eh-ck me,’ mouthed a little girl who trailed past me in the market singing Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball. Bands play I Will Survive, Happy, Get Lucky and an acoustic version of Roar.

The work force at Winter Wonderland is enormous; ride operators and attendants, cashiers, bartenders, cooks, runners, litter pickers, concession stand workers, stewards, security guards, musicians, event managers, cleaners, electricians, acrobats, finance assistants, and the photographers who take pictures of people on frozen thrones in the -8 degree Magical Ice Kingdom. Last year 50,000 presents were handed out at Santa’s grotto, where Father Christmas is available for photographs from 10-6 PM. The 60-meter observation wheel is transported on ten trailers and takes seven days to install. On a weekday morning at least forty-five stewards and security guards were on duty. On weekends they’re stationed every few feet in the thick crowds yelling, ‘Please keep left’ into megaphones. A Polish concession worker told me he was in London specifically for Winter Wonderland. Unfailingly cheerful, he works 14-hour shifts six days a week.

Screenshot (859)Zippos Christmas Circus has about 9000 visitors on the weekends. It’s less crowded on weekday afternoons in early December, an audience of mostly parents and bottle wielding infants who occasionally burst into tears. The daytime show began with Cuba’s Tropicana Troupe. ‘The ring master said it’s too cold for Christmas let’s have a summer holiday instead,’ Louis R wrote on a Trip Adviser review of Winter Wonderland he entitled ‘Money Grubbing and not Christmassy,’  ‘The next thing ten topless men came out and started jumping about.’ The strongmen, acrobats, juggler, and tightrope walkers were incredible. Despite a request for silence, people couldn’t help bursting into applause when two tightrope walkers crossed the stage with their brother balanced between them on plank.

In ancient Athens the celebrations of the god Apollo’s May 22 birthday lasted an entire month; a sacrifice was offered at Marathon, citizens hung laurel branches strung with fruits and lyre-shaped pastries over their doors, and a twelve year old boy lead a procession in honour of the Sun and the Hours. In Roman times, mid-winter celebrations commemorated the dedication of the temple of Saturn. Slaves banqueted with their masters and everyone wore conical caps, the mark of a freedman. A banqueter was appointed Lord of Misrule. The Saturnalia was too popular to cancel, so the birth of Jesus was celebrated on the December 25 birthday of the sun-god Sol Invictus.

Screenshot (862)Today the holiday advertisements devised to make the citizenry weep with emotion debut in early November and the start of the shopping season is officially marked with the Black Friday sales. At night, Winter Wonderland visitors in elf costumes and Father Christmas hats with woollen braids honour the national passion for fancy dress. People queued for wood fired pizzas and children bounced on the Candy Cane Bungees at the Mirror Bar, where an intoxicated man in an elf suit danced wildly to Michael Jackson’s PYT. Periodically he leaned over to be spanked by a woman in the crowd. Patrons sang along to a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody in the Bavarian Great Hall. Swedish House Mafia’s final single Don’t You Worry Child played in the heated bar with a three-tiered nativity scene on the roof. Electronic billboards announced, ‘Smile you are on CCTV.’ People screamed on the pendulum rides and roller coasters. The general effect of beauty and airy grace, together with the delicate framework and brilliancy of the whole structure, was indelible.


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“‘The bus had picked us up at the housing area at 1:15 p. m. We went right to the big turbopop transports at the naval air field. We were airborne and on the way to Norfolk by 2 p. m.’

That was the description given yesterday by Mrs. Mildred Johnson, 27, of the rapid move of navy and marine dependents from the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba Monday. She flew here Tuesday to stay with her parents in Clarendon Hills

Greeted by Parents

Mrs. Johnson, whose husband Lowell is a navy lieutenant and a physician, arrived with her daughters Pamela, 22 months, and Leslie, 9 months. She was greeted by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. C. V. Petras, 7201 Leonard Dr, Clarendon Hills.

‘Over the week-end, when the big transports began arriving with loads of marines, we knew something was afoot,’ Mrs. Johnson said. ‘We were accustomed to having our bags packed every time the base was staged an exercise about every six weeks.

But the scuttlebutt was flying and when the official word of the evacuation was delivered to the house at 10 a. m. Monday, it wasn’t really a surprise.’

Mrs. Johnson said her husband was excused from the base hospital and allowed to come home. She threw a few necessities into bags and waved goodbye to Lt. Johnson when she and the girls boarded the bus at 1:15 p. m.

The women and children were put on planes and at 6:30 p. m. Monday, the aircraft landed at the Norfolk [Va] naval base.

Mrs. Johnson’s plane was the first to bring a load of dependents out of Guantanamo.”

Chicago Daily Tribune, Thursday, October 25, 1962.


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Selected ‘Personals’ announcements from Lawrence Journal-World, November 13, 1961.

“President Deane W Malott of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and Mrs. Malott were house guests of Mrs. Paul B. Lawson during the KU Homecoming weekend. President Malott was formerly chancellor of Kansas University.

Mrs. Ted MacFarland of El Monte, Calif., was a weekend guest of her sister, Mrs. Wallace Taylor, and Mr. Taylor. Mrs MacFarland is the former Miss Ethel Allen, who was a school teacher here. She is visiting in Missouri before returning to California.

Mr. and Mrs Clyde Woods and daughter Nancy were dinner guests Sunday of Mrs. Chris Taylor at ElDorado. Sunday afternoon Mrs. Woods, first president of Epsilon Sigma Alpha of Kansas, attended the Zone 6 meeting.

Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Hunt have returned from a 10-day visit with Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Koelling at Hastings, Neb. The women are sisters.

Dr. Howard Smither, assistant professor of music history and literature at Kansas University Saturday presented a paper before the midwest chapter of the American Musicological Society meeting at Northwestern University. His topic was ‘Rhythmic Styles in 20th Century Music.’ Dr. Smither joined the KU faculty in 1960 after teaching at Oberlin College for five years.”

Agatha Christie Stalled in the Desert



“We saw Ukhaidir, wonderful in its isolation, and about an hour or two after we had left it came upon a desert lake of clear, sparkling blue water. It was outrageously hot, and I longed to bathe. ‘Would you really like to?’ said Max. ‘I don’t see why you shouldn’t…

…It was heaven–the world seemed perfect– or at least it did until we went to start the car again. It had sunk gently into the sand and refused to move, and I now realised some of the hazards of desert driving. Max and the driver, pulling out steel mats, spades, and various other things from the car, endeavoured to free us, but with no success. Hour succeeded hour. It was still ragingly hot. I lay down in the shelter of the car, or what shelter there was on one side of it, and went to sleep.

Max told me afterwards, whether truthfully or not, that it was at that moment he decided that I would make an excellent wife for him. ‘No fuss!’ he said. ‘You didn’t complain or say that it was my fault, or that we never should have stopped there. You seemed not to care whether we went on or not. Really it was at that moment I began to think you were wonderful.’

Ever since he said that to me I have tried to live up to the reputation I had made for myself. I am fairly good at taking things as they come, and not getting in a state. Also I have the useful art of being able to go to sleep at any moment, anywhere.”

Agatha Christie An Autobiography, Agatha Christie, William Collins Sons & Co Ltd, 1977.