THE GINGHAM DRESS [via Mary Calhoun]




 

A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun
threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston and walked timidly
without an appointment into the Harvard University President's outer
office. The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods,
country hicks had no business at Harvard & probably didn't even deserve
to be in Cambridge .

'We'd like to see the president,' the man said softly.

'He'll be busy all day,' the secretary snapped.

'We'll wait,' the lady replied.

For hours the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would
finally become discouraged and go away.

They didn't, and the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to
disturb the president, even though it was a chore she always regretted.

'Maybe if you see them for a few minutes, they'll leave,' she said to
him!

He sighed in exasperation and nodded. Someone of his importance
obviously didn't have the time to spend with them, and he detested
gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer office. The
president, stern faced and with dignity, strutted toward the couple.

The lady told him, 'We had a son who attended Harvard for one year. He
loved Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was
accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial to
him, somewhere o campus.'

The president wasn't touched. He was shocked.

'Madam,' he said, gruffly, 'we can't put up a statue for every person
who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a
cemetery.'

'Oh, no,' the lady explained quickly. 'We don't want to erect a statue.
We thought we would like to give a building to Harvard.'

The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and
homespun suit, then exclaimed, 'A building! Do you have any earthly idea
how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars
in the physical buildings here at Harvard.'

For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. Maybe he
could get rid of them now. The lady turned to her husband and said
quietly, 'Is that all it cost to start a university? Why don't we just
start our own? '

Her husband nodded. The president's face wilted in confusion and
bewilderment.

Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford got up and walked away, traveling to Palo
Alto, California where they established the university that bears their
name, Stanford University , a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer
cared about.

You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those
who they think can do nothing for them.

---- A TRUE STORY by Malcolm Forbes

Rarely Seen “Enchanted” Moments of US History [via Tom DeCoursey]


A 10 x 15-foot wooden shed where the “Harley-Davidson Motor Company” started out in 1903

Mark Twain in Tesla’s lab, 1894


A Pyramid of captured German ones in front of the NYC Grand Central Terminal, 1918

Testing football helmets in 1912

BETTER THAN A JAMES BOND MOVIE [[via Cacciatore]

THIS IS AN EPIC AD FOR PEUGEOT'S LATEST 280 GTi MODEL.


Flour sack clothing [via Tom DeCoursey]


When they realized women were using their sacks to make clothes for their children, flour mills of the 30s started using flowered fabric for their sacks, 1939

Why Your Supermarket Sells Only 5 Kinds of Apples [via Nina Reznick]

And one man's quest to bring hundreds more back.

By

Every fall at Maine's Common Ground Country Fair, the Lollapalooza of sustainable agriculture, John Bunker sets out a display of eccentric apples. Last September, once again, they covered every possible size, shape, and color in the wide world of appleness. There was a gnarled little yellow thing called a Westfield Seek-No-Further; a purplish plum impostor called a Black Oxford; a massive, red-streaked Wolf River; and one of Thomas Jefferson's go-to fruits, the Esopus Spitzenburg. Bunker is known in Maine as "The Apple Whisperer," or simply "The Apple Guy," and, after laboring for years in semi-obscurity, he has never been in more demand. Through the catalog of Fedco Trees, a mail-order company he founded in Maine 30 years ago, Bunker has sown the seeds of a grassroots apple revolution.

John Bunker Séan Alonzo Harris
All weekend long, I watched people gravitate to what Bunker ("Bunk" to his friends, a category that seems to include half the population of Maine) calls "the vibrational pull" of a table laden with bright apples. "Baldwin!" said a tiny old man with white hair and intermittent teeth, pointing to a brick-red apple that was one of America's most important until the frigid winter of 1933-34 knocked it into obscurity. "That's the best!"

A leathery blonde from the coast held up a Blue Pearmain in wonder. "Blue Peahmain," she marveled. "My ma had one in her yahd."

Another woman got choked up by the sight of the Pound Sweet. "My grandmother had a Pound Sweet! She used to let me have one every time I hung out the laundry."
It wasn't just nostalgia. A steady conga line of homesteading hipsters—Henry David Thoreau meets Johnny Depp—paraded up to Bunk to get his blessing on their farm plans. "I've got three Kavanaghs and two Cox's Orange Pippins for fresh eating, a Wolf River for baking, and three Black Oxfords for winter keeping, but I feel like there are some gaps I need to fill. What do you recommend for cider?" Bunk, who is 62, dished out free advice through flayed vocal cords that made his words sound as if they were made of New England slate.

Most people approached with apples in hand, hoping for an ID of the tree that had been in their driveway or field ever since they bought the place. Some showed him photos on iPhones. Everywhere he travels in Maine, from the Common Ground Country Fair to the many Rotary Clubs and historical societies where he speaks, Bunk is presented with a series of mystery apples to identify. He's happy to oblige, but what he's really looking for are the ones he can't identify. It's all part of being an apple detective.
In the mid-1800s, there were thousands of unique varieties of apples in the United States, some of the most astounding diversity ever developed in a food crop. Then industrial agriculture crushed that world. The apple industry settled on a handful of varieties to promote worldwide, and the rest were forgotten. They became commercially extinct—but not quite biologically extinct.

The fine points of apple sex were lost on most US colonists, who planted millions of apple seeds as they settled farms and traveled west. Leading the way was John Chapman, a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed, who single-handedly planted hundreds of thousands of seeds in the many frontier nurseries he started in anticipation of the approaching settlers, who were required to plant 50 apple or pear trees as part of their land grants. Even if they had understood grafting, the settlers probably wouldn't have cared: Although some of the frontier apples were grown for fresh eating, more fed the hogs or the fermentation barrel, neither of which was too choosy.

Even when abandoned, an apple tree can live more than 200 years, and, like the Giving Tree in Shel Silverstein's book, it will wait patiently for the boy to return. There is a bent old Black Oxford tree in Hallowell, Maine, that is approximately two centuries old and still gives a crop of midnight-purple apples each fall. In places like northern New England, the Appalachian Mountains, and Johnny Appleseed's beloved Ohio River Valley—agricultural byways that have escaped the bulldozer—these centenarians hang on, flickering on the edge of existence, their identity often a mystery to the present homeowners. And John Bunker is determined to save as many as he can before they, and he, are gone.
The key thing to understand about apple varieties is that apples do not come true from seed. An apple fruit is a disposable womb of the mother tree, but the seeds it encloses are new individuals, each containing a unique combination of genes from the mother tree and the mystery dad, whose contribution arrived in a pollen packet inadvertently carried by a springtime bee. If that seed grows into a tree, its apples will not resemble its parents'. Often they will be sour little green things, because qualities like bigness, redness, and sweetness require very unusual alignments of genes that may not recur by chance. Such seedling trees line the dirt roads and cellar holes of rural America.
If you like the apples made by a particular tree, and you want to make more trees just like it, you have to clone it: Snip off a shoot from the original tree, graft it onto a living rootstock, and let it grow. This is how apple varieties come into existence. Every McIntosh is a graft of the original tree that John McIntosh discovered on his Ontario farm in 1811, or a graft of a graft. Every Granny Smith stems from the chance seedling spotted by Maria Ann Smith in her Australian compost pile in the mid-1800s.

Every now and then, however, one of those seedling trees produced something special. As the art of grafting spread, those special trees were cloned and named, often for the discoverer. By the 1800s, America possessed more varieties of apples than any other country in the world, each adapted to the local climate and needs. Some came ripe in July, some in November. Some could last six months in the root cellar. Some were best for baking or sauce, and many were too tannic to eat fresh but made exceptional hard cider, the default buzz of agrarian America.

Bunk called this period the Great American Agricultural Revolution. "When this all happened, there was no USDA, no land grant colleges, no pomological societies," he says. "This was just grassroots. Farmers being breeders." As farms industrialized, though, orchards got bigger and bigger. State agricultural extension services encouraged orchardists to focus on the handful of varieties that produced big crops of shiny red fruit that could withstand extensive shipping, often at the expense of flavor. Today, thousands of unique apples have been lost, while a mere handful dominate the market.

When Bunk lays out his dazzling apple displays, it's a reminder that our sense of the apple has increasingly narrowed, that we are asking less and less from this most versatile of fruits—and that we are running out of time to change course. Exhibit A: The Harrison apple, the pride of Newark, New Jersey, renowned in the early 1800s for making a golden, champagne-like cider that just might have been the finest in the world. But the Harrison, like most of the high-tannin varieties that make good hard cider, disappeared after Prohibition. (The recent hard-cider revival has been making do largely with apples designed for fresh eating, which make boring cider.) But in 1976 one of Bunk's fellow apple detectives found a single old Harrison tree on the grounds of a defunct cider mill in Livingston, New Jersey, grafted it, and now a new generation of Harrison trees is just beginning to bear fruit. It's as if a storied wine grape called pinot noir had just been rediscovered.

Reposted from Mother Jones


Cabbie and a Nun [via Alex Cord]



A cabbie picks up a Nun.

She gets into the cab, and notices that the VERY handsome cab driver won't stop staring at her.
She asks him why he is staring.

He replies: "I have a question to ask you but I don't want to offend you."

She answers, "My son, you cannot offend me. When you're as old as I am and have been a nun as long as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about everything. I'm sure that there's nothing you could say or ask that I would find offensive.

"Well, I've always had a fantasy to have a nun kiss me."

She responds, "Well, let's see what we can do about that: #1, you have to be single, and #2, you must be Catholic."

The cab driver is very excited and says, "Yes, I'm single and Catholic!"

"OK," the nun says. "Pull into the next alley."

The nun fulfills his fantasy, with a kiss that would make a hooker blush.

But when they get back on the road, the cab driver starts crying.

"My dear child," says the nun, "why are you crying?"

"Forgive me but I've sinned. I lied and I must confess, I'm married and I'm Jewish."

The nun says, "That's OK. My name is Kevin and I'm going to a Halloween party."

More Stairs to Stare at ... [via Nina Reznick]

Wuppertal, Germany

Sicily, Italy

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Beirut, Lebanon

Seoul, South Korea