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Tools of the Early Firefighting Trade This Week at

Fire buckets were the tools of the firefighting trade in the late-19th century. A bucket usually displayed the homeowner’s name in paint. How many buckets in a household depended on the fire risk. One bucket for each fireplace was common. After a blaze was extinguished, fire buckets typically lay heaped in piles waiting to be reclaimed by their owners. To tell one from another, people

Mystery and Magic of Harry Houdini This Week at

Harry Houdini found himself locked inside the same jail cell where the assassin of Pres. James A. Garfield was housed in 1881. The narrow bulletproof oak door was buried deep inside a gigantic brick wall. The lock was installed three feet away around the corner--out of reach. Cell No. 2 on Murderers’ Row of the United States Jail was located in Washington, D. C. The escape

Frank Sinatra as Musical Troubadour This Week at

Frank Sinatra said he heard “symphonies from the universe” in his head as a kid and thought about singing for a living as young as 11-years-old. But it was a Bing Crosby concert in the summer of 1935 at Loew’s Journal Square in downtown New Jersey that changed Frank’s life. ‘He was the first troubadour that any of us had heard. After seeing him that night, I knew I

Berenice Abbott Photographer as Documentarian This Week at

Much of Berenice Abbott’s photography is about capturing and interpreting the spirit of everyday life in New York City. She was a documentarian as well as an artist with the camera. A witness to an era. She saw the metropolis as alive and rapidly changing in the 1920s. Buildings were being torn down to make room for skyscrapers. Her goal was to capture Manhattan’s storefronts,

Johnny Cash A Guy Who Got Lucky This Week at

One thousand prisoners showed up in the mess hall of San Quentin State Prison to see country singer Johnny Cash perform in concert on Feb. 23, 1969. The prison was California’s oldest maximum-security penitentiary and most everyone seemed on edge about the pending gig. San Quentin was the place where Johnny played his first-ever prison concert on Jan. 1, 1958. Johnny was funny and upbeat. It took him

Monroe and DiMaggio the Ties That Bind This Week at

Marilyn Monroe was two hours late for her first date with baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. He waited patiently at an Italian restaurant on Sunset Strip in March of 1952. The actress was hesitant that night expecting to meet a loud, sporty jock. What she encountered was a modest gentleman in a gray suit and tie. Had she not known he was a baseball player, the

John Lennon Immortalized in Photography This Week at

It was the last photograph taken of John Lennon. He and Yoko Ono were lying on the floor together in their apartment overlooking Central Park in New York. A cozy, nurturing photo. Several hours later John was shot and killed on Dec. 8, 1980 by an unbalanced fan. Photographing John was Annie Leibovitz’s first important assignment from Rolling Stone magazine back in 1970. John never

Samplers as Time Capsules This Week at

Like time capsules, antique samplers are nostalgic remnants of the past offering a glimpse into the world of embroidery and children. Samplers act as portals into the day-to-day life of a young girl from another era in time. They show her mastery of useful and decorative stitching. In the 18th and mid-19th century, samplers were also her way of showing off her knowledge of the alphabet. Meets the Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum wanted to write modern fairy tales that didn’t frighten children. His fairy tales, he said, wouldn’t upset them like the Brothers Grimm did. Baum’s first book, “Mother Goose in Prose” was published in 1897. It was based on stories he made up and told his own sons. In the last chapter of his first book a farm-girl named Dorothy makes her entrance.

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