Photo of the Day

Photo Of The Day

Buffalo Bill in tent. Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Buffalo Bill in tent. Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

The Pony Express

Buffalo Bill Cody, who later became famous for his Wild West Show, was a rider for the Pony Express and wrote of his experiences. We join Bill’s story as he is hired – at the age of 15 – to ride a section of the trail that lies in modern-day Wyoming:

. . .The next day he [Mr Slade, the manger of Cody’s Pony Express station] assigned me to duty on the road from Red Buttes on the North Platte, to the Three Crossings of the Sweetwater – a distance of seventy-six miles – and I began riding at once.

One day when I galloped into Three Crossings, my home station, I found that the rider who was expected to take the trip out on my arrival had got into a drunken row the night before and had been killed; and that there was no one to fill his place. I did not hesitate for a moment to undertake an extra ride of eighty-five miles to Rocky Ridge, and I arrived at the latter place on time. I then turned back and rode to Red Buttes, my starting place, accomplishing on the round trip a distance of 322 miles.

Slade heard of this feat of mine, and one day as he was passing on a coach he sang out to me, ‘My boy, you’re a brick, and no mistake. That was a good run you made when you rode your own and Miller’s routes, and I’ll see that you get extra pay for it.’

Slade, although rough at times and always a dangerous character – having killed many a man – was always kind to me. During the two years that I worked for him as pony-express-rider and stage-driver, he never spoke an angry word to me.

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Photo Of The Day

Image: Vo Anh Khanh. Sept. 15, 1970. A victim of American bombing, ethnic Cambodian guerrilla Danh Son Huol is carried to an improvised operating room in a mangrove swamp on the Ca Mau Peninsula. This scene was an actual medical situation, not a publicity setup. The photographer, however, considered the image unexceptional and never printed it.

Image: Vo Anh Khanh. Sept. 15, 1970.
A victim of American bombing, ethnic Cambodian guerrilla Danh Son Huol is carried to an improvised operating room in a mangrove swamp on the Ca Mau Peninsula. This scene was an actual medical situation, not a publicity setup. The photographer, however, considered the image unexceptional and never printed it.

 Jungle Medicine

The survivors are called witnesses of history. I don’t know if we ourselves are witnesses, but our photographs certainly are. They paid the price with blood.

Doan Cong Tinh

When you look at incredible images like the one above you can more easily understand how their sheer tenacity and resourcefulness virtually guaranteed a result against the-then most powerful army in the world.

In photo above, Vietnamese orderlies bring a wounded fighter to be operated on by nurses in a makeshift hospital theatre hidden in a swamp. This would have presented all kinds of ‘operating’ challenges, such as an increased risk of infection and the unwelcome and distinctly non-medical attention of leeches.

For much of the world, the visual history of the Vietnam War has been defined by a handful of iconic photographs: Eddie Adams’ image of a Viet Cong fighter being executed, Nick Ut’s picture of nine-year-old Kim Phúc fleeing a napalm strike, Malcolm Browne’s photo of Thích Quang Duc self-immolating in a Saigon intersection.

Many famous images of the war were taken by Western photographers and news agencies, working alongside American or South Vietnamese troops.

But the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong had hundreds of photographers of their own, who documented every facet of the war under the most dangerous conditions.

Almost all were self-taught, and worked for the Vietnam News Agency, the National Liberation Front, the North Vietnamese Army or various newspapers. Many sent in their film anonymously or under a nom de guerre, viewing themselves as a humble part of a larger struggle.

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Photo Of The Day

Zsa 1

“Dahling”

“I don’t remember anyone’s name. How do you think the ‘Dahling’ thing got started?”

Believe it or not, Zsa Zsa Gabor is still alive. She turned 99 years old, on February 6th. She is still in her home in Bel Air. Her husband, Frederick Prinz van Anhalt, is only 72. This year marks the couple’s 30th wedding anniversary.

Frederick says that Zsa Zsa does have visitors from time to time.

It’s unclear how much Zsa Zsa understands, but at least she’s comfortable and well taken care of. It’s also unclear if she knows about the death of her only child, Francesca Hilton. Francesca fought with Frederick for years. Then she died just over a year ago– January 6, 2015– at age 67.

Zsa Zsa would barely recognize the world around her if she were really with it. All her friends are gone. Her famous sisters, Eva and Magda, are long gone, as their mother, Jolie Gabor.

The Diamonds, Money, Fur coats, the Brown Derby, good manners, they’re all gone, too. Maybe it’s best that she stay in bed.

Anyone who has lived to be almost 100 likely has a few outlandish tales to tell. At least, one hopes they have tales to tell; it’s simply too awful to think of someone living through ten decades without one adventure, one great passion, one scandal worthy of relating over and over again. What’s the point of living a long life, after all, if one can’t look back with some complacency and pleasure at the glorious, memorable mistakes one made along the way?

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Photo Of The Day

Gramps 1

They Called him Gramp

A Story of Dying

On February 11 , 1974 , Frank Tugend , aged eighty-one and of dubiously sound mind — but certainly of sound body removed his false teeth and announced that he was no longer going to eat or drink.

Three weeks later to the day, he died.

The remarkable thing was how Gramp died.

Franks death brought to a close a three-year ordeal–and three-year documentation-of gradual, but finally total, deterioration. Through camera and tapes his family recorded Frank Tugend’s involvement with the curse that is described as senility, or hardening of the arteries, or generalized arteriosclerosis. In real life it translates into standing naked in front of the picture window, or “talking” to a giant red rabbit that lives in the refrigerator, or being unable to control one’s bowels. It is by no means unique millions of families are dealing with the problem right now.

As they were recording their experiences over the last three years of his life, they also had to decide in the last weeks whether or not to have him hospitalized to be sustained by intravenous tubes. But after he had made it clear that he wanted to die, they chose to let him die at home, with some dignity intact.

Frank Tugend an upstanding family man began a tragic three-year decline brought about by generalized arteriosclerosis. His memory began to fail. At first, he lost the ability to drive.

Then, the ability to remember who, and where he was. The once polite man began to hallucinate and became aggressive to visitors. He and his family were ostracized by the community. His behaviour was often erratic. Having lost the ability to bathe, dress, and control his bowels, he required constant care.

The simplicity of Gramp’s lifestyle tended to minimize difficulties he might have had with “forgetfulness” and confusion. Essentially a loner, he spent his days chopping wood and keeping his property tidy, or taking walks in the surrounding woods. When he was with others, it was usually his family, who saw him every day and didn’t really, or comprehend; the changes that were taking place in Gramp.

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Photo of the day

Photo: Chicago Daily News. Defense Attorney Benjamin Bachrach, Nathan Leopold, Jr., Richard Loeb, and Clarence Darrow during the Leopold and Loeb Sentencing Hearing.

Photo: Chicago Daily News. Defence Attorney Benjamin Bachrach, Nathan Leopold, Jr., Richard Loeb, and Clarence Darrow during the Leopold and Loeb Sentencing Hearing.

‘Affluenza’

In June 2013, Ethan Couch, an inebriated 16-year-old Texan, was speeding and driving illegally on a restricted license when he slammed into a group of people standing on the side of the road. Four died; nine were injured, including two of Couch’s passengers, who were seriously hurt.

The case became a topic of national conversation in America, because, despite the severity of his crime, he got off with a slap on the wrist thanks to a unique defence: “Affluenza.”

A psychologist testified that Couch didn’t understand the consequences of his actions because his parents taught him wealth buys privilege. Somehow, despite killing four people and testing positive for alcohol and drugs, he was sentenced to just rehab and probation. (Couch has again been in the news for fleeing the country; he was found partying in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with his mother. He’s currently at a juvenile facility in Texas.)

Couch’s featherweight sentence in a way proved his parents correct: Wealth does have its privileges, such as the ability to hire crackerjack lawyers who dream up creative defences.

Though press accounts didn’t mention it, Couch wasn’t the first high-profile case to use the “Affluenza” defence. That dubious honour goes to two young men accused of committing the “crime of the century” over 90 years ago — Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb.

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Photo of the day

Ma

The Queen of Thieves’

New York’s First Female Crime Boss

During the Gilded Age, New York City’s first crime ring came into power under a leader who taught the city’s best criminals, bribed those in power, and made a fortune. Meet ‘Marm’ Mandelbaum.

She had the eyes of a sparrow, the neck of a bear and enough business acumen to build an empire as the “Queen of Fences.”

The press called her a “Queen Among Thieves” and the person who “first put crime in America on a syndicated basis.” In 1884, The New York Times named her “the nucleus and centre of the whole organization of crime in New York City.” During the Gilded Age, Fredericka Mandelbaum, a German-Jewish immigrant, rose to power as the country’s premier fence—seller of stolen goods. Described as “a huge woman weighing more than two hundred and fifty pounds” with “extraordinarily fat cheeks,” Mandelbaum was the head of one of the first organized crime rings and a driving force behind New York City’s underworld for more than twenty-five years.

Mandelbaum was better known as Marm, and a mother is exactly what she was. She set up shop in New York City sometime around 1864, and for 20 years she built up a reputable gang of thieves, pickpockets, and bandits—who all trusted her to pay them fairly for what they stole. It’s estimated that she and her gang handled merchandise that would today be worth somewhere around around a quarter of a billion dollars when adjusted for inflation. Part of Mandelbaum’s success was due to the way she treated her network of thieves. She stood by her own, and always kept a law firm on retainer for any of her gang who got caught. She was famous for handing out bribes to police and judges, encouraging them to look the other way. Unlike most of the other street gangs, a large number of Mandelbaum’s crew were women.

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Photo of the day

Wanted

 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

Cowboy Billy Clanton still lay dying, his face contorted with pain, when the press began the difficult task of piecing together the details of an October 1881 street battle in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. In later years it would become known as the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Richard Rule, veteran city editor of the Tombstone Nugget, helped carry Clanton into the house where the young man would pass into history, then returned to the streets to go to work.

With the canny eye of an experienced newsman, Rule began collecting the details of the gunfight, interviewing witnesses and trying to get a handle on what transpired during that fateful half minute and what led up to the battle. It would be a model of frontier journalism and vital to future understanding of perhaps the most debated event of the American frontier.

The saga of the O.K. Corral has been told repeatedly and from many perspectives, often with fictional intrusions and biased analysis.

Through the tense summer of 1881, emotions had grown explosive. Bands of rustlers roamed the backcountry, stealing cattle mostly in Mexico or from Mexican ranchers in Arizona and New Mexico territories and then selling them to apparently legitimate ranchers for resale. The Clanton and McLaury families owned ranches reputed to be headquarters for receiving stolen cattle. This great cattle scam drew little ire from an American population more interested in acquiring wealth in the rich new mining areas than investigating international relations. In addition, Mexico had assessed high taxes on alcohol and tobacco, and smugglers came to southern Arizona Territory to purchase the goods cheaply for resale south of the border. The cash- and jewel-laden smugglers provided an easy target for American bandits.

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Photo of the day

Carte The original Monster in my pocket Mad gasser of mattoon Battle cards in verkoop op Delcampe.

Carte The original Monster in my pocket Mad gasser of mattoon Battle cards in verkoop op Delcampe.

The Mysterious Mad Gasser of Mattoon

Temporary paralysis, tremors, nausea, burning skin…

Was some Axis operative or local lunatic attacking little Mattoon, Illinois, with poison gas?

Towards the end of World War II, the sleepy town of Mattoon came under attack by a madman. Or perhaps it came under attack by many madmen and women, who believed that they were under attack by a madman. Who was the “mad gasser” of Mattoon?

By the end of August the town of Mattoon, Illinois was baking in the heat and people kept their windows open at night to let in the cool night air. In 1944 they kept those windows open only a crack, because many of the men were away, fighting in World War II, and even civilians were instructed to be on the alert. People were told to keep their eyes open for suspicious activity. The entire country was on edge.

And so, when a couple woke up smelling something sweet and feeling strange, they were understandably freaked out. The two people had wildly different symptoms. The husband was up on his feet, vomiting. The wife thought perhaps she’d left the gas on, but when she tried to get up to check, found she couldn’t move. Later the same night, in a nearby house, a child got sick in bed while its mother was too incapacitated to get up and comfort it. A few nights later, another woman smelled a sweet substance and felt herself being slowly paralyzed from the legs upward. She screamed enough that her neighbours heard her and came running.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: Robert H. "Bob" Jackson, Dallas Times Herald. Lee Harvey Oswald, suspected assassin of President John F. Kennedy, grimaces as he is shot to death at point-blank range by nightclub owner Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas police headquarters Nov. 24, 1963. Plainclothes officer to the left of him is Jim Leavellem in the white suit and stetson.

Photo: Robert H. “Bob” Jackson, Dallas Times Herald.
Lee Harvey Oswald, suspected assassin of President John F. Kennedy, grimaces as he is shot to death at point-blank range by nightclub owner Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas police headquarters Nov. 24, 1963. Plainclothes officer to the left of him is Jim Leavelle in the white suit and stetson.

Det. Jim Leavelle, Captured in Iconic Image of Lee Harvey Oswald Being Shot

Det. Jim Leavelle, the cop cuffed to killer, recalls the instant Jack Ruby fired: Oswald said, “‘Nobody’s gonna shoot at me.’ Famous last words”

Leavelle, entrusted with moving the nation’s most notorious killer, secured his infamous suspect with a set of handcuffs. The police veteran then took a second pair, snapping one manacle around his left wrist and the other on the right wrist of Lee Harvey Oswald. As the pair prepared to walk through the basement of the Dallas police headquarters to a waiting vehicle, Leavelle mentioned the dozens of death threats against Oswald.

“I said, ‘Lee, if anybody shoots at you, I hope they’re as good a shot as you are’ — I meant that they would hit him and not me,” recounts Leavelle in a soft Texas twang.

“And he said, ‘Nobody’s gonna shoot at me.’ Famous last words.’”

From the moment he lunged out of the shadows and pulled the trigger on his .38-caliber Colt Cobra, Jack Ruby did more than blast his way into history.

Lee Harvey Oswald, the man suspected of killing President John F. Kennedy two days earlier, suffered a single, fatal shot from Ruby’s gun. But other men standing in the basement of the Dallas police station on Sunday morning, Nov. 24, 1963, saw their own lives change, none more so than Jim Leavelle.

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Photo Of The Day

Mary Ball Washington, The Mother of George Washington, President of the United States is not impressed.

Mary Ball Washington, The Mother of George Washington, President of the United States is not impressed.

George Washington’s Mother

Mary Ball Washington

Even extraordinary people suffer from ordinary problems. And having a difficult relationship with a parent is a pretty common one.

Few mothers of American Presidents have been praised or vilified more than Mary Ball Washington, the first president’s tall, athletic, jut-jawed mother.

She was a selfish and exacting mother whom most of her children avoided as soon and as early as they could, to whom they did their duty but rendered little love. It was this sainted mother of Washington who opposed almost everything that he did for the public good, who wished his sense of duty to end with his duty to her.

Nineteenth-century mythmakers put Washington’s mother in the log cabin with her godlike son. Twentieth-century chroniclers diminish her as a crude frontier type. But Washington’s legend has become so powerful that another president, Harry S. Truman, wrote glowingly of George Washington as one of his favourite chief executives but put his mother down as “a strange woman” and a “miser” who “although she was really quite rich complained all her life that she was destitute.”

Mary Ball was born on a Virginia farm in 1708. Her father, Joseph Ball, died when she was three years old. Her mother married again, She was taken to her stepfather’s farm at Yeocomico, Virginia. Marys mother died at thirty-five. Her chief gifts to her daughter were a devout Anglicanism and a love of horses.

Each time a parent or stepparent died, Mary received a legacy in land, livestock, furniture, slaves, cash, and, usually, a good horse. When her mother died, she was sent to live with a half-sister, Afterward, the girl was raised by George Eskridge, a family friend.

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