July 10, 2018
The popular hero of the Mexican-American War, Zachary Taylor, died on July 9. For the second time, a vice president was sworn in to replace the elected president.
Millard Fillmore was that vice president.
Millard Fillmore, in 1873, 20 years after he left the presidency. Portrait by C. M. Bell. From the Library of Congress.
Fillmore ended the run of presidents by Whig Party members, the last Whig. He served out the term of Taylor, but despite trying, never succeeded in winning election on his own.
Most people including historians know little about Fillmore, except his unsavory role in signing the Fugitive Slave Act, and thereby pushing the nation closer to civil war. The hoax on Fillmore’s allegedly introducing a plumbed bathtub to the White House, by H. L. Mencken in 1917, stained Fillmore’s reputation and chased out most information about good things he had done, such as opening Japan to trade.
There are morals about hoaxes and fake news in Fillmore’s story. Those morals are much lost to history now.
The author and a bronze likeness of Fillmore meet on a street in Rapid City, South Dakota, August 2016
June 17, 2018
August, 1961. First the barbed wire went up surrounding West Berlin, separating those in the Russian sector, and East Germany, from those in the French, British and U.S. sectors, an island of non-communist rule in a sea of communists.
The famous wall of concrete, steel and barbed wire would be built soon. Germans living in Berlin were sometimes trapped by arbitrary lines on a map, lines that meant the difference between freedom and a communist dictatorship.
Why am I thinking of this now? This photo, from the U.S. Information Agency, in the files of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The photo tells a sad story, that should never be repeated.
Berlin residents pass children over the barbed wire separating the free West Berlin from Soviet-occupied West Berlin. August 1961. U.S. National Archives image, from U.S. Information Agency.
The guard, a “Vopo,” looked the other way. And that made all the difference in that child’s life.
Caption for photo from USIA, on the back of the photo.
Why does this image call out to me now, as if from the voice of that child, pleading for help? Does it call to you, too?
April 28, 2018
From Instagram: pkwanpiOf course there’s a #newtcrossing — this is #berkeley after all! In Tilden Regional Park
Oakland side of San Francisco Bay has a stunning string of parks from the water’s edge, following abandoned rail lines, through parks in the city, wending and winding up into the mountains into real wilderness. It’s impressive, decades later, to remember the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors touring these sites as they were being redeveloped from abandoned industrial sites, real brownfield recovery — and see what a grand complex it is now.
And there, one may find a newt crossing one’s path. Watch out for the newts!
April 25, 2018
Moving ice on Utah Lake, from a drone movie by Bill Church, screen capture.
Where does the great @BillChurchPhoto post his photos? (Update: On Instagram, and sales at BillChurchPhoto.com.) His work around Utah Lake, and Utah, is spectacular (and I hope people buy his images so he’s making money off of the great art he’s captured).
Here is a photo of plain old Utah Lake, in February. Church makes it look beautiful and exciting, instead of just cold and muddy.
Not sure I can embed this movie any other way:
- See also, “Utah Lake in the cold”
- “Piano on Utah Lake,” Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, October 17, 2013
- “Oil in Mt. Timpanogos,” MFB, February 19, 2016
- “Utah’s Mt. Timpanogos, no PhotoShop needed,” a Craig Clyde photo, MFB, November 16, 2012
Tip of the old scrub brush to Utah State Parks on Twitter.
April 15, 2018
From @BestEarthPix on Twitter:
Frustratingly, the only information from @BestEarthPix is “Oregon, USA.” It’s a mule deer, in a lake. Which lake? Who was the lucky/skilled photographer? No details.
Can you supply details? The photographer should get credit, I think.
Update: This site, 500px, attributes the photo to Stijn Dijkstra. But Amazon.com/UK leads me to believe this is a sunrise at Yellowstone Lake, with a deer’s profile PhotoShopped in. See “Sunrise at Yellowstone Journal” and this photo.
Further update: It’s a stock photo from Alamy, PhotoShopped.
The Flat Mountain arm of Yellowstone Lake at sunrise, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 2016. Image courtesy Neal Herbert/Yellowstone National Park. Gado Images/Alamy Stock Photo
How disappointing, and maddening, that what looks like a great image turns out to be faked.
April 6, 2018
Jeff McGrath (@youtah) on Twitter: Utah Lake is just stunning right now. This was taken at the Northern End with my drone while flying for recreational fun. #utwx #dronephotography #recreationaldrone
Northern end of Utah Lake, near Lehi, probably near the old boat launch and harbor near where the old amusement park Saratoga was (now a town loaded with housing tracts).
My grandfather, Leo Stewart, Sr., came into the world 30 or so miles south, in Benjamin, Utah, named after a family patriarch of sorts, Benjamin Franklin Stewart. When he was very young, my grandfather said, they’d boat out a half-mile or so into the lake and look down into 20 feet of water, and pick the giant trout they’d want to hook. That was in the late 19th century, of course.
In that sorry time 30 years later, some fool introduced European carp into the area, for more game fish. Carp dig up the shallow bottom and muddy the water. In my youth along the lake you could never see more than six inches into the lake. Because it was so far from everything else important, a steel plant was built at Geneva, about midway between north and south ends of the lake, during World War II — in case the mills in California were bombed. U.S. Steel eventually ended up with the plant.
From our home on the Lake Bonneville bench, 800 feet or so above the lake, we could watch the steel mill’s pouring of slag at night, a little flow of artificial magma to light the sky and look cool. The mill also dumped chemicals into the water which further clouded the view.
Tip of the old scrub brush to Utah State Parks.
November 22, 2017
From Dean Frey, posting on Twitter as “Deny Fear @dean_frey.”
Frey posted this wonderful picture of Rachel Carson, taken by Erich Hartmann in 1962 (after publication of Silent Spring?)
Rachel Carson and her typewriter, by Erich Hartmann, 1962.
But hold your horses. Frey posted a raft of other artists with their machines. What a glorious little thread!
The entire glorious thread.
You have seen some of those photos, some of those artists, and some of those typewriters in other posts at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub. There are some sparkling photos there I had not seen before.
Thank you, Dean Frey.