Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Photographic Leap into the Past

Time is a strange and fascinating thing – perhaps it's one of the reasons I like history so much.  I remember when I was in England pondering the worn stairs in the Wells Cathedral and thinking about the many people who had traveled the steps since 1306.

Stairs in the Wells Cathedral

I was checking out the news on the BBC website the other day, when they showed a series of retrophotographs from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.  Retrophotoraphy is the art of taking a modern image at the same location as a historic photograph and displaying or blending the two together.  You can click on the link above, but I'll display a couple of the most powerful ones here also. Oh, and all the photos look better when you click on them and view them larger.

These photos reminded me of some other excellent retrophotography by Sergey Larenkov.  He has done some excellent work based on World War II photographs.  I particularly like the way Larenkov blends the images together.  I'll highlight some of my favorites on the blog today, but you'll want to check out his website for more!  It makes me want to head on down to my local historical society and find some old photos.

German Parade on the Champs Elysees in Paris, 1940 and 2010

Hitler at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, 1940 and 2010

D-Day on Omaha Beach, 1944 and 2010

National Hotel in Moscow, 1941 and 2010

Peterhof Grand Palace in St. Petersburg, 1941 and 2011

German Prisoners in St. Petersburg, 1944 and 2010

Tigrgarten Park in Berlin, 1945 and 2010

Monday, February 27, 2012

E.S. Goodner and Wycliffe Bible Translators

E.S. Goodner

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it's Missions Week at our church.  It's always nice to hear from missionaries around the world.  Some of the missionaries I enjoy hearing from the most are from an organization called Wycliffe Bible Translators.  The goal of Wycliffe is to translate the Bible into every language on the planet.  Oftentimes this necessitates Wycliffe translators to create a written form for the language for the first time in history.  Bible translation and literacy go hand-in-hand and in many remote areas on our planet and in addition to bringing the gospel message, literacy allows people to improve their lives in other areas (such as improved agriculture and sanitation acquired through reading).

Literacy class in Chad

Today, there are over 6,800 languages in the world today.  Since 1942, Wycliffe has produced Bibles for the first time for about 700 of those languages and they are currently in active translation work in about 1,500 additional languages.  UNESCO estimates that there are about 750 million non-literate people living today and about two-thirds of those are women.

Language surveyor at work in Papua New Guinea

My great-grandfather, Ed Goodner, was on the Wycliffe Board of Directors from its founding in 1942 until his death in 1957.  My great-grandfather, known for his keen sense of humor, often journeyed abroad with other Wycliffe members to lay the groundwork for translation work in those countries.  Dawson Trotman (founder of another organization called the Navigators), often accompanied the Wycliffe people abroad.

I'll repeat a couple anecdotes about my great-grandfather from a book about Trotman called, Lengthened Cords, by Ethel Wallis:

     Daws was accompanied on his trips to Mexico by other Wycliffe board members, William Nyman, Dr. John Hubbard, and Ed Goodner.  The later was the object of most of Daws' jokes.  Ed, according to Daws, presumed to be able to manage fairly well in Spanish, so the other non-Spanish-speaking board members left the bargaining for taxi fares to him.  Ed had been instructed that a fair rate for a given distance was dos (two) pesos, and he developed a fixation for that amount.  When a certain taxi-driver came out with "uno cincuenta" (a peso and a half) in answer to "How much?" Ed Goodner stuck to his guns – "dos pesos."  After some argument, the taxi-driver gave up and accepted two pesos for a peso-and-a-half ride.  Ed Goodner's reputation asa  linguist suffered appreciably at that point thanks to Daws.
     Another time Ed Goodner saw a group of Mexican people all dressed up and walking down the street.
     "This must be a Mexican holiday," he said.  "I think I'll just step over and ask them what day it is."
     As he returned to the other board members he said, "Yep, just as I thought–it's a big holiday.  Today is Jueves."  Upon discovering that "Jueves" meant "Thursday," Daws had all that he needed for jokes on Ed Goodner for several conferences to come.  When I last saw Daws at our Wycliffe conference in September, 1955, he was still teasing Ed Goodner, privately and publicly, about his dos-pesos-Jueves brand of Spanish.

Curiously enough given his rudimentary foreign language skills, Ed Goodner's youngest daughter, Jane Goodner Nellis, spent her life working with Zapotec Indians in Oaxaca, Mexico, and was known for her work in the Zapotec tongue.

Extended Goodner family
Standing, back row: Jane Goodner Nellis and Neil Nellis
Seated, middle row:  Ed Goodner holding my father, Don Maas, and Mary Grow Goodner
Seated, front row:  brothers Dave Maas and Richard Maas

Sunday, February 26, 2012

George Müller

George Müller

Congratulations once again to Brian, winner of yesterday's Person-of-Mystery Contest!  He correctly identified the Prussian missionary George Müller of Bristol, England, as the unidentified man.

It's missions week at our church and yesterday morning, the younger boys and I went down to hear a Wycliffe Bible Translators missionary talk about the work that organization does, so naturally missionaries were on my mind.

George Müller is one of my favorite missionaries from history.  He was a missionary from Prussia to England.  He is best known for starting and running the Ashley Down Orphanage in Bristol England, a model orphanage that took in over 10,000 orphans in over five large houses during Müller's lifetime.  He also established a string of 117 schools, benefiting hundreds of thousands more.

His orphanage was so well run that at times he was accused of raising the welfare of orphans beyond their "natural station."

Boys from Müller's orphanage loading potatoes in 1925

Amazingly, he accomplished this amazing feat without having ever asked for money or donations.  He would pray about his needs and allow God to provide.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Welcome to Cipher Saturday!  You've found the home of everyone's favorite weekend pastime, where a stylized photo of a somewhat famous person from history is provided for you to identify.

Additional clues may be found in the cipher below:

QTBMN 79:6

So, who could I be?  That's the mystery!  Go ahead and take a guess and then go enjoy your day.  Check back tomorrow and I'll reveal the answer.  The first correct post will be declared the winner.

If you'd like to make sure that your guess is correct, enter his name into Google Images and the this photo will be found on the first page of image results.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Modern Ethical Dilemmas

Warning:  This post is a little weightier than many discussed on this site, so if you're not in the mood for some deep thinking, perhaps skipping this post may be in your best interest.

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This morning I was scanning some headlines when the following story caught my eye:

Dead bodies to be burned to heat UK swimming pool...

My response was one of disbelief until I clicked on the link and came to the actual article in The Telegraph perhaps slightly more appropriately titled:

My first thought was absolute revulsion!  Heating public pools with with the heat generated by crematoriums.  Could I allow my kids to take swim lessons at such a facility?  It brought back images of Nazi death camps burning bodies and making a profit off of death.

Smoke rising from Hadamar, a Nazi eugenics facility

However, after reading the article, it spoke about heat in excess of 1,400 °F from the crematorium being vented to the atmosphere and the waste involved.  Furthermore, a local authority estimated a savings of about $23,000 a year in heating costs to the town by diverting currently wasted energy.

What are your thoughts on the matter?  I'm still trying to work this one out in my mind.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, George Washington!

George Washington was born today, February 11, 1732!  That date is not a typo, England added 11 days to their calendar during his lifetime, so he actually had two birthdays, February 11 and February 22.  Celebrations were made on both dates during his lifetime.

George Washington's birthplace was destroyed by a fire and flood on December 25, 1779, but you can still visit a recreated memorial house on the same property.  The recreated home was built near where the 

George Washington Birthplace National Park

Washington lived at the residence at Popes Creek until he was about three years old.  The primary home he lived in until a teenager (known as Ferry Farm) was located across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Washington lived here until 1743, when his father died.  The Union Army destroyed this home during the Civil War, but the foundations were discovered in 2008 and archaeological work continues at the site.

Ferry Farm Archaeological Site

At nineteen, Washington moved to Mt. Vernon, the home with which he is best associated.

Mt. Vernon

Mt. Vernon is certainly the best preserved of Washington's homes and where he's buried.

Even his residence in Philadelphia at 190 High Street, where Washington lived when he was President was demolished for development in 1832 (with the final remaining walls being removed in 1945).  Today an exposed open structure provides a window into the historic site.

President's House, Philadelphia

For someone so integral to the founding of the country and his impact on the world, our nation has done a pretty poor job preserving artifacts from his life.  After his death, Washington's adopted son, George Washington Parke Custis, kept many of relics of his father's life at his home in Arlington, Virginia, as kind of a living museum.  His daughter Mary was Mrs. Robert E. Lee.  During the Civil War, the Union Army seized the estate from the Lees and looted the home (they also turned the property into Arlington Cemetery so the Lees couldn't return to a working farm after the war).  Mrs. Lee saved what she could including the bed on which Washington died, but some of the remaining relics were taken as trophies of war and placed in the Patent Office for display - others just disappeared altogether or were destroyed.

Federal Soldiers at Arlington House

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Maas Brothers' Snowman

I'll be moving past the family photo series, but one last parting photo today of the Maas brothers making a snowman.  My father is standing on the left, Dave is in the middle, Rich is on the right, and Bob is at the bottom left.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dick Maas

This past weekend, I was attending backpack training with the Boy Scouts in San Pedro, California.  The Boy Scouts have a nice facility right on the harbor with campsites right by the ocean.  I know it sounds romantic to camp right by the beach, but for me, I'd still prefer to be inland a little.  The waves are rather noisy and being near the harbor there were fog horns going off all night.

I was surprised to see that they had moved the USS Lane Victory, a WWII era Victory Ship, to a new position right across from my campsite.  My grandfather, Dick Maas, was a naval officer during WWII and Korea, so couldn't help but think of him.

Today, I'm featuring a photo of my grandfather from World War II, when he served aboard the USS Boxer.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gone Camping

It's another one of those Boy Scout outing weekends, so I'm afraid there will be no Person-of-Mystery Contest today.  You can be thinking of me in my tent tonight as you are in your warm cozy bed.  Hope you all have a swell weekend and see you next week!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Crown Point Elementary School, San Diego, 1952

My father's third grade class at Crown Point Elementary School in San Diego, California, 1952 – Teacher:  Mrs. Chamness.

I count forty kids and one teacher!  Cute how a third of the boys are wearing their Cub Scout uniforms for their class photo.  My dad is the bottom left Scout.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

See No Evil, Speak No Evil

While preparing for one of my history classes, I came across the following photo from 1918 of Charlie Chaplin and Helen Keller.

She was out in Hollywood to film the movie, Deliverance, a story about her life.  Keller met Chaplin on the set of his current film, Sunnyside.

Wonder if she did all the talking?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day, so I'm featuring a very sweet photo of my grandparents asleep on a blanket.  This photo is precious to me for a number of reasons.  Perhaps if you look closely you may notice that they're probably not really sleeping, my grandmother has a curious smile on her face.  You may also notice that they're not really even in the same photo - Marymac cut out a photo of herself in a similar pose and pasted it next to my grandfather.  She was famous for this.  I can remember a number of pictures where she would cut people out or paste people in to make the perfect photo.

My grandparents were very much in love.  I remember my Aunt Marguerite (actually my great-aunt) talking about them.  Dick and Marymac were high school sweethearts, but Dick was a couple years younger than she was.  Marymac's father had a rule that the sisters could socialize with boys on the porch swing out in front of the house.  Marymac had several boys interested in her, so there was a rule that the first guy who came by after school was the one who could stay.  Dick was a couple years younger than Marymac, so the older guys with cars would sometimes beat Dick to the Goodner home.

Aunt Marguerite said that Dick would always look so dejected if he couldn't run there quick enough, so sometimes Marguerite would hang out and talk to him until the other guy left and her younger sister was free to talk to him.

One other sweet item of mention is that after they were married on October 23, 1936, my grandfather instituted a practice of celebrating what he called Monthiversaries.  On the 23rd of every month, he would get some kind of small gift or present for his wife.  Even when he was away at sea during World War II and Korea, he would send money and instructions for his father-in-law to deliver a note with flowers or some such thing for his beloved.

The glue on the photo has now gotten old and the two in the photo are not connected, but below you can see how my grandmother invented Photoshop.

So don't be bashful, take a cue from Dick and Marymac and let those you love know today!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ready to Ride

While looking for a picture of my grandmother for yesterday's post, I stumbled across several other cute family photos.  Here's one of my dad with his brothers from 1956.  From front to back (and from youngest to oldest):  Bob, Don, Richard, and Dave.  Don is my dad.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, Honey!

Today is a special day.  February 12, 2012, would have been my grandmother's 100th birthday.

Marymac Maas

She was born Mary MacClelland Goodner, but from childhood, she was known as Marymac – although most of her grandchildren knew her Honey (because she was so sweet).  She was the second of four daughters of Ed and Mary Goodner of Gainesville, Texas.  The Goodner family moved to California when Marymac was still a young girl.  She married my grandfather in 1936 and they had four boys.  My grandfather died in 1960 (when he was 45) and she never remarried.

I remember her as one of the sweetest and loving people I've known.  Her home was always full of laughter.  Marymac died in 1997, but to this day I still miss her.

Happy birthday, Honey!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Welcome to Cipher Saturday!  You've found the home of everyone's favorite weekend pastime, where a stylized photo of a somewhat famous person from history is provided for you to identify.

Additional clues may be found in the cipher below:


So, who could I be?  That's the mystery!  Go ahead and take a guess and then go enjoy your day.  Check back tomorrow and I'll reveal the answer.  The first correct post will be declared the winner.

If you'd like to make sure that your guess is correct, enter his name into Google Images and the this photo will be found on the first page of image results.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Is Cold Weather the Father of Invention?

Is is said that necessity is the mother of invention.  If this is the case, cold weather must be the father.

Fridtjof Nansen

I was raised in rather warm climates.  I never even saw snow until I took a trip in the fourth grade, so it's always been somewhat fascinating and exotic to me – perhaps this is why I loved reading about arctic explorers.  Even now, I'm reading a book about a Norwegian expedition of 1893 to 1896 by Fridtjof Nansen, titled Farthest North.  It's a fascinating tale about an early attempt to reach the North Pole.  One of the things that fascinates me about arctic exploration is the wonderful ingenuity of many of these explorers – making do with so little and improvising all the time.  If you want to read Nansen's book, you can download it here in PDF vol.1 and PDF vol. 2 or EPUB.

Nansen's ship, the Fram, frozen in ice with a wind turbine for electric light generation

Perhaps it's my lack of familiarity with winter gear, but it seems as though there's always some new kind of snow gadget I notice when we head to the hills.  Last year, the kids pointed out a snowball maker.

The Sno-baller prepared for action

We didn't get it, but I was curious how well it worked.  It seemed to us as though your hands would pretty much to the same job, unless you needed a snow arsenal.

I also noticed a unique snow shovel as I drove by, which I later discovered is called a Wovel.  I had to look it up later as I only noticed it in passing as I was driving and kept thinking it was curious.

The Wovel in action

Any snow-bound individuals have experience with this contraption?

And here's where it gets really strange.  As I was trying to figure out what the Wovel (wheel shovel) even was, I came across some photos of a snow bicycle called a Ktrak!

Downhill Ktrak

I don't know how fun a snow bicycle would be.  The image above shows it going downhill, but I imagine it is more often used in a cross-country manner.

And here's where it gets really crazy, as I was searching for snow bicycles, I even found a recumbent snow bicycle (or maybe it's better called a quadricycle).

The heretofore unknown to me Sno-Ped
(oh, and why do snow gadgets seem to dislike the w in snow)

So what do you think?  Is it the harsh climate, cabin fever, or something else that causes all this creativity in colder climes?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Uncle Clarence in an Reo Roadster

Today, I'm featuring an unwritten and unmailed post card from the collection of my great-grandmother.  Her older brother, Clarence Burrows, is at the wheel of a Reo automobile (I'm no expert, but I'd guess about a 1914 Rio the Fifth roadster).  Clarence must have liked cars, I've come across several photos like this one.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Unknown Tintype 4

Today's image is the last of the four unknown tintypes I found in my late Uncle Jim's photo collection.  The previous ones being found HERE, HERE, and HERE.  I still believe they are family, but I'm unsure who they may be.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Children of Indian Captives Still Living

As a history teacher, I am regularly thinking about the past.  I love talking to older people and trying to get stories that are first hand accounts or more closely connected to historical events.  That's why I found it very interesting last week, when I stumbled upon a blog post from a man who had interviewed, Esther Lehmann of West Texas.  Esther was the daughter of Willie Lehmann and niece of Herman Lehmann, both of whom were kidnapped by Apaches in 1870.

Herman Lehmann later in life

Now I don't want to steal the thunder of the other bloggers, so if you are interested in the story, I suggest that you stop now and read this article HERE and the other one HERE.

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If you're not the sort of person who likes to read more, I'll give you the basics.  While out in the fields on their family farm in May of 1870, when Herman was 11 and Willie was 8 years old, a group of Apaches came and kidnapped both boys.  After a few days, the cavalry caught up with the Indians and Willie was able to escape, but Herman remained a captive for eight years, eventually adopted by Quanah Parker and taking part in battles against the Army.  Herman's mother never stopped looking for him and eventually Herman was reunited with the rest of his family.

The interesting part to me was that the Lehmann brothers still have living children.  Esther Lehmann gave at least the two interviews above and has a sister, Gerda, who also lives not too far away in Kerrville, Texas – certainly makes me wish I lived closer so I could invite them to come talk to my classes.  I just think it would be fascinating to hear from someone who could say, "Oh, yes, my dad was captured by the Indians."

Esther Lehmann (daughter of Willie Lehmann)

Even though at first glance this might sound unusual, if a person has children old enough, the connection to the past can span more years than seems reasonable.

Woody Plaugher

A little less than four years ago, Woody Plaugher, a fellow I knew personally died.  His father had fought in the Civil War.  That's pretty remarkable when you think about it.  And of course it seems perfectly reasonable to have children of Indian captives around if we still have the last children of Civil War soldiers still with us.

Of course, I've written about this kind of thing before on my blog when I mentioned President John Tyler (1790-1862) having living grandsons.  I noticed the Internet picked up on it last month and New York Magazine even interviewed Harrison Tyler.

Do any of you know people similarly connected closely with the past?  I'd love to hear your stories.