Saturday, 6 October 2012

                                   Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967


By Carl Sandburg
Hog Butcher for the World,
   Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
   Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
   Stormy, husky, brawling,
   City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
   Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Aboard the 20th Century Limited!

Climb aboard!  Can you hear that whistle blow? I wouldn’t want you to miss it!  Let's  journey back in time aboard the famous 20th Century Limited...


I was seven when I first heard tales of the New York Central Railroad.  It was just before the era of the train had come to an end in the late 60’s.

My great- grandfather was still alive then and he would  tell  me stories about his time working as a brakeman along the dusty and busy tracks of the NYCR.

It was  on June 17th 1902 that the 20th Century Limited launched the New York Central's newest Luxury train. The Limited ran the Water Route between New York and Chicago.

On leaving LaSalle Street Station in Chicago, she went racing along the shore of the southern part of the Great Lakes skirting along Lake Michigan and Lake Erie.
She soon passed  through Cleveland and then Buffalo before descending south again through Albany in the Empire state and then along the Hudson River that led into New York and her awaiting terminus at Grand Central station on the island of Manhattan..

While always considered a train of prestige and opulence she broke several NYCR speed records in her time, eventually achieving a record time of sixteen hours in 1935.

She was a train that carried the wealthy and the powerful, the famous and infamous, all mingled freely and enjoyed the elegant surroundings and fine cuisine. Like a five star hotel on rail;  a train that equalled even the great Orient Express.

It was not uncommon in her heyday to see  celebrities aboard the Limited like Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Enrico Caruso, Charlie Chaplin as well as tycoons like J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller. The list just grew bigger as her fame grew and the brightest Hollywood stars could be found on the Limited. Those travelling to California could catch the Rock Island Lines' Golden State Limited that left from Chicago and headed west.

In 1920 a roundtrip ticket with Pullman sleeping accommodation from New York to Chicago cost approximately $51.30 - this however did not include meals. Extras included a standard meal for $1.75 including Russian caviar!  However,  you could splash out and spend up to $2.35 for a meal of Lobster or Filet Mignon!

The expression Red Carpet treatment was first used in 1938 in connection with the 20th Century Limited. Passengers embarking on the train in New York were greeted by a luxurious crimson  carpet emblazoned with the words 20th Century Limited.

It was the industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss that gave that Limited its iconic art deco look where the shape and even the colors of blue and grey were to give it a stream-lined look, so that the trains subsequently became known as Streamliners.

 All Aboard- for a journey of elegance and sophistication!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Mission to the Moon - July 20, 1969

Why Go to the Moon?

A vision had been come achieved, a new era had begun.

It was Friday July 20, 1969 when man finally realized the dream of standing on another world. Nearly a quarter of a million miles away three men left the earth on Apollo 11, pioneers of a new age carrying with them the hopes and prayers of an entire planet, would they return? What would they find?

Apollo's crew consisted of Mission Commander- Neil Armstrong, Lunar Module Pilot- Edwin Buzz Aldrin and Command Module Pilot- Michael Collins. The Lunar Lander would eventually touchdown  on the moon at approx. 20.17 UTC(equiv GMT) time and Armstrong the first and then Aldrin would be the first people to walk on the moon.

May our dreams of today always always been as vast as theirs were forty two years ago