Press Girls

The inauguration of a new president is coming up so I will intermix a few stories about Presidents, the press and politics for the next couple of weeks.

You wouldn’t call them “Press Girls” today, but back in 1933, that’s what a group of women reporters were called who covered Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House.

It started out as a project by Mrs. Roosevelt to ensure that women reporters kept their jobs during the depression. In March of 1933 she announced she would hold regular news conferences in the Red Room of the Executive mansion, but only female journalists could attend.

Even though they were called “girls”, most of the ladies were beyond their “girlish” years. Maud McDougall had covered William Jennings Bryan and President Kckinley. The New York Times reporter, Winifred Mallon, had covered the Teddy Roosevelt administration some 40-years earlier.

Some male journalists of the time belittled ” the girls” as being little more than incense burners, but the ladies got their share of exclusive stories on the administration.

No story was quite as striking as the scandal of the Civil Defense Dancer. It was a stark reminder that no matter how comfortable the relationship between reporter and news maker, a story is a story.

After Pearl Harbor, Mrs. Roosevelt had taken a volunteer job with civil defense and she hired a friend at a salary of 46-hundred dollars a year to teach physical fitness. The Washington Post broke the story, charging that Mrs. Roosevelt’s friend was hired to teach dancing in air raid shelters. By the time Congress raised it’s collective eyebrows, both the dancer and Mrs. Roosevelt had left their civil defense posts.

Snow Thoughts

I watched it snow the other day. It was a heavy snowfall with intermixed large and small flakes that drifted, floated and swirled onto the already snow covered ground.

If you look very carefully at the floating snow you can choose one flake, among all the others, and watch it as it settles to the ground. Its individuality seemingly disappearing into sheet of white, but if you were able to take some tweezers and find that same snowflake and pick it up, extract it from the collective white blanket, it would still have its uniqueness, its individuality hopefully unaltered by the impact with the snow.

Snowflakes share only one specific need to sustain their individuality. Cold! Without it, their individuation transforms into a unifying drop of water whose only mission then is to join with others and ascend to the source by ultimately descending to the sea and starting all over again.

We humans also drift into being, but we maintain our individuality despite the climate of life. We do have another thing the snowflake does not have. We have conscious awareness and the sentient gift to make individual choices. We can love. We can hate. We can teach. We can create and we can destroy. Wow! What power and most of us don’t even know we have it.

We humans and the snowflake do have something in common.

In the end we too ascend to the Source and start all over again.

We can find profound introspection in all of nature if we go beyond the obvious. I once wrote poem about the roses unseen within the barren bush.

I saw a rose before its bloom
Within a bush of thorn,
Invisible, yet crimson bright
Hopeful to adorn,
A table vase or lovers heart
With grace upon a morn.

Until red bud unfurls forth
In aromatic rose,
Few will see the flower there
Ready to compose,
A blossomed stem of prickling points
And barbs sharp juxtapose.

But as the warmth of spring resumes
And the cosmic colors flow,
The scarlet of the silent stalk
Begins its sanguine grow,
And dabs the bush of nature with
Red roses in tableau.

Let it snow and then bring on the rebirth of spring.


Some thoughts on Potholes. I hit four or five the other day and they were big.

Did you know there is a National Pothole Day. It’s the 20th of March according to an organization called “The Road Information Program” or “TRIP” out of Washington D.C..

TRIP says they view the millions of potholes across the country with seriousness and a symptom of the overall repair and rehabilitation needs of roads and bridges in the USA, but they also suggest motorists have fun with this thawing and freezing malady.

TRIP suggests potholes are the one truly democratic institution left in this country. They say potholes attack with no prejudice to race, creed or social position. They reach out and touch large cars as well as small cars, buses and bikes and swallow the wallets of all motorists.

There is also a Pothole fact sheet available from the Washington organization. For instance, the average size pothole is 16 inches in diameter and 5 inches deep. There are 50.6 million in the road across America usually popping out like pimples in the spring. The average amount of “patch filler” needed to fill a pothole is 110 pounds. It takes 8 to 12 minutes to fill one pothole. And for you trivia fans: How many potholes per miles in the United States. 38.3 according to the pothole fact sheet.

Finally the strangest catches in a pothole. TRIP says in Maine a pothole captured a snowplow. In Kentucky, a garbage truck. In Boston, a mounted policeman and his horse and in Philadelphia, $1.2 million in cash. Have a great Monday.

New Year Traditions

We did it! We said goodbye to the old year and welcomed in the new. We’ve been celebrating endings and beginnings since ancient times.

The tradition of New Years Eve celebrations also stem from old beliefs and superstitions. Noise making goes back to the ancient custom of using loud noises to drive evil spirits from a house during the times of festive celebration.

Many nationalities and cultures still use noise to celebrate. America has her ratchet rattles and noise makers and fireworks.

Denmark smashes in the New year. People go to friends’ houses and throw bits of broken pottery that they have collected throughout the year at the houses. They also bang on the doors to make noise.

The Dutch love to celebrate New Years. It was one of their favorite holidays when they settled New Amsterdam in the mid-17th century. When the English took over the city in 1674 and called it New York, the authorities were going to keep to the British custom at the time which called for celebrating the New Year on the Vernal Equinox, March 25th. The Dutch populace so loved the holiday on January 1st, they convinced the British to move their New Year celebration.

Traditions have to start somewhere. The ball dropping tradition at New York’s Times Square began in 1904 when the Times tower was constructed. At the time it was New York City’s 2nd tallest building, rising to a height of 375 feet.

Adolph Ochs, the then young publisher of the New York times, moved his paper into the new building on New Year’s weekend and decided to celebrate the event with a New Year’s eve rooftop fireworks display.

It was spectacular, but it was dangerous. The following year the fireworks were replaced by the descending brightly-lit ball.

A tradition begun.