In the 1930s, schoolchildren in Ireland set out to write down local folklore, history, and mythology, like the story of Crom Dubh. Ireland’s National Folklore Collection has now put a massive collection of these Irish folktales and oral history online.
Approximately 740,000 pages (288,000 pages in the pupils’ original exercise books; 451,000 pages in bound volumes) of folklore and local tradition were compiled by pupils from 5,000 primary schools in the Irish Free State between 1937 and 1939.
This collecting scheme was initiated by the Irish Folklore Commission, under the direction of Séamus Ó Duilearga and Séan Ó Súilleabháin … For the duration of the project, more than 50,000 schoolchildren from 5,000 schools in the 26 counties of the Irish Free State were enlisted to collect folklore in their home districts. This included oral history, topographical information, folktales and legends, riddles and proverbs, games and pastimes, trades and crafts. The children recorded this material from their parents, grandparents, and neighbours.
The original telephone system connected phones by copper wire strung up on poles. These “land-lines” faced a problem when confronted with obstacles like the Atlantic ocean, so it was not possible to connect the phone systems of distant countries. In the 1920s, AT&T developed a way of using short wave radio to transmit telephone signals over long distances without wires. In 1928, AT&T bought several farms in Lawrence, New Jersey, cleared the land, and began building a vast antenna array for trans-Atlantic telephone calls. The facility, officially called the American Telegraph & Telephone International Radio Telephone Transmission Station, was only responsible for calls originating in the United States. A separate facility in Netcong, New Jersey, received incoming calls from overseas.
The Lawrence station became known as the Pole Farm because the rhombic antennas that AT&T installed at the site were arranged in a diamond-shaped pattern on wooden poles up to ten stories tall. Each antenna covered 10 acres and connected New Jersey and the rest of the U.S.A. with a single city in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, or South America. Hundreds of these poles were arranged over the 800 acre facility. Open areas between the poles were leased to farmers, who had to plow around the many antennas.
Fewer than 50 calls were made on an average day in 1929, in part because a three-minute call to England cost over thirty dollars. The station, however, allowed almost instantaneous communication across the Atlantic Ocean (once trained telephone operators had arranged the connection). By the 1960s, however, international calls were more affordable and over 16,000 telephone calls were transmitted daily through the Pole Farm.
The Pole Farm shut down in 1975, replaced by undersea cables and satellites. Where once there were hundreds of wooden poles, there is now only one. That pole, which once transmitted phone calls to Israel, survived because the farmhouse next to it used it as a lightning rod.
Two buildings, imaginatively named Building One and Building Two, bracketed the antenna field. Both buildings have been demolished, but a memorial to the facility, built over Building One, includes a large concrete and stone map set into the ground, showing the layout of the antennas around the time of World War II. Each antenna is labeled with the city to which it transmitted phone calls.
The Pole Farm is now part of the Mercer Meadows county park and features restored grasslands, nature trails, and interpretive signs.
2013 “Pole Farm” remembered in Mercer Meadows plans. https://communitynews.org/2013/02/01/pole-farm-remembered-in-mercer-meadows-plans/
Founded in 1844, the Albany Rural Cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I don’t normally seek out cemeteries, but this is the second major rural cemetery I’ve visited in the last month or so.
President Chester Arthur is the most famous resident. New Jersey governor and U.S. Supreme Court justice William Paterson (namesake of the university in New Jersey) is also buried here.
The name Henry Antheil, Jr, is on a tombstone in Riverview Cemetery, but he is not buried there. Henry, the younger brother of avant-garde composer George Antheil, was a Trenton, New Jersey native who joined the U.S. Foreign service as a cipher clerk and was posted in Helsinki, Finland, at the beginning of World War II. Henry Antheil, Jr., could be considered an early American casualty of both World War II and the Cold War.
As the Nazis advanced on Paris, the Soviet Union moved towards taking over the Baltic country of Estonia. On June 14, 1940, the 27 year old Antheil was sent to pick up several diplomatic pouches from the American legation in Estonia’s capital. He then board a Finnish commercial airplane, the Kaleva, to return to Finland. Less than ten minutes after the Kaleva took off from Estonia, two Soviet bombers intercepted it and shot it out of the sky. Almost immediately, a Soviet submarine arrived at the crash location and seized the diplomatic pouches. There were no survivors. The plane has never been recovered.Continue reading “The Kaleva Incident and the Death of Henry Antheil, Jr.”
Trenton’s Riverview Cemetery has its origins in a Quaker Burying Ground established overlooking the Delaware River in 1685. This was later incorporated into the Riverview Cemetery when it was created in 1858.
From the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian: Jazz Age archaeologist Jesse Walter Fewkes and co-workers showing off their anti-mosquito gear while working at the Weeden Island archaeological site in Florida, 1923.
UC Press, which is celebrating their 125th anniversary, publishes California History, where you can read Kangaroos and the California Gold Rush by Cyler Conrad. The first kangaroos arrived in California in 1850 in the form of rugs, or skins; it wasn’t until 1852 that a live kangaroo made the voyage over from Australia.
Other journals are Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, The Public Historian, and Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies, which recently published a history of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
2017 Kangaroos and the California Gold Rush. California History 94 (3):62-65. DOI: 10.1525/ch.2017.94.3.62
Estes, Steve 2017 PB&J: The Rise and Fall of an Iconic American Dish. Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies 17 (2):5-15.
“Their supposed status as the most poor, obedient women made it easy to overlook their decidedly “unfeminine” feats, like camping, living without men, traveling long distances, and managing their own money”