Dan texted us today that he had just learned that the time period between Abraham Lincoln’s 2nd inauguration and Joe Biden’s birth is shorter than the time period between Joe Biden’s birth and Joe Biden’s inauguration. It is amazing what you can learn on the Internet. The other day, Anne and I were walking the path around Tower Grove Park, when another couple came up behind us. They were speaking to each other about their different experiences with drugs. The woman announced that her mother had had LSD when she was twelve. Her mom’s older sister had given it to her, without telling her what it was. It really freaked her mother out. The woman ended her story by saying that that was in the seventies and things were different back then. It was all I could do to not turn around to look at them, with my mouth agape.
The Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) was a passive underwater sonar listening system developed by the US Navy to track Soviet submarines. During the cold war the Top Secret SOSUS system was deployed worldwide, with one of the system’s facilities located at Point Sur. In the 1980s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and along with the development of other submarine tracking technologies, the SOSUS system was decommissioned. The Point Sur navy facility then sat idle for decades and was allowed to fall into decay.
Adjoining this naval facility is the 19th-century Point Sur lighthouse. This historic lighthouse is still operational, but now has been completely automated. So, other than the lighthouse itself, many of the other buildings used for caring and housing the light keepers and their families had also been left to decay. About thirty years ago the lighthouse was taken over and managed as a California State Historical Park. We first visited the lighthouse soon after it was first reopened to the public. Back then only a few of the buildings had been restored, but almost all of them are now. With their work on the lighthouse heading towards completion the army of volunteers that power this historic park casted about for something new to do. Looking down from on high, from the lighthouse’s seamount, they couldn’t help but notice the neighboring naval facility below, which was then added to the lighthouse’s historical park.
On Saturday, Chris, Anne and I toured the Point Sur base. It was a blustery day. A highlight of this tour for us was, believe it or not, seeing the facility’s water treatment plant. In the sixties, my grandfather, Earl, my dad’s dad worked on it as a civilian. He was the head of what is now, with David’s joining the engineering profession the first of four generations of engineers. Our guides made a little video of them touring us around and here it is.
In 1860 Leonard Wells Volk made molds of the face and hands of Abraham Lincoln. The life mask reproduces Lincoln’s beardless face as it appeared during his first presidential campaign. This 3D representation of this mask is provided by Sketchfab, a website that sells 3D models and can be linked to from within a WordPress website. In addition to the objects that are for sale, numerous other objects, such as this one, are available for free. This mask can be rotated.
In honor of Presidents Day, I watched the four-part docuseries, Lincoln’s Dilemma, now streaming on Apple TV+. This series documents how Lincoln’s thoughts about slavery evolved and how he eventually was able to pass the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery. When first elected Lincoln was not in favor of abolishing slavery, but merely preventing its spread into the unincorporated western territories. This series dwells heavily on Lincoln’s relationship with the black abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who helped move Lincoln in the right direction. I’m not sure that I really understand what Critical Race Theory is, but I imagine that this docuseries qualifies as being part of it and I don’t think that it is a bad thing or something that our children need to be shielded from. The history of slavery and the subsequent history of the Civil Rights movement, for better or worse, is an important part of American history and needs to be taught.
We have lived in our house longer than any of its former half dozen owners. Built in 1937, at the height of the depression, it has always held a few oddities from that time. For example, in the basement’s rafters some of the joist’s cross braces were fashioned from the wooden crate that the cast-iron tub was delivered in. The original stenciling that was on the crate is still readable. Pictured is another artifact from that time. Also found in the basement was this 5-mil green plastic Missouri sales tax token. It is about the size of a nickel. With the advent of the depression, income taxes plummeted and along with defaults on property taxes, these combined losses of revenues caused a run on state and local budgets. In order to make good this loss revenue many states implemented a sales tax to shore up their budgets. As originally implemented this sales tax was applied in whole cents to all purchases, no matter how small in monetary value they might be. Shopping in a 5 & 10 could generate numerous small sales that were wildly over taxed. All this in a time of tight money. The tax token was introduced in 1935 to help alleviate this unfairness. Missouri was one of twelve states to use them. Produced in denominations of one-thousands of a dollar the pictured token would be worth 5/1000 of a dollar or half a cent. Tokens could be spent as normal currency. Eventually though this system was viewed as an inconvenience and an annoyance to shoppers and was discontinued with the introduction of bracketed sales taxes that more fairly levied sales taxes. Missouri was the last state to discontinue their use in the late 1940s.