Category: Trivia

Jane Porter: The Cowboys of Cholame Valley

IMG_3768When I first submitted my cowboy romances to Harlequin—back in the early 1990’s—I was told that my setting of a California ranch wouldn’t work, that California was not known for its cowboys and ranchers.

This was news to me. I’d grown up in Central California and my high school was a school with a strong Ag program. One of my best friends lived on her family’s ranch twenty minutes outside town. Everyone I knew drove a truck of some sort and half the football team had little cans of SKOAL in the back pocket of their Wranglers.

And then there was the family ranch. My grandfather’s ranch.

This last Fall I shared that my Texas grandfather, William M Lyles, once had three cattle ranches in California, his favorite being the Lazy L Ranch in Parkfield, California.

Just where is Parkfield?

IMG_3626It’s in the middle of the Central California, 40 miles east of Paso Robles. The land is beautiful—rolling hills, gold fields and green pastures, ancient oak trees, cattle, wildlife.

My grandfather died in 1965 in a ranching accident on the Parkfield property when I was just a year old.

In fact, the picture of me in a red romper as an 11 month old with my brother Thom on Dixie, was one of the last times I was with him. We were all at the ranch and Grandpa had put his four grandkids on Dixie for the picture, but the saddle slipped and we all went down. There was much crying following the fall, but Grandpa wouldn’t have any of it. He told my mom to put us back on the horse and that’s what she did (to be fair, she doesn’t look very happy in the pic, either) but Grandpa was tough, and we were raised to be tough, too.

Baby Jane on Dixie

Baby Jane on Dixie

After he died, my grandmother sold the other two ranches but kept the Lazy L and continued to run grandpa’s Black Angus cattle until later she leased the grazing rights to a neighbor. We always spent a lot of time on the ranch. Some families would visit Pismo Beach or even exotic Hawaii, but we went to the ranch, visiting every year for the entire Easter week.

Kat, Jane Rob on Sunny

Jane with sister Kat and brother Rob on Sunny

Growing up the population of Parkfield was small. Really small. 21 People. Imagine my shock when as an adult I discovered it had shrunk to 18.   Not a bustling place, unless you happen to be in Parkfield for its annual Bluegrass Festival or the Memorial Day weekend rodeo.

Cooling off in Horse Trough

Cooling off in Horse Trough

Jane Rob on Unbroken Horse

Jane with brother Rob and Mom

Today Parkfield’s population might be smaller than when I was growing up in the 70’s, but our neighbors in Cholame Valley, the owners of the big V-6 ranch, have turned Parkfield into a very appealing western destination with activities for the whole family year round.   Interested in a stay on a dude ranch? Feel like participating in a cattle drive or attending a rodeo? Check out some of the activites in charming little Parkfield http://www.parkfield.com.

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 10.28.44 PM

IMG_3753

Son Jake at the San Andrea fault

I only knew a couple things about our ranch when I was growing up. The turnoff for our ranch is where James Dean crashed his car and died. At twilight you’d go driving and see deer everywhere. And then there was the little fact that Parkfield is the self-proclaimed “earthquake capital of the world.”Where-the-old-west-still-hangs-around

It wasn’t until I read WHERE THE OLD WEST STILL HANGS AROUND last year that I discovered there is a lot more to Parkfield’s history than earthquakes and cattle. Robert Flood grew up in Parkfield and writes of a California few people know. My favorite stories were those set in and around Parkfield, including the influence of the Jack Ranch and the William Hearst families, as well as the outlaws who spent time in Cholame Valley: Jesse James and the Dalton gang.

The only outlaws causing trouble in the rolling hills around Parkfield now are probably my boys when I take them for a long weekend to spend time in our little ranch house. There isn’t a lot to do at the Lazy L but relax, build puzzles, ride horses, go out looking for deer at dusk, and then drive another ten miles to the Parkfield Café for some great beef brisket and BBQ.

IMG_3625

Son Mac and his first ride at the ranch

Have you spent time on a ranch?  Leave a comment for a chance to win a $15 giftcard from Amazon!  Contest ends Friday with winner announced on Saturday!

PS  There is a funny story about one of the pictures above.  Did you see the picture of me sitting on a dark brown horse with my little brother Rob?  In the photo, my mom is holding the lead.   You see, my mom is a very determined woman.  There is nothing she can’t do once she puts her mind to it, and whenever we visited the ranch, she’d chase down the horses, saddle them, help us ride…in general, she was pretty confident that she could handle her kids, and the horses.   My mom had so much confidence that one Easter when we reached the ranch, the horses weren’t in the corral by the ranch house, but below the cattle crossing guard in a lower pasture.  Mom marched down to the lower pasture and  spent considerable time cornering a most unwilling dark brown horse, but she did it.  She got a lead on him, then bridled him, and saddled him, too.  And then finally, she put my toddler brother and me on “Sunny’s” back.  The horse was not happy.  He was really unhappy.  But my mom wasn’t having it, determined to show us kids how it was done.  We had just finished taking the picture you see above when the neighbor came careening up the road in his truck, all upset because that wasn’t Sunny.  That wasn’t our horse at all, but a wild horse that wasn’t yet broken.  He couldn’t believe Mom had got a bridle and saddle on him.  Personally, I wasn’t that surprised.  My mom is a woman who knows how to get things done.  Thanks, Mom, for teaching me that anything is possible! 

 

 

Updated: January 5, 2016 — 2:41 am

Gingerbread History and Fun Facts

WG Logo 2015-04

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. As I mentioned in my post last month, I have a new book out right now, The Holiday Courtship. In one of the scenes in the book, my heroine and several other characters are constructing and decorating gingerbread houses. So for today’s post I thought I’d share a little history and trivia surrounding gingerbread and gingerbread creations.

  • In ancient times, Greeks and Egyptians utilized gingerbread for various ceremonial purposes.
  • Gingerbread is thought to have been brought to Europe from the East in the late 10th century by a monk for medicinal purposes.  He promoted its use to treat indigestion and other stomach ailments. For a time, monks were the only people in Europe who made gingerbread, and they often created them in the shapes of saints and angels.
  • Responsibility for the first gingerbread men has been credited to Queen Elizabeth I. In preparation for a state event, she had her bakers shape them to resemble visiting dignitaries and then she  presented the treat to them as gifts.
  • Gingerbread houses became overwhelmingly popular in Germany in the 19th century as a direct result of the Brothers Grimm publishing the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale. In fact, it was the early German settlers who brought this tradition to America.
  • The hallmark of a true gingerbread is not only that ginger is the dominant flavor, but it must use either honey or molasses as the sweetener. Other than that, there is no one standard recipe for gingerbread.  In fact, according to one statistic, if you search Google for gingerbread cookie recipe, you will find over a million versions.
  • There is a town in Norway, where every year the citizens create an entire city made from gingerbread houses .
  • The world’s largest gingerbread house was constructed in 2001 and stood approximately 67 feet high. It utilized 1,800 Hershey bars, 1,200 feet of Twizzlers, 100 pounds of tootsie rolls, and thousands of other pieces of candy as decorations. The construction took nine days to complete and it and was housed at the Mall of America in Minnesota.
  • There are a number of superstitions involving gingerbread. Here are just a couple of them:
    • Swedish tradition says that if you put the gingerbread in your palm, make a wish and then break the gingerbread with your other hand, if it breaks into exactly three pieces, then the wish will come true.
    • In England, single women have been known to eat gingerbread “husbands”, hoping it will bring them luck in meeting their future spouse.

 

There you have it, just a little of the history and lore surrounding this yummy treat.

So do you like gingerbread? Do you have any hands-on experience constructing gingerbread houses or making gingerbread men?

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of my new book or any book from my backlist.

20 THC smallTHE HOLIDAY COURTSHIP

He Wanted A Wife by Christmas… 

As Christmas approaches, Hank Chandler is determined to find a wife to mother his sister’s orphaned children. When schoolteacher Janell Whitman offers to help him with his niece and nephew, she seems to be the perfect match—but she won’t accept his proposal. Instead, she insists she’ll find him another bride before the holidays. 

Janell moved to Turnabout, Texas, to put her past behind her and focus on her future—one that doesn’t include marriage. But while she plays matchmaker and cares for Hank’s children, she loses her heart to the two youngsters…and their adoptive father. If Janell reveals her secrets to Hank, will he still want her to be his Christmas bride?

 

 

Updated: January 5, 2018 — 1:54 am

Labor Day and a Giveaway!

WG Logo 2015-04
Hi! Winnie Griggs here.
Since today is Labor Day, (and I’m on deadline for a book that’s due tomorrow 🙂 ) I thought I’d reprise a post from a couple of years ago that has some history and trivia  surrounding this holiday. And since I’m cheating a bit, to make it up to you all, I’ll also give away a copy of any book from my backlist to one of today’s commenters.

The U.S. is not the only or even the first country to set aside an observance for the working class. The observance, as we know it, originated in Canada in the 1870s. A number of European countries have May Day celebrations that have a similar focus.

As for who initially proposed Labor Day in this country, opinions are split. Most historians consider Peter McGuire the Father of Labor Day in the U.S. He was an Irish-American cabinet maker who was also the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. But there is another camp who contends it was actually a different McGuire – a machinist named Matthew McGuire – who was responsible.

Without labor nothing prospers.
~Sophocles

The first Labor Day celebration in the U.S. was celebrated on September 5, 1882 (which was a Tues. by the way, not a Monday). It was held in New York City’s Union Square and was designed to ease tensions with city workers after numerous strikes and outbreaks of violence.

The first Labor Day parade was held the following year in September of 1883. More than 10,000 workers took an unpaid holiday in order to participate. The event was in actuality a rally of laborers calling for an 8 hour work day (at this time 12 hour work days were the norm).

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.
~Ovid

Though the movement started in the east, the first state to declare Labor Day a state Holiday was Oregon. From there it moved to Colorado, New York and Massachusetts. So you can say it had a west to east progression.

It was 12 years after that first celebration, in June of 1894, that Labor Day became a national holiday. Grover Cleveland was President at the time. He was a staunch opponent of organized labor groups but he actually pushed hard for this in an attempt to quell the unrest that was erupting in labor riots across the nation.

By the time Labor Day was declared a federal holiday, it was already a state holiday in thirty states.

If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end,
it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.
~Doug Larson

Other Fun Facts:

  • The old-school rule about not wearing white after labor day is thought to have to do with the fact that in earlier years, the wealthy wore white linen suite and Panama hats as they escaped to fancy summer resorts. When they returned to the sooty, dusty, grimier cities of the work-a-day world, they once again donned their drabber clothing.
  • The first Waffle House restaurant opened for business on Labor Day in 1955.
  • Once touted as a day to celebrate the working class, Labor Day has taken on the added significance of being a day that marks the following milestones:
    • The end of summer
    • The beginning of the school year
    • The unofficial kickoff of the NFL season
    • And, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, hot dog season begins on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day.
  • According to U.S. Highway accident stats, Labor Day weekend is one of the most dangerous weekends to be on the road. The likely cause – many high schoolers and collegians consider it the last party weekend before heading back to school.
  • Labor Day ranks third in the list of popular days for barbecuing, right behind Independence Day and Memorial Day.

There you have it, the highlights I discovered when digging through the facts and lore surrounding Labor Day.

So were any of these footnotes new to you?  And do you do anything special to celebrate the day?

 

And remember, I’m giving away a copy of winner’s choice of any of my books to someone who leaves a comment today!

Updated: September 6, 2015 — 2:39 pm

What To Call a Slew of Cowboys

MargaretBrownley-header

cowboysWhat do you call a group of cowboys? Don’t know? I didn’t either until I read an Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton.

Most of what Lipton calls terms of venery were codified between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.  I must say our early ancestors sure did have a great sense of humor. Who else could have come up with such delightful terms as a rash of dermatologists, a prickle of porcupines, or transparency of toupees?

So what do you call a slew of cowpokes? Why a saunter of cowboys, of course! Here are some more terms of venery from the Old West. Some you might already know:

A spread of Texans
A drove of cattle
A coalition of miners
A string of ponies.
A quiver of arrows
A trace of bounty hunters
A stud of poker players
A herd of harlots
A streak of gamblers
An obstinacy of buffaloes
A converting of preachers
A hangout of nudists
(Couldn’t resist throwing that one in)

 

So dear browse of readers,
Some of the more familiar terms that have lasted through the years are den of thieves, flight of stairs and comedy of errors. Can you think of any others? I can’t wait to see your blizzard of quotes.

 

Doggone Fun!

What would happen if two people unknowingly owned the same dog?

Read Margaret Brownley’s story Dog Days of Summer Bride.

12BridesSummerNovella3_SocialMediaPosts

Amazon

B&N

 

Updated: August 23, 2015 — 7:43 am

The Legend of the Geese

Phyliss sig horse and sunset

Sometimes I like to veer from my regular format for a blog. Today is one of those days. Since many of the P&P followers are writers, thus business folks just like our regular readers, I thought I’d share with you the legend of the Geese flying in the “V” formation. Whether you are writing, in a office setting, a Scout leader or the monarch of the family you have to work together. I believe this is just a great example of what we can learn from nature.

 

I certainly want to thank Grace Ford for sharing this wisdom from our feathered friends about the importance of good team work.

I. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for others behind him. This is 71 percent more flying range in V-Flying Geeseformation than flying alone. People who share a common direction and sense of common purpose can get there quicker.

II. Whenever a goose flies out of formation, it quickly feels the drag and tries to get back in position. It’s harder to do something alone than together.

III. When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies at the head. Shared leadership and interdependence give us each a chance to lead as well as opportunities to rest.

IV. The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. We need to make sure our honking is encouraging and not discouraging.

V.  When a goose gets sick or wounded and falls, two geese fall out and stay with it until it revives or dies.  Stand by your colleagues in difficult times as well as in good.

Geese 2Now, wouldn’t it be wonderful if every group who worked together lived by the lesson of the geese?

My question to you all is simply have you ever used a lesson of nature to help you through your life’s path or an others?

 

Out of the Texas NightHere’s a sneak preview of the cover of my newest book in the Kasota Springs Series Out of a Texas Night which will be out late this summer or early fall.

To one lucky winner today who leaves a comment, I will give you an eBook of the  first Kasota Springs Romance series, The Troubled Texan.

The Troubled Texan Good

Updated: May 18, 2015 — 8:22 pm

Income Tax “Fun” Facts

Flower branch

Hello, my name is Winnie Griggs and I’m a procrastinator.  I have just spent the past three days buried hip deep in tattered receipts, spreadsheets and a confusing mountain of forms working on my income taxes.

I’m happy to report that I am now done with them but my brain is a bit fried so I hope you’ll excuse me for not doing an in-depth well-researched post on some fun  tidbit of history.  Instead, since I have taxes on the brain, I thought I’d share just a brief look at some fun facts (a bit of an oxymoron, I know) about the Federal Income Tax system.

 Quote-tax

  • The word ‘tax’ comes from the Latin taxo, which means I estimate.
  • Income tax was first introduced in the U.S. in 1861.  Its purpose was to help pay for the Civil War.
  • All but seven states charge a State Income Tax – those seven are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
  • The Bureau of Internal Revenue was created during WWII.  This later became the Internal Revenue Service, or the IRS.  It was also during this same time frame that taxes began to be withheld from paychecks
  • The IRS is the largest accounting and tax-collection organization in the world.  As of 2010 there were approximately 106,00 IRS employees.  During that same time we had 45,000 troops in Iraq, less than half the number.
  • In the U.S. Income Tax regulations are so complex that there are over 1.2 million professional tax preparers in the country – including accountants, lawyers and computer experts.
  • The IRS lists nearly 2000 files on its Forms and Publications’ search page.
  • The US Tax Code is approximately 4 million words.  About five times as many words as are in the bible and a little under four times as many as all the books in the Harry Potter series together.

 

So there you have it – my brief list of interesting tidbits.  I hope you learned a little something from it.  And I also hope you had smoother sailing with your tax preparations this year than I did.

Updated: April 14, 2014 — 10:19 am

State Trivia Week – Louisiana

Photo WG2 smallHi.  Winnie Griggs here, and I’m pleased to be sharing some fun facts about my home state of Louisiana with you.  Though I’ve moved around within its borders, I’ve been proud to call the Pelican State home for my entire lifetime.

Here are just a few things you may not know about my home state:

 

Structures:

  • Louisiana’s state capitol building is the tallest in the United States.  The building is 450 feet tall and has 34 floors.  The Capitol is surrounded by 27 acres of formally landscaped gardens.
  • Louisiana is home to the longest bridge over water in the world.  The Lake Pontchartrain causeway is 24 miles long and connects the city of Metairie with St. Tammany Parish.
  • The Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans is the world’s largest enclosed stadium.
  • Morgan City, La is home to the world’s largest heliport.

Entertainment:

  • The first Tarzan movie, Tarzan of the Apes , was filmed in St. Mary Parish .
  • The staircase at Chretien Point, in Sunset, was copied for Tara in Gone With the Wind
  • The nation’s first opera was performed in New Orleans in 1796.
  • The name “jazz” was first given to the music of New Orleans about 100 years ago.
  • Elvis got his start playing at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport.
  • The first opera performed in America was in 1796 in New Orleans
  • Grand Isle’s Tarpon Rodeo, established in 1928, is the oldest fishing tournament in the U.S.
  • Grambling’s Eddie Robinson is the “winningest” football coach in college history.
  • The nation’s oldest community theater, is Le Petit Theatre de Vieux Carre, is in New Orleans and  dates from 1919.

 

Natural Resources and Flora:

  • Louisiana is the number one producer of crawfish, alligators and shallots in the nation.
  • Louisiana produces 24% of the nation’s salt, the most in the country.
  • There are 117,518 oyster reefs in Louisiana waters.
  • The salt mine at AveryIsland, the oldest salt mine in the Western Hemisphere, was discovered in 1862.
  • Toledo Bend Reservoir offers 185,000 acres of bass fishing paradise.
  • The oldest salt dome in the Western Hemisphere was discovered in AveryIsland in 1862
  • Saint Martin Parish is home to the world’s largest freshwater river basin, the AtchafalayaBasin; the basin provides nearly every type of outdoor recreational activity imaginable.
  • The TunicaSwamp, near St. Francisville, boasts the nation’s largest bald cypress.
  • Louisiana has the largest variety of plant and animal species of any of the Gulf states.
  • Louisiana’s 6.5 million acres of wetlands are the greatest in the nation.
  • Steen’s Syrup Mill is the world’s largest syrup plant, producing sugarcane syrup.
  • The AmericanRoseCenter, located in Shreveport, boasts 20,000 rose bushes.
  • The world’s most complete collection of camellias is at the JungleGardens in AveryIsland.
  • Redwing, La, has a cherry tree that sprouts from a cedar tree trunk.
  • Louisiana has 15 State Historic Sites, 17 State Parks, and 1 State Preservation Area.

Historical Trivia:

  • The oldest city in the entire Louisiana Purchase Territory is Natchitoches, founded in 1714. Which Street Carmeans Natchitoches (a beautiful city where I spent my 4 college years) is celebrating its tri-centennial.
  • Baton Rouge was the site of the only American Revolution battle outside the 13 Colonies.
  • The first commemorative railroad spike to be driven by a woman was the golden spike commemorating the completion of the east-west Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Railroad.  It was driven at Bossier City on July 12, 1884, by Julia “Pansy” Rule.
  • The St. Charles Avenue streetcar in New Orleans has been operating since 1835, which makes it the oldest line in the world.  It is also one of the two only mobile national monuments in the nation.

 

There you have it, some of the lesser known facts about Louisiana.  I hope I brought you something new.  Let me know what surprised you in this list or caught your fancy.

Updated: January 5, 2018 — 2:11 am

California Dreamin’ ~Charlene, Margaret, Tanya

State Trivia Logo 03.25.14

Some cool facts about our glorious Golden State!

In 1818, French Argentine corsair Hippolyte de Bouchard raided our coast and earned himself the title of our only pirate! (Pirata Buchar). Among his misdeeds, he raised the Argentine flag in Monterey in November and plundered the San Juan Capistrano Mission, about 375 miles south, on December 16, 1818.

Pirate

 

The Point Arena smokestack lighthouse opened in 1870 and stands 115 feet high. It’s about 129 miles north of San Francisco. (Tanya has climbed to the top and lives to tell the tale.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Speaking of the San Juan Capistrano and Argentina, the mission was founded on All Saints Day (November 1) in 1776 by the Franciscan order. Ever since, faithful little birds, the cliff swallows, return to the area every year on March 19, St. Joseph’s Day, after wintering in Argentina.

Air Force One, the Boeing 707 SAM 27000 that served each president from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, was dismantled after its last slight on August 29, 2001, and now can be visited and even walked through at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley!

Air force

California produces 17 million gallons of wine each year and produces more than 300,000 tons of grapes annually. (yum!)

Since it opened in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge has seen more than 1,200 people plunge 220 feet to their deaths in San Francisco Bay.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

California is the home of many cool inventions including blue jeans, the boysenberry, the pill, white zinfandel wine, the square tomato, natural soda, the computer “mouse,” the wetsuit, theme parks and Chinese cookies.

cookie

One out of every eight Americans is from California

eight

California is one of only five states that does not have an official residence for the governor.

house

California has more than 10,000 earthquakes a year.  Fortunately, most are too small to be felt.

earthquake

 

If you have turkey for Christmas or Thanksgiving chances are it came from California, which raises more turkeys than any other state.

 

turkey

California is home to “the happiest place on earth.”A commercial artist-cartoonist, Walter Elias “Walt” Disney opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California.  Walt Disney followed his dream and created a family friendly theme park and the dream became reality in 1955 after years of planning and construction, Walt Disney opened his theme amusement park, calling it Disneyland.  During 2010, over 15.8 million guests visited Disneyland, dubbed “the happiest place on Earth”.

 

Disney

California is also home to two American League (AL), and three National League (NL) baseball franchises. Northern California is represented by the San Francisco Giants (NL) and the Oakland Athletics (AL), who play home games at “AT&T Park” and the “Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum”, respectively. Southern California is represented by the Los Angeles Dodgers (NL), and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (AL), playing their home games at “Dodger Stadium” and “Angel Stadium of Anaheim”, respectively. In the southernmost portion of the state, the San Diego Padres (NL) play in “Petco Park”.

 

Faced with rapid growth due to the Gold Rush, California got a boost when the United States  Congress allowed it to jump straight to full statehood without going through the formal territory process most other states went through. Congress accepted California as a free-labor state under the Compromise of 1850 on September 9, 1850.

Built in 1852, the Iron Door Saloon in Groveland is the oldest saloon in California.

IronDoorSaloon-280

The tallest tree in the world, at 369 feet, is in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

 

CaliforniaRedwoods-275

 

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the largest vertical cable rise in the United States and the second largest in the world.

 

San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.

 

SanFranciscoCableCar-280

 

Thank you for joining us on our cyber-tour today!

Hanson_Claiming_His_Heart_Web (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gunpowdertea1

Available now for special April rate of $0.99 http://tinyurl.com/qd3d59n

Available now for special April rate of $0.99
http://tinyurl.com/qd3d59n

 

Updated: March 31, 2014 — 10:36 pm

The Umbrella – History and Fun Facts

Photo WG2 smallHi!  Winnie Griggs  here.

Today is National Umbrella Day (who knew, right?).  It even has its own FACEBOOK PAGE.  And in honor of this little-known holiday, I thought I do a little research on the device and share it with you.

 

The umbrella itself has been around for about four thousand years.  Evidence of its existance has been found in drawings found in Egypt, Greece, China and Assyria.  But these early umbrellas were created not to protect bearers from the rain but from the sun.  In fact, the word umbrella comes from the Latin ‘umbra’ meaning shade or shadow.  The word parasol – which is the type of umbrella that appears in my stories – comes from the Latin word ‘papare’ (to prepare) and ‘sol’ (sun).

It was the Chinese who eventually waterproofed the umbrellas to protect the holder from rain.  They did this by waxing and lacquering the paper used to craft them.

It was early in the sixteenth century before umbrellas became widely accepted in Europe.  And even then it was considered a ‘woman’s accessory’.  Then along came Jonas Hanway, writer, philanthropist and founder of the Magdalen Hospital.  Born in 1712, he spent his young adult years travelling widely in Russia and Persia.  When he returned to London for good, around 1750, he carried an umbrella with him regularly.  Though he was often mocked for its use, before long it became a trend to have an umbrella handy.  In fact, for a while, umbrellas were known as Hanways.

1786 – The first patent for the umbrella with the circular coned canopy shape was registered by John Beale

Between 1808 and 1851 over 103 patents were issued for improvements and inventions related to umbrellas

parasol

Parasols became a popular feminine accessory in the early nineteenth century among aristocratic English women.  Some of the more enterprising of these women had the handles fitted to carry perfume, writing materials or even a dagger.

1830 – The first dedicated umbrella shop, James Smith & Sons, opens its doors in London.  It is still open today, in the exact same location.

1852 – Samuel Fox invents the steel ribbed design.  Before this time whalebone was used predominantly.  He claimed to have implemented the use of steel as a way to use up excess stocks of steel stays intended for women’s corsets.

1928 – Hans Hupt’s pocket umbrella arrives

1930s – the ladies parasol finally fell from popular fashion

In the U.S., the annual market for umbrellas hovers at around $350 million

 

The word Bumbershoot, a synonym for umbrella, is an Americanism that came into use in the 1890s (I always thought this originated in England)

During the Napoleonic Wars, some British soldiers took umbrellas with them into battle.  Some Americans also took umbrellas with them into battle during the Indian Wars.
The study of umbrellas actually has its own name – brolliology

More replacement umbrella purchases are made due to lost than broken umbrellas.  In London alone nearly 75,000 umbrellas are forgotten on buses and subways each year.

The superstition about it being bad luck to open an umbrella indoors came from an ancient African belief.  The umbrellas at that time and placed were used a sunscreens.  They believed it was an insult to the sun god to open an umbrella in the shade and that doing so would bring his wrath down upon them.

So what do you think?  Did any of these facts surprise you?

Updated: January 5, 2018 — 2:14 am

Labor Day – History and Trivia

Photo WG2 small
Hi! Winnie Griggs here.
In honor of today being Labor Day, I thought I’d give you some history and trivia I dug up surrounding this holiday.

The U.S. is not the only or even the first country to set aside an observance for the working class. The observance, as we know it, originated in Canada in the 1870s. A number of European countries have May Day celebrations that have a similar focus.

As for who initially proposed Labor Day in this country, opinions are split. Most historians consider Peter McGuire the Father of Labor Day in the U.S. He was an Irish-American cabinet maker who was also the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. But there is another camp who contends it was actually a different McGuire – a machinist named Matthew McGuire – who was responsible.

Without labor nothing prospers.
~Sophocles

The first Labor Day celebration in the U.S. was celebrated on September 5, 1882 (which was a Tues. by the way, not a Monday). It was held in New York City’s Union Square and was designed to ease tensions with city workers after numerous strikes and outbreaks of violence.

The first Labor Day parade was held the following year in September of 1883. More than 10,000 workers took an unpaid holiday in order to participate. The event was in actuality a rally of laborers calling for an 8 hour work day (at this time 12 hour work days were the norm).

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.
~Ovid

Though the movement started in the east, the first state to declare Labor Day a state Holiday was Oregon. From there it moved to Colorado, New York and Massachusetts. So you can say it had a west to east progression.

It was 12 years after that first celebration, in June of 1894, that Labor Day became a national holiday. Grover Cleveland was President at the time. He was a staunch opponent of organized labor groups but he actually pushed hard for this in an attempt to quell the unrest that was erupting in labor riots across the nation.

By the time Labor Day was declared a federal holiday, it was already a state holiday in thirty states.

If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end,
it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.
~Doug Larson

Other Fun Facts:

  • The old-school rule about not wearing white after labor day is thought to have to do with the fact that in earlier years, the wealthy wore white linen suite and Panama hats as they escaped to fancy summer resorts. When they returned to the sooty, dusty, grimier cities of the work-a-day world, they once again donned their drabber clothing.
  • The first Waffle House restaurant opened for business on Labor Day in 1955.
  • Once touted as a day to celebrate the working class, Labor Day has taken on the added significance of being a day that marks the following milestones:
    • The end of summer
    • The beginning of the school year
    • The unofficial kickoff of the NFL season
    • And, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, hot dog season begins on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day.
  • According to U.S. Highway accident stats, Labor Day weekend is one of the most dangerous weekends to be on the road. The likely cause – many high schoolers and collegians consider it the last party weekend before heading back to school.
  • Labor Day ranks third in the list of popular days for barbecuing, right behind Independence Day and Memorial Day.

There you have it, the highlights I discovered when digging through the facts and lore surrounding Labor Day.

So were any of these footnotes new to you?  And do you do anything special to celebrate the day?

Updated: September 1, 2013 — 8:51 pm