August Owes February

As I mentioned in my post of February 1, February got shorted one day so that August (aka Roman Emperor Augustus) could rival July’s glory (aka Julius Caesar).  Overall, though, the changes Augustus made for the sake of vanity are probably a good thing.  Think of how many juvenile jokes we avoid by not having the month named “Sextilis.”



Flashback Friday: Fabulous new inventions from 1937

Everyone else seems to hop on the Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday bandwagons, so here’s my version, from the 1937 Compton’s Picture Encyclopedia, the very latest in technology for you.

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Are encyclopedias these days as helpful as they used to be?

For that matter, do they even make encyclopedias these days, or has web searching taken over the role those used to play?  Hmm, I’ll have to Google that someday, which illustrates my reason for wondering if sites like Wikipedia have taken on on that role for people today.


My grandmother’s 1937 Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia doesn’t have an entry for “Encyclopedia” but it does for just about everything else people could think of then.  They even tell us the history of the alphabet.  In the photo above, for instance, you hear all about the evolution of A:

You know, of course, that members of the bird family–notably the goose–helped teach men to write, by furnishing them with quills, but did you know that some of the bird people helped make the very letters that were afterward written with their quills?

The piece then goes on to explain the permutations that translated the picture of an eagle into the “A” that we know today as is traveled from Egypt to Phoenicia to Greece.

In the information age of my grandparent’s day, encyclopedias sought to show people the world they would probably never otherwise see, or hear.  Thus each volume has a pronunciation key at the front to educate your ear as well as your intellect.2014-01-01 14.42.15

The Easy Reference Fact-Index for the A volume is 49 pages long and filled with abbreviations, pronunciations, and definitions, and many handy little tables.  Here’s a TOC showing what extras you get in this volume, and a couple of quick pictures of the bonus materials.

Did you have a gala day May 1?


I forgot to post this excerpt from my 1937 Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia on May 1.  According to them, May Day, as it’s traditionally called, has always been a gala day. May Day and the Maypole dances that go along with it have come and gone out of style throughout the years.  It began back in Roman times as a festival for Flora, the goddess of flowers, but may have come from India even before then.

Chaucer and Shakespeare have a lot to say about England’s court going “a-maying” and every village square had its own Maypole which was hung with flower wreaths and then danced around.  That is until the Puritans put a stop to it.  Hmm, funny, then, that one of the pilgrim ships was named the Mayflower.


Fooling The Fish

April “opens” summer and while you may have thought its on-again off-again weather is the impetus for the April Fool’s Day tradition, the origins are actually so old no one knows where it really started.  But if you read the excerpt pictured below, I think I may have found why we call people who are easily fooled “a fish.”

I think it may be appropriate that the entry for April comes after that of Aquarium.

From my Grandparent’s A volume of Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia, 1937 edition:

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Roman Rivalry Rules Our World

The former power trips of the Roman Empire affect us even today as we see from this entry in the 1937 Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia explaining why poor February got gypped of an extra day.

wpid-CAM00302.jpgLong live Emperor Augustus in the eyes of the world.

Recognize Anyone?

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The 1937 edition of Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia devotes almost 12 whole pages to American Authors and What They Wrote. Several authors highlighted were deemed important enough to have their picture included.  Most of the names were familiar to me, but I have to admit there are a few I’ve never heard of, or perhaps I’ve just forgotten them.

What about you?  Which authors do you recognize in the gallery below? You may be surprised by what you don’t know.

Click on any picture to view closeups in a slideshow format.


Bookkeeping Made Easy

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These simple steps seem all too complicated to me in today’s era of  accounting software that does all the thinking for you, but it sure was fun to use these pages when I played school with my cousins at Grandma’s house on Sunday afternoons.

From my Grandparent’s A volume of Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia, 1937 edition:

January and Dr. Who

It took an act of Parliament to stop this month from flitting off to different times and places.  Perhaps January served as Dr. Who’s companion during the Middle Ages.

From my Grandparent’s IJ volume of Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia, 1937 edition:


TV in 1937

I have a 1937 edition of Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia that used to belong to my Grandmother Bodnum.  I love looking through it occasionally to see what I can find.Here’s a bit of history that seems hard to imagine in our day of streaming video and HD TV.

This picture shows a mechanical method of dividing an image into dots or “scanning” it.


A Television Transmitter

At the receiving end, the viewer’s eyes receive pulses of light from holes in the receiving disk which combine to produce a “fair” copy of the activity being transmitted.


“Watching” television

“Teleophotography” seems to be a term used for the concept that turned into a fax machine, for one thing.


Sending a still picture

According to the article, in 1937:

Television broadcasting stations operate in New York City, London, Berlin and other great centers, but the service is still experimental, for several reasons. The number of signals that must be sent each second to repro0duce images is much greater than is required for sending sound.  Some systems, for example, employ upwards of a million signals per second….The high cost of apparatus is another factor that delays popular use.

From experimental to commonplace in three-quarters of a century.