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Archive for June, 2011

Thursday Photo Caption Contest

"While Smitty and Joe puzzled over the ruler, Susan began work on the calculations to fix the FTL drive."

Torn between termites, easy bake ovens, and Terrifying Woodchuck Airlines, we asked a guest judge to make the final call!

Congratuations to Burble, who has won 15% off at our eStore! Alice Kamps, the curator of “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” thought the reference to a Faster-Than-Light drive was the funniest by light years.

And while the woman in the photograph might seem more likely to tackle quantum physics than her companions, all three are involved in the care of heads of lettuce. That’s right! The caption reads “A crate of lettuce gets first class attention from a pilot, flight attendant, and an unidentified man before flying to the East Coast. The USDA tested the viability of air shipping produce—the way much of our food is now transported.” (ARC 5709997)

Today’s post seems to feature a situation more serious than caring for lettuce. Give us your best caption in the comments below!

Your Caption Here!

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Meatloaf by candlelight? Not for this President.


Like most boys from Missouri, Harry Truman developed simple tastes in food as he was growing up—especially things like his mother’s fried chicken and that great American budget-friendly staple, meatloaf.

According to the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri, the 33rd President also liked corn bread with Missouri sorghum, all kinds of fowl, and Ozark pudding, which included chopped apples and nuts. (The Boss, that’s Mrs. Truman, had a special recipe for this.) Truman preferred chocolate cake to white cake, but the exception was angel food cake (and why not!).

Several accounts from that period agree that Truman really hated onions and could not be fooled into eating them. He could detect the smallest amount of onions in a dish and would just push that dish aside.

Once in the White House, however, meals became a more formal and ritualized experience for Truman.

In November 1949, Mrs. Truman was back in Independence, leaving the President alone in the “Great White Jail,” as he called the White House.  And alone for meals.

When mealtime came, a White House butler announced dinner, and Truman would head to the dining room and be helped into his chair by another butler. In his diary for November 1, Truman provides an account of how butlers waited on him hand and foot while he ate alone by candelight.

Early in the 1960s, with Mrs. Truman at his side laughing, the former President read the … [ Read all ]

The Pentagon Papers, now online after 40 years

"Honolulu Conference on the Vietnam War," February 7, 1966 (Photo by Yoichi Okamoto, LBJ Library)

If you opened the the New York Times this morning in 1971, you would have seen the first part of the secret “Pentagon Papers” that the newspaper published—without authorization from the government.

Today in 2011, the National Archives and the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon Presidential libraries will release the entire official Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force (commonly referred to as the Pentagon Papers).

Although the unauthorized publication of the Papers fueled opposition to the Vietnam War and provided historians with unique insight into the U.S. policymaking apparatus, today’s release will finally provide the American public with unimpeded access to this historic text.

The release will feature over 2,300 pages of previously undisclosed material not included in the Senator Gravel Edition of the Pentagon Papers, the most commonly referenced compilation of the Papers.

So what were the Pentagon Papers?

Following the 1954 Geneva Accords, the United States assumed a substantial role in the political and military development of South Vietnam. In order to prevent the new nation from falling into the communist sphere of influence in Southeast Asia, the Eisenhower administration provided the government of Ngo Dinh Diem with billions of dollars in economic and military aid. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson continued authorizing similar assistance prior the … [ Read all ]

When life gives you lemons, grow a beard

Frank Meyer in Chinese Turkestan, ca. 1910 (ARC 5729274; 54-FS-5624)

Today’s picture is featured in our new exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” which opens today!

I am guessing it was not a hot day in Chinese Turkestan when this picture was taken, since today’s featured man is sporting a full beard, a high furry hat, a fur-lined coat, and boots.

Did I mention it’s nearly 100° F here in Washington, DC? That the facade of the National Archives building shimmers like a mirage, one with a cool, dark Rotunda with documents kept at a careful 64° for preservation?

But I digress. Heat is addling my brain.

Actually, the man in this picture is responsible for making people enjoy the summer more, especially if you love juicy apricots or sweet Meyer lemons. His name was Frank N. Meyer, and he was an “agricultural explorer” in the early 20th century.

Originally from the Netherlands, Meyer began working for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1901. But he did not stay in the United States for very long. In 1905 he headed off to explore Asia, and later Russia and Europe.

His adventuring days were cut tragically short. In 1918 on his way to Shanghai, he fell overboard into the Yangtze River and drowned. According to the USDA, “His body was recovered, but the circumstances … [ Read all ]

Thursday Photo Caption Contest

"Now everybody sing 'YMCA.'"

Last week’s photo of men swinging from the trees inspired many noteworthy captions, from the Pirates of Penzance to pigeon interception. Overwhelmed by choice, we turned to our guest judge James Kratsas of the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Michigan.

James was also overwhelmed—by grim memories of dancing at weddings, and he chose Marene B’s caption. Congratulations, and check your e-mail for a code to get 15% off your purchase in our eStore!

Like President Ford, the men in last week’s picture are graduates of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The caption reads “Vocational training for S.A.T.C. in University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Class in Pole-Climbing in the course for telephone electricians, with some of their instructors. University of Michigan, ca. 1918″ (ARC  533483; 165-WW-119A[1]).”

In this week’s caption, everyone’s feet are firmly on the ground—for now. (This image is also from our new exhibit, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” which opens tomorrow with our Chief Culinary Adviser Chef Jose Andres!)

Put your tastiest caption in the comments below!

Your caption here!

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