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Archive for July, 2011

Thursday Photo Caption Contest

Born with 14 toes, Gary “Logs” McGee never failed to impress at Camp Kishioka’s annual competition.

Choosing the winner was as easy as falling off a log for our guest judge Andrea Matney, who has experience balancing guest speakers and programming for the Know Your Records series.

Congratulations to the excellently named Ryan Tickle! Your caption tickled our funnybone and–combined with the oppressive heat this week–made us all long to be at “Camp Kishioka.” Check your email for a code for 15% off a purchase at the eStore!

So where do such delightful log-rolling contests happen? This image (ARC 557772) is from our DOCUMERICA series and shows Unicoi State Park in Georgia on the Fourth of July. The state park isn’t far from Helen, another town in Georgia that was photographed as part of this series. Helen is best known for having made itself into a tourist attraction by decorating the town in a Bavarian motif.

It’s so hot here in Washington, DC, that we would happily jump into a lake in Georgia or Bavaria. The weather has inspired us to choose this week’s photo–put your best caption in the comments below!

Your caption here!

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What’s Cooking Wednesdays: Dinner Diplomacy Thaws the Cold War

President Nixon with Premier Chou En-lai, courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library (2/25/1972)

Sometimes sharing a good meal is the best way to resolve the differences you may have with another. For the United States and China, this strategy helped normalize relations during the peak of the Cold War.

Today, the U.S. and China share a public relationship, but after Mao Tse-tung’s Chinese Communist Party founded the People’s Republic of China, the two countries severed all diplomatic communication for more than two decades. Relations between the two powers did not reopen until President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to mainland China in 1972.

The first evening of the trip, Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-lai hosted an elaborate banquet in honor of President Nixon in the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square. The dinner, which was broadcast live around the globe, consisted of both of customary and exotic Chinese dishes.

President Nixon looks out over the vista seen from the Great Wall of China, courtesy of the Nixon Library

In an effort to accommodate the President and his party, chefs prepared familiar items like Chinese sausage, shrimp, roast pork, roast duck with pineapple, and vegetable slices. The menu also included native cuisine like shark’s fin soup, black mushrooms with mustard greens, and spongy bamboo shoots. President Nixon skillfully used chopsticks to sample each dish served … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: No ice cream for old men

Gen. Albion P. Howe, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865 (111-B-4713; ARC 528831)

Did you know that in 1984, President Reagan declared July 15 as “National Ice Cream Day” and July to be the official “National Ice Cream Month”?

In his proclamation, the President declared that “Ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food, enjoyed by over ninety percent of the people in the United States.”

Ice-cream-on-a-stick production took off in the 1920s with the invention of the Popsicle and ice cream bar.

But what took so long for this delicious dessert to catch on? After all, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were known to have eaten and served ice cream.

But I think the real reason that ice cream didn’t take off until the turn of the 20th century was not lack of electricity or mass-produced dairy product. No, it was a much simpler reason: facial hair.

To support the argument that facial hair fashion was more powerful than a delicious ice cream sundae, I present these Civil War generals: Albion P. Howe and George Sykes.

Gen. George Sykes, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865 (111-B-5581; ARC 529678)

Their fulsome whiskers would have turned licking a cone into a challenging and messy task. Who would want to awkwardly eat in front of their enlisted men, risking the shame of getting ice cream all over one’s beard?

So, if you are at the beach or … [ Read all ]

Thursday Photo Caption Contest

“Think, man, think. The formula or I pull the plunger!”

Congratulations to Hugh Ryon, whose caption suggested both the possibility of danger and the silliness of the pose! Check your email for a discount code for 15% in the eStore.

Your suggestions of spinning and vomit were not far off, gentle readers. And like Dorothy, this young man was probably trying to wish himself home when the photo was being taken.

This bizarre moment was a test given in the Air Force. The original caption read: “Subjecting the prospective American airman to the falling test. The sixth sense–that of equilibrium–is the function of the labyrinth of the internal ear. Underwood and Underwood., 03/19/1918 ”

This week’s photo also seems to be some kind of test, so coming up with a caption for this week’s test should be as easy as falling off a log. Give us your wittiest caption in the comments below!

Your caption here!

[ Read all ]

Cold Wars: Popsicle v. Good Humor

Roller Exhibit # 3 "Popsicle - A Drink on a Stick" ARC ID 5916727

Today’s “What’s Cooking Wednesday” guest post is from Jefferson Moak, an archivist at the National Archives at Philadelphia.

On a hot summer day, who’s not looking for an ice cream vendor or a Rita’s Water . . . Ice? Ice creams and water ices have been with Americans for over 100 years. In the early 1920s, two men, Frank Epperson and Harry Burt, separately patented what would become famous as the Popsicle and the Good Humor Bar.

The Popsicle is what would be called a sherbet or water ice on a stick; the Good Humor Bar was an ice cream bar covered with chocolate on a stick. Both were instantly successful, as was the Eskimo Pie, patented about the same time. As one reviewer of the Eskimo Pie stated: “although nobody knew it until it happened, it seems that everybody in these United States was waiting for someone to come along and invent a bar of ice cream coated with sweet chocolate.”

The instant success of both the Popsicle and the Good Humor Bar eventually led to a series of courtroom battles regarding the validity of both patents as both Epperson and Burt claimed invention of an ice convention on a stick. What emerged from the first round of battles … [ Read all ]