Monday, April 30, 2012

Carriage Building

Today's picture is from 1899 and shows students at the Hampton Institute learning to build carriages. Wow, talk about something that would take a lot of craftsmanship, imagine building a carriage from scratch. 

I have really been enjoying your comments this week. I find it interesting that there are still a few people out there who make things.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cordwainer Class

A Cordwainer is someone who makes shoes. The distinction is that a Cobbler is someone who repairs shoes. Remember the information, as you will be able to impress your friends with that knowledge if you tuck it away, and use it at just the right time. The picture was taken in 1899 at a trade school.

I enjoyed the comments yesterday, especially the ones from people who have jobs where they actually build things. We heard from a carpenter's wife, and from a man who does custom woodwork. We learned that these are tough businesses to be in these days.

Shoe making, like so many things, is pretty much all done overseas now. There is a place near where I live that sill makes custom boots and saddles. Their hand made boots are built to exacting standards, and are made specifically to careful measurements of each of your feet. A pair of these custom boots is highly prized, and people come from all over the world to have a pair made. The company is M. L. Leddy's

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Trade School

This week we will be exploring a bygone era when we actually made things in this country. We will be doing this by looking at a series of pictures of turn of the century trade schools. Today's picture is from 1899 and shows students at the Hampton, Virginia Institute. The students are being taught to weave a rug from scratch, and starting with a spinning wheel.

What a foreign image this is. We really don't make anything in this country any more. Of people reading this blog, how many of you have a job where you actually build something? I mean, your hands touch a product in its manufacturing process?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Moon Walk

I believe mankind hit its peak on July 20, 1969, the day that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. It was a "first" to beat all other firsts. Sure after that we went back to the moon a few more times, and we have done other interesting things since then, but I believe nothing will ever top this day.

Today, we do not have the ability to return to the moon. The truth is, we do not even have the ability to put men into low earth orbit any more. Even though technology has advanced in many areas since 1969, I doubt we will ever be able to put men on the moon again. It costs lots of money, takes lots of hard work, and requires lots of people to agree on something. 

July 20th, 1969 . . . the peak of human civilization?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Apollo 8

Today's picture shows the Saturn V rocket being rolled out to the launch pad for the Apollo 8 Mission. The Apollo 8 mission is one which undoubtedly established the US as the leader in the space race. Up until then, we were simply doing things that Russia had done slightly earlier. Apollo 8 had a number of "firsts". It was the first time a manned spacecraft escaped earth's orbit, made it to the moon, orbited the moon, and returned safely. It also got the manned program back on track after the catastrophe of Apollo 1.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Apollo 1

The Mercury and Gemini space programs put the first American in space, the first American in orbit, and the first American Space Walk. The Apollo program began with disaster. The crew, pictured above, were killed in a capsule fire during practice on the launch pad. The accident resulted from the pure oxygen environment in the capsule. Pure oxygen can be highly flammable. From left to right, the men were Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ed White Space Walk

We continue to look at important "firsts" in the American space program today. This picture is an important one . . . it shows Ed White on the first American Space Walk. You can see earth in the background. The metallic cylinders in his hand are are propellant system to allow him to maneuver in vacuum of space. The spacewalk occurred on June 3, 1965. Ed died about two years later in the Apollo capsule accident.

Monday, April 23, 2012

First American to Orbit Earth

This week we are looking at some of the milestones of the early space race. Our earliest program was the Mercury Program. Today's picture is from the Mercury-Atlas VI mission. In this flight, John Glenn Became the first American to orbit the earth. His mission was cut short because of concerns about re-entry and the heat shields, but Glenn did return to earth safely.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Alan Shepard

Today we feature Alan Shepard, the first American in space. He flew in a suborbital flight on May 5, 1961 aboard Mercury 7. While the Soviets had flown a man several months prior into space, Shepard's flight was an important milestone for the American space program. Shepard went on to walk on the moon on the Apollo 14 mission. Shepard died in 1998.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Space Monkey

OK, it is hard for me to believe that the  Space Program is over 50 years old now. It was such a cutting edge high tech thing when I was a child. I can remember following every launch of the Gemini and Apollo programs. All children were amazed by these exciting endeavors, and the space program spurred a generation of young people to get into science and engineering. 

Today's picture is from 1961, and it shows Ham, a space monkey. In the early days of the Mercury program, primates were used to test the systems. On January 31, 1961 Ham was successfully launched into suborbital flight in a Mercury rocket. The mission was a success, and Ham returned safely to earth.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Serious Business

OK, we wrap up the week with one of my favorite pictures. This really looks like some important work, but you are going to have to guess what it is.

As far as yesterday's picture . . . yes the government used some of your money to develop a cannon for shooting baseballs to test, well, how baseballs behave when shot out of a National Bureau of Standards baseball cannon.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More Gizmos

This week I post the pictures, and you have to explain the story that goes with them. So, what is this guy up to.

Yesterday's picture was a weather balloon being launched to test a new radio-transmitter.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Interesting Work

Ladies and gentleman , it is time for you to describe what is going on in this picture.

As far as yesterday's picture, many of you recognized the machine as a Strength of Materials tester. More specifically, this unit is the unit used to calibrated Strength of Materials testers. The machine was housed at the National Bureau of Standards.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mystery Device

What in the world are they doing week continues here at OPOD with this picture. Can you guess what the guy is doing?

Now to clear up yesterday's picture . . . many of you had humorous comments, and many were close on your guesses. The picture shows a government light bulb tester. I dont know about you, but I know that I sleep better at night knowing the government is on top of this.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Looks Complicated

The mystery pictures keep coming this week. Lets start by clearing up yesterday's picture. Amazingly, the Evil  Nate Mass was not joking yesterday. It really was a picture of  J.E. Keefauver, and he really was paid by the government to watch paint dry. Your tax dollars at work . . . Oh well.

Anyway, on to today's picture. What in the world is this man doing?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What in the World are they Doing?

First, we need to clear up who was in yesterday's picture. Right off the bat many of you recognized that it was Michael Faraday. He invented the Faraday Cage and electrical structure used to shield charge. For example, when you are inside your car, the metal skin of the car acts as a Faraday Cage. If your car is struck by lightening, the conductive skin of the car conducts the charge around the outside, and you remain safe inside. Faraday did much of the very early work on charged particles and electrostatic potential. This work formed the basis for practical use of electricity.

Now, we had so much fun last week trying to guess what was going on in the pictures, I have decided that this week we will extend the concept, and call it, "What in the World are they Doing Week". So, what are the men in the picture doing?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Odd Careers

Lets start by clearing up yesterday's mystery. There were lots of good guesses and lots of fun in the comments yesterday. As it turns out the man was a fingerprint clerk for the government. As it turns out, back in the day, clerks were expected to memorize the fingerprints. Since there were no computers, people would have to look at prints from a crime scene, and try to remember them from the gazillions on file. People were hired for having peculiar memory skills.

OK, for today, what was this mans job. I will give you a hint . . . he built cages, but what was he trying to catch?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Interesting Careers

I hope you are enjoying the fun with these pictures this week. First, lets discuss yesterday's picture. There were lots of interesting and creative guesses, and then even a few right answers. The man worked for the census bureau. The machine he is sitting at was a Tabulator. It was an early version of what amounted to a mechanical computer and it allowed workers to tabulate the census easier and more accurately.

Now, I wonder what the man above does for a living?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Odd Jobs

OK, we had some great fun yesterday in the comments with lots of creative ideas. A few were actually zeroing in on the correct answer. The man was holding ferrets and was a professional rat catcher. In the early 1900 diseases like plague were still a concern, so people went to great lengths to control rats and other rodents. Rat catchers were hired by individuals and businesses to clear the rats out of buildings. Ferrets were used, as were some small dogs, to root out pesky rodents.

Now for today's picture . . . what is this man's job?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


First, lets reveal the profession of the woman pictured yesterday. She worked for the government and was responsible for examining damaged currency. If currency was burned or damaged, and turned in for redemption, she was responsible for reconstructing the bills to see how much money had been there. Seems like a very tedious job, and I doubt that the government still offers this service. Several of you correctly identified this in the comments yesterday.

OK, now for today . . . what job does this gentleman have?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Strange Job

Welcome back to Strange Jobs week at OPOD. I post the picture, and you have to figure out what the person is doing. I will fill you in tomorrow on what the correct answer is. So, what do you think the woman above is doing for a living?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Resurrection Morning

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, 

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Strange Jobs

Welcome to Strange Jobs week here at OPOD. We will explore unusual ways that people have made a living over the years. We start with this picture of a man in a cage. Oh, and you have to guess what his job is. Let the games begin!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Feathered Hat

This is an interesting picture. The dress is simple and elegant. Is that actually a bird mounted onto the hat? That is not something you see every day.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Simple yet Elegant

I consider this to be one of the more attractive outfits we have examined this week. It is simple, yet elegant. The hat is not overdone, and the skirt is modest and simple

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Fashion

Today's picture shows a glimpse of Spring Fashion for the year 1921. Like most of the pictures this week, the dress is overly complicated. Also, I do not understand the stick . . . has anyone ever seen a stick like that as a woman's fashion statement? Was this the new Sheep Herders look?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Feathered Hat

As I have mentioned before, I like simple, elegant, practical styles. This get up fails on all three accounts. Again, it looks like an overdone drapery. It also looks a little like she has draped a Persian Rug over her shoulders. The hat looks like it would definitely mess up the hair, and the feather creates a nice sail, so the wind will easily blow the hat off.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Today's picture is from 1922, and shows a young woman in the clothes of the day. You can see that Fur was a popular trim, and her hat and collar are fur and her boots are trimmed in fur. I would guess once you put on a hat like that you would pretty much need to wear it all day, as I would think the hair would be a mess once it was taken off.


Thank you all for the continued questions and concerns over the lovely Ms. EAM. She continues to improve slowly day by day. She still has a ways to go to get back to full strength and health. She is eager to get back to her work in Africa, but we need her fully up to speed before allowing her to go back over.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Women in the 1920's

This is another picture from 1925. It shows two women at an outdoor party. To me the dresses show over the top conspicuous consumption that he 1920's were famous for. I think the dresses look like overdone draperies. I like simpler, functional styles.