Thank God for Payday Leprechauns – Day 99

Day 99
Listening to: Have to Believe We Are Magic
Thought for the day: HUGS to the three day weekend……….and no pansy hug either.

Today is PAAYAYAYAYDAY. I no longer live paycheck to paycheck. My brain still thinks I do, so I still love pay day. When I first started working at DuPont, our managers placed a piece of paper in our hot little eager hands on payday to reimburse us for our work. With the advent of technology, leprechauns started tossing our wages in a bank at the stroke of midnight of each payday. It’s magic. I swear.

The picture I am sharing today is from 1918.  This is the line for the employees of the Old Hickory, Tennessee Powder Plant to get a paycheck (the Powder Plant was built to provide munitions during WWI).  There is an estimated 12,500 people in the line. If this is how the world was today, people would die. There would be guns and knives and mayhem. Like always, instead of my brain potpourri, I’m going to serve you some serious research (I will provide resources at the end).

The Wages

The problem of setting satisfactory wage scales plagued DuPont officials throughout 1918. On March 22, DuPont officials from Wilmington and Old Hickory met in Nashville to discuss wage scales. They decided that unskilled workers and those classes of tradesmen which could be recruited locally should be paid according to the prevailing wage rates in the territory surrounding Nashville. They agreed that they would have to establish higher scales for those trades for which the supply would have to be recruited from areas north of Nashville.

Assuming that they could recruit sufficient laborers, carpenters, and blacksmiths from the Nashville area and the region south and southwest of Nashville, they established a scale giving unskilled laborers ¢.30 per hour and carpenters ¢.40 or ¢.55, depending on their skill. Electricians, iron-workers, millwrights, machinists, pipe fitters, sheet metal workers, and plumbers and steamfitters – those workers who would have to be recruited from areas north of Nashville – were offered between ¢.55 and ¢.72 an hour, depending upon their skill levels. These wage scales were put into effect on March 23.

The coming of the Old Hickory plant upset wage stability in Nashville also. Leaders of businesses established in Nashville before 1918 complained that the powder plant was stealing their workers with unnecessarily high wages. The Nashville city government, which had paid unskilled workers ¢.27 an hour prior to the beginning of the construction at Old Hickory, considered raising its scale to ¢.37 1/2 in June. Mayor Henry Gupton of Nashville, with urging from the resident engineer at Old Hickory, opposed such a raise and convinced the city commissioners to raise the scale only to .30 an hour.

Fill the Empty Shell: The Story of the Government Munitions Project at Old Hickory, Tennessee 1918-1919 – Thesis of David E. Brand – May 1971

Photo courtesy of Old Hickory Garage via Austin Kinzer

Patent #556,248: A Hat that Produces Naked Firemen Thoughts – Day 98

Day 98
Listening to: Life Goes On (Beatles)
Thought for the day: We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.
~Thomas A. Edison

This is patent number 556, 248, circa 1896. If you follow me on Twitter, you know what this is. SHHH… don’t tell anyone. Try pretending you have never seen it. I’ve blacked out the title of this contraption because we need to discuss the possibilities. What would your version of this invention be? I’ll tell you what it really is at the end.

My version would be…………

Yesterday, my inner Cookie Monster brain cells forced me to grab a box of devil’s food cake cookies. I walked out of the store confidently reassuring myself that my inner Cookie Monster and I could control ourselves. I was wrong. The box became history around 10 a.m. central standard time today. If I had my say, patent number 556,248 would be an electric shock hat that would be worn post bad cookie, chocolate, ice cream, Tootsie Roll, potato chip purchases. Such a hat would zap the brain and change thought processes from junk food to maybe something like half-naked firemen or the square root of 348,569,847.

So what is patent number 556,248 reaaaaaaaaaly? It is a “tipping device,” or Mr. Boyle’s derby tipper. Instead of having to reach up and politely gesture to passersby, a mechanized device would tip a gentleman’s hat for him. Genius.

There’s a Tree in Your Teeth – Day 97

Day 97
Listening to: T.N.T
Thought for the day:   Smile, it lets your teeth breathe.

Wednesday Night Dinner Club – Eastland Café

It is no secret that Eastland Café is one of my top 3 restaurant picks in Nashville. To be honest, I figured I’d bore you if I posted another picture of my fried green OH MY GOD tomatoes and margherita pizza. So I didn’t. Instead, you get see the photo of the tree in my teeth.

I had a fabulous time tonight. The WNDC unintentionally ran in to extra peeps we don’t normally see which was like Oreo frosting on top of my fried green tomatoes. Then I came home. When I looked in the mirror, I saw it. I thought friends were supposed to give the “YOU HAVE A TREE PLANTED IN YOUR TEETH” sign. You know, where you mimic picking at your front teeth in a genteel manner until your friend gets the clue that the birds are circling and looking for a place to land? Mine didn’t. It is possible they didn’t see it. It is possible they were too polite to tell me. It is possible they love me so much they don’t study me. It is all good. I forgive them. Walking around with a big green tree planted in my front teeth is good practice for when I decide to take up chewing tobacco to pass the time away while sitting on my front porch growing old and collecting cats.

P.S. Dad thank you for the braces and straight teeth. Even with a tree growing out of them I can appreciate their straightness! Love Kris.

The Neighbor Who Bleeds Houndstooth – Day 96

Day 96
Listening to: Take the Long Way Home
Thought for the day: Never quit. It is the easiest cop-out in the world. Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit. ~Bear Bryant

I have a neighbor who bleeds houndstooth. His disease is so bad that he displays a neon-lit red A in his home’s front window on game day to ward off any of you fans inflicted with orange blood (or purple and gold as is the case in my neighborhood). The thought of his neon-lit college football shrine makes me think of the infamous leg lamp in the Christmas Story. The inaugural lighting before the first game of the season probably goes something like this: the snap of a few sparks, a quick whiff of ozone, and the Alabama A blazed forth in unparalleled glory.

Neon-lit A aside, this particular neighbor has been heading up an effort to encourage people in our neighborhood to turn their front porch lights on at night. The National Crime Prevention Councils says studies prove neighborhood lighting can cut crime rates up to 20%. So, I’ve been leaving my light on at night.

When I walked out into the early morning darkness to walk Pearl this morning (today’s photo), I was bombed by a bazillion gnats. Did you know a herd of gnats is called a “ghost?” A ghost of gnats? That just doesn’t sound right. Also, swarming gnats are usually mating gnats, so basically I interrupted a ghost of gnat boom chicka wow wow this morning. Sigh.

I am extremely grateful for my neighbor’s efforts………….. wait, wait, WAIT…….. I think one of the gnats in this picture is flying an Alabama flag!!!!! I might have to turn my lights off now (joking).

Pedaling Through Life at Krispy Kreme Speed – Day 95

Day 95
Listening to: Hyperactive
Thought for the day: It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?” ~Winnie the Pooh

This is Joey. That’s not really his name, but I’m calling him that to protect his privacy. Joey spends his afternoons pedaling his tricycle up and down the street at Krispy Kreme speed. Krispy Kreme speed is the speed you and your coworkers move at when told there are free doughnuts in the break room. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. There’s only one speed to Krispy Kreme speed, fast and with purpose. Though Joey is a great kid, when I see him on his tricycle I hear strains of the Miss Gulch (Wizard of Oz Wicked Witch) bicycle theme. ta-tada-tada-da ta-tada-tada-da…..

A few days ago, Joey pedaled up to me and said with the maturity of a 50 year-old, “I know what women want.” Not girls. Women. I braced myself for what was next. You never know! I mean at his age my brothers were sneaking peaks at my dad’s Playboy magazines (all 3 of them). Joey said, “Women want to NOT be dirty. Therefore, I am going to invent a dirt bomb that throws dirt on women.”

WHEW! Thank goodness Joey is still a little boy and not a dirty old man in an 8 year-old body.

I Can’t Vote, But I Can Make Boxes – 1918 – Day 94

Day 94
Listening to: I Am Woman
Thought for the day: Get busy living, or get busy dying. (I have heard this numerous times this weekend via Shawshank Redemption and other TV)

Photo: Hagley Museum

Happy Women’s Suffrage Day! August 26, 1920

In 1918, women flooded the ranks of employment at the gun powder plant in Old Hickory, Tennessee to help in the effort to supply munitions to the allied forces in Europe during WWI. Though women couldn’t vote yet, their involvement in the WWI effort served as a stepping stone in the suffrage movement.

Approximately 10,000 women were employed at the gun powder plant. Initially, the only factory job women were allowed to work was in the box factory (most women held traditional jobs such as waitress, stenographic, or social services-type jobs). They were involved in the assembly of the boxes for shipping munitions. The job opportunities expanded as women proved their capability. Today’s photo is of the women who worked in the box factory.

There were 32 trains that transported employees from Nashville to Old Hickory daily. One of these trains was specifically used to transport women and was called the “Powder Puff Special.” A song written about this particular train demonstrates the determination and patriotism of the powder plant women.

We’re in the war, right in the game,
We’re fighting with our men,
We back the chaps who’re at the front,
From dear old Nashville, Tenn.

The Nashville girls are not afraid
to learn a real, real trade,
And it is well, for none can tell
Who may yit (sic) need our aid.

The spirit of these women and the women of this era capture my imagination. I stand in awe of them. I do plan to write about them more to celebrate who they were. Let us not forget!

Photo courtesy of Hagley Museum

A Fishy Tree House – Day 93

Day 93
Listening to: Alive and Kicking
Thought for the day: “The Rainbow Fish shared his scales left and right, and the more he gave away, the more delighted he became. When the water around him filled with glimmering scales, he at last felt home among the other fish.” ~Marcus Pfister, The Rainbow Fish, 1992.

I have decided for the next couple of weekends that I am going to play tourist in my hometown. Today’s destination was Cheekwood Botanical Gardens to see the tree house exhibit.

When I was a kid I was obsessed with tree houses. The only tree house on the street I grew up on belonged to my older brother’s best friend, Marks. Yes, his name is Marks. That is not a typo. Marks built his tree house himself. Though it was plain, it was a grand structure in my eyes. The clincher? I wasn’t allowed in the tree house. The nerve! To this day I don’t know if it was a girl thing or a matter of safety, but it didn’t set well with me. One day, in an act of pure defiance, I scrambled up the tree when no one was looking. When I reached the top, victory flooded my veins. In my mind, I had climbed Mt. Everest. Then I heard a house door open. I peeped over the edge. It was Marks’s mom. Not only was she Marks’s mom, she was my beloved second grade teacher. I didn’t want to get busted by her. To see disappoint in her eyes would have swept away my Edmund Hilary moment like a ferocious avalanche. Thankfully, I remained undetected as far as I know (she probably did know I was up there though in hindsight). When she went back in the house, I quickly made my exit. Oddly enough, Marks went on to be an architect. I feel revered in knowing I left girl cooties on one of his first creations. Take that Marks you anti-girl in the tree house bully!

The tree houses at Cheekwood were designed by top architects and are pure works of art. None of them are high up in a tree which reduces the inner child appeal in them to me. Practicality sucks sometimes. Nevertheless the tree houses are all beautiful. My time was not wasted. It is difficult to say which tree house is my favorite. I really liked the rainbow fish designed by Tuck-Hinton Architects. It sits on the edge of a pond with music CDs for scales gobbling up little children like a giant Jonah-swallowing rainbow fish. Today’s photo is my reflection in the fish’s side.

My Favorite Tree Houses

The Walden Tree House

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

Ocean of Notions

Rainbow Fish

Pantyhose-less in A Nylon World – Day 92

Day 92
Listening to: You are the Sun, You are the Rain
Thought for the day: “Women want men, careers, money, children, friends, luxury, comfort, independence, freedom, respect, love, and a three-dollar pantyhose that won’t run.”  ~Phyllis Diller (RIP)

I wore a dress to work today which isn’t exactly a miraculous occurrence.  I wear dresses/skirts a lot.  I never wear pantyhose. In the winter I wear tights, but never pantyhose.  I HATE PANYTHOSE.  I know the Queen would not be amused, but I’m so out of touch with the rest of the working world that I have no clue if going pantyhose-less is a huge faux pas or not.  It isn’t where I work which is quite odd since DuPont invented Nylon, the bad boy that kicked silk stockings to the curb.

This morning, my bare legs and I ended up in a meeting.  I had plenty of time to observe their condition.  My stems are currently a wreck from the battle I had with the holly tree a scant two weeks ago.  The scratches might as well be in neon they are so ugly.   Being from the era when stockings, gloves, and hats were a requirement for a public outing, both of my grandmothers would probably be appalled by my lackadaisical approach to baring my legs in a proper public place.  I’m not.  Appalled that is.

Oddly enough, I stumbled across this ad in a 1954 DuPont employee magazine a few hours after I had the pantyhose diatribe in my head.  I felt kind of guilty after seeing it.  Basically it boils down to this: I am among the throngs of women who denounce the wearing of pantyhose.  We can be blamed for people losing their jobs.

Okay, I’m done with my guilt.  Whew.

Skittles and Seat Belts – Day 91

Day 91
Listening to: Home
Thought for the day: If you get lost, you can always be found ~Phillip Phillips – Home

Every morning when I get into my car, I pray. This week though? I’ve been the hostess with the mostest of a giant pity party gorging on my sadness leftover from a funeral. This morning when I got into my car I said out loud, “I am not praying today. God never listens to me anyway.” Before I could get my key in the ignition, I heard a voice in my head say, “WHOA! WHOA! WHOA!” Wait. Was God talking to me? Maybe it was just my saner brain cells telling me to pull my head out of my ass and wipe the shit out of my eyes. Either way, I immediately started thinking of all the ways I’ve been blessed and all of the prayers that have been answered. This whole process took much longer than my normal prayer time. It was better than prayer.

Shortly after I started my car and made the very difficult two-mile trek to my work (I mean I do have to go through a school zone……..ahem………BLESSING). When I pulled into the parking lot, the managers were handing out Skittles to everyone who was wearing a seat belt. Owing my life to an air bag and a seat belt in a prior car accident, I of course had mine on despite my short journey (the bad car wreck I had was 3 miles from my house). WITH THAT SAID. If you’re reading this, you’re one of those blessings that rescued me this morning. You matter. Wear your seat belt. Please! PRETTY PLEASE WITH TOOTSIE ROLLS AND MOZZARELLA CHEESE ON TOP……..AND MAYBE BACON.

I wanted to take a photo of the managers on Skittle seat belt survey duty for today’s blog, but they wouldn’t agree to it. You’re stuck with my Skittled mug. *HUGS*

Who Will Be the Enemy 100 Years From Now? – Day 90

Day 90
Listening to: Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right, Stuck in the Middle With You…………
Thought for the day: Who will be the enemy 100 years from now?


Photo: Hagley Museum

1918 Security – Part II

If you don’t like history, this post is not for you (and it is historcruciatingly long). Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

In my post on Monday, I shared with you a piece from the August 1918 edition of The Powder Plant News that contained the following sentence referring to the Powder Plant in Old Hickory, Tennessee, “Here is a great institution of our Government, working day, night and Sundays, too, to save civilization from the Hun (referring to WWI Germans).” One of my Twitter followers begged the question, “Are we safe from the Hun?” Interesting question. I don’t remember ever being afraid of a German. Hell, German blood courses through my veins. No. My fears are based on 9/11 and/or crazed loners who decide that firing into a crowd is cool. Oh the times, they have changed. Kind of makes you wonder. One hundred years from now, who will be the enemy? It won’t be the same as it is today. History has proven that this is a guarantee.

For years, I’ve held the knowledge that the employees of the Old Hickory Powder Plant were worried about German spies infiltrating the facility. Of course, I knew about the Lusitania, but that was not on American soil. It’s different. I chalked the Powder Plant fear up to paranoia. Today, I decided to try and understand the fear. Low and behold, the fears of the employees of the Powder Plant were legit. In 1916, German agents caused an explosion at a major munitions depot in Jersey City, New Jersey. The explosion caused the equivalent of an earthquake with a 5.5 reading on the Richter scale. Windows were shattered 25 miles away. When the dust cleared 7 people were killed. The message was sent. Germans were willing to do anything to prevent the Americans from supplying munitions to the Allied powers in Europe. Raise your hand if you knew this!

I wanted to share with you some of the suspected spy accounts I’ve read pertaining to the employees of the Old Hickory Powder plant. Oddly enough, both accounts I’ve read involve women. I have no idea of knowing if today’s photo shows either of these women, but these are some of the faces of the 30-50,000 people that were employed at the Old Hickory Powder Plant. Do any of them look like spies to you? Note: this is a small portion of much larger photo.
From the Papers of Lou Cretia Owen
Available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives

Spy I – October 30, 1918
Early this morning, the matron of Rye Hall reported that a girl in that building has acted so that she is being suspected of being a spy.

I reported the matter to Mr. Vester chief inspector who immediately entered the girl’s name in his black book. Her name was written in red and she was placed under the heading of “Spy Suspects.”

The inspector asked me to work with the matron in trailing the girl when she is off duty. She is employed in the quartermaster’s office and while there is under constant observation.

The danger of having an agent on the reservation who might be in the pay of the German government is probably the greatest the investigating department say. The safety of thousands depend on the vigilance of this department. These agents planted in large indstrial (sic) enters give out information that cause millions of dollars worth of property to be destroyed and many lives endangered.

The suspect here is innocent looking. She comes from a small town. When first she came under our observation, the matron reported that she failed to occupy the room to which she was assigned and had stored some small toilet articles between the roof and rafters of the building. Electricians found them. (KB sidenote – if I could travel in time, I’d hide Twinkies or something to really throw them off).

Spy II – November 6, 1918
Virginia DuPont who was referred to us by Mr. Vester’s worker as a suspicious character was reported to Edna Gordon a questionable person. Edna Gordon accused Miss DuPont of being a spy because she was financially able to live without money, am watching telegrams and letters from Chicago. (KB sidenote – HELLO. Why did the fact that her last name was DuPont not bother them? Where is 2012 CSI when you need them).