Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Butcher Window

Now this is something you do not see every day . . . window shopping for a turkey! The picture was taken in 1940 in Connecticut. I am not sure if you take the turkey home live, or if the butcher takes it in the back and does the dirty work for you.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Buy Now

I find this picture interesting because of the sign in the window. The implication is that you have a duty to buy things in order to make work, and create jobs. I think we still hear this sentiment today, that we need to start spending in order to make things better. I feel we are in the mess we are in today because we have borrowed too much, spent too much, and spent it on a bunch of silly unneeded stuff.

My shop sign would say: "Spend Less, Save and Invest More, Stop Buying Silly Stuff, and Give Generously to make our Nation Stronger". I don't expect many to sign on.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Window Shopping

I enjoyed the picture yesterday so much of children window shopping for toys, I decided to make this Window Shopping Week. We will be looking at the almost lost art form of window shopping. We start with this photograph from the early 1900's. We see women perusing merchandise in New York City during the Christmas season.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Window Shopping

Today's picture shows children window shopping, looking at toys in a Christmas display. I can remember growing up and seeing such displays at stores. It seems like it is a lot less common these days, as most stores are more in a Mall type of setting, and not so many with windows facing streets.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day at Beach

Ah, remember when a great day was an afternoon at the beach playing in the water and the sand? I know some people still go to the beach, but it just does not seem the same. I hope the child has sun screen on!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ultimate Toy

Today's picture shows what might just be the ultimate toy . . . the Wooden Crate. I am not sure how many of you had a wooden crate as a child, but they represented a toy with endless possibilities. I can even remember when my daughter was young my company had gotten a piece of scientific equipment that came in a crate about twice as tall as the one pictured. A child could stand in the crate. She made an office out of the crate, and even had a small desk and laptop computer in the office.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eskimo Man

Toy Week continues here at OPOD with this picture from the early 1900's. The picture shows an Eskimo man with a toy boat he has made for his son. Folks, this looks like some pretty fine craftsmanship, and I am sure the boat would float. What a fine toy, and fine gift.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Erector Set

Today's picture was taken in 1924, and it shows a child playing with an erector set. I can remember having an erector set as a child, and it was my all time favorite toy. It was basically a set of metal beams, cogs, pulleys, gears and other mechanical elements from which you could build your own toys. It required imagination and careful thought. To me it was the ideal toy.


If you followed the blog, you remember my efforts recently to help some children in Africa by getting them a water well, and a chicken coop. The lovely Ms. EAM called on the children yesterday to  see how things were going. One of the things she found is that one of the children had taken scrap building material from the chicken coop and had built himself a toy truck.

When I first saw it I found it heart breaking becuse it as such a poor looking toy. Then I started looking at it in more detail, and saw the boy had really put some thought into it. You can see it is made of wire, sheet metal and bottle caps. He has made it with a push stick, so he does not have to stoop over to push it. Then he has designed it where the push stick is connected to the front wheel axle, so that as he twists the push stick, the front tires are steered. If you click on the picture for a larger view you will see that this is a dump truck, and the back end where the sheet metal is will actually dump.

I can just imagine this little boy staying awake at night in his bed thinking about his design and what he would do with it the next day. Lets keep our eyes on this young man . . . maybe an engineer in the making.

Also, I am pleased to announce that Chickie Town, East Africa Edition now officially has chickens. They have the initial installment of 20 chickens. The chickens are not laying eggs yet, as they are young, but we are all eagerly awaiting news of the first eggs.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Boy Carving

Today's picture shows a boy making his own toys. He has a knife, and is carving a canoe. It also looks like he carved a little log cabin as well. I can remember that most toys when I was a child involved building or making something. Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, Models,  Wood Burning Sets, and Leather Craft Sets all  involved creativity. Every child liked to build models. Now, that is pretty much a thing of the past.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Toy Week

Welcome to Toy Week here at OPOD. We kick things off with this picture from 1915 showing children playing with toys from the day. The first peculiar thing you will notice is that the children are OUTSIDE! Wow, what a novel concept. Also note that they are actually doing something, not just pushing buttons with their thumbs. There is no telling what these children grew up to be.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Old Indian

We wrap up Indian Portrait week with this picture from 1896. It shows an old Tlingit Indian man. I like all the detail and character in his face.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sioux Indian

Today's picture shows a Sioux Indian by the name of Bear Foot. Yes, that is Bear, not Bare. The Picture was taken in 1899. I like the fact he has his bow and arrow in the photograph. I wish it showed details on the arrow tips. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shosone Brave

Today's picture shows a Shoshone Brave. The picture was taken in 1899.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


This picture was taken in 1899, and shows a Shoshone Indian named Heebe-tee-tse. I do not know much about the Shoshone Indians.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Indian Cowboy

Today's picture was taken in 1908 and shows a Sioux Indian. The man is wearing a unique combination of both Cowboy and Indian items. I wish I knew more about this man, and his background.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stands and Looks Back

Today's picture was taken in 1900 and shows an Indian by the name of Stands and Looks Back. I find Indian names intriguing, and wonder how they got their names. One would think he had this name for a reason, so I wonder at what age Indians were named, who named them, what they could do if they did not like their name, and what they were called as children before they were named.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Three Eagle

We have not had a Native American week in a long time, so we will have one starting today. This time, I would like to focus on portraits of faces. I love studying the character and detail in these faces. The picture today is from 1910, and shows a Nez Perce named Three Eagles. This is really a lovely picture.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Coming Home

Today's picture is from 1862, and shows a family arriving at home, and unpacking.

Well, I am happy to say that I arrived safely back home. I am sorry I did not post the last couple of days, but was in transit, and now am rested and back on the job. I am certainly happy to be home, and it was wonderful to see the lovely Mrs. PJM once again, but I must admit that I left a large part of my heart in Africa. It is hard to describe, but everything just seems more "real" there. The risks are real, the dangers are real, and at the same time there is an incredible sense of taking great pleasures in the small things in life. In my time there I grew accustomed to unpasteurized whole milk right out of the cow. I am not sure I will ever adapt to that white colored water they call milk here. Even sugar there tastes better. Here, our highly refined sugar is simply sweet. In Africa, the sugar is made locally from locally grown sugar cane, and it is hard to describe it, but it actually has a rich flavor to it besides being sweet. The bananas, pineapples and mangos are bursting with flavor and unlike anything you can get here. The breads are made from fresh, locally produced flour, and have wonderful flavor. 

Besides the food, many other things just seemed more real there. First, I immensely enjoyed the fact that there is no TV there. So, people spend much more time interacting. I developed the habit of walking to town every day and having lunch at a local cafe. Even though I was there a short time, I made many friends. On a typical day, it would not be unusual for me to run into a dozen people I knew on my walk to town, and each person would stop and take the time to chat with you for a while. A very enjoyable experience.

I will not lie to you though, many aspects of things there are difficult, and you must adapt to. First is the constant threat of illness such as typhoid and malaria. You have to be extremely careful to not get typhoid or various strains of food poisoning. You have to constantly be on guard for mosquitoes as one bite can mean a nasty bout with malaria. If you are careful, and diligent, you can stay healthy.

You also have to adapt to a new lifestyle when it comes to eating. The biggest thing for me had to do with meat. Here, it is not unusual for meat to be the largest part of your diet. There, you simply can not get beef or pork, and at best you might be able to find a little chicken. Even with Chicken, the meal would be LOTS of rice or Ugali, and just a little bit of meat. For a typical chicken dish, you might get the equivalent of a chicken thigh or wing. The meat ads flavor to a meal, but is not the main course. For beef, you simply can not get it. I tried for several weeks, but found that at best the meat was so tough and so much gristle you could not eat it, or even more likely, the beef was rotten. You see, the electricity typically goes out every day there, and it is not unusual to be out for 24 hours at a time, so even if the beef is in a freezer, it is constantly being thawed and refroze as electricity comes and goes. So, I had to get in the habit of eating more grains and fruits, and maybe having just a bite of chicken a couple of times a week.

Another tough thing is the issue of showering. There are a lot of things that combine to make showing not so much fun. First, there are not hot water heaters. At best, the shower heads heads have a small electric heater built in. They are called "Suicide Showers" because the shower head heaters plug directly into 240 volts, without a GPS or other circuit breaker. So, if any small thing breaks in the shower head, you get zapped. The best way I could describe it would be that it is like stepping in the shower holding a toaster that is plugged in and on. The shower head does not really heat the water, but just makes it where it is not bone chilling cold. Not by any means a hot shower though. Then, the water pressure is very low, so you just get a dribble of water. Then, the water is very soft. So, between the low water pressure and the soft water, it is very hard to get the soap rinsed off, and almost impossible to get shampoo out of your hair. Of all the things I notice about being home, the one thing I most appreciate is a good hot shower.

So, that is a quick summary. I will say that I am already making plans to return to Africa as soon as I can. Stay Tuned!

Saying Good Bye to Georgie

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Water Well

Today's picture was taken in 1899, and it shows a young man drawing water from a well for two young women. I love this picture as it takes us back to simpler times.

Well, my time in Africa has come to a close. I actually depart for the airport shortly. I will fly from Kitale to Nairobi, then from Nairobi to London, then London to Dallas. Mrs. PJM will pick me up in Dallas, and then a 5 hour drive back home. So, this will be a long trip.

I had actually become fearful that I would have to leave before seeing water being pumped from the well, but  alas, the well was completed and we had a wonderful celebration. The video below is a short clip showing the first water from the well.

After a brief dedication service for the well, it started to rain, and we went inside. As I had mentioned earlier, the orphans have a time of Bible study, prayer, and devotion each morning from 5:00 to 7:00. The tough thing is that they have one Bible between the twenty of them. After dedicating the well, the Lovely Ms. EAM presented each of the children with their own Swahili Bibles. The children were almost in tears, and each one cherished the gift. In fact they saved the plastic wrappers so they could wrap them up and keep them new when not in use. After receiving the Bibles, the children sang a song of praise and thanksgiving captured below.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hauling Water

Today's picture shows a man pumping water from a hand pump. The well is in town, and he pumps water and hauls it to his homestead outside of town. He does not have the money to drill his own well. The picture was taken in 1940.

Today is my last full day in Africa, and I leave tomorrow. I will go visit the children today in the hopes that we can get the finishing touches on all the projects.

Yesterday I visited a very interesting facility in downtown Kitale. The Swedes have put in a 10 acre demonstration farm. The farm is split into many small demonstration mini-farms. They are working mini-farms which show methods to drastically improve land productivity in Africa. For example, they have one 1 acre plot. On this plot, they support 7 goats and three cows with no supplemental feed. All food for the animals is grown on the 1 acre. The cows are penned and the goats are in elevated little goat houses made from scrap wood. On the acre plot they grow this cane grass that gets 5 feet high. They plant it in stages so each day some is reaching maturity. The cane crass is used to feed the goats, and then around the perimeter of the plot, they are growing this very bushy tree . . . almost like a huge weed. Greenery is cut from these bushes to feed the cows. They then have a clever scheme of using just the right mixtures of the goat and cow poop to maintain fertility of the soil. The goats produce milk and meat, and the cows produce milk. The income achievable from this set up is astronomical compared to the traditional African farming of an acre of Maze. 

I think it would be extremely neat to return to Africa (perhaps with a team of people) and purchase maybe 5 acres of land adjacent to the children we are working with, and then implement some of these farming techniques. In this way, they children would be able to not only provide for themselves, but would be educating themselves in modern agricultural techniques. Then perhaps also look at things like aquaponics and hydroponics. Might be an interesting project.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Water Witch

Today's picture shows a "Water Witch" looking for water. She is  using a forked peach limb, which purportedly will bend down in the best spot  for a well. While I know people who deeply believe that water witches can find water, I remain skeptical. It does make a nice income for some people.

Well, my time is Africa is drawing to a close. I fly out of here on Tuesday. I fly from Kitale to Nairobi, Nairobi to London, London to Dallas, and then a five hour drive home. Actually that is a pretty good set up, and have been on much worse in the past.

I am trying hard to get the projects finished here. The well is so close to getting done. Because of the rain and dampness, the concrete at the top of the well is slow to dry and is delaying the installation of the pump. The pump installation will only take a few hours, but we need the concrete to dry. We are putting the finishing touches on Chickie Town, East Africa Edition. The coop is almost finished, and the chickens should be delivered in the next few days.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Children at Well

Today's picture shows two children drawing water from a well. The well is shared by 12 families. The picture was taken in 1939 near Oklahoma City. The photograph serves as a reminder of the desperate poverty that existed in the US less than 100 years ago.

Well, my time in Africa is growing short. The lovely Mrs. PJM is insisting that I return home to my domestic duties, so I will be leaving this coming Tuesday. This leaves very little time to wrap  up projects at the orphanage. Basically, I am trying to do all I can to give these children a fighting chance once I am gone. I can not make things good for them, but I can try and give them a chance with the well and the chicken project.

One challenge that remains. The director, Charles, I told you about yesterday. He works full time there, and receives no compensation. He and his family live on about $100 a month that his wife makes. Often, food comes off their table to supply the kids. He lives about 5 miles from the orphanage. To hire a car for the ride is $2 each way. You can hire a Pickie (small scooter) to take you for about 50 cents each way. On a meager income either of these prove exorbitant, so most of the time he walks. However, circumstances often force him to take the Pickie, and that represents a major drain on resources.

So, in spending several hours with him yesterday, we determined the best way I could further help at this time would be to help solve the transportation issue. If Charles had a Pickie, he could ride to the orphanage, and allow him to have more time actually caring for the children, and have transportation when he needs to take Children to town. Also, with a Pickie he will be able to sell eggs to cafes in town, as he will have  a mode to make deliveries. He already has made deals with several cafes to buy the eggs.

So, we went Pickie shopping yesterday. Charles' brother is a pastor for a nearby church, and his brother knows more than either of us about Pickies, so his brother Martin agreed to come help us find the right one at the right price. The picture below shows Charles' brother helping us shop for the bike.

This picture above shows the Bad Boy we ended up getting. This bike gets a whopping 175 miles per gallon. That is not a typo . . . it is 175 miles per gallon, is street legal, and has no trouble maintaining highway speeds here. Oh, and it comfortably seats a family of four. I kid you not . . . the bike is rated for four people. It is the norm here to see 3, 4, 5, and even six people riding on a  Pickie. I am not making this stuff up. I saw one with three people and a goat, and another time three people and a bicycle strapped to the back.

So, we closed the deal, and Charles and the kids now have some modern, efficient, affordable transportation. Just to give you a little more feel for Pickies, here are some pictures I snapped today around town.

Picture above was on highway leaving town. The Picky drivers charge per trip, not per passenger, so the more people you pile on the Pickie, the better the deal is. Above you see four, count them, four adults on the Pickie. It is hard to capture the really spectacular Pickie pictures as they have already zoomed by before I can get the camera out and snap the picture. Last week I saw a Pickie with two people and a coffin. The coffin was on the back seat sticking out to the left and the right. Out of respect of course I did not snap a picture of that, but admit I was genuinely wondering if there was a body in the casket or not.

Bicycles are often used to deliver farm produce. 

Bicycles are the primary Taxi system here. The fee is 10 cents per ride, wherever you want to go. Note the man on the back is conducting business on a cell phone while on the cycle-taxi. Over 97% of people here do not have electricity nor running water in home, but everyone has a cell phone.

For those seeking a more comfortable taxi experience than a bicycle or Pickie, there is the Tuk Tuk, a three wheeled somewhat enclosed vehicle. The fee for a ride in a Tuk Tuk is about a dollar each way. Note in the picture a rag is stuffed in gas tank instead of a proper gas cap, which must have been lost along the way somewhere.

Anyway, it appeared to me that the high mileage Pickie was the best way to help the children so we went with that.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Watering Animals

Today's picture shows animals being watered at a well. The picture was taken in 1930 in Bethlehem. It is interesting the diversity of animals found there.

No update on the projects here. I have been helping the lovely Ms. EAM with some of her work, so hopefully I will have an update on things later on this week.