Tuesday, December 27, 2011

After-Christmas Sales - 1901


This ad from December 28, 1901 shows us that after-Christmas sales are nothing new.  They may not have featured shoppers pummeling each other to get to the markdowns on the furs listed in this advertisement in this Holyoke, Massachusetts store.  Or even at Johnson's Bookstore below in Springfield (well known to generations of western Massachusetts shoppers) for their marked down books.


But for 4-cent children's books -- it might just be well worth knocking your fellow shoppers to the floor.

Nah.  I guess not.

We know there was less disposable income in those days for the average folk.  Perhaps that bred civility.  Let's hope it may do the same for us in the long run.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” first appeared in print as a poem in the Boston Christian Register, a few days after Christmas in 1849. Edmund Sears, pastor of the Unitarian, First Parish Church in Wayland, Massachusetts wrote it.

Sears was originally from the western Massachusetts town of Sandisfield. The following year, 1850, composter Richard Storrs Willis wrote the tune that is most often played to this song in the US. (The United Kingdom has another melody to this song.)

Here is the poem Mr. Sears wrote that became one of most popular traditional Christmas carols:

It came upon the midnight clear,


That glorious song of old,


From angels bending near the earth,


To touch their harps of gold:


"Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,


From heaven's all-gracious King."


The world in solemn stillness lay,


To hear the angels sing.


Still through the cloven skies they come,


With peaceful wings unfurled,


And still their heavenly music floats


O'er all the weary world;


Above its sad and lowly plains,


They bend on hovering wing,


And ever o'er its Babel sounds


The bless├Ęd angels sing.


Yet with the woes of sin and strife


The world has suffered long;


Beneath the angel-strain have rolled


Two thousand years of wrong;


And man, at war with man, hears not


The love-song which they bring;


O hush the noise, ye men of strife,


And hear the angels sing.


And ye, beneath life's crushing load,


Whose forms are bending low,


Who toil along the climbing way


With painful steps and slow,


Look now! for glad and golden hours


come swiftly on the wing.


O rest beside the weary road,


And hear the angels sing!


For lo!, the days are hastening on,


By prophet bards foretold,


When with the ever-circling years


Comes round the age of gold


When peace shall over all the earth


Its ancient splendors fling,


And the whole world give back the song


Which now the angels sing.


For more on the First Parish Church in Wayland, established in 1640, have a look at this website.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Melzar Mosman - Soldier, Sculptor, and Craftsman

Grant Monument, Lincoln Park, Chicago - JTLynch Photo

This is an excerpt of a speech I recently made to the Chicopee Historical Society about sculptor and bronze foundryman Melzar Mosman. I’m currently working on a book about this 19th century craftsman, and I’d love to hear from anyone who has more information. Please either leave a comment, or send me an email at: JacquelineTLynch@gmail.com.


One of the most famous founders of bronze statuary in the United States, Melzar Mosman, unique among foundrymen, was a sculptor as well.


These views are from 19th century postcards and show a different world in which the bronze statues are not yet corroded to green, and in which they are showcases in city parks and village greens. At the time they were more than memorials to fallen soldiers; they were art. Art for the community, and paid for by towns, and social and civic groups, and sometimes individuals to show their community pride.

We have the statute of General Ulysses S. Grant in Brooklyn, sculpted by William Ordway Partridge, a noted artist in his day, and cast by Melzar Mosman. This was done in 1895 in his shop called Chicopee Bronze Works in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

Here is the Civil War monument Middletown, Connecticut, done in 1874, sculpted by Melzar and founded by him while Mosman was still working at the Ames Manufacturing Company.



The Ames Company, which we discussed in this previous post, is noted of course for its enormous contribution to the Mexican War and to the Civil War producing swords and armaments, light and heavy artillery. But in 1853, Ames is credited with being the first foundry in the United States to cast bronze statuary. Ames had been producing bronze cannon since the 1830s, and in the politically turbulent years of the mid-19th century, cannon took precedence over statues.

Melzar was the grandson of Silas Mosman, also called Deacon Silas, who came from Rhode Island in 1829 to find work for himself and his sons in the burgeoning factory town of Chicopee. His son, Silas, Jr. would come to superintendent the Ames foundry and became noted as a skilled caster in bronze of statuary. The highlight of his career was being asked to cast in bronze the ornamental doors to the Senate wing of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., desgined by Thomas Crawford.

Melzar was born in 1843, and when he graduated from Chicopee High School, he went to work at the Ames Manufacturing Company under the supervision of his father in the foundry. In 1862 he quit to join the Union Army.
Melzar was a private attached to Company D and served at New Bern, North Carolina. His unit clashed with the enemy in skirmishes in the Goldsboro, Kinston areas. His unit was sent to Baltimore, and Harper’s Ferry, and helped in pursuit of General Robert E. Lee when the Confederates retreated from Gettysburg. Later that month, July of 1863, Mosman’s unit was sent home and mustered out. Melzar went back to the foundry at the Ames Company and made more cannon.

After the war in 1867, he went to Europe, as most young artists and craftsmen did, to study. He went to Italy and France, worked in foundries and learned the art of casting bronze statuary. He also learned to speak Italian and French.

The Minuteman, Concord, Mass. JT Lynch Photo

He returned to the Ames foundry to work alongside his father on statuary. In 1874, they produced “The Minuteman” statue of Concord, Massachusetts. The sculptor was Daniel Chester French. Melzar gradually took over the Ames foundry from his father, and Silas, Jr. died in 1883, having retired in 1880. At the time of his death, Melzar was his only surviving child, and Melzar was destined to completely crawl out from underneath his father’s famous shadow, not only as the most sought-after foundryman in the United States, but as a sculptor in his own right.

Here is one of Melzar’s most prestigious projects, the equestrian statue of General Ulysses S. Grant in Lincoln Park, Chicago. It was dedicated in 1891. The sculptor was Louis T. Rebisso. A year after his father’s death, Melzar left the Ames Company and started his own business called Chicopee Bronze Works.



Here the Puritan Statue sculpted by Augustus St. Gaudens, one of the most famous of 19th sculptors. It was placed originally at Sterns square in 1887, then moved to its present position on State Street by the library in 1901. Mosman was once reported to have said that St. Gaudens wasa ‘Crank. He came here to see the castings we made for him, and if he did not like them, went at them with a hammer.”


The Puritan, JT Lynch photo
Here is the Westfield Civil War statue, just off the common, May 1871. Melzar sculpted this. In the newspaper account of the unveiling, he was referred to as the “modest young artist.”


Westfield, Mass., Civil War monument, JT Lynch photo

Here is General Walter Harriman in Warner, New Hampshire, 1903, which Melzar both sculpted and founded at Chicopee Bronze Works.



Gen. Harriman, NH, JT Lynch photo

Bridgeport, Connecticut. This magnificent statue is 54-feet high, and looks something like a tiered wedding cake. It was a gift by circus showman P.T. Barnum. Placed here in August 1876, Melzar is the sculptor of the bronze figures which were cast at the Ames Company. The classical roman mythical figure of a woman representing peace, and the realistic modern-day figures of the men representing soldiers and sailors. The entire monument ranges from Rennaissance Revival to Baroque in style. You’ll note an empty space in the arch on the lower level. There had been another figure of a woman there, but that statue was vandalized in 1969. Only last year, a young sculptor named Emily Bedard was hired to replace the figure, based on old photographs.

Bridgeport, CT, JT Lynch photo

Melzar lived long enough to create memorials for the fallen of two more wards. The Spanish-American War statue in Springfield from 1906.


Spanish-American War, Springfield, Mass., JT Lynch photo
The last war he commemorated was World War I, the Peace Statue in his hometown of Chicopee, which was dedicated in May 1921. It represents the classic female figure with shield and laurel wreath. A replica of the city seal is around her waist. Melzar donated his time for this statue.

When his wife died in 1923, and his daughter married and moved away, Melzar took a trip around the world. For the most part, he was content to keep his business in Chicopee where he lived, were he sang tenor in the choir at the Third Congregational Church. When he died in 1926, he was one of 6 Civil War vets left in the city.

Mosman grave, Chicopee, Mass., JT Lynch photo
He was granted, at his request, a military funeral, with taps played at the gravesite by a Chicopee Boy Scout. Ironically, his headstone is only a small, simple brownstone slab with his initials, identical to the ones of several family members together at the Grape Street Cemetery. The monuments he created for others were his true memorial.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Off Topic - Blog Tour

This is just a brief update on a blog tour I've undertaken this week for my novel, "Beside the Still Waters."


I have a guest post up here at "All the Days Of" blog.

And interviews here at: Blogcritics,

Review from Here,

And Examiner.com.
The blog tour will continue this coming week.

Also, anyone who signs up for my mailing list this month - see the sidebar  on my Another Old Movie Blog - will receive a coupon code for a free copy of my ebook "Myths of the Modern Man" from Smashwords.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Operation Little Vittles - Chicopee, Massachusetts

An earlier version of the following essay appeared in “In Chicopee”, a publication of the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram in 1992.

In the spring of 1948 when the brittle division of wartime alliances left a new order, etching the map of with an “Iron Curtain”, the Soviet Union blockaded Berlin in the hope that the Allies would abandon it.

They did not. Within three days the Allies, headed by the United States, responded with Operation Vittles, a project which airlifted food, medicine, and fuel to the two million Berliners in the isolated French, British, and American sectors. It was more than a goodwill mission; it was a symbolic action during a bleak period of history when symbol and cant were weapons of the Cold War.

Chicopee, Massachusetts celebrated its centennial as a town that year, and found itself the center of this world event. Westover Air Force Base in the northwest section of town formed the gateway of the air bridge to Europe.

Westover pilot, 1st Lieutenant Gail S. Halversen of Utah was part of one of many crews which made round the clock flights for the relief of the desperate Berliners. Noticing the forlorn children outside the fence at Templehof Airport, Halvorsen offered them some gum, and came up with the idea that led to an unauthorized mission. He began to drop candy from his C-54 transport plane, and became known as the Candy Bomber.

In Chicopee, Mayor Edward Bourbeau and his secretary, Wilfred V. Thivierge adopted Halvorsen’s mission. Under Operation Little Vittles, Chicopee became a national clearinghouse for donations of candy to the children of Berlin.

The project, unlike Operation Vittles, was unofficial and voluntary. Personal involvement in the rescue of far-away people appealed as the most energetic and practical symbol there could be of a free people empathizing with the hardships of others, with whom they had nothing in common. Candy for the children added another dimension to the event.

The abandoned Company No. 4 firehouse on Grape and Springfield streets was cleaned up by volunteers and became the headquarters of the candy operation. Donations were sent to Chicopee from all over the country. These were gifts of candy from individuals and companies, and especially of men’s handkerchiefs which Halvorsen reported were always running low. The hankies were used as parachutes, and they floated down showers of chocolate and gum, and lollipops and Lifesavers to thousands of German kids.

Mary C. Connors, then a junior at the Our Lady of the Elms College in town, headed the committee of the Chicopee schoolchildren on making the parachutes at the firehouse. Every school in the city sent contributions and manpower, for this was mainly a project about children. There was some chest thumping about outsmarting the Reds, but most of the good will really was just good will.

In January 1949, Halvorsen visited his Candyland. He came in on the 12:30 train at the Union Station in Springfield, and Mayor Bourbeau and his staff welcomed him to Chicopee. A dinner was held for at the old Red Barn restaurant and tavern, and he spoke to the Chicopee High School students at assembly. He told Mayor Bourbeau that Chicopee had fine folks.

Superintendent of Schools John L. Fitzpatrick told Chicopee school kids that they were representatives of our democracy. Their part in representing our democracy to the children in Berlin ended after seven months of Little Vittles. The Soviet blockade of Berlin ended in May 1949.

Yesterday on my Another Old Movie Blog, I featured an essay on “The Big Lift” (1950) with Montgomery Clift and Paul Douglas, which takes us on a mission of intrigue and romantic misadventure in Berlin during the Berlin Airlift.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Off Topic - Guest Blog Post

This is to announce I have a guest blog post up today at "All the Days of" - about novel writing and playwriting.  This is Stop 1 on my 10-part Blog Tour featuring my novel on the Quabbin Reservoir, "Beside the Still Waters."  

The rest of the schedule is up here at this site, Pump Up Your Book.