Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NCAA Final Four -- On Wisconsin!

Wisconsin is in the Final Four -- basketball that is -- not hockey, which is startling to us old timers who graduated about a century ago. While the featured sport may have changed, some things don't. I'm talking about the music. Most are familiar with the "On Wiscosnin" fight song. There are two others -- a fun one "If You Want to Be a Badger" and a sentimental one "Varsity." Listen for each of the tunes Saturday night. Better yet, have a few beers and sing along!

If you want to be badger, just come along with me.
By the light.
Shining light.
By the light of the moon.

On Wisconsin. On Wisconsin.
Plunge right through that line.
Here we go, clear down the field boys.
Touchdown sure this time, (Uh, rah, rah)
Oh Wisconsin, On Wisconsin.
Fight on for her fame.
Fight fellas, fight, fight, fight we'll win this game.
Uh, rah, rah, Wisconsin.
Uh, rah, rah, Wisconsin.
Uh, rah, rah, Wisconsin.

Varsity, Varisty, uh rah rah Wisconsin, praise to thee we sing.
Praise to thee our alma mater. Uh, rah, rah, Wisconsin.

And a few more for good measure, including our winning trip to the old Boston Garden in 1973.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Open Memo to Tim Cook and Apple

Mr. Cook:

You can marry whomever you want to marry. You can marry however many people you want to marry, as far as I am concerned. If I was qualified to marry you, I would do so. If I baked wedding cakes, I would bake yours. If I leased out a wedding hall, I would gladly rent it to you for the day. If I was your friend and you invited me to your wedding, I would attend. Or if you choose, you can live without the sanctity or commitment of marriage -- that is perfectly fine by me as well. Live and let live. The key here is your choice.

Now you have come out and demanded the police power of the state be lined up to force others to serve you and yours. You want your choices guaranteed by the state, but you don't want others to have the personal or religious freedom to exercise rights guaranteed for over two hundred years under the U.S. constitution. When you exercise your rights, you see it as a celebration of freedom. When other people exercise their rights, you see it as discrimination. That is unmitigated, self-centered bull. You insist the world be servant to you and yours.

Mr. Cook, you are a bully and a bum, and an embarrassment to the memory and legacy of Steve Jobs.

I will be exercising my freedom of choice going forward by having my family boycott Apple products and divesting myself of Apple stock. You don't get it. Good bye and good riddance Mr. Cook.

Freedom for all!


Along the Gradyent.

Steve Jobs staunchly defending Apple's (and Microsoft's) First Amendment rights and right to discriminate in a May, 2010 email.

Friday, March 27, 2015

We Are Number Six

Architectural rendering of new Town Pump, 19th Street in Bozeman.
In growth among micropolitan statistical areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The U.S. Census Bureau says Bozeman was the sixth-fastest growing “micropolitan” area in the nation from July 1, 2013, to July 1, 2014, with Gallatin County’s population increasing by 2.8 percent to an estimated 97,308 residents.
The fastest-growing micro area in 2013-2014 was Williston, North Dakota, with 8.7 percent growth, the bureau reports. Rounding out the top five on the micropolitan growth list were Dickinson, North Dakota; Heber, Utah; Andrews, Texas; and Vernal, Utah.
There are 536 micro areas in total, so that would put Bozeman just outside of the top one percent. The top two areas, Williston and Dickinson, are in the middle of the Bakken oil formation. Their growth should moderate substantially in 2015 with the recent 50 percent decline in wellhead oil prices substantially reducing drilling activity in the area.

So far, the local Bozeman county and city governments are welcoming of growth and spend much of their time taking on its challenges. But as the year goes by, and more people from the coasts move here to get away from it all, these people from the liberal lands will make up an increasing proportion of the local voting population. They will move to close the doors behind them and impose taxes, requirements and restrictions that discourage growth and make Bozeman a substantially more expensive place to live. Then they will decry the absence of affordable housing and blame it on rapacious business people. So it goes.

Service line at new Five Guys in Bozeman.
Now the truth be known, the Census really doesn't know what populations are but every ten years. In between decennial censuses the bureau imputes populations using birth, death, and other demographic and real estate data, along with a dosage of statistical benchmarking. Despite their best but distant and partially informed efforts, most population data need to be substantially revised by the time of the next decennial census. Based on the growth in traffic, expansion of local retail (food and service stations), and the local proliferation of construction sites, I am betting that the Census Bureau estimate for Bozeman is understated. We shall see in time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Another Day in Montana

A couple of guys didn't make it to work this morning.

On my way to golf past Four Corners, a little road rage, cars screech to a halt off the side of the road, drivers exit and engage in fisticuffs, shots fired ...

Subject vehicles pulled off into parking lot for fist fight and gun shots. We settle up our bets after golf in the Korner Bar & Cafe.
Here is the news report:

FOUR CORNERS - A road-rage incident escalated into a fight and gunfire this morning near Four Corners.
According to the Gallatin County Sheriff's Department, at 8:22 a.m. deputies responded to a report of a fight and gun shots in the parking lot of the Korner Club in Four Corners.
Initial reports indicated that a road rage incident involving two vehicles turned into a fight, followed by one man producing a gun and firing.
Deputies were on the scene quickly and the two men were detained.
One man was transported to Bozeman Deaconess for a cut above his eye from the fight - not the result of a gunshot.
Detectives are interviewing witnesses and investigating the scene to determine what charges will be filed.
Then at Cottonwood Hills the thermometer never cracked 40 and we were snowed out on the back nine -- just another day in Montana.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Obama's Stimulus Keeps On Giving

...us great stories on the absurdity of government spending and Democratic profligacy.

The gossip sheets are reporting that Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel will be raising their baby up the road at Big Sky, where they've purchased property at the Yellowstone Club. It's gorgeous, it's exclusive, it's private.

Homesites are available for from $1.65 million to $4.45 million. Condos are available for $5 million to $16.5 million. Custom residences run from $3.65 million to $16.9 million.
Yellowstone Club is a 13,600 acre private residential community set amidst the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. The Club's superior amenities, easy Montana charm and overwhelming natural beauty present an incomparable venue for mountain living, year-round recreation, and cherished family traditions. Explore the spectacular beauty of the World's only private ski and golf community and the benefits of membership in this exclusive one-of-a-kind club. In addition to the 2,200 acres of powder drenched trails of world-class skiing in the winter and an 18-hole Tom Weiskopf-designed mountain golf course for the summer months, we have a full Outdoor Pursuits program for unparalleled mountain adventures.
And cable television and redundant high speed internet access have been granted gratis to Yellowstone Club residents via Barack Obama and the American taxpayer.

Justin Timberlake and Jennifer Biel were reported to have tied the knot down in Jackson Hole. Now they are bringing their act up to the more exclusive environs of the Yellowstone Club, in Big Sky.
Now, I brook no complaint or jealousy over whatever riches this attractive couple has accumulated. But please, does anyone think they need be beneficiaries of the Obama administration's shovel ready spending?

Check it out. It's a gorgeous place -- and private, private, private.

So you thought Obama's stimulus was done?  Nah, it keeps on cranking away.
West of Bozeman, crews are busily laying cable for Opticom between Belgrade and Big Sky (playground and ski resort for the rich and famous), along Ted Turner's ranch and other intermediate points.
The cables have been laid. The internet is humming. Hundreds of television channels are being piped in. And so it is that Justin and his squeeze, and neighbor Bill Gates, will become the latest beneficiaries of outrageous government largess. How large? Illinois Senator Mark Kirk laid it out for us.
The Silver Fleece Award for the month of July [went] to a $64 million Stimulus award to provide broadband service to Gallatin County, Montana. According to an analysis conducted by Navigant Consulting, 93% of the households in the project's proposed service area were already served by five or more broadband providers. The fact that tens of millions of taxpayer dollars were spent to subsidize broadband service in an area with already strong private sector representation is reprehensible. Perhaps even more staggering, though, is the taxpayer cost of these services per unserved household.
Ted Turner on his Flying D Ranch, Bozeman, Montana
According to the program's own definition of "unserved household", this project cost taxpayers more than $340,000 per unserved household. However, many of these so-called unserved households have access to 3G wireless broadband. Not only are 3G speeds approaching or even meeting Administration broadband standards, but 3G will soon be replaced with 4G broadband, which will far exceed current standards. Subtracting the number of homes that had existing access to 3G wireless leaves only 7 households in the Gallatin County service area unserved by broadband. It cost the U.S. taxpayer an astounding $7,112,422 per household to provide broadband service to the truly unserved population.
The next time some Democratic politician demagogues on the need for spending on infrastructure, remember, this is what they have in mind. You get the government you vote for and I hope you are happy with it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Isaac J. Foster and Laura Elizabeth Armstrong Wedding Announcement

We were delighted to find the other day this one hundred and fifteen year old wedding announcement, noting my grandparents' nuptials.
Pembina Pioneer Express, June 6, 1890
Foster – Armstrong – At the residence of the bride’s sister, Mrs. R. D. Hoskins, by Rev. John Scott, of Walhalla, on Thursday evening, May 28th, 1890, Isaac J. Foster to Miss L. Elizabeth Armstrong, both of Bathgate, N. D.
The bride and groom are so well known to our citizens that to say that they have the well wishes of all, is unnecessary, as neither of them have an enemy who would wish them ill. The wedding was a quiet one, owing to the illness of the bride’s mother, Mrs. J. A. Armstrong, but a very pleasant one to those in attendance. May they enjoy a long life and prosperity, is the wish of all. They have gone housekeeping in the R. D. Hoskins house, which Ike has bought. – Bathgate Democrat. 

My aunt Laura Albina Foster was born later that year, which would seem to explain the timing of the wedding and pressing ahead despite my great grandmother's illness. Ten more children would be born to the union, including my father, George W. Foster, the eleventh and final in the brood.

It will be recalled that the Hoskins had moved on to Bismarck early that year, where R. D. Hoskins had been named the first clerk of the state supreme court on North Dakota's attaining statehood.

The Pembina Pioneer Express had gone on line this last year after we had written a series of posts on Ike Foster. We look forward to using the newspaper as an especially valuable resource when we write going forward. 

The Pioneer Express was the newspaper of record for Pembina county and reported on many of Ike Foster's doings in the then county seat, whether they involved his tenure as country sheriff, his raising of crops or involvement in animal husbandry, his land sales business or his incredibly active auction business. The latter three topics we have yet to write on.

The Express fills important gaps from the fifteen year period when editions of the local Bathgate paper are missing from the North Dakota State Historical Society archives. Perhaps more importantly, the editor of the Express had a sense of humor and an editorial eye for Ike's style and personality that make him come to life in ways that are only hinted at in other sources we have come across. This should be fun.  

Run, Hillary Run

From a Hillary Cliinton for President PAC.

I think a blue dress says Bill more, not?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Honoree 2015: William K. Foster

William K. Foster
March 20, 1835 - September 27, 1902

Foster Irish crest.
On this St. Patrick's Day 2015, we honor our pioneering great grandfather, William K. Foster, who 165 years ago (April 18, 1849) boarded the sailing vessel Bridgetown at New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Six weeks later, on June 1, 1849, William, his widowed mother, and four siblings, landed in Quebec and were thus freed from the throes of the Irish Potato Famine. No doubt they were thankful to have made it safely to Canada for the trip was fraught with hazard.
Traveling to America by ship during the Irish Famine could be quite perilous. In the mid-19th century, English landlords looking to evict penniless Irish tenants would pay to have them shipped to British North America. In many cases these ships were poorly built, crowded, disease-ridden, and short of food, supplies and medical services. As a result, many Irish immigrants contracted diseases such as typhus, and many others died before reaching land. Of the 100,000 Irish that sailed to British North America in 1847, one out of five died from disease and malnutrition. Appropriately, these treacherous sailing vessels became known as “coffin ships.”
On a voyage across the Atlantic in 1847, dozens aboard the Bridgetown succumbed to the fever (typhus) and were buried at sea, leaving many orphans. A passenger wrote from island quarantine:
We arrived here on the 22nd from Liverpool. I regret to tell you that fever broke out, and that seventy passengers and one sailor were committed to the deep on the voyage. There are several more ill. We buried six yesterday on shore. The carpenter and joiner are occupied making coffins. There are six more dead after the night. I cannot say when we can go to Quebec, as we cannot land the remainder of the sick at present, there being no room in the hospitals for them, though the front of the island is literally covered with sheds and tents. 
The accounts from the shore are awful, and our condition on board you can form no idea of — helpless children without parents or relatives, the father buried in the deep last week, and the mother the week before, — their six children under similar unfortunate circumstances, and so on. I trust God will carry me through this trying ordeal — I was a few days sick, but am now recovered. Captain Wilson was complaining for a few days. It is an awful change from the joyous hopes with which most of us left our unfortunate country, expecting to be able to earn that livelihood denied us at home — all — all changed in many cases to bitter deep despair.
The Bridgetown would be lost at sea off the coast of New Foundland in August, 1850. 
[T]he ship "Bridgetown," from Liverpool, with 347 passengers, was wrecked on the coast of Newfoundland, near Cape Race, on the 4th of August. Excepting three children, the passengers were saved and conveyed to St. John's, whence three vessels arrived with them at this port, on the 10th of September. The passengers by the "Wave" and "Bridgetown," landed here in a very destitute state, having lost all their baggage, on which account they caused a heavy expenditure to the department. The outlay incurred at this and the Montreal agency, for their inland transport and provisions, was 152£ 5s., for which expense, owing to the loss of the vessels, no dues had been received.
Having survived their voyage unscathed, the Foster family adventure in the New World began.

Great great grandmother Margaret Roach Foster, an
d children Hariett, 24, James, 21, Elizabeth 18, William K., 14, and Isaac, 12, settled in Kemptville, Ontario, located thirty-five miles south of Ottawa.  William came of age, apprenticed as and became a journeyman cabinet maker, a profession which included coffin making. He met Margaret Sanderson, daughter of Scottish immigrants. They married on May 3, 1859. She bore him five sons -- Isaac (my grandfather), George, William, James and Robert. Great grandmother Margaret died of complications from childbirth the week following Robert's birth. The widower William subsequently married Nancy Jane Loucks, who bore him a sixth child, Emily Rellia. 

William Foster headed yet further west in 1874, first to Pembina, Dakota territory. Pembina was the original county seat of Pembina county. It is tucked under the international border in the extreme northeast corner of North Dakota, seventy miles south of Winnepeg, Manitoba. In 1879, William moved on to his final place of residence, homesteading in Bathgate, Dakota territory, fifteen miles southwest of Pembina. William was an original -- literally the town father. 

The founding of Bathgate is chronicled in "Proudly We Speak, A History of Neche, Hyde Park, Bruce and Bathgate."

In this 1893 plat William K. Foster owned a quarter section west of town, plus a
145 acre plot south of town. He donated a triangular plot east of the railroad for the
town cemetery, where he is interred.  The town of  Bathgate is located on land my
great grandfather originally homesteaded. The quarter section north of town is held
at that time by my grandfather Isaac (I. J.) Foster.
William Foster, Sr. and his son "Ike" filed on the land which became the Bathgate townsite. There are several stories of how the town came to be called Bathgate. One taken from the diary of Mrs. John Houston, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Campbell states that in July 1880 two men with a team of horses came to the Campbell home, the land now owned by the Thomas and James Martindale families and asked to stay over night. The men were Comstock and White of the Land Company of Comstock and White, who had purchased the land for a townsite from the Fosters. They went on to Winnipeg, locating townsites along the railroad. On their return,they again stayed over night and Mr. Comstock said that the townsite would be named Bathgate after the town in England, where his wife had lived.
A Mr. Ewing was hired to plot the town into lots, streets and avenues. The Railroad brought the Boom. People came, buildings sprang up, businesses were started and the town grew. The St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railroad was built from Grand Forks to Winnipeg. It reached Bathgate August 10,1882. Service began in September, the north train arriving in the morning and the south bound train in the late afternoon. In 1890, this railroad became the Great Northern with the well known Jim Hill as President of the Company. The first grain was shipped September 27, 1882. The telegraph came to Bathgate late in 1882.
William K. was active in the town's development far beyond his role in selling his original quarter section off to a developer. "Proudly We Speak" continues,
William Foster was the first to build a home, it was built in the north end of town. He built the building which housed the Post Office. Mr. Foster was the first Postmaster. 
Appointment as original Bathgate postmaster, Black Hills Weekly Pioneer, December 3 1881.
He carried the mail horseback from Hamilton P.O., five miles south of Bathgate and two miles northwest of Hamilton to the Pembina-Cavalier Trail. He performed this service without pay for two years. William Foster was the town's promoter. Church services were held in his house. He donated land for the Cemetery. He and his sons promoted various business ventur
In additional to selling the land which was developed by Comstock and White, the Fosters retained land to the immediate north which was platted, subdivided and marketed as Foster's Addition to Bathgate. William K. Foster avidly promoted the lots, the town and the territory of Dakota in general.

For his efforts the editor of the local newspaper referred to William Foster as Mayor, an honorific, not legally conferred, title.

William Foster said that Bathgate was "high and dry," not subject to the all too frequent devastating floods that occured a dozen miles east along the "overflowing Red."

Bathgate Sentinel, May 16, 1882
The "Bathgate Sentinel" was quick to confirm the accuracy of advertisements promoting the town. 
Bathgate Sentinel, May 16, 1882
There is not a word of exaggeration in the advertisements of our townsite proprietors Messrs. Comstock & White, and Mr. W. Foster. Located as Bathgate is on a beautiful river, almost in the centre of the rich, and wonderously fertile County of Pembina, and soon to become the great railroad centre, no town can offer better inducements to capital, energy and brains. Everybody sees the superior advantages Bathgate has over all other towns in the county, the beautiful high location; fourteen miles from the raging Red, that has caused so much damage along its banks; a great railroad centre, and a soil extending in every direction from ten to twenty miles that is unrivaled for richness and elevation.
William K. Foster touted the special advantages of Foster's addition in ads placed in the "Pembina Pioneer Express."

Pembina Pioneer Express, June 22 1883.
William Foster's enthusiasm never dimmed.

Pembina Pioneer Express, February 15, 1884
Wm. Foster visited several of the towns in the county last week, but comes back satisfied to remain in Bathgate, although the numerous houses built up around him obstruct the wide view of the surrounding country, which he had when his was the only shanty within several miles of the present town. Mr. Foster says: "This is God's own Country, it can't be beat."
We thank God for the pioneering spirit and drive of our ancestor William K. Foster, and honor him for that and his heritage today, St. Patricks Day 2015. Thanks to him the road has risen to meet us and the wind blows to this day behind our backs. Happy St. Patrick's day great grandfather!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fourty-Two Years Ago Today (Repost)

On March 16, 1973, spring was in the air, and we were on the ground in Boston, Massachusetts, not to partake in the St. Patrick Day festivities, but on a road trip to the NCAA National Hockey Championship (now known as the Frozen Four). We had driven twenty hours straight through from Madison, Wisconsin to root the Badgers on in a semi-final game. It was a notable trip out, followed by a dramatic tournament, and a trip home (read this post to the end) that we would never forget.  

Wisconsin's semifinal was scheduled for Friday night. The Wisconsin Badgers hockey club, a young up and coming team that had yet to win a national championship, were slated to face off against the powerhouse Cornell Big Red, winners of the NCAA tournament two of the previous five years. Cornell had recently graduated Ken Dryden, a goalie who went on to win the Conn Smythe trophy, as the most valuable player in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, during his pre-rookie year with the Montreal Canadians.  Dryden is probably best known to the casual fan as the announcer who did the color commentary, during Al Michael's dramatic play-by-play call of the the U.S. hockey team's "Miracle on Ice" victory over the Soviet Union, at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980. Cornell was heavily favored. Wisconsin was heavily supported by its fans.

So Long Seattle

Now that we are back to Big Sky country, a clean up post with iconic Seattle images is in order. It is great to get off to the big city every now and again, but it is better to come home. Here goes.

Pike Place market, front view.

The original Starbucks. In the beginning it was beans -- whole and ground -- no lattes or espresso.

 Pike Place market piggy bank, donations welcome.

The Space Needle from Puget Sound (we round tripped on the Bainbridge Island ferry.)

Smith Tower, one-time tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

CenturyLink Field and Safeco Stadium, Washington State ferry in the foreground.

Broad view of the Seattle skyline.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Snowless to Seattle

It had been some number of years since we trekked to Seattle.

Spring break came fast upon us this year and the mountain passes (Homestake, Lookout and Snoqualmie) cleared early of ice and snow, so we packed up the minivan and headed west. The biggest change of note in the Emerald city since our last visit is an immense building boom (see first picture below) in the South Lake Union area, just above the Space Needle, where Jeff Bezos is re-building the Amazon corporate campus and Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder, and Seahawks and Trailblazers owner) has become a high rise residential real estate magnate. Bill and Melinda's foundation is somewhere in there too. 

Seattle's "progressive" political establishment's attitude about this? They are oligopolistic billionaire corporate icons, but they are our oligopolostic billionaire corporate icons. After all, these guys don't own and operate real industrial enterprises, producing real things for real people, and creating great middle class jobs, like say, the evil Koch brothers. 

One thing we got to do that we had not done since attending the Seattle's World Fair in 1962 was take a round trip on the Monorail. It's kind of a clunker version of the sleeker and more scenic setup in Disney World, but a nice little diversion, nevertheless. Here are pictures of sights we have taken in.

The Space Needle from Lake Union.

Space Needle from the grounds of Seattle Center.

Chihuly Garden and Glass, indoor exhibit.

Chilhuly Garden and Glass, Outdoor exhibit.

Space Needle from Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Gas Works park, Lake Union.

Monday, March 9, 2015

NASDAQ 5,000 Again Fifteen Years Later

Fifteen years ago I called up my Merrill Lynch full service broker to tell him to sell Qualcom at $80.00 -- we had bought it for about two bucks. I let him talk me out of it. I eventually sold Qualcom for $40 to $50 a share, and gradually transferred my various accounts to a discount brokerage where I manage investments on behalf of our family free of professional advise or discussion. While we listen to experts on the financial networks and read their articles on the web from time to time, to pull out nuggets of information here and there, we don't do what they tell us to do and we certainly don't waste our money paying them. That recipe doesn't work and it never will. You are much better off learning about markets, paying attention to their shifting sands and calling your own shots. The lodestar principal? Buy low and sell high (yes, do sell). It's not so complicated. Take it from there, I say, and watch your investments take off.

Add caption

Friday, March 6, 2015

Rory McIlroy Hurls

When Roger Maltbie asked Rory's caddie on the next tee what club it was, he replied "A Nike."

Hello, Goodbye AT&T

AT&T is being ousted from the Dow Jones industrial average in favor of Apple.

AT&T is but a shadow of its former self. It once was the corporate home of the long-distance service used by virtually all home telephone subscribers, as well as the corporate umbrella for the regional Baby Bells subsidiaries that provided local telephone service to more than 90 percent of the country. 

There was no competition to speak of. Innovation was slow to nonexistent. The monopoly was approved and enforced by the FCC (under the same authority they used to assert internet jurisdiction last week) in return for supposed low consumer cost, reliability and the promise of universal service. Very smart Washington lawyers and armies of accountants and engineers who worked for the conglomerate and its affiliates, insisted the monopoly and its cross subsidies were necessary if AT&T was to have the scale, technical inter-operability and financial wherewithal to support seamless, reliable and nondiscriminatory universal service. If you were an economist, you could make a small fortune building models and engaging in argument that telephone service was a natural monopoly. If you were a consumer in need of a telephone handset, you could get it anywhere you wanted so long as it was leased and it was manufactured by Western Electric, another Bell subsidiary

After the FCC had implemented a series of meek reforms, the Reagan administration Justice Department said nuts to all that and stepped up to rip apart that AT&T in 1984, which opened up telecommunication markets to competition and invited quantum leaps in innovation. Settlement of the antitrust action further eliminated artificial barriers between computer and telecommunication services, facilitating the development of the enormous tech sector we have today. 

If the FCC of old had its way and the AT&T still existed in its historic form, we would probably still be communicating largely via fax machines. Legions of lawyers and lobbyists would be arguing whether the regulators should permit AT&T to introduce text messaging as a value added, separately metered service, to its installed customer pager base (if you don't know what a pager is, ask mom or dad). Cell phones? Only for the elite if they were out there at all.

AT&T joined the Dow Jones industrial stock index on October 4, 1916. There were twenty stocks in the index then (thirty now). Eight of the twenty firms had "American" or "United States" in their titles. With the departure of AT&T announced today, American Express is the sole remaining firm whose name has a domestic flavor. 

AT&T was a giant. A big part of the 20th century history of this country is a history of how AT&T got to be what it was. AT&T knitted the nation together. It drove enormous commercial growth and facilitated the country's industrialization. The firm bridged the gap from the telegraph to the internet. All that success blinded many to the possibilities that existed beyond AT&T.

Which would lead to us winding up this post except that we have been doing some research.

In that vein, we present a look at a businessman and manager, cum engineer who was an AT&T pioneer. We identified him in a current project where we are looking into the early history of a country club, founded in 1897, where we caddied from 1964 to 1972. Glen View Club had an impressive lineup of early members whose callings and careers are reflection of a time in this country and its history much bigger than themselves.

Today we introduce Angus S. Hibbard

Illinois Bell adaptation of the Bell logo.
Most of us can recall the AT&T Bell system logo, a later Illinois Bell version presented to the right. The originator of that logo, Angus S. Hibbard, was an early AT&T executive and a member at Glen View Club.
While strolling down New York’s lower Broadway during 1888, Angus Hibbard observed that trade signs painted blue and white seemed to stand out the best. At the time Angus Hibbard was the general superintendent for American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) then referred to as the Long Distance Company. AT&T was established during 1885 as an American Bell Telephone Company subsidiary. Its purpose was to connect distant cities with long distance lines.
Bell Telephone Sign
Three years had gone by since AT&T’s founding and public pay phones were becoming more widespread. But the company had no standardized signing for marking long distance payphone locations. Having noticed signs painted blue and white attracted the eye, Angus had a thought. Many vendors and stores at the time advertised their wares or services by displaying large symbolic examples above the sidewalk. Why not symbolize Bell telephone service using the outline of a bell? 
Advertising is often related to the American consciousness through subliminal cultural themes. The Bell interests released its first telephone advertisement in May 1877 referring to Prof. Bell’s “Speaking and Singing Telephone.” An image of The Liberty Bell came to Angus’ mind coinciding with The American Bell Telephone Company named for the Bell patents and Alexander Graham Bell. Angus Hibbard set to work sketching renditions of an appropriate advertising sign. His first attempt included adopting the Liberty Bell shape in blue and attaching a set of wings indicating the flight or speed of modern telephone transmission. On the bell he included the words in white “LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE.” The bell was set on a white background and Angus showed his sketch to Theodore Vail, then president of AT&T.
The wings were dropped. The simple bell logo adopted soon thereafter was plastered on telephone booths everywhere and became emblematic of AT&T and the Bell System. The logo in various forms was used from 1889 into the 1990s (by some of the baby bells). At its peak the logo achieved 93 percent recognition from the American public, similar to the percentage of households that were wired in the Ma Bell era for telephone service.

Mr. Hibbard described the development and adoption of the logo in his own words.
Tramping lower Broadway, studying signs of many kinds, I had come to believe that the best color scheme for such a sign would be blue on white, with plenty of blue. Alone in my office with the samples at hand, I took a large pad of paper and tried to study the question from the bottom up. We wanted a sign for Alexander Graham Bell's telephone. With that as the fundamental I sketched on the paper the outline of a bell. To the next question, "What kind of telephone are we to advertise?" there was but one answer, the long distance telephone. And so I printed within the outline of the bell the words "Long Distance Telephone." This looked good to me and, deciding to follow the color scheme described, I had a blueprint made from the drawing and discussed it with my associates. They liked it. The original sketch and blueprint were approved by Edward J. Hall, Jr., general manager of the company, my superior officer, on January 5, 1889, together with the words "Standard Bell, use no other form." So was born the Blue Bell of the telephone.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Newsreel: Jock Hutchison Wins Open Championship

Jock Hutchison, one of our loops from the days we caddied at Glen View Club, won the 1921 Open Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Jock played with amateur Bobby Jones the first two rounds that year. Jones famously picked up and retired during the third round. 

We recently discovered this newsreel video documenting Hutchison's triumph. Jock is the short guy on the right.

British Pathe supplied the following caption.
Item title reads - U.S.A. Wins Open Golf Championship. "Jock" Hutchison - St. Andrews born, but playing for America, defeats Mr Roger Wethered in play off after thrilling tie. St. Andrews, Scotland.
Jock and Roger stand with their clubs and smile at the camera. M/S as Jock takes a shot. L/S of the course and players on the green. We see Jock being congratulated by the crowd, he takes his hat off and waves.
M/S of Jock and other men as they pose, he holds the winner's cup and pretends to drink out of it. C/U of Jock sat down holding the cup and smoking a cigarette.
Jock also won the PGA Championship in America (1920), as well as the National Open golf championship, which stood in for the U.S. Open in the war year of 1917. Cigarettes didn't strike Jock down. He was born in St. Andrews Scotland in 1884 and died 93 years later at Evanston, Illinois in 1977.

Signed photo of Bobby Jones, "For my old friend Jock Hutchison with all good wishes, Bob Jones."

February Top 10

Here comes the February top ten.

1. The Cubes Are Coming, The Cubes Are Coming profiles our in-laws' "Cargotecture" apartment development project in Huntsville, Texas. This story yields a classic view of how information migrates across the Internet. We keyed off of a local newspaper story in the Huntsville Item Online to draft our post. For a few days our post was shared around Facebook and Twitter, creating an initial cluster of page views. Then five days later, a local NBC television affiliate picked up the story, and broadcast a spiffy two minute news spot, pushing another spate of page views. The day after that, USA Today jumped on board, surging yet more views. There have been a couple of more stories since. So it is that the late month posting of "The Cubes Are Coming, The Cubes Are Coming" climbed to the top.

KAGS News feature on Cube Square.

2. It's as if someday this two-year old post will have been read by everyone who we grew up with. Growing Up in Morton Grove is the story of the place and times where and when we grew up in the 1950s, 60s and early 70s. It was among the first of our reminiscent posts. The popularity of this look back on our youth has contrived, with others, us to push our subject mix in favor of yarns of what was. People love stories -- as do we.

Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, current honorary starters
at The Masters, crossing Hogans bridge on the 12th hole of Augusta Natl.
3. Brutal February winter weather drives us all to yearn for the warmth and renewal of spring. So it is no surprise that The Masters (Repost) caught on fire in the coldest month. Visions of verdant green fairways, dazzling azaleas, bright blossoming daffodils and magnificent magnolias warm a person's soul. Our reminisce here is that as a youth we caddied for an octogenarian who was one of the original two honorary Masters starters. When Jock Hutchison told me about his friend Bobby Jones and related he was a multiple major winner, who had once been Open Champion, and prevailed in the PGA Championship, I silently scoffed. Oh well, sorry Mr. Hutchison, we live and we learn. We are pleased you are now recognized in the World Golf Hall of Fame and are honored we had the opportunity to tote your bag.

John Swearingen tussled with Jimmy Carter's Energy
Secretary, James Schlesinger, on CBS's "Face the Nation."
4. Many people who work in large organizations will stop at nothing and stoop to anything to get access to the guys or gals at the top. When we were a teenage caddie we had direct and unimpeded access to many of these leaders and hardly realized it. You could have knocked me over with the feather the evening that I learned John Swearingen was president and chairman of the board of Standard Oil (Indiana). Read about the man and his Southern belle wife in John and Bonnie: A Profile in Oil, Finance, Politics and High Society.

5. There is not much left of Bathgate, North Dakota, but our posts on the same draw plenty attention. Our postings started with On the Road to Bathgate Act 1: "Fargo" the Movie. The winter the Coen brothers' movie was shot, key scenes were staged in or near Bathgate, not because of scenic landscape, but due to snow, or I should say the dearth of snow that season in Minnesota. Hosting the movie production was the most exciting thing to happen to Bathgate since, say 1879, which would be the year my great grandfather homesteaded the quarter section of land which became Bathgate.

Displaying DSCN7257.JPG
Plat of Foster's Addition to Bathgate, North Dakota.

6. When I began researching family roots, I understood that I had an uncle Lyn. But I did not know I had a great uncle Lyn. We introduced ourselves to the latter in On the Road to Bathgate Act 7a: Introducing Lyndon King Armstrong -- Pharmacist, Engineer, Miner, Publisher and Association Leader. From Minnesota, to North Dakota, to Montana, to Idaho and on to Washington state, Lyndon K. Armstrong led a hell of a life. Through this post my grandmother's brother lives on.

7. Speaking of my uncle Lyn, the post on him is number seven on the February list. The disabled World War I vet, after recovering, moved to California and launched there an extraordinary life. The man never saw an election he did not like. 
Few have run for political office so many times; few have repetitively lost by such consistently huge margins. The man did not know how to give up. Lyndon R. Foster ran for local, state and federal offices, some multiple times. He was an advocate for freedom -- freedom from tyranny, freedom of speech and the press, freedom of religion and freedom from the fraud, abuse, overreaching and waste of big government. He earned the distinction of being the most prolific and yet the least successful of the Foster family politicians. But, as will be seen, he bumped up against more than a little important history along the way. 
If you have not already done so, go ahead, you will find On the Road to Bathgate Act 4f: Lyndon R. Foster -- Veteran, Publisher and Politician a worthwhile read. 

8. There are two ways to look at the community where I grew up. The first is it was a bucolic, safe and cozy wooded suburb where Beaver Cleaver would have felt totally at home. The second is that it was the home of illicit gambling, dance halls and booze, arson, murder and gang wars. Both views are correct. Read about the most notorious source of the mischief in Morton Grove Before the Baby Boom: The Complete Story of The Dells.

Fred Pacelli was slain in The Dells with hundreds in attendance; there were no eye witnesses. Chicago Tribune, June 17, 1932
9.  It was fun while it lasted. Bozeman had a premature spring preview in early February. A reporter for the local NBC television affiliate showed up at Cottonwood Hills golf course and cornered owner/manger Bobby Quick and a couple of us old timers for an interview. The February golf course opening had caught me by surprise. I had no opportunity to trim the winter beard and discard other accouterments of the winter mountain man look. Alas, I am glad I did not make the change. We have plunged back into hard winter. See it while the getting was good in Cottonwood Hills Friday.

Grady Foster, Golfer at 1:10. Who is that?

While gusty winds made it less than ideal to ski, it didn't stop golfers from hitting the greens.

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10. I had fired Brian Williams ten years back. It looks like the rest of the world has caught up. We related this makes us sad, not happy in The Brian Williams Affair.