1896

Vernal Equinox 2020

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Well, Spring has finally sprung and not a moment too soon. I’m sitting in my Adirondack chair, with my bare feet on the ground, watching the sunset through the limbs of my Hackberry tree. Yes, I have short feet. Shut up. (All photos are my personal collection. ©)

Grounding Image One
Grounding with Mother Earth on the Vernal Equinox

According to the Farmers’ Almanac 1818, this is the earliest First Day of Spring in 124 years. Yahoo! Maybe some warm, beautiful weather will offset the corona beer virus and this needless, manufactured hysteria that has appeared with it.

Japanese Maple Image Two
Japanese Maple waking up.
Hackberry in the background.

I did a Vernal Equinox post last year when it coincided with the Full Worm Moon. In our area, it was as high as 80° and I was out in it. My buddy Ray had some errands to run so, off we went to the county north of us. Once the errands were completed, we headed to downtown Roxboro for lunch & a minor visit to their museum (pictures coming tomorrow).

Museum Flagpole Image Three
Lunch at the museum with a view of the flag.

From Farmers’ Almanac 1818:

[Spring] will occur at 11:50 p.m. EDT for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere […]. Traditionally, we celebrate the first day of spring on March 21 but, astronomers and calendar manufacturers, alike, now say that the spring season starts on March 20th, in all time zones in North America. And, in 2020, it’s even a day earlier than that…something that hasn’t happened since 1896.

Narcissus Image Four
Happy Narcissus in my side yard.

There are a few reasons why seasonal dates can vary from year to year. The first is that a year is not an even number of days and neither are the seasons. Another reason is that the earth’s elliptical orbit is changing its orientation (skew), which causes the earth’s axis to constantly point in a different direction, called precession. Since the seasons are defined as beginning at strict 90-degree intervals, these positional changes affect the time the earth reaches each 90-degree location in its orbit around the sun. The pull of gravity from the other planets also affects the location of the earth in its orbit.

Cheers! ~Vic

Additional Interesting Reading:
First Day of Spring (The Old Farmer’s Almanac 1792)

Tune Tuesday: Lloyd Price 1959

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Lloyd Price Image One
Photo Credit: youtube.com

Sixty years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts was Stagger Lee. The song references a murder that took place on December 27, 1895 (though some accounts say Christmas night). “Stag” Lee Shelton, born in Texas on March 16, 1865 (the same year John B. Stetson started his famous cowboy hat company), owner of the Modern Horseshoe Club, shot William “Billy” Lyons at the Bill Curtis Saloon after an argument.

From the St. Louis Globe-Democrat December 28, 1895:

William Lyons, 25, a levee hand, was shot in the abdomen yesterday evening at 10 o’clock in the saloon of Bill Curtis, at Eleventh and Morgan Streets, by Lee Sheldon [sic], a carriage driver. Lyons and Sheldon [sic] were friends and were talking together. Both parties, it seems, had been drinking and were feeling in exuberant spirits. The discussion drifted to politics, and an argument was started, the conclusion of which was that Lyons snatched Sheldon’s [sic] hat from his head. The latter indignantly demanded its return. Lyons refused, and Sheldon [sic] withdrew his revolver and shot Lyons in the abdomen. When his victim fell to the floor Sheldon [sic] took his hat from the hand of the wounded man and coolly walked away. He was subsequently arrested and locked up at the Chestnut Street Station. Lyons was taken to the Dispensary, where his wounds were pronounced serious. Lee Sheldon [sic] is also known as ‘Stag’ Lee.

Quote from Cecil Brown (author of Stagolee Shot Billy):

“Lee Shelton belonged to a group of pimps known in St. Louis as the ‘Macks’. The Macks were not just ‘urban strollers’. They presented themselves as objects to be observed.”

Lloyd Price Image Two
Image Credit: amazon.com

Shelton’s first trial in July, 1896, ended in a hung jury. The second trial in October 1897 returned a guilty verdict and a sentence of 25 years in prison at Jefferson Penitentiary. Shelton was pardoned and released from prison by Governor Folk on Thanksgiving in 1909. He returned to prison in May of 1911 for robbery & assault. He was granted an additional parole by Governor Hadley on February 8, 1912 but, died in the prison hospital of tuberculosis in March as Missouri’s Attorney General, Elliot Major, objected.

The original version of this song was the Stack O’ Lee Blues from 1924. It has some shocking lyrics and has absolutely nothing to do with the Stagger Lee version penned by Price and Harold Logan.

This song has been covered by Pat Boone (can you imagine?), Ike & Tina Turner, The Righteous Brothers, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Doc Watson, The Youngbloods and, even, Huey Lewis and the News.

[I grew up dancing to this song. It was a shagging staple. Have you ever seen Shag: The Movie? ~Vic]

Analog Version

Shag: The Movie

Fellow blogger Badfinger always lists lyrics. I will take his lead.

Lyrics
The night was clear and the moon was yellow
And the leaves came tumblin’ down…

I was standin’ on the corner
When I heard my bull-dog bark.
He was barkin’ at the two men
Who were gamblin’ in the dark.

It was Stagger Lee and Billy,
Two men who gambled late.
Stagger Lee threw a seven,
Billy swore that he threw eight.

“Stagger Lee,” said Billy,
“I can’t let you go with that.
You have won all my money,
And my brand-new Stetson hat.”

Stagger Lee went home
And he got his. 44.
He said, “I’m goin’ to the ballroom
Just to pay that debt I owe.”

Go, Stagger Lee

Stagger Lee went to the ballroom
And he strolled across the ballroom floor.
He said “You did me wrong, Billy.”
And he pulled his. 44.

“Stagger Lee,” said Billy,
“Oh, please don’t take my life!
I’ve got three hungry children,
And a very sickly wife.”

Stagger Lee shot Billy
Oh, he shot that poor boy so hard
That a bullet went through Billy
And broke the bartender’s bar.

Go, Stagger Lee, go, Stagger Lee!
Go, Stagger Lee, go, Stagger Lee!

Throwback Thursday: Klondike Gold Rush 1896

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Klondike Gold Rush Image
Photo Credit: history.com

Klondike Rush Routes Image
Photo Credit: wikimedia.org

GOLD! It’s in them, there hills! August 16, 1896, gold was discovered in Dawson City, Bonanza Creek, Klondike River, Yukon, Canada. George Carmack, his wife Kate, her brother ‘Skookum’ Jim Mason (Keish) and Dawson (Tagish) Charlie began looking for gold on one of the river’s tributaries. History is still unclear on ‘who’ actually made the discovery but, George Carmack is generally referred to as the claim maker.

After the panics of 1893 and 1896, economic depression, inflation and unemployment were rampant. The Coinage Act of 1873 had destroyed the use of silver dollar coins, dropping the price of silver and ending bi-metallism. This prompted many to dash to the area in search of gold, leaving behind other jobs in a quest for adventure and financial security. Even author Jack London headed north for his fair share and many of his novels were born out of his experiences. Pacific port towns reaped the benefits of the traders and travelers, desperate to survive the economic downturn.

Very few walked away from Dawson City rich. George and Kate split and, George remarried, living fairly well on his earnings. Skookum Jim, though wealthy, continued to prospect until his death. Dawson Charlie spent money and drank too much, dying in an alcohol related accident. Most of the businessmen and miners died penniless. The damage to the area from the mining was extensive and, the Native people suffered from contaminated water and disease.

Although this song is based on a John Wayne movie, and the George mentioned isn’t the same George in history, it’s still apropos…and, a great song. It’s sad, though, that Johnny Horton died shortly before its release.