It’s that time of year again. As each year passes, the holiday season seems to start earlier with Christmas ads appearing before we even have time to put away our Halloween costumes. However your family celebrates this time of year, remember that Christmas never came in a box - it’s a time to remember what’s important in life and spend it with the ones you love.
No other artist has ever captured the sentiment of the holiday season like Norman Rockwell. Rockwell is America’s most beloved early 20th century illustrator. His connection to holiday-inspired art can be traced to his youth, when at the tender age of 15, a parishioner of his family’s church employed his talents for Christmas card designs.
As an adult, Rockwell would become as synonymous with the holidays as Santa Claus himself. He also became the most famous fixture at Hallmark, the greeting card company that continues to market his holiday illustrations. It’s also likely that Rockwell will retain his unsurpassed world record of creating more covers for a single magazine – he illustrated more than 300 covers for The Saturday Evening Post.
He captured life of early 20th century American society in such a unique way that his style his undeniable and easy to recognize. His art shows the wonder and joy of life during a simpler time in American culture, one not obsessed with youth and technology. His art joyfully depicts real people in recognizable situations, enjoying life and love together. Merry Christmas to you and yours from Curious History.
Learn all about his life and work at the Norman Rockwell Museum online.
Also known as Mary Fields, Stagecoach Mary was one of the toughest ladies of the Old West. Born as a slave on a Tennessee plantation in 1832, she gained her freedom after the Civil War and the resulting abolition of slavery. After the Civil War Mary made her way West where she eventually settled in Cascade County, Montana.
In Montana, Mary would gain a reputation as one of the toughest characters in the territory. Unlike most women of the Victorian era, Mary had a penchant for whiskey, cheap cigars, and brawling. It was not uncommon for men to harass her because of her race or her gender. Those who earned her disfavor did so at their own risk, as the six foot tall, two hundred pound woman served up a mean knuckle sandwich. According to her obituary in Great Falls Examiner, “she broke more noses than any other woman in Central Montana”.
In Montana, Mary made a living doing heavy labor for a Roman Catholic convent. She did work such as carpentry, chopping wood and stone work. However, it was her job of transporting supplies to the convent by wagon that would earn her the name “Stagecoach Mary”. The job was certainly dangerous as she braved fierce weather, bandits, robbers and wild animals. In one instance her wagon was attacked by wolves, causing the horses to panic and overturn the wagon. Throughout the night Stagecoach Mary fought off several wolf attacks with a rifle, a ten gauge shotgun, and a pair of revolvers.
Mary’s job with the convent ended when another hired hand complained it was not fair that she made more money than him to the townspeople and the local bishop. When the bishop dismissed his claims, he went to a local saloon, saying that it was not fair that he should have to work with a black woman (he said something much more obscene). In response, Mary shot him in the bum. The bishop fired Mary, and she was out of a job.
After a failed attempt at running a restaurant, Stagecoach Mary was hired to run freight for the US Postal Service. Today she holds the distinction of being the first African American postal employee. Despite delivering parcels to some of the most remote and rugged areas of Montana, Mary gained a reputation for always delivering on time regardless of the weather or terrain.
At the age of seventy, Stagecoach Mary retired from the parcel business and opened a laundry. In one incident when a customer refused to pay, the 72-year-old woman knocked out one of his teeth. For the remainder of her life, Mary settled down to peace and quiet, drinking whiskey and smoking cheap cigars. She passed away in 1914 at the age of 82.
"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead." - Nelson Mandela, 2002
You can learn about how he inspired the world in the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory’s online exhibitions and archives.
A look back at an adorable house tour featuring vintage photos of Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz, circa mid-1950s. The couple was captured at home doing all the normal couple things: frolicking by the pool, playing cards, looking at each other through newspapers. Why don’t we play cards anymore?
(Source: The Huffington Post)
St. Bernard dogs are famous for saving lives and Barry, a St. Bernard from the early 19th century, is the most famous. Since the early 18th century, monks living in the snowy, dangerous St. Bernard Pass—a route through the Alps between Italy and Switzerland—kept the canines to help them on their rescue missions after bad snowstorms. Over a span of nearly 200 years, about 2,000 people, from lost children to Napoleon’s soldiers, were rescued because of the heroic dogs’ uncanny sense of direction and resistance to cold.
At the turn of the 18th century, servants called marroniers were assigned to accompany travelers between the hospice and Bourg-Saint-Pierre, a municipality on the Swiss side. By 1750, marroniers were routinely accompanied by St. Bernard dogs, whose broad chests helped to clear paths for travelers. The marroniers soon discovered the dogs’ tremendous sense of smell and ability to discover people buried deep in the snow, and sent them out in packs of two or three alone to seek lost or injured travelers.
In 1815, Barry’s taxidermied body was put on exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Berne, Switzerland, where it has stood for the last 200 years and remains today, standing proudly in the lobby of the museum.
The legend surrounding Barry was that he was killed while attempting a rescue; however, this is untrue. Barry retired to Bern, Switzerland and after his death, his body was passed into the care of the Natural History Museum of Bern. His story and name have been used in literary works, and a monument to him stands in the Cimetière des Chiens, a well-known pet cemetery near Paris.
At the hospice, one dog has always been named Barry in his honor and, since 2004, the Foundation Barry du Grand Saint Bernard has been set up to take over the responsibility for breeding dogs from the hospice.
- Spree Park, Berlin, Germany
- Hotel del Salto in Colombia - featured previously on Curious History
- Gulliver’s Travels Park, Kawaguchi, Japan
- Abandoned mill in Sorrento, Italy
- Mirny (Mir) Mine is a former open pit diamond mine located in Mirny, Eastern Siberia, Russia - The second largest man-made hole in the world
- The abandoned flats in Keelung, Taiwan
- Holland Island in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, United States
- Craco is an abandoned commune and Medieval village in Italy
- Dadipark Dadizel in Belgium
- Abandoned train depot in Czestochowa, Poland
The electric lamp shown here came from the catholic church. The assistant curator says: “Mantin wanted to have comfort—he was very interested in modernization.”Mantin was interested in all sorts of eclectic things, and in his house you could find not only the stuffed wolf but also a diorama of real dead frogs fighting a duel in a glass globe. There is also a rat playing a violin and a stuffed blowfish.