R.I.P. Russell Johnson. . . You Will Be Missed

Jan 17th

As I sat here writing this last night, I was watching re-runs of Gilligan’s Island, like I do every night with my hubby.  It was a little bittersweet, as the world lost the Professor yesterday.  There are so many things people didn’t know about him!  He was born November 10, 1924 in Ashley, Pennsylvania.  After graduation, in the middle of World War II, he joined the US Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet and was commissioned as a second Lieutenant, flying 44 combat missions as a bombardier in B-25 Mitchell twin-engine medium bombers.  While he was flying as navigator with the 100th Bombardment Squadron, his plane and two other B-25s were shot down in the Phillippines.  They were hit by intense flak and had to ditch into the waters off the port of Zamboanga.  During this ditching he broke both of his ankles, and the radioman next to him was killed.  He earned a Purple Heart for this mission, and was also awarded the Air Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three service stars, the Phillippine Liberation Ribbon with one service star, and the World War II Victory Medal.  He honorably discharged on November 22, 1945, joined the Army Reserves and with the GI Bill, funded his acting studies in Hollywood.  Mr. Johnson and his wife moved up here to our area from L.A. so they could live a quieter life.  Compared with L.A., this would be peaceful indeed!   My husband had the pleasure of speaking with him a few times, and I would have liked to have met him too, but it didn’t happen.  By all accounts he was friendly, kind and a true gentleman.  He will be missed by the world, and by our little community.  Rest in peace Russell Johnson.  You were a truly good man.

Women in Blue Jeans Day – I remember going through pictures as a kid, looking at each and every familiar snapshot as if it were the first time I was seeing it.  In those pictures were quite a few of my Grandma K.  No matter what she was doing, she was in a dress!  Not in heels like the Mom’s in the TV shows, but a dress nonetheless, and always with her apron.  Whether she was gardening, cooking, cleaning, hanging onto a baby with one arm while stirring a pot with the other . . . always in a dress.  It was the time she lived in, and normal.  When a woman wore pants, much less jeans, unless she was doing tough manual labor, it was frowned upon.  Grandma was different though.  She was ahead of her time in many ways.  She rode the range herding cattle with her brothers growing up, so she already knew that jeans were more comfortable.  Honestly, I don’t think I ever actually saw her in jeans, with the exception of one photo from when she was a young teenager on her horse.  Even when women began wearing pants all the time, she wore slacks, never jeans.  I wear jeans every day to work – we are a very casual office – and I’m grateful for that!  It keeps down wardrobe costs and it is far more comfortable than having to get all dressed up all the time.  I’m sure we all have a favorite brand or style . . . with the best being a pair that is broken in and fits perfectly.  Enjoy this day!  If you don’t normally get to wear jeans to work, at least slip into your favorite pair when you get home.  I have to say, while I was writing this I couldn’t get Neil Diamond’s “Forever In Blue Jeans” out of my head.  And now I bequeath that to you . . . and I’m not even a Neil Diamond fan!

Cable Car Day – One damp summer day in 1869, in San Francisco, Andrew Smith Hallidie saw a horrible accident, and that accident inspired the creation of cable cars.  Andrew saw a horse drawn street car slide backwards under its heavy load, dragging five horses to their deaths.  He and his business partners were horrified by this accident, and they had the knowledge and ability to do something about the problem.  Hallidie moved to the United States from England in 1852.  His father was an inventor who filed the first patent in Great Britain for the manufacture of wire-rope.  When he was young, Hallidie found uses for this wire-rope in California’s Gold Country.  He used the wire rope to design and build a suspension bridge across Sacramento’s American River.  He found it was also useful for pulling heavy ore cars out of the underground mines on the tracks.  That technology was all ready to use for pulling cable cars.  Hallidie moved the wire-rope manufacturing to San Francisco right before seeing the accident, but after he saw it, cable cars would be invented and life in San Francisco would get safer and easier.  Here’s a listing of the chronology of the life of cable cars from 1852 to now!  I thought it was pretty interesting.

  Cable Car Chronology:

  • 1852 – Andrew Hallidie arrives from Great Britain
  • 1869 – Hallidie witnessed horse-car accident and had inspiration for a cable railway
  • 1873 August 2 – Andrew Hallidie tested the first cable car system near the top of Nob Hill at Clay and Jones Streets
  • 1873 Sept. 1 – Clay Street line starts public service at an estimated cost to build of $85,150
  • 1877 – Sutter Street Railroad converts from animal power to cable with no break in service
  • 1878 April 10 – California Street Cable Railroad Company (Cal Cable) goes into service
  • 1880 Feb. – Geary Street, Park and Ocean Railroad began service
  • 1881 – Dunedin, New Zealand starts cable car service. Stays in service until 1957
  • 1882 Jan. – Chicago opens it’s own cable car system much to winter wind-chilled pedestrians’ pleasure
  • 1882 Jan. – Presidio and Ferries Railroad (Union Street line) opens service
  • 1883 August – Market Street Cable Railway starts its first line
  • 1887 – Washington-Mason powerhouse and car barn built
  • 1887-88 – Frank Sprague created the first successful electric streetcar system in Richmond, Virginia
  • 1888 March 28 – Powell Street cable car service started by Ferries & Cliff House Railway Company
  • 1889 – Cal Cable experiments with a double-ended car with open sections at the ends
  • 1889 August – Omnibus Railroad & Cable Company started operating
  • 1891 – Cal Cable replaced its two-car trains with double-ended cars
  • 1892 April – First electric streetcars with overhead wires began running in San Francisco
  • 1906 April 18 – San Francisco’s Great Earthquake damages the cable cars, allowing United Railroads (URR) to convert much of the city to streetcar service
  • 1912 May – Eight cable car lines remained in service in San Francisco
  • 1929 November – Market Street Railway (formerly URR) ends service on the Pacific Avenue line
  • 1941 April – Castro cable line taken over by buses
  • 1942 February – Sacramento-Clay line taken over by buses
  • 1944 September – The City and County of San Francisco took over the Market Street Railway with its two Powell Street cable lines. Cal Cable last privately held transit system in San Francisco
  • 1946 – Committee release statistics proving cable cars lost less money than Muni buses
  • 1946 November – Committee succeeds in getting a charter amendment to save the Powell Street cables on the ballot
  • 1947 – Mayor Lapham attempts to close down cable car system
  • 1947 March 4 – Friedel Klussman rallied a new group called the Citizen’s Committee to Save the Cable Cars
  • 1947 April 3 – The Citizen’s Committee to Save the Cable Cars began a petition drive for a charter amendment with the City of San Francisco to save the cable cars
  • 1947 May 1 – The City Attorney ruled against the Utilities Manager James Turner, thereby allowing the citizens of San Francisco to vote on the charter amendment to continue operating the cable car system
  • 1947 Nov. 4 – Measure 10 won by a vote of 166,989 to 51,457 forcing the City of San Francisco to maintain and operate the Powell Street cable car system
  • 1951 July – Cal Cable’s three lines were shut down
  • 1952 January – The City purchased and reopened Cal Cable’s lines and powerhouse at California and Hyde
  • 1954 Feb. – The Jones Street Shuttle was eliminated
  • 1954 May – The California Street line was shortened to cover only Presidio to Van Ness Avenues. The O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde line stopped running
  • 1954 June – The Cable Car Lady, Friedel Klussmann and her Citizens’ Committee were outmaneuvered when they mounted a new campaign to save the cable cars. A “Yes” vote on Proposition E meant abolishing half the cable car system; a “No” meant all 5 lines in the system would be saved. Proposition E narrowly passed setting the stage for today’s cable car system
  • 1956 Sept. 2 – Car # 524 made the last trip on the Washington-Jackson line
  • 1957 December – All the current lines were now running after the installation of a new turntable at Hyde and Beach Streets so the single-ended Powell Street cars could turn around and all the cables were linked to the Washington-Mason powerhouse
  • 1964 Oct. 1 – Official ceremony at Hyde and Beach designated San Francisco’s cable car system a special “moving” National Historic Landmark
  • 1971 November – Vote to protect cable car schedules thanks again to a drive by the Cable Car Lady, Friedel Klussmann and her citizens’ group
  • 1973 Aug.2 – Cable Car Centennial celebrated by loading Clay St. Cable Car #8 onto a truck and driving it on the Clay St. hill
  • 1982 to June 1984 – Cable car system rebuilt and historic cable cars refurbished
  • 1984 June 21 – Festivities celebrated the return of full cable car service with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Union Square followed by a parade up Powell Street led by the U.S. Marine band followed by cable cars
  • 1997 March 1 – SFCableCar.com goes online
  • 1997 March 4 – Celebration installing a new collage at the car barn commemorating the 50th anniversary of Friedel Klussmann’s saving the cable cars replacement by buses
  • 1998 Jan. 15 – First female grip operator, Fannie Mae Barnes, operates a cable car after developing the great upper body strength needed for the grip and brakes

This Day In History

1984 – The U.S. Supreme court rules that taping on home VCRs does not violate copyright laws.

Food Celebration of the Day

Hot Buttered Rum Day – Last week we had Hot Toddy Day.  Well, today is Hot Buttered Rum Day, and really, all that is  a Toddy with molasses and butter added to it.  Today brown sugar is used instead of molasses, but it’s the same idea. Yummy – through and through. 

It is Friday! I hope your day is everything you hope it will be and guess what?  No alarm clocks tomorrow!  I know, I get really excited about that.  Even if I wake up naturally at my normal time, there’s something about doing it on my own and without a BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP . . . going off next to my head that just makes it nice!  God Bless You and I’ll see you tomorrow!

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