Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, December 26, 2021


Openers:  ...on this particular day, on the day of the great storm, there was a sudden break in the nearly unbreakabe routine.  Immediatly after midmorning temperatures, the door aat the end of the room swung open, and two nurses, one the hospital superintendent herself, appeared with a male visitor.  This, in spite of the rigid rule that no visitors of either sex were allowed into the free wards after three P.M.

The two nurses glanced sharply and quellingly around them; the little red-faced man, preoccupied and self-conscious, followed them.  All three went directly to Bed Ten.

There was immediately a good deal of excitement.  Bed Ten was the mystery of the ward.  Bed Ten never had any visitors; she showed no interest in her surroundings; she did not nurse her baby, and she never talked to anybody.

The little man, who was evidently a lawyer, spoke pleasantly and quietly and began to spread papers on the bedside table and to shake his fountain pen.  Ann Smith lay wayching him.

(The ward, to one woman, doubted doubted fifteen times a day whether she'd the right to call herself "Mrs." Ann Smith.)

She was a tall girl; very tall.  When her dark hed was propped on the white pillows, her feet almost touched the end of the long iron bed.  In between head and feet there was pracically nothing; she was as thin as a rail.

She was not a pretty girl in the ordinary sense.  Not doll pretty.  Her mouth was too generous for that, her slender hands too long, and the fine bone of cheek and jaw too hard and tense.

But she was rather attractive.  Even with the flannelette hospital gown buttoned high above her thin young neck.  Her eyes, set in deep sockets of fever and pain, burned deeply, darkly blue; her lashes were long; her hair curled flatly about her temples.

"Mrs. Smith," the lawyer began, clearing his throat, as the ward listened.  "Mrs. Smith, are you sure you're reconciled to this?  Do you realize what it will mean?  No communication, you understand, no privileges.  These are rich people."

-- "The Other Woman" [Part 1 of 2] by Ellen Hogue (from All-Story Love Stories, January 19, 1935)

Ann Smith is pitied by the other women in the charity maternity ward for having "been through, in poverty and pain, more than body and spirit can stand; someone who must bid goodby to the prize she had won in anguish."   We suspect (and later find out) that Ann had made a terrible mistake with a man she thought loved him.  Ann, poor but proud, did the responsible thing and placed the baby for adoption.  This broke her heart, because Ann loved children and had already bonded to her son.  But for his sake, Ann gave him up.

The  boy was adopted by Gregory Wallace and his wife.  Wallace was the owner of Wallace and Company's large Bargain Store and Ann, shortly after giving up her child, began working there as a saleswoman.  Greg Wallace had no idea that An was the birth  mother of his son.  For her part Ann cherished the moments when she saw the child the few times he had been brought to the store.  Although Ann had a respectable (well, for the time and the position) salary, she remained very poor because she gave the bulk of her earnngs to needy children.  (Was there ever a more saintly woman working as a Bargain Store sales clerk?)

Now Wallace's wife had advertised for household help, giving Ann a chance to be near her son.  Alas, Ann -- having given her extra money (and then some) to poor children -- had only a shabby dress to wear to the interview.  A co-worker suggested that Ann "borrow" a dress from the store and return it after her interview.  All the girls had done that, she said.  So Ann tried to borrow a dress and was caught by store security, who rushed her up to Greg Wallace's office before calling the police.  Wallace, sides being rich and handsome, was overwhelmingly kind-hearted.  He took pity on Ann, did not call the police, and hired her for the position.  It also turned out that Wallace's wife had gone to Florida for a month, leaving the baby at home with a nurse and the household staff.

Ann soon becomes a favorite of the household staff and of Greg Wallace.  They develop a friendship that Ann does not want to go any further because of her child -- Greg must never know she was the boy's real mother.  For his part, Greg wants to hold Ann close to him -- in a kind-hearted way, of course, not in a I-want-to-cheat-on-my-wife way.

This has all the makings of a great heart-breaker of a story, unless a deus ex machina happens to kill off the wife and unless Greg can overlook Ann's past and her deception.  What will happen?  I have no idea because I haven't got access to Part 2.  Bummer,

"Ellen Hogue" was the pseudomyn of Mrs. Johnson D. Kerkhoff (nee Eleanor Hogue Stinchclomb (?1897-1940). who had some 70 stories and poems (almost all love stories) published in the pulps from 1927 to 1941; ten of her early contributions were written with Jack Bechdolt, a popiular writer of detective, science fiction, romance, and western stories for the pulps.  I could find little information about Ellen Hogue.  It takes a certain talent to be able to write readable, convincing love stories and such tlent shojld be more appreciated.

All-Story Love Stories ran, under various titles, from October 5, 1929 to May 1955.  Although it was actually a continuation of Munsey's Magazine, as acknowledged by the phrase "Combined with Munsey," The first issue was titled All-Story; it ran for 62 issues before changing its name to All-Story Love Stories on March 1, 1932.   It would run for 224 issues before another name change.  All-Story Love Tales began with the December 18, 1937 issue.  It seems to me that the new title was not an improvement, but what do I know?  Because under ths title, the magazine produced another 92 issues before it drop Tales from its title.  With the January 1, 1940 issue, All-Story Love began a 43-issue run until it became All-Story Love Magazine in February 1942.  This title lasted for six months (6 issues), dropping the Magazine from the title.  All-Story Love ran from August 1942 to its demise in May 1955 after an additional 38 issues.  That's a total of 459 (!) titles, folks.  Along the way it went from a fortnightly publication to twice monthly to weekly to twice monthly again to monthly to bimonthly, changing publishers three times.

Advertising in the pulps was often sold in bulk with a single advertisement appearing in all the magazines from a publisher.  In the case of All-Story Love Stories, published by the Munsey group, this led to some incongruous advertising in what was typically considered a woman's magazine.  There's a baldness cure for men (it supposedly activates dormant hair roots) from Dermolav Lab in New York.  For prostate sufferers there's PROSAGER, an invention that allows men to manage their Prestate Gland in the privacy of their home, "often bringing relief at the first treatment;" this device -- "no drugs of electricity" -- was available from Midwest Products of Kalamazoo.  For a dollar, one could get 5 (count 'm, 5!) recent issues of The Nudist, profusely illustrated and available from Outdoor Publishing Company of New York.  And guys, "Thousands of Women and Girls Are Doing It, Why Not You?"  Yes, men can get information about the amazing "BEAUTFUL NEW SKIN IN THREE DAYS" product from Wm. Witol of New York; include ten cents in stamps or coin.  There are ads for sufferers of kidney problems, asthma, piles, weight, and hearing problems, along with ads for training to be a radio technician and a variety of technical and industrial courses.  You could even own your own potato chip business!  I'd buy the magazine just for the ads.


  • Russell Atwood, Losers Live Longer,  A Paytton Sherwood mystery.  "The death of legendary private eye George Rowell looked like an accident -- but searching for the truth behind it will put down-and-out East Village detective Payton Sherwood on the trail of a runaway investment scam artist, a drug-addicted reality TV star -- and the bewitching beauty whose appearance set it all in motion..."  A Hard Case Crime book with a nifty horizontal cover by Robert McGinnis.
  • Madison Smartt Bell, Straight Cut.  Mystery thriller.  "A freelance film editor, Tracy Bateman goes where the work is.  So when his old partner calls with an assignment, Tracy finds himself on a plane to Rome.  But there are surprises waiting for him -- deadly surprises that will led him on a desperate chase across Europe, into the hands of a pair of brutal drug smugglers, and back to New York City, where the greatest betrayal of all awaits..."  A Hard Case Crime reprint.
  • John Creasey, A Bundle for the Toff.  The fifty-first book (out of sixty) about Richard Rollison -- The Toff.  "Richard Rollison -- the Toff to the police and underworld of  dozen countries-- was not in the habit of stumbling over newborn infants on his doorstep -- and it was even more embarrassing a happening when he was holding a girl in his arms.  But someone seemed intent on removing the male parent club from this life, and the baby was only the opening gun in the deadly game.  The Toff was marked for a paternity suit...was he also marked for death?"  The Toff is an old and comforting friend, like home-made mac and cheese or a good Greek pizza.
  • Gordon R. Dickson, On the Run.  Science fiction novel.  "One day Kil Bruner was a solid Class A engineer in a society of World Police and citizen Files, jet-set migtrants and status-ranking Stability Keys.  But the police ordered Kij to forget about his missing wife Ellen -- and that was a mistake.  Because Kij would move Heaven and Earth to find the woman he loved.  Even when the search leads to slums filled with deformed psychos, blade-wielding giants, crazed sirens and debauched time-warping vast, interlocked warring conspiracies -- each out to rule the Earth or destroy it.  Even when the search costs Kij his freedom, his sanity, the core of his soul -- and reality itself...Because to find Ellen, Kij will have to move Hraven and Earth.  Literally."  This was Dickson's second novel, originally published as Mankind on the Run.  Dickson was one of those writers who never disappointed.
  • Paul Tremblay, The Cabin at the End of the World.  Horror novel.  "Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin in New Hampshire.  A handful of miles from the Canadian border, far removed from the bustle of city life, cut off from the urgent hum of cell phones and from the internet, they are more than two miles away from their nearest neighbors.  On a summer day, as Wen  catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears.  Lwonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen, but he is young and friendly, with a warm smile that wins her over almost instantly,  Leonard and Wen continue to talk and play, until three more strangers come down the road carrying strange, menacing objects.  In a panic Wen tells Leonard that she must go back inside the cabin.  But before she goes, her new friend tells her, 'None of what's going to happen is your fault.  You haven't done anything wrong, but the three of you will have to make some tough decisions.  I wish with all my broken heart you didn't have to.'  As Wen sprints away to warn her parents, Leonard calls out, 'Your dads won't want to let us in.  But they have to.  We need your help to save the world.  Please.' "  I really enjoyed the author's Stoker-winning novel A Head Full of Ghosts and thought it was time to add another of his books to Mount TBR.

Christmas:   I hope everyone had a good one, and for those do not celebrate I still hope you had a fantastic Saturday.  Here in Florida we have a very special connection to Christmas:  In the land of Trump signs (still), manic gun rights activists, attempts to restrict voting, Mar-a-Largo, Matt Gaetz, and Ron DeSantis, Florida has the only town in America named Christmas!

Because it is unincorporated, people may not give Christmas, Florida much weight, but it is recognized by the U.S. census and it has its own post office (at least until DeJoy the Grinch decides to abolish it),  It's located on Florida State Road 50, about twenty-five miles east of Orlando and fifteen miles west of the Kennedy Space Center.  It has a population of about 1100.

Two years and two days after the start of the Second Seminole War, U.S. Army soldiers arrived in the area and started building a fort.  The date?  December 25, 1837, in case you are wondering where Fort Christmas got its name.  The two thousand army men and militia built the fort in just two weeks.  A permanent garrison of two companies were stationed there.  In addition to the Seminoles, the fort had to deal with a number of runaway slaves who were given shelter by the Indians.  The fort was abandoned in 1845, with the end of the war.  (Don't get me started on the treatment of the native tribes during this time -- Andrew Jackson has a lot to answer for.)

So what is there to do in Christmas today?

Well, you can go down to the Christmas Post Office and have your Christmas cards postmarked from there.  Sometimes Santa will sit in the post office lobby and personally stamp the cards and packages.  (For those who are interested in details, the zip code is 32709 and the telephone number is 1-800-275-8777.)  The first post office in Christmas was established in 1892.

Then you can go visit the Fort Christmas Historical Park, with a full-scale replica of the original fort built in the 1970s (dedicated in 1977), complete with a museum with pioneer and Seminole artifacts from the time.   The replica of the fort is probably located less than a mile from where the original fort sttod.  The park also has a number of restored Florida "Cracker" homes and barns with period pices that reflect Florida life from the 1870s to the 1930s.  There's a restored 1906 schoolhouse.  There are fields and areas for baseball, basketball, and tennis, as well as a children's playground.  In March, the park hosts a bluegrass music festival.  In December it hosts its annual :Cracker Christmas."

You can also check out the world's "longest alligator," a 200-foot long building made to resemble an alligator.  It's name is "Swampy."  Swampy is home to Jungle Adventures, a natural habitat home for many Florida animals.

And you can check out the grave of Hughlette "Tex" Wheeler (1901-1954), a native of somewhere in the area and a noted cowboy sculptor.  Wheeler's bronze statue of the horse Seabiscuit is on display at the Santa Anita racetrack.

And throughout the area, there are swamps, gators, and air boat rides.

By stretching its parameters, USA Today has come up with nine other towns in America with Chritlas-themed names.  There are three North Poles (Alaska, Colorado, and New York), a Santa Claus (Indiana), one Christmas Valley (Oregon), and one Christmas Cove (Maine).  We can't forget Bethleham, Pennsylvania, although we may have to begrudgedly add Garland, Texas, and try to avoid your eyes when we mention Donner Lake, California (Remember the names of Santa's reindeer?).

But there is only one Christmas in America and Florida has it.

Boxing Day:  The day after Christmas is Boxing Day.  To celebrate, here's a download of the February 1951 issue of Best Sports, with a boxing story by Richard Brister -- "This Rube'll Be Ready!"

Because I am not British, I may have gotten the intent of Boxing Day right.)

Well, That Takes of This Past Weekend, But What About Today?, I Hear You Ask:  Well, today just happens to be the annual Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day!  Always a fun activity.  And, you don't have to leave it to the professionals because no two snowflakes are the same -- which means no matter how you mess up, it's still legit.  To get you started, here's how to make a six-point paper snowflake:


Racing Pell Mell Into the New Year:  For those who look at next year as Twenty-Twenty-Too, you may be pessimistic as well as right.

Here are some predictions culled from all over:
  • Youth will abandon Facebook is droves in protest to their policies; attempts by Meta to draw them back in will be fruitless
  • Inflation will reach beyond 15%, triggering a wage-price spiral
  • The U.S. mid-term election will trigger a constitutional crisis
  • France will be invaded by the east in the spring (Nostradamus)
  • "No abbots, monks, no novices to learn; Honey shall cost far more than candlewax" and "So high the price of wheat, that man has stirred his fellow man to eat in his despair"  (Nostradamus was a sheer budle of delight in his predictions)
  • The Simpsons has come up with five predictions for us:  virtual reality food, colonizing Mars, Ivanka Trump as a presidential candidate, the take-over of the world by robots, and mind control induced by music.
  • Queen Elizabeth and Megan Markle will both have much better years; there's a new virus coming; there will be fears over chicken soup; sadness is ahead for both Madonna and Will Smith;  someone named Jackie will spring from obscurity to superstardom almost overnight; gooseberries will become the new superfood; Poland will want to leave the EU (Poexit?); there will be some kind of miracle in Jerusalem and Christians will claim it for their own; and an asterpid heading for Earth will be deflected  (psychic and past life regression and soul therapist Nicholas Aujula)
  • The first 3D printed car will go into production
  • India turns of the internet to fight fake news on WhatsApp
  • NFTs will be hyped to oblivion and some will ose their shirts
  • Succession will get the Emmy for Best Drama, while Ted Lasso is named Best Comedy; Olivia Rodrigo's "Sour" and Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga's "Love For Sale" will battle it out for Album of the Year at the Grammys; Belfast will be named Best Picture; either Green Bay or Tampa will woin the SuperBowl; the Yankees will take the World Series; Brazil will win the World Cup; Bidens approval rating will continue below 50%; and the Re[pubicans will take back both houses (various CNN staffers)

Show Boat:  Based on the Edna Gerber novel, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's Show Boat premiered on this day in 1927.  Considered the first true American musical, the show and its songs have endured to this day.  The song "Ol' Man River" was written specifically for Paul Robeson who was slated to take the role of Joe, a dock worker.  The opening of the show had been delayed because of the need to find a new theater for Rio Rita, which was currently running at the Ziegfield Theater; the delay conlficted with Robeson's schedule so the role of Joe was first played by baritone Jules Bledsoe, who was one of the first African-American artists to find regular employment on Broadway.  Paul Robeson soon returned to the role and has been closely linked to "Ol' Man River" ever since.

Here's Jules Bledsoe:

And here's Paul Robeson:

Both great performances.  Not so much Frank Sinatra's version:

(By the way, Florentz Ziegfield, who produced the original musical, hated the song "Ol' Man River.")

Obadiah Oldbuck:  Created by Swiss artist Rudolphe Topffer (1799-1846) in 1827, Obadiah Oldbuck first appeared as a comic strip.  His adventures were then collected as Histoire de M. Vieux Bois, considered by many to be the first comic book in 1837; other consider it a proto-comic book.  An English translation with the hefty title The Adventires of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck : wherein are duly set forth the crosses, chagrins, calamities, checks, chills, chnges, and circumgitations, by which his courtship was attended : showing also the issue of his suit and his espousal to his lady-love appeared in 1844 from publisher Wilson and Company of New York, as an 80-page hardcover.

"Alas, contemporary critics -- and to an extent Topffer himself, who considered it a work targeted at children and the 'lower class' -- couldn't see the innovation in all this." [a continuous story, pictures drawn with borders, and the 'interdependence of words and pictures'] "They wrote off Obadiah Oldbuck's harrowing yet strangely lighthearted pictorial stories of failed courtship, dueling, attempted suidice, robbery, drag, elopement, ghosts, stray bullets, attack dogs, double-crossing, and the threat of execution as mere trifles by an otherwise capable artist."  But what did critics of that age know?

See for yourself:

Something to Consider:  "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep hte populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."  -- H. L. Mencken

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Brandon James Diaz, 38, fired from his job as a registered nurse at Lakel;and Regional Health, believed that two instructors at Polk County Colllege were responsoible for his termination.  So Diaz did what any red-blooed Florida Man would do:  he hacked their computers.  Big mistake.  While investigating the hacking, the Polk County sheriff's office found 75 pictures of "very graphic" images of young children and infants being sexually assaulted.  Diaz, married and the father of four children, was booked on 75 charges of enhanced possession of child pornography, using a two-way device to commit a felony, and 10 charges of accessing a computer withut authorization.  I am glad to say that no evidence was found that Diaz had molested his own children.
  • Just a week before Christmas, the Pinella County sheriff's department arrested an unnamed Forida Man during a routine traffic stop at 4 a.m.  The man was arrested ln DUI charges and ;ossession of marijuana.  A search of his car revealed a gun under the front seat.  A search of the man revealed a quantity of cocaine and methamthetamines wrapped around, let's just say his male genitalia and let it go at that.  The man denied the drugs were his, but would not say to whom they belonged.  Maybe he was so earnest that the police believed him; you will not that he was not charged with possession of cocaine and methamphetamines.
  • Nothing says Christmas in Florida like shooting people on Christmas Day.  Florida Man Nicholas
    A. Tucker, of Lake Mary, was arrested for shooting a male victim in the neck and a female vistim in the chest.  The man was treated and released and the woman remains in critical condition.  Details are sketchy, but it appears to have arisen from a domestic dispute.  Tucker appears to have driven to the location to start a fight, police said.  Merry Christmas Mr. Tucker!  Santa brought you 2 counts of attempted homicide and 1 count of burglary and battery for the holidays!
  •  An unnamed (and unknown) Florida Man is on the run after a Christmas Eve drive-by shooting at a Taft residence in Orlando County.  The suspect wounded a male, age 35. a female, age 24, and a six-year-old child.  All were taken to a hospital in stable condition.  Sadly, NORAD's Santa Tracker does not track Florida assailants.
  • Florida Man and Music Critic Zachary Moncada, 31, of Boca Raton, thought his neighbor's Christmas Eve music was too loud, so he shot him in the back.  The victim is listed in stable condition, while Moncada is being held with bail and (presumably) without music.

Good News:
  • In an alternate universe, there was peace on earth and goodwill to men.
  • The Duchess of Cambridge showed off her musical skills while tickling the ivories for British singing starTom Walker
  • Experimental treatment in Spain puts 18 cancer patients in complete remission
  • Monarch butterfly population soars 4900 percent since last year
  • Wind turbines are using cameras and AI to recognize birds -- and shut down when they approach
  • Mystery Santa caught on CCTV sneaking around a British neighborhood and leaving gifts, candy for the kids
  • Rhode Island teens build a bus stop shelter for a five-year-old in a wheelchair, protecting him from harsh weather
  • The first coral IVF babies on Australia's Great Reef are producing the next generation
  • A fusion reaction has produced more energy than was absorbed by the fuel.  Has the holy grail of cold fusion been found?
  • And, in news that makes me happy, a NASA probe has touched the sun's atmosphere     AND The James Web telesope was launched on Christmas Day

Today's Poem:

Remember, the time of year
when the future appears
like a blank sheet of paper
a clean calendar, a new chance.
On thick white snow
You vow fresh footprints
then watch them go
with the wind's hearty gust.
Fill your glass.  Here's tae us.  Promises
made to be broken, made to last.

-- Jackie Kay

Here's wishing all of you a happy, healthy, prosperous, and ineventful New Year!


  1. My brother and his family are moving to FL in the summer. I couldn't do it given that list of negatives you posted above. It is too bad there is not one truly blue Southern state we could all move to. I guess CA is as close as we get.

  2. Well, New Mexico is a bit closer to the prescription...and Virginia is lurching that way, if both the state and national Democrats learn that they can't win by "assuring" voters they will do the absolute minimum of evil, as opposed even the least berserk Republicans in most offices these days. Actually helping the society is called for, even if, goodness forfend, it upsets a few wealthy donors. Or even many.