Friday, September 30, 2011

Jimmy and Tru

In my life I have had a number of really goofy cars, but never a Porsche. I shopped for one once and quickly gave up the search, knowing in my heart of hearts I'd kill myself in a week. Happened to someone else too.

I suspect that this is a generational shift event, one in which you had to have been around to understand and appreciate its implications. I was, barely, so James Dean, his life and his legacy are lost on me. Today however marks the 56th anniversary of Dean's death in his Porsche spyder, "The Little Bastard".

Dean may have died, but The Little Bastard's legacy lived on for another 5 years. George Barris, the king of the California custom car craze, purchased the wreck for $2500 with no real purpose in mind, other than selling off some parts. When the Bastard arrived at Barris' garage, the Porsche slipped from its tow and fell on one of the mechanics unloading it. The accident broke both of the mechanic's legs.

A year later, at the Pomona Fair Grounds on October 24, 1956 two physicians, Troy McHenry and William Eschrid, were each racing cars that had parts from "The Little Bastard." McHenry died when his car, which had the Porsche's engine installed, went out of control and hit a tree. Eschrid's car flipped over. Eschrid, who survived despite serious injuries, later said that the car suddenly locked up when he went into a curve.

The car's malevolent influence continued after the race: one kid trying to steal the Porsche's steering wheel slipped and gashed his arm. Barris reluctantly sold two of the car's tires to a young man; within a week, the man was nearly involved in a wreck when the two tires blew out simultaneously.

Feeling that the Porsche could be put to good use, Barris loaned the wrecked car to the California Highway Patrol for a touring display to illustrate the importance of automobile safety. Within days, the garage housing the Spyder burnt to the ground. With the exception of "The Little Bastard," every vehicle parked inside the garage was destroyed. When the car was put on exhibit in Sacramento, it fell from its display breaking a teenager's hip. George Barkuis, who was hauling the Spyder for Barris, was killed instantly when the Porsche fell on him after he was thrown from his truck in an accident.

The mishaps surrounding the car continued until 1960. The Porsche was loaned for a safety exhibit in Miami, Florida. When the exhibit was over, the wreckage, en route to Los Angeles on a truck, mysteriously vanished. To this day, the "Little Bastard's" whereabouts are unknown.


He'd be 87 today.

As much as I love his stories I love his Aunt Marie's Fruitcake even better.

Happy birthday Mr. Capote.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

michealmas day

Today marks the feast of the Archangel Michael, otherwise known as the feast of St. Michael and all the Angels. It is also an Anglo-Saxon derived quarter day, a day for settling accounts, hiring servants, and the annual election for the local reeve, or manor overseer. As overseer the Reeve was responsible for ensuring production quotas, tithes, and man hours were met. If work slacked, the reeve personally made up the difference. It was an unwelcomed job. The Shire Reeve (sheriff), was the overseer of the local constables, essentially a neighborhood watch.

In the UK, the summer harvest was complete and farms that have been sold traditionally change hands on this day.

Although observed more in the breech several Michaelmas traditions live on. Brit lit fans will know that in reference to British academic life, the Michaelmas term is the fall term, as the university term traditionally begins around this time.

The Supreme Court of the United States fall term begins October 1,(close enough) in keeping with the old English/Welsh legal tradition which begins the Court year on Michaelmas.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rosh Hashanah

Happy New Year


Aviator sweater/ closet shopping

I figure Orvis knows what it is doing. They surprised me by shipping the genuine, made in the USA, Submariner's Sweater right away along with a note saying the trousers would ship later.

For a cotton turtleneck sweater it is heavier than I imagined. Perfect weight for fall and winter.

True to size, and reasonably versatile.

Some may recall that inspired by the photo below I went purple turtleneck shopping late last spring.

Mister Mort photo?

Flo recommended the sweater below. It is soon to become another favorite.

Should you prefer the more authentic 100% wool version of the RAF/Submariner sweater might I suggest either Areo Leathers in the UK or What Price Glory in the US. They appear very similar. I'm happy to trade down to avoid the wool at the throat.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Orleans Cotton Exchange

Our buddy from NOLA, Clara of Beyond Blue Walls may appreciate this a bit more than some of you, but I find this really cool. During my recent armchair travels I discovered a secret stash; An authentic NOLA Cotton Exchange chalk board.

Scrounger's Paradise in Asheville is offering this New Orleans Cotton Exchange Tote Board. Probably not cheap, and certainly easy to duplicate, but...

For some reason this speaks to me. 76x76 inches (193 cmx 193). Mrs. T would kill me.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Bryan Ferry- Cool guy

NYT photo

In the back of my mind I keep thinking Roger Daltry was singing about Bryan Ferry when he hoped to die before he got old. Or perhaps Jagger was paraphrasing Bryan when he said he didn't want to be belting out Satisfaction when he was 40. Me, I'm having a tough time imagining Bryan Ferry old. Luckily for birthday boy Ferry, 66 is the new 29.


I admit Roxy Music was hardly my thing, I came way late to that party. Born during the Pre-YouTube era each album had maybe one, maybe 2 good songs. Not enough to make it worth buying. MTV saved the day. Roxy always had great vids, populated with Ferry's interest du jour.

A long time Anderson - Sheppard client, he always looks phenomenal. A-S's blog posts last spring dealt with the difficulty cutting his silk suits for the summer tour. Silk doesn't breathe well, and is hard to cut, but does look great on stage.

Happy Birthday Bryan. I should live so long.


Friday, September 23, 2011

greater service

It takes a moment for the sound of silence to register. Arriving home after a most pleasant evening, I turned the water tap, which was followed by an unexpected nothing. In our absence our water vanished.

The problem with city kids accustomed to city services is you take utilities for granted. Move to the country, become king of your very own kingdom and suddenly supplying water, heat and sewer take on real significance. Before ratiocination sets in you think the worst. Is the well empty? Where was I when I last had water? What was I doing? Was anything different? Who do you call?

In the morning I phoned Mr. Well Fixit, who knows his business like no one else, a trained pro at spreading gloom. "Have you tried...? Go to the hardware store pick up a switch, replace it and if it doesn't work give me a call. It's my busy season, I may be able to get out early next week."

Now close your eyes and visualize turning off your water for a week. Drinking water, laundry, sanitation, showers, clean up, all gone. It took trips to 5 hardware stores to find the part I needed as there are few wells in Mayberry. I installed said switch. It did not solve my problem, but it bought Mr. Well Fixit another day for our desperation (willingness to pay) to deepen.

I called him back. " Well, if the weather holds I may be able to get there late the day after tomorrow." In fact, he arrived the next morning, most probably, so we could ladle our appreciation on thick.

Forget all the well digger jokes you've heard. Water is important. Willingness to pay the piper increases as time expands, and my did we pay. I'm off to shower now. Have a great weekend.


banned book week

"But the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn't anger me." Mark Twain

The American Library Association has declared the week of September 24-October 1 Banned Book Week. Chances are, if there is a book you particularly enjoy, it has been banned. One could argue that a book not on a list of challenged books is hardly worth the trouble of reading.

Seventeen of top 20 books on The Modern Library's list of the top 100 novels of the 20th century are banned books. 33 of the top 50. The reasons why are here.

Banned Book List
1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell

11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London

36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin

38. All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren

40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

48. Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie

57. Sophie's Choice, by William Styron

64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence

66. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles

73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence

80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer

84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller

88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser

97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

Stamp out prejudice, READ!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Great Service

I was unsuccessfully shopping for a pair of wool trousers for the holidays over the weekend.

Near to Christmas last year I ordered a pair of black watch tartan trousers from Orvis. Between the time I put them in my basket and checked out my size was no longer available. I grumbled about it for a few days then forgot about it. My memory is hazy, but it probably wasn't a bing bang boom order. I may have stewed about it over night, so I have only myself to blame.

Yesterday morning I was awoken by a telephone call. Hardly a propitious way to begin a day, but this one was surprising. It was a nice lady from Orvis. She reminded me of last year's failed order but phoned to tell me they would be back in stock on October 3rd. "Would I wish to reserve a pair at last years price with free shipping?" Do geese have webbed feet?

Additionally, if I cared to add to my order within the next week, shipping would also be free.

I obviously don't have the pants yet, so I can neither praise or damn them, but I do have a higher regard for Orvis's customer service today than I had yesterday. And yes, I did add to my order.

About once a week a peek at this sweater from What Price Glory, a military surplus supplier in California. I love the looks of this RAF/ Submariner sweater. The thought of a 100% wool turtleneck around my throat gives me the weebies.

Instead I popped for this cotton version from Orvis, admittedly it has neither the authenticity nor the cool factor, but I since I'll not be sailing in it, cotton will do just fine.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mabon-the Autumnal Equinox

Today, the autumn equinox, is my first without the guiding hand of family Astronomer Royal Professor Schwartz. I'll write about his incredible life soon.

In Celtic mythology, the autumn equinox celebrates the second harvest festival, marking the descent of the Earth goddess into the underworld, during which she fertilizes the earth in preparation for next years planting. While she is away the sun's strength diminishes awaiting the winter solstice.

The Greek legend of Demeter and Persphone tell the story well. From Sky Wing

Demeter's daughter, known as Kore at this time, was out picking flowers in a meadow when the Earth opened, and the god Hades dragged the girl into the Underworld Kingdom to be his wife. Kore's name changed to Persephone when she became the wife of Hades. For nine days Demeter looked everywhere for Kore, to no avail. In despair, she finally consulted the Sun god Helios, who told her that her brother Zeus had given the girl to Hades. Furious to hear the news, Demeter left Olympus and wandered the Earth disguised as an old woman. She finally settled in her temple at Eleusis. She cursed the Earth so it yielded no crops. Zeus became frantic and sent her a message as to why she had done this. She responded by stating to Zeus that there would be no renewing vegetation on Earth until her daughter, Kore, was returned to her.

Zeus sent Hermes into the Underworld for the girl. Hades, not wanting to give up his wife permanently, enticed Persephone to eat pomegranate seeds before she returned to her mother. Upon learning of this trick, Demeter again despaired, until Zeus declared that Persephone-Kore would live with her husband during half of the year, and return to live with her mother during the other half. In gratitude, Demeter lifted her curse on the Earth, thus creating Spring at the time of her great joy of her daughter's return; and Fall at her time of great sorrow when her daughter returned to the Underworld to live with her husband, Hades.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Second chances

I've been shopping for fall in my closets, trying to decide what to alter, what to donate and what to save for a colder day. Heading the list of that which requires altering is a windowpane sport coat I created three falls ago.

I wore it frequently its first year. It was my go to that winter. By spring we had fallen out of like.

I'm sure it was me, the jacket was entirely blameless, yet I wore it infrequently the next year and never touched it last fall.

Once I slipped it on again I remembered why I put it away. Writes Dickens in Great Expectations, "Probably every new and eagerly expected garment ever put on since clothes came in falls a trifle short of the wearer's expectations." This fell woefully short, with only myself to kick for not returning after several wearings to correct its faults, which is a shame since I really do like it.

I'm trusting the alchemist will begin again. At the time of its birth I was older and heavier than now. I needed a security blanket more than a tailored jacket. Now I have 2 pages of notes of what needs doing, besides altering to fit.

As it sits I can accommodate 3 at a time. Soon I hope just me.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Two cool guys

On more than one occasion on these pages I've said that I believe today's birthday boy Jeremy Irons may be the most beautiful man ever created. I still believe that. Happy Birthday Sir Jeremy.

However, the woman who shares Jeremy's birthday minus one, represented an entire generation. Imagine the swinging sixty's, the British invasion, the mods without thinking of Twiggy. Can't be done.

Although only 16 in 1966, 5'6" and a svelte 31-22-32 on her 90 pound frame, her face was everywhere. Magazine covers, advertisements, television. The Face of the Year 1966.

Naturally, then as now, her wraith-like body stirred up loads of controversy. She was too thin, emaciated, when in fact if she was too anything, she was simply too young.

Her big eyes,3 layers of false eyelashes and lots of eyeliner, boyish haircut and Mary Quant's A line mini-dresses and geometric prints defined mid 60's fashion.

Much as the Stones or Beatles forever changed music, at a time when kids began having spending power Twiggy influenced fashion.

Still very attractive.

Happy Birthday Lesley.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Straw Hat Rule II - Silent Cal

Mr. Bagwell suggests: Change hats when dove season begins.

Toad sugggests: Change hats as the weather dictates.


Thursday, September 15, 2011


Good news came in pairs to Granddaughter Paige's house. While visiting this summer Paige informed all within listening range that she will become famous in time for her 13th birthday. Rock and Roll is her chosen vehicle to stardom and untold riches.

Music would lead to an acting career followed by veterinarian school. She got the order skewed. Monday she learned she would be lead in her middle school play. Liz will now be known, at least at school, as Annie, the role that propelled Sarah Jessica Parker to fame.

No sooner did she share her news with family, when the phone rang. A local theatre troupe called to announce she had been selected as the lead in Harriet and Walt, a children's series I am not yet up to speed on. Fortunately, rehearsals do not conflict.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

For my guys

When my sons were little they shared a fascination with a very special movie. They knew the dialog, had the "guys", wore the jammies. Seeing this photo transported me to simpler times, a long time ago in what seems a galaxy far, far away.

Who knew Carrie Fisher is only 5'1''?

From tumblr


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Roald Dahl day

As September is Roald Dahl month, today is Roald Dahl Day; the anniversary of the birth of the celebrated spy, raconteur, bully, inventor, and author.

Roald Dahl Centre

I came late to Dahl, too late to introduce my children to his macabre world, but once there the passion never left. I love his understanding of the unfairness of childhood and his way of empowering children's revenge. None of that morality tale nonsense. Who hasn't wished for the power of the Magic Finger, or cheered as the bad kids were snuffed in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

If what you know of Roald ends with The BFG, perhaps you would be interested in a fairly recent biography, Storyteller, the authorized biography of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock. Dahl had a fascinating life.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Free Shipping included

I am unsure what the range of reasonableness is for kids shoes these day, but this is way beyond my willingness. Hurry bids end soon. Nike Mag 2011-Back to the future.

The Sage of Baltimore

Today would be the birthday of Henry Louis Mencken, sage of Baltimore, social critic and spokesman for the civilized minority, attacker of anything deemed inimical to the freedom of the artist. He described his function as "stirring up the animals". Fifty five years after his death, and 63 years since he was able to write a word, his wit and wisdom still shines. Harry is one of my patron saints. Here are some of my favorite Menckenisms.
It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

The typical American of today has lost all the love of liberty that his forefathers had, and all their disgust of emotion, and pride in self-reliance. he is fed no longer by Davy Crocketts; he is led by cheer leaders, press agents, word mongers, uplifters.

The United States, to my eye, is incomparably the greatest show on earth...we have clowns among us who are as far above the clowns of any other great state as Jack Dempsey is above the paralytic-and not a few dozen or score of them, but whole droves and herds.

The American people, taking one with another, constitute the most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the end of the Middle Ages.

The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.

All government, of course, is against liberty.

A society made up of individuals who were all capable of original thought would probably be unendurable.

Most people want security in this world, not liberty.

To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true!

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.

Husbands never become good; they merely become proficient.

No matter how happily a woman may be married, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes that she were not.

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.

Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

The cynics are right nine times out of ten.

The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.

If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl.

Happy birthday Harry!


Saturday, September 10, 2011


I've spent a bit of time lately with big picture, big idea guys. Physics professors, star gazers, astro-physicists. When I came across this video, assembled from individual photos taken by the Cassini orbiter, I got a glimpse of what makes their world spin.

Watch the film in full screen mode.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Canvas for fall

A constant battle raged each fall at my once future in-laws between the 2 oldest sisters. The eldest, my future wife and mother of my children, made it her custom to stock up on each of the newest flavors of Villager cardigans. Her sister, a year younger, as all sibs do, raided her sister's sweater drawer whenever the mood hit. Her preferred style was the backward cardigan. That's what started the fights.

"You've stretched my sweater out, now I can no longer wear it." "Then give it to me." "Over your dead body."

Given the perspective of time and distance, I don't recall sweater stretching attributes , but still sisters must tussle. Had only Lands End Canvas', new for fall, Back-Button Sweater existed way back then, it would have saved so much acrimony.

I enjoy the idea of LE-Canvas more than the reality. If you are much out of high school, it's not meant for you. They do provide hope for the future however. In the men's section is found a selection of club collared oxford cloth shirts with white collars in stripes and solids and chambray shirts.

For $50 I just may take a flier. It's hard to find a club collar anymore.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

High Cotton- Part 2 The back story

Using Google Reader/ Bloglovin and the like requires the reader to make an effort to read comments, which causes us to miss out on some of the world's greatest stories. It may have happened to you Sunday.

In her comment on the original High Cotton post, Flo sent a link to the December 15, 2009 edition of Mr. Write, the blog of Rocky Smith. Rocky published the photo I printed Sunday and its back story. I find his blog a worthy read. With his kind permission I present his post "The Savannah Cotton Exchange" in its entirety:

The Savannah Cotton Exchange
December 15, 2009 by Rocky Smith
On October 29, 2008, this article appeared in the Savannah Morning News:


Driver arrested in Cotton Exchange crash

A woman who smashed into a 19th century statue before crashing into the Savannah Cotton Exchange building was slammed with charges Wednesday related to the August incident.

Donna Haddock, 39, was arrested and taken to jail after being charged with drunken driving, failure to maintain lane, no insurance and two red-light violations.

On Aug. 30, Haddock was driving north on Drayton Street about 7:15 a.m. when her early-model Toyota Corolla left the roadway at Bay Street and plowed through antique wrought-iron fencing.

The car snapped a lamp post in half and decimated a 19th century terra cotta lion that was the centerpiece of a historic fountain.

The Toyota then smashed against the front entrance to the Cotton Exchange, with the car’s underside facing the street.

Haddock was extricated using the Jaws of Life, then was taken to Memorial University Medical Center after suffering minor injuries.

The building is owned and occupied by Solomon’s Lodge No. 1, an English-chartered Freemasons’ group.

City officials have said a replacement version of the statue that had stood in front of the Cotton Exchange since 1889 could be back in place by January.


Sixteen months later, the replacement version of the terra cotta statue still isn’t ready. The city says it won’t be much longer.

I should correct the article on one point: the statue demolished in this incident was not a lion, but a griffon. A griffon is a winged lion — a legendary creature that is a cross between the king of beasts and the king of birds.

I know this because the fountain, the statue, and the Cotton Exchange have been familiar to me all my life. My grandfather, the first Walter Smith, was in the cotton business in Savannah for many years as a cotton factor.

Through much of the 1800s and well into the 1900s, Savannah was the largest cotton seaport on the Atlantic and the second largest in the world. During Savannah’s heyday as a cotton port, two million bales per year moved through the city.

Cotton factors were experts on the cotton market who served as agents for the cotton growers. The factors graded the cotton, set prices, and arranged to export the bales to New York, London, and other large markets.

The Cotton Exchange was built in 1887 as a headquarters for the factors and factorage companies working in Savannah. It was the first building in the city to be constructed over an existing street.

By the time my grandfather entered the business, the heyday of factoring was in the past. More planters were selling their crops at inland markets, and the expansion of the railroads made it easy for farmers to ship their cotton north instead of east.

But my grandfather still had a long career as a cotton factor. He worked in the business from 1921 until 1945.

In 1938, he was elected to a term as President of the Cotton Exchange. For most of his career, his office was in the building to the right of the Exchange, ground floor, first window. As president, he had a swanky office in the Exchange building itself.

Even though the factoring business was quite active through the 1940s, eventually, the Cotton Exchange itself closed.

For a time, the building housed the Chamber of Commerce. Later, it became the home of Solomon’s Lodge, the oldest Masonic Lodge in America, founded in 1734 by James Oglethorpe.

Oglethorpe is the guy who made a land deal with the local Creek tribe and established the British colony of Georgia. He is a popular fellow around Savannah. If the inebriated lady had leveled Oglethorpe’s statue instead of the griffon, she might not have survived to appear in court.

Last September, I went to Savannah for a visit, and my Aunt Betty and I went downtown to the Cotton Exchange one afternoon to see how the repairs were coming along.

The debris, of course, was removed long ago. The griffon is notable for its absence, at least to the locals, and some windows in the Cotton Exchange remain boarded up.

Photo of the Cotton Exchange taken before the crash.

Photo taken in September 2009. No griffon, no lamp post.

As Betty and I stood there talking and taking pictures, a small group of men appeared. They began to examine the front steps of the building, which had been damaged in the crash in 2008. We assumed the men were city maintenance people.

Soon, a man in a suit emerged from the building and joined them. The men buzzed with conversation as they pointed up, down, and sideways in an official manner.

Finally, Betty walked over to group and stood there quietly until someone noticed her.

When they did, she told them that in the old days, her father had been a cotton factor. Would it be possible, she asked, for her nephew to see the inside of the old Cotton Exchange building?

The fellow in the suit was delighted to be asked and happy to oblige. He held the doors open and ushered us inside. His one caveat: no pictures. Drat.

The interior of the building is simply stunning. Magnificent. It reminded me of being inside some of the stately historic buildings in Washington, D.C. — the National Archives, the Supreme Court.

Everything — the furniture, the flooring, the trim — is beautifully elegant and perfectly maintained. The most memorable feature: in the main hall, overlooking the Savannah River, is a giant, elaborate stained glass window dominated by the word COTTON.

The fellow in the suit led us into a small side room that has been set up as a mini-museum. He pointed to a battered photograph in a frame on the wall.

“This photo shows a group of cotton factors from the 1920s,” he said. “We only know the names of a few of them.” I noted that several names were written across the bottom of the photo in faded ink.

Betty pointed to the man on the far right in the photo. “This is my father, Walter Smith,” she said.

The man was surprised. He took the framed photo down. “Do you know any of the others?” he asked. Betty said she didn’t.

The man thought for a few seconds, then said, “Why don’t we break the rules and let you take a picture of this photo? If someone in your family can identify the other gentlemen, we would be grateful to have the information.”

I didn’t argue and proceeded to break the rules. This is the photo.

After I got back to Jefferson, I sent a copy of the photo to my uncle John in New York.

John is the family computer-brain. He absorbs everything, never forgets anything. He is 89 and can tell you what he had for lunch on May 22, 1983.

But even for John, a photo from 1927 was a bit much. He could identify only two other people in the photo.

One is the black guy standing behind my grandfather. John said he was a company employee who drove the bale to Savannah for the photo.

The other is the white-bearded gent in the center: P. D. Daffin, chairman of the Savannah Park & Tree Commission.

I’m not sure why P. D. is in the photo. Maybe he was in the cotton business. Maybe they wanted a dignitary in the shot and he was available.

The sign on the cotton bale reads, “Georgia’s First Bale 1927 Crop” “Shipped to Savannah Cotton Fctg. Co.” Savannah Cotton Factorage Company was my grandpa’s company. At the time the photo was taken, he was V.P. & General Manager.

The 1927 photo, I should point out, was taken on the front steps of the Cotton Exchange.

Those are the very steps where the early-model Toyota driven by the inebriated Ms. Haddock came to rest upside down — after leveling the antique wrought-iron fencing, mowing down the lamp post, and decimating the historic and beloved terra cotta griffon.

It’s probably a kindness that P. D. Daffin, Walter Smith, and the others are gone now and thus are spared that knowledge.

August 2008: a city worker sweeps up debris.

Interior of the Cotton Exchange in the 1940s.

Photo from the 1950s. Note the street beneath the building.

BTW, "the Civil War Vet, with pride of place, front and center" was Mr. P.D. Daffin, in fact a Civil War vet, also the man who created the parks and squares for which Savannah is so well known. A brief biography may be found here