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Monday, July 5, 2010

It's a Boat! It's a Train! It's An Inclined Plane!

If you stayed up late to watch fireworks, in celebration of Independence Day,
you might have looked like this on Monday morning:

Or not.

If by chance you were the mascot for your town's 4th of July parade and celebration, and you really wanted to be anywhere but there, you might have looked like this:

Or not.

I hope you didn't spend Independence Day with these ladies:

. . . because they don't look happy.

I understand that when they finished the flag,
they used it to wrap up that starched nurse like a mummy, and make a break for it.

They were last seen at a 7-11, stealing a 6-pack of Bud and a bag of Twizzlers.


In July of 1832, when That Old House was brand new, Independence Day celebrations
in New York City were subdued and cautious; the city was in the grip of a cholera epidemic.

But out in what was then the country, there were only
sporadic outbreaks of cholera, and patriotic celebrations went on as usual
in the country towns -- parades, fireworks, picnics and music; daylong celebrating.
Just as Benjamin Franklin hoped for in 1776.
Only, he thought we'd be celebrating on July 2nd.

The big news of 1832 in northern New Jersey was the Morris Canal, a man-made ditch that ran from Newark Bay on the Atlantic to Phillipsburg on the Delaware River at the border with Pennsylvania.
102 miles.
Elevation changes totaled more than 1600 feet, made possible by a series of locks,
inclined planes, and rails -- powered by a giant underground turbine.
Pretty slick engineering for the early 19th century.

1832 was its first full year of operation, and boats passing on the Canal
could have watched That Old House being built;
our house is across the street from the old Canal site (now filled in).

This is a picture of the Morris Canal, as it ran through our town,
about a mile north of That Old House, which was on the left (or west) side of the waterway.
You can't see our house in the picture -- it would be further along in the lower left.

But if we had a picture of our house from those days,
it would show the house to be about half the size it is now.

That's 2010, a color photo turned sepia on the computer.

That Old House has seen many July Fourth celebrations;
let's hope there are many more July Fifths in its future!
My Dad came for dinner on the 4th; last year we brought him home from the hospital on the 4th of July, after his first of three pneumonias in the past year. This year, we used our tablesetting from last Thursday, Howard grilled burgers, and we all gave thanks.

Thanks to Mary for hosting Mosaic Monday.
Visit her at Little Red House, here!

And thanks also to Cielo at The House In The Roses,
for Show Off Your Cottage Monday.

Thanks to Karen at The Graphics Fairy, for the patriotic images, above.
Her blog is a fabulous resource of vintage art!

The New York Historical Society is where I found the cholera broadside, and from the New Jersey Canal Society comes the image of the canal, and the information. Interested in learning more about the best mode of transportation in the new republic, until the railroads came to town? Visit the Society here.

And if you drive around northern New Jersey, you can spot dozens of "Morris Canal" historical markers that pinpoint some still-existent canal ditches, and spots where the canal crossed what is now a modern road.

I wish you a Happy 5th Of July, 6th Of July, 7th Of July . . . you get the picture.
3 cheers for the red, white and blue! -- Cass


  1. Good Morning Sweetie...
    Looks like you had a fabulous 4th and are recovering just fine. You have such wit in this post today and I just LOVE it. Thank you for sharing. (Your home looks beautiful all decked out in the red, white and blue.)

    I love the ladies sewing with the nurse watching over them. That one is the best. And I bet if we went to the 7-11, we would find them there checking out with their 6 pack and smoking those twizzlers like they were cigars. I love it.

    Thank you for making me smile this morning. I hope you have a beautiful day sweet friend.

    Country hugs...Sherry

  2. Nice post! Cute and enjoyed the history lesson. Fireworks are illegal here, except for the big shows done by professionals. I heard some being shot off close by after it got dark, but it stopped very abruptly after a little while. I figure a car with a "bubble gum machine" on top showed up. :D
    Have a great week!

  3. What fascinating post. I love the humor and the history. Sounds like you had a really nice 4th of July!
    Ladybug Creek

  4. Psssst - - - hey friend, take it from your little old science teacher friend that you really should go back into your title and add a "d" to the end of incline to make it an inclined plane. I promise. I wouldn't lead you astray, at least if you are referring to the simple machine that goes along with wheel and lever.

  5. Loved the history lesson and the photos were terrific although dour. Your house is lovely.

  6. Front porch, flag, blue willow china, and twizzlers...Love it all.

  7. Very interesting post today. The canal information is totally new to me. And I love your house in Sepia. So glad to hear your father is having a better 4th of July this year! Have a great week!

  8. Cass,
    Great post. We did burgers on the grill, potato salad and watermelon. It is hot here!Lot's of time half in the water and half out. Love your table. I have known some of those ladies - they need vodka not beer!


  9. What a lovely post!! I really enjoyed it!!


  10. Oh how wonderful to live in a house with history!!! I loved reading all about the Morris Canal. And do I spy "Independence Hall" transferware? ;) thanks for sharing the fun at MM, Cass. :)

  11. Hi Cass,
    Oh, I just love this post! What a great job, you made it into such an interesting story. And how cool that your house is really and truly that old of a house! What stories the walls could tell.

  12. Hey Keetha --- Yes, you are right -- it is an inclineD plane!
    Blame it on our living for several years in Pittsburgh, with the Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines looming over us.
    I'll change the title.
    I always listen to the Teacher. :-)

  13. Wonderful post, glad you Dad was able to spend the holiday with you. Have a wonderful week.

  14. Those bone corsets they wore would put a scowl on anyone's face.
    My dear great grandmother wore them & as a child I was amazed that she could breathe after lacing hers up. ;0)

  15. Hi Cass, I am back from my last vacation for awhile... and am glad to be back. I loved your post,thanks for the neat pictures!

  16. You and That Old House are so fortunate to have found one another - a match made in House Heaven.

  17. Cute post!
    I'm staying away from those flag making ladies
    they look tough!

    Have a great Tuesday.


  18. On a day like the 4th I can understand your reminiscing when you live in a house like you do. So many stories it must be able to tell! Love your festive 4th table and I am happy your Dad is home from the hospital.

  19. I have always loved your home. So lovely. I enjoyed the history of your area. Not to far from me.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  20. I'll keep the engine running in the car while the rest of you run in for the twizzlers and beer.

  21. Loved this post. It's always so interesting to read of days gone by. Thanks for passing on The Graphics Fairy website, I'm heading over there now!

  22. I just adore your "old yellow house"! Looks like you've had many great 4th of July celebrations there.

    I also just want to stop by and say "thanks" for commenting about my Tiffany Bleu cottage.

  23. What a lovely and informative post. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Cass-

    You always put a huge smile on my face with your wit and your way with words! I'm so glad you enjoyed the 4th with your dad. Great post! :-)



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