Jerusalem 1889

Historic Images on Paper

I’m a bibliophile. I also collect ephemera – especially prints from books that were falling apart from age. My philosophy is that I can not save every book, but I can save some of the pages that are visually interesting. Over the years of my career, I have amassed an enormous library of such images on paper.

Jerusalem

Recently, I saved images of Jerusalem from a Century magazine published in 1889. I learn a lot from looking at such artwork. Before magazines and newspapers could publish photographs many publications such as Century hired artists to travel the world and draw what they saw. Some also made photographs, and then redrew the image in the photograph. Then an engraver made an engraving on a plate that could be transferred to a printed page in the printing process. I think we owe it to the artists, engravers, photographers, and publications to remember the art that showed us the world.

Jerusalem, Rachel's Sepulcher, Century, October 1889 vol 38, No 6

Jerusalem, Rachel’s Sepulcher, Century, October 1889 vol 38, No 6

Jerusalem, Wailing Place of the Jews, Century, May 1889 vol 38, No 1

Jerusalem, Wailing Place of the Jews, Century, May 1889 vol 38, No 1

Jerusalem, Modern Jews, Century, October 1889 vol 38, No 6

Jerusalem, Modern Jews, Century, October 1889 vol 38, No 6

Jerusalem, Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Century, May 1889 vol 38, No 1

Jerusalem, Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Century, May 1889 vol 38, No 1

Jerusalem, Summit of Mount Moriah, The Temple Area, Century, May 1889 vol 38, No 1

Jerusalem, Summit of Mount Moriah, The Temple Area, Century, May 1889 vol 38, No 1

Jerusalem, North End of the Temple Area - The Citadel, Century, May 1889 vol 38, No 1

Jerusalem, North End of the Temple Area – The Citadel, Century, May 1889 vol 38, No 1

Jerusalem, Inside the Golden Gate, Century, May 1889 vol 38, No 1

Jerusalem, Inside the Golden Gate, Century, May 1889 vol 38, No 1

Jerusalem, The Towers of David and of Jesus, Century, October 1889 vol 38, No 6

Jerusalem, The Towers of David and of Jesus, Century, October 1889 vol 38, No 6

  • DWW

Goodnight Covid19

A friend asked for book titles that referenced the coronavirus.

 

“Goodnight Covid19”

In the great green hospital room,
there was a ventilator,
and a bedpan and bowl full of mush,
“hush” said the little old nurse,
goodnight Covid19,
goodnight room so green,
goodnight ventilator and yucky bedpan,
goodnight to all bowls of mush everywhere

Catching Up on a Blog

It’s impossible to catch up on a blog. I’ve been so busy doing other things – writing fiction books under my pen name, building model ships, working on downsizing my library and papers, and simply living the life of a retiree that I’ve forgotten to post in my blog. Now that we are self-isolating to avoid catching the dreaded covid19, I probably have time to do some blog posts that are worthy. – DW

 

D-Day Remembered, Or How I Invaded Normandy with Notebook and Camera

D-Day Remembered, Or How I Invaded Normandy with Notebook and Camera

 

British Infantry land at Sword Beach at Ouistreham MM6791-195
British Infantry land at Sword Beach at Ouistreham

Many years ago, I was assigned to work on a D-Day story at National Geographic. Tom Allen was the author of the piece. Tom was a wonderful writer who dug into facts like a terrier going after a prize. We spent time together at the National Archives in Arbutus, MD, looking at planning maps for the naval invasion. Tom’s contacts in the intelligence community brought him many leads. His skills as an interviewer also led him to stories from survivors of that momentous day when the United States military, along with Canadian and British forces invaded Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. The focus of Tom’s article was on the naval invasion, which was the largest maritime invasion in the history of the world.

D-DAY Lost Fleet of Operation Neptune 5:14:03
Operation Neptune Map by National Geographic magazine

 

At Tom’s urging, the magazine sent me to Normandy to work with a marine researcher and diver, Bertrand Sciboz. He’d been mapping the vessels and other things that were submerged along the D-Day coast. Sciboz did a lot of work for the French navy, and worked closely with his country’s marine archaeology experts. His resources became the basis for the very informative map the magazine ran with Tom’s article. I negotiated with Bertrand for the rights to use his information, and for helping us understand the complex and difficult underwater terrain. He helped our underwater photographer to find and photograph the wrecks, including the famous tanks that had floundered in the waves and sank with crews aboard on that fateful day.

Omaha Beach East
Planning map code named “Bigot” for the Omaha Beach – East section
Aerial Invasion Mulberries MM6791-190
Mosaic of aerial photos of the invasion beaches and the portable docks

Fortunately for me, my trip to Normandy was much safer. I had a delightful journey to the Norman coast, meeting many helpful and kind people there who recall the American military for saving them from the Nazi invaders. I was working with a young French writer from Paris, Claire Guillot, who was assigned to be my interpreter. My French is definitely of the West Virginia variety of misheard and misspoken mumbles that are better left unsaid. Thankfully, Claire was there to help me speak with people, to help me find my way and interview individuals who were important for our story. Claire is today one of the top editors of Le Monde, the French daily newspaper.

Claire_Guillot_in_Normandy Roll 101
Claire Guillot, St. Vaast le Hogue, photo by David W. Wooddell

We were staying at a delightful small hotel in the small village of St. Vaast-le-Hogue. The food there was extraordinary, compared to the usual peanut butter sandwich I often had back in the states when on assignment. The last morning, we awoke to one of those scenes out of an American Express commercial. The town’s weekly market was set up on the streets behind the hotel – right where I had carelessly parked the rental car! Mon dieu and Sacre bleu, we had to talk the kind people into moving tables, tents, awnings, and other things so I could extract my car.

It is all too easy to appear the stupid American when traveling. Thankfully, Claire helped me to no end in apologies and negotiating our way past the flowers, fruits, vegetables, and other offerings. Nothing bounced off our car in anger. If anyone hurled insults or curses, I didn’t hear them. Instead, the people accepted my clumsiness with humor, but I doubt it would have gone so well without the help of my assistant.

There are so many historical images from World War II. I made many copy photos while at the National Archives from their photographic holdings. I hope the world will never forget the service and sacrifices of the Allied soldiers and sailors.

USS Emmons ohama
US Navy painting by one of the military artists who were at the invasion
Normandy Invasion
A sunken vessel remains at Utah Beach, memory of the invasion

 

Bonampak, Revisited

Bonampak Murals
Room One, Bonampak Murals, photograph copyright David W. Wooddell

In coming weeks, I will be working on a project relating to the Bonampak Murals.

Bonampak Murals
Diana Magaloni-Kerpel, Mary Miller, and Doug Stern at the Bonampak Murals,                                  photograph copyright David W. Wooddell

 

 

Through the weeds and into the woods

1 Tug log page

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently reading and transcribing log entries for the steam tugboat Baltimore. Yeah, fascinating – if you like that sort of thing. Not so much if you like your history condensed, slicked up, and pre-packaged already.

2 Tug Log 12 June 1984

When I started out trying to write history books, I had to learn that the good stuff – the information I was most interested in finding and possibly using in a book or an essay – was not already published. A lot of what I was finding published was the product of some other writer who’d already been through the information, or had at least glossed over it, and had taken a little of this and a little of that, but mostly had just researched from the writings of others. But the results were not pleasing to me because it didn’t bring anything new. For instance, when reading and researching the American Civil War, I discovered that many writers were depending on the same sources already written about third and fourth-hand. They were copying one another, rather than returning to the original documents, and rather than finding documents that had not been quoted or drawn from in the past.

3 Tug log 10 Nov 1996

Aha, I thought – that is the road I want to take. The one that has all the bumps and wends its way going across the field and into the deep weeds. The road without a track already made by the wheels of the previous follower. Through the weeds and into the woods, where you have to peel back the bark and look underneath for the juicy grubs of facts.

This winter, my book partner on the steam tugboat Baltimore project suggested I look into the log books of the tug. It was an excellent suggestion that horrified me because I hadn’t already done so, and thought I was done with primary document research on that project. Well, now I’ve gone through them, and learned a lot. I’ve incorporated some of it into the manuscript, and hopefully, Bob Pratt and I can now finish the layout of the book. He’s the graphic designer and layout artist for this book. I merely write the text.

4 Cover tug log IMG_1492 copy

It’s time for this book to sail. Soon, I hope. – DW

 

 

Primary Research is Slow

Tug Baltimore March 2019 IMG_1349 copy
Steam tugboat Baltimore, photo copyright David W. Wooddell

I’ve written before about working in archives, and doing primary research. These days, I’ve been back at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, digging through their original documents. It’s fascinating stuff, but so time consuming. Slow is the enemy of the freelance writer. I’ve been on this project for five years, and I’m still working on it. Will it make a million dollars? I don’t even think it will make a million pennies. Yet, I persist – because I’m thorough. I don’t want to walk away from five years of hard work.

During the time I’ve been on this project, one of my other projects fell through as my main source became disgusted with my slowness and withdrew from the exclusive agreement we had for me to mine his documents and write about his big project. Of course, that was a story of a sunken ship and the important legal case over ownership of millions of dollars worth of silver.

My current project concerns a boat that has not yet sunk – but may well sink at her dock because of lack of maintenance. I desperately hope my book project is published before that happens.