Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Louisiana: Cajun, Sugar & Pelicans along the Bayou

This Day in History: April 30, 1812

aka The Bayou State, The Creole State, The Sugar State

Louisiana has a rich, colorful background with a multicultural, multilingual heritage. The state has become a popular tourist destination with New Orleans being the major attraction, known particularly for its picturesque French Quarter and the annual Mardi Gras celebration, held since 1838.

Because of the abundance of Brown Pelicans found along the coast of Louisiana, its official nickname is "The Pelican State." This bird has been a symbol of Louisiana since the arrival of early European settlers who were impressed with the pelican's generous and nurturing attitude toward their young. Thus, tribute is paid to the Brown Pelican: Louisiana's nickname, state bird, state flag, great seal, state painting and is one of three Louisiana symbols displayed on the U.S. mint's bicentennial quarter.

Louisiana is often referred to as "The Bayou State" because of the many slow, sluggish small streams that meander through the lowlands and marshes of the southern section of the state. In addition, it is also often referenced as "The Sugar State" since Louisiana produces a large sugar cane crop and has on location sugar refineries. Other Louisiana state nicknames can be found HERE.
Bit of Louisiana Brown Pelican History...

Disaster struck Louisiana in the 1960s when the use of pesticides caused the brown pelican, native to the area, to stop nesting along the Gulf coast. By 1966, the bird had completely disappeared in Louisiana. In 1968, Louisiana began importing fledglings from Florida in an attempt to repopulate the coastline and, in 1970, the Federal Government declared the brown pelican an endangered species. This is a story with a happy ending. Protection of the brown pelican's habitat along with repopulation efforts resulted in the Federal Government's declaration, in 1995, that the bird bad "recovered" in Louisiana.

Visit the state where the Big Muddy comes to an end and the Big Easy comes to life. Louisiana is home to both great celebrations and great devastation. From cool jazz to hot cooking; from a vast paradise of wetlands to the giant industries endangering its fragile ecosystems, explore the stark contradictions of the Sugar State from soaring heights. Having survived natural and manmade disasters, Louisiana proves it has never lost its festive, fighting spirit.
The United States acquired the territory in the Louisiana Purchase on December 20, 1803. English and its dialects became prominent only after the Louisiana Purchase, when more English-speaking Americans settled in the state. In some regions, English was influenced by French, as seen with Cajun English. Since English became the dominant language of business and government Colonial French and Cajun French have somewhat merged. Louisiana became the 18th U.S. state on April 30, 1812. 
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States.
Louisiana State Flag
Louisiana State Seal
Louisiana State Painting

 With a state painting being an unusual designation,
it should be noted this painting was a collaborative
father-son effort - Johnny O. Bell and Johnny F. Bell.
"Louisiana" contains a representation for all symbols
and commonly accepted icons of Louisiana, and
the painting is dominated by the state colors of
gold, white, and blue.

Louisiana State Bird: Brown Pelican

Noteworthy Note:
After surviving nearly unchanged since the time
of the dinosaurs and having no natural predators
as adults today, alligators were headed for extinction 
only 20 years ago due to intense hunting from man.
 Protecting the species and alligator habitats
has allowed the status to be changed


Louisiana's grand flowering tree is the Southern Magnolia,
so it is of no surprise that the state flower of Louisiana
is the magnolia. One of the remarkable things about
Louisiana's native Southern Magnolia is that
it retains its foliage year-around—deep green & lustrous,
 most magnolia species around the world are deciduous. 

Can't leave Louisiana without mention of its food...


For all State Symbols of Louisiana click HERE!

Classic Songs of Louisiana: "You Are My Sunshine"
 Not only was "You Are My Sunshine" declared Louisiana's state song in 1977,it is a pretty safe bet to say it is probably the only song with a bridge named after it. That would be the Sunshine Bridge which connects Donaldsonville to whatever is on the other side of the Mississippi River, the original bridge to nowhere.

Long associated with the colorful, non-consecutive term governor, Jimmie Davis, "You Are My Sunshine" has served as a vehicle to the charts not just for Davis, but for Gene Autry, Bing Crosby and Ray Charles to mention just a few. While Davis is listed as a co-writer and often claimed to have composed "You Are My Sunshine" while attening LSU, in fact he purchased the song from Paul Rice. It became a cash cow, and assisted his musical and political aspirations immensely. Read MORE...
Louisiana State Musical Instrument

The diatonic accordion was designated the official musical instrument of Louisiana in 1990. This accordion, also called a "squeeze box" or "Cajun accordion", arrived in Louisiana from Germany in the mid to late 1890s and by the early 1900s had become a key element in Cajun music.
Louisiana is home to nearly every musical inflection in America. Click HERE!

 Louisiana State Folk Dance: Square Dance
Louisiana designated the square dance as the state's official American folk dance in 1999. Twenty-two states have passed legislation to declare the square dance as a state symbol, and more than 30 bills (beginning in 1965) have been introduced at the federal level proposing the square dance as the national (folk) dance of the United States.
  Louisiana Bayou

Life along the Bayou
endless waterways, breath-taking nature
alligator, crawfish and catfish
tantalizing, mouth-watering pleasure 

Underdeveloped reaches of Louisiana
lined with gnarled cypress trees
wild, pristine river swamps
 sights and sounds emotions seize

Overhanging of Spanish moss
ghostly figures in the midst
eerie, creepy shadows
where legendary tales exist

Snowy egrets, blue herons, 
brown pelicans by the bay
ducks and even geese
along the migratory flyway

Fascinating plant life
described in tome after tome
creatures by day and night
within the swamp called home

Beauty of the bayou
shimmers in the evening light
unrivaled charm by day
'til the sun succumbs to night

Step back in time...


Louisiana Facts and Trivia

Next state by month: #32 Minnesota, May 11, 1858

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dead at 106: An American Classic

This Day in History: April 29, 2004

From 1897...
Oldsmobile was first manufactured by the Olds Motor Works in Lansing, Michigan, a company founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. In 1901, the company produced 425 cars, making it the first high-volume gasoline-powered automobile manufacturer. In 1908, Oldsmobile was the second brand, after Buick, to become part of the newly established General Motors (GM). 

'Til the last rolled off the assembly line in 2004

The last dark cherry Alero left the line with
 Lansing Car Assembly’s two most senior employees behind the wheel.
Thousands of people signed their names underneath the hood.
On April 29, 2004, the final Oldsmobile drove off the line at General Motors’ Lansing Car Assembly plant. It was an Alero sedan. That Alero represented the send-off to a nameplate founded in the city more than a century ago by the son of a machinist. It was just not unique enough to pique the interest of young people. When the final Oldsmobile rolled off the assembly line more than 35 million Oldsmobiles had been built during the brand's lifetime.
Not a terribly bad car nor an especially good one, the Alero’s white-bread mediocrity is typical of the small to midsize cars that Detroit has churned out for years,” it wrote. “The Alero is, in fact, a virtual twin of the Pontiac Grand Am. Both are transportation devices, cars for people who don’t like cars very much.”
This marked the end of the road for the Oldsmobile...an automobile well remembered from the 70s and 80s. During those decades, the Oldsmobile Cutlass was America's best-selling auto. 

Olds 442 Cutlass

Bad To The Bone!

Rare Tidbits of Music Trivia

Today in Music Trivia: April 29

Our yesterdays are filled with bits and tidbits of interesting trivia. Some are perhaps of the norm while others bring on smiles and even side-splitting laughter. There are always those that appear utterly ridiculous. Enjoy tunes of the times along with the humor!

1960 - Warner Brothers launched its own record label in Britain with the release of The Everly Brothers 'Cathy's Clown'. The deal was reputed to be the first million-dollar contract in music history

1976 - Bruce Springsteen climbed the wall of Graceland to meet Elvis Presley. Elvis wasn't home. A guard took him to be another crank fan and apprehended him.

1981 - Elton John paid £14,000 ($19,329.80) for 232 'Goon Show' scripts broadcast during the 50's at an auction held at Christies, London.

 1993 - Barry White, an animated version, was a guest on "The Simpsons."

2001 - Rod Stewart asked for a change in wedding vows bringing them up to-date and to be treated like a dog license. Stewart said "a change is needed because they've been in existence for 600 years when people used to live until they were only 35".

In April of 1955, Elvis auditioned for a spot on
Arthur Godfrey's "Talent Scouts" and was turned down.

And, now you know!

And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...

Just zip it!

This Day in History: April 29, 1913 (17?)

Begin with an image - fashion without the zipper...

 Ladies' undergarments either laced or hooked as well.
A woman's attire in the 19th century was composed of 6 layers.

 Even men's trousers - NO zipper!

Proceed to your closet - How many articles of clothing do you have that contain a zipper? Think about each of those items NOT having the zipper but all of those openings that need to be closed having snaps or hooks & eyes instead. Consider it is Monday morning and time to get ready for work. Need an extra hour? Two? Definitely need more than two hands, especially the ladies!

Embrace the Past...

Thank you, who perfected that miraculous device, the zipper! Of course, it did not come about without trial and error. Just think back to the number of times you have experienced a broken zipper and multiply that many times over until the zip in the zipper was perfected.
Clasp Locker or
Unlocker for Shoes
This Day Trivia marks April 29, 1913 as the day of the all-purpose zipper

Illustration: Whitcomb Judson's clasp locker

The term "zipper" was coined as an onomatopoeia by B.F. Goodrich, whose company started marketing galoshes featuring the fastener in 1923. Regrettably, Whitcomb Judson died in 1909, and never heard the term, or saw the success, by which his invention would become ubiquitous.
Source: Inventor of the Week Archive
Next time you put on a pair of jeans, slacks, shorts or cutesy top, 'just zip it!' with a smile! Usually it takes only seconds and you are on your way.

Can you imagine this with hooks & eyes?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Melody is Memory

Today in Music History: April 28

Every day is a day of music. Whether a song makes the charts as a #1 hit, a new song is released or recordings take place for future announcements, music is in the air. Today is no exception as we span four decades from the 40s through the 80s. 


1946, Perry Como's "Prisoner Of Love" hits #1.

1958, "Witch Doctor" by David Seville topped the charts and stayed there for 3 weeks.

1979, "Heart of Glass" by Blondie topped the charts and stayed there for a week.

1987, The Art Of Excellence by Tony Bennett becomes the first album to be initially released on CD instead of the traditional vinyl format.


1964, Elvis Presley, "Viva Las Vegas"

1967, Elvis Presley, "Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On)"

1969, Chicago, Chicago Transit Authority (Chicago I)


1940, Glenn Miller, "Pennsylvania 6-5000"

1960, Elvis Presley: "Big Boots," "What's She Really Like?," "Pocketful of Rainbows," "Wooden Heart"

1966: The Beatles, "Eleanor Rigby"


And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...

Maryland: Crossroads

This Day in History: April 28, 1788

aka the Free State,  the Monumental State
Historic Baltimore City Hall - photo © Wally Gobetz on Flickr -
noncommercial use permitted with attribution / no derivative works.
The official motto of Maryland is the Italian motto of the Calvert family - "Fatti maschil, Parole femine" (loosely translated as "Strong deeds, Gentle words"). 
The Old Line State
The nickname for Maryland is The Old Line State. According to popular tradition, General George Washington bestowed the name "Old Line State" and thereby associated Maryland with its regular line troops (the Maryland Line) who served courageously in the American Revolution. It remains a tribute to the Maryland Line's reputation of honor, reliability, and valor.
The Monumental State
In the early 17th century, Baltimore was given the nickname "The Monumental City" and this nickname was transferred over time to the state. "The Monumental City" was bestowed upon Baltimore by President John Quincy Adams in reference to the monuments he saw on his visit to the city in 1827—the Battle Monument & the Aquila Randall Monument.
The Free State
Maryland was first recognized as a "Free State" on November 1, 1864. On that date, the Maryland Constitution of 1864 took effect. By its provisions, slavery within the State's borders was abolished, and Maryland, indeed, became a free state. To celebrate the emancipation, under direction of the Baltimore City Council, five hundred guns were fired, bells were rung, and flags displayed "to attest the joy of the people at their great deliverance."

Aerial America: Maryland & Delaware
Maryland was one of the thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. On February 2, 1781, Maryland became the 13th state to approve the ratification of the Articles of Confederation which brought into being the United States as a united, sovereign and national state. On April 28, 1788, it became the 7th state admitted to the U.S. after ratifying the new Constitution. In December 1790, Maryland donated land selected by President George Washington to the federal government for the creation of the new national capital of Washington, D.C.
[The thirteen colonies were: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations]

Maryland is located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
Its history as a border state has resulted in the state exhibiting
characteristics of both the U. S. northeastern and southeastern regions.
Maryland State Flag

The state flag of Maryland was officially adopted in 1904.
The flag bears the arms of the Calvert and Crossland families.
Calvert was the family name of the Lords Baltimore who founded Maryland, and
their colors of gold and black appear in the first and fourth quarters of the flag.

Crossland was the family of the mother of George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore.
The red and white Crossland colors, with a cross bottony,
appear in the second and third quarters. The flag first was flown on
October 11, 1880 in Baltimore at a parade marking the 150th
anniversary of the founding of Baltimore. It also was flown October 25, 1888,
at the Gettysburg Battlefield for ceremonies dedicating monuments to
Maryland regiments of the Army of the Potomac.
Maryland Great Seal
Maryland has a state dinosaur!

Astrodon johnstoni

The Astrodon lived in Maryland during the Early Cretaceous period,
from 95 to 130 million years ago. Dinosaur fossils are found in rocks in central Maryland.
These rocks are from the Mesozoic era, between the Triassic and Cretaceous periods.
Most of the specimens are found in the Arundel Clay (Lower Cretaceous),
the Severn and Mt. Laurel Formations (Upper Cretaceous), and
the Gettysburg Shale (Upper Triassic).

Interesting Note: Rocks from the Jurassic period are either not exposed
or missing in Maryland.

Seven states have declared a state dinosaur: Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming.
And a State Cat...the Calico!

Maryland designated the calico as the official state cat in 2001.
Its colors of orange, black, and white are shared
with the Baltimore oriole (State bird) and
the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly (State insect).

Interesting Note:

Cats are also recognized as state symbols in Maine (Maine Coon Cat) and
in Massachusetts (Tabby Cat).

Maryland State Bird: Baltimore Oriole

 Maryland State Insect:
Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly

Maryland State Song: "Maryland, My Maryland"

Maryland State Folk Dance: Square Dance
Maryland designated the square dance as the official state folk dance in 1994. Twenty-two states have passed legislation to declare the square dance as a state symbol, and more than 30 bills have been introduced at the federal level proposing the square dance as the national (folk) dance of the United States (beginning in 1965).
For all State Symbols of Maryland click HERE!

Historic Sotterley: A Tidewater Legacy

 Humble beginnings
upon America's shores
left footprints in history
never to be ignored

Born into slavery
promises of freedom
hope kept alive
amid changes in reason

Civil war battles
tore America's heart
in tumultuous times
 loyalties split apart

Over land, underground
risking life for life
fairness and equality
evolved amid strife

Memories of families
within America's conflict
house ghosts and secrets
only civil war could inflict

Crossroads of war
left choices to be made

Maryland, oh, Maryland
monumental hands played
©2014 Sharla Lee Shults
The state with the most bizarre shape!