Sunday, September 24, 2023

Laundry day

Back to laundry — namely, the laundry that was hanging when a tax photograph was taken one day in Gowanus.

[561 Union Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn, c. 1939–1941. From the NYC Municipal Archives Collections. Click for a much larger view.]

An alert reader noticed the human presence in the photograph: there’s someone at the top left window, and there appears to be someone below waving to the camera. I’ve tinkered with the contrast and added an outline for visibility.

[Click any image for a larger view.]

Here’s another view of the scene:

[557 Union Street. Click for a larger view.]

The likely residents of 561 Union Street when these photographs were taken: the Guadagno family, Gerard, Mary, and their daughters Rose, Nancy, and Gertrude. Under Industry in the 1940 census (distinguished from Occupation), Gerard and Mary are listed as “Groceries.”

[Click for a much larger view.]

And lookit: there was a grocery store just a few doors down the block:

[571 Union Street. Click for a larger view.]

That is a grocery store, not just a candy store (candy, newspapers, tobacco). The Salada Tea signage and the prices posted in the windows signify grocery store. And the word Grocery appears on the (Coca-Cola) privilege sign. I can imagine Gowanusites buying bread, milk, canned soup, tea, and coffee. Main staples.

Could the white garments hanging on the line be grocer’s aprons? They look much too substantial to be sleeveless T-shirts. Here’s a tax photograph with a grocer’s apron. I think that’s what we’re seeing at 561 Union.

[Click for a larger view.]

I was going to leave it at that, but I thought (once again) of Robert Caro’s mantra, “Turn every page.” Here that’d mean “Look up that grocery store address in the census.” And there it is. And in one of the 571 apartments, more Guadagnos: Arnold, Catherine, and their children Arnold, Marie, and Lorraine, all much younger than the family at 561. A Guadagno son and his family, I would guess.

[Click for a much larger view.]

Grocer’s aprons or no, I think that the grocery store was a Guadagno enterprise.

Thanks, Brian, for all your attention to this Gowanus scene.

Related reading
More photographs from the NYC Municipal Archives (Pinboard)

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper, is by “Anna Stiga,” Stan Again, the puzzle’s editor Stan Newman using the pseudonym that signals an easier Stumper of his making. I found it not especially easy, and I really struggled in the southwest corner. Many proper names in this puzzle. Many pieces of trivia. But I got it, or them.

Some clue-and-answer pairs of note:

1-A, ten letters, “Jets’ address, in part.” Wha? An unusual start.

7-D, five letters, “Inspirational half-sister of Helen.” This name is fine by me.

14-D, nine letters, “Gives.” Corny? Perhaps. But I like it.

20-A, five letters, “Malcolm, Jr.’s nickname.” A blast from some past.

25-A, five letters, “It cut a key in half on QVC (2005).” Another blast from some past.

32-D, nine letters, “Monetary term in rhe BBC’s E-cyclopedia.” New to me.

33-D, nine letters, “Owned up to hitting a parked car.” Yes, that’s exactly what I would do.

35-A, three letters, “Work on the side.” I love this clue. Even the plainest answer can be delightfully Stumper-y.

50-D, five letters, “Much less than a roar.” Yow, this is downright mean.

My favorite in this puzzle: 48-A, three letters, “Hald a prominent name in modeling.” Could it be — no, it couldn’t. Oh, wait, it is.

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Dickinson State is the new WVU

Steve Easton, president of North Dakota’s Dickinson State College (and critic of tenure) is looking to cut. From Inside Higher Ed:

Easton told the Faculty Senate in an email Aug. 9 that he was considering cutting undergraduate degrees in English, math, political science, communication, music, theater, chemistry, environmental science and computer technology management, including the teaching tracks for those subjects, such as math education. Left would be degrees in history, biology, elementary education, computer science and other areas. . . .
A related post
West Virginia University cuts

Google to delete inactive accounts

I now see that I received the e-mail about a change in Google policy in July and August — and looked right past it each time. So I’m glad that I follow the Blogger-centric blog Too Clever by Half, which makes the e-mail’s importance clear.

Long story short: if you want your Blogger blog to outlast you, you need to make your, uhh, arrangements.

Here are the Google policy and the announcement. More helpful: Too Clever by Half’s advice about how to keep a Blogger blog online.


Textise can be a handy tool for navigating the Internets. There’s an ample explanation here.

Thanks, Ben.

Builder’s tea

I learned this term from Michael Mosley’s BBC Radio 4 podcast Just One Thing. From the Oxford English Dictionary:

British colloquial. In builder’s tea and similar compounds: designating robust, full-bodied black tea, brewed until very strong, and usually drunk with milk and often sugar
Wikipedia: “It takes its name from the inexpensive tea commonly drunk by labourers taking a break.”

Ah, so that’s what I’ve been drinking. (Almost always black, no sugar.)

Related reading
All OCA tea posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Squirrel with avocado skin

It’s a grey rainy day. So here is a squirrel enjoying an avocado skin, as seen outside Boston last month.

[Photograph by me. Click for a larger, cuter view.]

A related post
KNUT winter schedule (Squirrel TV)

“Thick with virtual dust”

From a New York Review Books e-mail:

In 2016, Phillip Lopate, who has been writing essays and thinking about the essay for decades now, turned his attention to one of the essay’s offshoots, the blog, a form by that time already thick with virtual dust. Lopate committed to writing a weekly blog about, really, whatever over the course of a year.
And now it’s 2023, and those blog posts (themselves thick with dust?) are being sold as a book. Except that they’re not really blog posts. Lopate was writing what might better be called a weekly column for The American Scholar. Some blog!

[If the word blog applies, Lopate committed, really, to writing a weekly post. A phrase in his final entry — “what my next week’s blog will be about” — suggests that he used the word blog to refer to both the whole and the part.]

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Seeing and smelling

“The judge was smart enough to smell a rat when she saw it”: Representative Tom Tiffany (WI-35), mangling an old idiom at the Merrick Gatland show trial just now.

Tiffany voted against accepting the results of the 2020 presidential election. He also voted against making Juneteenth a national holiday. I smell a rat.

[The first citation for smell a rat in Green’s Dictionary of Slang : c. 1529.]

Travel by plane and book

Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler, trans. William Weaver (New York: Harcourt, 1981).

The “you” of this passage is a character in the novel, a reader who is now reading On the carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon by Takakumi Ikoka. That novel is one of ten (imaginary) novels that the reader in/of this novel encounters, each in the form of a few pages.

Postmodern play aside, this passage captures what flying always feels like to me: it’s not being anywhere.

Also from this novel
The formula : Novels and theories : “A fairly precise notion of the book”

[I am not now flying.]