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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Few Words About Sox- Not Sex- Sox

Today I would like to say a few words about socks or sox if you prefer.  While speaking of sex might be a little more amusing, nonetheless socks have their own bit of wonder and amazement. To say that socks aren't sexy would be mis-characterization.  While technically not socks, I've seen some ladies stockings that for want of a better phrase, really knocked my socks off. However, if you were to mention fifty shades of grey around me, I'd probably think you had been peeking in my sock drawer. I may have one or two pairs of black or white socks, but they're mainly left overs from a different era. Back when I was in junior high the fashion trends had changed and wearing white socks became a fashion taboo. The only time they were acceptable was during gym class, and there you got dinged if you didn't have on a pair of white athletic socks. During those years I discovered that J C Penny carried a line of black dress socks that were thick and comfortable and reasonably priced at $1.00 a pair. Every time I passed by the Penny's store I would drop in and buy a few. The nice thing about having all your socks in one color is that if you lose one, or it gets a hole in it, there was no problem finding a mate for it. The biggest downfall with black socks for me was that I was a nervous kid and my anxiety chose to express itself via the sweat glands in my feet. My shoes were like Easy Bake ovens, but instead of tasty little cakes, all they ever produced were the most foul smelling stench to ever grace the earth. If I'd had a little more experience in marketing, I might have been able to come up with a brand new type of carp bait, boil a little corn meal and anise oil and wrap in a black sock that his been worn for a week and you wouldn't be able to keep those carp away with a stick.  Before I started with this post, I thought I'd do a little research. It seems that socks in one form or another have been around for centuries. According to a web site titled- A Brief History of Socks, the earliest ones were worn by cave men, most likely  animal skins tied around their feet and legs. Apparently during the 8th century BC, the ancient Greeks were wearing matted animal skins called piloi. I  hate to even entertain the idea. By the 2nd century AD, the Romans were wearing  socks called udoms, made of woven fabric and pulled over the foot. Udoms. Sounds almost obscene. The earliest known knit socks were found in Coptic Egyptian tombs  in the 3rd to 6th century AD. By 1000 AD woven knit socks or leggings were worn by nobility in Europe, though feet weren't added until the 12th century. It was love that stirred the creative juices that provided the first knitting machine. It was invented by an English clergy because the woman he loved would seldom look up at him from her knitting needles. Either she really loved knitting or he was uglier than an old sock. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth I  refused to give the inventor, Mr. Lee a patent, because the wool socks his machine produced were too coarse for her royal ankles. She was used to silk stockings from Spain. I checked out another web site in my pursuit of the story and found The Lonely Sock. I really wish I had more time to elaborate here, but I don't. According to the author of this site, The Bureau of Missing Socks was formed by the Union Army during the Civil War. The man in charge was one Major Smithson, a haberdasher by trade before joining the army. According to this site, he was a lousy soldier, but a great businessman and took his position very seriously. His idea was to replace any damaged socks that a soldier brought in with a new sock. Unbelievably the owners of the mills who supplied the socks to the army got all up in arms fearing that they would lose business if only one sock was being replaced. Long story short, the bureau was still going strong at the end of the war  and perhaps still is. It is reported that there were enough socks purchased by the army to outfit the soldiers of both World War I and II. Unfortunately men had gotten bigger since the time of the civil war, so they only fit men who wore a size seven or smaller. After WWII, as part of the Marshall Plan, socks were passed out all over Europe as the result of the excess from the Bureau of Missing Socks.There was such an excess that everyone was allotted twelve pair.  I do hope that you'll take some time to check out  the web sites mentioned. It sure beats watching TV. This past Christmas I was the lucky recipient of several pairs of very good quality socks, one of which I'm wearing now.  I have to say, that one of life's greatest small pleasures is putting on a new pair of socks. If you're having a bad day, don't go home and take it out on your spouse; go buy a new pair of socks and see how much better the world seems.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Old Salmon Can Labels

  At one time there were canneries scattered up  and down the West Coast as well as British Columbia and Alaska. They were established to take advantage of the huge salmon runs, and I assume for the purpose of canning tuna as well, though I don't know for sure. Prior to Alaska becoming a state it was legal for the canneries to have fish traps on many of the points were salmon would congregate, and often canneries would spring up close by. When I spoke to some of the old timers, they mentioned that there fish traps all up and down Icy Strait, and I believe Chatham Strait as well. Each cannery had it's own label, and some were really beautiful. A few weeks before Christmas we had an open house, and I invited my friend John Kveum  and asked if he would bring his book of cannery labels. Of course I couldn't include all of them, so I chose a few that I found especially striking. I like old time artwork, like that found on these labels and posters advertising the circus or encouraging folks to buy war bonds back during WWII. Of the five species of Pacific salmon, the most common to make it into cans were the Pink or Humpback, Red or Sockeye, and Chum or Dog salmon. John mentioned that King salmon don't can particularly well, nor apparently do Silver salmon, although there have been some attempts made at both. There isn't a whole lot more that I can comment on here, as I have limited knowledge of the subject- imagine that. In any event, I hope that you can enjoy the artwork of days gone by. Happy New Year!