Saturday, August 29, 2020

Housekeeping in the Highlands

 From Good Housekeeping magazine, March 1894:

Louise Coffin Jones writes very interestingly of " Housekeeping in the Mountains," the quiet humor of her style enhancing the charm of the narrative. The particular " mountains " in which the house keeping was done are located in the extreme south western part of North Carolina, where that state, South Carolina and Georgia corner — a region of wild and picturesque beauty, but with a population full of peculiar traits.

HOUSEKEEPING IN THE MOUNTAINS. A Graphic Description of an Enjoyable Summer Outing.

In the extreme southwestern part of North Carolina, where that state and South Carolina and Georgia corner, there is a region of wild and picturesque beauty. Mountains cluster thickly, many of them over six thousand feet high, densely wooded to their summits with magnificent forests of oak, pine, hemlock and chestnut; down the narrow glens, dark with the shade of rhododendron and laurel, rush clear, bright streams, fed by gushing springs, and everywhere, in their season, blossom the most beautiful and varied wild flowers. Game, such as bear and deer, is plentiful, and the cold streams abound with speckled trout. It would be a paradise alike for sportsmen and health seekers, but it is comparatively unknown to tourists. Railroads have never penetrated these mountain fastnesses, and there are few wagon roads.

The mountaineers live in their remote and widely separated cabins, as they have done for several generations past, most of them unable to read or write, and uninfluenced by any contact with the outer world, but independent and sufficient unto themselves. They hunt and fish, they cultivate small farms, and make their corn into whiskey without any deference to the laws of internal revenue. There is no aristocracy to domineer over them, and their self-respect has never been crushed. Many of them come of good Scotch and Huguenot stock, and possess great natural intelligence; others are shiftless and unreliable, but they form the exceptions to the general rule of hard-working honesty.

On a level plateau, surrounded on all sides by mountains, a little village has sprung up. It was started by an enterprising Northern man who regained his health here, breathing the balsam-laden air; he brought his family and established a home, then induced a number of other people to come and settle. It has a post office, a hotel, a schoolhouse and church, several stores, and a number of comfortable private dwellings, but the primeval forest still surrounds the spot.  A few steps away from the main street one is lost in a laurel jungle, and a half-hour's walk takes one to the top of a neighboring summit, whence he can behold a vast stretch of mountains of all shades of purple, blue and amethyst, fading into enchanting softness in the distance.

Three of us— women who had pitched camp together many times before in life's march — attracted to this spot by its fine scenery, its healthfulness and its cheapness, went there to spend the summer. Our first move was to rent a couple of rooms; our next to gather from various sources a few necessary house- hold traps. These could not all be obtained at once, and pending the arrival of the cook stove and some chairs, we cooked by the fireplace and sat on our trunks.

When the cook stove arrived — as it did one rainy day, in an ox cart, together with a couple of turkeys and half a dozen hens which we had engaged — there proved to be not enough pipe to reach through the roof; and when, after several days' delay, that deficiency was remedied, the man who had promised to haul us some wood failed to come. After repeated personal interviews, he finally brought us a load of young laurel and rhododendron, about as thick through as a quart cup and solid as mahogany. He promised to send some one to chop it up for us; but for three days we sighed in vain for his coming, our refrain being that of Mariana in the Moated Grange : "'He cometh not,' she said." On the fourth day we borrowed an ax — a dull one it proved to be, and light — and with many ill-aimed strokes, half of which hit the ground, and much abrasion of the cuticle inside our hands, we chopped enough wood to cook a meal or two.

On the fifth day two natives appeared, who said they had been sent to chop our wood. They surveyed the pile for awhile in silence ; but the listless, round-shouldered droop of their homespun coats augured ill for any vigorous exertion. The aspect of the woodpile evidently discouraged them; they went home, probably to recruit their energy, and returned in a few hours to do the work.

Our experience with a washerwoman was much the same. We engaged a black-browed woman of Portuguese descent, who lived in a cabin in the woods, and who could have played the part of one of the weird sisters in Macbeth without any making up. She promised to come for the clothes bright and early Monday morning. When Thursday came, she had not yet arrived; and borrowing a tub, a high wooden bench, and a round black kettle, we went down to the spring and washed the clothes ourselves, mountaineer fashion, while the pink and white laurel blossoms fell in showers upon our heads, and drifted away on the current of the spring branch.

It has been mentioned that we had some turkeys and chickens. As there was no coop to keep them in, we set to work to make one, and with a hammer, some nails, and a few long, wide boards, succeeded in making a coop big enough for a cassowary. But the hens soon slipped out through the cracks, and the next night roosted in the branches of a chestnut, whence they were brought, squawking and protesting, by a small boy whom we induced to climb for them.

The cook stove, which we had obtained after so much delay, was not a portly black one, shining with polish, and possessing a reservoir and tin oven. It was a small one, called a step stove, because the back half was six inches higher than the front; had none of the modern improvements, and had long ago lost its original blackness and assumed a rusty, burned-out hue. So antiquated was its appearance that it might have been in use when Jefferson was president. It was so low that we had to prostrate ourselves before it to see into the oven door; when we put in wood we literally laid our heads in the dust, after the manner of an oriental salaam.

We fancied that the cooking which was done by the fireplace in our front room tasted best ; certainly nothing in the way of modern conveniences could improve the salt-rising bread, the chicken potpies and huge peach pies which were taken from the old- fashioned oven on the hearth, heated by coals beneath and on the lid. The hearth was composed of large, flat stones; the fireplace and chimney, likewise of natural stone, yawned wide enough to take in the largest back log; the stately brass andirons had come down from a former generation.

Our bedsteads were of native wood, and made in the village. One was varnished and savored of luxury; the other not. Our beds were striped ticks filled with fresh straw, and as we dropped into sound, refreshing slumber as soon as we retired, we had no regrets that they were not woven wire or curled hair.

Our chairs were hand-made, and made to order, which proved them to be solid and genuine — the qualities so much sought in modern furniture — but we had not enough of them without taking the high- backed, splint-bottomed rocking-chair to the table every meal. Our table harmonized with the rest of the furniture: it had two long, straight boards on top, and four legs which had never come in contact with a turning lathe.

The front room served for both parlor and bedroom ; the back one for kitchen and dining room. The walls and ceilings were of rough, unplaned boards, just as they left the sawmill. At first it seemed like coming into a barn, but we soon covered the walls with photographs, illustrations from papers, pressed ferns and clusters of the bright, scarlet berries of the mountain ash, and somewhat redeemed their bareness. No ingenuity, however, could give us more space, and we had to keep the sidesaddle under the bed.

The floors were bare, and the constant clack of our heeled shoes on the oak boards soon became a familiar accompaniment to the performance of house hold duties. The windows were for some time curtainless; but they framed views of distant mountains and nearer ridges, clothed with majestic hemlocks, chestnuts, maples and oaks, which we were loath to shut from sight, and at night a host of big, bright stars were visible. Our supply of table ware was none too ample, all the dishes we owned generally being called into use at each meal; our cutlery in particular was limited, the knives being four in number, and following an Arkansas precedent we named them respectively " big butch, little butch, granny's knife, and old case."

Pumps and wells were unknown, the supply of water always being obtained from springs. Our spring was several rods away from the house, at the foot of a hill. It issued from the hillside in a strong, clear stream, deliciously cold, and ran away through an almost impenetrable thicket of laurel and rhododendron, to join a stream whose constant murmur and gurgle we heard in the adjacent forest.

It was as if we had gone back several generations — to the days of our great-grandmothers — when we began such primitive housekeeping. With such an environment we ought to have busied ourselves from morning till night hackling or combing flax, carding or spinning wool, weaving at the loom, or attending to the other duties incident upon a simple, patriarchal mode of existence. But our lives did not harmonize with our surroundings. We swung in our hammocks under the shade of pine trees, we rambled in the woods or climbed mountains, with not even the excuse of going to pick huckleberries, and we took frequent horseback rides toward every point of the compass. We raised nothing, we manufactured nothing, we had nothing to barter; we simply paid cash for all our supplies — a proceeding which our great-grand mothers would have viewed with horror.

Mountain trout, speckled red and yellow, were brought to our door on strings by the boys who had caught them, wading in the cold streams, and we bought them for a cent apiece. Grizzled men, who had been hunting in the forest, brought wild game which they offered at prices that attested their remoteness from markets. Mountaineer women, in sunbonnets and short-waisted dresses of calico or domestic gingham, presented themselves at our door with buckets of blackberries, dewberries or huckleberries, which they offered for five cents a quart ; or with " pokes " (as small bags are called) full of apples, peaches, roasting ears, cabbages or squashes, which they had raised in their own gardens or which had been brought in bullock carts from "down Georgia way." They addressed us as " you-uns " or " you- alls," and said " I wish you well " when they went away, instead of "good-by." Their gait was a quick walk, up hill and down, and they lifted their feet high as if accustomed to the roots, stones and other obstructions of mountain trails.

We obtained milk and butter through the same purveyors. These articles we kept, together with meat and berries, in a little whitewashed log house down by the spring; they were preserved cool and fresh and we never felt the need of ice. Groceries were obtained from a store in the village, which was at once post office, grocery, dry goods, hardware and general notion store. The mail was brought to this emporium once a day on horseback from the nearest railroad town in South Carolina, thirty miles away.

It may be asked what we gained in return for all our privations and inconveniences. The answer will be health, fun, enjoyment of many kinds. We took long walks through the forests, admiring the stately ranks of trees that towered above us, untouched by ax or fire, and gathered our arms full of rhododendron, laurel and azalea flowers. The tinkle of bells on the necks of horses grazing far up on the mountain range came faintly to our ears, together with the distant low of cattle, nipping the fragrant under growth in the distant woods. Sometimes when climbing the dim paths leading to these wild pastures we would startle, and be startled by, the thin, shy, high- shouldered and slab-sided hogs which eat the mast and nuts, and know no master's crib. Above, in the aisles of verdure, we would hear the thrushes and the veeries singing, and catch glimpses of many a bird we had never seen outside the plates of Wilson's ornithology.

Or, mounted on horseback, we would canter off along the mountain roads till we came to some wonderful view that embraced hundreds of miles : the domes of South Carolina, the summits of Georgia, culminating in Rabun Peak, and all the ranges that lie so thickly in the southwestern corner of North Carolina, while along the western horizon stretched the Great Smoky mountains of Tennessee, faint and dim as a far-off belt of cloud. The grandeur of its scenery has gained for this region the name of "The Land of the Sky." There are points from which eighty peaks over six thousand feet high can be seen at once.

At other times we would penetrate the trackless wilderness till we reached the waterfalls whose roar filled the hollow of the encircling hills, and here, stepping from rock to rock in the cascades, gather rare ferns and curious lichens, and note where mush rooms varying in size from a silver dollar to a saucer, lifted their pleated parasols from the rich, damp soil — buff, salmon, pink, and a rich orange with a deep crimson center. Sometimes we descended a thousand feet into a sheltered cove where there were springs whose waters possessed medicinal virtues, and in whose milder air fruits ripened which would not grow on the breezy heights.

The life of the mountaineers was always open to our study, and was the source of endless entertainment. It was absorbingly interesting to watch the development of human nature under conditions so widely different from those with which we were familiar; and to observe that while an atmosphere of culture could not always produce a gentleman, neither could rude surroundings make a boor, but that the gentle instinct or the brutal one is inherent.

Wherever we went the music of the mountain streams was never long out of our hearing. Pure and cold and sparkling they crossed our path or ran along the side of the road, then went singing on their way down the mountain side under a roof of laurel branches which sheltered them from the sun. It may have been the water we drank, it may have been the air we breathed, it may have been some subtler essence distilled in Nature's laboratory, only to be had far from cities and their artificial life ; certain it is that we all gained in health and strength during our summer in the mountains, and look back upon our primitive housekeeping there as an experience in which enjoyment outweighed inconvenience. 

— Louise Coffin Jones.

 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Marching in Lock Step

 For someone who never figured out how to build a computer that was immune to viruses, Bill Gates is in the odd position of being the planet’s preeminent voice for saving humans from viruses.


I don’t get it, but maybe it’s just that the Beatles were wrong and money CAN buy you love (or at the least, fawning obeisance).

The latest pronouncement from Gates is that the United States bobbled its response to the crisis because:

“We believe in freedom, individual freedom. We optimize for individual rights.”

Like that’s a bad thing.

If only we would submit ourselves to the Chinese Communist Party, oh, how the situation would improve.  Gates lavishes praise on that tyrannical regime:

“It’s interesting that actually Asia, where the thing started, overall has done better than you would have expected…. [China] clearly made mistakes. There were warning signs, people were talking about it, they didn’t go after it in the month of December or even parts of January….After that, although in their typical fairly authoritarian way, they did a very good job at suppressing the virus. There may have been a lot of individual rights that were violated there, but the overall macro effect that they achieved is kind of amazing.”

How long has it been since public health experts were chirping “Two weeks to flatten the curve, two weeks to flatten the curve”?   Maybe those experts should stick with giving us advice on “two weeks to flatten your stomach.” 

For Bill Gates and his globalist colleagues, the current crisis is much more than an opportunity to dole out banal health advice.  It is a long-anticipated moment to implement social engineering schemes that will make the nations and people of the world less free.

Way back in 2010, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Global Business Network cranked out a report entitled “Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development.”  One of the hypothetical scenarios outlines the possible government responses to a global pandemic.  Is this evidence of a globalist plot to unleash a deadly pandemic on the world?  Or is it a cautionary examination of the repercussions from such a disaster?

Merely by juxtaposing the Rockefeller report and our current situation, you will earn the wrath of Snopes and a host of other media “fact checkers” who will tar-and-feather you as a kooky conspiracy theorist.  These guardians of truth implore us, “There’s nothing to see here.  Move along!”  “The hypotheticals of the 2010 Rockefeller document are NOTHING AT ALL like the situation in 2020!”


Forget Snopes and the other agenda-driven “fact checkers.”  I find the report absolutely stunning, chilling.  People can read it and come to their own conclusions.  Following is the scenario in question, laid out ten years ago.  Rather than cherry-pick, I’ll reprint the entire section of the report devoted to this scenario, and boldface sentences and phrases of particular interest:

LOCK STEP

A world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback

In 2012, the pandemic that the world had been anticipating for years finally hit. Unlike 2009’s H1N1, this new influenza strain—originating from wild geese—was extremely virulent and deadly. Even the most pandemic-prepared nations were quickly overwhelmed when the virus streaked around the world, infecting nearly 20 percent of the global population and killing 8 million in just seven months, the majority of them healthy young adults. The pandemic also had a deadly effect on economies: international mobility of both people and goods screeched to a halt, debilitating industries like tourism and breaking global supply chains. Even locally, normally bustling shops and office buildings sat empty for months, devoid of both employees and customers.

The pandemic blanketed the planet—though disproportionate numbers died in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America, where the virus spread like wildfire in the absence of official containment protocols. But even in developed countries, containment was a challenge. The United States’s initial policy of “strongly discouraging” citizens from flying proved deadly in its leniency, accelerating the spread of the virus not just within the U.S. but across borders. However, a few countries did fare better—China in particular. The Chinese government’s quick imposition and enforcement of mandatory quarantine for all citizens, as well as its instant and near-hermetic sealing off of all borders, saved millions of lives, stopping the spread of the virus far earlier than in other countries and enabling a swifter postpandemic recovery.

China’s government was not the only one that took extreme measures to protect its citizens from risk and exposure. During the pandemic, national leaders around the world flexed their authority and imposed airtight rules and restrictions, from the mandatory wearing of face masks to body-temperature checks at the entries to communal spaces like train stations and supermarkets. Even after the pandemic faded, this more authoritarian control and oversight of citizens and their activities stuck and even intensified. In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems—from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty—leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power.

At first, the notion of a more controlled world gained wide acceptance and approval. Citizens willingly gave up some of their sovereignty—and their privacy—to more paternalistic states in exchange for greater safety and stability. Citizens were more tolerant, and even eager, for top-down direction and oversight, and national leaders had more latitude to impose order in the ways they saw fit. In developed countries, this heightened oversight took many forms: biometric IDs for all citizens, for example, and tighter regulation of key industries whose stability was deemed vital to national interests.

In many developed countries, enforced cooperation with a suite of new regulations and agreements slowly but steadily restored both order and, importantly, economic growth. Across the developing world, however, the story was different—and much more variable. Top-down authority took different forms in different countries, hinging largely on the capacity, caliber, and intentions of their leaders. In countries with strong and thoughtful leaders, citizens’ overall economic status and quality of life increased. In India, for example, air quality drastically improved after 2016, when the government outlawed high emitting vehicles. In Ghana, the introduction of ambitious government programs to improve basic infrastructure and ensure the availability of clean water for all her people led to a sharp decline in water-borne diseases.

But more authoritarian leadership worked less well—and in some cases tragically—in countries run by irresponsible elites who used their increased power to pursue their own interests at the expense of their citizens. There were other downsides, as the rise of virulent nationalism created new hazards: spectators at the 2018 World Cup, for example, wore bulletproof vests that sported a patch of their national flag. Strong technology regulations stifled innovation, kept costs high, and curbed adoption. In the developing world, access to “approved” technologies increased but beyond that remained limited: the locus of technology innovation was largely in the developed world, leaving many developing countries on the receiving end of technologies that others consider “best” for them. Some governments found this patronizing and refused to distribute computers and other technologies that they scoffed at as “second hand.”

Meanwhile, developing countries with more resources and better capacity began to innovate internally to fill these gaps on their own. Meanwhile, in the developed world, the presence of so many top-down rules and norms greatly inhibited entrepreneurial activity. Scientists and innovators were often told by governments what research lines to pursue and were guided mostly toward projects that would make money (e.g., market-driven product development) or were “sure bets” (e.g., fundamental research), leaving more risky or innovative research areas largely untapped. Well-off countries and monopolistic companies with big research and development budgets still made significant advances, but the IP behind their breakthroughs remained locked behind strict national or corporate protection.

Russia and India imposed stringent domestic standards for supervising and certifying encryption-related products and their suppliers—a category that in reality meant all IT innovations. The U.S. and EU struck back with retaliatory national standards, throwing a wrench in the development and diffusion of technology globally. Especially in the developing world, acting in one’s national self-interest often meant seeking practical alliances that fit with those interests—whether it was gaining access to needed resources or banding together in order to achieve economic growth.

In South America and Africa, regional and sub-regional alliances became more structured. Kenya doubled its trade with southern and eastern Africa, as new partnerships grew within the continent. China’s investment in Africa expanded as the bargain of new jobs and infrastructure in exchange for access to key minerals or food exports proved agreeable to many governments. Cross-border ties proliferated in the form of official security aid. While the deployment of foreign security teams was welcomed in some of the most dire failed states, one-size-fits-all solutions yielded few positive results.

By 2025, people seemed to be growing weary of so much top-down control and letting leaders and authorities make choices for them. Wherever national interests clashed with individual interests, there was conflict. Sporadic pushback became increasingly organized and coordinated, as disaffected youth and people who had seen their status and opportunities slip away—largely in developing countries—incited civil unrest. In 2026, protestors in Nigeria brought down the government, fed up with the entrenched cronyism and corruption. Even those who liked the greater stability and predictability of this world began to grow uncomfortable and constrained by so many tight rules and by the strictness of national boundaries. The feeling lingered that sooner or later, something would inevitably upset the neat order that the world’s governments had worked so hard to establish.

LIFE IN LOCK STEP

Manisha gazed out on the Ganges River, mesmerized by what she saw. Back in 2010, when she was 12 years old, her parents had brought her to this river so that she could bathe in its holy waters. But standing at the edge, Manisha had been afraid. It wasn’t the depth of the river or its currents that had scared her, but the water itself: it was murky and brown and smelled pungently of trash and dead things. Manisha had balked, but her mother had pushed her forward, shouting that this river flowed from the lotus feet of Vishnu and she should be honored to enter it.


Along with millions of Hindus, her mother believed the Ganges’s water could cleanse a person’s soul of all sins and even cure the sick. So Manisha had grudgingly dunked herself in the river, accidentally swallowing water in the process and receiving a bad case of giardia, and months of diarrhea, as a result.

Remembering that experience is what made today so remarkable. It was now 2025. Manisha was 27 years old and a manager for the Indian government’s Ganges Purification Initiative (GPI). Until recently, the Ganges was still one of the most polluted rivers in the world, its coliform bacteria levels astronomical due to the frequent disposal of human and animal corpses and of sewage (back in 2010, 89 million liters per day) directly into the river. Dozens of organized attempts to clean the Ganges over the years had failed. In 2009, the World Bank even loaned India $1 billion to support the government’s multi-billion dollar cleanup initiative.

But then the pandemic hit, and that funding dried up. But what didn’t dry up was the government’s commitment to cleaning the Ganges—now not just an issue of public health but increasingly one of national pride. Manisha had joined the GPI in 2020, in part because she was so impressed by the government’s strong stance on restoring the ecological health of India’s most treasured resource.

Many lives in her home city of Jaipur had been saved by the government’s quarantines during the pandemic, and that experience, thought Manisha, had given the government the confidence to be so strict about river usage now: how else could they get millions of Indian citizens to completely shift their cultural practices in relationship to a holy site? Discarding ritually burned bodies in the Ganges was now illegal, punishable by years of jail time. Companies found to be dumping waste of any kind in the river were immediately shut down by the government. There were also severe restrictions on where people could bathe and where they could wash clothing. Every 20 meters along the river was marked by a sign outlining the repercussions of “disrespecting India’s most treasured natural resource.”

Of course, not everyone liked it; protests flared every so often. But no one could deny that the Ganges was looking more beautiful and healthier than ever. Manisha watched as an engineering team began unloading equipment on the banks. Many top Indian scientists and engineers had been recruited by the government to develop tools and strategies for cleaning the Ganges in more high-tech ways. Her favorite were the submersible bots that continuously “swam” the river to detect, through sensors, the presence of chemical pathogens.

New riverside filtration systems that sucked in dirty river water and spit out far cleaner water were also impressive—especially because on the outside they were designed to look like mini-temples. In fact, that’s why Manisha was at the river today, to oversee the installation of a filtration system located not even 100 feet from where she first stepped into the Ganges as a girl.

The water looked so much cleaner now, and recent tests suggested that it might even meet drinkability standards by 2035. Manisha was tempted to kick off her shoe and dip her toe in, but this was a restricted area now—and she, of all people, would never break that law.

TECHNOLOGY IN LOCK STEP

While there is no way of accurately predicting what the important technological advancements will be in the future, the scenario narratives point to areas where conditions may enable or accelerate the development of certain kinds of technologies. Thus for each scenario we offer a sense of the context for technological innovation, taking into consideration the pace, geography, and key creators. We also suggest a few technology trends and applications that could flourish in each scenario. Technological innovation in “Lock Step” is largely driven by government and is focused on issues of national security and health and safety. Most technological improvements are created by and for developed countries, shaped by governments’ dual desire to control and to monitor their citizens. In states with poor governance, large-scale projects that fail to progress abound. Technology trends and applications we might see:

• Scanners using advanced functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology become the norm at airports and other public areas to detect abnormal behavior that may indicate “antisocial intent.”

• In the aftermath of pandemic scares, smarter packaging for food and beverages is applied first by big companies and producers in a business-to-business environment, and then adopted for individual products and consumers.

• New diagnostics are developed to detect communicable diseases. The application of health screening also changes; screening becomes a prerequisite for release from a hospital or prison, successfully slowing the spread of many diseases.

• Tele-presence technologies respond to the demand for less expensive, lower bandwidth, sophisticated communications systems for populations whose travel is restricted.

• Driven by protectionism and national security concerns, nations create their own independent, regionally defined IT networks, mimicking China’s firewalls. Governments have varying degrees of success in policing internet traffic, but these efforts nevertheless fracture the “World Wide” Web

“IT IS POSSIBLE TO DISCIPLINE AND CONTROL SOME SOCIETIES FOR SOME TIME, BUT NOT THE WHOLE WORLD ALL THE TIME.” – GK Bhat, TARU Leading Edge, India  

And there you have it.

Perhaps the fact-checkers are partially correct:  the report is not THE smoking gun, it is not definitive evidence of a scheme to engineer the current crisis. 

On the other hand, the report reveals a great deal about the globalist perspective.  Personal sovereignty is minimized, or as Bill Gates might say, “individual rights are not optimized.”  As presented in this scenario, national sovereignty is a risky proposition at best. 


The underlying message is that international organizations and technology are the key to saving the planet from the pandemic and subsequent disasters. The parable of the fictional “Manisha” portrays traditional religious practices as problematic.  But Manisha “sees the light” and puts her faith in the high-tech Ganges Purification Initiative.  At the end of the tale, when she admires the newly cleaned Ganges, Manisha dares not dip her toe in the river, lest she contaminate the water.  So we go from devout Hindus ritually washing away their sins in a polluted river to a modernized woman who fears that dipping her all-too-human toe in the water would taint the technologically-purified Ganges. 

This is a recurring theme among the modern utopians like the Rockefeller Foundation:  human beings are a blight on the earth.  Our salvation is not found in God, but in authoritarian systems and advanced technology.   According to this line of thought, turning us into subservient robots would be a sure way to reverse our unfortunate tendency to "optimize for individual rights." 

Welcome to the globalist future.  It has arrived.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Intensely Gray

Hinton R. Helper.  I am familiar with that name from having driven past a historical marker in Mocksville, NC dozens of times:

Hinton R. Helper [1829 – 1909] - Author of The Impending Crisis, a bitterly controversial book which denounced slavery; U.S. Consul at Buenos Aires, 1861-66. Born 150 yds. N.


I didn’t know much more than that about Helper, just that his most famous book made him a pariah in the South.

But there is much more.  I know that now because I happened upon a brief account of a chance encounter with Hinton R. Helper by an unnamed writer crossing the Cowee Mountains in 1867:

Halting at a little mountain stream on the western slope of the Cowee, to water the horse, I met vis-à-vis, no less a personage than the Impending Crisis.  He is a very handsome man, a kind of lordly looking figure.  His hair is gray – rather iron gray.  His coat, vests and pants were gray, intensely gray.  But few remarks passed.  We passed each other, like the orbits of two wandering stars; he from stage to stage of a wild extinction – I from county to county in a good cause.

Hinton Rowan Helper has gone to Asheville, I learn, to try to make arrangements for a newspaper, an organ for a sort of “white man’s America,” or something of a similar nature.

Mrs. Hinton Rowan Helper is a Spaniard, a native of Buenos Ayres; educated in New York; and a boarder, she and Nojoque, in Franklin, Macon county, N.C. They object to boarding with families who employ colored servants.

Oh, how I love that writer’s use of the phrase “intensely gray.”  Who knew there was such a thing!  The writer had another wry observation that warrants a tip of the hat:

I don’t know why the Ridge was named blue Ridge.  All mountains have a bluish cast, attributable to the vapors that lie around them, together with their distance.

The rather ambiguous reference to “Nojoque” stoked my curiosity. Was it a reference to Hinton Helper, or someone else?  And the Helpers’ selectivity about boarding, was that due to a concern about the possible mistreatment of black laborers?

OK.  History becomes a dreadful thing when it is hijacked by ideologues, when people and events from the past are forced to speak for or against the fashionable issues of the present day, instead of being allowed to speak for themselves. 

The temptation has always been to adopt Hinton R. Helper as a mascot for the abolitionist cause, to laud his courage for defying the consensus of his fellow Tar Heels, but he was no Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Scratch the surface and you find that Helper was not motivated by a humanitarian altruism toward blacks.  Instead, his objection to slavery was that it retarded industrialization and economic development in the South and caused great harm to poor whites, who suffered oppression from the slave-owning aristocracy.  As we know, this is far too nuanced for academics and activists to wrap their heads around.


But I did not know any of this about Helper when I looked up “Nojoque.”  What I found was that Helper published “Nojoque: A Question for the Continent” in 1867.  I located the book online, eager to see what this brave abolitionist had to say after the War.  From the very get-go I was confused.  The dedication was perplexing, so I figured the book was satire, which might explain the odd name “Nojoque” ("No Joke"?).

To That most Enlightened and Progressive Portion of the People of the New World, who have the Far-reaching Foresight, and the Manly Patriotism, to Determine Irrevocably, by their Votes, in 1868-1872, Sooner or Later, that, after the Fourth of July, 1876, (or, at the very furthest, after the First of January, 1900,) No Slave nor Would-be Slave, No Negro nor Mulatto, No Chinaman nor unnative Indian, No Black nor Bi-colored Individual of whatever Name or  Nationality, shall ever again find Domicile anywhere Within the Boundaries of the United States of America;

To All those Preeminently Sagacious and Good Men who are Deeply Impressed with the Conviction, that even the Firmest Founded and the Noblest Vindicated of all Republics, whether Ancient or Modern, and the Best System of Government ever yet Devised beneath the Sun, can never Fulfill its Promised Mission of Unexampled Greatness and Grandeur, until After it shall have been Brought under the Exclusive Occupancy and Control of the Heaven-descended and Incomparably Superior White Races of Mankind,

This Volume is Most Respectfully Dedicated, By their Friend and Fellow-citizen,

THE AUTHOR.

A quick look through the 500 pages that followed revealed that this was dark satire, if indeed, satire it was.  As rude as the dedication might appear, it is downright charitable compared to the rest of the book.  I’m not sure I could provide more excerpts without risking permanent expulsion from G**gleville.

To confirm that Nojoque was not some ham-handed satire I looked up reviews of the book upon its publication.  The reviews were, shall we say, vivid, such as this one from the Yorkville Enquirer (York, SC) July 11, 1867:

[The Impending Crisis] was written to aid the great Abolition crusade, and contained appeals to the negroes, of the most extraordinary character.  They were urged to rise in insurrection, kill their masters and burn their houses.  These noble ends having been partially accomplished with the assistance of loyal Union armies, Helper’s insane hatred of the white race is appeased, and his fury is now directed against the negroes. The sentiments of Nojoque are literally appalling; its author appears to be actuated by a madman’s hatred of the whole race. 

This is an age of inconsistency and recantation; the man who can surpass his neighbors in swallowing his words and giving the lie to his most warmly defended principles, and the most energetic actions of his life, is the greatest man and the most exalted patriot.  But of all the lofty political somersaults of the day, this is the most surprising.  Other performers in this line of gymnastics have been jumping towards the negro.  This fellow, having led the way, now recoils with a species of electric repulsion, and goes through the hoop with a back somersault.  Who can tell how long it will be before the other acrobats are jumping backwards after him?

…His first book showed that he was an enemy to the white race, and his last proves him an enemy of the blacks.  Yet, he started in a Radical career, as the friend and champion of this oppressed race, so called.  Can there be a better illustration of the tendency of Radicalism to extremes?  After leading a fanatical nation to a bloody war for their sake, he deserts his proteges and pours upon their hated heads such vials of venomous abuse as we feel sure no upholder of slavery could have conceived, much less expressed.  Well may our Southern people warn the negroes to beware of their Radical friends.  We sincerely believe that the friendship of Helper was not more treacherous that that of his party will prove, when the negroes have ceased to be useful tools.

So this is the same Hinton Helper held up as a courageous advocate of the Abolitionist cause?  Someone who risked his life to break ranks with his fellow Southerners?

Those who knew him described Helper as a man of keen intellect whose genius sometimes verged on insanity.  The Louisville Courier-Journal once described him as having "an expression of unmistakable resolution written all over his countenance and an air of manifest sincerity in his every utterance."


No one led a life quite like Hinton Helper’s.   His childhood was spent along the Yadkin River on the old homesite of Squire Boone, Daniel’s daddy.  One of Helper’s schoolteachers was Peter Stuart Ney, a real mystery man rumored to be the French calvary leader Marshal Ney who fought for Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo and who survived his “execution” before assuming a new identity in America. 

In the 1850s, Helper’s experiences in the gold fields of California led to his first book, an expose of the Gold Rush in which Helper advocated the expansion of slavery.  Two years later, in 1857, The Impending Crisis appeared and it helped to elect Abraham Lincoln in 1860.  Helper made enemies wherever he went, and unable to find employment, he appealed to President Lincoln for a consular appointment.  In 1861, Helper was assigned to Buenos Aires, and it was there that he met and married Maria Louisa Rodriquez.

By 1867, the year of the Cowee encounter, Helper moved to Asheville, followed by stops in New York, St Louis and Washington, DC.  In the 1890s his wife lost her eyesight and returned to South America.  Finally, on March 9, 1909, newspapers reported:

Heart-broken because his dream of having an intercontinental railroad open to commerce the fertile valleys of Central and South America had never materialized, Hinton Rowan Helper, formerly U. S. consul general at Buenos Ayres, committed suicide today.

When he died, the Courier Journal wrote: "The world had wrestled with him and thrown him. His mind was shattered and his heart broken. Friendless, penniless, and alone, he took his own life, and died at the age of eighty—this man who had shaken the Republic from center to circumference and who at a critical period had held and filled the center of the stage."

The quirks associated with Hinton Helper did not end with his suicide.  


In August of 1942, the actress Bette Davis christened a 10,000 ton Liberty Ship and she (more likely her press agent) wrote a humorous story about the experience.  The name of the boat was the S. S. Hinton R. Helper.  The Asheville Citizen-Times responded to the news:

In a people’s war this is a curious circumstance.  The Citizen for one is mildly inquisitive of the process whereby a Liberty Ship receives the name of one such as Hinton Rowan Helper.  Though a Southerner born, he was no friend of the South; nor, one would think, of the Union.  Political agitator, preacher of race hatred and wild-eyed visionary, Helper was hardly the stuff of which heroes are made – or remembered at ship dedications….Perhaps the Maritime Commission can offer the explanation which most historians might be at loss to provide.


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Future of Forestry

Has the person already been born who will be the last person on earth to remember what it was like to be human?

Quite possibly.





Voters appear poised to surrender the United States to the Chinese Communist Party this November, and that means an accelerated pace to our takeover by the technocrats.

On numerous occasions, I have reprinted this observation:

It is easy for me to imagine that the next great division of the world will be between people who wish to live as creatures and people who wish to live as machines.
-Wendell Berry, ca. 2000


Anytime I revisit that quote, it seems ever more quaint, much more a comment on the present than speculation about the future. Twenty years on, the conflict is whether people will be able to live as creatures or if they will all be forced to live as machines.

This brings to mind a C. S. Lewis poem that was written (if I’m not mistaken) ca. 1938-1940:

The Future of Forestry

How will the legend of the age of trees
Feel, when the last tree falls in England?
When the concrete spreads and the town conquers
The country's heart; when contraceptive
Tarmac's laid where farm has faded,
Tramline flows where slept a hamlet,
And shop-fronts, blazing without a stop from
Dover to Wrath, have glazed us over?
Simplest tales will then bewilder
The questioning children, 'What was a chestnut?
Say what it means to climb a Beanstalk,
Tell me, grandfather, what an elm is.
What was Autumn? They never taught us.'
Then, told by teachers how once from mould
Came growing creatures of lower nature
Able to live and die, though neither
Beast nor man, and around them wreathing
Excellent clothing, breathing sunlight—
Half understanding, their ill-acquainted
Fancy will tint their wonder-paintings
—Trees as men walking, wood-romances
Of goblins stalking in silky green,
Of milk-sheen froth upon the lace of hawthorn's
Collar, pallor in the face of birchgirl.
So shall a homeless time, though dimly
Catch from afar (for soul is watchful)
A sight of tree-delighted Eden.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Fiery Particles Flow

 The Philokalia (Ancient Greek: φιλοκαλία "love of the beautiful, the good", from φιλία philia "love" and κάλλος kallos "beauty") is "a collection of texts written between the 4th and 15th centuries by spiritual masters" of the Eastern Orthodox Church mystical hesychast tradition. They were originally written for the guidance and instruction of monks in "the practice of the contemplative life".

-Wikipedia



For those of us who have come to appreciate and cherish the patriarchs of the Church and the Orthodox tradition, the Philokalia holds a special place.  The four volumes translated into English are a treasury of wisdom that connects us with the spiritual masters from long ago.

For many years, there has been talk of an English translation of Volume 5 of the Philokalia.  It would appear that a Kindle version was released on June 30, 2020, which is exciting news, though I am trying to hold out for the (imminent?) publication of Volume 5 in print.

The brothers Kallistos and Ignatios Xanthopoulos, were monks who lived in the 14th century and left us some beautiful teachings, including “On the Life of Stillness and the Monastic State.”  This text is found in Volume 5 of the Philokalia.  A rough translation is available online, while the sample I read from the new translation is noticeably better.  For now, the rough translation will have to do:

What grace is and how we can acquire it, and what sullies it and what purifies it again, is something we can learn from St. Chrysostom, he whose soul and tongue are brighter than any gold. For he writes:

“What is the meaning of ‘And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness’ (2 Cor 3:18)? The sense of this was more clearly evident when miracles were being worked. But even now it is not difficult to see what it means if we look at it with the eyes of faith. For at the time of our baptism our soul shines more brightly than the sun because it has been cleansed by the Spirit. And not only do we gaze at the glory of God, but we also receive from that glory a certain radiance. For when pure silver intercepts a sunbeam it sends out rays itself, not only from its own nature but also from the brilliant light of the sun. Similarly, when a soul has been purified and has become brighter than any silver it receives rays from the glory of the Spirit which strikes its own innate glory; and these rays are of a quality that accords with the Lord’s Spirit” (2 Cor 4:18).

And a little further on he writes: “Would you like me to demonstrate this to you more vividly by taking as evidence the Apostles themselves? Consider Paul, whose clothing worked miracles (Acts 19:12), and Peter, whose shadow had power (Acts 5:15). Their clothing and their shadows would not have had these effects had they themselves not borne the royal image and had their dazzling splendor not been unapproachable. For royal apparel inspires fear even in robbers. 

Would you like an example of how this glory also shines through the body? When people gazed intently at St. Stephen’s face, they saw it as the face of an angel (Acts 6:15). 


But this was nothing in comparison with the glory that shone within. For what Moses once showed on his face (Exodus 34:30) such men have borne in their souls, only in a much greater degree. The glory of Moses, however, was more perceptible; that of the others is incorporeal”

Fiery particles flow from bright bodies onto neighboring objects and make them shine with their own brightness. Something similar also happens to the faithful. Those who experience this are thereby estranged from earthly concerns and, alas, fantasize about heavenly things. For in this life it is good to sigh bitterly because whatever the state of spiritual excellence we may have attained we do not possess true knowledge of what has been communicated to us since we quickly lose contact with these realities and become distracted by sensible things.

“For this awful and ineffable glory remains in us for one or two days. Then we extinguish it by letting in the storm of worldly concerns, thereby obscuring its rays with the density of the clouds.”  

And again elsewhere he writes: “The bodies of those in concord with God will be clothed with such radiant glory that the light will be too strong for human eyes. God has granted us certain faint signs and traces of these things in both the Old and New Testaments. In the former, Moses’ face once shone with such radiant glory that the Israelites could not look at him (Exodus 34:30). In the New Testament Christ’s face shone much more brightly than that of Moses” (Matt 17:2).

Have you listened to the words of the Spirit? Have you sensed the power of the mystery? Have you grasped the nature of the birth-pangs through which in the font we experience in ourselves total spiritual renewal, and learnt how great its fruits are, its fulfillment and rewards? Do you realize that it depends on us whether this supernatural grace flows strongly or weakly within us — whether, that is to say, we manifest it or obscure it in our own lives?

What obscures grace in us is the storm of worldly concerns and the murkiness of the passions to which they give birth.  

They pour over us like a tempest or raging torrent and overwhelm our soul. They do not allow it to fulfill the purpose for which it was created, and to breathe or contemplate what is truly good and blessed.

On the contrary, when it has been tossed and tormented in the swell and reeks of sensual pleasure, they drag it under and plunge it into darkness. On the other hand, whatever is engendered by the deifying commandments in those who live spiritually and not according to their fallen self — as Scripture says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16) — is profitable and conductive to salvation: like a ladder it takes them upward, even to the topmost rung of all, that of love, which is God (1 John 4:8)

Friday, August 14, 2020

Rice and Slavery in South Carolina


Alexander Hewatt (1739-1824) was a Scottish-born Presbyterian clergyman who ministered in Charleston, South Carolina from 1763-1777.  Due to his loyalty to the Crown, Hewatt fled America during the Revolution [see note at end].  Despite that, he managed to write the first history of the colony, An Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of the Colonies of South Carolina and Georgia, published in 1779.  



Turning to old documents such as the Hewatt history, we find a perspective sorely missing in modern commentaries.  Describing the introduction of rice farming in South Carolina ca. 1690, Hewatt recognizes the imperative of securing African labor for the enterprise.  And he is forceful in expressing his contempt for the institution of slavery:

About this time a fortunate accident happened, which occasioned the introduction of rice into Carolina, a commodity which was afterwards found very suitable to the climate and soil of the country. A brigantine from the island of Madagascar touching at that place in her way to Britain, came to anchor off Sullivan's island. 

There Landgrave Smith, upon an invitation from the captain, paid him a visit, and received from him a present of a bag of seed rice, which he said he had seen growing in eastern countries, where it was deemed excellent food, and produced an incredible increase.

The governor divided his bag of rice between Stephen Bull, Joseph Woodward, and some other friends, who agreed to make the experiment, and planted their small parcels in different soils. Upon trial they found it answered their highest expectations. Some years afterwards, Mr. Du Bois, treasurer to the East India Company, sent a bag of seed rice to Carolina, which, it is supposed, gave rise to the distinction of red and white rice, which are both cultivated in that country.

Several years, however, elapsed, before the planters found out the art of beating and cleaning it to perfection, and that the lowest and richest lands were best adapted to the nature of the grain; yet, from this period, the colonists persevered in planting it, and every year brought them greater encouragement.
From this small beginning did the staple commodity of Carolina take its rise, which soon became the chief support of the colony, and its great source of opulence. 

Besides provision for man and beast, as rice employs a number of hands in trade, it became also a source of naval strength to the nation, and of course more beneficial to it than foreign mines of silver and gold. From the success attending this inconsiderable beginning, projectors of new schemes for improvement may draw some useful lessons, especially where lands are good, and the climate favourable to vegetation.



With the introduction of rice planting into this country, and the fixing upon it as its staple commodity, the necessity of employing Africans for the purpose of cultivation was doubled. So laborious is the task of raising, beating, and cleaning this article, that though it had been possible to obtain European servants in numbers sufficient for attacking  the thick forest and clearing grounds for the purpose, thousands and ten thousands must have perished in the arduous attempt. 

The utter inaptitude of Europeans for the labour requisite in such a climate and soil, is obvious to every one possessed of the smallest degree of knowledge respecting the country; white servants would have exhausted their strength in clearing a spot of land for digging their own graves, and every rice plantation would have served no other purpose than a burying ground to its European cultivators. The low lands of Carolina, which are unquestionably the richest grounds in the country, must long have remained a wilderness, had not Africans, whose natural constitutions were suited to the clime and work, been employed in cultivating this useful article of food and commerce.

So much may be said for the necessity of employing Africans in the cultivation of rice; but great is the difference between employing negroes in clearing and improving those rich plains, and that miserable state of hardship and slavery to which they are there devoted, and which has been tolerated and established by the law of the land. If we view this race, first ranging over the hills of Africa, equally free and independent as other rude nations on earth, and from thence inveigled by fraud, or compelled by force, and then consigned over to a state of endless slavery, we must confess the change is great and deplorable, especially to an impartial and disinterested eye. Without them, it is acknowledged, slow must have been the progress of cultivation in Carolina; but, from such a consideration, what man will presume to vindicate the policy of keeping those rational creatures in perpetual exile and slavery.

Nature had given them an equal right to liberty as to life, and the general law of self-preservation was equally concerned for the preservation of both. We would be glad then to know, upon what principle of equity and justice the English traders founded their right to deprive the freeborn inhabitants of Africa of their natural liberty and native country; or on what grounds the planter afterward founded his right to their service during life, and that of all their posterity, to the latest generation. Can the particular laws of any country supersede the general laws of nature? Can the local circumstances of any province upon earth be pled in excuse for such a violent trade, and for such endless slavery in consequence of it?

Besides, has not this trade a tendency to encourage war and plunder among the natives of Africa to set one tribe against another, to catch and trepan their neighbours, on purpose to barter them for European trinkets to the factories? Nor is the traffic confined to the captives of war alone, who have been subjected to slavery by many nations; for so ardently do they covet the pernicious liquors and trifling commodities carried to them from Europe, that, without scruple, they will part with their nearest relations, their wives and children not excepted, to procure them.

Thus civilized nations, by such a traffic, have made barbarians more barbarous, and tempted them to commit the most cruel and unnatural actions. Nothing can be more evident, than that such a trade is tolerated and carried on in violation of the grand rule of equity prescribed to Christians.

For example, let us suppose the people of Africa had discovered an island, such as Newfoundland, in a climate too cool for the natives of that continent to cultivate, and that the inhabitants of the north of Europe were alone adapted to the work. In consequence of this discovery, were they to sail to Britain with a cargo of their gold dust, and stir up one county to wage war with another for the sake of captives: were they to tempt the father to dispose of his son, the mother of her daughter, the husband of his wife, and the nearest friends, first to steal and kidnap, and then barter each other, for Africa's golden idol: we may with justice put the question, Ye inhabitants of England, what would ye think of such a traffic we will readily own, there are few nations upon earth more fond of gold dust than you, or have gone farther lengths in the commercial way to procure it; yet, fond as ye are of this favourite metal, we must do so much justice to your humanity as to believe, that your nation would resound with complaints against a traffic so unjust and cruel.

Yet certainly the African's natural right to pursue it is equally well grounded as that of the European. What principle of Christianity can you then plead in its vindication? Your superior power, avarice, and craft, the African acknowledges to his sad experience; but he complains of being made absolute property, such as cattle, goods and chattels, and subject to be seized, levied upon, and tossed from hand to hand for the payment of commercial debts, by the laws of your realm, to which he never owed any subjection or obedience. He complains of the means used to bring him into such grievous and deplorable circumstances, as unfair and iniquitous.

He complains, that his utmost labour and industry for any limited time will not be accepted by the master he serves, as a compensation for the expense of his purchase, and that he and all his generation must remain slaves for ever, without hope of redemption or deliverance. And, without doubt, hard is his case, and well grounded are his complaints. Indeed the planter's concern only commences with the arrival of these slaves, and his contract made with the merchant, who, under the colour and authority of the laws, brought them into the country where he lives. For the purchase he makes he has also the sanction and countenance of law, which is in some measure a justification of his conduct. On provincial regulations, with respect to the subsequent management and treatment of negroes, we shall afterward take occasion to make some remarks.

At present we shall only add, that in no instance can it be said to be a more plain and lamentable truth, that the love of money is the root of all evil, than when it urges men to trade in the bodies and souls of their fellow-creatures.

End note - Historian Geraldine Meroney recounted the manner in which Hewatt remained loyal to the King while complying with the letter of a law imposed during the Revolution.  But it was not an easy time to be a loyalist:

When Hewat, along with other Charleston ministers, was ordered on 3 August 1776 to pray no more for the king, he "changed the form to 'those in Lawful Authority over us' which gave great Offence," but complied with the letter of the order. Given sixty days to leave the colony or suffer imprisonment and perhaps death, Hewat left his congregation and his property and took passage to Nantes; from there, he went to London. Charleston had been recaptured by British forces by the time Hewat received the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Edinburgh University on 12 July 1780. 

He obviously expected to return to his home, for he signed the Laureation Book of the University as a resident of "Charlestown, South Carolina." American animosity against those who had not supported the rebellion relegated loyalists to historical oblivion; nor did the British receive them with generosity or pay them honour for their sacrifice

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Hard Times in the Canning Kitchen

What a bummer!  Canning season is here, and canning lids are nowhere to be found.  I wasn’t completely out, but my green beans are going into quart jars rather than pints, to extend a dwindling supply of toppers. 


Somewhere I read that vegetable gardening had gone crazy this year and, sure enough, inventory from the seed companies was spotty.  But if those new and expanded gardens are around these parts, they certainly are well-hidden.  In my usual travels, I haven’t seen any increase in gardens at all.

In my book, vegetable gardens are a telling indicator of a good place to live – the more the better.  And by that measure, Jackson County doesn’t rate very high up.  The place has become overrun with exurbanites who don’t know a green bean from a hole in the ground.  That was one eye-opener from my day selling produce at the tailgate market.  And we’ll probably see new waves of these witless sheep fleeing the hell-hole cities of America.

I do miss the days of old when country people were a part of my life.  They were hard-working and productive people who knew things that were worth knowing.  They knew that life was more than a competition to see who could pretend to be the most "Woke."  They had better things to do than march around screaming about "evil" statues. 

So it was interesting to read about the lid shortage of 1975, when the grassroots home canning lobby carried more clout than it does today:

Shortage of Canning Lids Proves Costly

New York Times

7/2/1975

CULPEPER, Va., July 18—There have been no canning lids, at any price, for months in the stores here and in thousands of other small towns across the country's farm and garden belt. So when Hazel Black's Aunt Bertha mailed her five boxes of lids from Missouri last month, it made Mrs. Black the talk of this town. She could can her tomatoes.

Tens of thousands of outraged housewives in small town and rural America have been writing angry letters to their Congressmen, to Ralph Nader, to the Agriculture Department, and even to the White House about the nationwide shortage of metal lids for glass homecanning jars.

The canning lid shortage, worsening for the last two years as soaring fond prices and exhortations to home cultivation have resulted in six million to eight million new vegetable gardeners, has brought both a cultural and an economic loss.

Millions of country kitchens will not steam with the tart canning smells of vinegar, onions, cloves and cinnamon. Millions of quart jars of tomatoes, cucumber pickles, relishes, sauerkraut, beans, beets, corn, squash, peaches and jams and jellies will simply not be “put by.” And literally millions of dollars worth of home garden crops may go to waste, along with the toil and care invested in them.

It is no wonder, then, that Mrs. Black and her aunt in Missouri are the talk of Ma?? Street in Culpeper.

Mrs. Black, it was noted approvingly here this week, shared half her lid windfall with a sister who lives nearby.

A visitor learned of the Blacks' good fortune from Hult L. Wilson, the director of the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce, who views the lid shortage gravely.

Mr. Wilson has been conducting a oneman investigation of the canning lid shortage locally and, to calm the populace, reporting his findings over radio station WCVA. His check of merchants' stockrooms, he said, failed to find any of the jar lids that some housewives had accused store owners of “holding out for higher prices.”

His investigation had been requested by harried, lidless merchants here and agents of the Culpeper County Agricultural Extension Service who have been besieged by angry women with a bumper crop of beans and tomatoes ready for canning.


The women here—as widely elsewhere, according to a sampling of Congressional and White House mail on the subject—believe they are being victimized by merchants or unscrupulous canning equipment manufacturers, or both, Mr. Wilson said.

Cardboard cartons containing 12 new jar “sets”—the quart jars with their attached, twopiece lids and screwon capsare stacked high in stores nearly everywhere, widely available for about $3 a dozen.

But in rural areas, particularly, where the surge in home canning means dusting off old jars that had been stored on cellar shelves, what is needed are replacement lids (lids are usable only once) at from 30 to 60 cents a dozen., And despite the 24hour, 7dayaweek production rush of 6.2 million lids a day claimed by the three major manufacturers, they are almost nowhere to be found.

An investigation begun fitfully last month by the Subcommittee on Commodities and Services of the House Small Business Committee has also failed to adduce any hard evidence of conspiracy on the part of corporations or distributors. But the hearings have now been ordered reopened by the subcommittee chairman, Representative Charles J. Carney, Democrat of Ohio.

Ohio has proved to be the hardest hit of the 14 most lidless states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, California, Washington, Oregon, Virginia and West Virginia.

Spokesmen for the canning equipment industry and the Federal Trade Commission, which has been examining the industry's performance, are expected to repeat their earlier assertions that, upon news of soaring seed sales in 1973, factories, were geared up to increase production of complete canning sets, but that the companies failed to foresee what an official of the Kerr Glass Manufacturing Company calls “the horrendous demand for just the lids.”

“This is really a ‘for want ofanailtheriderwas lost situation, said a lid manufacturing executive. The lids couldn't be more simple.

‘Horrendous Demand’

They are round, tinplate inserts with airtight composition gaskets that seal snugly against the mouth of a home canning jar. Held in place at first by open topped, knurled screw caps, the lids are than literally pulled on with tremendous, sealing vacuum force during the canning process. The pressure cuts deeply into and deforms the rubbery gasket, making it unsafe to use again.

Statistics provided by the largest jar and lid manufacturer, the Ball Corporation of Muncie, Ind., show what a Ball spokesman calls “a market all bent, out of shape.”

Merchants here will tell you that a merchandise manager who in December ordered canning lids for delivery before May or June “would have had to be crazy in the old days.”

Ball's total sales of home canning equipment for the first quarter of 1973 reflect that. They amounted to $160,000, “normally slow,” according to the company. But in the first quarter of 1974, sales from warehouse sales shot up 35 times to $5.6million, and in the first quarter this year they rose more than 80 times over the 1973 “normal”—to almost $13million.

“We suddenly had 20 million home gardeners in a shortage frame of mind.” said Vern Schanz, a spokesman for Ball. “They bought in December. The whole marketing pattern was changed, and we couldn't start to catch up until this year because last year there was a shortage of tinplate.

“We'll have lids for everyone by this winter, when supply overtakes what I hesitate to call hoarding, but is certainly buying in anticipation of need.”

According to other industry spokesmen, daily shipments from factories now on three shifts, will bring the year's total production to two billion lids, “but they just evaporate.”

In Sand Springs, Okla., the marketing (but not lid making) headquarters of the Kerr Company, the, second largest producer, a recent shipment of four cases of lids—60 dozen in a casereportedly sold out in 45 minutes.

In Brookfield, Mo., where Mrs. Black's lids Were purchased a month ago, stores and supermarkets now are keeping waiting lists for lids —if and when they ever come in.

In Fayetteville, Ark., one store owner complained that in checking a carton of the complete jar sets for a customer he found the lids missing —“stolen right off the jars”


And in Whiteville, N.C., farm women took their complaints last week to the Columbus County Office of Civil Defense. They were referred to their Congressman, Representative Charles G. Rose 3d, in Washington. And in what may have been a political miscalculation. Mr. Rose, a Democrat, sent his young summer interns out to round up 2,160 lids—all the stock of several stores in the capital—for distribution back home.

He has since received not only a frowning letter from Virginia Knauer, President Ford's adviser on consumer matters, but also a suggestion from six Washington area Congressmen for a “blockade” of his district “until all canning jar lids pillaged from this area are returned to their rightful territory.”

An article  published last week by the Itawwamba County(Mississippi) Times mentioned the Shortage of ’75:

It’s almost as if history is repeating itself.

The economic recession in the mid-1970s prompted more people to grow and preserve their produce. The uptick led to approximately 26-million American households canning food in 1975. Material shortages led to dwindling supplies, which in turn led to a spike in demand.

The shortage of flats prompted housewives across the nation to write letters to their congressmen.

The Subcommittee on Commodities and Services held several days of hearings in 1975 and 1976 to address the issue. They concluded in House Report No. 94-1775 that the “shortage of home canning equipment was the result of normal market phenomena, exaggerated demand, which the manufacturers were unprepared to supply because they failed to accurately predict it.”

William C. Hannah, executive of the Indiana based Ball Corporation, testified that sales in the first quarter of 1973 were $166,000, but by the first quarter of 1974 had exploded to $5.75-million.

Doice Dulaney, owner of Dulaney’s Store in Fulton, believes the same scenario is happening some 45 years later.

“There are more people canning this year than I have ever seen,” he told The Times. “The demand is greater than the supply.”


Dulaney sells out of canning supplies as quickly as they hit the shelf. He’s also keeping his prices in line with what the merchandise typically sells for. Internet price gouging has some boxes of a dozen flats selling for as much as $9 a box. Under normal circumstances, a dozen flats will set a canner back less than $3.

“I’m not making a dime in most cases,” Dulaney said. “I’m just trying to get what I can when I can for folks that need it.”

 To look on the brighter side, if it does turn out to be another 45 years before we have the next  shortage of canning lids, that is one I won't have to worry about!