Posts Tagged ‘history’

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The Charles Goodyear StoryThe Strange Story of Rubber

In midsummer of 1834 a bankrupt hardware merchant from Philadelphia, Charles Goodyear, walked into the New York retail store of the Roxbury India Rubber Co., America’s first rubber manufacturer. He showed the store manager a new valve he had devised for rubber life preservers. The manager shook his head sadly. The company wasn’t in the market for valves now; it would be lucky to stay in business at all.

He showed Goodyear why: rack on rack of rubber goods which had been melted to malodorous glue by the torrid weather. In the company’s factory at Roxbury, Mass., he confided, thousands of melted rubber articles were being returned by outraged customers. The directors had met in the dead of night to bury $20,000 worth of stinking rejects in a pit.

The “rubber fever” of the early 1830s had ended as suddenly as it had begun. At first everybody had wanted things made of the new waterproof gum from Brazil, and factories had sprung up to meet the demand. Then abruptly the public had become fed up with the messy stuff which froze bone-hard in winter and turned glue-like in summer. Not one of the young rubber companies survived as long as five years. Investors lost millions. Rubber, everyone agreed, was through in America.

Goodyear disappointedly pocketed the valve and took his first good look at rubber. He had played with bits of it as a child, but now, at 34, he experienced a sudden curiosity and wonder about this mysterious “gum elastic.” “There is probably no other inert substance,” he said later, “which so excites the mind.”

Returning to Philadelphia, Goodyear was clapped into jail for debt. It was not his first sojourn there, nor his last. He asked his wife to bring him a batch of raw rubber and her rolling pin. Here, in his cell, Goodyear made his first rubber experiments, kneading and working the gum hour after hour.

If rubber was naturally adhesive, he reasoned, why couldn’t a dry powder be mixed in to absorb its stickiness — perhaps the talc-like magnesia powder sold in drugstores? Out of jail again, he tried, with promising results.

He talked a boyhood friend into backing a modest venture. Charles, his wife and small daughters made up several hundred pairs of magnesia-dried rubber overshoes in their kitchen. But before he could market them summer came, and he watched his footwear sag into shapeless paste.

Neighbors complained about Goodyear’s smelly gum, so he moved his experiments to New York. There a friend gave him a fourth-floor tenement bedroom for his “laboratory.” A brother-in-law came to his squalid quarters, lectured him about his hungry children, advised him that rubber was dead. “I am the man to bring it back,” said Goodyear.

He was adding two drying agents to his rubber now, magnesia and quicklime, then boiling the mixture and getting a better product all the time. Impressed, a New York trade show awarded him a medal.

Goodyear lavished all the arts of decoration on his dingy samples, painted them, gilded them, embossed them. Running short of material one morning, he decided to re-use an old decorated sample and applied nitric acid to remove its bronze paint. The piece turned black, and Goodyear threw it away.

A few days later he remembered that somehow the blackened scrap had felt different. He retrieved it from his trash can and found he was right. The nitric acid had done something to the rubber, made it almost as smooth and dry as cloth. This was better rubber than anyone had ever made before.

A New York businessman advanced several thousand dollars to begin production. But the financial panic of 1837 promptly wiped out both the backer and the business. Destitute, Charles and his family camped in the abandoned rubber factory on Staten Island, living on fish he caught in the harbor.

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Consider the Acorn

Consider the Acorn       8/1997


First it is birthed among the branches of a mature Oak tree. Then when it’s at full growth, it has break free of its home. Falling down, down down to the ground. It must dry out among the hundreds of other acorns, leaves and bugs.

With a sprinkle of rain here and there it can be nourished. From inside, the seed will forcefully crack hardened shell and find its way to the out. As it grows, the seed somehow has to find the soil, as if it has eyes to see. Once the seed reaches the soil, it will dig and dig until it can begin to root itself. With additional rain, that little seed with burst up through the ground that it fought so hard to find.

Finally after months of leaving its home, learning, breaking free, digging, taking root and then reaching for the sun, a tiny leaf will appear. It will grow and grow and then in fifty years, it will start producing its own acorns and the process starts once again.



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In 1670, Charleston was originally named Charles Towne after  Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland.

I’ve always loved history, little did I know that Charleston had so much American history attached to it and a lot still remains intact. Some of the building, houses and churches are perserved for all to exlpore, touch and reflect. I love all the old houses here, to think of All the people that lived in them, perhaps a former President or a solider from the one of the wars that took place here. Either way they all are unique and special in its own way.

The chuches here are well groomed and stand tall amongst ever other building. Charleston is known as The Holy City perhaps by virtue of the prominence of churches on the low-rise cityscape. It’s a testomy to the authorities of the city to acknowledge the importance of history and making sure these structures remain as they were 200, 300 and almost 400 years ago.  Like these:

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Some of the houses are grand and you can see that they probably housed someone of wealth and meaning. This in one I went, “oh wow” when walking past its large brick wall, constructed to keep the riff raff out at one time. It’s “greeting house” at the entrence of the wall, so to make sure only one with an appointment get in to see the owner.


There are brick walls sprawled throughout the city and most of them have plaques on them to say the age and some general info. I was amazed at one wall that stands outside of MUSC from 1860 and you can feel the cuts, nicks and bruises it has taken over the many years. I could envision the horse and buggies riding by as people walked on the dirt road to their destinations.


One thing Charleston has that most old cities in the US doesn’t have is Charm. So many other cities, like ones in Mass or Virginia that have lost the charm that mad that city special. When you walk downtown here and look at the old houses and see the streets and churches you can still feel the old southern charm it had when it was young. 

It is still as popular as it was hundreds of years ago, according to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charleston,_South_Carolina

In 2011, Charleston was named #1 U.S. City by Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards and #2 Best City in the U.S. and Canada by Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards

SO, it seems it’s a great place to visit and live and if you like history and charm, this is a great place.

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Hope you Enjoyed!

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