Posts tagged #1950s

Tea Chronicles Pt.10 – Calvin Rutstrum

The New Way of the Wilderness

The New Way of the Wilderness

This tea quotation comes from the "The New Way of the Wilderness" written by Calvin Rutstrum in 1958. Rutstrum is a "wilderness voyager" - a man who spent most of his life in the wilderness. Like lots of outdoorsmen Rustrum is a coffee fan but in the wilderness tea wins out...

Despite the fact that I am a coffee drinker, in the woods I prefer tea. This is common with many coffee drinkers. Tea is easier on the digestion and is a quick bracer. Coffee, of course, has no equal for breakfast. Caffeine-free coffees have been much improved in flavor, and come in all forms. Both regular coffee and the “instant” should be carried in air-tight or friction top cans.

Tea can be had in “instant” and tablet form, and in tea bags, but my choice is bulk tea.
— Calvin Rutstrum - The New Way of the Wilderness, 1958

He then goes on to pragmatically describe how he makes his tea in the bush.

Into a pail of boiling water add tea according to strength desired; one level teaspoon of tea to one quart of boiling water makes mild tea. Do not boil tea. remove it from the fire at once. Let it steep 5 minutes.

Drop tea bag into a cup pour on boiling water and take out the tea bag when the color tells you the tea is the desired strength if lemon is desired in tea, add a pinch of lemon powder.
— Calvin Rutstrum

"The New Way of the Wilderness" is a classic read; there will be more to come from within its pages.

Posted on December 16, 2012 and filed under Tea.

Mission 66

Clingman's Tower Great Smokies National Park - Photo from the Library of Congress

Clingman's Tower Great Smokies National Park - Photo from the Library of Congress

It was impossible to predict the post war motoring boom that swept across the USA in the 1950s. The US Highway System had opened up the country and the introduction of inexpensive automobiles gave an optimistic, wealthy, America an invitation to hit the road. When they arrived at the National Parks what they found were run down tourist centers built by the Civilian Conservation Corps some 20 years earlier, the deteriorating system was stretched to breaking point and the parks were under threat. The government stepped in and set about radically developing the Parks system with an ambitious ten year plan.

MISSION 66 is a forward-looking program for the National Park System intended to so develop and staff these priceless possessions of the American people as to permit their wisest possible use; maximum enjoyment for those who use them; and maximum protection of the scenic, scientific, wilderness, and historic resources that give them distinction
— What is Mission 66?

While there were a great many infrastructure developments, the most visible and interactive were the visitors centers. In contrast to the original Civilian Conservation Corps' rustic architecture the new buildings managed to be both bold, contemporary and visible while complementing their surroundings. They became the public face of America's National Parks. In just 10 years more than 100 new visitors centers were open to the public.

Now more than 50 years later the national parks are at a cross roads. A lack of routine maintenance, overuse and a change in attitude amongst visitors is threatening the remaining Mission 66 centers. The architecture style has fallen out of favor and the 'preserve or demolish' stalemate means buildings continue to deteriorate. It now seems that history is repeating itself, when people go to the parks now, what they find are run down, dated visitors centers and an infrastructure which is reaching breaking point. Once again the parks are in danger of being "loved to death." 

What strikes me most about Mission 66 is that it represents a large scale celebration of America's national parks, they had a plan and went through with it. It fell in line perfectly with the National Park Services' original mission "to make the parks accessible to all and to preserve them for future generations."  I find it really hard to put a stake in the ground as to wether I am for or against the preservation of the Mission 66 architecture.  I think, for me, the demolition represents the close of an optimistic, forward thinking chapter in National Parks history from a time when things could get done, my concern is whether another brighter, more celebrated chapter awaits on the next page. I hope it does.

For more information about Mission 66 please visit C. Madrid French's incredibly informative site, much of imagery within this post was sourced from Library Of Congress.

Posted on June 4, 2012 and filed under History.

Scattering Sir Hubert Wilkins’ ashes

Photo by Commander James F. Calvert from National Geographic

Photo by Commander James F. Calvert from National Geographic

On March 17th 1959, the USS Skate reached the North Pole. The American submarine broke through the pack ice into the arctic dusk. A storm was blowing as 2 dozen men gathered, by torchlight, and scattered the mortal remains of the legendary Australian explorer Sir George Hubert Wilkins. Commander James F. Calvert read the traditional Episcal for a burial at sea as a rifle squad fired three volleys and raised the Australian flag.

I first heard of this story many years ago when I read "Icemen", a history of arctic and antarctic exploration. The vivid imagery that this story conjured stuck firmly in my head and in the July 1959 issue of National Geographic Magazine, I found the photograph I'd been searching for since reading about this great Australian.

Wilkins, although little heard of compared to his contemporaries, was one of the most successful explorers to ever live. He saw more virgin land than anyone else in history; he was a polar explorer, ornithologist, pilot, soldier, geographer and photographer. A pioneer of aviation he was the first to pass over the North Pole in an aeroplane and to fly a plane the Antarctic. He was also the first to envision and to undertake a submarine journey under the Arctic ice.

Although he never completed his submarine journey to the floating pole, more than 20 years on Wilkins' widow passed on a copper urn to the crew of the USS Skate who would take the journey he envisioned and scatter his remains at the North Pole.