Monday, September 22, 2008

Tuxedo, New York and the Tuxedo Suit

In 1886, Pierre Lorillard IV built an exclusive country club here. He named it the “Tuxedo Club”. It was a private country club and only exclusive socialites were included in its membership. One of its members was wealthy millionaire, James Potter. Potter was friends with Edward VII of England, the Prince of Wales. The Prince fancied Potter’s wife, Cora, and invited both of them to come visit him in England. Potter was impressed with Edward’s smoking jacket. The Prince replied that it was manufactured by the Henry Poole Company in England and that the company had exclusively designed it for him. Potter liked the Prince’s suit so well that he had a duplicate made. When Potter returned to his hometown to show it off, his wealthy friends at the Tuxedo County Club were ecstatic. It was such a hit that all of the country club members started sporting this new fashion in apparel and the tuxedo became the popular attire for the club’s social events. Later, other wealthy American socialites joined in on the new fashion. However, no one knows for sure how impressed Cora Potter was with the Prince of Wale’s tuxedo. I guess only the Prince and Cora know!
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dubuque, Iowa

Julian Dubuque was a French Canadian fur trapper that moved to this area around 1785. He became great friends with the local Fox Indians who lived here at the time. In 1788, he asked Chief Poesta if he could mine their land. The Chief agreed and Dubuque began operations and started to build his town. He also got permission to mine from Spain who also laid claim to this land. There is evidence he eventually married the Chief’s daughter. Dubuque along with his Fox friends built a thriving mining and trapping business during the next years. Dubuque was determined to preserve his Indian friend’s heritage. Later, the United States Government made him an Indian agent. When Dubuque died in 1810, the Fox Indians built a memorable for him on the bluff overlooking his community. Later, a stone monument replaced the structure and still stands today as a memorial to the city’s founding father.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Chicken, Alaska - Are you kidding me?

Ptarmigans are medium sized game birds found in Alaska and other parts of North America. The name ptarmigan is pronounced as “tar-mi-gan”. They are often called snow chickens and are related to the grouse family of birds. The birds love to live in the upper elevations of mountains. The ptarmigan changes the color of its feathers according to the season. In the summer, they are brown and during the winter their feathers turn pure white. They feed on various types of vegetation including leaves, flowers, seeds, and berries. The town of Ptarmigan, Alaska changed its name to “Chicken” to avoid confusion of the spelling and the pronunciation of Ptarmigan. Later, Alaska claimed the ptarmigan as the state bird. Through time, it is funny how a certain word honoring an animal or place can change into a different meaning to us today.
Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress