A Pointless Day; Curtain Almost Falls on PT Barnum


Such Foolishness

Such Foolishness

Perhaps One Redeeming Quality of St. Patty's Day

Perhaps One Redeeming Quality of St. Patty's Day

On This Date in History: 

Okay…it’s St. Patrick’s Day.  Call me a killjoy but I could care less.  I think any redeeming value the day ever had has been lost as it seems to me it serves as an excuse for people to get loaded.  When people wear shirts that say “kiss me, I’m Irish” I often wonder if they even know anyone from Ireland.  That’s like me saying I’m Scottish.  My family came over at the turn of the 20th Century.  I know no one from Scotland.  I am an American first and a Texan second.  End of story.  In my book, the only way I would be a Scottish-American would be if my parents were from Scotland.  Otherwise, there is no need for hyphenated American status.  E-Pluribus Unum means “out of many, one.”  We are a nation and we have an American culture, for better of worse.  For some reason, we want to claim that we are claim that we are different, as if being simply an American is not good enough.  Bah, Humbug.  If you want to find out about the roots of St. Patricks Day, click here…be my guest.  I shant speak of it any more.

Barnum Out Conned the Con

Barnum Out Conned the Con

I prefer instead to look at P.T. Barnum.  Phineas T. Barnum was a trixter who used hyperbole and hoaxes to gain great wealth.  He is often credited with saying that “a sucker is born every minute.”  Truth is, he never said it.  David Hannum said it, but Barnum was the catalyst.  See, a man named Hull hatched a scheme in which he had a giant statue carved and then buried.  Then he had it dug up and claimed it was some sort of ancient relic.  A group of investers, including Hannum, bought the statue for about $37,500 and put it on display for people to pay to come see it.  Well, it’s tough to con a con-man and Barnum knew a hoax when he saw it.  So, he had a bigger statue made and then trumpeted his statue as the original and Hannum’s was a fake!  So, when he saw people lining up to pay to see Barnum’s “Cardiff Giant,” Hannum said, “a sucker is born every minute.”  As it turns out, Barnum was one of those suckers.

In 1851, Barnum was very wealthy at the age of 41.  He wanted to change his image from huxster to serious businessman and benefactor.  He had an idea creating a new town called East Bridgeport…which was east of Bridgeport, CT.  He got together with William H. Noble of Bridgeport and they proceeded to buy over 220 acres of land along the Pequonnock River.  They had a well planned community with factories, stores and homes.  They began to sell the land in parcels for homes.  They attracted businesses by offering cheap land and favorable credit.  The built a big park and a bridge.  Then, in 1855, Barnum was approached by one of the largest clock manufacturers in the world.  The Jerome Clock Company made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Jenny Lind Came to Barnum's Defense in the Tribune

Jenny Lind Came to Barnum's Defense in the Tribune

The New Haven, CT company was in a tough spot and looking for help.  They proposed that Barnum use his name as security for $110,000 in notes and in return, the company would relocate to East Bridgeport.  All Barnum saw was 700 workers moving to his dream town.  So, he agreed but with the stipulation that he would only initially lend $50,000 with the rest to be offered in short term notes with maturities of 5 to 60 days.  So, Barnum signed several notes and at first checked to make sure that he would not make new loans until previous notes were paid back.  But, he had a habit of not filling in the maturity dates.  After awhile, he became so trustful of the Jerome Clock Company, that he didn’t even bother to see if the previous notes had been paid.  Then, one day,banks began to refuse the notes.  After an investigation, it turns out that the company had been filling out the maturity dates for up to 2 years and Barnum had written notes for over a half million dollars.   Barnum later wrote that the man who did the investigation “came back to me with the refreshing intelligence that I was a ruined man!”

Tom Thumb Helped Barnum Recover

Tom Thumb Helped Barnum Recover

The con-man had been conned.  On this date in 1856, the New York Herald gloated about the demise of P.T. Barnum.  Stories came out how Barnum’s fate was a lesson concerning the “instability of ill-gotten gains.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson said that it proved “the gods visible again.”  While there was much public reaction of celebration of the destruction of Barnum’s fortune, old Phineas had friends to come to his aid.  Barnum though refused and liquidated his assets to pay off his debts.  Barnum wrote that “When the blow fell upon me, I thought I could never recover; the event has shown, however, that I have gained both in character and fortune, and what threatened, for years, to be my ruin, has proved one of the most fortunate happenings of my career.”

Barnum was far from finished.  After four years, he regained his wealth by taking Tom Thumb on tour in Europe and making speeches regarding temperance.  He re-opened his museum  and even added America’s first acquarium and expanded the wax-figure portion of the display.  He had a display of the seven wonders of the world and all was well as the complex expanded to four buildings.  A fire burned it to the ground in 1865.  He rebuilt it and it burned down again in 1868.  That was enough for him and at age 60, in 1871, he went into the circus business.  Barnum died in his sleep in 1891.  His circus was sold to Ringling Brothers in 1907.  Barnum ended up with four mansions and was buried in…Bridgeport, CT…in a cemetary that he had designed.   His real estate project was indeed his death bed as his critics had celebrated…they were just 35 years too early.

NAM has Upper 60's by Midday...Take Off St. Patty's Day

NAM has Upper 60's by Midday...Take Off St. Patty's Day

Weather Bottom Line:   Still on target.  Highs Tuesday near 70.  Low to mid 70’s on Wednesday as winds pick up from the southwest ahead of the cold front.   Wednesday night rain likely, t’storms possible.  Severe threat remains minimal, mainly due to the timing of the action at night.  West or south may have a couple of tough storms but at this time, it does not appear to be much concern but still worth monitoring.  We back off to the upper 50’s on Thursday and back into the 60’s for the weekend.  Pretty straightforward.

DAY 3 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK 
   NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
   0221 AM CDT MON MAR 16 2009
  
   VALID 181200Z – 191200Z
  
   …NO SVR TSTM AREAS FORECAST…
  
   …SYNOPSIS…
   SOME AMPLIFICATION OF THE UPPER PATTERN IS FORECAST THIS PERIOD…AS
   THE FLAT TROUGH CROSSING THE N CENTRAL CONUS EXPANDS AS IT MOVES
   INTO ERN CANADA/ACROSS THE GREAT LAKES REGION. 
  
   AT THE SURFACE…A COLD FRONT WILL CONTINUE MOVING EWD ACROSS ERN
   CANADA/THE NERN CONUS…AND SEWD ACROSS THE MIDWEST/OH
   VALLEY/CENTRAL U.S. THROUGH THE PERIOD.
  
   …MID MS/LOWER OH VALLEYS INTO THE OZARKS…
   RETURN FLOW MOISTURE IS FORECAST TO BE LIMITED ACROSS THE S CENTRAL
   CONUS AHEAD OF THE SAGGING SURFACE FRONT…AS A SURFACE RIDGE
   PERSISTS ACROSS THE NRN GULF/GULF COAST REGION RESULTING IN
   ELY/ENELY LOW-LEVEL FLOW ACROSS THE GULF OF MEXICO.
  
   WHILE THE MARGINAL MOISTURE COMBINED WITH RELATIVELY COLD MID-LEVEL
   TEMPERATURES /AROUND -18 C AT H5/ SHOULD YIELD AMPLE AFTERNOON CAPE
   FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS INVOF THE
   FRONT…CAPE SHOULD PROVE INSUFFICIENT FOR WIDESPREAD SEVERE
   POTENTIAL.  ATTM…IT APPEARS THAT A FEW STRONGER CELLS — AIDED BY
   MODEST SHEAR FORECAST ACROSS THIS REGION — COULD REACH SEVERE
   LEVELS DURING THE AFTERNOON/EARLY EVENING.  THUS — WILL INTRODUCE A
   LOW PROBABILITY THREAT FOR HAIL/WIND…WHICH SHOULD DIMINISH RAPIDLY
   AFTER PEAK HEATING.
  
   ..GOSS.. 03/16/2009

3 Responses

  1. I’m a Baptist so St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t mean a whole lot to me, I’m afraid. I did wear green though. Hey, I guess you can wear green now. That was a no-no when doing the weather in front of the chromakey wall, right?

    My name is Scottish actually, or so I’ve been told, but I think that there are “Mc’s” in both Ireland and Scotland. Actually, I’m more German than anything on my Dad’s side. On my Mom’s side I’m more English than anything. Even a little Cherokee in there, believe it or not. That’s OK. I’m an American without any hyphens of any sort, just like you!

  2. Snow White and I walked up and down Bardstown avenue during the evening. I wore my Green and Yellow Oakland A’s batting helmet. It was quite popular.

  3. Sir, I came across your weblog while hunting for a story which, while like apocryphal, is delightful enough to relate. P.T. Barnum, to whom you refer in detail, fell for the beauty, charms and talent of one Jenny Lind, aka “The Swedish Nightingale”, and wished to declare to her his love publicly.

    He happened to be in a barber shop in a certain city where, in the course of conversing with the barber (who had seen Barnum’s freak show) found that the man had not long before immigrated from Sweden.

    Delighted, he pleaded with the man to teach him how to say “Jenny Lind, I love thee dearly” in Swedish. The barber agreed, and they practiced the phrase over and over.

    Came the day of the great dinner, and as Barnum rose to his feet to propose a toast to the famed singer, he declared his feelings for her with “Miss Jenny Lind, du stinker skit” which translates unfortunately as “Miss Jenny Lind, you stink like shit.”

    The barber got his money’s worth… and his revenge.

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