Improvised …Floral Friday

One may consider yesterday’s bluejayblog post about chaotic behavior as inspiration for today’s offering to you. Some seemingly random elements come together, without a conscious plan, into a few FF102414bgroupings. As a matter of fact, I put today’s arrangements together before I even decided to write yesterday’s post. In effect, the last few days have seen much improvisation.

An old standard, hobby shop resin crafter’s vase provides the foundation for a study in greens. I think I bought the vase at a garage or rummage sale back in the 1990s, used it a couple of times, then stashed it in the basement. I stumbled across it last week, and cleaned it up. The very light, green tint inspired the green theme. I placed the large green lily into the vessel, then added elements around it.

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The simple arrangement that inspired today’s title, is the solo begonia. I happened across a vintage Imperial Glass Company “crackle” carnival glass candle holder on Monday.  There was only one, but the price was cheap, so I brought it home anyway. I don’t use taper candles, so I just put the candlestick in the window to reflect sunlight.

Yesterday, I came across the big, purple flower and wanted to display it. The candlestick came into view as a possible container. However the candle well is small to accommodate only a taper candle. On the spur of the moment, I flipped the candlestick upside down to reveal the open FF102414ccore. There is enough mass to keep the container from tipping accidentally.  The end result was easy, simple, and fancy.

I needed one more project for today’s post. The Ikebana vase just happened to be in my field of vision. I pulled some likely elements from the supplies container and set them next to the vase. I concentrated on my breath for a few moments, and just listened to the classical radio station’s selection of chamber music. Soon, my own composition seemingly fell into place.

What sort of creative project can you improvise right now?

Ciao
l rm a 07-01The Blue Jay of Happiness says that sometimes we just need to go with the flow.

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Chaotic

One of my latest guilty pleasures is watching Russian “Fail” videos on YouTube. While I do not care to see people harm themselves, the disorderly, chaotic human behavior shown in the videos amuses me.

It all began innocently enough, with Russian car crash clips that are forwarded to me by Jorge. He watches them as a reminder to drive chaos-crashdefensively before he heads out on American highways in his employer’s semi-truck.

The videos showcase our dislike of conformity and rules imposed by authority. The viewer is shown stark reasons why we need traffic regulations and courteous behavior on our streets and highways. In fact, I now follow Jorge’s example and may watch a “We Love Russia” car crash video before I venture out of town. I’ve developed the habit of setting the cruise control on the ol’ Camry at a lower speed. I’m more  mindful behind the wheel, too. A guy just can’t trust Nebraska drivers.

As I look at my desk, I see a version of “ordered chaos”.  Visitors to my home probably see a lack of order and the need for better organization. At least once each month, I put papers and books in the file drawers and book shelves, then dust the desk surface, lamp, and accessories. Within a week, the chaotic appearance grows back. Nearly everything I need  is within reach again.

Chaos is one of those words that is defined better by saying what it is chaos-symbolnot instead of what it is. My old college applied mathematics text says chaotic systems are distinguished by “sensitive dependence on initial conditions and having evolution through phase space that appears quite random”. This jargon-filled definition needs some unpacking.

We can begin our observation of a dense collection of objects that appear to have no relationship to one another. As we continue to observe a set of objects, the objects follow random trajectories.

Oddly enough, chaos soon evolves into some sort of order. Objects will tend to double up, then quadruple, then become clusters of objects. Some of the clusters survive as isolated groups, other clusters break apart into individual objects that remain separate or perhaps join other clusters.

If you observe traffic patterns on highways and freeways, you’ll see a type of chaotic behavior. We find a totally random collection of cars, SUVs, trucks, implements, bicycles, perhaps pedestrians and wildlife. The operators of each vehicle determine the rate of speed, direction of travel, and distance apart from vehicles that may be traveling ahead of  them. Variable factors like deer trying to cross the roadway might appear at any time. Weather conditions complicate this random collection of vehicles and beings, too.

The appearance of a paved road surface, marked with painted lane markers, accompanied by signage and signals gives the appearance of order. Ultimately, each individual decides for herself whether or not to notice and obey the markings, signs, and signals. Even when motorists obey something as basic as a speed limit, individuals independently decide what speed they will proceed within the parameters of legal minimum and maximum speed limits. The speed options are theoretically infinite within these ranges.

Hence, we will observe vehicles moving along the roadway alone or in clusters of various numbers. Faster vehicles approach slower vehicles, they form a cluster until the drivers of the faster vehicles overtake and pass the slower vehicles. The vehicles become isolated and form temporary clusters over and over along the highway surface. This is a type of ordered chaos.

When a deer or other animal steps onto the road surface, the ordered chaos is interrupted. Vehicles must slow or stop.  Often a collision takes place to the disadvantage of the deer and the motorist. If the accident partially blocks the road, traffic appears and forms into clusters. A few motorists may remain at the scene to offer aid to the victims, others will  make their way around the wreck. All of the clusters eventually dissipate.

A different effect occurs when one motorist decides to proceed at a speed faster than conditions warrant. The risk of encountering other motorists too fast increases. A miscalculation by the speeding motorist can result in an instant pairing or collision. The instant cluster may  increase in size when other motorists are unable to slow or stop in time to avoid collisions with the first. Other motorists stop to offer aid or drive slowly around the accident cluster. Chaos and some semblance of order again have taken place.

Chaos, ordered chaos, and order don’t only exist on highways.  We find chaotic behavior in weather. Apparent disorder and chaotic behavior of atmospheric elements manages to organize itself into weather phenomenon like typhoons, frontal systems, tornadoes, and the like. Meteorologists understand that the chaotic nature of weather is too messy for conventional scientific analysis. They do understand trends and probabilities enough to bring us very long range guesses and relatively short-term forecasts. However, the Earth’s weather patterns are more chaotic than orderly, so there will always be some margin of error.chaos-gascloud

When we look at the big picture, we see chaotic behavior at work in the Universe. Randomly moving particles form clusters. The clusters become groups of clusters. They form stars as a result of clustering. The star clusters, galaxies, cluster together with other star clusters. Sometimes a galaxy collides with another galaxy to cause a single chaotic mess.  After several millennia, the chaotic mess will eventually organize itself into a new, larger galaxy.

The cycles of chaos and ordered chaos can be found easily, if we bother to stop to observe them.

Ciao
moi1988bThe Blue Jay of Happiness likes to quote Friedrich Nietzsche.  “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”

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Pretty Boy Floyd

I stumbled across an historically questionable movie on the Web late this past summer featuring Pretty Boy Floyd. The movie, “Public PrettyBoyFloyd-mugshotEnemies” piqued my interest in unsavory characters. As far as notorious criminals go, Pretty Boy Floyd was one of the most unsettling gangsters.

Charles Arthur Floyd was born on February 3, 1904 at Adairsville, Georgia. When he was seven-years-old, the family moved to Oklahoma. During his formative years, Floyd spent time in Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri. His life of crime officially began at the age of 18, after he took $3.50 in coins from a post office. In 1921, Floyd married Ruby Hargrove. Their son, Jack was born while Floyd was serving time for robbing a Kroger store in St. Louis, Missouri. Floyd served three and a half years of his sentence and was released on parole. Ruby divorced Floyd during his imprisonment.

After release, Floyd joined forces with other notorious Kansas City criminal figures and helped commit a series of bank robberies. It was around this time that Floyd acquired his hated nickname. One of the witnesses to a robbery described the three robbers to police. He called Floyd, “a mere boy–a pretty boy with apple cheeks”.

Starting in 1929, Floyd was wanted for a series of various crimes. He was arrested in the investigation of a the murder of an Akron, Ohio policeman who was killed during a robbery.  The next year, Floyd was convicted and sentenced for the robbery of the Sylvania, Ohio Bank. He managed to escape.

Although Pretty Boy Floyd was a violent criminal, he did enjoy public popularity during the Great Depression. During some of his bank robberies, he managed to destroy as many mortgage documents as possible. Oklahomans vouched for his safety and dubbed him the “Robin Hood of the Cookson Hills”.

Police suspected Floyd in the deaths of two Kansas City bootleggers in March of 1931. The next month, his gang killed a patrolman in Ohio. In July, Floyd murdered ATF agent Curtis Burke of Kansas City. The next year, a former sheriff of McIntosh County, Oklahoma, Erv Kelley, was killed when he attempted to arrest Floyd.

There is some dispute among various historians whether or not Pretty Boy Floyd was actually involved in an incident called the “Kansas City Massacre”. The FBI alleges that Vernon Miller, Adam Richetti, and PrettyBoyFloyd-RRDepotFloyd attempted to break their fellow robber, Frank Nash, out of the Leavenworth, Kansas Penitentiary.

In the morning of June 17, 1933, police escorting Nash, at the Union Station in Kansas City, were ambushed by gunmen. Two Kansas City policemen, a patrolman, and a detective were killed. McAlester, Oklahoma Police Chief Otto Reed and FBI Special Agent Ray Caffrey also died in a car. During the crossfire, Frank Nash was also killed.

Positive identities of the killers were not officially confirmed. Many PrettyBoyFloyd-recordsarchivists believe that another gang member, who resembled Floyd, Sol Weismann was a perpetrator. On June 30th, Kansas City police were sent a postcard from Springfield, Missouri from Floyd. It read, “Dear Sirs, I, Charles Floyd, want it made known that I did not participate in the massacre of officers at Kansas City. Charles Floyd.”  The detectives were convinced the note was truthful and genuine.

A string of close calls with the law came to an end, October 22, 1934. Floyd hitched a ride near an East Liverpool, Ohio pool hall. the FBI account says that Floyd was spotted by officers, at which point, he left the car, and ran towards a treeline. FBI agents, at the time, denied any involvement by local police. However, official Clarkson, Ohio police records state that after Floyd regained his stability, the perpetrator began running again. At that time, FBI and police opened fire on the suspect, taking him down. Pretty Boy Floyd died within 15-minutes after falling to the ground.  PrettyBoyFloyd-map

The bank robber’s body was prepared for viewing at an East Liverpool, Ohio funeral home, then shipped to Sallisaw, Oklahoma. The funeral was attended by an estimated 40,000 people. To date, Pretty Boy Floyd’s funeral remains the single largest in Oklahoma history.

Floyd was finished and soon out of the limelight. That is until 1979, when a retired East Liverpool Police Captain told his side of the story, during an interview with “Time” magazine. Captain Chester Smith was credited as shooting Floyd first. The sharpshooter aimed to wound Floyd so that the suspect could be interrogated. Smith disarmed Floyd after arriving at his side. Smith was immediately ordered away from  the scene by the FBI so they could question Floyd. Allegedly, the FBI agents were unable to obtain any information, so Floyd was shot to death at point-blank range by a sub-machine gun.  That account was officially disputed by FBI agent Winfred Hopton in a letter to the editor as a follow-up to the magazine article.

Pretty Boy Floyd remains a legend in popular culture. He has been mentioned in music, literature, film and depicted in at least one video game.

Ciao
mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness notes that Floyd was eulogized by Woody Guthry in the song, “Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd”, and by John Steinbeck in the novel The Grapes of Wrath.

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CFCs And Ozone

Do you remember the good news about the atmosphere that was released last month? I caught the news in my daily headline feed from NASA September 10th. The mainstream news dropped it into newscasts around the first of this month.Ozone-compositeimage

300 top scientists agree that the Earth’s ozone layer is in the early stages of recovery. Full restoration is expected by around 2050. This first glimmer of good news is published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in the latest comprehensive update.

Most of the credit goes to the worldwide phase-out of ozone depleting substances, especially a family of Freon-type gases called chloroflourocarbons or CFCs. As long as we continue to comply with the Montreal Protocol (treaty) of 1987, the ozone layer is expected to recover to 1980 levels. This is expected to happen before mid-century in the Arctic and middle-latitudes. Recovery in the Antarctic Zone will probably happen a few years later.

Looking back to the mid and late 1980s, space meteorologists, and environmental scientists stated that ozone-depleting substances Ozone-depletionpumped around 10-gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent eemissions into the atmosphere every year. Between then and now, compliance with the Montreal Protocol has dropped the volume of those pollutants by over 90-percent.

Of greatest concern has been the annual fluctuations in the Antarctic ozone hole in the lower Stratosphere. UNEP says that ozone depletion is a major contributor to the cooling of the lower portion of the Stratosphere and has caused a change in the surface air circulation patterns during the Southern Hemisphere’s summers. These changes affect precipitation, ground temperature, and the oceans.

Many of us have been seriously thinking about the ozone layer in the Earth’s atmosphere since the Autumn of 1986. British scientists observed the thinning of the ozone above Antarctica. This phenomenon was then confirmed by US researchers stationed at Antarctica. The scientists called the thinning a “hole” that had appeared within a couple of months. The scientists and researchers released the news to the public via a National Science Foundation press conference in Washington D.C. on October 21, 1986.

They were concerned over the ozone decrease of 40-percent within one month’s time. The teams linked the ozone loss to our use of cholorofluorocarbons in aerosol cans, refrigeration, and industry. The first link of CFCs to ozone layer loss happened in 1974. Two California scientists discovered the chlorine that is released from CFCs destroys ozone molecules.

The enlarging and shrinking of the ozone hole is a seasonal occurrence at around this time each year in the Southern Hemisphere. The greater size of the hole has been getting worse during the last few decades. Dr. Sherwood Rowland stated that a yearly increase in chlorine-compounds in the atmosphere corresponds to the drop in ozone over Antarctica.Ozone-diagram

We have cause for worry, because the ozone layer is the main barrier to protect life on Earth from hazardous amounts of Solar ultraviolet radiation. Increased UV sunlight has been shown to harm plants and marine life, it also causes more cases of skin cancer. CFCs are also another greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change. Some experts say that the fluctuations over Antarctica might be nature’s way of warning mankind.

Meantime, there remains the vast problem of global climate change and our part in its alleviation. We all have our work cut out for us.

Ciao
Ozone-iconThe Blue Jay of Happiness has a Carl Sagan quotation, today.  “The hole in the ozone layer is a kind of skywriting. At first it seemed to spell out our continuing complacency before a witch’s brew of deadly perils. But perhaps it really tells of a newfound talent to work together to protect the global environment.”

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Calico Jack And Company

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If we ever attain fame or infamy, it’s due to the company we keep. This truism certainly applies to John Rackham, more popularly known as the English pirate “Calico Jack”. Calico Jack wasn’t nearly as notorious as his mentor Charles Vane, or more infamous characters like Edward Low, Black Bart Roberts, or Blackbeard.

His short career is more notable because of his outrageous bravery and daring, not his pirating skills. Most of us recognize his main CalicoJack-03contribution to popular culture, the “Jolly Roger”, a black banner with the printed skull above two crossed swords.

Calico Jack is infamous because of two other characters of ill-repute. History’s most noteworthy female pirates served under his captaincy, Mary Read and Anne Bonny. All three were active during the “golden age” of pirates, the mid 1600s until the early 1700s.

Most pirate historians say that Jack “Calico Jack” Rackham, was born just after Christmas in 1682, somewhere in England. His name is first seen in the record book as quartermaster on Charles Vane’s sloop the Ranger. Vane’s crew operated out of New Providence, Bahamas at the time of the so-called “Pirates’ Republic”.

According to legend, Mary Read was born about 1690 to a sea captain’s widow. Mary’s mother dressed the girl in boy’s clothing so she would “pass” as her deceased older brother, in order to get payment from the paternal grandmother. Mary enjoyed the lifestyles of boyhood and masculinity, and eventually found work as a sailor.

She was fighting for the English against Holland when she met a Flemish soldier. She revealed her secret to him and they married. After her husband passed away, Mary signed on to work on a trading ship to the Caribbean. As the ship neared the West Indies, the ship was attacked and commandeered by pirates. She decided to join the criminal gang.

After living the lifestyle of a pirate for many years, she accepted the King’s pardon in 1718. She then began an association aboard a privateer that was commissioned to capture the pirates who had not accepted the pardon. The crew mutinied and took over. A couple of years later, she became a crew member aboard Calico Jack’s ship. There, she met Anne Bonny.

Anne Bonny is said to have been born near Cork, Ireland in the early 1700s after a scandalous love affair. The three came to America to escape local notoriety. As a young teen in Charleston, South Carolina, Anne fell in love with a poor sailor, James Bonny. The disappointed father disowned her and disinherited the couple. The couple set up home in New Providence, Bahamas. James Bonny began turning in pirates for bounties.

Legend says Anne lost respect for her husband because he was a bounty-hunter. She left her husband and began a loose promiscuous life in Nassau, Bahamas. Around 1719, she met and fell in love with CalicoJack-02Calico Jack. It was shortly after Jack had mutinied against the cruel Captain Charles Vane and took over command of the ship. Anne turned out to be a good match for Jack. She preferred to dress like a man and swear like a sailor.

Various legends differ on details, but it appears that the two women felt a strong attraction to each other. Apparently they met in a tavern while both were preparing to ship out to sea with Calico Jack. Rumor has it, that the two became lovers.  The two women may have had Calico Jack’s blessing, or more controversially, his participation. Of course, none of these tales have been historically verified. Bonny and Read turned  out to be two of Calico Jack’s most violent gang members.

In the summer of 1720, Bonny, Read, and Calico Jack returned to piracy, after their hiatus. The trio and several unhappy ex-pirates hijacked a ship and sailed out of Nassau harbor at night. The next three months, they attacked poorly armed merchant ships and fishermen near Jamaica. The band of pirates gained infamy for their ruthlessness. The two women were especially feared because they were more aggressive than their male shipmates. In fact, Bonny and Read urged the gang into more gruesome acts of violence and murder.CalicoJack-04

On October 20, 1720, Calico Jack and crew were anchored at Bry Harbour Bay, Jamaica. They were in the process of getting drunk with eleven other English pirates. The bounty-hunter,  Jonathon Barnet, spotted Jack’s ship, attacked it, and engaged in a fight. Again, according to legend, most of the male crew members hid below decks while Bonny, Read, and Calico Jack fought the bounty-hunters. Jack’s ship lost, the gang was captured and taken to Spanish Town, Jamaica for their trials.

The trials were a public sensation. During the kangaroo court that followed, Calico Jack and the other men were found guilty of piracy. Jack and four other mates were hanged at Gallows Point at Port Royal, Jamaica on November 18, 1720. Legend again says that just prior to his death, Anne Bonny scolded Calico Jack,  saying, “I’m sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man, you needn’t have hanged like a dog.”

Mary Read and Anne Bonny were declared guilty on November 28th. Both women declared they were pregnant, so their executions were postponed. Read became ill while in prison and died in April of 1721.

The demise of Anne Bonny has many versions, and none of them have been verified. The most popular one says that she was reprieved then remarried at Port Royal and gave birth to several children. The legends of Anne Bonny and, to a lesser extent, that of Mary Read gave pause to the repressed young ladies of Edwardian and Victorian England.

In the end, we have the stories of the aggressive female pirates, the name of Calico Jack, and the Jolly Roger banner as a part of our popular culture.

Ciao
mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness likes “pirate talk”. His vacation time is called “arrrrr ‘n arrrrr”.

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The Psychopath Whisperer (Review)

Normally, I would have passed the book by with barely any acknowledgement of it. During my regular visit to the Norfolk  (Nebraska) Public Library, the yellow spine of the book caught my eye. With curious trepidation, I slipped The Psychopath Whisperer–The Science Of Those Without Conscience by Kent A. Kiehl, Ph.D. off the shelf. I flipped through a couple of pages, at random, then decided to borrow it.PsychopathWhisperer-01

I haven’t taken much of an interest in psychopathic individuals, aside from news reports of horrific crimes and sensationalized movies. Basically, the subject of psychopathy sort of creeps me out. A new friend, though, piqued my interest this year, because she knows a great deal about the subject.

Stereotypes of psychopaths appear in popular culture in the form of an anti-hero or villain in a thriller or murder mystery. We may be presented a larger than life serial killer, con artist, or corporate executive. Even though there might be some overlap between Hollywood depictions of psychopaths and real-life individuals, psychopathy is much more complex than we’ve been led to believe.

Dr. Kiehl presents his own experience and peer-reviewed research into the subject of psychopathic individuals. The text is fast-paced and filled with personal asides that draw the reader into Kiehl’s groundbreaking scientific findings.

Honestly, I had imagined the book would be a dryly written tome that I’d have to plod through. I figured I’d be lucky to get even halfway through it. That notion was quickly put to rest after I slipped into the first chapter.

In Chapter 1, “Maximum Security”, the author describes his first four days as a freshman undergraduate, undertaking his first interviews of inmates at a maximum security prison in British Columbia. The reader is given a glimpse of what Kiehl went through and how he felt. The author ran through a mental gauntlet as he became oriented into the surroundings at the facility at Abbotsville, 60-miles away from Vancouver.

The inmate interview stories are personal and mostly free of technical jargon. His contacts during the first four days revealed much of the prisoners’ backgrounds and criminal histories. As you can imagine, the stories are quite compelling. I enjoyed the opening chapter of the book immensely and I knew that it was only the appetizer for what was to come.

Psychopath Whisperer is one of the better non-fiction books I’ve come across this year. The book is written in lay-friendly language. The story reveals the behind the scenes activity involved in the work of an accomplished and energetic scientist. The backbone of the story is that of how fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) came to be used to diagnose psychopathy.

We find out about the criminal backgrounds of dangerous, convicted felons. Their stories dominate the case histories, because prison inmates are more readily available and cooperative than are people, at large, in normal life settings. In the telling, Dr. Kiehl presents us with a memoir regarding his own career.

PsychopathWhisperer-02As of the book’s publication, Kent Kiehl, Ph.D is a professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Law at the University of New Mexico. He has authored over 100 scientific articles that have been printed in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Kent also serves as the Executive Science Officer of the Mind Research Network. That organization continues to research the utilization of fMRI to better understand mental illness.

Psychopath Whisperer explains some of what causes a mind to become criminal. The reader will find comparisons and contrasts with epilepsy, psychosis, and schizophrenia. We get a peek into the biological basis of psychopathy. The author presents diagrams of the brain and where the brain variants appear. I was rather disappointed that a key to the parts of the brain was not printed in the book. I had to extrapolate and approximate, where the text indicated abnormalities to be. I don’t think many of us laypersons are familiar with the Korbinian Brodmann labeling system. The lack presented a distraction for this reader.

The case for our awareness of the serious nature of psychopathic behavior is presented early in the book. Dr. Kiehl reminds us that a psychopath is born into the world every 47 seconds. Some types of group therapy apparently make psychopaths more likely to commit new crimes compared to those who receive no treatment. Psychopaths are six times likelier to commit more crimes after release from prison.

Psychopath Whisperer presents portrayals of psychopathic individuals with an understandable explanation of the cutting-edge research and technology used to diagnose the mental condition. Dr. Kiehl hopes to discover symptoms of the disorder in adolescents in an effort to alleviate destructive behavior before the kids mature into adulthood.

This book is a good introduction for the layman, who is interested in the topic of psychopathy. I feel like I have been given some much needed insight about the condition. I think that if I was much younger, I’d be motivated to investigate this field as a serious career option. Anyone who wishes to move beyond talk show and pop-psychology presentations of psychopathy, will find Psychopath Whisperer to be a helpful resource.

{ Psychopath Whisperer–The Science Of Those Without Conscience by Kent A. Kiehl, Ph.D.; published in 2014 by Crown, a division of Random House; ISBN: 978-0-7704-3584-4 }

Ciao
moi1988bThe Blue Jay of Happiness found a chilling quote by an anonymous psychopath. “Never let the other person take you for granted. Use absence, create pain, and conflict to keep the seduced on tenterhooks.”

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The Sweetest Day

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At first glance, the Sweetest Day appears to be the brainchild of a company like Russell Stover Candies or Hershey Chocolate. The connection to the first ever Sweetest Day by a candy company, though, is only tenuous.

The Sweetest Day is one of those Midwestern US holidays that has yet to take a national or global hold. The roots of the Sweetest Day are found in Cleveland, Ohio. One Saturday in October, 1921, a candy shop employee, Herbert Birch Kingston distributed some small packages of gifts and candy to people who had fallen on difficult times.

Kingston was particularly concerned about orphans and shut-ins. His idea was simply the humanitarian desire to brighten their day with a small token. He did not seek any publicity.  With the help of some friends, Kingston distributed the gifts to the underprivileged of Cleveland.

The next year, the Sweetest Day became widely promoted. A committee of twelve candymakers, headed by entrepreneur C.C. Hartzell planned a more aggressive approach. The commemoration became blatantly commercial.

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Ann Pennington

Movie actress, Ann Pennington, who had starred in many popular films of the era, decided to express gratitude to 2,200 newspaper boys for their service to the public. Not to be outdone, another actress, Theda Bara, later gave away some 10,000 boxes of candy to Cleveland hospital patients and to her fans who attended a screening at one of the city’s
theaters.

Promoters in other cities eventually caught wind of the idea and tried their own events. An association of candy manufacturers attempted a national candy day in 1927. The “New York Times” reported that the week, beginning on October 10, 1927, would be called the “Sweetest Week”. Ten years later, the National Confectioners Association promoted the idea to have the Sweetest Day recognized with the same ranking as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.SweetestDay-02

In 1940, over 10,000 boxes of sweets were distributed by the Sweetest Day Committee to local charities. They included the “Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children”. The “Big Sister” groups in New York were also targeted.

As the Sweetest Day moved westward, other candymakers hopped onto the bandwagon. Sander’s Candy of Michigan became a major supporter of the holiday. In addition, a romantic theme evolved. The concept expanded to include gift giving to lovers, friends, and family. The promotion now features heart-shaped boxes and greeting cards designed for the locations that the Sweetest Day is most popular.

SweetestDay-03Because the Sweetest Day was co-opted by retailers, many people criticize the holiday and others like it, as so-called “Hallmark Holidays”. Others ignore the commercial implications and celebrate the day in the same spirit as Herbert Kingston envisioned it.

This is a perfect day to remember shut-ins, needy families, children, and other disadvantaged people. We don’t need to limit ourselves to candy and cards. Today is a good day to perform some random acts of kindness.

Ciao
mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness likes this Mark Twain saying:  “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can see.”

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