Model-A Ford at $395, 40hp, 60mph: 1927 December 2nd

On Dec. 2, 1927, the Model A Ford was introduced as the successor to the Model T. The price of a Model A roadster was $395.

In late November came the announcement that Americans had been waiting for: on December 2, 1927, the still-unnamed Ford automobile would be shown to the public, at locations revealed to each and every Ford dealer. Pricing was announced on December 1, the eve of the showing, and to the delight of potential buyers, the new Model A would be priced comparably to the  Model T. On the day of the car’s reveal, Ford News claimed that 10,534,992 people came to see the Model A, a number that represented 10 percent of the U.S. population at the time.

The Model A allowed buyers elegant styling (described as a “downsized Lincoln” by some), four-wheel brakes, improved fuel economy, a laminated safety glass windshield, hydraulic shock absorbers, and a 200.5-cu.in. four-cylinder engine rated at 40 horsepower, enough to deliver a top speed of 65 MPH. Seven body types were offered at launch, including Sport Coupe, Coupe, Roadster, Phaeton, Tudor sedan, Fordor sedan, and truck, and buyers could choose from four colors (Niagara Blue, Arabian Sand, Dawn Gray and Gun Metal Blue).

Deposits from anxious customers poured in, and in the first two weeks the automaker had reportedly accumulated 400,000 sales orders from dealers (adding to the thousands of orders that had been placed prior to the car’s reveal). Though the Model A would only be produced from 1927 through early 1932, Ford sold over 4.3 million examples, and the car would help Ford transition from pioneer to modern automaker. The Model A would also go on to inspire generations of collectors, hot rodders and shade tree mechanics, helping to popularize the hobby that we’ve all come to know and love.

Today there are an estimated 280 plus Model A car club chapters around the world (most of them being in the United States) The photos I took here of the original Model A’s are from cars that belong to a local club called the “Acorn Model A Club” located in the San Francisco Bay area, California.

In addition to a loyal following of Model A car clubs, the Model A is also a popular car today to be turned into a “street rod”. Many of these street rods are modified but the charm of the Model A body style is kept intact. Prices of Model A’s today can run 100 times the cost of what they were brand new!

Brexit f/k/a Evacuation Day in 1783 November 25th

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One might say that it was the “original” BREXIT even before the European Union existed.   The previous British exodus of 1783 related to the United States which had only recently come into existence in 1776.

Nov. 25 has been remembered by some folks as a day of departure.  One might say “evacuation”.  It was the day in 1783 that citizens of the newly formed United States said “good bye” to the inhabiting British troops. Evacuation Day, more precisely, was the date in 1783 when George Washington’s triumphant army (known as “rebels” to the British) marched into New York City from the north, while George III’s troops left at the south, ending a seven-year military occupation.

Eight Years Before—————

King George’s forces from Britain had been occupying New York since 1776.  The Big Apple had been the main British stranglehold in the Americas, and for most New Yorkers the war years had been ugly. Half of the city had been destroyed by fires. Trade was absent; wharves falling apart, merchants and artisans unsuccessful, and the civilian population dropped from 21,863 in 1771 to around 5,000.

Two Months Before—————

When the Treaty of Paris was signed in September 1783, a mass of people moved for Manhattan. Some were hardened rebels. More were Loyalists, looking for a ticket out of the former colonies. That summer and fall, at least 15,000 Tories fled via the city, including some 7,000 who eventually sailed from Nova Scotia in pa single enormous convoy.

Few Days Before—————

On Nov. 21, Washington and Governor George Clinton had galloped from West Point to Day’s Tavern in Harlem.  They were not at the pub for a pint of ale.  Rather, they had an army to deal with as the 800 soldiers – all that was left of the disbanded Continental Army – was camped at McGown’s Pass (presently upper Central Park).

On The Day  —————

On Monday, Nov. 24, the news was that the British would head out of town at noon the next day.  And sure enough, at 8 am on the morning of the 25th, a clear, cold day, the Continentals started down the Post Road (basically, Third Avenue). At Bowery and Grand, they happened upon a few Redcoats of the British rear guard still at their posts.  It seems that the Continental Army was a bit early, and the Brits were not inviting them for tea.   Shortly thereafter, a few minutes past 12, as arranged, the British withdrew to the Battery, where rowboats waited to ferry them to their ships.

The Americans trailed close behind. Most of them stopped at Cape’s Tavern, at the corner of Wall and Broad.  Simultaneously, a detachment moved further southward to raise the Stars and Stripes over the fort at the Battery.

There the Americans found that the British had left behind a surprise for the new occupants. The departing British, most impolitely, had nailed the Union Jack to the staff, then greased the pole so no one could get up to remove it. A young sailor named Jacob Van Arsdale then filled his pockets with improvised cleats and climbed the pole by nailing them in place as he advanced up. The American colors were raised, the soldiers fired a salute of 13 rounds, and the crowd gave three hearty cheers and hurried back up to the Bull’s Head Tavern on Chatham Street (public houses seem to figure prominently in our revolutionary history) to welcome the triumphant commanders-in-chief.

Independence Before Evacuation —————

Every July 4, we honor the Founding Fathers for their declaration that ”these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States.”  One could convincingly argue that we should remind ourselves in November that it took a hard seven years -308 battles and skirmishes, including three in New York City and 89 elsewhere in the state – to win that freedom and begin to redeem the brave promises of 1776.

It was that poor late-November weather — not to mention the growing popularity of Thanksgiving — that hastened Evacuation Day’s decline. (Why march in the cold when you can feast indoors?)  The last official parade was in 1916. The United States entered World War I the following year. At that point, there was little appetite, understandably, for celebrating British defeat.  We had stood together in the face of world war and global threat.

So, Evacuation Day Is Seldom Celebrated  —————

Perhaps it is just as well. The Sons of the Revolution were reportedly getting a bit elitist about the occasion, using the holiday as an excuse to lord their heritage over everybody else — exactly the sort of snobbish behavior the revolution was meant to reject. Plus, it’s no longer as much fun to opine about the British, who have been our fierce allies for more than a century.  Additionally, there are the original Manhattanites — those who had hunted and fished the plentiful green island for centuries — who never got their Evacuation Day. Their squatters stayed.  The trespasser never left.

So, this week during Thanksgiving, you can give thanks. Today, you might dine with your once-domineering parents and still go home afterward to revel in your hard-fought independence.  You have separated from those folks who raised you into an adult.  You are now independent. For good measure, in memory of the British who evacuated, and from who you gained your independence, you might consider greasing the doorknobs on your way out.

Mark Twain and the Jumping Frog (1865 November 18th)

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Mark Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was first published in the November 18,1865, edition of The New York Saturday Press, under the title “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog.” The story is set in a gold-mining camp in Calaveras County, California, and has its roots in the legends of the Gold Rush era. It was one of Twain’s initial writings, and helped launch his reputation as a humorist. He eventually included it as the title story in his first collection of tales.

What is The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County About and Is It Really True or Fake?

How can we not care about a frog that jumps really high except when he is force-fed lead shot? But really, this tale proves to us the power of storytelling, and that just about anything can be fascinating, if it is told well (and with an accent).

When Mark Twain headed out to Nevada in 1861, hoping to strike it rich in the silver boom, he began writing for a newspaper called the Territorial Enterprise. There, he and his fellow “journalists” would create news sometimes (for kicks) and would try to make the most ludicrous circumstances seem like the “real” news to readers. They would have contests to see who could create the most absurd yet credible stories (source). Basically, they were pioneers in the “fake news media.”

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Is It A Tale of Deceit or Cleverness?

Though Jim Smiley seems to be extremely lucky, it is partly through his wily and cunning ways that he is able to win bets. He is finally outsmarted by a stranger, who beats him through dishonest. Nonetheless, the story poses a moral distinction between honest and fraudulent cleverness. It also shows that you don’t necessarily have to be educated and well spoken to be clever, nor is a good education a defense against getting fooled.

Although this story is full of messages about the differences between the West and the East, and about education, the main lesson is about the rules of fair play.

Though Jim Smiley “deceives” people by betting on his animals that don’t look like they can ever win, his dishonesty is innocent in contrast to the stranger’s. All gambling is an attempt to deceive, so Smiley’s opponents should know what they are getting into.  As the saying goes…all fair in love and war, and apparently frog jumping too.

Contrast Of Regions, ie He’s From Over There:

Though the eastern and western United States aren’t exactly contrasted in this short story, we do see a difference between the educated, refined narrator from the East (who also happens to be “green”) and the uneducated but slick characters who populate Angel’s mining camp in the West. The characters in the West love a good tall tale, while the narrator appears to find it pointless and tedious, but maybe that’s because he doesn’t get it

The Melting Pot Before There was a Melting Pot and The Merits of Foreigners.

Twain was exploring the idea of America’s strength resulting from its status as melting pot of various culture, histories and ideologies even before it was known as “pluralism.”. The story was published in 1865 and while immigrants had always been a vital constituent of American growth, the long lines at Ellis Island was still a very long way off. In revealing that the prejudices of both the East and West may be unjustified and in showing that the frontier Americans could be trusted with spreading the literal concept and the symbolic weight of America as a grand experiment in democracy, Twain’s story can be read as an allegory of the American melting pot. It takes all kinds and all kinds are going to be necessary to make this idea work across such an enormous expanse of geography, the story says. At a time when much of the East’s negative perception of those settling the frontier was informed by the very real possibility that much of that land might be lost to Mexicans, Indians or some foreign power, one can only assume that the optimistic name of the westerner who gets the better of the easterner was not chosen randomly.