Thursday, 30 June 2016

Gordon Murray Dies

Just when I was thinking things couldn't possibly get any worse in the world, I discovered that Gordon Murray, the creator of Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley, has died. He was 95.

There's another part of my childhood gone forever.

Gordon Murray also operated Spotty Dog in the Woodentops. I loved Spotty Dog when I was three.

And here's Windy Miller, from Camberwick Green, waving goodbye. (My sister used to do a spot on impression of the sound his windmill made as the sails went round!)

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Captain Paiute

I'm not sure now where I heard of this comic - it may have been via the blog American Indians in Children's Literature by Debbie Reese. Anyway, I was intrigued enough to send off for it, despite the postage and packing being more than the comic itself. Their offices are in Albuquerque, New Mexico - a long way from the Welsh Borders!
Captain Paiute is by Theo Tso, who did the story and the art work, and is basically an origin story for the Indigenous Defender of the South West. I hope he tells more stories, showing Captain Paiute working to save his tribe.

Native Realities Press is especially for stories about Native Americans, by Native Americans. Other comics available from them are about the Code Talkers of the Second World War, Deer Woman, and Kaui (a Polynesian tale of Beauty and the Beast).
They also have a poster for sale of Pueblo Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Art. Now there's a story I'd like to read!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Trowelblazers - Hattie Cosgrove

Hattie Cosgrove started out as an amateur archaeologist, investigating sites near her home in the Mimbres Valley in New Mexico with her husband Cornelius and her son Burton.
In the course of this work, they met Alfred Vincent Kidder, curator of North American Archaeology at Harvard's Peabody Museum. He was impressed with their work, and hired them as a team in 1924. Hattie was one of the first women to be professionally employed as an archaeologist.
The major site they worked on was Swarts Ruin in the Mimbres Valley, which they documented thoroughly with photographs and pen and ink drawings of every pot they excavated - around 700 of them! They were meticulous in recording where the artefacts had been found, and the plans of the rooms in the complex, and the work is still used as the primary reference for the Mimbres Valley culture.
They went on to do more work together at Gila River, New Mexico, Stallings Island Mound in Georgia and a Hopi Pueblo in Arizona. Cornelius Cosgrove died in 1936, but Hattie returned the following year to take charge of the pottery tent, where she trained students and Indian assistants.
She died in 1970, aged 84.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Women Warriors - Hanna Reitsch, Luftwaffe test pilot

She was always proud of supporting the Third Reich, and was close to Hitler - she was at the Bunker during the last days of the war, when she accompanied Generaloberst von Greim as he accepted the command of the Luftwaffe after the dismissal of Goering for what Hitler considered to be an act of treason.

But her flying career was remarkable.
She started off in gliders in the 1930s and broke several records for altitude and endurance. She became a stunt pilot in powered aircraft in 1934 for the Ufa film company, and also travelled to South America with an expedition to study thermal conditions. She became a test pilot in 1935.
In 1937 she was posted to the Luftwaffe training centre at Rechlin-Larz airfield, and tested the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka and Dornier Do 17 barrage balloon fender projects, for which she recieved the Iron Cross Second Class in 1941.
She was the first female helicopter pilot, too.
In 1942 she test piloted the Messerschmidt Me 163 Komet, which was rocket propelled, making her the first woman to pilot a jet aircraft - and crashed on her fifth flight, spending five months in hospital. For this, she recieved the Iron Cross First Class.
In 1943, she spent several weeks touring the Luftwaffe units of the Eastern Front.
She also test piloted a manned version of the V1 rocket, and trained instructors.
After the war, she spent 18 months being held by the Americans, and after that settled in Frankfurt. As soon as she was able, she started flying gliders again. In 1952, she won a bronze medal in the World Gliding Championships in Spain, the first woman to compete.
She was invited to India by Nehru to set up a gliding school there, and was also welcomed to the White House by President Kennedy. In 1962, she went to Ghana to set up the first black African national gliding school, where she became a friend of Kwame Nkrumah, the president.
She wrote several books about her life, including Ich flog in Afrika fur Nkrumah's Ghana and Fliegen, Mein Leben.
She died back in Frankfurt in 1979 and there were rumours that she had saved the cyanide pill she had been given by Hitler at the Bunker in 1945 for all that time until she, too, was ready to commit suicide.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Trowelblazers - Anna O Shepard

Anna Osler Shepard was a trailblazer in the study of ancient ceramics in the American South West. She studied optical crystalography and chemical spectroscopy in the 1930s, at Nebraska University, Claremont College and New York University, moving on to MIT in 1940, and gaining her PhD in 1942 from the University of Colorado.
The fabric of pottery can be used to determine where the clay came from, and Anna Shepard pioneered the work to determine sources for South Western and Mesoamerican pottery, demonstrating that potters from the Ancestral Pueblo culture, mostly women, made pottery on a large scale for trade throughout the region.
Her book Ceramics for the Archaeologist, published in 1956, is still used as a reference book today (and the book has 4.5 stars on Goodreads!).
She died in 1971.
Here she is with some of the pottery she studied: