Tag Archives: history

A Halloween Wish


Steaming out of the past is Engine 300 from the Texas State Railroad.  I wonder how many ghosts still ride those rails?   It is Halloween after all.  Who knows?  More passengers might board every weekend than the conductor can see.  So, ride the rails in Palestine Texas, just make sure you offer some popcorn from the concession car to the “stranger” sitting beside you.

Halloween is one of the strangest holidays.  People like to get scared on purpose.  They dress in all types of costumes and seek adventures pretending to be someone or something they are not.  It’s a time of parties, like masquerades, where being anonymous and masked is not unusual.  But, it’s a time when being popular for the best costume is also a thrill.  People also travel great distances to get lost in spooky maize fields cut into labyrinths or go for a harmless scare at commercial “haunted houses”.

Indeed, this holiday has a long and storied past. Scholars believe it is from an autumn festival held by the druids in Celtic Europe before the times of the Catholic Church.  In fact, that’s when the colors orange and black became associated with Halloween.  The early, non-filtered honey wax candles the druids used during their celebrations for the dead where naturally colored in an orange hue.   Further, the ancient druids and Celts associated black with death.  So, both colors have lasted into modern-day and seen every year in decorations and holiday revelry.

Since that time it’s experienced several attempts at assimilation in the Christian faith as All Saints Eve or All Saints Day but never to the level as other holidays like Christmas.  It’s also seen periods of persecution as “devil worship” and even periods of huge popularity in its past.  Today, it revels as a fun holiday with large elements borrowing from other cultures.

For instance, Latino culture in the United States will often combine some of the rituals of American Halloween customs like “trick or treating”, with the family parties and celebrations of loved ones from the Día de Muertos holiday in Mexico.

So, we at A&A photographic Arts want to take the time to wish you and your family a Happy Halloween, Día de Muertos, or All Saints Eve/Day.  Whatever your culture or nationality, have fun and celebrate the living and the dead!

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My 1st Digital Camera

Everyone has a beginning camera that they used and abused.  While I am old enough to say that I did own a 35mm film camera, those days were so long ago that I couldn’t tell you the name or maker of it.  The knowledge has been lost.

However, I do remember the 1st digital camera I owned.  It was a Sony Macvia and it rocked.  It had a 2.5 hour rechargeable battery.  Rechargeable!  The genius of not carrying 4 packs of AA batteries everywhere I went was inspiring to say the least.  The best part? Why, you could take your pictures directly to a standard 1.44 floppy disk.  Every computer had one of those! Also, Win 95 could read and display the .jpg without other software.  Brilliant!


by Bobolink CC
by Bobolink CC

On the surface, this is an illusion of being a good idea.  I mean, as long as I had a 3.5 floppy with me I could conceivably never run out of “film”.  Of course, lugging around 100 pk of floppy disks were a pain.

But that was nothing to the one serious drawback I discovered.  In the heat of taking a lot of pictures, you would fill up a disk , take it out and replace it, and put the used floppy with all the other disks that looked identical to it.  You soon ran into the issue of trying to figure out which disk was full and which was empty.

I discovered quickly that you had to buy a container for the empty and a container for the used disks. Every trip was a an adventure to see how long before I’d forget which box to use, or the boxes get dumped out into the sack I was carrying and get mixed up.   Traveling “light” really was not an option.  Of course, I could have just written on the disk in sharpie. Nah, who has time for that?  I’m taking pictures without film!

I did love this camera though.  It took great pictures, and I was fortunate to have it.  Eventually, I bought a more advanced camera with a flash memory.  Just in time too, it was becoming difficult to find floppy disks because of that new fancy technology called CD.  I toyed with the idea of buying a camera that wrote to mini-cd’s but flash memory was coming of age so it never happened.   What was your 1st camera memories.

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How to Avoid the Biggest Mistake Art Buyers Make.


I was in Washington D.C. attending a conference for social studies teachers. The conference developed some major problems with over booking of session spaces.  This had the effect of leaving a large crowd of history teachers in walking distance of the National Mall with nothing to do for an afternoon.  A history nut within walking distance of the Smithsonian Museums and the National Gallery Of Art with nothing to do?  Yeah right…

In a flash I was out the door.   I went to the National Museum of the American Indian where upon hitting the gift shop I saw a Clown Clan Koshare.  It was a clay figurine representing the Hopi Clown Clan and made by a Hopi Indian.  It was only about 6-7 inches tall and hand-made and painted.  This was not your typical tourist trap ceramic doll.  It was a real piece of sculpture. The clown is seated with a watermelon in his hands and featured the traditional black and white stripes of the clown clan. The price for the figure was perfect, being on the low-end of  what you’d expect for fine southwestern art of this type.  It was a good bargain for a real piece of  Native American art.  Not that any of this actually mattered.  I liked it.  I wanted it.

It was at that point where my brain became my worst enemy.  I stood there contemplating how I could get it back home without damaging it or having it lost at the airport.  I decided that it would be best for me to wait until the last day of the conference and come back with a better plan on how to stuff it in a backpack to carry it on the plane.  So, grudgingly, I left without buying it.  When I came back the next day, it was gone.  I found out it sold later the same afternoon I had visited.

Thus, I learned the harshest lesson of art.  If you find a piece of art that is handmade, authentic, and you really like it.  Buy it.  Don’t worry how you will get it back home. You may never get another chance to get it. I learned the hard way that sometimes you only get one chance to own art.  Oh, and the salt in the wound?  I realized at that moment, I could’ve had it shipped home.

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Want to know more?   Check out this article at the Peabody Museum  http://tinyurl.com/d47v9q3  and a modern description of the way a clown acts during the ceremonies at http://www.sfaol.com/life/koshares.html