CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

January 7, 2017

America’s First Untethered Balloon Flight 1/9/1793

Carolyn’s Online Magazine

AMERICA’S FIRST

UNTETHERED BALLOON FLIGHT

1/9/1793

On the morning of January 9, 1793 no trades were made and no business was undertaken in Philadelphia. All the shops were closed.

Starting at sunrise two field artillery pieces inside the Walnut Street Prison courtyard fired every quarter hour, creating an atmosphere of celebration and anticipation.

As the early morning temperature rose into the 40s a 5-foot tall flamboyant Frenchman, Monsieur Jean-Pierre Blanchard, entered the courtyard. Dressed in bright-blue knee breeches, a matching waistcoat and a cocked hat with white feathers, he looked, for all intents and purposes, like a Shakespearean actor ready for his role in a great drama.

However, Blanchard was not an actor. Accompanied by the sounds of a brass band playing soul-stirring martial music he prepared to take America’s first hot air balloon flight. The famous Frenchman busied himself inflating his huge silk balloon with gaz, produced by mixing iron chips in the vitriolic acid, as a throng of spectators watched.

At 10:00, as Blanchard had promised, he was ready to start his 45th ascension, confident it would cause his name inscribed in America’s history books. His Journal of My Forty-Fifth Ascension states he came to the New World because ‘the [Western] Hemisphere had as yet only heard of the brilliant triumph of aerostation [the art or science of ballooning]; and the people who inhabit it appeared to me worthy of enjoying the sublime spectacle that it affords.’

When the United States chief executive, Gen. George Washington, arrived at 9:45 a. m. a hushed quiet descended on the crowd. As he, the French ambassador, and other dignitaries entered the courtyard fifteen cannons roared in salute and Blanchard removed his plumed hat, bowed briefly and exchanged pleasantries with his distinguished guests.

Towering over Blanchard, Gen. Washington presented the balloonist with a passport written by his own hand to be used as proof for the people Blanchard would meet after landing, proving he wasn’t an enemy of the United States, nor was he part of an advance guard of an airborne French invasion.

At the last minute a well-wisher shoved a small black dog into Blanchard’s arms. He rather dubiously accepted the dog, dropping it into the basket already laden with ballast—including meteorological instruments and some refreshments anxious friends had given him.

At 10:09 Blanchard affixed to the aerostat to the basket, thanked the president, confidently leapt into the balloon’s basket. The cannons fired a final salvo Blanchard as threw out some ballast and nodded to his assistants to release the restraining ropes. A gentle wind lifted the balloon skyward.

Thus America’s first untethered manned hot air balloon flight, carrying the first United States airmail letter, began.

 

 

Blanchard acknowledged the oohs, aahs, and cheers of the watching throng by waving his hat in one hand and a flag, ornamented on one side with the armoric bearings of the United States and on the other with the three colors so dear to the French nation.

Prior to the liftoff Blanchard had advertised the following notice in Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser: ‘If the day is calm…I will ascend perpendicularly; but if the wind blows, permit me, gentlemen, to advise you not to attempt to keep up with me, especially in a country so intersected with rivers, and so covered with woods.’

The day was calm. Blanchard’s balloon ascended perpendicularly and so easily Blanchard was able to enjoy the different impressions which agitated so many of the sensible and interesting persons observing.

The exuberance from the prison courtyard was quickly followed by yells of pleasure from a massive crowd—half the city’s population—waving their hats, lifting their hands, and shouting words of encouragement:

Bon Voyage!

God Bless you!

Blanchard looked down on the city from a height of 1200 feet, probably astonished that all of Philadelphia watched him drift above the city. He heard the everyday echoes of their life rent the air: cries of an infant, barks of a dog prowling the alleys for food, the shout of a chimney sweep seeking work.

“Accustomed as I long have been to the pompous scenes of numerous assemblies, yet I could not help being surprised and astonished when, elevated at a certain height over the city, I turned my eyes towards the immense number of people who covered the open places, the roofs of the houses, the steeples, the streets and the roads, over which my flight carried me in the free space of the air. What a sight!,” he wwould later write in his journal.

Some spectators galloped down the Point road hoping to overtake Blanchard. They soon returned, declaring that the balloon was out of their sight. Many others regretted not stopping at the Oeller’s Hotel to purchase a ticket, sold by Blanchard—$5.00 for the best spot, $2.00 for back seats— because his expenses exceeded his income. By not doing so, they missed best spot to observe the most interesting scene the human eye ever beheld and to join President Washington, Vice President John Adams, and Secretary of state Thomas Jefferson, in doing so. Perhaps House of Representatives leader James Madison and James Monroe were also present.

The city remained closed until the balloon was lost to sight. However, people gathered for miles around on the surrounding hills and along the Atlantic coast were alerted by the cheers and yells. They watched the sky, hoping the balloon would fly in their direction. New Yorkers prayed for a sufficiently fair wind to direct Blanchard’s flight to their city.

Blanchard soared over Philadelphia like Icarus. From this unique vantage point he could easily see the entire square mile brick and wood city beneath him, beginning at the Delaware River and running west to Eighth Street, where the countryside’s unpaved roads began. He could see where the city ended at Vine Street, three blocks north of Market—the suburb of Northern Liberties was just beyond. Just one mile south the city ended at Cedar Street at the suburb of Southwark. He probably saw west as far as the Schuylkill River.

 

He saw ‘a whitish cloud (that) withheld from my sight for several minutes a part of the city of Philadelphia….A thick fog covered the south; toward the east…a mist arose, which prevented me from reconnoitering the area.’

The wind took his balloon east across northern Philadelphia, floated past Market and Race streets, crossed Fourth, Third, then Second streets. He had a bird’s seagull’s eye view of the working-class section of the city, the most densely populated city neighborhood. He saw houses belonging to blacksmiths, cordwainers, furniture makers, and other artisans and tradesmen, who worked on the first floor and lived above their shops with their families.

How small the people on the crowded sidewalks looked, shoppers on the way to the markets, clerks heading to shops selling goods from all over the world, servants wending their way through the crowd to complete their errands. Their busyness was interrupted as they paused, looked up, pointed to, gasped, and commented to each other about this strange thing floating in the sky above them. Blanchard could hear some of their yells that alerted non-observers to the sight.

As Blanchard’s air transportation floated over Philadelphia between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers he easily spotted and identified three towering buildings that testified to Philadelphia’s status as the nation’s political, cultural and economic capital during the 1790s. The newly constructed Bank of the United States was located in south Philadelphia, the city’s political and financial sector. Two blocks westward the State House and Congress Hall stood tall. He also saw the large public library and the museum that held an almost complete collection of the minerals and animals of North America. These structures marked the city as the single great metropolis in this newly formed country, a metropolis most agreeable to foreigners. The city was a gathering place for people who cultivate literary and scientific inquiry.

The wind shifted as Blanchard floated toward the Delaware River, pushing his aircraft south towards Philadelphia’s port—the center of commercial life where leathery-handed stevedores on the dock looked skyward. He saw warehouses lining the riverside, and wooden wharves, jutting into the Delaware River, that welcomed ships from the Caribbean, Europe, and ports as distant as India and China. They came to trade goods for produce from the Atlantic breadbasket, as the fertile Delaware River valley was known.

The balloon rose, carrying Blanchard south, parallel with the Delaware River. From on high he saw the handsome new mansions along Society Hill, above the recently covered Dock Creek, where the nation’s elite held their elaborate salons and luxurious dinner parties.

A mild northwest breeze carried the balloon steadily upward to about 200 fathoms as it traveled toward the Delaware River. As the balloon finally leveled off in a state of perfect equilibrium at 5,800 feet Blanchard observed sparkling sunbeams on the water below, making the river appear like a ribbon the breadth of about four inches.

A flock of wild pigeons flew by and scattered into two groups, frightened at the sight of a human being invading their special realm. The small dog whimpered restlessly at the sound of the bird’s activity, but was reassured by a pat on the head from Blanchard.

While airborne Blanchard became an aeronautical scientist (the first test pilot in America), performing several experiments. He filled and sealed six bottles ‘with that atmospherical air wherein I was floating.’ He next used his pocket watch to time his pulse, carefully noting that airborne his pulse averaged 92, while earthbound it was no more than 84 in the same given time….’ He also weighed a lodestone that earthbound ‘raised 51Ž2 ounces avoirdupois’ but at his greatest altitude weighed only 4 ounces.’

As Blanchard floated through the sky the winds pushed him where they would. It balloon continued to drift southeasterly across the New Jersey side of the river in an increasing wind. Blanchard relaxed briefly, satisfying his appetite ‘with a morsel of biscuit and a glass of wine.’

Thinking he saw the Atlantic Ocean in the distance Blanchard prepared to descend. He carefully stowed his delicate instruments in boxes to prevent them from breaking on landing. He cleared several decorations from the side of the basket, valved out some hydrogen, and emptied several excess ballast bags overboard.

Then he guided the balloon in a downward course by carefully manipulating the gas valve and judging the weight of remaining ballast, steering it to a safe landing in an open, plowed field near Woodbury, N.J. 46 minutes after his departure from Philadelphia the first aerial voyage in America ended successfully after traveling about 15 miles.

Upon landing his canine passenger immediately debarked and made off for the nearest tree.

Blanchard worked quickly to release the gas from the silken globe then unloaded his instruments, checking them for breakage. Only his barometer was broken.

He next had to solve a common balloonist problem: how to return to Philadelphia. He sighted his compass toward the northwest and saw a farmer staring open-mouthed at him, a strange foreigner who dropped so silently from the skies.

Knowing little English, Blanchard yelled out in French, frightening the farmer, who stepped backward several paces. Blanchard, fearing he’d run away, held up the bottle of wine and gestured to him to share a drink. The husky farmer approached warily and took a sip, but only after the stranger downed a swig first. Blanchard soon had a willing helper, thanks to the medium of ‘the exhilarating juice of the grape.’

Although they couldn’t converse and the farmer couldn’t read the passport letter Blanchard carried, the farmer recognized Washington’s name Washington when Blanchard spoke.

A second farmer arrived, armed with an ancient musket. Frightened by the huge globe lying on its side, he dropped his gun and lifted his hands skyward in prayer. The first farmer explained what he understood of the situation again, the name Washington was understood. More people appeared and saw Washington’s letter, and everyone helped this intriguing stranger. Several men neatly folded his balloon and stowed it in a wagon. Others escorted him to Cooper’s Ferry on the banks of the Delaware River, where Blanchard crossed to the Pennsylvania side.

Before he bid his new-found friends goodbye he quickly drew up a document and asked them to certify ‘that we the subscribers saw the bearer, Mr. Blanchard, settle in his balloon in Deptford Township, County of Gloucester, in the State of New Jersey, about 10 o’clock 56 minutes, a.m….on the ninth day of January, anno Domini, 1793.’

Blanchard, arriving in Philadelphia that evening, was greeted by a cheering crowd of well-wishers who formed lines to shake his hand. At 7 p.m., he fisited President Washington and presented him with the flag he had borne aloft on his epic flight.

The experiment was pronounced a complete success. All manner of uses to which the balloon might be put were suggested in jest and earnest. Money was raised to pay back the four hundred guineas the experiment had cost Blanchard.

The brief flight deeply affected all who witnessed the takeoff. Dr. Benjamin Rush, in a letter to a colleague, wrote: ‘For some time days past the conversation in our city has turned wholly upon Mr. Blanchard’s late Aerial Voyage. It was truly a sublime sight. Every faculty of the mind was seized, expanded and captivated by it, 40,000 people concentrating their eyes and thoughts at the same instant, upon the same object, and all deriving nearly the same degree of pleasure from it.’

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January 11, 2015

Things Really Haven’t Changed

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

THINGS REALLY HAVEN’T CHANGED

SCRIPTURE: Haggai 1:5-6   5.  Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hoses, Consider your ways,   6.  Ye have sown much, and bring little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. (KJV)

REFLECTION:  Haggai, living in pre-Christ times, describes today’s society. I watch, read and sometimes experience all the behavior he describes.

I see people who work hard and have little to show for their labor. I myself sometimes eat and drink gluttonously and yet remain hungry and thirsty.

Media ads convince us we never have enough clothing to keep warm (or at least, enough clothes reflecting the current trend). And bankruptcy is routine and acceptable, as people incur so much debt their earnings fall through holes like water through a container filled with holes.

These behaviors are not new to our society, although we somehow feel they originated with us. What caused the existence of those behaviors in Haggai’s time? What causes them today?

The root causes are probably similar: too much stress, greed, the need to have (more…)

December 18, 2014

The 8 Maids-a-milking & the 8 Beatitudes

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

THE EIGHT MAIDS-A-MILKING

AND

THE EIGHT BEATITUDES

We’re too blessed to be stressed…even in a holiday season.

Eight maids-a-milking…the eighth gift in the song the Twelve Days of Christmas…is the theme of the Monte and Carolyn Holland 2014 Christmas ornament (each year our Christmas card is a hand-made ornament). NOTE: Each illustration uses one of my seven sisters, plus myself, our heads superimposed on pictures of maids-a-milking.

Nancy Lee, Sister 1

Nancy Lee, Sister 1

The eight maids a-milking addresses two of the major themes of fifteenth and sixteenth century English celebrations and parties during the Christmas holidays – food and romance.

Typically, the work of milking cows (and goats) was a woman’s job. Although milk was not a common beverage during this pre-refrigeration time (it spoiled too quickly), milk based products did not spoil so rapidly. Cheese, sour milk, and custards—which were prized treats for celebrations.

And the word maid? It’s a shortened form of (more…)

December 14, 2014

Thy Wife Shall Bear Thee a Son

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

THY WIFE SHALL BEAR THEE A SON

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SCRIPTURE  Genesis 21:2, 25:21, 30:22; Judges 13:2; 1 Samuel 1:19-20   21:2. For Sarah conceived,…. 25:21.  And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.  30:22.  And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.  13:2.  And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. 19. …And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her. 20. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived….(KJV)

Luke 1:13, 2 4   13. …and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.  24. And after those days his wife conceived,… (KJV)

Related Scripture:   Mary 3:10-11

DISCUSSION:   Note that God is always punctual to his time: although his promised mercies come not at the time we set, they will certainly come at the time he sets, and that is the best time. It wasn’t by the power of common providence, but by the power of special promise Isaac was born. Note: True believers, by virtue of God’s promises, are enabled to do that which is above the power of human nature, for by them they partake of a divine nature.  (1=38)

When Sarah heard the angel’s message to Abraham she was shocked and laughed. Her plight was poignant. She had ceased to be in the manner of women,” and she asked “After I am worn out, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?”  (1=38)

REFLECTION:  Surprise, Sarah! God has good news for you!

Likewise, March 17, 1997 was a good news day in our family, as was a day in May 1971 a good news day.

After much struggle and fear, Sandy and Greg announced that they were with child—evidenced by Sandy’s physical symptoms and a home pregnancy test.

After struggling with a lengthy infertility problem Monte and I discovered we were with child in the spring of 1971 was the time .

Both news announcements were preceded by many prayers and much lost hope (more…)

December 7, 2014

Saving Beyond Necessity: A Question

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

SAVING BEYOND NECESSITY: A QUESTION

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 41:34   (and Joseph instructed) Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.   (NIV)

 Related Scripture:   Genesis 41:35-36, 47-48

DISCUSSION: Joseph not only interpreted dreams, but also presumed to make practical suggestions for a course of action necessary in light of the interpretation. He presented his case successfully to the Pharaoh, who immediately began to sift through candidates for the position of “Secretary of Agriculture.” Finally, he said to Joseph: as much as God showed you all this, you shall be over my house. Pharaoh conferred on Joseph symbols of the high office to which he had been appointed. (5 pp. 103)

REFLECTION:  A question occurs to me: If there were to be seven years of abundance, then seven years of famine, would not one save one-seventh of each good year’s harvest? Yet Joseph instructed Pharaoh to take one-fifth of the harvest, a significant difference (14% versus 20%) beyond what would be needed to pull the Egyptians through the famine, assuming one-seventh would be sufficient for one year’s sustenance.

Why the extra? Possibly because (more…)

November 23, 2014

Reports from Storm “Knife” in Buffalo, New York

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

REPORTS FROM STORM “KNIFE” IN BUFFALO, NEW YORK

November 17 to November 21, 2014

Photo by Kirsten

Photo by Kirsten

In 1977 my sister Lee was driving in Alden, New York, when the Blizzard of 1977 began. When she could drive no longer she parked her car on what she hoped was the side of the road. She, her 5-year-old son Todd and her 10-year-old daughter Deb exited the car and proceeded to the distant lights of a farmhouse.

Almost immediately she lost Todd in a snow drift. She frantically dug into the snow and finally managed to uncover him. Frightened, the three headed towards lights in the distance, never realizing they passed another closer house on the way. The owners let them in and cared for them while the blizzard blew wild outside.

Fast forward to Monday, November 17, 2014.

Sunday and early Monday, Nov. 17, 2014 Contributed photo.

Sunday and early Monday, Nov. 17, 2014
Contributed photo.

Lee is now a senior citizen experiencing health problems. Her daughter lives in a trailer with her husband, Tom, and 3 children: 7-year old, 5-year old, and a 6-week old baby. Kirsten could only open her door slightly open. The snow is falling. Fast.

Photo by Pat

Photo by Pat

Below are conversations I had with her, Kirsten, my long-time friend Pat, my sister Sally and sister-in-law Marge.

Snow blocking Kirsten's door --- photo by Kirsten

Snow blocking Kirsten’s door — photo by Kirsten

Kirsten's girls, photo by Kirsten

Kirsten’s girls, photo by Kirsten

Tuesday. November 18.

Lee. 10:00 a. m. While Monte and I drove to a doctor’s appointment I called Lee. She was snowed in.

“It’s sunny here, blue (more…)

November 13, 2014

My Sister & I: Like Oil and Water

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS is now located at Carolyn’s Online Magazine.

After reading about the sisters I invite you to visit the new site.

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

MY SISTER AND I:

LIKE OIL AND WATER

Lee

Lee

 Carolyn

Carolyn

If we had met as teenagers or later in life I doubt we’d have the strong relationship we have today. After all, my older sister Lee and I are very different—we’re like oil meeting water. Perhaps it can be said we are polar opposites.

The few outsiders who have been guests in our respective homes observe one polar difference between us. You enter her home and it is so neat and orderly. You enter my home and…well, I must remove the clutter from the chairs so you have a place to sit…I have to pile up the papers etc. on my table in order to serve you tea. You can read a more detailed comparison between a near neatnik and an almost hoarder by clicking on My Sister and I: Cluttered Versus Neat Home .

Then there is our workplace demeanor. My sister would never walk into her workplace office wearing a fuzzy maroon bathrobe, matching fuzzy maroon sneakers, no makeup, and unkempt hair—looking for all the world like she just rolled out of bed. And yes, I did just that. It was justified, if I say so myself. It was in retaliation for my boss challenging me to (more…)

October 26, 2014

Tie the Thread on My Finger

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

TIE THE THREAD ON MY FINGER!

Remind Me

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 41:9   Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharoah, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings….” (NI)

DISCUSSION: Finally, the hand of God jogged the cupbearer’s memory, creating a situation that brought release for Joseph. Pharoah needed interpretion of two dreams, and the cupbearer told of Joseph’s gift. Pharoah sent for him. (5: pp. 102)

REFLECTION:  Forgetfulness is a characteristic of mine. Once I complete a task or leave a situation, it is done. I no longer remember details as I move on to other things.

I excuse this as part of today’s high technology information age where one cannot take time to reflect, a memory enhancer, because the requirement is to multitask or to run from one event, memory or thought to another with no pauses in between. Time is of the essence. Production is what counts.

I also tend to have what I call “specific name and date memory deficit.”  It is not age related. Throughout my school years I has trouble with courses needing specific name and date recall—history, Latin, science. I recall substance, not specifics.

On school tests, I would (more…)

October 21, 2014

Finite Creatures We Are

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

FINITE CREATURES WE ARE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cemetery in East Lamoine, Maine

I’m eyeing the stone of Louis and Mary Googins des Isles, circa 1794-1825

Interesting this WordPress prompt, finite creatures, appeared the day I after I did research on deaths and funerals in Downeast Maine in the 1790s-1800s. Lest you think I’m strange for picking this topic I’d better inform you that I was researching it for my novel, in which one character, Mary, must deal with having her husband Louis sail for France in 1812 and never being heard from again (oops—there is a surprise in this true life story that mimics the later well-known epoch written by Tennyson, Enoch Ardon).

Thus, mortality has been on my mind these days.

The prompt asks At what age did you realize you were a finite creature, that you not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?

Two of my earliest memories are of death.

Our family dog, a cocker spaniel named Buffy, died after being hit by a car.

BUFFY B

The man whose car hit him made a pine box for his burial. Buffy was buried under what is now an addition to 29 Spring Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I don’t recall my age but I might have been 5 or 6 years old. During a burial “service” I ran about the yard laughing. Was this an apartness from death or a (more…)

October 19, 2014

Angel Rescues Traveler in Massachusetts

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

ANGEL RESCUES TRAVELER IN MASSACHUSETTS

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A Night Time Ride to Safety

Along a Circuitous Path as

Angel Rescues Traveler in Massachusetts

(A Devotion)

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 40:23, 41:9    23. But (even after all that) the chief butler gave no thought to Joseph, but forgot (all about) him. 9. Then the chief butler said to Pharoah, I remember my faults today. (AMP)

Luke 17:18   Was there no one found to return and to recognize and give thanks and praise to God except this alien? (Amp)

Related Scripture:   Luke 17:12-19

REFLECTION:  Gratitude. For major events. And most commonly rudely forgotten.

For Joseph, who interpreted the dream for the chief butler and whose request to be recognized to the Pharaoh was “forgotten.” For Jesus, nine healed lepers neglected to thank him.

I, too, can be ungrateful. I don’t express gratitude often enough.

Sometimes, though, verbal thanks seems insufficient.

I traveled to New England by myself in the spring of 1996, and left Brocton, Massachusetts after 7 p. m., unconcerned about finding a hotel. I would be on a main road. No problem. I’d drive towards Merrimack, New Hampshire and stop along the way.

Wrong! I was traveling through a “bedroom community.” No motels!

At 8:45 p. m. I stopped at a drugstore in a strange town not too far from Framingham. “Are there any motels around?” I asked the pharmacist. Neither he nor the customers knew of any.

One customer said she felt bad. She had a spare room, but she also had company. She knew a place in Framingham but the dark night, the late hour and the heavy construction would create travel difficulties, particularly to a stranger. But she knew of a Bed & Breakfast out in the country. She’d call from her car phone.

A room was available! She drew me a land-marked map, then said (more…)

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