Did you know that during the War, St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated on the orders of General George Washington? Washington also forbade the celebration of Guy Fawkes’ Day among his troops. At the time in England, that was celebrated throughout the country with anti-Catholic demonstrations – but it never became an American custom, thanks to Washington’s sympathy with his Irish troops.
The American War of Independence could not have been won if it were not for the Irish. It is certain that Irish soldiers constituted two-fifths of the Continental Army by the time Washington reached Valley Forge in 1778. That proportion grew as time went on.
Washington’s step-grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, wrote: “Ireland furnished one hundred men to any single man furnished by any other foreign nation.”
At that time, “Irish” meant anybody who sailed from a port in Ireland. According to historians, overall total Irish immigration might have been as high as 500,000 – or roughly one-quarter of the estimated two million population in America at the time of the American War of Independence.
Irish immigration to America reached its peak during the first half of the decade of the 1770s. By 1776, one-quarter of the entire population of North America was Scots or Scots-Irish.
Actually, probably 300,000 of those “Irish” were what today would be called “Scots-Irish,” namely descendants of mostly Presbyterian settlers from Scotland living in Ireland’s northern province of Ulster. Catholics from Ireland had come over earlier because, by 1770 in Ireland, only 5% of the land was owned by Catholics – who were 90% of the population.
The imported Scots had a difficult time in Ireland. First, they were caught in the middle of the Irish wars against England and then the English Civil War. It’s estimated that 100,000 Scots settlers died in the English Civil War – along with more than 500,000 Irish Catholics.
But it didn’t get better. In 1703, Queen Anne signed the Test Act. This decreed that Presbyterian ministers could not legally marry, baptize, or bury anybody. Presbyterians who did not marry in Anglican churches were legally considered fornicators and their children bastards! Presbyterians were not allowed to teach school or serve as officers in the militia – religious restrictions similar to those against Catholics.
In 1718, the first ships of Scots-Irish arrived in Boston to a chilly welcome. One group was led by the Rev. James McGregor, who delivered a farewell sermon before departure. They were fleeing Ireland, he said, “to avoid oppression and to have an opportunity of worshipping God according to the dictates of conscience and the rules of His Inspired Word.” But Boston didn’t want them. Only two years later, Boston passed an ordinance ordering “families arriving from Ireland” to move on. And move on, they did.
Scots and Irish, like the Welsh and Cornish, are Celts – not Anglo-Saxons, like the English. They were not tame city dwellers; they were (and still are!) known as intensely loyal to their clan and more obedient to their chief than to any written law. They are fierce fighters who would die rather than surrender. They became the quintessential American frontiersmen.
William Penn was a Quaker, a man of peace. He didn’t want the fractious fighting Irish in his City of Brotherly Love – but he knew they might be useful elsewhere. There were Indians west of Philadelphia, and Penn thought the Irish would be a good buffer between him and the Indians – so he allowed them to settle west of Philadelphia.
If you drive along the I-81 in Pennsylvania, you will see exits named Letterkenny and Antrim – both towns in Ulster, relics of those first settlements. And if you head south, where do you get? The Shenandoah Valley.
The Western frontier of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania contained the largest Irish populations.
This did not bode well for England — because the Irish and Scots, Catholic and Presbyterian, arrived on these shores with a deep hatred of England and the crown. They didn’t need to be persuaded by Tom Paine and Patrick Henry that the King didn’t have their best interest at heart – they knew it firsthand!
Those stirring tracts were written to convince the original settlers, who considered themselves loyal sons of England, not to trust the King or Parliament. Remember: most of the first English settlers in America thought of themselves as loyal subjects of a benevolent king who ruled by the Divine Right of Kings; those English settlers had to be convinced to break away from England.
The Scots-Irish Presbyterians were ferocious advocates of Independence: King George III, based on information he received from his military reports, denounced the conflict in America as that “Damned Presbyterian War.” He referred to “Those pestiferous Presbyterians [who] are always in unrest and will be until they are wiped out.” Presbyterian ministers were known as the “Black Regiment” because of the black robes they wore when they preached – not only the word of God but also rebellion against the King.
The War of Independence got off to a rocky start. When the first enlistments were up, those New England boys, aka summer soldiers and sunshine patriots, headed back to the farm. The Continental Congress was not very happy with the Scots-Irish army: as English gentlemen, they had inherited contempt for the Scots and the Irish and didn’t think they would be able to fight. So they took their time to send funds.
Early on in the war, George Washington knew he was in trouble – and good leader that he was, he made plans for what if the worst came to the worst.
In November 1776, after the loss of New York and Long Island, he confided to his aide-de-camp Col. Joseph Reed that he might have to withdraw his reeling army first to the Shenandoah Valley, then farther west beyond the Allegheny Mountains to keep the ‘flames of revolution’ alive. He knew the Scots-Irish western frontier would provide “an asylum” for his rebel army.
Washington never needed to escape to our Valley, but it’s good to know that he thought so highly of our loyalty!
But the Irish re-enlisted, and more enlisted. When General Charles Lee was captured in 1778, he told the British that Washington’s army was half-Irish. Joseph Galloway, a member of the Continental Congress who defected to the British, later reported to the House of Commons that the Continental Army was ¼ native-born Americans, ½ Irish, and ¼ English and Scots.
In any case, the Irish were there in time to fight in the war’s major turning points: Trenton in December 1776, Princeton in January 1777, Saratoga in October 1777, Kings Mountain in October 1780, and Cowpens in January 1781.
When the British took Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, SC, 5,500 Continental soldiers surrendered in Charleston on May 12, 1780. English general Henry Clinton announced that “the most violent Rebels are candid enough to allow the game is up” and sailed back to New York to rest on his supposed laurels, leaving his second-in-command Lord Cornwallis in charge.
What Clinton didn’t know was that the Americans had only begun to fight. The great majority of the population of the Carolinas was in the mountains – and they were Scots-Irish, whose fighting skills had only improved with a generation or two of dealing with Indians.
The British thought they would advance on three fronts: the coast, the center, and the mountains. British Major Patrick Ferguson sent a captured prisoner back home across the Blue Ridge Mountains with the message to “desist from their opposition to British arms, or he would “march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay waste their country with fire and sword.”
Guess again, Major! Those were fighting words to the Celts – and rather than being intimidated, their resolve grew stronger. In the words of one British officer, the Scots-Irish mountain men were “more savage than the Indians.” The Kings Mountain battle in North Carolina defeated the British – Americans annihilated 1,100 Redcoats with only 28 killed and 62 wounded Americans.
That success solidified resistance to the British throughout the South. Six months later, in January 1781, came the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina. The British saw nine-tenths of their force killed or captured there, while the Americans had 12 killed and 60 wounded. In Col. William Thompson’s South Carolina Rangers, the Irish immigrants outnumbered the South Carolina-born men.
On October 19, 1781, Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.
Washington could not have won the war without his foot soldiers. At least two-thirds and possibly three-fifths or more of them were Irish. So indeed, the Irish saved the American War of Independence.
In the words of George Washington Parke Custis: “Who felt the privations of the camp, the fate of the battle, or the horrors of the prison ship more keenly than the Irish? Washington loved them, for they were the companions of his toils, his perils, his glories, in the deliverance of his country.”
So this year, on Saint Patrick’s Day, celebrate not only Ireland – but also Ireland’s first gift to America: victory in the War of Independence.
December Celebrity Birthdays!
Do you share a birthday with a celebrity?
1 – Riz Ahmed, 41, actor (Rogue One), London, England, 1982.
2 – Dan Butler, 69, actor (Frasier), Huntington, IN, 1954.
3 – Ozzy Osbourne, 75, singer (Black Sabbath), Birmingham, England, 1948.
4 – Jin, 31, singer (BTS), born Kim Seok-Jin, Gwacheon, South Korea, 1992.
5 – Margaret Cho, 55, actress (All-American Girl), comedian, San Francisco, CA, 1968.
6 – Thomas Hulce, 70, actor (Amadeus), Plymouth, MI, 1953.
7 – C. Thomas Howell, 57, actor (E.T.), Los Angeles, CA, 1966.
8 – Kim Basinger, 70, actress (Batman), Athens, GA, 1953.
9 – Judi Dench, 89, actress (Shakespeare in Love), York, England, 1934.
10 – Melissa Roxburgh, 31, actress (Manifest), Vancouver, BC, Canada, 1992.
11 – Hailee Steinfeld, 27, actress (Ender’s Game), Thousand Oaks, CA, 1996.
12 – Lucas Hedges, 27, actor (Moonrise Kingdom), New York, NY, 1996.
13 – Emma Corrin, 28, actress (The Crown), Royal Tunbridge Wells, England, 1995.
14 – Vanessa Hudgens, 35, actress (Spring Breakers), Salinas, CA, 1988.
15 – Dave Clark, 81, musician (Dave Clark Five), London, England, 1942.
16 – Theo James, 39, actor (Divergent), born Theo Taptiklis, Oxford, England, 1984.
17 – Shannon Woodward, 39, actress (Raising Hope), Phoenix, AZ, 1984.
18 – Billie Eilish, 22, singer, born Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell, Los Angeles, CA, 2001.
19 – Jennifer Beals, 60, actress (Flashdance), Chicago, IL, 1963.
20 – Uri Geller, 77, psychic, clairvoyant, Tel Aviv, Israel, 1946.
21 – Kiefer Sutherland, 57, actor (24), London, England, 1966.
22 – Hector Elizondo, 87, actor (Pretty Woman), New York, NY, 1936.
23 – Susan Lucci, 77, actress (All My Children), Westchester, NY, 1949.
24 – Louis Tomlinson, 32, singer (One Direction), born Louis Austin at Doncaster, England, 1991.
25 – Barbara Mandrell, 75, singer, Houston, TX, 1948.
26 – Chris Daughtry, 44, television personality (American Idol), Roanoke Rapids, NC, 1979.
27 – Masi Oka, 49, actor (Heroes), Tokyo, Japan, 1974.
28 – David Archuleta, 33, singer (American Idol), Miami, FL, 1990.
29 – Marianne Faithfull, 77, singer, London, England, 1946.
30 – V, 28, singer (BTS), born Kim Tae-hyung, Daegu, South Korea, 1995.
31 – Sir Anthony Hopkins, 86, actor (Silence of the Lambs), Port Talbot, Wales, 1937.
Hidden Treasures: The Stories Tucked Between Book Pages
Beyond the Story: The Unexpected Keepsakes Found in Old Books.
Every old book carries a story – not just the one penned by the author, but also the memories and mementos left behind by its readers. As a book travels from one hand to another, it becomes a vessel of memories, bearing both the imprints of time and traces of personal histories.
Wander into any old bookstore, and the tales nestled between pages might surprise you. Bookstore employees, well-acquainted with the phenomenon, have stumbled upon a fascinating array of items long forgotten by previous owners. These inadvertent time capsules tell stories that extend beyond the printed words. From vintage photographs that capture moments frozen in time to ticket stubs hinting at memorable events, each item paints a picture of its past owner’s life. Love letters, rich with emotions and tales of romance, are frequently found, allowing a sneak peek into someone’s personal world. Even a letter from Mrs. Robert E. Lee has been discovered between the pages, offering a tangible link to history.
Yet, not all treasures found in books are accidental. Some are deliberate, cheeky nods from the author themselves. Take the case of novelist David Bowman. In a playful gesture, Bowman inserted publishers’ rejection letters into the first edition of his novel, “Let the Dog Drive” (Penguin USA). This cheeky insert not only adds character to the book but also provides a humorous commentary on the journey of a writer. And guess what? This unique edition fetched him a handsome sum when he decided to part with it.
So, the next time you decide to part with a cherished book, consider the choices at hand. Will you comb through its pages, reclaiming forgotten memories? Or perhaps you might leave a piece of yourself within its covers, letting the next reader embark on a delightful treasure hunt. After all, in the vast universe of literature, these tiny fragments of personal history only add to the magic, ensuring that every book is more than just a collection of words.
Cinema’s Sweetest Moments: The Ultimate Movie Pie Fights
Step into the world of classic movie pie fights, where laughter and pastry collide in delightful chaos.
Pie-Faced Legends: Stan and Ollie’s Triumph
The timeless appeal of a pie in the face dates back to the early days of cinema, where slapstick humor reigned supreme. Yet, one iconic pie fight, the brainchild of the legendary comic duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, stands out as the quintessential pie-tossing extravaganza.
In their silent film masterpiece, “Battle of the Century,” released on December 31, 1927, Laurel and Hardy embarked on a quest to create the ultimate pie fight. At the time, pies in the face had become a staple gag but were in danger of growing stale. Laurel, the creative genius, envisioned something grandiose. “Let’s give them so many pies that there never will be room for any more pie pictures in the history of movies,” he declared to a biographer.
The result? A spectacle of epic proportions, with 3,000 pies hurled in all directions. However, despite the grandeur of their pie fight, the film itself was lost to time, leaving only the memory of the legendary pastry showdown. That is, until 2013, when a collector unearthed a reel containing the historic battle, making it easily accessible on platforms like YouTube for modern audiences.
But as remarkable as Laurel and Hardy’s pie fight was, it wasn’t the grandest in cinematic history.
The Great Race: A Pioneering Pie Extravaganza
For baby boomers, “The Great Race” holds a special place in cinematic nostalgia. Released in 1965, this movie offered a thrilling story and a spectacular pie fight that left an indelible mark on film history.
The plot revolves around an international auto race featuring two daring rivals: Jack Lemmon as the villainous Professor Fate and Tony Curtis as the dashing hero known as The Great Leslie. The pie fight, an unforgettable moment, ignites when Lemmon’s character plunges into a towering two-story cake. Curtis miraculously remains un-pied until his love interest, portrayed by Natalie Wood, delivers a direct hit to cap off the chaos.
This four-minute pie battle required a staggering 4,000 pies flung over five days of intense filming. In today’s currency, it amounted to a sweet $1.5 million in production costs for the year 2023. As if that weren’t enough when director Blake Edwards finally yelled “cut,” the cast promptly reciprocated the pie-pelting by smothering him with several hundred pies.
While “The Great Race” may hold the title for the costliest and most pie-laden cinematic battle, it is worth noting that The Three Stooges, renowned for their slapstick comedy, also left their mark on pie fight history. In the 1941 classic “In The Sweet Pie and Pie,” the Stooges indulged in a messy pie-throwing spree, targeting society’s elite with their pastry projectiles.
In the annals of film history, these legendary pie fights continue to tickle our funny bones, proving that the simple joy of a well-aimed pie to the face transcends time and generations.
Branching out: The Evolution of Artificial Christmas Trees
Unveiling the fascinating history of the holiday centerpiece.
Peek in the average American’s home during the holidays, and you’re likely to find an artificial Christmas tree. The American Christmas Tree Association reports that 75 percent of Americans display a Christmas tree during the festive season, with roughly 84 percent of them opting for the artificial variety. But have you ever wondered where and when the artificial Christmas tree first laid its roots? Artificial or not, these trees have grown through the years, evolving from humble beginnings to cherished holiday season symbols.
A Feathered Start
The origins of artificial Christmas trees can be traced back to late 19th-century Germany. At that time, the nation was grappling with extensive deforestation, prompting the need for a more sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional trees. The solution came in the form of early artificial trees made from goose feathers, meticulously dyed green to emulate the appearance of natural branches. These feathered creations may not have offered the lushness of real trees, but they quickly gained popularity as a practical and green alternative.
From Toilet Brushes to Tannenbaums
In the early 1900s, an unexpected player entered the artificial tree game – the Addis Brush Company. Initially known for producing toilet brushes, they had a brilliant idea to repurpose their expertise. The brush company began taking their artificial toilet brushes, giving them a vibrant green dye job, and ingeniously fashioning them into artificial Christmas trees. While unconventional, these early attempts at crafting Christmas trees from brush bristles and similar materials remained in vogue through much of the early 20th century, offering a unique take on the holiday tradition.
The Aluminum Era
The 1950s ushered in a new era for artificial Christmas trees with the introduction of aluminum trees. These futuristic-looking trees ditched the traditional green for silvery leaves, reflecting the spirit of the burgeoning space race. However, despite their contemporary appeal, aluminum trees faced a surprising adversary in the form of Charlie Brown, the beloved protagonist of the famous Peanuts comic strip.
In 1965’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Charlie took issue with the over-commercialization of the holiday season, and one of his main targets was the aluminum Christmas tree. In a heartwarming turn of events, Charlie chose a modest, puny green tree over the sleek aluminum alternative, delivering a powerful message to millions of Americans. This poignant moment in pop culture led to a widespread rejection of aluminum trees as people sought to preserve the authenticity and sentimentality of the holiday season.
The PVC Revolution
Artificial trees would make a triumphant comeback in the 1980s with the advent of PVC plastic trees designed to emulate the look of natural evergreens. These lifelike creations quickly gained popularity and became the centerpiece of countless American homes during the holidays. Since then, artificial trees made from PVC plastic have dominated the market, offering an appealing blend of convenience and realism that continues to win over consumers year after year.
The history of the artificial Christmas tree is a captivating journey through time, from the humble beginnings of goose feather creations to today’s sleek and eco-friendly PVC trees. As we adorn our homes with these symbolic holiday staples, we can appreciate the innovation and evolution that have shaped the beloved tradition of the artificial Christmas tree.
Host with Ease: Five Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Gathering
Making Your Holiday Celebrations Joyful and Relaxed.
The holiday season is synonymous with joy, togetherness, and celebration. However, the responsibility of hosting can often bring its own share of stress. To ensure you enjoy your holiday gathering as much as your guests, here are five tips to host a stress-free and memorable event.
1. Detailed Planning and Checklists: Start by creating a comprehensive checklist covering everything from the guest list to the menu, decorations, and cleaning tasks. Begin your preparations early to avoid last-minute scrambles. Breaking down tasks into smaller steps and setting deadlines for each can help you stay organized and avoid overlooking critical details.
2. Simplify the Menu: While the allure of an extravagant spread is tempting, remember that the essence of the holidays is spending quality time with loved ones. Opt for simpler dishes that can be prepared ahead of time or require minimal last-minute effort. Embrace the spirit of togetherness by making your gathering potluck-style inviting guests to contribute a dish.
3. Self-Serve Beverage Station: Create a beverage station where guests can freely choose from an array of drinks. Ensure it’s well-stocked with glasses, ice, and cocktail napkins. This approach gives guests autonomy and frees them from the constant task of refilling drinks.
4. Delegating Tasks: Hosting doesn’t mean doing everything alone. Involve family members and friends in the preparations or consider hiring temporary help. Assign tasks like setting the table, greeting guests, or managing coats. Sharing responsibilities not only lighten your load but also fosters a collaborative atmosphere.
5. Creating a Cozy Ambiance: A warm and inviting environment significantly enhances the holiday experience. Set the tone with festive lighting, candles, and seasonal décor. Soft background music and comfortable seating areas encourage guests to relax and socialize. A cozy setting not only makes your guests feel at ease but also contributes to the overall enjoyment of the event.
Hosting a holiday gathering doesn’t have to be a source of stress. With careful planning, a simplified approach, and the help of others, you can create a festive and enjoyable atmosphere for everyone, including yourself. Embrace these tips, and you’re well on your way to hosting a delightful holiday celebration that’s as enjoyable for you as it is for your guests.
Transform Your Thanksgiving Leftovers into Culinary Delights
Five Creative Ways to Reinvent Your Holiday Feast.
The joy of Thanksgiving doesn’t end with the last bite of turkey. For many, it extends into the following days, thanks to an abundance of leftovers. Instead of reheating the same meal, get creative and transform your Thanksgiving leftovers into new and exciting dishes.
Leftovers are a quintessential part of the Thanksgiving experience, offering a chance to be inventive in the kitchen. Here are five delightful ideas to give your leftovers a delicious makeover:
- Turkey and Cranberry Panini: Elevate your turkey with a cranberry twist. Spread cranberry sauce on your choice of bread, add turkey slices and grill it to create a savory-sweet panini that tantalizes your taste buds.
- Stuffing-Stuffed Mushrooms: Give your stuffing a second act as a gourmet appetizer. Fill button mushrooms with stuffing and bake until they’re tender, with a golden crust. This dish turns aside into a star.
- Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie: This comfort dish is perfect for a chilly day. Layer turkey, vegetables, gravy, and mashed potatoes in a baking dish. Bake it until the top is golden, and enjoy a heartwarming meal.
- Cranberry Barbecue Meatballs: Transform your cranberry sauce into a tangy glaze. Mix it with barbecue sauce, coat leftover turkey or ham meatballs, and bake to perfection. This dish offers a delightful combination of Thanksgiving flavors with a twist.
- Pumpkin Pie Smoothie: For a sweet treat, blend a slice of pumpkin pie with milk, yogurt, and cinnamon. This creamy smoothie offers the essence of pumpkin spice in a refreshing new format.
Thanksgiving leftovers offer a canvas for culinary creativity, allowing you to enjoy the holiday flavors in new and exciting ways. These five ideas minimize food waste and keep the spirit of the holiday alive. As you enjoy these reinvented dishes, you’ll appreciate the versatility and joy of cooking with leftovers.