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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 12/27/14

Saturday, December 27, 2014

THE CHRISTMAS TREE SHIP!


The Original Christmas Tree Ship





Captains Schuenemann





    The story of the beginning of the Christmas Tree Ship is the story of the Schuenemann family, and most particularly the story of Capt Herman Schuenemann and his last ship, the Rouse Simmons.
In approximately 1885 August and his brother Herman Schuenemann moved to Chicago to seek out their fortune. Chicago’s Harbor was one of the busiest in the world at this time with over 20,000 vessels entering and leaving annually. As competition was fierce, the brothers became excellent businessmen as well as sailors. Although they made a relatively good living, two-thirds of their annual income was generated between Thanksgiving and Christmas with the sale of trees. August had become a truly competitive trader and by 1895 had a well-established reputation as a Christmas tree merchant. In early November of 1898, August was in Sturgeon Bay looking for trees that he would bring to Chicago on a ship named the S. Thal. He purchased 3,500 trees and on November 9th departed with 3 crewmembers for Chicago’s Harbor. A few days later the S. Thal was caught in a horrific storm off the coast of Glencoe, IL and perished. There were no survivors. Herman did not sail with his brother that year, probably due to the birth of his twin daughters in October.
    Continuing with the efforts of his and Augusts, Herman now had a business without a partner. Herman sailed further and further north with each passing year. This allowed him to purchase better quality trees at a lower cost but this also made Herman and his crew incur poor and unpredictable weather the further north they sailed. Over the next few years Herman had lost one ship and almost lost another. This triggered him to purchase larger ships (the largest measuring 130 feet long and 26 feet wide.) With the larger and more stable ships, Herman went as far north as the Soo Canal to purchase his trees from the Indians. Eventually, he would hire his own crew to cut and prepare the trees for the journey back to Chicago. In 1910 Schuenemann had established the ” Northern Michigan Evergreen Nursery” whose address was given as the “SW corner Clark Street Bridge.” This allowed him to lower his expenses by selling his cargo directly from the deck of his ship. No longer would Capt. Schuenemann pay laborers to carry trees to store owners and local grocers. He was trying to eliminate as much of the middleman as possible. While Herman sold trees and greens on deck, his daughters worked below by the warmth of the cabin stove making wreaths out of cut greens. In order to even further lower his expenses, sometime between 1910 and 1912 Herman purchased 240 acres in upper Michigan. In salaries for tree cutters, crew, provisions, towing fees and miscellaneous expenses, a single trip would have cost him approximately $3,000. Any failure to return with trees would leave Herman flat broke. In order for Herman to cover all of these expenses as well as make the bulk of his annual income, he now had to transport as many trees as possible with each journey.






Loaded with Trees




    By 1911, Schuenemann owned a large vessel named the Rouse Simmons. A ship of her magnitude could carry more than 5,000 trees that were lashed down tightly. The weight of these trees would not become a factor unless they became wet and froze. If this was to happen the weight could now become detrimental to the journey’s success. Schuenemann had the Rouse Simmons recaulked during his passage to Chicago in 1911, but failed to recaulk her prior to leaving Chicago for his 1912 adventure. The neglect to recaulk the Rouse Simmons in 1912 was probably due to financial strains caused by Schuenemann being sued for failure to repay an old debt. The decision not to recaulk the Rouse Simmons would be a fatal one. She was last seen on November 23, 1912, between Kewaunee and Two Rivers Wisconsin, with distress signals flying. Capt. Schuenemann and his crew of 16 went down just 30 miles south of his boyhood home of Ahnapee, Wisconsin. Throughout the years that the Schuenemann’s made their living from the Maritime Christmas Tree business, it rose, peaked and by 1912 was fading. What began as an informal barter system evolved into big business controlled by the high-volume wholesalers. As the railroads and improved highways were now the most efficient way of moving Christmas trees throughout the Midwest, old wooden bottomed vessels became obsolete.
    Chicagoans remembered ” Christmas Tree” Schuenemann for at least the next generation. In December of 1934, in the height of the depression, three middle-aged women opened a store on the Near North Side of Chicago. The sign, which brought back many good times and feelings, read CAPTAIN AND MRS. SCHUENEMANN’S DAUGHTERS. Passerby’s entered the store, shared stories of their childhood on the docks and bought the tree they were to display in their parlor. That was the only year that the daughters had a shop. That was probably due to the depression, but it was said that so few people had given so much joy to so many people, as did the Schuenemann family, just for doing their job.












    With a Christmas tree hanging from its mast and a red-bowed wreath fastened beneath its bridge, the icebreaker Mackinaw powers through the frigid waters of Lake Michigan bound for Chicago's Navy Pier. Lashed to the decks of the U.S. Coast Guard ship are 1,500 Christmas trees that will be distributed to disadvantaged families in the Windy City.
    Each December, the 240-foot Mackinaw and its 60-person crew carries on the time-honored tradition that rouses holiday spirit and creates lasting memories for tree growers, volunteers and recipients.
    "This will be our first Christmas tree," says Nana Afari, 34, after receiving a free tree last year with her husband, Eric, 36, and their son, Kweku, 3. "We're very excited about it," adds Afari, who immigrated to the United States from Ghana eight years ago.
    "We're going to put a star on the tree," Kweku chimes in.
    The Christmas Tree Ship, as the evergreen-laden Mackinaw is dubbed, continues the legacy of the Rouse Simmons, a three-masted schooner that transported Christmas trees to Chicago a century ago from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The ship's captain, Herman Schuenemann, sold trees from his vessel and gave some to Chicagoans who couldn't afford their 50-cent price.













"The crew and I feel fortunate to share in such a wonderful endeavor," says Mackinaw Cmdr. Scott Smith, 42, standing aboard his ship. "We're proud to stand in for the Rouse Simmons."

Reclaiming a Tradition

   The legacy of the Rouse Simmons was resurrected a decade ago as Coast Guard administrators and members of Chicago's marine community were searching for ways to help Chicago's less fortunate during the Christmas season. They formed the Chicago Christmas Ship Committee and began raising money to purchase trees for families who couldn't afford them.
    "We knew a large number of kids couldn't afford Christmas trees; we didn't want that to happen in Chicago," says Truitt, the committee's program director.
    Since 2000, the all-volunteer organization has given away more than 10,500 trees to poor individuals and families. "It gives me great satisfaction to know these trees are going to families who wouldn't otherwise get one," says Lloyd Karzen, 71, a yachting enthusiast who has served on the    Chicago Christmas Ship Committee since its inception.
    The committee organizes thousands of volunteers each year and raises thousands of dollars to purchase Christmas trees. Growers in Michigan and Wisconsin provide 6-foot fir trees at reduced prices and deliver them to Cheboygan, Mich. (pop. 5,295), where the Mackinaw is stationed.












"Contributing to someone else's happiness is what the season's all about," says Chris Maciborski, 36, owner of Dutchman Tree Farms in Manton, Mich.

Voyage and volunteers

    Scouts, high school students and crew members load the Mackinaw prior to Thanksgiving before the Coast Guard cutter departs on its 600-mile seasonal journey to replace buoys on Lake Michigan with winter markers.
    After the Mackinaw docks in Chicago on the first Friday in December, yachting club volunteers string 8,000 lights on its railings, some years chipping off ice before they can decorate the ship. Hundreds of school children tour the ship, listen to ecology lessons from Coast Guard Auxiliary, and hear Ruth Gibson retell her mother's Christmastime story.
The following day, the trees are unloaded. Laughing, joking and singing holiday songs, 250 Scouts from across the Midwest unload trees from the Mackinaw's deck. Trucks transport the evergreen cargo to 16 charities and churches throughout Chicago for distribution, and the Mackinaw departs to resume its winter mission.
    "This is a fantastic display of human togetherness," says Boy Scout Nick Bernstein, 17, a third-year volunteer. "It's truly heartwarming."

DIY EPSOM SALT CANDLE AND ORNAMENTS!

This diy comes from www.thriftyparsonageliving.blogspot.com . They look like they been outside and the snow and ice has crystalized on them. Very nice. Enjoy!


DIY Epsom Salt Ornaments and Candle




I know there's been candles and ornaments
made with Epsom salt floating around blog land for a while now,
but I thought I'd share my version which utilizes simple things most of us have lying around our homes.

Here is what I had and you'll need if you're going to make these.
1. Styrofoam balls
2. Candle
3. Paint
4. Mod Podge or Glue
5.Epsom Salt

I made this project for mere pennies because every thing I used I already had in my home.

Three styrofoam balls - from a "free" box at the local thrift store.



Paint (deco art) given to me by a friend who no longer had a use for it.


Glue

I didn't have any Mod Podge in the house, but
you can substitute glue watered down with a few
drops of water as a homemade version.
Begin by painting the balls.

Next, a rubber band was placed about 1/3 of the way from the top
of an old candle (left over from our daughter's wedding)...



.....and the bottom two thirds painted
(the rubber band acting as guide/stopping point for the paint)
.




After painting all the items, I coated them with glue followed by sprinkling Epsom salt on them.
(Removing the rubber band after everything is totally dry.)
I added some left over silver elastic ribbon to the top of the candle...




...and placed all the items on a heirloom tray
from my grandparents 25th wedding anniversary.



OH CHRISTMAS TREE INFOGRAPHIC!


   It is the most wonderful time of the year! From trimmed trees to twinkle lights to knit stockings hanging over the fireplace, you really can’t escape the christmas cheer. Although we have many christmas time traditions, the christmas tree is definitely the first and foremost.
   This timeline takes us through the history of the christmas tree from the first decorated tree in 1600, to the first christmas tree in the white house, to the griswolds A Christmas Vacation. It is easy to see the influence of the different fads and trends through out the century, like the bubble lights from the 1940′s. My best friend’s tree has bubble lights each year! Its their christmas tree staple.
   The other main aspect of the timeline is the debate between the real and artificial tree. My family are a bunch of real tree advocates, claiming that they will never own an artificial tree ever. I do agree and love the real tree, but artificial trees are so easy and require no clean up! The list of pros and cons goes on and on, and the debate will probably never go away!
   So tell me, what are your favorite christmas tree traditions? Do you love sparkly tinsel? Maybe pop corn strings? Or do you don your tree with candy canes? And when it comes to the tree itself, are you all natural or prefer an artificial?




Xmastree-Candidate





HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS CRACKERS AND HOW TO MAKE THEM!


   


The childhood magic of anticipation comes rushing back with one of these treasures packs of promise! 

   Christmas crackers or bon-bons are an integral part of Christmas celebrations in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. They are also popular in Ireland. A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper. The cracker is pulled by two people, and, much in the manner of a wishbone, the cracker splits unevenly. The split is accompanied by a small bang or snapping sound produced by the effect of friction on a chemically impregnated card strip (similar to that used in a cap gun).
   Crackers are typically pulled at the Christmas dinner table or at parties. In one version of the cracker tradition, the person with the larger portion of cracker empties the contents from the tube and keeps them. In another each person will have their own cracker and will keep its contents regardless of whose end they were in. Typically these contents are a coloured paper hat or crown; a small toy, small plastic model or other trinket and a motto, a joke or piece of trivia on a small strip of paper.









   Assembled crackers are typically sold in boxes of three to twelve. These typically have different designs usually with red, green and gold colors. Making crackers from scratch using the tubes from used toilet rolls and tissue paper is a common Commonwealth activity for children. Kits to make crackers can also be purchased.
   Crackers are also a part of New Year celebrations in Russia (where they are called хлопушка - khlopushka) and some countries of the former Soviet Union. Those are however more similar to pyrotechnical devices, normally used outdoors, activated by one person, and produce a stronger bang accompanied by fire and smoke.

 History

The Oxford English Dictionary records the use of cracker bonbons and the pulling of crackers from the early 1840s.  Tradition tells of how Thomas J. Smith of London invented crackers in 1847.   He created the crackers as a development of his bon-bon sweets, which he sold in a twist of paper (the origins of the traditional sweet-wrapper). As sales of bon-bons slumped, Smith began to come up with new promotional ideas. His first tactic was to insert mottos into the wrappers of the sweets ( fortune cookies), but this had only limited success.
   Smith added the "crackle" element when he heard the crackle of a log he had just put on a fire. The size of the paper wrapper had to be increased to incorporate the banger mechanism, and the sweet itself was eventually dropped, to be replaced by a small gift. The new product was initially marketed as the Cosaque (i.e., Cossack), but the onomatopoeic "cracker" soon became the commonly used name, as rival varieties came on the market. The other elements of the modern cracker, the gifts, paper hats and varied designs, were all introduced by Tom Smith's son, Walter Smith, to differentiate his product from the rival cracker manufacturers which had suddenly sprung up.









   However, the OED may well be in error as they appear to have been available in France in 1817. Lt. Colonel Felton Hervey states in a letter dated 7 November 1817 The night before last Arthur Hill desired me to give a letter to the Duchess of R[ichmon]d, which I did very innocently. It contained one of these crackers, called Cossacks, which are sold in the fair here. It went off, and the duchess also, into one of the most violent fits of laughing hysterics ever witnessed. I am happy to say she does not think me guilty. I wonder it did not kill the old woman.



Make Your Own Christmas Crackers

Required Supplies and Equipment
  • Wrapping paper (cut to 7.5 x 12 inches) -- crackers made with lighter weight papers will tear apart easier when pulled.
  • Stiffener ends (cut into 2.25 x 7 inches -- use 60-70 weight white card stock, such as 67# Exact Vellum Bristol.
  • Fortunes, jokes or riddles.
  • Cracker snaps.
  • Paper hats.
  • Small gifts or novelty items (at least one per cracker).
  • Cracker rollers (1 pair).
  • Cardboard tubes (2 x 4 inches).
  • Low temperature glue gun.
  • Scissors.
  • Curling ribbon.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker


Step by Step Directions
1 -- Insert rollers into ends of cardboard tube (if fit between tube and roller is not snug enough, add a little masking tape to smaller (red) end of roller).
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
2 -- Lay roller-tube assembly on back of wrapping paper                          making certain tube is centered across length of paper.                          Apply a small drop of glue from glue gun to bottom middle edge of paper and roll tube back over glue.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
3 -- Place snap under front (leading) edge of roller-tube assembly, making certain snap is centered across length of paper.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
4 -- Roll paper onto roller-tube assembly to within a half inch or so of paper's end. Make certain paper rolls evenly (straight) onto tube.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
5 -- With glue gun, run a narrow bead of glue along back                          of paper about a quarter inch in from top edge. Roll paper over glue keeping glued seam pressed against work surface for several seconds to allow glue to harden                          (placement of glue bead may have to be adjusted slightly inward if glue flows out of seam onto outer surface of wrapping paper).
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
6 -- While holding paper cylinder in middle (one hand grasping cardboard tube), remove roller from each end of cylinder.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
7 -- Roll stiffener end into slightly smaller diameter cylinder than cracker and insert into end of cracker until even with outer edge. Do not cover snap during this procedure -- it must remain free in end of cracker.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
8 -- Spread stiffener out firmly against inside wall of cracker end and glue into place with glue gun.

9 -- Repeat step 8 on other end of cracker.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
10 -- Using thumb and forefinger, crimp (gather) one end of cracker between tube and reinforced (stiffened) end.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
11 -- Securely tie a 10 - 12 inch length of curling ribbon onto the gather of the cracker using a double knot. Then clip off the loose ribbon ends.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
12 -- Insert gifts/messages into open end of the cracker.                          The fillable central part of the cracker measures 2 inches in diameter by 4 inches in length. Your items must fit comfortably into this space in order for the cracker to be closed and finished. When filling your crackers, make certain you do not push the cracker snap into the center of the cracker.
13 -- Repeat steps 11 and 12 for open end of cracker.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
14 -- Check the finished end of the cracker to make certain the snap is located near the outer rim of the cracker and not too far down into the cylinder. Reposition with fingers as necessary.

Your cracker is now finished and ready to be shared with your party guests.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
Some practice is usually required to make a consistently well-wrapped and formed cracker. Techniques such as the one described above using solid core centers, rollers, and stiffened ends have been found by many people to be among the easiest methods for making nice looking crackers. Other techniques and directions for making your own party crackers can be found at the following web addresses: