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#a335 :: Stereopticon view – Looking through the Great Forth Bridge

January 15, 2009

more about decease ‘popup’, ask ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>The oil lamp guttered and went out in a little puff of soot.

She sat, thumbs a-fidget, not wanting to stick her finger with the needle, but unable to keep still, with her sewing on the lap of her crinoline hoopskirt, in the dark.

“I’m done being pleasant about this, ma’am,” Mr. Quimby had muttered, through twisted, disgusted lips, his greased handlebar mustache a-twitch. “You just be out o’ here in the morning with your brat and I’ll see to it Tom comes round with the cart to take your things wherever you’ve a mind to go.”

She straightened, put her petitpoint needle into the heather blossom on the sampler she had been sewing, and carefully set the hoop frame and the spools of yarn into the wicker basket beside her. A deep breath eased the frown from her face. Well, it’s all one can do, isn’t it. One does what one can, and it’s all one can do.

Rain hammered on the roof. Gertrude slept fitfully, making little piglike snorts beneath the counterpane, and rain hammered the shake roof with a hissing roar. Three weeks now the storms had been battering them, off and on, three weeks since her August was taken – finally returned to his Lord by the fever that had wracked him since the accident with the surrey, three weeks alone in this godless mining town in northern California, surrounded by ruffians and drunkards and women of loose character, and the claim August had staked was nowhere to be found in the records and Mr. Quimby had finally had enough excuses, he had a load of Chinamen he needed to house and the railroad was willing to pay double what August had been paying so what can one do.

It’s all one can do.

She stared around her through the gloom. Flickering shadows from the streetlight outside skittered across the floral wallpaper, which hung in great festoons from the wall now, its glue undone by the relentless rain. She bit her lip.

She walked across the room, tore off a piece of it, stuck it into her mouth and began to chew. Bitter, bitter and sticky with mold. She chewed harder, but kept her eyes dry as she began to pack.

(A note tacked to this block by the seller says:

Hand-carved, labor intensive wallpaper print block. Circa 1840-1880. Note square nails and peg construction. Each is a unique piece of art; no two are alike.” It has hand-grooves gouged into its flanks, and the print surface feels velvety, soft. On its end are very old white numerals that some printmaker painted by hand: 2866.)

purchase ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false” href=””>At some point – midway between the Playskool block-sorting drum and the Thomas the Tank Engine fetish, we began to sort our two young children’s toys. Bricks, gears, stuffed animals, dress-up clothes – all were assigned translucent plastic bins in a pine toy rack – and my wife would spend a happy, idle hour every week or three sorting. Broken toys are banished. New alliances arise – the Monsters, Inc. figures with scale-model doors are grouped first with cheap toys, then building toys, then action heroes – and sundered at a whim. A constant surf of toys and parts batters the rack, rising and falling over days, hours, minutes. One of my favorites is the animal box, a mad, mis-scaled menagerie gathered from countless birthday party goodie bags, Christmas stockings and some mysterious wormhole that exists in parts of the house unknown and admits animals while inhaling socks.

Just now, I have imagined a flood from the nearby bathroom, my son frantically building a Lego ark amid the rising waters, and all these marvelous one-of-a-kind species perishing upon reaching dry land in the absence of mates.
ENLARGEI have a thing for stereo cards – particularly views of the industrial age.

Stereopticons were the pinnacle of multimedia technology in their day – twin images shot simultaneously by cameras set a few feet apart, doctor approximating the 3-D view seen by the human eyes.

With the gentleman beckoning at the right, website you could almost fall into this one, pill it’s so gorgeously intricate. I found it at the Rose Bowl swap meet for three bucks, in perfect shape: the stiff card is a little curved, and you can see silver glinting back from the blacks.

Here’s what the Underwood and Underwood Works and Studios had to say about it:

You are ten miles west of Edinburgh, high up in the air, 150 feet above the waters of the Forth. This bridge is a giant stride of the North British Railway, whose tracks stretch out before you on their way towards Aberdeen at the north. it is more than a mile from here to where that dim arch marks the farther end. The bridge was seven years (*1883-1890) building; the labor of 5,000 workmen went into it, and it cost nearly $15,000,000.

It is a cantilever bridge with a central truss. There are three skeleton towers of steel, each 360 feet high that reach 210 feet above you here; the cantilever arms, each 680 feet, extending both ways from each tower, and those extending from the middle tower are connected by central trusses of 350 feet with arms from the other towers, making two gigantic spans, each 680-350-680 feet, or almost a third of a mile each. (see stereographs showing a side view of this bridge.)

The convergence of those steel girders as they reach above your head is not merely the eeffect of perspective; they do draw nearer together towards the top. Those large tubular steel girders are 12 feet in diameter. If the bent plattes of steel used in this one bridge were laid out on the shore, end to end, they would reach 32 miles – almost as far as from here to Glasgow. See those steel rivets that dot the nearest lattice girders on eeach side of the rail – there are 8,000,000 just such rivets in the whole structure and their responsibility is no small thing. It is a weight o 51,000 tons of steel which they hold together. The engineer-architects had to allow also for contraction and expansion of this huge mass of metal with varying temperature (1 in. per 100 ft.) and for posssible wind-pressure of 56 lbs per sq. ft.

From Notes of Travel, No. 21, copyright, 1905, by Underwood & Underwood.

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