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Jason Crane Posts

An important anniversary

It was 108 years ago today — 3 August 1897 — that my great-grandmother, Louise Josephine Lay, arrived at Ellis Island with her sister, Christina, aboard the S.S. Kensington. Louise was 11, Christina was 13. They lived in Trier, Germany, and traveled to Antwerp, Belgium to board the ship.

Louise and Christina went to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to stay with their aunt Johanna (Lay) Honecker and her husband Francis. Johanna, my great-great-great-aunt, paid for the girls to travel to the U.S. Two years later, on 28 June 1899, the rest of the family came over from Germany, also aboard the Kensington: parents Peter and Catharina; brothers Jacob, Bernard and Carl; and sister Johanna. (The youngest sister, Anna, was born after the family arrived in the U.S.)

On 28 September 1908, Louise married my great-grandfather, Orren Elmer Flanders. On 30 November 1912, they welcomed my grandfather, Bernard Orren Flanders, into the family. The rest, as they say, is history.

(Louise Lay was born May 1866. She died on 31 May 1956 and was buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.)

And here’s a little more history about the S.S. Kensington — the ship that carried the Lays across the Atlantic:

Kensington and Southwark were sister ships which began their careers with the American Line, and then served Red Star and the Dominion lines before heading to the shipbreakers. Despite these changes, both ships retained their original names.

Southwark was built by William Denny & Bros. of Dumbarton, while Kensington was built by J&G Thompson of Glasgow. Both ships were launched in 1893. They each made their maiden voyage on the American Line’s Liverpool-Philadelphia service, Southwark on 27 December 1893 and Kensington on 27 June 1894. In August 1895, both of them were transferred to Red Star and placed on that line’s Antwerp-New York service. (At the time, both Red Star and American were operated by the International Navigation Co.)

In 1902, International Navigation changed its name to International Mercantile Marine and acquired a number of other lines, including the Dominion Line. After making their final Red Star voyages in March 1903, Southwark and Kensington were placed on Dominion’s Liverpool-Canada service and remained there for the rest of their careers. Kensington made her final voyage in November 1908 and was broken up in 1910. Southwark made her final trip in May 1911 and was scrapped later that same year.

(Source: greatships.net)

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Vintage Base Ball Report: Excelsiors vs. Knickerbockers

A note about my reports: I don’t really know how to keep a real box score, which is why my match recaps contain fewer fielding notes than you might expect. If you want good stats, talk to Dick Terboss. If you want fairly shallow and uninformed opinions of the match, keep reading. Huzzah!

The players in today’s match had no problem getting on base. In fact, they excelled at it. Getting back home again … let’s just say that came a little harder.

First Inning: The Knickerbockers get off to a nice start, as Harvey “Kid Brooklyn” Shapiro tallies an ace on his first trip to the line. But in a harbinger of coming events (and really, what other kind of harbinger is there?), the Knicks leave three men on base to end the inning. The Excelsiors answer the challenge, with team captain Ryan “Doc” Brecker tallying his own first-strike ace. The inning ends with two men on. Score tied at 1 apiece.

Second Inning: No aces for either side, one man left on for both teams. Score still tied.

Third Inning: Nick “Leprechaun” Dobbertin (who had a fine game) makes it to second base. But that’s it for the side, as Rich “Professor” Dolan retires the next three strikers. (And yes, I know it’s not really a pitcher’s game. I just enjoy being needlessly anachronistic. Zing!) The Excelsiors’ bats warm up, though, with aces tallied by Dr. Brecker (his second) and by Mr. Dolan (his first). And Kevin “Longarm” Owens, playing third base for the Knicks, makes a couple amazing catches in a row, before leaving the game with an injured ankle. (I encouraged him to stay in, given his ability to catch the ball without moving. He rightly pointed out that not moving makes it slightly more difficult to run the bases when your team is up to bat.) Score: Excelsiors 3, Knickerbockers 1.

Fourth Inning: The first striker, Jim “T-Bone” Cook, tallies an ace. The Knicks leave one man on to end the inning. The Excelsiors go down in order. They don’t know it, but they won’t send a man around the bases for the next six innings. Score: Excelsiors 3, Knickerbockers 2.

Fifth Inning: The Knicks leave one man on. The Excelsiors leave three, after loading the bases with two outs. Score: Excelsiors 3, Knickerbockers 2.

Sixth Inning: The Knicks go down in order. The Excelsiors leave two men on. Score: Excelsiors 3, Knickerbockers 2.

Seventh Inning: Tim “Kid” Zimmer, in for his brother, Matt, tallies an ace on his first trip to the line. This is the first ace tallied by either team since the fourth inning. The Knicks leave two more men on to end the inning. The Excelsiors go down in order. Score: Excelsiors 3, Knickerbockers 3.

Eighth Inning: No aces, no men left on for the Knicks. No aces, one man left on for the Excelsiors. Score: Excelsiors 3, Knickerbockers 3.

Ninth Inning: The Knicks go down in order. The Excelsiors leave two on. And that means we go to extra innings for the first time this season! Score: Excelsiors 3, Knickerbockers 3.

Tenth Inning: The Knicks go down in order. OK, this isn’t a pitcher’s game, but that happened a lot today. The Excelsiors leave one man on. Score: Excelsiors 3, Knickerbockers 3. So we go to the…

Eleventh Inning: The Knickerbockers leave one man on. But the ice finally cracks, as Doc Brecker tallies his third ace (from five hits — nice work!) to win the game for the Excelsiors. Final score: Excelsiors 4, Knickerbockers 3.

Some items of interest:

  • Matt “Pins” Zimmer tallied his ninth ace of the season, after playing only three games. He also celebrated his birthday!
  • Dr. Brecker and Mr. Dolan both “made their first” five times. As noted above, Dr. Brecker tallied three aces, Mr. Dolan one.
  • The teams left a combined total of 24 men on, by my count — 10 for the Knickerbockers, 14 for the Excelsiors.
  • Glenn “Geezer” Drinkwater did an exceptional job of umpiring the match.
  • Everyone thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Bronte sisters. What’s that you say? Enough about the Bronte sisters? Fie, sir, fie!
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Vintage Base Ball Report: Excelsiors vs. Rochesters

Kevin “Hardtack” Pietrzak put the “base” in base ball today, making it to first base an astonishing eight out of eight times, and tallying three aces to lead the Rochesters to a 14-7 victory over the Excelsiors.

Pietrzak may have been the standout player in today’s match, but he wasn’t alone, as both teams thrilled the crowd with excellent play and gentlemanly behavior on what was surely one of the most beautiful afternoons we’ll see this summer.

First Inning: The Rochesters open the match with two aces from seven batters, those aces being tallied by first-year player Mike “Hawkeye” Iacobucci and veteran Todd “Tea-totaller” Pschirer. The Excelsiors aren’t so lucky, seeing their first three batters retired. Score: 2-0, Rochesters

Second Inning: Both the Rochesters and Excelsiors struggle in the second, putting five men on base between them, but coming up with two duck eggs to show for it. All was not lost, though, as umpire “Dirty” Jim Feuerstein hits upon the brilliant plan of frying the two eggs at home plate. Complemented by a sausage from the refreshment stand, they make for a lovely end-of-inning snack.

Third Inning: Tom “Pick-One” Hildebrandt retires three in a row to send the Rochesters back to the bench. Jose Pagan rallies for the Excelsiors, tallying the team’s first ace of the match. Jose had a great day, going on to score another ace, and making it to first base five times. Score: 2-1, Rochesters

Fourth Inning: In the fourth, Joe “Hot Bitter” Territo tallies an ace for the Rochesters, but John “Old Hoss” Spaulding, Sr., replies for the Excelsiors, holding the Rochester’s to a one-ace lead. Score: 3-2, Rochesters

Fifth Inning: Mr. Pietrzak makes it to first base for the fourth time, and also tallies his first ace. The Rochesters take a two-ace lead as the Excelsiors leave two runners on. Score: 4-2, Rochesters

Sixth Inning: Bats burn as the Rochester’s second, third, fourth and fifth hitters all tally aces, including second aces for Pietrzak and Territo, and first aces for Dave “Wild Oats” Nesbitt and team captain Steve “The Colonel” Michener. A scoreless inning from the Excelsiors puts the Rochesters up by six aces. Score: 8-2, Rochesters.

Seventh Inning: The Rochesters score two aces, one from Mark “Scotch” Hopkins and one from Mr. Territo, his third of the match. But the Excelsiors reply with three of their own from Mr. Pagan (his second), team captain Ryan “Doc” Brecker and Curt “The Barber” Kirchmaier. Score: 10-5, Rochesters.

Eighth Inning: Mr. Pietrzak is cheered by the fans and both benches as he reaches first for the seventh consecutive time, and Frank “Shorty” Devito tallies the team’s loan ace of the inning. Dr. Brecker comes up with his second ace for the Excelsiors. John “Sparky” Spaulding, Jr., also scores. Score: 11-7, Rochesters.

Ninth Inning: Mr. Pietrzak leads off the inning by arriving on first base for the eighth time, tallying his third ace in the bargain. Mr. Territo tallies his impressive fourth ace of the day, and Mr. Nesbitt scores his second. The Excelsiors leave to men on two end the inning and the match. Final Score: Rochesters 14 – Excelsiors 7

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The Flanders family

A few years ago, I started to try to trace my family history back as far as I could go. I had several surnames to try — Doyle, Coughlin, Borders, Flanders, Lay and others. Flanders is the last name of my grandfather, Bernie, after whom my son is named. It’s also my mother’s maiden name. I was eager to try to trace it, except for one small problem. My grandfather knows nothing about his family. And I mean nothing. He knows the names of his parents, and there it ends.

Imagine my surprise, then, when just a few weeks of digging turned up a goldmine of family history. Turns out the Flanders clan has been exhaustively researched, and I was able to link my branch to the main trunk of the family tree. My ninth-great-grandfather, Steven Flanders, came to Massachusetts in the 1640s, and the line has been traced all the way from then to now.

The only problem was that no one seemed to be talking to anyone else about all these distant cousins we all have. So I decided to jumpstart the conversation with a Web site, newsletter and e-mail list. You can find out about all those things at flandersfamily.org. Enjoy!

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Bruuuuuuce!

Jen and I went to see Bruce Springsteen last night. She’s a huge fan, and I was along for the ride, having never been much of a fan (although I really dug The Rising). Bruce is on a solo acoustic tour to promote his new album, Devils & Dust. Here’s what he played (tunes marked with * were played last night for the first time on this tour):

  • Prove It All Night*
  • Reason to Believe
  • Devils & Dust
  • Empty Sky
  • Long Time Comin’
  • Black Cowboys
  • 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)*
  • Leap of Faith*
  • State Trooper
  • Nebraska
  • Maria’s Bed
  • The Line
  • Reno
  • When You’re Alone*
  • You’re Missing*
  • The Rising
  • Darkness on the Edge of Town*
  • Jesus Was an Only Son
  • If I Should Fall Behind
  • The Hitter
  • Matamoros Banks
  • Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
  • My Best Was Never Good Enough
  • The Promised Land
  • Dream Baby Dream

For me, the only weak link in the show was Reason To Believe, which was so distorted and nonmelodic that you couldn’t understand the words or the tune. Very cool effect, though, with Bruce singing through a distorted harmonica and pounding on an amplified footboard. Highlights included 4th of July, which was beautiful; Maria’s Bed, which rocked; You’re Missing, which still chokes me up; Jesus Was An Only Son, which I found very moving despite my obvious disagreements with the ideology, mostly because of the good stuff he said about parents and kids; and Dream Baby Dream, which was one of the coolest show closers I’ve ever seen.

All in all, a very cool show, and I’m glad I went. Jen was quite surprised. She had no idea where we were going, and didn’t figure out who was playing until we got right up to the arena (which has no sign out front) and heard a little of The Rising playing on the sound system outside.

JEN: “Y’know, this is getting a little annoying, actually.”

(Takes two more steps, hears music.)

JEN: “Is this Bruce?”

JASON: “Yup.”

JEN: “It IS?!?! Now I’m excited!”

While you’ve still got Bruce on the brain, check out this excellent interview of Bruce, done recently by author Nick Hornby (Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, A Long Way Down). Thanks to Jeff Vrabel, himself a fine music columnist, for the link.

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Ed McBain, R.I.P.

Jen and I are both big fans of the 87th Precinct novels of Ed McBain, a.k.a. Evan Hunter, a.k.a. Salvatore Lombino. I read today that he passed away on July 6. Here’s Adam B. Very’s remembrance from Entertainment Weekly:

Without Evan Hunter, a.k.a. Ed McBain, there would probably be no Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, or Law & Order. The prolific novelist, who died of cancer July 6 at 78, essentially invented the American police procedural with a single pulp paperback.

The book was 1956’s Cop Hater, and it marked a decisive turn in a varied career. Hunter, born Salvatore Lombino in New York City (he changed his name to avoid discrimination), had staked his first literary claim two years earlier with his semiautobiographical The Blackboard Jungle, a look at the life of an inner-city high school teacher. It was made into a popular 1955 film starring Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier.

When he penned Cop Hater, Hunter invented the McBain pseudonym to protect his reputation as a serious novelist. But it turned out to be the book that established his legacy in pop storytelling. Set in a fictitious big city, the crime story eschewed the lone PI hero that had long defined the genre and instead meticulously chronicled an entire precinct’s pursuit of a murder case. The book was a big enough success to yield 54 follow-ups over the next 50 years, the best of which were crafted with unpretentious, unflinching authority. (The final installment, Fiddlers, is due in September.) And the author amusingly nodded to his alter ego’s fame by having the two ”coauthor” the 2001 novel Candyland.

For all his influence on other crime novelists and his movie legacy (which included the screenplay for The Birds), Hunter may have made his most lasting impact on TV. ”He established so many conventions that came to be gospel,” says NYPD Blue cocreator David Milch. ”If someone came to me and asked how to write a police procedural and they hadn’t already read Ed McBain, I’d tell them to take a hike.”

© 2005 Entertainment Weekly

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