Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Mobile Bay's battle of the comma

My wife and I took a Sunday afternoon jaunt recently.

 Our trip took us over to Dauphin Island in Alabama and then by ferry to a landing and highway that led to Gulf Shores, AL.

Historians who cross the mouth of Mobile Bay, and probably a lot of locals, harken back to a time and a phrase that became well-known because of an incident here during the Civil War.

And it had to do with Yankee Admiral David Farragut and torpedoes, the stationary kind that sit in the water and explode when a ship comes into contact with it, unlike today’s torpedoes that are fired from a submarine or other such vessel.

But, you may ask, what do torpedoes have to do with crossing this particular body of water.

Well, there’s a well-known phrase about the area that was  believed to have been uttered by Yankee Admiral David Farragut.

You see, Farragut and his Naval group were soon to be engaged in an excursion that became the Battle of Mobile Bay back on August 5, 1864.

Farragut’s force included 18 warships while the Rebels had four ships that included the CSS Tennessee which was said to be the most powerful ironclad afloat.

On this particular Sunday, we boarded the ferry on Dauphin Island that crossed the mouth of the bay and docked near Fort Morgan, which was also a Rebel fort.

Sunday was a nice, clear, brisk day. There were a few boats making their way across the bay while some service boats were tied up to the few natural gas rigs.

We survived the crossing, unlike some of Farragut’s ships.

Well, back to that phrase that seems to be so powerful.

The placement of commas can make a lot of difference in a saying.

Maybe Farragut was heard correctly, then again maybe someone missed the possible pause which would have denoted where a comma should have been placed.

The well-known phrase is “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

But maybe it was heard differently then changed because it sounded more forceful.

What about the meaning if the comma was put into a different place, like “Damn, the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

Farragut survived the battle and his phrase lives on.

Next post: Jan. 30, 2018

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Fond farewell to Christmas, 2017

Holiday scenes shot at Bellingrath Gardens outside of Mobile, AL

Next post: January 30, 2018

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Still a little bit of holiday cheer

Ice skating draws participants to Marietta, GA town square

 The end of 2017 and the beginning of the new year have been rather cold down South.

Well, that also means, naturally, it has  been cold up North, too.

And when one faces cold temps, going outside or hitting the road, is not always a priority.

But sometimes there isn’t any alternative.

So I will harken back to the weekend before Christmas when we were in Marietta, GA.

It was cold, but not snowing at the time.

The city’s downtown square had that holiday atmosphere. 

Christmas decorations adorned the area, Santa was keeping warm and entertaining children in a building on the square. And others who really enjoy the cold, were ice skating there.

The setting was idyllic.

And Webster, the dictionary, defines the word as “pleasing or picturesque in natural simplicity.”

And the town square was just that. Hundreds were out and about shopping, browsing or enjoying the variety of gastronomic offerings of the various eateries in the area.

My wife and I enjoyed a feast at a local place and then I strolled around the square snapping a few pictures.

Next post: January 23, 2018

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Fireworks and bonfires welcome Papa Noel

It was a combination of the Fourth of July and Christmas all rolled into one.

How can that happen?

Well, there were fireworks, a lot of them.

And then there were bonfires along the river lighting the way for Santa Claus.

Well, down in Cajun Country, he’s referred to as Papa Noel.

The combination comes together each year on December 24 along the Mississippi River levee just west of New Orleans.

It is a great tradition.

Thousands participate and show up in the river towns of Gramercy, Lutcher and Paulina for the annual event. Other areas also hold similar events.

Tradtiion has it that the bonfires along the river are lit at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve to guide Papa Noel (Santa Claus) so that he’ll be able to find his way to Cajun country.

Locals spend up to two months time building special wooden creatures which are set on fire. Others build the standard teepee style structures which, currently, are limited to 15 feet in height for safety reasons,

Apparently someone suffered injuries previously so those in charge started setting regulations.

I’ve been wanting to visit the area for the event for many years. My sister and brother-in-law often go down annually and this year I accompanied them.

It’s a great time. Hundreds help build the structures and thousands line the roadway on foot or in cars to witness the setting of the fires that guide Ole Saint Nick.

Next post: Jan. 16, 2018