Saturday, December 07, 2013

History is not a game

We live in the age of miracles and innovations. I walk around with a device that helps my heart correct arrhythmia -- I got rhythm! I just watched an online tutorial (complete with code) by a young man explaining how to hack a drone and take it over for your own purposes. Amazon, beware! 

At work, I supervise print and online communications. I typed my first book manuscript on a portable non-electric typewriter. My younger colleagues have never seen such a device. 

The year I was born, 1950, was closer to the bombing of Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941) by propeller-driven aircraft than to the 1969 launch of the Atlas rocket that carried the astronauts to the moon.

1950 was closer to the Russian Revolution (1917) than it was to the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the end of the global Cold War (1991). 

My birth year was closer to the first 1951 airing of "Duck and Cover," a film by the U.S. Civil Defense Administration, than to the dawn of the atomic age (1945). 

My birth year was closer to the founding of Hewlett-Packard in 1939 than it was to the 1976 launch of the Apple-1, a single-board computer for hobbyists, designed by Steve Wozniak, and the founding of Apple Computer by Wozniak and Steve Jobs. 

We are approaching the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. 1914 was a very big year. An archduke was assassinated in Sarajevo, the machines of war were set in motion, and four years later, millions were dead, the world map was changed and the seeds were planted for the next world war. 

One hundred years ago (1913), members of the United Mine Workers of America at Ludlow, Colorado, went on strike. At Christmas, it's possible that a little girl in the miners' tent colony received the gift of a bisque doll that was made in Germany and purchased from a Sears and Roebucks catalog. The remains of that doll were recovered in the exhumation of the tent colony. Also recovered were the remains of somewhere between 19 and 25 men, women and children slaughtered by Colorado National Guard troops and goons from John D. Rockefeller's Colorado Coal, Fuel and Iron Works on April 20, 1914. Most of them were immigrants, trying to make a living in their adopted country.

The remains of that doll is now part of the collection held by the UMWA. It also is a significant Colorado historical artifact, according to the Center for Colorado and the West at the Auraria Library in Denver. 

How this artifact relates to Colorado history: 
At the turn of the century coal mining was a large part of the labor force in Colorado, and the working conditions were poor, which prompted the miners with the help of UMWA to go on strike. This artifact reflects the families that were directly involved in the violence and turmoil during that time. This coal strike affected Colorado as well as the nation. On April 20, 1914, the death of the women and children at the Ludlow Massacre shocked the nation. This watershed moment spurred stricter labor laws to be enforced, and is considered the breaking point for American labor relations.
The doll's head is chilling to behold, its sightless eyes staring out at us a century later.

You can vote for Colorado’s most significant artifacts by Dec. 31 at

I voted. My duty as a Colorado native and a union member. 

The object also has a connection to Wyoming history. Rockefeller moved much of his iron-ore mining operations to Platte County, Wyoming, in the wake of the bad press he received after Ludlow. Sunrise was a company town, far away (Rockefeller hoped) from trouble-making unions.  

Now Sunrise is a fenced-off ghost town, much like the Ludlow town site. By 1928, the Sunrise mine employed 547 and featured brick housing, modern utilities, a hospital, parks, playgrounds and the state's first YMCA. It closed in 1980. Both Ludlow and Sunrise are National Historic Sites.

Rockefeller learned some lessons from Ludlow. 

A beat-up doll's head helps us remember Ludlow. 

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