Tuesday, July 8, 2014

George Washington at the Battle of Trenton

Hello and Happy Tuesday,

If you think back a few days to this past July 4th weekend, then today’s key will be quite relevant, and exciting if you’re interested in American history. It was used by our country’s founding father and first president, but it pre-dates the United States by about 20 years. The key belongs to the Hessian Barracks which were built in Trenton, New Jersey by the Colonial Legislature of New Jersey during the French and Indian War. The Barracks are also known as “Ye Old Barracks” and still stand as a museum today, but when first built they were used to house war troops that had previously been put up in private homes. As our Bill of Rights suggests, that practice was not appreciated by Trenton’s townspeople. Until 1776 the Barracks housed mainly British and Irish soldiers and were a modest housing unit of little importance, but they gained their historic value when they became the location of the Battle of Trenton, a valiant effort by General George Washington and his men to reclaim the city and the Barracks themselves during the Revolutionary War.

The Battle of Trenton, as it turns out, was a lot more than just another one of the many battles of the Revolution. The American victory was overwhelming, cost very few American lives, and came at a time when Revolutionary forces needed a morale boost more than ever. Had Washington’s army not succeeded in capturing the garrisoned Hessian army, it may have meant the end of the Revolutionary war effort. Leading up to the battle, the Americans had suffered several losses in New York and had been pushed out of New Jersey into Pennsylvania. At that point, Washington devised a plan to take the British by surprise which began with his famous crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas day 1776. After bravely facing the icy river and making it across with just 2,400 men, he ambushed the Hessian Barracks the morning of December 26th and captured almost two-thirds of the 1,500 Hessian soldiers lodged there who were unaware and unprepared for the attack. Numerically the victory wasn’t the most impressive, but it rejuvenated the discouraged and dwindling American forces. News of the battle inspired reenlistment and new recruits from all over the colonies as well as increased confidence in General Washington’s leadership.

Personally I think it’s fascinating that we have keys all the way from the Revolutionary War era here in the Key Room. If you’re a fan of the theatrical, you might call this one of the “keys to American Independence,” and at the very least it’s an important piece of history to have preserved. I hope you come see it for yourself sometime soon.

Happy Independence Day from the Baldpate!

Key Room Museum Curator

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I Wake Up Screaming

How are you, Key Room friends?

I have another exciting key to show you today and this one’s for all the ladies out there. It comes from a woman who made her name soaring through the sky at high speeds. In the world of female fliers, we all know Amelia Earhart and her solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, but there’s another pioneering female pilot who deserves some recognition and we have her key right here in our collection.

Her name is Mary H. Dickey and in 1947 she earned her Airline Transport Pilot License which made her the first woman in America to hold that title since Laura H. Ingalls held it in 1935, and the only one to have it at the time she donated her key to the Baldpate Inn. The key operates her airplane, a Twin-Engine Cessna N.C. 75210, which Mary affectionately called “I Wake Up Screaming” and is accompanied by a framed picture of her standing with the plane looking giddy and professional. Obtaining an Airline Transport License is no small feat as it’s the highest level aircraft pilot license a person can hold and requires that they have at least 1500 hours of flying experience and pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s ATP practical test. Mary obtained her license after graduating from a commercial pilot school that she started for herself at New Orleans Airport.

Her story demonstrates both her talent and dedication to her craft. She first flew 8 years prior in 1941 when her sister’s boyfriend gave her the controls to his plane on a flight from San Antonio to Houston. At that moment she fell in love with flying and began taking lessons, and within 2 weeks was taking off and landing with ease. After that she was professionally trained at a pilot school in San Antonio, started working for an airline, and later joined the army and navy air forces as a civilian instructor for aspiring navy pilots. After many years working as a flight instructor, she moved to New Orleans to inaugurate the commercial pilot school from which she graduated. In 1947 when she achieved her Airline Transport Pilot License she had over 2300 hours of flight experience and had trained around 200 army and navy pilots.

Mary H. Dickey’s story would be an impressive one coming from anyone, but is even more inspiring considering how female pilots in the 1940s were often underestimated and clearly under represented. It’s a real honor that we’re able to preserve her legacy and her key here in the Key Room where she can continue to inspire all of us to live out our dreams.

So that’s all I have for today. In the mean time I, and the rest of the Baldpate team, look forward to your next visit,

Key Room Museum Curator

Friday, July 4, 2014

Houses of Parliament

Hello, everybody!

Happy Fourth of July! I hope you all are enjoying your holiday, celebrating our fantastic country. I am personally having a great day, and I am excited to watch Estes Park's fireworks show tonight from the Baldpate Inn's front porch. The Fourth of July is always a fun holiday for me, and this year I get to share it with the family here at the Baldpate.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I probably should have chosen a truly American key to talk about today in this blog. I chose, though, a key that comes from England. Isn't it ironic that I would choose a key from the country from which we were declaring independence on this day in 1776? Anyway, the key that I am going to talk about is the key to the main gate for the Houses of Parliament in London. This is one of the keys that I'll be talking about in my presentation on July 30 for our Summer Enchanted Evenings. My presentation is all about Hollywood, and you'll have to come see it if you want to know how an English key relates to Hollywood. This key from the Houses of Parliament seems to be missing a tag, so we don't know when it was donated or by whom it was donated. It is interestingly shaped and is quite a unique key. Let me tell you a little bit about the Houses of Parliament in England.

The Houses of Parliament is also known as the Palace of Westminster and is the seat of the two parliamnetary houses of the United Kingdom, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The building is located on the banks of the river Thames. When the parliament was created with two houses, the House of Lords met at the Palace of Westminster while the House of Commons did not have a permanent location. In 1530, King Henry VIII moved his court to Whitehall Palace, but the House of Lords continued to meet at the Palace of Westminster. In 1547, the House of Commons also moved to the Palace of Westminster.

The Old Palace was actually destroyed by a fire in 1834. The Jewel Tower, the crypt and cloister of St. Stephen, and Westminster Hall were the only parts of the building that were left intact. There were ninety-seven entries in the competition that was held to determine the design of the new building, and Sir Charles Barry alongside Augustus Pugin created the winning design. The design was for a large but balanced complex that was created in neo-Gothic style and incorporates the structures that survived the fire. The building contains 1,100 rooms that surround two courtyards. The construction lasted between 1840 and 1870. Interesting parts of the building include Big Ben, the Commons Chamber and Lords Chamber, and Westminster Hall.

The famous clock tower that was included in the design was originally called St. Stephen's Tower, but it was soon named after the tower's largest bell, the Big Ben. A light at the top of the tower is illuminated when Parliament is sitting at night.

The Commons Chamber and the Lords Chamber are where the House of Commons and the House of Lords meet respectively. The Commons Chamber was destroyed during World War II and was rebuilt
by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1950. The Lords Chamber is more lavishly decorated than the Commons Chamber. The balance of power has moved, though, over time from the House of Lords to the House of Commons.

Westminster Hall is the oldest hall in the Houses of Parliament, left standing after the fire that destroyed most of the building in 1834. Westminster Hall dates back to 1097. The large hammer beam roof was built in the fourteenth century and replaced the original roof that was supported by two rows of pillars. The following link will take you to an online tour of Westminster Hall: http://www.parliament.uk/visiting/online-tours/virtualtours/westminster-hall-tours/westminster-hall/.

I also want to include some interesting, strange facts about the Houses of Parliament. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament because it is a royal palace. People are also not allowed to wear armor in the building because it is supposed to be a peaceful place. In addition, the only Member of Parliament allowed to eat or drink in the Chamber is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who can have an alcoholic drink while delivering the budget.

I hope you enjoyed today's blog! Comment and tell me about your favorite Fourth of July tradition.

Have a great day!

Key Room Museum Curator

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stolen from the Tombs

A long time ago, in a dynasty far, far away, there was Ibrahim Pasha. He was born in 1789, the son of the Egyptian ruler Mohamed Ala, and died in 1848 as king of Egypt. He spent most of his life since adolescence as a military leader in his father’s kingdom and eventually became the supreme political leader although he died just 4 months after succeeding the throne. He was made Regent of Egypt when his father Mohamed became senile in his old age, but Pasha at the time was unhealthy himself due to his long career as a soldier and in the end died before his father. As a military leader and ruler, Pasha was respected and admired by his people and is remembered as one of the greatest leaders of the Mohamed Ala Dynasty regardless of his short reign. He is even honored with a monument in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. Most of Pasha’s acclaim comes from his military victories over the Ottoman Empire, Syria, and other surrounding territories during his time spent as chief commander of the Egyptian Army.


 Here at the Baldpate we have the key to the crypt in which Ibrahim Pasha’s body is buried, and as can be expected with Egyptian tombs, the building is even more historic than the man. The crypt is located in the Tombs of the Califs which dates back to 600 A.D. and is the resting place of all the royal family of Egypt. The two photographs that share a frame with Pasha’s key depict the beautiful Tombs of the Califs as well as the monument that represents Ibrahim Pasha in Cairo.

This key was acquired, and probably stolen, by a man named Richard Spencer in 1937. Spencer was an exchange student from Stanford University studying in Canton, China, but when his University in China was shut down as a result of World War II, he took the scenic route back to the United States through Singapore, Port Said, Egypt, and Europe. While he was in Egypt, the accompanying letter says he took this key out of the lock on Pasha’s crypt and apparently made it through customs without any trouble. I imagine security was slightly more relaxed back in the day.

So there you have it, a historic key brought from an exciting adventure around the world. Any of you who may be planning an overseas trip, remember to keep your eyes pealed for unattended keys looking for a new home. Or just plan a trip to Baldpate to enjoy the spoils of others.

If you are in the Estes Park area, please consider paying us a visit tonight at 7pm to hear Richard Thompson speak about living with Grizzly bears and enjoy some fresh baked cookies. Also if you plan a trip for next Wednesday, you’ll hear Jake, one of our very own curators, speak about 10 of the most exciting keys in our collection. You won’t want to miss it.

Happy key hunting!

Key Room Museum Curator

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sailing the Seven Seas

Ahoy! While it never did catch on for Alexander Graham Bell on how to answer the telephone, it was a very typical greeting to sailors as well as for the start of this blog as we will be exploring the history of a ship that has sailed the seven seas. Now if the previous sentence had anyone excited about reading about pirates and the like, I am afraid I must disappoint and instead tell you about a ship that has a checkered history and significance to our key collections’ ship section.

In the year of 1887 a ship was built in the Port of Glasgow, Scotland and set sail from Liverpool, England and was called the Kenilworth by the owners. The J. Reid and Company ship was a four mast ship that spanned just over 300 feet long and able to carry a total of 2293 tons. This ship that started out with so much potential and promise, however, was doomed for difficult times.

Its maiden voyage was a success, traveling from San Francisco to Newcastle in 41 days. And even her second voyage was profitable as well, sailing from Liverpool to San Francisco in 128 days. Sadly, the perfection of her first two voyages was met with disaster in the harbor of San Francisco. In August of 1889, a warehouse near the docked Kenilworth caught fire and the fire spilled over onto the ship. While still remaining fairly well intact, the ship was considered a constructional loss and was sold to the A. Sewall and Co. from New York.

It cost them $45,000 to repair but very quickly she was back to her hauling of cargo all over the world under the command of Captain J. Baker. For almost 6 years the ship had little difficulty with the tasks she was given. Her crew however had other plans. In 1895, the crew mutinied against the captain, first mate, and second mate. They set fire to the ship and the captain and the first mate suffocated in their rooms. The second mate was kept alive since they were in the middle of the ocean and J. Generaux was the only man left that understood navigation. This mutiny did not last long for when they set to port in Valparaiso, Chile the mutineers were punished and the ship was then sent on under Captain Murphy to its original destination in New York.

More than a decade later with only minor difficulties, the Kenilworth was sold to the Alaska Packer’s Association and renamed the Star of Scotland in 1908. For twenty-two years the Star of Scotland carried canned salmon back and forth to Alaska. The ship withstood valiantly under the extreme weather conditions of the Northern Pacific and Bering Sea. It was after this time that the key to the captain’s quarters was sent here to the Baldpate Inn and where it has been on display ever since.

This was not the end for the ship. Once again renamed, this time Rex, in the 1930s by a gangster known as Tony Cornero. For several years it was used as a casino off of the coast of Santa Monica, California before being shut down in 1940 and commissioned as the Star of Scotland as a cargo ship until being sunk on November 13th, 1942 by the German submarine U-159. As the donator of the key to this mighty ship’s captain’s quarters wrote in the letter to us, “If this key could talk it could tell interesting tales of tempests, shipwreck, mutiny, and hardships. It could also tell tales of tasks well done, as this vessel sailed the seven seas, carrying cargoes to all parts of the world, and her life history has been quite unusual.” With so many wild tales of the seven seas, we here at the Baldpate Inn feel very blessed to have such a unique key in our collection.

A further reminder for those that will be in Estes Park, Summer Enchanted Evenings is tomorrow night at 7 pm with Dick Thompson speaking about Life with the Grizzly. Also I am nearly prepared to present ten of the most famous keys in the Key Room the following Wednesday, July 9th, at 7 pm. Both are expected to be very interesting evenings and I hope those in the area will turn out and be open to a unique educational experience.
Until next time,
Key Room Curator

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jack Benny and Mary Livingston

Hello, everybody!

Today is another beautiful day here at the Baldpate Inn! I've had some great conversations in the Key Room today, and I hope that I'll have the opportunity to talk to all of you soon. Between conversations, I've been trying to decide which key to blog about. As I was thinking about it, I was listening to the radio play version of Seven Keys to Baldpate, which plays on repeat in the Key Room. I've listened to this show many times, and I never get tired of it! In all honesty, it is a great show, starring some great actors.
Two of the actors whose voices are featured in the radio play include Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone. We actually have a key in our collection that was donated by Benny and Livingstone. The key is to Jack Benny's Paramount Studios dressing room. On the tag, he wrote, "Jello again, and here's a key to health for every Baldpate Inn visitor." Mary Livingstone wrote, "Me too." I know Benny's and Livingstone's voices very well, but I didn't know that much about their life stories; therefore, I would like to share a little bit of what I have learned about these two Baldpate legends.

Jack Benny was born as Benjamin Kubelsky in 1894 in Illinois. Benny learned to play the violin at an early age and found work in theatre orchestras. He became a vaudeville performer when he was a teenager, teaming up with pianist Cora Salisbury. He had the oportunity to tour with the Marx Brothers, but his parents would not let him go on tour at 17 years old. Benny's comedy career began during World War I when he was assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Training Centre. He used to try to entertain the men with his violin, but he did not receive a lot of appreciation from them. At one point, his friend whispered, "For heaven's sake, Ben, put down the damn fiddle and talk to 'em." Then, Benny told a joke that truly entertained the men.

Benny continued to make vaudeville performances after the war and began using the name "Jack Benny". He made his first radio appearance on Ed Sullivan's interview show on March 29, 1932. Within a year of this interview, Benny became a radio star. He starred in The Canada Dry Program, The Jell-O Program, and The Lucky Strike Program. Jack Benny eventually starred in his own television show, The Jack Benny Show. Benny even starred in Hollywood movies; although, his film appearances were largely poorly received. His movies include The Hollywood Revue of 1929, The Medicine Man, and To Be or Not To Be.

Jack Benny met Mary Livingstone while he was appearing in the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, and they were later married. They had one daughter, Joan Naomi Benny, and remained together until the end of his life. Benny died of cancer on December 26, 1974. He suffered for a short time before his death, but he continued to perform. After his death, a red rose began appearing at the Benny home every day. Eventually, Mary asked the florist about this. Apparently Jack Benny had been purchasing flowers one day and said, "If anything should happen to me, I want you to send my Doll a red rose every day." Mary received these roses until the day she rejoined Jack.

I hope you enjoyed today's blog! Please comment if you have more information you would like to share about Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone.

Have a great day!

Key Room Museum Curator

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Key to Musical Genius

Many have been considered great when we think of composers and artists in the music industry, yet there are some that have been more impactful than many of the artists that we consider great in our time period. One of these more impactful names in the world of music is that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is my great pleasure to discuss the key in our collection that is related to such a musical visionary as Mozart, especially since we have the key to his wine cellar in Salzburg, Austria.

Wolfgang was born on January 27th in 1756 to Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria in Salzburg, Austria. He was only two of seven children to the Mozart parents that actually survived into adulthood with the other five never surpassing infancy. His father was a minor composer and appointed to be the fourth violinist in the musical company for Count Leopold Anton von Firmian, the ruling Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg in 1743.

Even early on, his older sister Maria Anna recalled that he was able to pick out thirds in scale as well as by age five being able to compose as his father wrote the notes down. His father was a great encourager of Wolfgang’s talents and soon focused primarily on teaching his children and gave up composing. While he and his sister were still very young, Leopold took them on several different European excursions in which Wolfgang and Maria Anna would perform as child prodigies for a plethora of dignitaries in a variety of cities including Munich, Paris, London, Zurich, and even parts of Italy.

In 1773 Wolfgang was employed as a court musician in Salzburg until 1777 when he resigned and looked for different work but unfortunately could not find a position to his liking and fell into debt. During this traveling period of Mozart’s life, his mother died on July 3rd 1778. He returned home in 1779 and took a position as a court organist and concertmaster. This was not to last long, however, for in 1781 he set off again, this time for Vienna.

When visiting his employer in Vienna he actually tried to resign his post and was refused, but then granted permission of dismissal and he settled in Vienna as a freelance performer and composer. There became a dispute due to him leaving the court of the Archbishop in Salzburg and it ran deeper than just being dismissed because Leopold Mozart sided against Wolfgang on the matter. When he did not return with the Archbishop it was considered the revolutionary step for Mozart, one that drastically changed his career.

It was in Vienna where he pursued Constanze Weber ,and the couple married in 1782, the day before his father’s letter of consent arrived in the mail. The Mozart couple had a total of six children over the next nine years with only two of them surviving infancy. A year after their marriage they visited Salzburg and prompted one of the more famous pieces by Mozart, Mass in C Minor, with his new wife singing one of the solo parts. In Maynard Solomon’s book, Mozart: A Life, he says this about Mozart’s time in Salzburg, “a harmonious connection between an eager composer-performer and a delighted audience, which was given the opportunity of witnessing the transformation and perfection of a major musical genre.”

It is here where our key comes in. Due to its unique nature and origin the key to Mozart’s wine cellar is quite rare in our collection. It is said that the wine cellar was given to Mozart as a gift since he was a popular visitor to the wine cellars made by the priests. During the early stages of his career as he became up and coming, Mozart was a prodigy and it seems that due to the already small amount of stature his father had acquired in Salzburg, Wolfgang was able to break through and this, his birthplace, was proud to call him one of their own. So when he returned and during the composing of Mass in C Minor, the citizens of Salzburg gave this key and the wine cellar it opened to him.

Over the next several years he created some of the most inspirational and genre-changing music that has ever graced the earth’s inhabitant’s ears, and yet life was cut short. At the age of 35, Mozart fell ill and while being nursed by his wife and daughter, wrote his final masterpiece, Requiem. He died on December 5th, 1791 and was laid in a commoner’s grave. While having changed how so many look at music and composing, Mozart had a glimpse of fame during his lifetime. In death, however, he inspired and continues to do so. Even I, a very amateur musician, have found the power of his music lifting and even can bring me shivers down my back if performed eloquently. I hope that this brief piece can induce a curiosity to look up and listen to some of his compositions.

Once again I will make a note here at the end that on July 9th I will be presenting ten of some of the more famous keys in our collection during the Summer Encahnted Evenings at 7 pm. I hope that many of you are able to come out and enjoy the variety of history we have here in the Baldpate Inn Key Room.

Until next time,
Key Room Curator