Category Archives: History

Old Pictures From An Early AMTRAK

In posters from the era, trains were pitched to passengers as the most modern and aspirational way to travel.

amtraktaglines

With taglines in the 1970s encouraging travellers to ‘get off your wheels and on to ours’ Amtrak showcased a series of vibrant adverts depicting the freedom of the network

amtrakpresidentford

President Ford on an Amtrak train in the 1970s surrounded by supporters and the press

amtrakredcaps

Staff members known as Red Caps at Santa Fe Depot in Fort Worth, Texas, move sacks and parcels between the baggage car and depot. Red Caps helped passengers with baggage navigate through the station; here they wear a jumpsuit introduced in early 1972 and their trademark red hats. The baggage car features the Phase II paint scheme introduced in 1975.

amtrakturbotrain

A color photograph showing the TurboTrain stopped at Petersburg, Virginia, during its 1971 national tour. This type of train was primarily used between New York and Boston until its retirement in 1976

amtrakcustomerservice

Passenger service representative Patty Saunders speaks with travellers in a first-class Metroliner club car – known as Metroclub. In her role, Saunders assisted customers on the train and served them food and beverages at their seat. The first class Metroclub had roomy, individually reclining swivel parlour chairs and there was also a phone booth available to passengers

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-4084712/Fascinating-photos-1970s-reveal-Amtrak-s-early-days.html#ixzz4WmS5pDKL

Railway Post Offices Could Be Dangerous Places

I received an historical story about the wreck of the Rouses Point and Albany in 1894. Could not match picture so show 1908 wreck on Delaware & Hudson in Sidney, New York. Thanks to Dr Frank Scheer.

Passenger train #4 of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad left Montreal just after 9am on the morning of December 3, 1894, bound for Albany, New York.The train consisted of six cars, including a mail and an express and baggage car.

The train suddenly derailed near Port Henry, New York. The engineer and fireman testified that prior to the wreck, just before the train came upon a curve, they felt a jerk from the rear. The fireman looked back and accordingto his testimony, saw the end of the first car headed for the lake, “and in an instant the tender was torn from the engine and ran into the lake.” No official cause was named for the wreck.

The tender, mail and express/baggage cars were thrown into Lake Champlain. Two men were killed, Richard Quinn, the express messenger and T.H. Rouse, of Rouse’s Point, New York, the mail clerk.

Presidential Debates: History From The Technical Side of 1960: Nixon / Kennedy

I attended a great presentation on ALL Presidential Debates (current and on TV but not Lincoln-Douglas et all).
Presentation was given by Democrats Abroad. Decided I should commit my knowledge on Presidential Debates to paper.

Realized not seen ANY ! Always too busy. EXCEPT third debate in 1960 (October 13, 1960). Which I watched on KINESCOPE later.

(Kinescope /kɪnᵻskoʊp /, shortened to kine /ˈkɪniː/, is a recording of a television program on motion picture film, directly through a lens focused on the screen of a video monitor.)

The whole 1960 Presidential Debate was really a big deal for the industry.

In 1950, only 11 percent of American homes had television; by 1960, the number had jumped to 88 percent. An estimated seventy million Americans, about two-thirds of the electorate, watched the first debate on September 26th.

Though color television had been around since 1953, few Americans owned color sets. The debate was broadcast in black and white, using a sharper technology for the event.

So who were the « players » in this event ?

The Communications Act of 1934. Lasted until 1996 and regulated EVERYBODY . It’s policeman was the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).

Radio and Television « networks » were a creation of the FCC.

ABC (American Broadcasting Company) was created in 1943 from the « Blue Network » of NBC.

NBC (National Broadcasting Company). Founded in 1926 by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), NBC is the oldest major broadcast network in the United States.

One of the largest and most influential electronics companies during the 20th century was the Radio Corporation of America, or RCA. At one time, the breadth of its operations included everything from making vinyl records to building and manufacturing communications satellites.

RCA began life as a joint venture between several different manufacturers of electric equipment. In the early 1900s many companies began manufacturing and selling a new technology called radio. By about 1915 there were several radio stations operating in the U.S, but several of them were foreign owned and nearly all were used exclusively for transmitting Morse Code. When the U.S entered World War I, the federal government seized the foreign stations, and later gave them to the U.S companies General Electric (G.E.), Westinghouse, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) and United Fruit (an international shipping company). These companies set up a new organization in 1919 to run the stations, and called it the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). In 1932 these companies were forced out of RCA by Federal courts (violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act). RCA became a separate company (it was bought, in entirety, in 1986, by G.E.)

For a time, RCA operated radio stations (still almost entirely used for transmitting Morse Code) and sold radio equipment manufactured by its parent companies. However, many amateur operators were now on the air, and the resulting popularity of radio listening encouraged the parent companies to move in this direction. Westinghouse obtained a license from the U.S government to launch a commercial broadcasting station in 1920 and launched KDKA, the first commercial radio station. By 1926, the success of KDKA (and WGY in Schenectady) led RCA, Westinghouse, and General Electric to create a chain or “network” of radio stations spread across a wide geographic area, all broadcasting content created in central studios in New York. The name of this network was the National Broadcasting Corporation—NBC.

In 1929, RCA purchased phonograph manufacturer Victor Talking Machine Company, and renamed its new division RCA-Victor. With Victor’s expertise and facilities, RCA-Victor was able to begin making its own radio receivers (as well as records and phonographs), and quickly became one of the largest consumer electronics manufacturers. While the Great Depression of the 1930s crippled businesses worldwide, RCA-Victor and NBC thrived. NBC became such a big money maker that David Sarnoff, the leader of RCA, moved the headquarters to a huge new skyscraper in New York and created Radio City Music Hall, a large and technologically innovative performance space.

RCA’s major technical accomplishment in the 1930s was the development of the electronic television system that is still used in many parts of the world today (although it may soon be replaced by High Definition Television). Following a ten-year, millions-of-dollars research effort, led by Vladimir Zworykin, TV was demonstrated at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and briefly sold to the public before it was put aside during World War II.

For a time, RCA operated radio stations (still almost entirely used for transmitting Morse Code) and sold radio equipment manufactured by its parent companies. However, many amateur operators were now on the air, and the resulting popularity of radio listening encouraged the parent companies to move in this direction. Westinghouse obtained a license from the U.S government to launch a commercial broadcasting station in 1920 and launched KDKA, the first commercial radio station. By 1926, the success of KDKA (and WGY in Schenectady) led RCA, Westinghouse, and General Electric to create a chain or “network” of radio stations spread across a wide geographic area, all broadcasting content created in central studios in New York. The name of this network was the National Broadcasting Corporation—NBC.

In 1929, RCA purchased phonograph manufacturer Victor Talking Machine Company, and renamed its new division RCA-Victor. With Victor’s expertise and facilities, RCA-Victor was able to begin making its own radio receivers (as well as records and phonographs), and quickly became one of the largest consumer electronics manufacturers. While the Great Depression of the 1930s crippled businesses worldwide, RCA-Victor and NBC thrived. NBC became such a big money maker that David Sarnoff, the leader of RCA, moved the headquarters to a huge new skyscraper in New York and created Radio City Music Hall, a large and technologically innovative performance space.

RCA’s major technical accomplishment in the 1930s was the development of the electronic television system that is still used in many parts of the world today (although it may soon be replaced by High Definition Television). Following a ten-year, millions-of-dollars research effort, led by Vladimir Zworykin, TV was demonstrated at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and briefly sold to the public before it was put aside during World War II.

The huge research effort necessary for television encouraged the company to create a permanent research facility. When World War II came, RCA had a perfect opportunity to do so and opened its new RCA Research Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey and produced many crucial innovations for the war effort. After the war RCA returned its attention to television, designing inexpensive receivers and sponsoring the creation of a new NBC television network to provide programming. RCA’s original television system, as well as the color television system it announced in the 1950s, would eventually prove to be the company’s most profitable line of products.The huge research effort necessary for television encouraged the company to create a permanent research facility. When World War II came, RCA had a perfect opportunity to do so and opened its new RCA Research Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey and produced many crucial innovations for the war effort. After the war RCA returned its attention to television, designing inexpensive receivers and sponsoring the creation of a new NBC television network to provide programming. RCA’s original television system, as well as the color television system it announced in the 1950s, would eventually prove to be the company’s most profitable line of products.

The period from the 1950s and 1970s saw both high and low points in RCA’s history. Its research laboratories produced innovative technologies in these years and helped advance computers, integrated circuits, lasers, and other devices. It introduced innovative products like the 45-rpm record and the solid-state television camera. Even some of the company’s minor innovations were very successful, such as the “RCA connector jack” found on many types of audio equipment.

Alongside RCA and NBC, many of the developments that made broadcasting stable by 1960 came out of the General Electric (G.E.) Main Plant in Schenectady, NY. First with radio, G.E. established WGY radio as a « Clear Channel » station of 50,000 watts in 1922. Television station WRGB-TV signed on as W2XB in 1928) and FM radio (W2XOY, later  WGFM, then  WGY-FM signed on 1940). WRGB-TV in 1940 began sharing programs with  W 2XBS (forerunner of  WNBC) in New York City receiving the New York station directly off the air from a mountaintop and rebroadcasting the signal, becoming NBC’s first television affiliate. Later, the New York connection was achieved via coaxial cable and eventually by satellite.

CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System ) began in 1927 when talent agent Arthur Judson, unable to obtain work for any of his clients on the radio programs carried by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), established his own network, United Independent Broadcasters. The little company needed investors in order to keep it afloat so the Columbia Phonograph Company (Columbia Records) rescued the company and renamed it CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System). The radio company began its first broadcast on September 18, 1927 with the Howard Barlow Orchestra.
the New York connection was achieved via coaxial cable and eventually by satellite.

CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System ) began in 1927 when talent agent Arthur Judson, unable to obtain work for any of his clients on the radio programs carried by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), established his own network, United Independent Broadcasters. The little company needed investors in order to keep it afloat so the Columbia Phonograph Company (Columbia Records) rescued the company and renamed it CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System). The radio company began its first broadcast on September 18, 1927 with the Howard Barlow Orchestra.

Eventually operational costs made Columbia Records want to sell the company so CBS got passed about until a man named William S. Paley took in the little radio network: Paley’s first year at CBS made one of the leading radio networks in the entire nation. This was possible because Paley changed the way CBS dealt with its affiliates on programming.

Originally, rivals like NBC would pay the affiliate to run sponsored programming and charge them for any other programming they would put on the air. This led to a bad relationship between networks and affiliates and a lot of non-sponsored (or sustaining programming) not being put on the air.

Paley decided that CBS would give sustaining programming for free if the affiliate put on every sponsored program and accepted CBS’s check to do so. This led the CBS having more affiliates than NBC by the end of the year. 

Over the course of the 1930s, CBS prospered as one of the leading radio networks in both programming and scope. And in 1934, after much fighting with the public and other officials within CBS, Paley founded the radio news division of CBS (the first of its kind) with new director Paul White, who brought the events unravelling in Europe to the American public.

It was also on CBS where the infamous The War of the Worlds broadcast by Orson Welles took place. Despite three disclaimers that it was a work of fiction, people all over the nation began to panic that Martians had invaded Earth. This caused the FCC to ban fake news bulletins during dramatic programming. 

When television began to take hold of the American populace, CBS was the frontrunner in programming when I Love Lucy debuted in 1951 (11 million out of 15 million Television sets were watching Lucy). 

The FCC limited the number of television and radio stations which a network could own . All other TV and Radio stations carrying network programs were termed « Affiliates ». TV and Radio stations Owned and Operated by the network itself were and are still called O&O stations. The « network »O&O stations in NY City (WABC-TV), Los Angeles (KABC-TV), and Chicago (WLS-TV) participated in the 3rd Presidential Debate of 1960,

The last company I will talk about is AT&T (sometimes called the « Bell System »). The history of AT&T dates back to the invention of the telephone itself. The Bell Telephone Company was established in 1879 by Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone. Bell also established American Telephone and Telegraph Company  in 1885, which acquired the Bell Telephone Company and became the primary phone company in the United States. This company maintained a monopoly on telephone service in the United States until anti-trust regulators split the company in 1982.

In 1913, after vacuum-tube inventor Lee De Forest began to suffer financial difficulties, AT&T bought De Forest’s vacuum-tube patents for the bargain price of $50,000 ($1.2 million in 2009 dollars). In particular, AT&T acquired ownership of the ‘Audion’, the first triode (three-element) vacuum tube, which greatly amplified telephone signals. The patent increased AT&T’s control over the manufacture and distribution of long-distance telephone services, and allowed the Bell System to build the United States’s first coast-to coast telephone line. Thanks to the pressures of World War 1, AT&T and RCA owned all useful patents on vacuum tubes. RCA staked a position in wireless communication; AT&T pursued the use of tubes in telephone amplifiers.

AT&T’s Long Lines was the device which transmitted TV signals to the individual stations. So they get big credit for enabling TV debates.

Republican candidate, Vice President Richard M. Nixon, and Democratic candidate, Senator John F. Kennedy hold their third debate. The candidates answer, or comment upon answers to questions put by a panel of correspondents.

For this debate John F. Kennedy was in New York and Richard M. Nixon was in Los Angeles, the correspondants were in a third studio in Chicago. The moderator was Bill Shadel of ABC News. Correspondents were Frank McGee, NBC News; Charles Van Fremd, CBS News; Douglass Cater, Reporter magazine; Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune.

This was the second most importent debate to air on network television, because it was the first time split screen technique was used. Senator John F. Kennedy was in New York; Vice President Richard M. Nixon was in Los Angeles. They were brought together through a major technological achievement for the times.The main topic of this debate was whether military force should be used to prevent Quemoy and Matsu, two island archipelagos off the Chinese coast, from falling under Communist control.

The split screen technique was invented by William C. Benesch in the late 50’s. He submitted under his Professional name Bill Bradshaw. He was director of photography for WKRC TV in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Buffalo Central Terminal developer would like to see Amtrak return

Buffalo’s old Central Terminal could finally be brought back to life if the community goes along with plans for reusing the iconic structure.

More than 35 years after the Central Terminal closed as a passenger train station, Stinson Developments sees opportunity. The Hamilton, Ontario, based company was named the Designated Developer of the East Side landmark in May.

The Director of Stinson’s U.S. Projects, Steven Fitzmaurice says, plans include holding special events in the concourse, restaurant and waiting room.

“The events there would, much like Hotel Lafayette, provide the basis for a hotel. Our thought is right now that the adjacent baggage terminal building, which is approximately 100,000 square feet, would be a 220 room hotel,” Fitzmaurice said.

Commercial space could be located on several different levels above the concourse.
“There’s three floors in particular, that have 20,000 square foot floor plates, which we think would be very appealing to commercial tenants, because you have views not only of the outside but looking in to the terminal as well,” Fitzmaurice said.

The tower building could be converted into residential units. And Fitzmaurice points out, that the Central Terminal is on the Belt-Line that wraps around the city and a railroad right-of-way extends to the airport. He says, the company is encouraged that Senator Charles Schumer is pushing to replace Buffalo’s dilapidated Amtrak Station on Exchange Street downtown.

“The Central Terminal, we think, is a much grander entrance to Western New York than either Depew or the downtown station and why not use it?” Fitzmaurice said.

But at the same time, he says, Stinson’s plan does not depend on Amtrak’s return. Fitzmaurice says the company has until the end of November to come up with a plan the community supports and to find financing for the multi-million-dollar project.

Find out more on Buffalo Central Terminal.

More great stuff from Mark Tomlonson About NY Central Railroad History

September 2, 1848 The Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad (later CCC&Stl, NYC, PC, CR, I&O) opens an extension between Sandusky and Springfield, OH. With the Little Miami Railroad it forms the first through line between Lake Erie and the Ohio River.
madriver_littlemiami
 
September 3, 1929 The Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc. [later TWA] plane “City of San Francisco” crashes into a mountain 26 miles west of Gallup NM. All five passengers and three crewmen aboard are killed. The accident will cause a major decline in the number of passengers using Air-Rail service.

September 3, 1916 President Wilson signs the Adamson Act, which creates the 8-hour, 100-mile standard workday for railroad employees. Railroad labor unions do not like the Act because it includes no overtime provision. Railroad Managers refuse to accept the Act and file appeals with the courts.

September 3, 1962 New York Central’s “Michigan Timberliner” makes its last run from Mackinaw City to Detroit, ending summer-only tourist trains in Michigan and all NYC passenger service north of Bay City.

michigantimberliner

September 4, 1867 The Boston & Albany Railroad is formed from the consolidation of four smaller lines.
bostonalbanyrr1867

September 5, 1851 First train into Elkhart IN. The train had been delayed in Adrian MI when it collided with a freight train, killing one person. (This is the earliest railroad fatality this editor has discovered in Michigan.)

September 1, 1853 The Cleveland & Toledo Railroad (later LS, MS&NI, LS&MS, NYC, PC, CR, NS) is formed from the consolidation of the Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland and the Junction Railroad.
 
September 1, 1858 The New York Central leases the Niagara Bridge & Canandaigua Railroad. One of its first actions is to convert from 6′-0″ to 4′-8-1/2″ gauge, blocking the New York & Erie, Northern Central, and Reading railroads from the Suspension Bridge gateway.
suspensionbridge1857
 
September 1, 1889 The Chicago, Kalamazoo & Saginaw Railroad [later MC, NYC, PC, CR] is completed north of Kalamazoo to Woodbury and its junction with the Pere Marquette Railroad. This is its furthest point north; it will not extend to Saginaw as its early promoters had hoped. Neither will it reach Chicago.
 
September 1, 1928 Northwest Airlines and Northern Pacific, Great Northern, Milwaukee Road, Pennsylvania, Baltimore & Ohio and New York Central railroads offer the first coordinated rail-air service.
 
September 1, 1933 “AB” style air brakes are required on all newly built cars.

September 1, 1973 The former Kalamazoo & South Haven (MC, NYC, PC) is abandoned between Ravine Road (in Kalamazoo) and South Haven.
southhaventrain
 
August 31, 1955 General Motors exhibits its “Aerotrain” at Soldiers’ Field in Chicago.
aerotrain

September 11, 1952 The last New York Central steam-powered commuter train leaves White Plains for Dover (NY), marking the end of steam on all NYC Divisions feeding New York City. (Some sources say September 13.)
harlemdvsteamlocomotive

September 10, 1877 The Montour Railroad (later P&LE) is incorporated in Pennsylvania to build a coal mine railroad southwest of Pittsburgh.

September 6, 1967 The New York Central drops a total of 1,537 train-miles of passenger service. Among the losses: through service between New York and St. Louis and between New York and Indianapolis.

August 31, 1962 The New York Central’s summer-only Detroit to Mackinaw City “Timberliner” makes its last run. The last return trip will be in 3 days.
 
August 30, 1906 In a speech to the American Anti-Trust League, Democratic Presidential Candidate William Jennings Bryan calls for the nationalization of the railroads.
william-jennings-bryan 

August 30, 1968 The last train runs on the former New York Central line between Springport and Albion MI.

August 29, 1916 Unable to get the railroads to agree, President Wilson goes before Congress seeking passage of legislation that would create a standard 8-hour day for railroad employees.
 
August 29, 1935 The Railroad Retirement Fund is created, allowing retirement at age 65 and pensions paid out of fund revenues.

September 14, 1891 The “Empire State Express” goes from New York City to East Buffalo, 436 miles, in a record 7 hours 6 minutes (61.408-mph)

September 15, 1916 The Grand Valley Railroad (MI) is merged into the Michigan Central.
 
September 15, 1948 New York Central’s postwar “20th Century Limited” is christened in ceremonies attended by several dignitaries, including General Dwight Eisenhower (ret).
eisenhowerdedicates20thcenturyltd

September 15, 1960 The New York Central dedicates Avon Yard at Indianapolis. It is NYC’s fourth large computerized yard. Plans for a fifth at Detroit are shelved.
indianapolisyard

September 16, 1875 The New York Central & Hudson River Railroad inaugurates its own “Fast Mail”, running from New York to Chicago in 27 hours 16 minutes, a better time than the Pennsylvania Railroad’s “Limited Fast Mail” launched on the 13th. The NYC&HR has installed mail cranes for on-the- fly pick-up, which the PRR has not yet done in its haste to begin its own service.
 
September 16, 1956 The New York Central replaces the male secretaries on the “20th Century Limited” with “Girls of the Century” – stewardesses patterned after those on airliners.

 
September 16, 1963 The New York Central begins “Meal-a-mat” service (vending machines and microwave self-serve dining) on the “World’s Fair Special”. It’s not a success and the service is quickly withdrawn. Earlier experiments with microwave cooking on other railroads began as early as 1953. Special FCC approval has been required for the ovens.
 
September 17, 1835 Construction begins on the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad. (later CCC&Stl, NYC, PC, CR, I&O)
 
September 17, 1948 The New York Central places its new “20th Century Limited” in service. Included in the cars: the “Creek” series observation cars with “Lookout” lounges and “Shore” series mid-train lounges with a barber shop, secretary, and master room with a shower.

September 17, 1950 Toledo Central Union Terminal opens.
toledo-central-union-terminal
 
September 18, 1918 The New York Central Railroad accepts the terms of its USRA operating contract. It is the first eastern railroad to do so.
 
September 18, 1958 Examiner Howard Hosmer presents his findings on United States passenger service to the Interstate Commerce Commission. His report states that if the current rate of decline continues, first-class passenger service will end by 1965 and coach service by 1970. The report makes no formal recommendations, but will have a great influence on transportation planners.
 
September 19, 1866 Representatives of 11 railroads meet in Adrian MI. This leads to the formation of the American Association of Railroads the following spring.

September 21, 1869 The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern leases the Kalamazoo, Allegan & Grand Rapids. Always under the control of other railroads, the KA&GR will remain as an individual company until the advent of Conrail.

September 20, 1888 Construction begins in Goshen IN on a Lake Shore & Michigan Southern branch to Battle Creek MI. The line will be nicknamed “The Pumpkin Vine”.

8 Highly Effective Habits That Helped Make Bill Gates the Richest Man on Earth

Adopting these habits may not make you a billionaire, but it will make you more effective and more successful.

How did Bill Gates get to be the richest person in the world, with a net worth around $80 billion? Being in the right place with the right product at the dawn of the personal computer era certainly had a lot to do with it. But so do some very smart approaches to work and life that all of us can follow.

The personal finance site GOBankingRates recently published a list of 10 habits and experiences that make Gates so successful and helped him build his fortune. Here are my favorites. How many of them do you do?

1. He’s always learning.

Gates is famous for being a Harvard dropout, but the only reason he dropped out is that he and Paul Allen saw a window of opportunity to start their own software company. In fact, Gates loves learning and often sat in on classes he wasn’t signed up for. That’s something he had in common with Steve Jobs, who stuck around after dropping out of Reed College, sleeping on floors, so that he could take classes that interested him.

2. He reads everything.

“Just about every kind of book interested him — encyclopedias, science fiction, you name it,” Gates’s father said in an interview. Although his parents were thrilled that their son was such a bookworm, they had to establish a no-reading-at-the-dinner-table rule. That love of reading continues, with Gates publishing an annual list of his favorite books of the year. Reading a lot is a great habit to cultivate. Just don’t do it while having dinner with your family.

3. He gives credit to others.

When asked in an interview to name the best business decisions he’d ever made, Gates replied, “I’d say my best business decisions really have to do with picking people.” Even though he and Allen have had a complicated relationship, he went on to say that choosing Allen as a business partner was at the top of that list. We all need to be good at promoting ourselves, but it’s smart to give the credit to the people you work with whenever possible.

4. He trusts his own judgment.

You can have a really good career if you always listen to other people’s opinions and predictions. But to have a breakout career like Gates or Jobs, you need to listen to yourself first and foremost, even if the entire world is telling you you’re wrong. That’s what happened when Gates and Allen launched Microsoft. In a speech, Gates said the company was “based on this wild idea that nobody else agreed with — that computer chips were going to become so powerful that computers and software would become a tool that would be on every desk and in every home.” Everyone said they were wrong, they launched it anyway, and the rest is history.

5. He’s conservative with cash.

“I wanted to have enough money in the bank to pay a year’s worth of payroll even if we didn’t get any payments coming in, and I’m true to that almost the whole time,” he told an interviewer in 1998. “We have almost $10 billion now, which is pretty much enough for the next year.” How much money do you have set aside to cover payroll just in case something bad happens?

6. He learns from his mistakes.

In an 2008 interview, Gates credited some of Microsoft’s success to his and his leadership team’s ability to quickly recognize a mistake, say, “Oops, this isn’t working,” and try a different approach. He’s certainly made plenty of mistakes over the years that he can learn from. Remember Windows Vista?

7. He gets plenty of sleep.

We all know how important sleep is. Instead of bragging about how late he works and how sleep-deprived he is, Gates makes sure to get seven hours a night, because he says he can’t be creative otherwise. That’s definitely a good habit that everyone should follow.

8. He really concentrates on what he’s doing.

Too many of us are easily distracted and guilty of multitasking, even though we know it’s dreadfully inefficient. Not only does Gates resist the temptation to multitask, he also exhibits really deep concentration while working on tasks. So much so that he’s been known to drift off to sleep while coding, wake up an hour later, and pick up right where he left off.

You don’t have to go that far. But the more you can focus on what you’re doing instead of wandering away to check Facebook or stock prices, the better work you’ll do and the more effective you’ll be.

There you have it — the habits that I believe helped make Bill gates a multibillionaire.

 Minda Zetlin

Co-author, ‘The Geek Gap’

American Memorial Day 2016 – Rhone American Cemetary, Draguignan France

Been here before and always loved it. This year a little different: Thunderstorms rolling through the region. Ceremony moved to high school gym. But still impressive. Congratulations to Mrs. Alison Libersa who manages the cemetary for the American Battle Monuments Commission. It still was a roaring success. 

It is a bi-lingual event. Some speakers are more bi-lingual than others. Mr. Richard Strambio, Mayor of Draguignan, is one. Besides his staff serves a great lunch.

Highlight of the event is United States of America participation. This year was General Arlan M. DeBlieck who is the “mission support” guy for US in Europe. He brought the Navy European Band with him. A great choice!

Like most ceremonies, all kinds of presentations. For instance, the Riviera Chapter of Democrats Abroad France lays a memorial wreath.

Thank you also to the French Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs and Interior, including regional, departmental and communal governments.

Americans Spend 30 Billion Hours a Year Commuting. And It’s Killing Them

Commuting can be one of the most frustrating parts of having a job — a dull, talk-radio-filled, coffee-fueled drive every morning with all the other schmucks on the road.

I experienced it once while living in North Carolina: an awful slog through traffic lights and sprawl that annoyed me so much that I moved. Now, my commute is on foot, an easy mile walk to downtown Seattle, and on a clear day, you can see Mt. Rainer. Rather than dread my commute, I enjoy it. But I am one of the lucky few.

According to a new study, the average American spends 26 minutes traveling to work each way, and for over 80 percent of Americans, that time is spent in a car, usually alone. And the worse part is, it’s only getting longer. The Washington Post reports that 26 minute is:

the longest it’s been since the Census began tracking this data in 1980. Back then the typical commute was only 21.7 minutes. The average American commute has gotten nearly 20 percent longer since then.According to the Census, there were a little over 139 million workers commuting in 2014. At an average of 26 minutes each way to work, five days a week, 50 weeks a year, that works out to something like a total of 1.8 trillion minutes Americans spent commuting in 2014. Or, if you prefer, call it 29.6 billion hours, 1.2 billion days, or a collective 3.4 million years. With that amount of time, we could have built nearly 300 Wikipedias, or built the Great Pyramid of Giza 26 times — all in 2014 alone.

Instead, we spent those hours sitting in cars and waiting for the bus.

The Post concentrates on the negative effects on the commuterPeople with longer commutes are more likely to suffer from obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, back and neck pain, divorce, depression, and death, according the Post, as well as to be less politically engaged, more likely to be poor, miss work, and have other problems. There’s also issues of lost productivity, says the Post: Think of how many more apps we could invent with all those hours! But there’s another issue they didn’t mention. That’s right: climate change.

The vast majority of those nearly 30 billion hours spent commuting every year are by people alone in their gas-powered cars. The carbon footprint of that is just massive, and as commutes grow, it’ll only get worse. It’s a complex problem: Commutes are so long both because cities are so expensive and because mass transit in most American cities is so inadequate.

Take Seattle: If you can’t afford to live close to the city center (or if you’re not willing to live in a studio the size of a jail cell, as I do), you’ll have to contend with either driving yourself to work in the fourth worst traffic in the country, or relying on an often unreliable bus or train.

The current system isn’t working as the myriad of negative effects on both us and the planet show. But until we can figure out how to make cities more affordable and build robust transit systems and carpooling options, the answer may be simply to work from home when it’s possible. We might not be able to teleport yet, but for those who can, there’s always teleworking.

Do Any Of Our Readers Remember AGWAY?

(Pictured above is Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley number 100 making a delivery to the Milford, NY AGWAY. Photo by Michael Bates from Gino’s Rail Blog.)

WHAT WENT WRONG AT AGWAY
by Bruce L. Anderson and Brian M. Henehan
On October 1, 2002 Agway filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Many people are still asking what went wrong. This is a hasty attempt by the authors to analyze the situation. We hope that this short article will provide valuable lessons for other cooperatives and organizations.
First, a little history. Agway was formed in 1964, the result of a merger between GLF(Grange League Federation) and Eastern
States Farmers’ Exchange. A year later the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Cooperative merged into Agway. The result was a very large
agricultural supply and marketing cooperative that covered 13 states, spanning from Maryland to Maine to Eastern Ohio.
Historic Factors: Provide Members A Secure Market
Cooperatives are often formed to provide members a secure source of inputs and markets for their products. However, sometimes this motive can go to extremes. GLF (i.e. Agway), together with other New
York agricultural organizations, provided the leadership in establishing a radio network, Rural Radio Network, in 1946 to serve the radioneeds of farmers and rural residents. It was sold in 1959 when it had an accumulated deficit of $970,000 and total debt to GLF (i.e. Agway) of $1.36 million.
In 1946 GLF also bought approximately a 40 percent share of Mohawk Airlines,  the forerunner of USAirways, in the name of providing air transportation to Upstate New York. In this case, they fortunately saw their investment more than double before it was sold.
Another example was Agway’s attempt to provide services to members was its operation, together with Southern States
Cooperative, of Texas City Refining. The purpose was to provide
members a secure source of petroleum products. This proved extremely advantageous and profitable during the oil shortages of the early 1970’s.  However, the petroleum market eventually changed and Texas City proved a costly investment. It was sold in 1988 at a loss of $110 million.
In 1961, GLF helped form Curtice-Burns, a vegetable and fruit processing company, headquartered in Rochester, N.Y. Curtice-Burns was a combination of what were at the time two struggling vegetable processing companies. Over the years, the company was very successful, but in 1993 Agway announced that it’s controlling interest in Curtice-Burns was up for sale. The sale brought in a solid return, and this was one of the first indications that Agway needed cash to fund its other operations.
Emphasis on Size
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Agway was the largest cooperative in the
U.S., with sales of over $4.1 billion in 1984. At the time there was
an emphasis on cooperative size.  Agway being on the Fortune 100
list of U.S. companies was often mentioned in publications and meetings.
We believe that any organization that places primary importance on size over profitability can likely run into problems. We would argue that this is a malady that also eventually caused Farmland Industries and Ocean Spray their financial problems.
Ability to Manage Many Types of Businesses
There was a longstanding attitude at Agway, and predecessor organizations, that they could manage any type of business, even when other people could not.
Two major examples come to mind in Agway’s history.
The first was an effort in 1941 to get into the retail food business by starting the Cooperative Producers and Consumers Markets, today a Northeast grocery retail chain called P&C. The purpose was to assist New York farmers market meat from their livestock. Ownership interest in P&C was finally sold in 1961 following several years of unprofitable operations.
A more recent example was the purchase of H.P. Hood, a fluid dairy company, bought in 1980. A driving motivation was to help members of Northeast dairy cooperatives maintain a reliable and stable market for their milk, which was at risk. The fluid milk business has always
been very competitive, and operates much differently than an agricultural supply company.
Agway had no prior experience running a fluid milk business. In 1995, H.P. Hood was sold due to less than projected returns on their
investment and mounting financial losses. Another interesting aspect of this example was that right up to their purchase of H.P. Hood, Agway had a strict policy that they would not become involved in dairy processing.
Corporate Culture
We are sure some readers are already wondering why several of the above examples dateback to the 1940’s. We firmly believe there is significant historical momentum in all types of organizations. This is often embodied in what today is called “corporate culture”. Agway
instilled a lot of corporate culture in their directors, management, and employees. In fact, we remember when every Agway meeting or at any meeting that an Agway representative spoke at started with a recitation of the Agway mission. However, many of Agway’s old traditions and strategies may have out lived their usefulness or detracted from their willingness to change.
A $25 Equity Investment
To become a member of Agway, all a farmer needed to do was buy one share of common stock for $25. And that is all the investment many members have in the cooperative. We firmly believe there is a strong link between how much money members have at risk in a cooperative, and the interest they take in their cooperative, as well as the success of the organization.
Use Of Tax Paid Retained Earnings
Since equity was not coming from members, Agway used Tax
Paid Retained Earnings as their primary source of equity. Depending on this source of equity means that a cooperative needs to consistently generate positive Net Income. It is also an expensive source of equity, because corporate taxes must be paid by the
cooperative reducing the total funds available to build equity. In addition, when a cooperative becomes dependent on Tax Paid Retained Earnings, there is a greater tendency for the
cooperative to become “management controlled” rather than “member controlled”, given that member equity does not grow and most members have little equity at risk.
Heavy Use of Debt
Agway has always been highly leveraged. If compared to their competitors in almost any business, they would likely be one of the most heavily leveraged companies. During the entire 1984-2002 period Agway’s highest Equity to Total Asset ratio was 20.6%. From
1998-2001 Equity to Total Assets averaged 12.6%. Our general
rule of thumb is that when equity to total assets drops below 15% an organization is suffering severe financial problems. At one point it time, Agway had a goal of using one-third bank financing, one-third
subordinated debentures and one-third equity, primarily tax paid
retained earnings. During the entire 1984-2002 period, this goal was never achieved.
Subordinated Debt
Most of Agway’s debt, especially in latter years, was subordinated debt, also known as “junk bonds” because they are not secured by
assets. While the level of the company’s subordinated debt has remained relatively level over the past 5 years, operating cash flow to
support that debt became inadequate and deteriorated. As of it’s bankruptcy filing, the largest single owner of these subordinated debentures was Agway’s employees through pension fund and 401-K investments. They total approximately $35 million out a total of $425 million in subordinated debt. Members and public security holders own the remaining amount.
Limited Patronage Refunds
Except for 1987 and 1988, Agway has not paid a patronage refund to members since 1980. The primary reason is that sufficient Earnings were not being generated from the patronage business, i.e. their
agricultural supply operations. Most of Net Income came from
non-patronage businesses such as petroleum, leasing, insurance and produce distribution.
Excess Capacity
With the largest market share for feed and many other input supplies in the Northeast, Agway has been prone to carrying excess capacity, which is typical of a market leader. At the same time there was a major change in market conditions. In terms of feed, more farmers started mixing their own feed using direct purchased commodities, and moved away from the use of pelletized feed. This meant that many of Agway’s feed, and other input supply plants, were operating at significantly less than full capacity. This has a negative impact on per unit costs and can often lead to cut throat price competition.
A Triple Delivery System
For most of it’s existence, Agway had a triple delivery system with:
1) Agway Inc. owned corporate stores,
2) independent local cooperative stores, and
3) franchise representative stores.
There was a period when Agway tried to convert their corporate
stores into representative stores.
Then in the early 1990’s a decision was made to buy out all the independent local cooperatives to consolidate the delivery system. Financial performance did not improve because market
conditions continued to change.
Beginning in 1999, Agway sold or closed all its remaining company owned stores and sold their warehouse system to Southern States Cooperative. These moves were made because returns on these assets were chronically inadequate. Today most store customers do not realize that the cooperative no longer owns any assets related to the store distribution system. However, Agway remains a supplier to dealers and retains rights and revenues related to use of the Agway name.
Recent Issues and valuable tables are included in the full version of this report.

Looking back at a century of ‘Palm Beach Life’

During Palm Beach’s early resort-town years at the turn of the 20th century, the island was a playground of decorum and decadence, a Gilded Age winter mecca for the nation’s financial and social elite engaged in an operatic turnstile of formality and pleasure.

There were nightly orchestra performances, tea dances, yacht races, vaudeville shows, fine dining, poetry readings, recitations and recitals, and a grapefruit cocktail called the “Forbidden Fruit”. Palmists divined destinies for elegantly clad corseted ladies who even “sea bathed” in the requisite ankle-length skirts, blouses and opaque stockings. Captains of industry rubbed elbows on the links, fishing piers and piazzas.

And there to chronicle it all was Palm Beach Life magazine.

Now celebrating its centennial, Palm Beach Life has for 10 decades been the de facto magazine for all things Palm Beach, from the “tastes and toilettes” of early 20th century resort-goers to the movers, shakers and lifestyles of today. With each issue, lively, smart coverage has engaged both initiated sophisticates and vicarious rubes.

From the outset, the magazine extolled the island’s “thrills that are not easily exhausted” on slick pages – long before the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce began promoting the island, not to mention that Palm Beach wasn’t even an official town yet (it was incorporated in 1911 ) and that the vast majority of the island remained a undeveloped jungle.

As with all early Palm Beach ventures, Palm Beach Life, got its start with a little help from Standard Oil baron and railroad magnate Henry M. Flagler, who, by the mid-1890’s, opened up Florida as a winter beachhead for the wealthy by extending his rails through the state and building lavish hotels along the way.

In Palm Beach, Flagler unveiled the now-gone lakefront Royal Poinciana Hotel in 1894. It was a six-story behemoth with 1,150–plus rooms and three miles of corridors (stretching from today’s First Union Bank on Cocoanut Row to Royal Poinciana Way). Then Flagler added The Breakers, originally called The Palm Beach Inn.

It was at the Royal Poinciana where, in 1906, Flagler cemented a deal with one of the regular guests — respected Cleveland newspaperman Richard Overend Davies (also known as Col. R. O. Davies), a bespectacled English native who became a familiar figure in town in his white suit, white bucks, boater’s cap and pinky rings. The plan: Flagler would be a silent financial partner and Davies editor and publisher of a locally prominent news-publishing business.

First, they bought the existing newspaper in town — The Palm Beach Daily News, the oldest daily newspaper in Florida, which has been known for decades as “The Shiny Sheet.” Then Davies set sights on launching a magazine. With copyrights filed in Washington, D.C. and Tallahassee in 1906, Palm Beach Life was born. The office: Suite 4 in the Royal Poinciana Hotel. Telephone number 1283. Cost: 10 cents an issue or a $1 for a season subscription, January through the beginning of April.

Billed as “An Illustrated Weekly Devoted to Society at Florida East Coast Winer Resorts and the South Generally” (coverage would later include Nassau and Cuba) the first issue, with 20 pages, debuted Jan. 12, 1907, a year Palm Beach was bustling with new arrivals. As the premiere issue reported, “Several hundred tourists from all over New England and the East filled the famous Palm Limited, which left New York Monday on its initial trip for the season.” The train headed to Washington, D.C., then southward to Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway. The cars that rattled through St. Augustine, Ormond, Palm Beach and Miami were filled – “all indications point to unusually heavy tourist travel to the south during the next few weeks, “ the magazine posted.

Coverage in Palm Beach Life’s first issue, while eyeing resort life throughout Florida, zeroed in on Palm Beach, as it always has. Under the masthead, Davies noting the magazine’s “valued subscribers and friends,” wrote, “Palm Beach Life will be conducted … independent of, and free from, politics and religion, and devoted entirely to such subjects as are thought to be acceptable to the visitors each season…”

Davies likely was a man of his word, at least based on commendations bestowed upon him and his published obituary in 1929. He was one of the founders of Holy Trinity Church in West Palm Beach, where he served as vestryman, warden, treasurer and lay reader. His “outstanding virtues” and “wonderful personality” inspired loyalty and gained and held” friendships, according to a resolution in his honor from the West Palm Beach Typographical Union. It has been said Davies once contributed his favorite bulldog to a World War I benefit auction.

The premier issue of Palm Beach Life fulfilled Davies’ promise. Inside, regular columns — most of which would remain staples into the 1950’s — included “Among the Palms,” a roundup of hotel social news and entertainment, including 30-piece house orchestras under the direction of Francesco Miglionico, and late-afternoon tea dances in the Poinciana’s lush Cocoanut Grove, which was bedecked in exotic Japanese lanterns. The reporting was stately: “The opening of the Poinciana would not be orthodox, in truth could hardly occur, without Mrs. John H. Shultz of New York. Her queenly presence has added dignity and grace to the first dinner of each season for twelve successive years….Mr. and Mrs. Flagler are expected at Whitehall on Wednesday the sixteenth…Their palatial home on the shores of Lake Worth is, in spite of its magnificence, essentially a home and, as such, is greatly enjoyed by those favored by the gods…”

“Among the Palms” also served up the scoop on Mr. Huggins, a regular winter visitor and confirmed bachelor who “may have been off his guard” when “a weak place in his armor” gave way to “saucy Cupid’s arrow.” “Mr. Huggins is warmly congratulated upon not only having won a pretty widow (whom he met at one of the hotels’ “pinochle corners”), but also upon having acquired an interesting little daughter five years of age.” Buzz about the hotels’ top-flight anglers revolved around John Pullman of Brooklyn, N.Y.: “A week ago he landed a 250-pound shark from the (Breakers) pier with rod and reel, the battle lasting two and a half hours. Few have met with greater success in their piscatorial efforts than Mr. Pullman.”

Another column, “Tastes and Toilettes,” took the pulse of fashion ins and outs. “The frock of crepe, voile, silk mousseline, chiffon cloth and kindred materials made for wear during the heated season will now re-enforce a winter wardrobe in a most satisfactory fashion, especially if that winter be spent at Palm Beach… Winter never brought out more charming getups than those seen this season at Palm Beach. There are so many girlish fads in vogue that the prettiest toilets have a Frenchy air that has never before been so marked as now.”

Much news revolved around “motoring” by yacht and car. Consider the times: Private steam-powered yachts had become prevalent — some rivaling great mansions in luxury and workmanship — and automobiles were a thrilling novelty introduced scant years before Palm Beach Life’s debut. Hailing Palm Beach’s “Third Annual Motor Races and Carnival” on Lake Worth “with the fastest and best-known motor boats in the country,” the magazine account regaled a Venetian-style finale to the event, describing it as “a mimic bombardment of two fleets, gayly decorated barges, suggestive of the floating galleys of the old Roman emperors, together with the illumination of the famous gardens of the Royal Poinciana, and display of fireworks, (presenting) a scene only to be compared to the wondrous descriptions of the Arabian Nights.”

Other news? Life on the hotel links and tennis courts, and society news from New York, where Palm Beach Life also become de rigueur reading material. While there were no bylines in the magazine at the time, Palm Beach Life’s staff included none other than the gutsy, big-hearted straight shooter who would become “dean of Florida newspaperwomen” during her lifetime, Ruby Edna Pierce, affectionately known as Miss Ruby, kept copious records on Palm Beachers – but never printed a negative word about them. Hired in 1907, she quickly rose to the position of editor — a post she held until 1954 — and categorized Palm Beach society this way: Old Guard (“They know who they are and don’t give a hang if their names never appear in print. They are the ones we prefer to write about…with discretion”), the international set, socialites and “the monkey set,” begging for attention with their “ridiculous shenanigans,” Like Davies, she as well-liked, but never considered herself a Palm Beacher. “You’re working press,” she reminded the magazine staff. “If Palm Beach wants you, it’s because you keep your place.”

As for Davies, who acquired Flagler’s interest in the magazine after Flagler’s death in 1913, he remained publisher until 1925, succeeded by his newspaperman-son Oscar, who for years made his permanent home in Palm Beach and once was a police commissioner and Town Council member. The senior Davies died in 1929 after a trip around the world, having caught a cold along the way through Western Europe, Egypt, China or even Papua New Guinea that developed into a fatal case of pneumonia. The West Palm Beach Typographical Union’s resolution in his honor, notes, “Col. R.O. Davies had a wide range of information on public affairs and public men, and his keen intelligence and strong common sense guided his opinions and conclusions on public questions in the early days…. The good that men do sometimes lives after them.…”

Palm Beach Life, for one, has. Over the decades, it has grown and evolved with the times. Now part of Cox Enterprises Inc., a privately held media company that also owns the Palm Beach Daily News and The Palm Beach Post.

– See more at: http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/lifestyles/looking-back-at-a-century-of-palm-beach-life/nqGkK/#sthash.zWJ7RbAL.dpuf

 

By M.M. Cloutier

Editor’s note: This article was published in the January 2006 issue of Palm Beach Life, which marked the magazine’s centennial. It is reprinted here in celebration of the magazine’s 110th anniversary this year.

– See more at: http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/lifestyles/looking-back-at-a-century-of-palm-beach-life/nqGkK/#sthash.zWJ7RbAL.dpuf