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Sunday, 12 May 2019


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The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, in Philadelphia, is the largest fully functioning pipe organ in the world. The Wanamaker Organ is located within a spacious 7-story Grand Court at Macy's Center City (formerly Wanamaker's department store) and played twice a day Monday through Saturday. The organ is featured at several special concerts held throughout the year, including events featuring the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ Festival Chorus and Brass Ensemble.

An interesting story I never would have read if not for TOP. Thanks Mike.

Not much escapes the claws of the money gods. Start with sincerity and they will finish with profit.

Fourth Sunday in Lent in the UK. Been and gone.

If the commercialization of Mother's Day bothered her, it's a good thing she didn't organize Christmas!

I sincerely wish for a photography day. A day to celebrate that most incredible act of capturing light in a moment of time.

And the idea for Father’s Day was also apparently started in West Virginia, in 1907, with a memorial service for a group of miners. Family oriented and respectful, those West Virginians.

[As an unrelated side note, John Denver’s song ‘Country Roads’, with the lyrics about West Virginia and loved by West Virginians, was actually inspired by Bill and Taffy Danoff (the writers) on Clopper Road in Gaithersburg, Maryland, near where I once lived. History taketh and giveth...]

If not for your article, I would never have known the somewhat ironic details of the history of Mother's Day. As someone who grew up in Philadelphia, the photo of the John Wanamaker's court brought back memories. Those were the glory days of department stores. My mother was a fine pianist, and when she was young, in the 1930's, her parents managed to scrape up enough money to purchase through Wanamaker's a Hardman-Peck baby grand piano. My mother, grandmother, and the piano sales manager from Wanamaker's traveled by train to New York to the Hardman-Peck factory, where my mother was able to select the style and finish of the piano case. The piano was then made to order. My mother passed away four years ago, and the piano was kept in the family with my father until he passed away 18 months later.
I really have to hear the organ when I next visit Philly.

Wanamaker's - Oh, so it's a photography story! In the early years of the twentieth century, Wanamaker's had annual photography contests, with entrants like Steeler, Strand and Stieglitz. And it was Wanamaker heir Rodney Wanamaker who commissioned numerous trips to the American West to document (in the fashion of the time) Native American life as a part of his campaign to have US citizenship rights granted to Native Americans (yes, you read that right).

Re: Mothers Day in the UK - while it’s increasingly called Mothers Day, it’s a completely different holiday, which originated in the 16th century as Mothering Sunday - an occasion when people returned to their mother church (see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothering_Sunday fo more detail). My maternal grandmother was very firm about it being Mothering Sunday, not Mothers Day, which made finding a card for her harder than it could have been!

In the UK, the mother was originally not even a mother. It was the 'mother' church in the home town or village. Mothering Sunday was the day that domestic servants were allowed home to attend church. The landed gentry who employed them allowed them home because the introspective period from Lent to Easter bade them do it as an act of kindness.

The First World War swept all that away, and Mothering Sunday morphed into Mother's Day.

The Wanamaker organ is something to hear. Try to get a position where you can see the organist. Amazing that one person can do so much all at once. There was a large bronze eagle sculpture on the ground floor, a popular and well-known meeting place. "Meet you at the eagle" meant only one thing to Philadelphians.

John Wanamaker was a trend-setter in many ways. He changed retail sales. When I was a little kid, this was just after WW II, I enjoyed shopping trips with my Mom, not only to Wanamakers, but Strawbridge & Clothier and Lit Brothers. There also was a Gimbels, which sponsored a Thanksgiving parade with Santa Claus climbing a fire department ladder to a window on the floor where he presided until Christmas.

But, just as Sears Roebuck disrupted the lives of the general store proprietors, to be later disrupted by Amazon, Wanamakers and other large department stores fell to the Walmart onslaught.

Following up Speed's post, here's an interesting video on the workings of the Wanamaker organ:

A very interesting back-story that I didn’t know! Thank you Mike and Ned.

Moral: Be careful what you wish for, especially if you’re as unimaginative and disconnected as this lady obviously was.

The first mothers’ day Movement began with Julia Ward Howe’s proclamation, that seems to have influenced Jarvis’s thinking. Howe, author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was just a bit ahead of the curve in hoping that mothers might unite in the cause of world peace: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother%27s_Day_Proclamation

For those who may not know, the Organ is the largest in the world, and is played twice a day Monday thru Saturday and many special concerts. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanamaker_Organ

Now, isn't this a much better post than all those ridiculous ones about camera equipment?

Sorry. My mother has been gone over a quarter century, but she still runs my life.

Another holiday that along with Valentine's Day, Father's Day and Halloween have become, in my opinion, sales exercises and for the most part, irritating. Whatever meaning that was there at the beginning was lost a long time ago.

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