Moment in history: May 6, 1937, the Hindenberg crash

May 6, 2007

May 6, 2007, is the 70th anniversary of the Hindenberg tragedy. Docking at its station in New Jersey, after crossing the Atlantic, a spark ignited the aluminum-based paint on the airship, and the entire craft exploded into flame.

35 people died on the airship, and one on the ground — did you know a few survived? The Associated Press interviewed a man who was 8-years old that day, and a passenger on the airship.

Werner Doehner, an 8-year-old passenger aboard the Hindenburg, saw chairs fall across the dining room door his father had walked through moments before the disaster. He would never see his father alive again.

“Just instantly, the whole place was on fire,” said Doehner, of Parachute, Colo., who is the last surviving passenger. “My mother threw me out the window. She threw my brother out. Then she threw me, but I hit something and bounced back. She caught me and threw me the second time out. My sister was just too heavy for her. My mother jumped out and fractured her pelvis. Regardless of that, she managed to walk.”

Hindenberg on fire

Hindenberg on fire, May 6, 1937.

The disaster erroneously condemned hydrogen in the public’s mind. Despite widespread use of hydrogen gas for cooking and some transportation during World War II (including in the U.S.), use of hydrogen as a fuel beyond that has always faced the hurdle of the “Hindenberg Syndrome,” the fear that the gas would explode. Fact is that gasoline is much more volatile, more explosive, and generally more dangerous, than hydrogen.


Fiesta de Tejas #2 – Cinco de Mayo edition

May 6, 2007

Welcome back! The Midway here at the Fiesta offers eclecticism beyond your wildest expectations, all about Texas. No sonnets, no haiku, no limericks. No faux movie themes. Nothing but Texas posts.

This is an unintentional Cinco de Mayo edition. I’m late, and I apologize to everyone who dropped by on May 2 and was disappointed.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates one of the greatest victories of the U.S. Civil War, a battle fought by neither Confederate nor Union soldiers, nor even on U.S. soil — and a battle generally omitted from Civil War accounts in U.S. history books. On May 5, 1862, the loyal Army of Mexico defeated an invading army of French and French Foreign Legionnaires, using smarter battle tactics and superb discipline. Union Gen. Phillip Sheridan rushed arms to the Mexicans to complete the expulsion of the French. Mexican patriots in this way frustrated Napoleon III’s plans to supply the Confederate States of America, giving vital time to the Union forces to muster a large army and manufacture the weapons and other machines used to defeat the South. Here is a biased account from a group in San Marcos, Texas.

Such a history is politically incorrect in an age when people think U.S. citizens should stay in the U.S., Mexican citizens should stay in Mexico, and that our fates are not intertwined in North America as they were in the 1860s. Perhaps that is why the events celebrated by Cinco de Mayo are ignored, officially.

But such disputes are what history writing and discussion is all about.

What else might we learn, politically incorrect or otherwise, from a carnival of Texas history and Texana? Let’s see, in no particular order.

Texas stuff

P. M. Summer offers a straight ahead view of a classic Texas Stetson hat, at Pop’s! Hat! History, Texas, heritage, nostalgia and a twinge of eccentricity, all rolled into one.
P. M. Summers' Stetson, from his father.

Politics and law: The Lege is still in session, and unfortunately Molly Ivins has not risen that we know of. Making sense of the Texas Legislature is an art generally beyond my ken. Others make a good stab, though. Capitol Annex explains the odd bill proposed to make it legal for kids to show their religion in public schools. It’s an odd bill because it grants no new rights, nothing in it is not already legal under state and federal laws, unless there is a hidden clause for proselytizing. Can you find such a clause? The bill has been delayed — stay tuned to see whether it passes, and in what form.

Here’s another view of the bill from South Texas Chisme.

Over at Kissmybigbluebutt, we get the modern lowdown on another Texas tradition, the unconcealed carry. Check the date — there is no such thing as “May Fool’s,” right?

Grits for Breakfast found a bright spot at the Texas Youth Commission, the bunch that runs the “camps” for youth offenders where allegations of abuse have mushroomed in the past year, and which has been forced to release many kids. This is about the only bright spot in this long, sad saga (see this post, and follow links, from DallasSouthBlog, for example).

Education: TexasEd is a site by a Texas home schooler, but which spends a lot of time looking at education policy in Texas, generally — a good site during a legislative session, as demonstrated by this short post on attempts by private schools to get the state to pay for athletic championship series by private schools.

Run, Rick! Run! — Pink Dome found this photo of Texas Gov. Rick Perry. In the red shirt.

Preventing abuse of the Texas flag: It’s nice to discover another group concerned about flag etiquette. I’m pleased to refer questions about Texas flag etiquette to another blog — The Daily Flag. (I also note some history posts from this site, below.)

Real story, real immigrant, real lawyer: Dallas is a wilderness? Perhaps to an immigrant, it may appear unfriendly. Wilderness in the City featured a short story about a lawyer getting a favorable result in an immigration case. Check your stereotypes at the courtroom door.

SMU professors stood up for science, but the “conference” on intelligent design proceeded anyway. Texas physician and blogger Dr. Zach attended and reported on the events. This will figure into the textbook adoption process in Texas, for biology text books, mark my words. At Goosing the Antithesis, Dr. Zack covered the event in a series of posts: Michael Behe, Lee Strobel, Jay Richards, Stephen Meyer, Q&A session, and Dr. Zach’s final thoughts.

Texas defined, perhaps ambiguously: Georgia O’Keefe meets the Beverly Hillbillies, at Chatoyance. (I’m assuming the photo was taken in Texas.)

Texas history

Kay Bell is at it again at Don’t Mess With Taxes. Her San Jacinto Day post on April 21, “Texas Triumphant,” lays out the story of the battle that won Texas independence from Mexico — the Texians lost the Battle of the Alamo, remember, and then surrendered and were slaughtered at Goliad. San Jacinto was the place Sam Houston got the drop on Santa Anna and the larger force, the great Army of Mexico. It was the place, Kay might say, where “Don’t Mess With Texas” first got meaning. In past years, Texas seriously celebrated the day, before Texas high school history standards downplayed the Texas Revolution.

The Daily Flag has a series on the Battle of San Jacinto, with several photos of this year’s re-enactment. Here is the last of the series, with links to the others.

Is it fair to point to a podcast? Let’s see if anyone complains. Over at The Texana Review, Ed Blackburn has a podcast interview with William Keller, the director of the Houston History Project. This couples two of my favorite causes, local history, and pushing technology. If you haven’t listened to podcasts, it’s time to start — do it here and now. Especially if you’re a high school teacher of history, economics, geography, government or some other topic, you need to be using podcasts. No, not just listening to them — using them. What do you think all those iPods are for?

While you’re at The Texana Review, you may want to check out Blackburn’s podcasts on the history of the Texas Rangers, focusing on Joaquin Jackson’s book, One Ranger: A Memoir. Even 7th grade students can get interested in the history of the Rangers.

Kicks on Route 66: One of my favorite blogs is Route 66 News, because it’s well done, tightly focused on Route 66, current and informative. Not every post interests me, but I always find something. Here Route 66 News talks about a photo shoot at the famous Cadillac Ranch in West Texas, to promote seatbelt use in Texas — a photo shoot sent awry by a hungry llama. This is Texas — no, no one could make this stuff up if it weren’t true.

There were complaints (well, at least one) that we didn’t cover Janis Joplin enough in the last carnival. Well, I didn’t find much new out in blogdom this time, either — so I may as well include my own post here, noting the creation of a self-guided Janis Joplin tour of Port Arthur, Texas, her home town. Texas music continues to be under-covered by blogs. I’m probably missing some good ones, but there could be a lot more, especially with an eye to what could be used in a Texas history classroom. (Hint: Send me notes on good posts you find!)

And this one just under the wire: Tom Michael lives near that far west Texas town of Marfa, city of lights, so to speak, and near the some-might-think-oddly-named Texas city of Alpine. He’s been guest blogging on a blog out of North Carolina called MisterSugar, and he has a post that captures the Texas spirit amazingly well, showing Texas pride bordering on hubris, love of religion beyond the point of rationality, willingness to change, and just old Texas orneriness: “Texas.”

That’ll wrap it up for this edition of the Fiesta de Tejas!, a blog carnival of Texas history and Texana. Please send nominations for posts for the next Fiesta to me, or better, to the Blog Carnival site set up for the purpose: Nominate a blog post to the Fiesta de Tejas! (that’s

We still need a logo.

I’d be happy to turn hosting opportunities over to anyone who’d like to take a stab.

The next edition is planned for June 2, 2007, with entries due at midnight your time on May 31, 2007. Remember you may nominate the posts of others — please do!

Blog Carnival submission form - fiesta de tejas!

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