July 25, 2011

Amelia Dyer - The Angel Maker"

Written by Rosa Morgan

March 31, 1896 Amelia Dyer took a seat at the back of the train. It was a blustery day to be out, but as a widow, she had to rely on herself to put food on the table. The gentleman, perusing his newspaper beside her, commented, "They've found another body." "Excuse me?" Dyer said in alarm. "A body?" "Forgive me, it's not a seemly matter to discuss with a woman," the gentleman said, tipping his derby. Smiling, the matronly Dyer pressed him, "Do go on; I've experience as a nurse and midwife, and have unfortunately witnessed firsthand the seedier side of life." The gentleman conceded, "Jack the Ripper is at it again. Another prostitute cut up from stem to stern." Dyer clucked her tongue, "No rhyme or reason that I can figure behind those murders. And why does he get so much publicity? It's only eighteen murders so far." The man was taken aback by the woman's remark, but said nothing more as she got off at the next station.

Dyer tweaked the bow round her neck; it was paramount to make a good impression with her clients, for that is how she viewed the young women who came to her, as simply a business transaction. Evelina Marmon clutched her doe eyed infant to her breast. Tears blurred her vision as she searched the crowd for the woman in the advertisement: a married woman with a country home desiring a child to raise as her own.
Dyer chirped sympathetically, "It's me, deary, come to save you from your heartache."

Evelina was a twenty-five year old barmaid, who had her little Doris out of wedlock. She didn't even know who the father was, and even if she did, the Poor Law had removed financial obligation from fathers of illegitimate children. "I'm sorry, but, I can't do this!" Evelina cried. "Please let me pay the weekly rate for you to take care of her. I'll visit every chance I get, and once I'm back on my feet, I'll take her back. I just need time to sort things out."
Dyer cooed, "Come now, girl, be rational, if not for your own sake, then for your child's. Without a father, she'll have no future. Give me the £10 we agreed upon, and don't look back. A clean break is best for the both of you."
Evelina's heart broke as she handed her precious child over. "Promise me, you'll love her with all your heart."
Dyer gave her most reassuring maternal smile. "I'll raise your dear little girl as if she were my very own." She then picked up her carpetbag and disappeared into the crowd.

Dyer got home at 76 Mayo Road, Willesden, London, and went directly to the back room. The nearly three month old Doris was hungry and wet, and fussing for her mother. Fetching a length of white edging tape, Dyer tied it around the child's chubby little neck, but instead of a sweet bow, it was a knot to strangle her. Each time Dyer undertook this dastardly deed, she was equally fascinated to watch the infant's struggle for life. Dyer's own 23-year-old daughter poked her head into the room, asking, "Why the white tape, Mum?" Dyer answered with pride, "When the police find her, they'll know it's one of mine. Consider me an angel maker. I'm sending them straight to heaven."

In a period of over twenty years, Amelia Dyer, killed over 400 children. -->
On June 10, 1896, she was hanged at Newgate Prison.

July 18, 2011

Teatime at Mosswood

an excerpt from "The Herbalist's Apprentice" Rosa's upcoming novel

Attempting to alter the combative tone of the conversation, Rachael, said cheerily, “Come now, ladies, let’s enjoy our refreshments.”
Mia needed no further encouragement to delve into the delights that tray held. Should she eat a watercress sandwich tied daintily with a chive ribbon or a scone with lemon curd, she wondered.
“Sugar or cream?” Rachael asked pouring the tea from the silver urn with an affected lift of her pinky finger.
“Both, please,” Mia said, trying not to sound greedy.
Rachael dropped the sugar and cream in first, pouring the tea on top.

“That’s interesting,” Mia noted. “I’ve always done it the other way around. I mean the tea first and then the cream.”
The tyrannical Miss Biggs pounded her ivory tipped cane onto the table like a judge calling court, and Mia braced herself for another of her pontifications. “Taking tea is the foundation of domestic happiness, and there's a precise science in its preparation. You'd do well to take note, Young Miss Mia Who Thinks She Knows Everything. First, one must rinse the teapot's interior with scalding water to remove its chill. This helps to maintain the beverage's temperature later. Choice of tea is next...”
Trying to participate in the long winded conversation, Mia interjected, “Camellia sinensis?”
“Of course, my dear, what other?”
“But there are countless plants one can make tea from,” the young herbalist asserted.

“Those are tisanes, not tea,” Miss Biggs corrected. “As I was saying, Darjeeling is the preferred tea for discriminating palates, and the leaves from the first flush is superior as it possesses a musky spiciness without undue astringency. Most definitely, one is never to imbibe tea harvested during the monsoon season.”
She went on to describe the optimum temperature the water must be: just to the boil but not rolling, and the length of time to steep: exactly three minutes. As for which to pour first, tea or cream, she explained it was definitely the cream, so as to prevent the cup's glaze from cracking.

Mia would've been bored to tears with her diatribe except that during its entire delivery the old woman stuffed her mouth voraciously, taking two sandwiches in one bite, and if custard was not oozing from her lips, then crumbs were falling down the gap between her sagging breasts. Mia's first impulse was to slurp her tea from the saucer, like her Pappa, and tell her in no uncertain terms what she could do with her clotted cream. However, she reminded herself of the aging aunt's mental instability, and so instead took satisfaction in a helping of strawberry sponge cake topped with sugared pansies.

July 11, 2011

Coca Cola- The Cocaine Drink

written by Rosa Morgan

I'll have you know that I, John Pemberton, am the man behind Coca-Cola. Some would characterize me as a wandering medicine man, who stumbled upon the formula. In truth, I earned my medical degree at nineteen and served as a lieutenant colonel in the Civil War. It was after being injured in the Battle of Columbus that I became obsessed with creating the ultimate medicine that was also the perfect drink.

Aside from running my pharmacy, I worked every spare moment in my analytical laboratory. I patented several medicines, but my first true success was my French Wine Coca. Mixing the stimulating properties of the coca leaf, the flavor of the kola nut, and the aphrodisiac elements of damiana, I created an intellectual beverage and invigorator of the brain, as well as a remedy for my morphine habit.

With the rise of the temperance movement, I knew I had to remove the wine from my recipe, thus I added sugar, essential oils, and citric acid. Of course, I kept the 60 mg. of coca in each serving; Sigmund Freud, himself, praising the drug's attributes.

Right before launching my new drink, I went into business with Frank Robinson, who I must give full credit for the alliterative name and eye-catching script for our trademark logo. My intention was to market the drink to scientists, scholars, poets, divines, lawyers, physicians, and others devoted to extreme mental exertion, but soon everyone wanted it.

Dying of cancer I sold two-thirds of the interest in my company, keeping a third for my son. Never did I expect he'd die shortly after of morphine overdose, and that my wife would die a pauper. And I truly rolled over in my grave when my drink was not sold at the soda counter, but in glass bottles, which customers could tote home. Fame and fortune eluded me, but nevertheless, the drink lives on with me as a small footnote.

Gentle Reader, To this day, Coca-Cola uses "spent" coca leaves to flavor its drink. It's the only corporation in the United States to legally sell a product with coca-leaves.
Here's a 1954 Coke Commercial

July 4, 2011

Uncle Sam's Evolution

Written by Rosa Morgan Lockwood

Everyone knows me by my patriotic costume and stern countenance, but how did my imagery come about? It begins with the term Janke, a contemptuous Dutch term meaning, "Little John," and that referred to pirates. By 1765, those damn Brits began calling anyone living in New England, a Yankee.

I always liked the following tune:

Yankee Doodle went to town, Riding on a pony; He stuck a feather in his hat, And called it macaroni.

But if truth be told, it was British military officers that came up with it. With Doodle meaning "fool" from the Low German dödel, and the macaroni wig, slang for foppishness, they were mocking the very "Yankees" they fought beside in the French and Indian War.

During the Revolution, we American Patriots beat the pants off those Brits and embraced the name Yankee. This painting, "The Spirit of '76" is also called "Yankee Doodle".

"Brother Jonathan" became my next incarnation, also created by the British Loyalists. They originally had me in American revolutionary attire: tri-cornered hat and long military jacket, but altered my costume to reflect the colors and symbols of the flag: striped pants and stars on my top hat. This cartoon depicts Mrs. Brittania, Miss Canada, and myself as Brother Jonathan.

During the War of 1812, my appearance and the name of Uncle Sam was firmly established. Here's a theory as to how the name came about. Samuel Wilson, commonly called "Uncle Sam," inspected meat purchased for the government. The meat was stamped with the initials, "U. S," for United States, but a joke began that it stood for 'Uncle Sam.' No matter if this is true or not, my name has stuck and I'm proud of it.
From your Uncle Sam, "Have a Happy Fourth of July!"

Gentle Readers, here's a 1963 version of
Yankee Doodle Dandy