Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Children's Blizzard of 1888

On January 12, 1888, a blizzard hit the Northern states which left over 245 people dead in the next 24 hours.  It has been known in history as the Schoolchildren's blizzard, because many people were caught without warning, including hundreds of children in one room school houses.

There had been a brief spell of warm weather, so many children and adults were caught without proper clothing.  The storm blew in suddenly, which caused the temperature to drop in some place by forty degrees lower.

The powdery nature of the snow made it difficult for lost children and their teachers to find landmarks.  If people ventured outside, it usually met with disaster.

Modern methods of weather reporting were unknown, but awareness of more communication about weather conditions was raised.   Only with the advent of satellite weather are weather predictions very accurate.  

If a blizzard ever hits Sprague High School, Mrs. Olsen plans to stay put with her children until the blizzard ends.   She always minds the lessons of history.   She'll even share her lunch with the students and divide of the granola bars in her desk.


Friday, October 7, 2016

The Berlin Airlift and the Candy Bomber

In 1947, road access to Berlin, Germany was blockaded by the East Germans with the support of the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union was angry with the United States and the West for their  efforts to help the German economy revive.

President Truman supported the idea of an airlift that would continue to feed Berlin and show the world, and the Soviet Union, that the United States stood behind a free Berlin....even if it was an island in the rest of East Germany.   The Berlin Airlift succeeded and, eventually, the road was reopened.  

Gail Halorvson was a pilot during the airlift and had compassion and the German children, many of whom had never tasted real chocolate or candy.   He came up with the idea of making small parachutes that would drop chocolate for waiting children as the planes circled around and made their landings.

Soon  the popularity of this idea was made an official operation:  Operation Little Vittles (Vittles is a word for tasty treat).   Candy bar companies volunteered their products while Americans hurried and made little parachutes.  Over 23 tons of candy was dropped by over 250,000 small parachutes.  Many German children never forgot this generosity and it help to shape the attitudes of post war Germans toward the conquering Americans.

Halvorson's program became a legend in Germany and was not forgotten.  He has been honored extensively in both the United States and Germany for his efforts to rebuild post war trust after the devastation of World War II.



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Nuremberg Trials

When Mrs. Olsen was growing up in Salem, Oregon and attending Sprague High School, there were occasional stories about the discovery of Nazi war criminals and efforts to bring them to justice.  In the picture above, you can see some of the chief Nazi officers listening to the trial proceedings.

Films were made, including the "Boys from Brazil" and the "Odessa File" which featured ex-Nazis on the run, or trying to take over and control other parts of the world.  Even today, World War II films are popular, and, you guess it, the Nazis are the villains.

Soon after World War II, unprecedented trials were held to help the world cope with the evil brought about by the National Socialist regime.  Though Hitler had committed suicide in his bunker in 1945, there were still many prominent leaders who were jailed and brought to trial for crimes against humanity.

Some of these men argued that they had no idea of the extent of the Holocaust, the widespread use of slave labor, and the violations of the Geneva convention after World War I.  Many said they were just parts of the Nazi machinery or that they were following orders.

Those who were found guilty were hung at Nuremberg, Germany---which was an ironic choice as this was a place that only a decade earlier had held large scale dynamic Nazi Rallies. 

These were not the only trials, however.  There were other trials of doctors who had performed horrible medical experiments and lower level concentration camp officials.

Now, in 2016, most of those who had direct control over the atrocities of World War II are dead, or they are very elderly and soon to die.  Still, there are thousands of elderly victims of the Nazi regime still alive.  The Nuremberg trials were an important turning point in how the world must "deal" with murderous regimes.

The Nuremberg Trials

When Mrs. Olsen was growing up in Salem, Oregon and attending Sprague High School, there were occasional stories about the discovery of Nazi war criminals and efforts to bring them to justice.  In the picture above, you can see some of the chief Nazi officers listening to the trial proceedings.

Films were made, including the "Boys from Brazil" and the "Odessa File" which featured ex-Nazis on the run, or trying to take over and control other parts of the world.  Even today, World War II films are popular, and, you guess it, the Nazis are the villains.

Soon after World War II, unprecedented trials were held to help the world cope with the evil brought about by the National Socialist regime.  Though Hitler had committed suicide in his bunker in 1945, there were still many prominent leaders who were jailed and brought to trial for crimes against humanity.

Some of these men argued that they had no idea of the extent of the Holocaust, the widespread use of slave labor, and the violations of the Geneva convention after World War I.  Many said they were just parts of the Nazi machinery or that they were following orders.

Those who were found guilty were hung at Nuremberg, Germany---which was an ironic choice as this was a place that only a decade earlier had held large scale dynamic Nazi Rallies. 

These were not the only trials, however.  There were other trials of doctors who had performed horrible medical experiments and lower level concentration camp officials.

Now, in 2016, most of those who had direct control over the atrocities of World War II are dead, or they are very elderly and soon to die.  Still, there are thousands of elderly victims of the Nazi regime still alive.  The Nuremberg trials were an important turning point in how the world must "deal" with murderous regimes.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Back to School and back to history

Mrs. Olsen is excited for a new school year.  She spent the summer doing household repairs.  She built a fence, a gate, a new deck and stairs, all by herself.  Usually she travels and learns about history for her students, but this year, if she didn't do that.   After all, if she hadn't done the repairs on her deck she may have fallen through it this November and done serious harm to herself or even died.

Thankfully, she doesn't have any intention of dying this way.  She wants to keel over in class, in front of her students, so they will have something to talk about the rest of their lives.

If that doesn't happen, she would like to be chased by a Grizzly Bear, or eaten by a Shark, which would also give her students something to talk about.  If that is not possible, a buffalo stampede would be sufficient, and definitely an historic way to go....it would even fit in with the "Settling the West" unit that will be part of students' studies in December.

The best part, however, is that she is alive and well and back teaching 9th grade and 10 grade history.  Teaching history is her life and for the students of Sprague High School that means a fun filled year of interesting topics from the time period of 1865-1945 for 9th graders and 1945-2016 for 10th graders.  

During the year, students will get to hold in their hands historic artifacts and learn about history through reading, looking at, and listening to history.  Last year, Mrs. Olsen was especially proud of the FACT or OPINION activities developed for students to discuss.   Students will always have something new to learn in her class. 

This year, she is also going to update the blog every week for both 9th and 10th grade classes to help them keep track of what is going on.

Here's to a great year at Sprague!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

World War I Propaganda Posters

We are well under way in our study of World War I.   Students have learned about the start of the war, Trench warfare, and the various weapons that were created during the war.

We also discussed and looked at a variety of war posters from the era, including the one above.  Look carefully and you will see that the Germans have made their way to Kansas, killed the old man farmer, the grandma, and are about the kill the young farmer and sexually abuse his wife...yes it is all there and men better enlist to stop the enemy.  Students will be copying a poster during some time in class while we continue to learn more about the course of the war.   We've taken a look at the distinctive German war helmet, the Picklehaube which is easily identifiable in many of the posters.  

When I was a child, the old timers still called the Germans "Huns" and yes, even the Japanese were sometimes called "Japs."  This was a different era, and many of my uncles had served in World War II and had bitter memories about the war that took so many of their comrades.

Also, the idea of going off to war in World War I was not that popular in America.  Many called it a "Britishman's war," and the nightmare of losing a son in a far off battlefield when there wasn't universal support foreshadowed the Vietnam war.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Lobo, Blanca, and Ernest Thompson Seton

Freshman students have learned about OR7, our own wandering wolf.  They have also learned about the story of Ernest Thompson Seton and his trapping of Lobo and Blanca.

Seton was sent to New Mexico as a Wolf Bounty Hunter.  The wolves were eating cattle in large numbers, because their prior food source, the buffalo, had disappeared.

Seaton carefully laid out poisoned meat and concealed traps.  None of them worked, and Lobo refused the meat and snapped the traps.  It was only when Seton trapped Blanca, Lobo's mate, that he was finally successful.

However, he did not shoot Lobo, but brought him back to a cabin, where, a few hours later, Lobo died.  Seton used Lobo's story in a best seller, entitled "Wild Animals I have Known."  Seton was later accused of "faking nature" by giving human attributes to wild animals.

Since that time, however, the humanization of animals has actually been an effective tool in helping to promote conservation efforts.  With the wide availability of articles and movies about animal behavior, everyone can gain access to studies on animal behavior.

The story of Blanca and Lobo takes place during the great decline of animal populations in the American West.   Now, as the wolf population gains a toehold in the Southen Cascades, the ideas of wilderness, wild animals, and how they impact humans and the environment are discussed.  Most are "thrilled" with the idea that the wolves have
returned to an area where they had been exterminated.