Archive for October, 2009

Thoughts from a day trip

October 25, 2009
Traveling north on I-95

Traveling north on I-95

Closer, closer, closer

Closer, closer, closer

Everyone else speeds by

Everyone else speeds by

A photo is worth a thousand words

A photo is worth a thousand words

Am I making an ass of myself?

Am I making an ass of myself?

Unless you are the lead horse, the view never changes.

Letter from France, James Packett, Sept 23 1918

October 23, 2009
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Sept 23 1918

Dear Wife

Will ans your sweet letter.  I just rec and was glad to hear from you and baby.  And was glad to hear that you were boughth well.  Well darling this leaves me well hoping that when you recieve this letter it will find you all well.  Darling you said that you had not heard from me since I had been over here.  There is no reason why you should not hear from me.  For I have wrote you to or three letters a week since I landed here.  Darling I guess you think that I have forgotten you but I have not.  I think of you and baby all of the time and would like to be with you all tonight for you know that I love you better than anyone in the world.  So darling don’t worry about me for I am well and will write you every time I have an opportunity.  Darling you know that I don’t have much time to write.  You are the only one that I have wrote to except Lula (line illegible) letter yet.  I received a letter from Lula about three weeks ago.  And I answered it at once.  Darling I am sorry that you have not got your allotment yet for I know that you need the money.  I am going to send you some money just as soon as I get vayed off.  I am going to take to send you my money just as soon as I get it.  For we don’t need any money over here.  We get all we want to eat.  And plenty of good clothes.  And all of the smoking tobbacco that we want issued to us.  So what do we need with any money.  But darling that is not yet like being home with you.  If I was only at home with you and baby tonight.  I would be the happiest man in the world.  Darling I would send you one of my pictures if I could find any place to have one made but I have not had a picture made since I have been in the army.  But the first time I have an oppertunity I will have some pictures taken and will send you one.  I would like to have one of yours and babys made together for I study about you all so much that I can shut my eyes and amagine that I can see you.  Tell Lucile that she ought to see her brother n law now.  He is getting so fat that you can hardly see his eyes.  Darling I got weighed yesterday and I weighed 177 lbs so you may know that I am in good health.  So be a good girl and take care of your self and baby and don’t worry about me for I don’t think that it will be very long before I will be with you for all of the boys are all in the best of heart.  I will close for this time hoping to hear from you very soon.  I am yours as ever your loving husband.

James Packet

Pvt James Packet Company A

2nd Corps Artillery Park

American Armed Forces

Via New York          

American P.O.

(signed) Capt. FRWilliams


(Yet another handwriting…)

Letter from James Packett, Camp Jackson, SC, 1918

October 22, 2009
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Camp Jackson


Friday 14 – 1918

My Dear Wife

            I will try and write you again as I have wrote you one letter since I arrived at Camp Jackson Sunday evening but have not heard from you yet.  Well dear you no that I am crazy to hear from you & little Ruth it seems as tho you have forgotten me.  But dear I will forgive you for this time as it may be possible that you did not get the letter.  I have been under the weather every since I have been back but I am feeling a little better now.  I hope you are well by this time and be sure and take good care of baby Ruth.  Dear I don’t know when I will get to come home again for they say we won’t stay here very long the company commander said this company should have been made up and sent to France before we were organized they are giving us our equipments as fast as they can they have issued our rifles.  I am going to have my picture made soon as I get the money and send you all one.  Tell Lucile that Louie Richies brother is here in camp with me and he said to ask her if she ever heard from Louie.  Tell Ed I don’t every see Mr. Lively any more and tell Mother Webb that I said to be good and write to me tell all the children howdy and to be good and be nice and take good care of your self for I don’t know when I will get to see you again but dear I hope some day we can be together again and live happy for if I have to cross the waters I am going with a full determination of coming back to you.  So I will close for this time by saying good bye from your husband.

            From      James Packett

to Wife

Address James Packett Pvt

Second Corps Artillery Park

Camp Jackson


Truck Co. B.


This letter appears to have been written in June, 1918.  My mother, referred to as the baby Ruth, was born in May, 1918, so I believe that her father James Packett had been able to get leave to go home when she was born.  The letter is dated simply “Friday 14 – 1918”, and June is the only month in 1918, after my mother was born, with Friday the 14th.

Yesterday evening I made a startling discovery, at least to me, about James Packett.  On, I found a record of his WWI draft registration on June 5, 1917.  He stated that he had no dependents – no mother, father, wife, child under the age of 12, brother or sister under the age of 12 – who depended upon him for support.  “No one” is how he filled in the blank.  So it appears that he and my grandmother married and had my mother within the year, which certainly isn’t impossible.  That’s not the startling thing.  At the bottom of the sheet, on the signature line, he made an “X”.  He couldn’t write his name.  He couldn’t even sign his name.  I’ve heard of people who couldn’t write anything except to sign their name, but my grandfather couldn’t write his own name.  It’s hard for me to imagine that someone in the 20th century couldn’t WRITE THEIR OWN NAME.

Yet we have these letters that my grandfather wrote from Camp Jackson and from France.  I would now doubt that he achieved reading, and writing in cursive, in only a year.  So when I compared the letter above with the one that I previously posted, it is clear that the handwriting is different.  Different people wrote these letters, none of whom were my grandfather. 

When he came home from the war, he went back to work in the textile mills.  He was also a preacher.  So how did he read the Bible?

The John Rutledge Home in Charleston, SC

October 21, 2009
The John Rutledge Home

The John Rutledge Home

This home, built before

the American Revolution,

was the residence of

John Rutledge (1739-1800)

first Governor of the

State of South Carolina.

He was President of South

Carolina 1776-1778, and

Governor 1779-1782, signer

of the U.S. Constitution

1787, Chief Justice of

South Carolina 1791-1795,

and Chief Justice of the

United States 1795.  The

house was altered in 1853

by P.H. Hammarskold, who

added the ornamental iron.


This home is now a bed and breakfast.  In the photo above, you can see the shadow of some of the ornamental iron referred to on the historical plaque.  We were out-and-about in Charleston on a Sunday.  It was a mild fall day, and the sound of church bells rang out midday. 

A man approached us with a story that he had just walked to Charleston from an outlying island.  He had received a telephone call that his daughter had eaten shrimp and was in the hospital, but that he had been told the wrong hospital, and now had to walk to another hospital because his wife had the car.  His cell phone was out of minutes, and he had no friend or relative to assist him.  Sugar offered him $10.  The man’s thin hand trembled as he reached for it, and he God-blessed us and called us believers, and then asked us if we could give him $2 more.  We politely declined. 

We were obviously touring the city, although we were locals.  So we were familiar with the city, the outlying barrier islands, the infrastructure, and the types of foods that were available.  The man told a pretty good story.  What the man did not remember was that he had approached Sugar last year with the same story – sick daughter, shrimp reaction, walked many miles, wrong hospital, no money.


October 19, 2009


One of the many pleasures of taking care of little rescue animals is the added thrill of the unknown.  In addition to fleas, ticks, heartworm, malnutrition, and intestinal parasites, there’s an occasional lucky moment when you discover *RINGWORM*!  Bonus points!

Puppy: "It's like the heartbreak of psoriasis."

Puppy: "It's like the heartbreak of psoriasis."

Ringworm is actually not a worm, but a fungus, and there are numerous internet sites with information about it.  The last time I encountered a case of ringworm was in a motherless litter of four kittens.  I took them to the local spay/neuter clinic to be spayed once they got old enough to be spayed/neutered, and the clinic refused to do the surgery because of *RINGWORM*.  Bonus!  They got to live in my master bath for two more weeks until the clinic had more vacancies and I got the ringworm cleared up. 

The best treatment I have tried, without fail, is to use a dilute solution of Chlorox and water to dab on the spots.  (Use rubber gloves, people!)  Then rinse the area with plain water.  You can continue this treatment for a few days, and you should see improvement quickly.  (I’m not a vet but I play one on television…) 

This little pup is one of the litter of ten pulled from under the old house.  She’s in good health, except for the ringworm, which should clear up soon, and then she’s ready for adoption!  This one reminds me of Flannery.  I’ve been able to place the rest locally, but I might have to foster this one until I can find a home for her. 

The Pup's Alma Mater with two-lane highway

The Pup's Alma Mater on two-lane highway

If the pups hadn’t been pulled out from under this house, they would surely have ended up on the highway.  There’s a lot of logging in this area, and the log trucks fly through here.  The photo shows one out of two of the highways that the mother dog was crossing to get food. 
Sometimes things in the universe mysteriously converge for the better.  And a little networking doesn’t hurt.
Pup and friend share their lunch

Pup and friend network over a power lunch

AskTheVet: What Are Those Lumps on My Dog?

October 19, 2009

Here’s another installment by my employer, Dr. DognCat.



Your pet, especially as it ages, may develop lumps, bumps, and/or skin tags on various parts of their body. In general, most lumps or masses that we find on dogs are the result of some type of cancer. The word CANCER strikes fear in the concerned pet owner. Cancer is a class of disease in which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth. Cancer, also referred to as neoplasia, may be benign or malignant. In simple terms, benign cancer refers to a type of disease in which the growth doesn’t spread and can typically be cured by surgical removal. On the other hand, malignant cancer displays the ability to spread and possibly invade organs, and typically requires aggressive surgical removal with or with out concurrent chemotherapy. It is important to point out and understand that benign and malignant cancers collectively represent an extremely wide spectrum of disease. It would be beyond the scope of this article to further classify various types of cancer. In the veterinary medical profession, just like the human health profession, we study and learn about different types of cancer everyday. It is impossible to describe and diagnosis any lump over the phone. If your pet has a lump or growth, it is important to see your veterinarian for an examination. Your veterinarian can observe the growth and find out a thorough history of the pet, taking into consideration the age and breed, when the lump developed, the growth rate, and any distinguishing features it may have. In some cases, the lump may only require close monitoring. Other cases may require the collection of tissue, better known as a biopsy, for a pathologist to examine. Your veterinarian can discuss your options after this assessment.

Disclaimer: This section is provided for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for regular veterinary care though a licensed veterinarian, including regular office visits.


I’ll just say this.  If you find a lumpy area on your dog, get your happy little self and your dog to the vet pronto.  And if you don’t handle your dog regularly, start now.  You need to develop a familiarity with your animals so that you have a standard on which to base future comparisons.  One client stopped by the office – without her dog – and demanded antibiotics for her dog.  She said that she knew her dog and that she knew that the dog had a urinary tract infection.  When she brought her dog in for an exam, the vet detected a mass in the abdomen, performed an x-ray, and discovered that the abdomen was full of a cancerous tumor which was interfering with the function of the internal organs, including the urinary tract. 

Lots of lumps are fatty tumors.  Your vet will know the difference.

Not Fun and Not Funny

October 18, 2009

Today was supposed to be the first day of a new term at my happy little universityette, endearingly referred to by those creative forces in the Business-Department-Naming-Club as… wait for it…”Fall II”. 

I say “supposed” because it never actually happened.  Oh, I went, alright.  However, in the topsy-turvy world of higher education, things go a little whoopsy sometimes.  It’s hard to be a world-class university when no one actually informs the professors that class is in session. 

I had a meeting with my advisor this past Tuesday evening.  I discussed the fact that I did not choose to take the “Advanced Human Resources” elective class taught by ventriloquist Jeff Dunham’s dummy Walter, since it was, after all, an “elective”.  Nor did I choose to take the other “elective” called Entrepreneurship.  Apparently, the word “elective” was just a fun little descriptive word.  It seems that I have to take three upper-level “electives”.  I’ve already had two.  And since taking Advanced Human Resources would happen as soon as hell turns into an ice rink, that left me with Entrepreneurship. 

I was attentive this week.  I checked my university account daily, checking for assignments or perhaps winning the lottery.  On Thursday, I found that there was an assignment.  Oh, the joy!  I read the assignment for the first three chapters.  I even double-checked the class time.  All was good.  I was to be on time for the class at 1:00 PM. 

I arrived at the classroom five minutes early.  But the door was already closed!  I looked in the door’s glass window, and saw, to my horror, Mr. Ventriloquist’s Dummy at the desk in front of a full class room of my co-horts.  Had the morning class been held over, all the way through lunch?  Was the earth rotating backwards? 

I didn’t go in the classroom, but kept going to the end of the hall where there was a lounge area where I could set up my laptop.  One of my classmates came out of the class and announced that the class in Advanced Human Resources was ready to start.  I told him that I wasn’t taking that one.  I was here for Entrepreneurship.  He said that the schedules got mixed up and some of the professors didn’t show, so they decided to have the Entrepreneurship class that morning, and that I should talk to my advisor in the next classroom. 

Now, I suppose that it’s not too much to want to be noticed, especially since I’m paying tuition and expecting someone to pay attention to little details, like informing said paying student that the classes were switched.  And even if this were a last minute switcheroony, there are several new technologies out called “cell phone” and “email” and “internet”.  The classes even have these new-fangled things called “breaks” during which someone could exercise new technology by calling/emailing/posting me. 

So today, I was all dressed up and nowhere to go.  I could be at a family wedding in NY – RIGHT NOW DAMMIT – but silly me thought that I should go to class.  Every Saturday, for the briefest of moments, I consider dropping out.  Today is no different.

Letter from Elizabeth “Betsy” Boling Gamble to her daughter Susan “Susie” Gamble Davis, Feb. 22, 1882

October 15, 2009

Knoxville, Tenn                 Feb. 22, 1882

Mrs. S. J. Davis

Dear Daughter

I take the present opportunity to write to you in answer to yours of January the 8th whitch come to hand and and found us as you will see here.  I am as well as I am for common.  Lizzie is not vary well at the present.  Dave Johnson’s family is as well as common & Sallie has neuralgia this winter.  She is vary fleshy.  H. H. Gamble and Eveline & little Hute Landon and E(???) Caroline, and Gilford Martheys Charity was all in town last Thursday.  All the conexion out there is well but Andy Davises little Hugh he has the fever.  He was getting better when they was here.  Huts Tish was married to Jack Ray the 12th of this month.  I was sorry that Lark went so far away from thair.  I wanted you all to stay close together.  I would like to see you all once more.  I will have them pictures soon as I can and send them to you.  Caleb Smith and Em has gone to Chattanooga.  I have not herd from them cinc they left.  I am at Maggies to night.  She is the wrighter of this letter.  I have moved in town.  I am deviding the time of stay at Lizzie’s part of my time at Mag’s and Sallie the rest.  Tell Dock and Matt I would like to hear from them.  I want them to write to me.  I have not forgotten them if they have me.  I will close asking you to write soon and often.  I would like to see Jane and Marthy and her family.  I hope Jane will hold out faithful to the last & hoping this will find you all in good health.  I close from

Your Mother

                Elizabeth Gamble

To Susie Davis

                Direct your letters to Knoxville

Mags family is in Tenn

Tolerable well

To night.

AskTheVet about your sneezing cat

October 15, 2009

Does my sneezing cat have allergies?

Allergies are just one of the main causes of sneezing in cats. There are many factors that may contribute to feline sneezing. For this discussion, I will group them into infectious and non-infectious diseases. Examples of infectious diseases may be viral, bacterial, parasitic or fungal. Some forms of infectious diseases may affect other organs of the cat’s body by manifesting other symptoms. Feline herpes virus is a good example because the virus replicates in the nasal passage and ocular area. Examples of non-infectious diseases would be nasal foreign bodies, nasal tumors, or allergies.

If your cat is sneezing, you should look for other symptoms that may warrant the need for a prompt veterinary exam. If your cat has a nasal discharge, cloudy eyes, or bloody discharge, you should have your cat examined immediately. If you suspect your cat is healthy and just has allergies, you should see if there are any environmental factors that could be triggering the sneezing. You may find a correlation between the use of some household cleaners, exposure to second-hand smoke, or seasonal changes to the onset of your feline companion’s sneezing.

The diagnosis of specific allergies may require several trips to your vet, a thorough investigation of your cat’s environment, knowledge of your cat’s vaccination history, and any exposure to other cats. Once you and your veterinarian diagnose allergic sneezing, your cat can receive a treatment plan to help reduce the sneezing.

A successful treatment plan may result from a quick trial of oral antihistamines to more involved cases that may require general anesthesia to allow flushing the nasal sinuses with sterile saline, and/or nasal cultures, and/or nasal endoscopy.

Disclaimer: This section is provided for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for regular veterinary care through a licensed veterinarian, including regular office visits.

Letter from Elizabeth “Libbie” Gamble Cochran to sister Martha “Mattie” Gamble Rhea, Sept. 5th, 1880

October 14, 2009
The letter begins on the right side

The letter begins on the right side

Pages 2 & 3.  Scroll back up to the first image for page 4 - it is next to page 1 on the first image.

Pages 2 & 3. Scroll back up to the first image for page 4 - it is next to page 1 on the first image.

Continuation of the letter, one week later

Continuation of the letter, one week later

Conclusion of the letter

Conclusion of the letter

My great-great-grandmother was Ruth Gamble Collins.  This letter is from her sister “Libbie” Gamble Cochran in Knoxville, Tennessee, to another sister, “Mattie” Gamble Rhea.  Transcription follows – comments welcome.


Knoxville, Tenn

Sept. 5th, 1880

My Dear Brother and Sister,

Your long, long looked for letter reached me this morning and I was so glad to hear from you.  I hope you are liking the place better every day.  My health is very much the same as when you last heard from me.  Jim and Minnie is well.  Mother is in with us now.  She seems as well as usual.  She received a letter from L.B. a few days ago, but has not answered it yet.  I wonder why he did not write to me – I can excuse you better than I can him for he has no little ones to think about or care for.  I heard last week that his son Lark was married but don’t know the particulars.  Dave & Sallie is living here in our house.  They are well.  What do you think about them coming to that country?  They talk about it sometimes.  Just say what you think about it.  I heard that Jo Rhea is getting ready to go some place in the west.  I suppose you heard about Grandma Johnson’s death.  Yes, and Dave’s mother died last March too.  Mollie was up there a while this summer.  Emma has been quite sick since I last wrote, but is better now.  It is her lungs that is troubling her.  I don’t think she will live long, although she seems to be improving rappidly now.  I stayed a week with her when she was so sick in June.  I have not been out at Knoxville since you was here.  I did think of going to doyls(?) Springs this summer.  But have not gone yet.  I have been lame with Rheumatism a great deal this summer.  You mus not let the children forget their old Aunt Lib.  By the way, Babies little red ball is here.  After you was gone several weeks I swept it from behind a trunk in the room where you packed your trunk.  It is put carefully away.  I will send it to him one of these days.  I forgot to send you some snuff in your letter.  I guess I will not get to see Ruth before I send this but will attend to it at my earliest convenience if Jo is coming where you are I might send (remainder of line is off the copied page) that there are several families going to start west from Loyal old Blount.  By the way Dock, don’t fail to vote for Hancock in November and get every vote for him you can.  It is high time we have a democratic President.  The Rads been in power long enough don’t you think?  So I think nearly every honest man about Knoxville is going for Hancock this fall.  I don’t know whether I will get to come to see you next fall or not.  Jim is trying another invention, but he will just about finish it in time to be too late to get a pattent on it as before.  I have just asked him but he is reading a novel and I just can’t get a word out of him.


Sunday Sept. 12th

One week since I wrote the other.  I did not intend to wait so long to finish it, but I have not been feeling well.  We have had cloudy cool weather.  So cool we made a fire.  I have wrote to Ruth but will not wait to hear from her, but when I do I will write to you immediately.  Mother says she has not drawn any money this year, but there is some due her now so it may be that I will succeed in getting it right away.  If so I will not delay in sending it.  Mother is still here yet she wants you to write to her and so do it, for she is just like a child.  She is sitting here now while I write.  She wants to go to Mags before she goes home.  Maggie is not well at all.  Sallie has your white rooster.  He is about as tall as Minnie.  We had to keep them penned up all summer.  There has been a good corn crop raised this year, and the finest sweet potatoes I have ever staw.  I think corn will sell cheap here.  I want to get me a cow for I am tired of buying milk and butter.  There is nothing like having your own milk and butter.  Minnie still has ??? book yet.  She knows all the alphabet and can spell small words.  (missing parts apparently referring to school) town ten months out of a year.  Charlie and Mollie are going.  This is their second week.  Don’t fail to send your children to school.  Educate them if you don’t have a nickel left for them when they are 21 years old.  Don’t raise them up in ignorance.  Tell Cale and Susie that I would love to shake their old hands one time more.  They know I always did love them and I have not forgotten how to love them yet.  I wish they could come to see me this fall.  Has Susie got so fat she can’t write?  I bet she would not know me now for I am nothing but a bag of bones, but Sallie is as lame as Mother used to be.  But, Mother gets less every day.  It is so cool that I have a fire this Tuesday the 14th.  Jim saw frost on the bridge this morning.  I recon I had better stop.  I have run out of anything to talk about (illegible) as I could see you.  Then I guess I could hatch up something to say.  I will try to put you in a dip of snuff the next time.  I will send a piece of my new calico frock.  Love to all.

I think Caroline ought to name no: 11 Libbie.  Write soon.


I use a lot.  When I apply the records on ancestry to old letters, I have a better appreciation of the correspondence.

In one of those too-good-to-be-true coincidences, the census was taken on the 16th day of June, 1880, just a few months before the letter was written. 

If I understand the census correctly, they lived in the 5th Ward, 1st District, on West Nelson Street, Knoxville, TN.

On 1880 census, the head of the household is James Cochran.  James is 40, Elizabeth Cochran is 37, and Minnie is 3.  The census states that Minnie is an adopted daughter. 

James and his father were born in South Carolina, and James’s mother was born in Virginia.  Elizabeth was born in Tennessee, as were her parents.  Minnie and her parents were born in Georgia. 

D. R. Johnson is Dave Johnson, who is married to another Gamble sister, Sarah, also known as “Sallie”.  On the 1880 census, Dave Johnson is 41, and Sallie is 31.  They have two children, Charles E., age 14, and Mary E., age 11.  That family group is all born in Tennessee, including Dave and Sallie’s parents.

Elizabeth “Libbie” Gamble Cochran died later in the year, according to one source on, but the next letter transcribed here will refer to “Lizzie” as not very well.