Tuesday, July 16, 2024


 By Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

1954 in America was a time of patriotism, thankfulness, and dedication to our Lord God. The evils of World War II were behind them.

All that was left were the memories of trudging in the slurping ankle-deep mud, the buddies saying their last words in their arms, and the sleep-deprived nights and relentless battles they fought for the sake of freedom’s cause. A new hope of prosperity opened before them, and the last thing Americans wanted was another war.

Yet, upon the horizon loomed an enemy, more dangerous than Nazism, more hideous than Mussolini, more devious than even Stalin could conceive—Communism.

President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill to insert the phrase “under God” into the U. S. Pledge of Allegiance.  The act was embraced wholeheartedly by Congress and the Senate and passed unanimously.

On June 14, 1954, President Eisenhower gave this speech:

“From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty. To anyone who truly loves America, nothing could be more inspiring than to contemplate this rededication of our youth, on each school morning, to our country's true meaning.

“Especially is this meaningful as we regard today's world. Over the globe, mankind has been cruelly torn by violence and brutality and, by the millions, deadened in mind and soul by a materialistic philosophy of life. Man everywhere is appalled by the prospect of atomic war. In this somber setting, this law and its effects today have profound meaning. In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”

It was not until this generation, nearly fifty years later, in July 2002 
a federal appeals court ruled that “One Nation Under God” was unconstitutional. This is “a profession that we are a nation ‘under God’ is identical... to a profession that we are a nation ‘under Jesus’.”

A nation ‘under Jesus’. The history of America stands on its own merit. The Pilgrims, The Mayflower Compact, the Constitution of the United States, and the Pledge of Allegiance, are our American Christian testimony. The imprint of our currency reads with “In God We Trust,” our songs of “God Bless America,” “Our Father ‘Tis of Thee,” and “Nearer My God to Thee”, all have the imprint of love for God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

No words could express the love of God and Jesus the American people felt after defeating the enemy that performed hideous atrocities to the Jews and anyone who stood in their way. In 1951, Ralph Pallen Coleman created this magnificent display of America’s reverence for their Savior. The painting is entitled “Onward Christian Soldier”, showing a praying American G.I. on his knees and a huge, white-robed Jesus, arms and hands open wide to embrace him. Above the praying soldier, in the clouds, are the images of George Washington, Pershing, Eisenhower, and Douglas MacArthur.

Many Americans were outraged over banning ‘under God’ from the National Anthem. On June 14, 2004, the Supreme Court, “Upheld ‘Under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance, reversing an earlier ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the teacher-led recitation of the Pledge, when it contains the words” under God,” was unconstitutional.”

Non-Christian religions may seek shelter within America’s borders, agnostics may not like it and atheists may complain, however, the United States Constitution has withstood centuries of their attempts to overthrow American beliefs.

Abraham Lincoln is attributed to saying, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we lose our freedoms, it will be because we have destroyed ourselves from within.”

Woodrow Wilson once wrote: “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do.”

The First Amendment states on religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Our founding fathers decided on this principle because if one religion had all the political power, then our freedom of religion would be lost. A multiplicity of religious views needed to co-exist.

Alexis de Tocqueville, a French historian who traveled extensively in America said, “Americans combine Christianity and liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive one without the other.”

This was illustrated in 1898 when the Mormons claimed that the First Amendment’s separation of church and state would prevent the United States government from making laws prohibiting their religious exercise of polygamy.

Using Jefferson’s letter regarding the idea of separation of church and state, the court showed that while the government was not free to interfere with opinions of religion, which frequently distinguishes one denomination from another, it was responsible for enforcing civil laws according to general Christian standards.

Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, had already established, “That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom…”

Ronald Reagan said, ‘If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.”

Christians throughout this land will pray for our Savior’s protection from America’s newest enemy. Not from the atheists’ attack, for there were atheists in America during the establishment of the Declaration of Independence. Not from the immigrants of non-Christian religions, for they know more about American evangelists, our Constitution, and the Bill of Rights than some Americans themselves know. No, only apathy can destroy this nation’s liberties, Americans who are unwilling to uphold what this country is founded upon.

Would a nation dedicated to upholding the values of God’s Ten Commandments, and Jesus Christ’s teachings be so terrible? Would a nation that strived to be a City on the Hill, a Beacon of Hope for the hopeless, a nation “under Jesus” be so awful?

When celebrating Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Flag Day, and Labor Day, remember what our forefathers, World War I and II Veterans, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Afghanistan War veterans already knew in their hearts, though some might not have known the verse. They dedicated their lives to protect it. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 1 Corinthians 3:17.

Waltz with Destiny

         A story-book romance swirls into a battle for survival—. Ruby’s daughter, Esther, meets her adventuresome match as World War II slams America’s shoreline. Eric is drafted into the 34th Infantry Rifle Division.  His friends drop like flies around him—can Eric persevere?  

“…I loved the suspenseful and well-crafted twists, turns, and vivid war scenes. They left me reading nonstop while biting my nails. Catherine’s lovely prose, sense of humor, and historical accuracy deliver an unmistakable wow factor…” Deb Gardner Allard AKA Taylor Jaxon, author of Before the Apocalypse 

Catherine is an award-winning author of the inspirational historical romance Wilted Dandelions, and Destiny Series, Swept into Destiny, Destiny’s Whirlwind, Destiny of Heart, and Waltz with Destiny. Her newest book is the inspirational Amish futuristic romance, Love's Final Sunrise.  She is a longtime Michigan resident and lives with her husband of 51 years, has two adult children, and four grandchildren.

See https://www.CatherineUlrichBrakefield.com for more information about her books.

Observer and Eccentric Newspapers Thursday, July 4, 2002, Rethink 1st Amendment about religious freedom



Monday, July 15, 2024

Now and Then: The Prices of Everyday Items – Part Two



Now and Then: The Prices of Everyday Items – Part Two

Thank you for joining me for the second installment of the prices of everyday items.

I recently researched dentists for my latest book as a new dentist is set to arrive in Horizon, Idaho. According to Authority Dental, the average cost of a typical tooth extraction in 2024 is $200. If surgery is required, that amount jumps to $300. If you’re looking for new teeth, the cost, per tooth according to Forbes Health is $3,000-$4,500. Need a mouthful? Plan on taking out a loan for the $60,000-$90,000 cost.

Travel back in time for some drastically different amounts:

Sutherland, Ray, and Keith, who tout themselves as the “painless dentists” are offering teeth for $8. Gold fillings are only $1.50 in the year 1887. Dr. Hurd in St. Paul will extract your teeth “without pain”. What’s more, your new teeth are “made the same day teeth are extracted”, so you’ll always be able to chew your food. He will even clean your teeth for free.



If neither Sutherland, Ray, and Keith nor Dr. Hurd are to your liking, Dr. Frank L. Ryder in Connecticut does his best to avoid extraction, but if you do need a new set of teeth, he charges $5 or $8 for the best quality with a three-year warranty. Extraction is only 25 cents. He also offers silver fillings starting at 75 cents and gold fillings starting at $1 in 1892.

During my research, I’ve noticed that cures are often offered as a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Case in point, Mr. Horne’s Electric Belt, “Positively cures rheumatism, neuralgia, liver, kidney and exhausting nervous disease”. Discounted at half off and on sale for $5 and up.

If you are suffering from constipation, Smith’s Medicated Prunes will help. It’s only 50 cents a jar in 1880, and “all druggists sell them”. In addition, they are touted by “leading physicians”.

Dr. Baxter’s Mandrake Bitters will purify your blood for only 25 cents a bottle, also in 1880.

Ely’s cream balm will provide relief for hay fever, headaches, and head colds, and it even promises to give relief to deafness. It’s also, “Free from injurious drugs and offensive odors” and is “applied into each nostril”. In 1887, you can purchase this fine medicine for 50 cents.

If you suffer from dandruff and other “diseases of the scalp”, Stedge’s “tonic for the hair” is available for only 50 cents a bottle in 1881. According to D.V. Stedge, his product, “Stops the hair from falling out; invigorates the hair nerves…and gives it a beautiful and healthy gloss that cannot be obtained without its use”. Even in the late 1800s, marketing was key!



Speaking of hair, curlers were on sale for 5 cents, a reduction from the regular price of 15 cents.

Finally, in 1891, the People’s Mammoth Installment Company in Omaha offered multiple items at incredible sales including the following:

·         Baby carriages, regularly priced $4-$30, now on sale for $1.90-$16

·         Clocks (regularly priced $2.50) now on sale for $1.25                       

·         Ice boxes (regularly priced $17) on sale for $11.50

·         Rocking chairs usually priced at $2.75 on sale for $1.25

They offer special terms, for instance, if you purchase $15 worth of items, you’ll pay “$1 per week or $4 per month”. If you go on a shopping spree and your total comes to $200, you’ll pay “$5 per week or $20 per month”.

Until next time, thank you for joining me for another segment. Have a wonderful week!




Penny Zeller is known for her heartfelt stories of faith, love, and humor and her passion to impact lives for Christ through fiction. While she has had a love for writing since childhood, she began her adult writing career penning articles for national and regional publications on a wide variety of topics. Today, Penny is a multi-published author of over two dozen books. She is also a fitness instructor, loves the outdoors, and is a flower gardening addict. She resides with her husband and two daughters in small-town America and loves to connect with her readers at www.pennyzeller.com.

Download a FREE copy of An Unexpected Arrival when you subscribe to Penny’s newsletter here




Sunday, July 14, 2024

Happy Birthday to…A Cartographer, Geologist, and Cartoonist

Today we celebrate three women who received awards and accolades for their achievements in literature, theater and film, and sports.

Happy 274th Birthday to Aaron Arrowsmith

British Cartographer

Born: July 14, 1750

Birthplace: Winston, England
Died: April 23, 1823 (72 years old)

Confession ~ I love maps!

I think it’s so fun when a movie shows a plane or a boat or a car moving along a route.

So I’m excited to wish map-maker Aaron Arrowsmith the happiest of birthdays.

His primary claim to cartography fame are his maps of Scotland (1807) and North America (1796).

Trivia Tidbits
  • Hydrographer to the Prince of Wales c. 1810 and subsequently to the King in 1820. (Hydrography is the study of the measurements and physical features of bodies of water.)
  • Arrowsmith’s older son, also named Aaron, compiled a Biblical atlas along with other geographical compilations.
  • Mount Arrowsmith, located on Vancouver Island, is named for the senior Aaron and his nephew, John Arrowsmith, another member of the Arrowsmith family of cartographers.

Meriwether Lewis, prior to embarking on the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition, studied the 1802 edition of Arrowsmith’s A Map Exhibiting All the New Discoveries in the Interior Parts of North America (originally published in 1795).

Lewis and Clark contributed information for a later updated edition.

Happy 162nd Birthday to Florence Bascom
U.S. Geologist

Born: July 14, 1862
Birthplace: Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States
Died: June 18, 1945 (82 years old)

Recognized as the first female geologist in the U.S., Florence Bascomb earned both a Bachelor of Arts (1882) and a Bachelor of Science (1884) from the University of Wisconsin—an unusual accomplishment for a woman in late 19th century.

But she wasn’t finished breaking through the “rock” ceiling yet!

Dr. Bascomb went on to earn her master’s degree in geology from UW in 1987 and her Ph.D. from John Hopkins University in 1893. She was the first woman to earn a degree from JHU and the second woman in the U.S. to receive a doctorate in geology.

Less than three years later, she became the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Career Highlights
  • Taught at Hampton Institute of Negroes and American Indians (now Hampton University) in Hampton, Virginia; Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois; and The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio;
  • Founded the department of geology at Bryn Mawr College in 1895;
  • Became a councilor then vice-president of the Geological Society of America—the only woman to hold both those offices.
Dr. Bascomb was also an editor of the American Geologist and a member of several scientific societies including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, and the Geophysical Union.

Her parents encouraged their children’s educational pursuits. John Bascomb taught at Williams College and later served as president at the University of Wisconsin. Emma Curtiss Bascomb, a women’s rights activist, was active in the suffrage movement.

Dr. Bascomb isn’t renowned only for her “firsts” but also because of her legacy of significant discoveries and her pioneering influence as she trained women geologists who created their own scientific legacies.

Happy 114th Birthday to William Hanna
The Hanna in Hanna-Barbera

Born: July 14, 1910
Birthplace: Melrose, New Mexico, United States
Died: March 22, 2001 (90 years old)

Who else remembers sitting in front of the television on Saturday mornings watching the hilarious antics of cartoon characters?

We can thank William Hanna and his partner-in-cartoons Joseph Barbera for creating many of those beloved shows, including Tom and Jerry, The Jetsons, The Smurfs, Yogi Bear, and Scooby-Doo (one of my faves since I loved mysteries—still do!).

They also created The Flintstones, a parody of the 1950s hit The Honeymooners, which “was the most financially successful and longest-running network animated television series for three decades” (Flintstones).

TV Guide ranked the animated series, loved by kids and their parents, as the second-greatest cartoon of all time (2013). The Simpsons ranked first.

Fun Facts 
  • A coin toss decided whose name came first.
  • The Hanna-Barbera team, in the creation of 150 cartoon series, produced more than 3,000 half-hour television shows.
  • Tom and Jerry won seven Academy Awards.
  • Hanna, a musician who sang in a barber shop quartet, wrote the theme song for The Flintstones
  • The Huckleberry Hound Show won an Emmy in 1960, the first animated show to receive the coveted award. 

Your Turn

Whose birthday party do you most want to attend? You can…
  • Study historical maps with Aaron Arrowsmith;
  • Hike wilderness trails in search of interesting rocks with Florence Bascomb; or
  • Draw cartoons with Mr. Hanna.

Johnnie Alexander writers “Stories Past and Present” in multiple genres. A fan of classic movies, stacks of books, and road trips, she shares a life of quiet adventure with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her racoon-treeing papillon. Visit her at johnnie-alexander.com.

Photos ~ individual photos in public domain; images created with Canva. 

Downloaded from Pixabay:



Aaron Arrowsmith ~ Rosita Forbes’ quote

Florence Bascomb ~ personal quote

William Hanna ~ personal quote

Flintstones ~ citation

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Trailblazing Americans: Mother-Daughter Duo Competed in the 1900 Olympics

Margaret Abbott
Only once have a mother and daughter competed in the same Olympic event at the same Olympics, and it happened 124 years ago.

Like this year’s Olympic festival, the second modern Olympics competition was held in Paris, France. For the first time, women athletes were allowed to compete in an Olympiad. Tennis, archery, sailing, equestrianism, rowing, croquet, and golf were open to them, perhaps because women could participate in these activities while still dressing modestly.

Even before she unknowingly became
an Olympian, Margaret Abbott gained
recognition as an outstanding athlete
-Boston Globe, 1898
Mary Abbott, a novelist and literary reviewer, and her daughter Margaret travelled to France in 1899. Mary wanted Margaret to study art and culture in Paris, like many socialite women of the time. Both were accomplished golfers back home in Chicago, where Margaret had won several amateur tournaments. When they learned an international women’s golf tournament would be held, both mother and daughter decided to enter.

The event took place in October 1900 at Compiegne, a nine-hole golf course 80 kilometers from Paris. Of the 10 entrants, Mary tied for seventh place, but Margaret won with a score of 47. The Olympics committee eliminated golf after that, so Margaret was the sole Olympic women’s golf champion until 2016, when the sport returned to the line-up. She was also the first-ever female Olympic champion from the United States.

Ironically, Margaret died in 1955 without even knowing she had been in the Olympics. Because the games were overshadowed by the World’s Fair, many athletes were unaware they were participating in Olympic events. When raising her four children with her husband, American writer Finley Peter Dunne, Margaret referred to her victory in a French golf tournament. It wasn’t until some years after her death that a university professor, while researching Abbott’s life, informed her family their mother had been an Olympic trailblazer.

Margaret Abbott at the golf tournament
in Compiegne, France, in 1900
Part of the confusion arose because the Olympics were held in conjunction with the 1900 Paris World’s Fair. The Paris committee did not make clear which events were considered part of the Olympics. Some events were designated as World’s Fair exhibitions and were added to the official Olympic roster after the fact. In addition, the games took place from May to October in numerous locations. Instead of gold, silver, and bronze medals, the awards included various types of prizes such as, according to one report, an umbrella. Margaret received an old, gilded porcelain bowl as her prize.

Despite being unaware she was an Olympian, Margaret Abbott’s name is inscribed on a plaque listing all American Olympics medal winners at the United States Olympic Committee’s headquarters in Colorado.

Though not described as part of the Olympics,
Abbott's win was reported in the Chicago Tribune

Multi-award-winning author Marie Wells Coutu finds beauty in surprising places, like undiscovered treasures, old houses, and gnarly trees. All three books in her Mended Vessels series, contemporary stories based on the lives of biblical women, have won awards in multiple contests. She is currently working on historical romances set in her native western Kentucky in the 1930s and ‘40s. An unpublished novel, Shifting Currents, is a finalist in the nationally recognized Maggie Awards. Learn more at www.MarieWellsCoutu.com.
Her historical short story, “All That Glitters,” was included in the 2023 Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction collection and is now available free when you sign up for Marie's newsletter here. In her newsletter, she shares about her writing, historical tidbits, recommended books, and sometimes recipes.