Tony the Firefighter’s News in a Nutshell

August 7, 2006

News in a NutshellTony’s taking a day off to “explore his options” after realizing that his boss is a. . .pinhead. But he has still thoughtfully brought you today’s offering of “news in a nutshell.” The Israeli-Hezbollah war is still the only game in town on TV. However, we were able to learn of a promising new use for modern technology.

It seems that 21-year-old Katy Tanner of Cardiff, Wales took off from work at the Blue Banana, a body piercing “studio,” one too many times. When she finally turned on her cell phone the next day, she found a text message from shop manager Alex Bartlett, notifying her that she’d been fired. Just think, no more awkward meetings with those unproductive, hung over, or Internet-obsessed employees!

According to the CBC, “The company also defended the sacking-by-text message as a way to keep modern. ‘We are a youth business and our staff are all part of the youth culture that uses [text] messaging as a major means of communication. . .Therefore, as we wished to spare Miss Tanner the embarrassment and expense of coming into the store only to be sent straight home again, it was decided this was the best course of action to take.’ ”

The Confederacy in Ellenton, Florida

Big Word Alert!

Since news pickings are slim, we’ll have a little history lesson instead, based on a scarce unused 1920 Azo Tri 2 real-photo postcard (also known as an RPPC) of the Gamble plantation in Ellenton, Florida. Shown in a state of disrepair prior to its 1925 donation by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to the State of Florida, the mansion was built in 1844 as the nucleus of Major Robert Gamble’s sugar plantation, but its true claim to fame is as the hiding place of the Confederate Secretary of State, Judah Benjamin, a notable Jewish-American who took refuge here after the fall of the Confederacy until he could flee to England, after an anti-Semitic rumor began to circulate that he masterminded President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

Born to Sephardic Jewish parents in Saint Croix, his family emigrated to the U.S.; his father, Phillip Benjamin, was one of the founders of the “Reformed Society of Israelites for Promoting True Principles of Judaism According to Its Purity and Spirit” in 1824 in Charleston, SC, home of the first Reform congregation in the United States.

Judah BenjaminAfter emigrating to Louisiana and establishing a sugar plantation and a legal practice, Judah Benjamin sold his plantation and its 150 slaves in 1850, never again owning slaves. Just as he was beginning a term in the U.S. Senate in 1853, he had the opportunity to be the first Jewish nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he declined outgoing President Millard Fillmore’s offer and declined a similar offer by President Franklin Pierce the next year. Benjamin resigned from the Senate in 1861, due to Louisiana’s secession from the Union.

He became the first Jewish person in the cabinet of a North American government in 1861, when Jefferson Davis appointed him as the first Attorney General of the Confederacy. That same year, he became the Confederate Secretary of War; in 1862, Davis appointed him Secretary of State. His goal as Secretary of State was to draw the United Kingdom into the war on the side of the Confederacy. Immediately after the Civil War ended and due to his rumored role in Lincoln’s assassination, the postcard caption states that Benjamin hid here at the Gamble house for five months, finally escaping via an open boat to the Danish West Indies while disguised as a “Negro.”

He fled to England, eventually becoming the Queen’s Counsel, and died in Paris in 1884, interred at Père Lachaise cemetery under the name Philippe Benjamin. Many people collect vintage postcards by photographer as well; the photographer of this RPPC was named Mumm. What would you do in the dog days of August without us?

Read some health news of interest to firefighters.

Copyright ©2006

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