April 0002

Venetian Sedan Chairs (2), St. Jake Of Pasadena, Another Aviation Accident.


We’ll be brief here, as I’ve got to get my hair done and Stan is supposed to be fixing the car. Imagine a leather cylinder with a floor attached seamlessly. I think they used glue and fine stitching. That was it basically. There was a Mica window to look through and sometimes a periscope. You climbed in through the top – there was a rope ladder on the side. The carrying poles were attached to leather flanges around the main body, and the bearers avoided drowning by using snorkels – the first recorded use of them.

They went out of vogue because even the small waves in the canals of Venice were often enough to swamp them, and quite a few dowagers engaged in assignations drowned, causing regular scandals. Also, Napoleon’s soldiers thought it was funny to use them for target practice. The occupants didn’t.

The amphibious sedan chair turned out to be quite important in the development of the submarine, as many of the early ones were made at the Naval Yards just outside Venice using ideas first seen in them.

Actually Jenny was quite prolix. I’ve edited this by about 95% as she appears to have written a list of things to do for Stan on the same sheet of paper. Thanks anyway Stan and Jenny.


A scene from the 1952 film of Schiffer’s opera. Duke Ambrosio (left) tries desperately to prevent the fatal meeting between Carlo (middle foreground) and Antonella (approaching Carlo) while Ludovico (in the sedan chair front right) escapes with the keys to the treasury.


Cowboys don’t really make good candidates for canonization. There were too many temptations in the form of whiskey, loose women, and life on the range. St. Jake was an exception. He originally acquired a reputation for holiness from his habit of saying a prayer over every gunslinger he killed in shootouts, but now is mostly remembered for his pithy sayings:

“The way I figure it, no rootin’ tootin’ redskin’s a gonna get salvation, leastways, not this side of the apocalypse.”

“Old Man J.C. was forever a-sayin’ “Consider the lilies” but I’m a sayin’ to you, “Consider the cows”.

“I opine that God’s grace is there for all, mebbe even rattlers and redskins”.

He is also remembered for converting the entire Black Dog tribe to Christianity, some say at gun point, shortly before they were wiped out by the sixth cavalry, and for running the Chi-Rho Ranch, which sent cattle to stockyards all over the West.


A reader has been kind enough to send us the text of a sermon by St. Jake of Pasadena, in which he explains how he was converted to Christianity. This is a very rare item. Here’s the key part of it.

“One time, me an the boys was a plottin to rob the Third National Bank in Dodge City. We was mighty serious about it too. We even darn well planned the whole operation!  Anyways, the Culver City Kid was the driver, and Elmo the F*gg*t was ridin’ shotgun.  Black Bart was to run into the Bank, yellin’ this is a darn hold up, an’ shootin’ all over the place, an I was supposed to hold the sack to put the money inta. Anyways, the night before, I drank a coupla bottles of whiskey to steady ma nerves. I reckon’ I musta dozed off, cos next thing I’m a seein’ is an angel of the Lord. That sure was some sight! Her hat, her gunbelt, her wings, her chaps, they was all ashimmerin’ with this uncanny glow, an she a-said to me “Jake, Jake, goest thou not unto the Third National Bank that lieth in Dodge City in the morning, for thine gang of desperados shall be wiped from the face of the earth. Thou hast been warned!” An so I went back t’ sleep, and I guess that was a dang miracle, cos I didn’t wake up till the aft’noon, and next thing I’m a hearin’ that ma boys done the raid without me, and they all got shot, an buried out on Boot Hill, an I learned ma lesson from that. Praise the Lord.”



Etienne Guilbert was the first man to die in an aviation accident. He lost a bet with some friends that he couldn’t climb to the top of the Montgolfier balloon they were traveling in, in August 1795, and plunged to his death in the countryside near Etaples, France. The site is commemorated by a small statue commissioned by his grieving aunts.