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May 27, 2017

Thread below the Gardening Thread: Cows and the Alamo [KT]

Serving your mid-day open thread needs


Here's a little history for a Saturday: Many Americans today may not know that Elsie the Cow was both the face of the Borden Company and one of the most popular celebrities in America during her heyday. She's no Hedy Lamarr, but she has had quite a list of accomplishments for a cow who started out with the name "You'll do, Lobelia".

Back a little further in time, there were quite a few nameless cows at the Alamo, presumably lost to the Mexicans. Now this is some history I really didn't know anything about: The Borden Brothers whom Elsie eventually came to represent were running one of two Texas newspapers when the Texas revolution started. After his brother joined the army, Gail Borden, a former schoolteacher, carried on as editor with another brother and a partner.

On March 30th, the Borden brothers and their partner disassembled their press and evacuated San Felipe with the Texian rear guard, a short distance ahead of the advancing Mexican Army. They set up the press in Harrisburg two weeks later, and just as they were about to go to press with new issue - the Mexican Army caught up to them. The soldiers threw the press and type into the nearest bayou and arrested the publishers. Fortunately, the Bordens did not remain long in durance vile, for in another week, Sam Houston's rag-tag army finally prevailed.

Gail Borden was still raring to go in the newspaper business, and mortgaged his Texas lands to buy a replacement press. The Telegraph resumed publication in late 1836. . .

When the brothers sold their interest in the newspaper, Gail Borden tried out careers in politics and real estate before developing an interest in food preservation. His first product, a long-lasting dehydrated "meat biscuit", won a prize at the London World's Fair and was popular with Arctic explorers, but did not win him a contract with the U.S. Army.

Yet he persisted.

It took Gail Borden three years of experimenting, developing a vacuum process to condense fresh milk so that it could be canned and preserved. . . . By the time that he died, in 1874 - back in Texas and in a town named Borden, after him - no one could deny that he had not been wildly successful as an inventor and innovator.

So, if Sam Houston's army had not prevailed after The Alamo, there likely would never have been an Elsie the Cow.

No Eagle Brand Condensed Milk? No Pastel de Tres Leches?

I think this little excerpt from the link at the top of the post is an interesting window into America of Yesteryear:

Elsie traveled to Hollywood in 1940 in a private railroad car to play Buttercup in the film, Little Men. Her calf, Beulah, was born during this time, and Elsie and Beulah returned together for the final summer of the New York World's Fair.

Special provisions were made for the birth of Beulah's little brother. Elsie was making a guest appearance at Macy's around the time she was due, so Macy's put up some temporary drapes in the store window where Elsie was the main attraction. The baby was born quite discretely without having to be in public view.

Then a contest was held to name the baby bull. One million entries were received and ultimately the judges picked "Beauregard" in honor of the Civil War Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard at the Battle of Bull Run. (They clearly disregarded the fact that Elsie would have been a Union cow.)

Hope you have a great weekend. Planning something memorable?


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posted by Open Blogger at 11:10 AM

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