Monday, February 23, 2015

Ship's Sensors Detect A Day of Birth

Nurse Chapel

Ohio has produced 24 NASA astronauts including Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Jim Lovell and Judith Resnik. Resnik was even recruited into the astronaut program in 1978 by Star Trek actress Nichelle "Uhura" Nichols who headed a project to attract women and minorities to the agency.
Ohio is also the birthplace of Cleveland native Majel Barrett on February 23rd 1932. So happy birthday!
Who?
Spock denies Nurse Chapel's interface attempts
While not having the direct influence or notoriety as Nichols, Majel was involved in nearly every single incarnation of the Star Trek franchise. Nicknamed "the First Lady of Star Trek" she is best known as the iconic female computer voice in five Star Trek series' and several of the movies including the 2009 reboot. She also portrayed several recurring onscreen TV characters such as Nurse Christine Chapel in the original series (promoted to Dr. Chapel in the movies) and lusty Betazoid Ambassador Lwaxana Troi in The Next Generation and Deep Space 9.

Hello Nurse!
Thanks to Gene Roddenberry's progressive visions of the future, her first Star Trek gig was in the 1964 pilot The Cage as Number One, the ship's first officer. NBC network executives thought Mr. Spock the alien science officer was too demonic looking and they didn't care for a woman playing such an uppity lead role. In 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act, Americans weren't quite ready for strong female roles on TV or in real life. Roddenberry was pressured to give the first officer spot to the now half alien, less demonic looking man and demote the Earth woman to a more suitable role for the 23rd century. A sexy blonde nurse. Because it was really 1964 America. I suppose the show would have been much different without the misogyny but...wow. It wasn't that long ago. Interestingly, Chapel's unrequited love for the mostly emotionless alien Mr. Spock would become a plot subject in the series. I guess by the end of the 60s, the network censors were okay with a little inter-species mind noodling, and Chapel even carried Spock's essence once.  I've learned this relationship has become the subject of some tawdry fan-fiction. Google it. I try to keep it PG-13 here.

Gene and Majel in the 80s on set
When the first series ended in 1969, Majel married Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Besides her Star Trek work she produced and played roles in other science fiction shows such as Andromeda and Babylon 5 as well as doing voice overs for animation and video games.
Gene died in 1991, Majel in 2008 and their ashes will be launched into space by the company Celestis in 2016. The space burial will include among others, fellow Star Trek co-star James "Scotty" Doohan who died in 2005.
Not a bad legacy for someone who's college dream was to become a legal clerk.

other sources:
-Majel Barrett Bio on roddenberry.com
- IMDB.com
-MemoryAlpha

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Yeatman's Cove. All Cincinnati folks know what this is. I'll bet most have no idea who this Yeatman person is.
For those unfamiliar, Sawyer Point Park & Yeatman's Cove is an outdoor recreational area along the Cincinnati Riverfront. It's popular for many outdoor events like the annual Riverfest Fireworks, Party in the Park and other large community events. The area has a spectacular view of the Ohio River and the bridges from many places including the sprawling Serpentine Wall. You can almost always catch a barge or a steamboat chugging down the river. There are playgrounds, tennis courts, and trails to enjoy. It's very nice place to bring a family, maybe catch some live music or just walk around on a nice day.
1869 sketch of Cincinnati in 1802. The tavern would have been just above the boats by the tree.

illustration of the Square and Compass
of unknown date/origin but it seems old ;-)
Griffin Yeatman, a Virginian born lawyer built the first public house in Cincinnati OH in 1793. Yeatman, a Freemason, called his 2 story log tavern the "Square & Compass", no doubt a nod to the symbol of Freemasonry. Located at Front and Sycamore (where the left field of Great American Ballpark is now) this became the center of social and political activity in the fledgling city with around 800 citizens. A "Who's who?" of the Old Northwest such as Marquis de Lafayette, George Rogers Clark, Andrew Jackson, Aaron Burr, William Henry Harrison, Arthur St. Clair, and Mad Anthony Wayne frequented the tavern. Over time the country became more partisan and so did the Tavern. By 1800 only old Federalists (who tended to be Freemasons) hung out at Yeatman's while the new up and coming Democratic-Republicans (who tended not to be Freemasons) started going to future first Cincinnati Mayor, David Ziegler’s general store next door. Things never change. The new generation always wants their own stuff, new ideas and cool places to hang out.

1936 marker on building prior to the
baseball stadium being built at the location.
Griffin Yeatman wasn't just some attorney turned bar owner. He was a real big shot. For 27 years Griffin served as the Hamilton County Recorder, County Clerk, and Justice of the Peace. Don't be fooled by the word "tavern" either.  Oh sure you could get a pint of ale and a meal at the "Square and Compass" but it wasn't the chicken wing, burger and craft beer type place we know today. Many taverns of that time served as multi-functional community spaces, much like the modern public park that bears his name. The "Square and Compass" also acted as a hospital, post office, court and town council. By 1819 Cincinnati,  now at 9,000 citizens, had 70 other taverns but I suspect they were more along the lines of our modern notions.

It is difficult to come up with much else on the man or his tavern. I can't find a single image of Griffin or his bustling public house. It's a bit surprising that no period sketches of this high profile spot seem to exist and one would think a man of such prominence would have sat for a portrait or two. Griffin died at age 79 in 1849 of "rush of blood to heart" (?) and like many Cincinnati VIPs is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.
It is worth noting that even though Griffin Yeatman's full story seems to be lost to time, there are attempts to honor his name with an annual Griffin Yeatman Award. The award recognizes people who work to help others understand historic preservation and promote public interest in the topic. <ahem>

sources:
FindAGrave.com - Griffin Yeatman
University of Cincinnati Historical Maps
Cincinnati Cemeteries: The Queen City Underground 
BeerMumbo - Yeatman's Tavern
OhioPix - Ohio Historical Society managed repository of Ohio images
- Cincinnati, a Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors (1943)