No matter who you were in the ancient world, the seasons were of vital importance. You marked the ebb and flow of time by your harvests, which ensured your survival or demise. While the typical ancient person went through life believing gladiator blood cured epilepsy or that tiny demons lived in cabbage, they were at least on top of seasonal changes. And it didn’t escape their attention that after the longest night, daylight began to creep back into their lives.
The barren rocks of St. George Reef had been swallowing ships for decades. Lying about six miles northwest of Crescent City, California, this peak of a submerged volcanic mountain near Point St. George had been known and feared by sea captains for years.
In ancient Greece, some mystics used mirrors as a form of fortune telling and divination, a practice called catoptromancy. These “mirror seers” would dip a looking glass into water before having a sickly person look into it. If the image was distorted, they were done for. If clear, all would be well.
Pancakes stuck around, spreading through cultures across the world. People in the burgeoning United States ate thin, European-style pancakes at any time of day, but that changed around the 1780s. Cooks began to thicken them up with pearl ash, resulting in hearty rounds. Unlike bread, they were quick and easy to make first thing in the morning before a hard day of manual labor.
About ten minutes later the Carpathia, then 58 miles away, called in to say that there was a batch of messages waiting for the Titanic from Cape Cod. The reply was “Come at once. We have struck a berg. It’s a CQD OM (old man). Position 41.46N, 50.14W.”
If he anticipated finding a restful atmosphere when he got there, he was about to experience extreme disappointment. When he arrived, mutinous Spanish settlers were in a fury over the supposed bountiful riches of the New World. Many returned to Spain, where they complained about gross mismanagement, incompetence, and tyranny to the Spanish court.
For John, life as a druggist was sweet. Business was booming, his son was growing like a weed, and he had a lovely home with 20 acres of corn, potato, sugarcane, and watermelon. He made a mint selling various proprietary products like “Dr. Sanford’s Great Invigorator,” “Eureka Oil,” and the occasional medicinal wine.