The Black Dog

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Hi my name is Jake. Three years ago I was a senior in high school. I had the opportunity to write and compete in a high school writing contest for the International Bipolar Foundation. I won first place and this is my essay.

The Black Dog


The life of Thomas Alva Edison

Who he was-Thomas Edison was an inventor. He was born on Feb. 11, 1847. To middle class parents in the town of Milan, Ohio. He had adhd which meant he had a hyper active behavior which made his teachers upset and impatient. Thomas Edison never stopped asking questions and had a self centered view on life. He was deemed “odd” by his peers. He started his job as a newspaper salesman. He peddled out by the railroad track.


Three things Thomas Edison was famous for-

1.The first electric vote recording machine

  1. He helped Benjamin Bredding make the first two way telephone.
  2. He invented the first practical dictaphone

What are your thoughts about this person?

Edison was very smart and used his skills to create better items for the world. He had difficult beginnings and people didn’t always understand him but he persevered and never give up. I believe Thomas Edison is the most influential person that ever lived.


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Think that politicians are off their rocker? I don’t blame you. No Matter what political party you belong to, there is no argument that most have more than one screw loose. And if there is any city in USA that has plenty of loose screws that is none other than San Francisco. But probably never in the city’s history (or the American government’s) has there been a more eccentric or bizarre character than Joshua Norton, the first and still only Emperor of the United States of America

The Emperor was born in England somewhere between 1814 and 1819, but grew up in South Africa. Joshua Abraham Norton moved to the US in 1849 with about $40,000.00, a little over one million in today’s money, to his name to seek his fortune. After some successes in real estate, he tried to make a monopoly in the rice industry with unsuccessful results that ruined him. Probably embarrassed, he left San Francisco for a short time.

Then, on September 17 1859, he entered a number of articles to various city newspapers declaring himself the “Emperor of these United States,” and later “Protector of Mexico.” For the next 20 years he paraded around the city inspecting his “realm” and delivering his own brand of philosophy and wisdom to all who would listen in an old navy uniform with golden epaulettes, a worn out old saber, gifts from the local military fort, and often with a beaver hat with a peacock feather and a brass rosette. (see picture). The people however decided to play along with him, giving him real royal treatment and the imaginary monarch was genuinely loved and respected by his “subjects”.

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He was given free meals at restaurants, rides on the trolley, a reserved seat at theaters and city council, and had a yearly inspection of the Army post at the Presidio of San Francisco. He only accepted handouts if the giver gave them as taxes and had his own money printed that was jokingly used by local business and were great souvenirs for visitors. His Imperial residence was just a room in a boarding house that he lived in for free. He even stopped an anti-Chinese riot by standing between the groups and recited the Lord’s Prayer. Another interesting event of his “reign” was when a police officer actually attempted to arrest him and send him to an asylum. The people were outraged and demanded that their Emperor Norton be released. The chief of police complied, issued a formal apology and had the police force salute the Emperor whenever he was present. His Highness saved the embarrassed policeman’s job by issuing an Imperial Pardon for the man who arrested him. He also printed a number of decrees, often printed in the city’s newspapers, demanding things like disbanding the Republican and Democrat parties, creating a League of Nations and even was a leading supporter of building the San Francisco-Oakland Bridge, a command finally obeyed long after the Emperor’s death, starting in 1933 and completed in 1936.

Some fascinating rumors spread around Emperor Norton during his “rule.” There was some talk that he sent a letter to Queen Victoria of the British Empire, asking for her hand in marriage. Some also said that he was the son of Napoleon III although Norton never claimed that, (and Louis Napoleon would still be a kid when Joshua Norton was born). Other people said that he was secretly still rich and only faked insanity. He is reported to have met a real emperor, Pedro II of Brazil when the South American monarch made a visit to the US and really did write to Queen Victoria, though I doubt she wrote back. On his way to a lecture at the California Academy of Science, His Majesty fell from a stroke and died on January 8 1880. His funeral had about 30,000 mourners and even a three gun salute. In 1934 a new tombstone was placed on his grave that said: Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.

The Emperor Norton remains a figure admired, laughed at and laughed with in American lore and San Francisco culture. He has inspired characters or appeared as a character himself in books, comics, role-play games and musicals by various authors including Mark Twain, Christopher Moore, Neil Gaiman and Robert Anton Wilson. Several western and anthology television shows have done an episode on the American Emperor including “Bonanza.” There is a walking tour in the city called “Emperor Norton’s Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine” with a guide dressed and acting as Joshua A Norton. There is even a parody religion, Discordianism, that has him as a second class saint (first class is for fictional characters) and one of the oldest LGBT organizations, the International Imperial Court System, uses the Emperor as an inspiration. (Well it is San Francisco!) The founder, Josè Sarria, gave himself the title “the Widow Norton,” and is buried at foot of his hero’s grave.

Every January 8 in the city he once ruled celebrates Emperor Norton Day. In America’s capital of Eccentricity, he still reigns  as the King of Eccentrics and is still the only monarch of the United States of America.

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Legend City


In the past few months I have shown you all some pretty cool places, a fairy land in the desert, Seattle’s bridge troll, a city of the future and Paul Bunyan’s hang out. All these places, however, are still open and available to visit and explore. This time I’m giving you one that’s odd because it is no longer in existence except as beloved memories of an older generation . A wild and western paradise for kids and adults alike, the Disneyland of the Desert, Arizona’s legend of Legend City.

Arizona’s first and only theme park of this particular size started in 1961 by a 32 year old artist, dreamer and advertising agent named Louis E. Crandall. After a number of visits to the Magic Kingdom, Six Flags over Texas and California’s Frontier Village, Louis dreamed of bringing all of that to his home in the Valley of the Sun. That year he created Legend City Inc. and sold up to one million dollars in two dollar stocks and a down payment was made for an 87 acre landscape on East Washington and 56th Street near the Phoenix and Tempe border in Papago Park and began work on his wild western dream. Construction began on December 30 of that year and opened about eighteen months later on June 29 1963 with half a million visitors on its first day.

Like Disneyland, Legend City was divided into different “lands” each with a different (although still going for an old west feel) with the Indian Village or sometimes Island, the Boom Town, Gay 90s Village (don’t laugh at the name!) Legends of Tomorrow, Mexican Village and the Ghost Town. There were many different attractions including a sky ride, Cochise’s Stronghold; a Jungle cruise like river boat ride, and the ever popular and only ones to last the whole twenty years of the park, the Lost Dutchman’s Mine and the crazy Dutchman’s Shack. Live entertainment was provided as well. The 1965 Miss America, Vonda Kay Van Dyke performed as a singer and ventriloquist at the Coca-Cola Golden Palace Saloon at the park. Arizona’s unforgettable television heroes, Wallace and Ladmo, performed shows live at Legend City throughout the park’s run and advertised it on their long running local TV program. Legend City also had probably the largest crime problem in the state as every day seemed to have a bank robbery or train holdup by desperate desperadoes, but was stopped by the lawmen every single time! Strangely these crimes always happens when large crowds were around.

Most sadly, despite the wealth of joy and fun it provided and gave, Legend City was constantly struggling with money. On the end of the first season the park was up to $1.2 million in debt! Having no fire insurance and not being able to afford a bank to print out a financial statement. Louis Crandall, clever as he was, was to apparently too trusting of everyone to be much of a businessman. He only served as president of Legend City Inc. for one year. The park was placed into receivership and Louis moved to Provo, Utah with his family where he opened the Crandall Historical Printing Museum and is still running it for as far as I know. Legend City tried a new business plan but was soon liquidated in September 1966. Luckily it was saved by U-Haul and was almost renamed Frontier Family Fun Park in 1969. At this time the park started to evolve into more of a traditional thrill ride park instead of the intended Western theme.

Even though Legend City survived but trouble continued to plague it. A number of accidents happened, even a couple of deaths, did not help the park in any pleasant way. The biggest problem was the park’s seasons were open during the hotter summers and Phoenix did not have a large enough population at the time to support such a large theme park. U-Haul eventually lost interest in Legend City and sold it to the Japanese amusement park ride manufacturer, Continental Recreation Inc. They closed the park again little more than a year of running. The park made its longest, and probably most successful run in June 1976 when it was bought by the Capells, a family of traveling carnival operators. Even though they were making at least one million dollars a year, Legend City’s western theme was now little more than a memory and the park was starting to look its age. Eventually the land the amusement park was on became more valuable than the park itself. With much sorrow, Legend City held its last hurrah on September 4, 1983. A few months later it held a two day auction and the rest was bulldozed. What stands there now is the corporate office of the Salt River Project, without so much as a plaque in memory of the once loved Legend City.

While gone, however, Legend City is far from forgotten. In 2001 the official Legend City website (simply just went online containing a great collection of memorabilia, photos, recollections and even some songs and videos of the park and its history. The creator of the website, John Bueker, also wrote a book about Legend City in 2014 for Arcadia Publishing for their large “Images of America, series. In June 22, 2013, former employees, visitors and celebrities of Legend City with friends and families, including Wallace, from Wallace and Ladmo, Vonda Van Dyke, now Vonda Kay, the Capell family and even Louis E. Crandall himself celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Legend City at the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tempe, Arizona. In November 6 of last year the same museum held a special exhibit of our long lost western paradise and the its still running until October 2 of this year so hurry up and visit before its too late! Since Legend City closed its gates for the last time there has been at least 17 failed attempts to build a major amusement park in the Grand Canyon State. Sure we have Castles n’ Coasters, several water parks and some pretty cool zoos, and yes they’re fun and all but do any of them live up to their lost forbearer? I say it is high time we start to build a new theme park, a spiritual successor to Legend City. So will any of you folks out there please kindly lend me a few billion dollars to get the project started? Oh come on, I’ll give you all a free Icee and corndog on opening day and let you all ride first on the New Lost Dutchman’s Haunted Mine.


Presidential History


Presidential History


In America we live in a Constitutional Republic made up of three branches: executive branch, legislative branch and judicial branch all of which rely on a system of checks and balances in order to prevent one branch from becoming more powerful than the others. While the legislators are the ones with the most power because they write the laws, and the judicial branch is responsible for upholding laws or overturning them, the branch with the most influence both domestically and abroad is the executive branch even though they have the least amount of power. To elect the president, the people elect the members of the electoral college by having 2 senators from each state plus the numbers of each state’s representatives and the representatives are proportioned by the population of each state and the 3 delegates from Washington DC. In order to win, the candidate must earn a total of 270 electoral votes. There are a total of 538 electors. The executive branch is headed by the President of the United States and his main roles include enforcing the laws, veto or sign bills passed by both houses of congress, ask permission from congress to go to war, and in times of national emergency has the ability to issue executive orders without congress’s approval. Though limited in power, a President’s agenda and policies are usually used as a way to set a model for which they hope the nation will follow. Some of the more charismatic presidents within the past 30 years include Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and the current President Barack Obama. Some people remember the names of the 44 presidents but not that many people actually know the order in which they were elected nor do they really understand the significance of each president and what they actually accomplished.

In the early years of this country the two more prominent leaders were General George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who was nicknamed “The Father of The Declaration of Independence”. General Washington, the hero of the Revolutionary War, went on to become the first President and later Thomas Jefferson became the third President. Following the Revolutionary War, the early milestones occurred when in 1803 Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Lewis and Clark expedition and was also responsible for paying the french $15 million (over $319 million dollars in 2015) in order to acquire the Louisiana territories comprised of 827,000 square miles which is now the central region of the United States. The United States wasted no time expanding their power and influence

Civil liberties have always been called into question since day one of this great nation. The earliest president to care for the rights of African Americans was John Quincy Adams who only served 4 years in office. John Q. Adams, who is the son of John Adams, was never given a fair shake due to the fact that John Q. Adams and Andrew Jackson stalemated in the electoral college which lead to the House of Representatives to break the deadlock. This was the first and only time in our nation’s history where we had to let the house decide and a ⅔ majority is required to win. Most people at the time believed that the system was rigged and the house and Adams junior created a backroom deal to decide the presidency. So if you add what happened in the election and his anti-slavery and pro-abolition agenda, John Quincy Adams essentially became enemy number one. This was just one early battle in a long fight for equality for all races. After Quincy Adams, it wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln became president that we finally had a political leader who deeply cared about abolitioning slavery.

Since the emancipation proclamation signed by Lincoln on January 1, 1863 freed all slaves, every generation since is responsible for advancing civil right for all races. Some of the key steps taken to ensure equality for freed blacks include the 13th amendment with the abolition of voluntary and involuntary slavery and servitude along with the 14th and 15th amendment allowing people of all races to vote and equal protection from the laws. Later, the 24th amendment was passed in 1966 which requires the prohibition of poll taxes at polling stations. These taxes were set up to create barriers for blacks and minorities to suppress their voting rights. Presidents play a key role in passing amendments because an amendment first goes through the House and Senate requiring ⅔ of the vote in each chamber of congress. The president has the ability to sign the amendment before a state convention can be held, and if  ¾ of the states vote to ratify the amendment, that amendment gets added to the United States Constitution which is the law of the land. If, however, the president fails to sign off on the proposed amendment, then no convention of the states can occur and the amendment then fails to be ratified. As you can see, the president of the United States does serve a certain amount of influence on American politics even though they have limited powers.

In addition to civil rights for blacks and other minorities, gender equality has also been an ongoing equal rights movement that continues today. Over the last 240 years this country has had certain presidents that have had an extremely hard time advancing civil rights and the overall well being of it’s citizens. During World War One  (1914 to 1918) President Woodrow Wilson had zero chance to put forth his socially economic policies and subsequently during World War Two (1939 – 1945) President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) had similar problems carrying out his socialistic policies. President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s (LBJ) advancement of Military operations in Vietnam prevented Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights Movement from gaining national attention. These catastrophic wars at the time were merely a distraction from the real American issues like civil liberties. While Woodrow Wilson, FDR and LBJ failed to focus on race equality during their presidencies, a new era of equality movement evolved once the 1970s rolled around. That movement was the women’s rights equality.

Following Roe V. Wade, pro-abortion became the top issue in the women’s rights movement and the second most important issue was income inequality. In the early 1970s when Richard Nixon was president, the pro-women and pro-abortion activist were pushing to get congress and the president to sign off on an Equal Rights Amendment and President Nixon declined to sign such an amendment which became a win for the pro-life activists. Following Nixon’s resignation, President Gerald Ford decided to prevent congress from voting for the proposed Equal Rights Amendment which became another win for Pro-life activist. There were two assassination attempts on Ford’s life over his inaction over women’s rights. Both attempts were carried out by women. One of the women was deemed mentally ill and the other claimed she did it to show her disappointment with Ford’s position on the women’s rights movement.  In spite of all this the feminist movement is alive and well and some women are still fighting for the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.

In a country where Equality and personal liberties are the highest priorities, it is important to remember that this government is run by the consent of the people not the political elites. The societal behaviors and functions depend on the influence of the president, but ultimately the president does not have any control over creating laws and must decide what is best for the country when a proposed bill awaits his signature even if that means going against public demands. Finally the most important part happens where if you don’t like the current president you have the power to vote he or she out of office.