A Daughter’s Eulogy About Her Mr. Mom Dad

I celebrate the life of my dad Francis Richard Sudol. My father lived by two rules in life 1) To tell it like it is and 2) To put family first. He was born during the height of the depression as an only child. His mother Nellie, emigrated from Poland in the late 1920’s. She married Frank Sudol the handsome son of a social club owner.

After the wedding, they moved into Frank’s parent’s home. Frank had trouble finding work in the 1930’s. It was Nellie who found employment with good wages shortly after the birth of her son. Richards parent’s dreamt of a family home of their own. Nellie felt enormously guilty and sad to leave her new born son in the care of her in-laws.

Richard Sudol would not have the stay-at-home mom to raise and comfort him during his childhood. Yet, his mother loved him dearly.

His parents focused on the present day happiness.   They gave their very best in creating a Catholic American life for their child. Their church was the inspirational center of their lives.   The Sudol family saw the importance of their religion and their church in raising a family.

It was providence that Richard would meet his soul mate Bernadette during church confirmation.

Bernadette was also an only child and that is was what initially bonded them together. They remained inseparably in love with each other from the time they meet at 14.

Richard and Bernadette married young, at the ages of 19, and 20. Bernadette’s father suddenly died of a heart attack when she was 19. Now Richard became the only man in her life.

At 24, Richard Sudol became both a parent and a new home owner. These two titles seemed to be a package deal.

My father also became a Mr. Mom to me in my preschool years. My mother went to work and he went back to school to learn the linotype printing business. This arrangement brought more time spent with my dad instead of my mom during my preschool development years.

It’s interesting when an only child raises a daughter. My father had no idea the differences of raising a girl from a boy because he did not have a sister. His grandmother and mother were not your typical female role models. My father raised me with little regard to my state of girlyness. This empowered me to believe I could be whatever I wanted to be – like a cowboy or a doctor. My dad would never say you can’t do that because you are a girl. In his own fantasy we could be whatever we wanted to be as long as we lived with him forever.

My father faced a new era of fatherhood when his only son was born in 1961. The birth of his son was also at a time when his career was very secure and promising. He moved his family into a small cape cod with a big yard and lots of open space. My mom finally got to be the stay at home mom.

Richard loved to take his family, on vacations to Niagara Falls and other northern treks. However, printing presses do most of their production at night. My dad was a night shift manager and that meant he was not there for after school occasions. He made up for his absence on Sundays when the entire family went to Sunday Mass. We had the traditional roast beef dinner together afterwards.

Just when Richard thought he would only be the father of four, he was surprised to be a father of another daughter at the age 37. This was also the decade when Richard and Bernadette found attraction in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. My parents had thoughts of a recreational home or maybe a retirement place in the far off future. They bought their first recreational property on Faraway Road in Dalton New Hampshire.

They piled all the kids in the car and went for an 8 hour road trip to their newly owned campsite. Family camping was a very uncomfortable experience. I got up from the tent in early dawn because nature called, and my parents were afraid that I had been abducted. After that they stayed at motels. Nine years of visiting the family’s forest, Richard finally decided to buy a family cabin down the dirt road from his property that was for sale.

The family also moved into a bigger house in Bloomfield NJ and soon one by one his children would go off to college, get married and leave the big house that he bought to hold his whole family. This was a very hard concept for my father to accept – that his children would grow up and leave him. He told us how lucky we were to have a brother and sisters and that we should always stick together because we are a family.

Through thick or thin, good times or bad we became a family that stuck together. My father made this his core mission in life. However, his children would venture onward to a new path of their own. But, these ventures eventually brought new joy to him. His children added grand kids to the Sudol Homestead of two grand-daughters and two grandsons in alternating order.

Life was very good for Richard Sudol. At the age of 83, he remained stoic and in the present moment though his terminal lung cancer. Richard had all his children gathered in their favorite family White Mountain cabin before going home.


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Newsboy Edison

Thomas Edison had an unconventional education. He did not start school until he was eight years old.  Port Heron Michigan did not have a public school so he attended the private Reverend G. B. Engle School that was closest to his home.  This school had rigid classroom discipline and Edison had a free inquisitive spirit that could not be tamed.  The school claimed Edison was a slow and restless pupil and he needed strict reprimanding.  His mother Nancy Edison strongly disagreed with the school’s evaluation of her child.  Fortunately, Nancy Edison’s past profession was being a Canadian school teacher and her solution was to home school her own son. The academic course work Nancy Edison helped to motivate her son came from reading R.G. Parker’s School of Natural Philosophy and in the later years from The Cooper Union (http://www.cooper.edu/). Historians estimate that Edison had less than a year of classroom schooling in his lifetime.  Yet, he had great academic skills and a real passion for reading books.  Many of the books he read were advanced literary works for his age.

In Edison’s boyhood era, child labor laws were nonexistent or very lax. It was not unusual for children twelve years of age to procure regular employment with minimal adult supervision.  The Fort Gratiot train depot was a just a short stroll from the Edison family home. So, at the age of twelve, Edison found his first job working for the railroad.   He became a candy butcher on the Grand Trunk Railroad selling snacks and newspapers to passengers. He got to experience traveling each day on the sixty-mile run from Port Huron to Detroit.  Preteenager Edison hitched a ride on the best the late 19th Century offered in distance high speed transportation while most adults were still traveling by horse and carriage to their jobs. The long lay overs in this city presented him with a real world of discovery.  This enabled a precocious young boy the time to explore the big metropolis on his own terms.  He was given several hours each day to the city.  He made use of this idle time by joining the Detroit Young Men’s Society.  This gave him access to the place of his dreams, a large library and reading room.  Edison recalled his childhood library visits stating “I didn’t read a few books, I read the library.”

Edison’s childhood jobs kept him in the epicenter of technology. It was the rail system that also ushered in the telegraph system.  The telegraph area was the news network center that provided the information for the newspaper publication industry.  As the rail station newspaper boy, he was in the epicenter of all national news during a momentous time of America’s own Civil War.  Young Edison was alerted to milestone battlefront news hours or even days before the rest of America.  This new technology of the telegraph piqued his interest. He got to witness the telegram transmissions being relayed and he read all he could about telegraph communications with dreams of being a telegraph operator.  Edison wish came true by a twist of fate.  Edison got the telegraph operator position when he saved three-year-old Jimmie MacKenzie from a runaway train heading his way.  Jimmie’s father was the Mount Clemens, Michigan station agent J.U. MacKenzie and his gratitude for saving his son’s life was to train Edison as the new telegraph operator. This was a job that started the innovative and technical journey that would become the hallmark of his ingenious life.

Thomas Edison had an extraordinary blended education of dual experimental and academic learning. But, his deepest gratitude was to his professional academic teacher with these sentiments “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” And Thomas Edison’s childhood Fort Gratiot Depot was turned into The Thomas Edison Depot Museum in 2001 that offers educational programs in electricity, energy, communications and magnetism to Port Huron’s local school children.

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Cats BoxingMany think of Thomas Edison as an inventor of the incandescent light bulb or phonograph but, few realize the cultural impact he had for creating the world’s first motion picture studio that still parallels to today’s digital video culture. The world’s first motion picture studio was built by Thomas Edison in 1893. History also gives credit to Edison’s lead staff engineer William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, who not only helped to develop the motion picture cameras and projectors but also produced these short motion picture films.

The most humorous popular videos on YouTube are the antics of cats. Thomas Edison thought cats were cool to film too. His new film production company -Thomas Edison Inc., filmed two cats boxing in 1894. Professor Henry Welton had an entire stage comedy act that featured cats trained to perform all kinds of skits. So, cat videos were being made before the 20th century. Ironically the boxing cats were captured on film using a movie camera that was nicknamed the Doghouse by Edison because of its size and wooden composition. Some have surmised that the cat boxing film created in July 1894 was actually the first spoof video because; in June 1894 the Leonard–Cushing boxing bout was filmed. Each of the six one-minute rounds was recorded by the Kinetograph (dog house movie camera) and these short films were sold to exhibitors for $22.50. Patrons who watched the final round saw Leonard score a knockdown. The Leonard–Cushing boxing bout produced in the Edison studio was definitely the most hi-tech sports coverage of the 19th Century. We can imagine what a hoot it must have been to have a follow up film a month later of two cats boxing.

The Edison movie studio would coin new tongue in cheek lexicons that have lasted into the 21st Century. The studio was called the Black Maria. It was erected and unveiled in December 1892, on the lot of Edison’s lab and factory location in West Orange, NJ. It was a black hulking wood and tarpaulin structure. Edison first promoted it as the “Kinetographic Theater.” But, its comic name the “Black Maria” (a moniker for the police paddy wagon) became its popular name that stuck. It jokingly did have the qualities of a boxy policy paddy wagon especially since it was black in color and had wheels. Today the name Black Maria conjures legendary short cinematic artistry but, in its era the name brought a little chuckle from its theater stage performers. In 1981 the popular film festival and annual competition of short format films (less than one hour) was named the Black Maria Film Festival in honor of Thomas Edison’s first motion picture studio. Would the festival have been called the Kinetographic Theater Film Festival if Edison didn’t have a sense of humor in accepting comic names for his inventions?

Another interesting parallel to the 21st Century is that Edison believed that video shows should be made for individual private viewing. It took some convincing to make him accept that an entire group of people would be interested in watching a film in a theater. Would he not have the last laugh seeing all the individual video display devices we have today? Maybe today we still can find a great read in the Nickelodeon article written August 1, 1910 entitled “Who’s Who in the Film Game: Facts and Fancies About a Man You Know or Ought to Know,”.   Even today he is still somebody we ought to know in the video industry’s history

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Thomas Edison Remained Happy With His Money Pit of An Iron Ore Mine in Ogdensberg, NJ

Thomas Edison Was Happy Being the Iron Mine Boss with Money Pit Losses

Thomas Edison was a great inventor but not all of his projects were as bright as his electric light bulb.  In 1892 Edison relinquished his reign in the electric industry with the merger of his Edison General Electric. It was combined with several other companies to form one corporation.  Feeling diminished by this merger, he wanted to find another brilliant new venture.  He advertized “I’m going to do something now so different and so much bigger than anything I’ve ever done before.  People will forget that my name ever was connected with anything electrical.” That something bigger was iron ore mining and refining.

The US Eastern Iron industry was a tough business to be in.  What was left in eastern iron ore mining were poor yields that contained rock and debris.  Unfortunately, steel production from this iron ore needed to be free of impurities.  Edison thought he had the answer to this perplexing problem with electromagnet separation.  Edison reasoned that since iron is magnetic, an electromagnet could separate the iron from the debris and purify it.

In 1889 he put Sussex County’s Ogdensberg, New Jersey on the map with perhaps the largest ore-crushing mill in the world. This mill pulverized large chunks of ore that came directly from the mine.  Edison‘s big plan was to process 1,200 tons of iron ore every 20 hours.  With three magnetic separators, it could produce a total of 530 tons of refined ore.  However, technical problems with his machinery always seemed to persist.

Edison even shut down his mill in 1892 thinking that different replacement parts could improve production.  But, it was more than machinery issues that kept this business in the red.  His new business also had a dismal customer list.  The other unforeseeable factors contributing to the demise of  his business was the abundant discovery of better iron ore deposits out west and the emerging railroad lines capable of moving mass loads of ore cargo to far distances.

It wasn’t long before the iron ore business started to become a big money pit for Edison. He lost a great deal of money.  It had become even a harder iron pill to swallow.  To finance the operation, he had sold his stock in General Electric.  It was a stock that kept rising in value.  His sold shares would soon reach four million dollars. His response to his bad investment decision and the missed out wealth in GE stock was “Well, it’s all gone, but we had a hell of a good time spending it.”He eventually found good fortune again and recovered from this loses with his phonograph and the motion pictures business.

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Thomas Edison – A Landmark NJ Movie Studio for The Silent Movie Mogul

by  Michele Guttenberger

Fascination with the silent movie era has become a theme in recent award winning movies such as “Hugo” and “The Artist”.  We can only imagine what society was like hundreds of years ago through printed words, but these silent movies transport us with actual film footage on what was awesome a hundred years ago.
Thomas Edison became the first silent movie mogul.  The starting point of this new industry was envisioned by William K.L. Dickson an English engineer employed by Edison.  Edison was persuaded by Dickson to support experiments for moving pictures in his New Jersey laboratory.  The result was the Kinetograph camera and the Kinetoscope viewer both US patented in 1891.
On December 1892, the first motion picture studio located in West Orange, NJ was unveiled.  It was a black hulking wood and tarpaulin structure.  He promoted it as the “Kinetographic Theater.” But, its comic name the “Black Maria” (a moniker for the police paddy wagon) became its popular name that stuck especially since the structure was black too and had wheels.  Filming was done by Edison’s Kinetograph a huge wooden camera the size of an average doghouse that Edison himself referred to as “The Doghouse.”

New Jersey’s Black Maria studio churned out the first movies produced in the United States.  They were truly short films – none of them exceeded 30 seconds and they were viewed like today’s MP3 players for individual viewing only.  The Kinetoscope viewer also had a second name too called the Peep Show Machine.  In 1894 the first Kinetoscope (Peep Show) Parlor opened in Manhattan.

However, vicious competition soon developed with the inception of foreign movie studios. The early silent film industry lacked patent and copyright rights from the burgeoning US and European film industry.  The British Animatograph film projector invented by Robert W. Paul was essentially a copy of Thomas Edison’s unpatented Kinetoscope. Edison did not file for European patents on his movie equipment. Obtaining cheaper versions of the Kinetoscope was a boom for the French theatre. In April 1896 the Théâtre Robert-Houdin was showing films as part of its daily performances.

In retaliation to revenue lost in European sales of movie equipment, Edison found compensation in his ability to duplicate a European hit film and make distribution of these copies to US theatres. In 1902, agents of Thomas Edison nabbed a London Theater copy of “A Trip to the Moon” by Georges Méliès (honored in the movie Hugo). This enabled Edison to make hundreds of copies and had them shown in New York theatres.  Méliès received no compensation. Eventually, even Edison pushed for copyright protection on artistic material.

The movies studios may have moved to the world arena, but silent movie history remains in New Jersey.  You can still view the Black Maria, the Kinetoscope, along with some original Peep Show silent films at the Thomas Alva Edison Museum -NPS.  Visit website for more details http://www.nps.gov/edis/index.htm

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Edison Electric Car Jan2011wpa

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The Thriller Side of Thomas Edison’s Inventions

Halloween season is here and an almost lost thriller-Thomas Edison’s Frankenstein celebrates its 101 year anniversary.
In 1910, Edison’s studios, with James Searle Dawley as director, produced the very first Frankenstein film. The film came to be known as “Edison’s Frankenstein”. For many years, this 12 minute film was thought to be lost forever. Added notoriety was given to this film when in 1980 The American Film Institute asserted that Edison’s Frankenstein was one of the top 10 culturally historical “lost” films. Thus, the existence of any copy of the film was widely sought after by cinema historians. For many years the only cinema memorabilia available was a single photo shot of the wild haired monster scowling into the camera. The monster was portrayed by Charles Ogle. He was part of the Edison Stock Company Players. With a centennial anniversary of this classic horror film there was an intensive search by a few diehard cinema collectors. Their persistence in their search finally rendered an intact copy. In a Wisconsin basement an eccentric film buff Alois Dettlaf obtained a copy back in the 1950’s for just a few dollars. Dettlaf did not use Eastman House or AMPAS preservationists’ professionals to help preserve the film from further deterioration. Included in this found collection was the Edison Co’s catalogue summary of the film for its distributors:
“To those familiar with Mrs. Shelly’s story it will be evident that we have carefully omitted anything which might be any possibility shock any portion of the audience. In making the film the Edison Co. has carefully tried to eliminate all actual repulsive situations and to concentrate its endeavors upon the mystic and psychological problems that are to be found in this weird tale. Wherever, therefore, the film differs from the original story it is purely with the idea of eliminating what would be repulsive to a moving picture audience.”
Frederick C. Wiebel, Jr a history author and artist was passionate in getting Dettlaf’s copy restored and transferred onto DVD format. Wiebel detailed the restoration process and the history behind the film in his book “Edison Frankenstein” and received commendation from the Library of Congress for his efforts.
Thanks to people like Wiebel, Edison’s Frankenstein can be downloaded and viewed 100 years latter by the public. See free link

This is a movie that in 1910’s leading trade publication Moving Picture stated “… no film has ever been released that can surpass it in power to fascinate an audience. The scene in the laboratory in which the monster seemed gradually to assume human semblance is probably the most remarkable ever committed to a film.” (March 19, 1910).

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The town was Brockton, Massachusetts.  The inventor was Thomas Alva Edison and the
year was 1882.  This was when the world’s first standardized central power system was conceived for the city of Brockton months before Edison’s plans for New York City.Read more Edison Powers America

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Thomas Edison’s Unique Friendships

Thomas Edison Bipartisan Friendships

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