Access America

Popular Culture, History, and Current Events

Apollo 11 – An Alternate Universe

By Sibylle Machat

No, this blog post is not about conspiracy theories connected to the Apollo program, Apollo 11, or the moon landing. Instead, it is about an alternate universe in which the first moon landing had a less fortunate ending, a “there but for the grace of god” in reverse.

The day: June 20, 1969, around 6 p.m. UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).

Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin have successfully landed on the moon, completed their famous moon walk, taken photographs, collected about 20 kg worth of lunar rock and soil samples, and have finally re-entered Eagle (as they named their lunar lander). They’ve slept for a good seven hours, and, now that they are both awake again, the time has come to lift off from the moon, to get back into lunar orbit, rendezvous with Columbia, where their crewmate Michael Collins is awaiting their return, and to, ultimately, head back to earth.

So Armstrong and Aldrin fire the Eagle’s engine.

And … … … nothing happens.

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Banking Amish-Style

By Sabrina Völz

When my colleagues and I started this blog, I would have never in a million years thought I would be writing about a bank. But nearly five years later, here I am. I wouldn’t even be surprised if this story ends up as a case study in business textbooks around the globe.

Prior to the Amish Conference 2019 on Health & Well Being in Amish Society held recently at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, I went on the Amish Enterprise Tour which introduced conference participants to Amish businesses in the area: Ruth Anna’s Gluten-Free (wholesale) bakery, DS Stoves, and The Bank of Bird-in-Hand.

“The Gelt Bus” Photo credit: Sabrina Völz

Today, farm land in areas, such as Lancaster County, heavily populated by various Amish groups, is hard to come by and quite pricey. With an average of 6 to 7 children per Amish family, farming is no longer an option for everyone. Thus, more and more Amish, including women, are opening up their own cottage industries and small businesses. Apart from religious considerations that need to be negotiated with their church leadership, Amish entrepreneurs have encountered similar problem to those of many people in mainstream society while starting small and mid-sized enterprises. Branch banks founded in other parts of the country often do not seem to be interested in small loans and fail to understand the local people and their ways.

In order to meet the needs of this segment of the population, 15 people, 10 of whom were Amish men, decided their area needed a community bank. So they did like the Amish do. They rolled up their sleeves and got to work. The Bank of Bird-in-Hand is the result of the joint venture between Amish and non-Amish investors as well as professional bankers. The Gelt Bus (Pennsylvania Dutch for “Money Bus”) was only one of the adjustments to traditional banking that had to be made.

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American Studies Blog Contest

“pen_mesh_bw” by Sean Biddulph is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As we approach the 5th anniversary of the American Studies Blog (http://blog.asjournal.org/), we decided to celebrate by asking you – our readers – to participate in the joyful occasion of our first blog competition.

Although blogging has changed over the years, it’s still a great platform to voice your ideas and share content with people around the world. Now choose a topic that fits into at least one of three zeitgeisty categories and try your talents:

  • Access America (Popular Culture, History, and Current Events)
  • Best Books & Fabulous Films (Reviews and More)
  • Teaching Tools (Tips, Tricks, and Tools of the Trade)

And remember: The sky’s the limit.

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The Berlin Blockade

By Andreas Hübner

Berliners watch a Douglas C-54 Skymaster land at Tempelhof Airport, 1948

Seventy years ago, on May 12, 1949, the Berlin Blockade came to an end. Nowadays considered a cornerstone of the Cold War Era, the blockade had been initiated eleven months earlier by the Soviet military administration in response to the introduction of a new currency, the Deutsche Mark, in the American, British, and French occupation zones of Germany and the allied sectors of Berlin. The Soviets understood the D-Mark as a prelude to the establishment of a single economic unit and a new government in West Germany. Thus, to prevent the distribution of the currency and to force the Western coalition to abandon the city, the Soviet military administration began blocking West Berlin, halting all rail, road and barge traffic as well as cutting off gas and electricity supplies.
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Teaching the Next Generation – A German Saturday School in the U.S.

By Christoph Strobel

It’s Saturday morning ten after nine. After a half hour drive, my two daughters and I pull into the parking lot outside a school that is situated in an affluent Boston suburb. We are among over 400 students (ranging from age 4 to 17), their parents, and about 40 faculty and staff members. Every Saturday morning, this building serves as the German Saturday School Boston (GSSB), founded in 1874 by the Boylston Schul-Verein.
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