Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A New Biggest Tree in Illinois

From the April 29, 2018, Chicago Tribune  "New preserve lays claim to biggest tree in Illinois" by Ted Gregory.

It's in Mt. Morris, about 100 miles west of Chicago.  And, it is 122 feet tall and nearly 29 feet in circumference eastern cottonwood and lives in Bald Hill Prairie Preserve.  The former biggest one is a cypress tree in the Cache River Natural Area near the southern tip of the state.

Bald Hill Prairie Preserve is a new 160 acre acquired by the Byron Forest Preserve District.

Between the wind, ice storms and soil conditions in Illinois, very few trees grown taller than 120 feet.  Eastern cottonwoods are particularly vulnerable as their wood is very weak and typically only live to be 70 to 100 years.  They estimate this one to be about 200 years old, the same time Illinois became a state.  So, it could be our Bicentennial Tree.

I remember my first encounter with a cottonwood in Round Lake Beach, when ones in the neighborhood let loose their seed parachutes which resembled dandelion fluff.  I had just had sod put down and said, "Oh no you don't.  I'll have no dandelions growing in my sod so ran out and started clearing them away until I realized it was a futile effort."

Well, I was the guy looking around Woodstock, Illinois, for the Woodstock Arts Festival in 1969.

Our friends Kevin and Kelly have a big old cottonwood in their yard on the Chain of Lakes.

Not the Sharpest Pencil in the Box.  --CootStupid

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Bum Gave All in 1919

From the February 6, 2019, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1919, 100 Years Ago.

"A big strapping fellow put in an appearance at the police station last night, and asked for a night's lodging.  When asked if he had any money, said he was broke, and that he had given $100,000 to the Red Cross, and had helped every other war cause with his money.

"The man gave his name as Fred Sturgeon of U.S.A. and after a night's sleep at the city hall, he was accompanied to the western city limits and given  the usual orders for such characters."

Hit the road Jack and don't you come back.

In Other Words, Vamoose!!  --Cooter

Friday, August 16, 2019

Ranking the 100 Best Chicago Bears-- Part 5: Jim McMahon, Punky QB

Here's hoping the Chicago Tribune will put this out in book form.

*  means I have heard of them

60.  Willie Gallimore*

59.  Jim Osborne

58.  Mike Brown

57.  Neal Anderson*

56.  Jim McMahon*  The Punky QB.  My favorite Bears quarterback.

55.  Dick Gordon*

54.  Wilber Marshall*

53.  Otis Wilson*

52.  Wally Chambers*

51.  Dick Barwegan

Have You Seen Any of Your Favorite Bears Yet?  --BearCoot

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Ranking the 100 Best Chicago Bears-- Part 4: Keith Van Horne and Mike Hartenstine

* means I know who they are.

70.  George Wilson

69.  Tommie Harris*

68.  Keith Van Horne*

67.  Mike Hartenstine*

66.  Mike Pyle*

65.  Ed O'Bradovich*

64.  J.C. Caroline*

63.  Julius Pepper*

62.  Mark Bortz*

61.  Mark Carrier*


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Ranking the 100 Best Chicago Bears-- Part 3: From Gould to "Big Cat"

80.  Khalil Mack*  That first game as a Bear.  Wow!!

79.  Jim McMillan

78.  Jay Cutler*  I sure had high hopes for him.

77.  Bill Osmanski*

76.  Johnny Lujack*

75.  Bennie McRae

74.  Robbie Gould*  Kicking just hasn't been the same since he left.

73.  Jim Dooley*

72.  James Williams*  "The Big Cat"

71.  Jack Manders

Dose Bears!!  --DaRoadDog

Ranking the 100 Best-Ever Chicago Bears-- Part 2: The "Butt Head" and the Plank

* means I have heard of him.  Again, these also include recent and current Bears.

90.  Kevin Butler*  The "Butt Head"  All those field goals and a Univ. of Georgia grad as well.

89.  Beattie Feathers

88.  Alshon Jeffery*

87.  Lee Artoe

86.  Brandon Marshall*

85.  Kyle Long*

84.  Bill Wade*

83.  Zuck Carlson

82.  Doug Plank*  The 46 Defense

81.  Eddie Jackson*

Da Bears.  --DaBearsDog

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Ranking the Best-Ever Chicago Bears-- Part 1: The "Refrigerator"

The Chicago Tribune has been running this series all summer long, one player a day with a half page on each with information and a picture.

I am taking this list from the August 9, 2019, edition "#28 George Trafton."

He is one of the first Bears from 1920-1921 and quite an interesting character whom I will write about in the future because of the real early NFL.

Anyway, here is the list of Bear players.  *  means I have heard of them.  These include present-day players as well.

100.  Patrick Mannelly

99.  William Perry*  The "Refrigerator" and one of my all-time favorites.  I mean, you just had to love the "Fridge."

98.  Tom Thayer*

97.  Hugh Gallarneau

96.  Joey Sternamam

95.  Akiem Hicks*

94.  Gary Famiglietti

93.  Ed Brown

92.  Matt Suhey*

91.  Bill Karr

Da Bears.  --CootBear

Monday, August 12, 2019

World War I: The Almost Blog

I seriously considered starting an eighth blog back in 1917, to mark the centennial of World War I.  But, with the blogs I already had, I decided that would be way too much so it never came to be.

I wrote a lot about the war, however, in this blog.  Up to this post, I have written about World War I a total of 577 times.

And since George Halas had a World War I connection, I will write about him next.

Seven blogs are too much as it is.

Sure Glad I Didn't Start An Eighth Blog.  --DaCoot

Missing the Boat May Have Saved George Halas' Life-- Part 4: From U of I, to Decautur to Da Bears

Why was George Halas late?  One report later speculated that  he had overslept.  Patrick McCaskey, his grandson, said it was because Halas was obsessed with gaining enough weight to play football at Illinois, so his brother took extra time to weigh him that morning.

"My grandfather went back to the University of Illinois with a renewed sense of purpose, " McCaskey said.  "He felt very fortunate from that day forward."

Five years later --  after Halas graduated from Illinois, served in the Navy during World War I and played briefly for the New York Yankees --  he moved to Decatur, Illinois, for a job with the A.E. Staley Comapny, for whom he was a player-coach of the company football team.

In 1921, Halas took control of the team, moved it to Chicago and renamed it the Bears.

"If he had been one of the fatalities,"  McCaskey said, "I don'tnavy know that the National Football League or the Chicago Bears would have been in existence."

That's Why We Call Him "Papa Bear."  --Cooter

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Mising the Boat May Have Saved George Halas' Life-- Part 3: He's Alive!!

Three days later, the Chicago Tribune ran a list of Western Electric employees who were still missing and possibly dead.  One of those listed read "Halas, G.S., Sept. 4110."  None other than our eventual "Papa Bear."

"Two of his fraternity brothers from the University of Illinois read the newspaper  with his name on the list, and they came to my grandfather's home to express condolences to my grandfather's mother,"  McCaskey said.  "They were delighted and surprised when my grandfather answered the door."

According to the Eastland Disaster Historical Society, Halas played on Western Electric's sports  teams and was going to play in the picnic baseball game.  His plan was to meet his best friend, Ralph Brizzalara, and Ralph's brother, Charles.  Both boarded the Eastland and both survived.

He's Alive.  --Cooter

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Missing the Boat May Have Saved George Halas' Life-- Part 2: "Papa Bear"

Roughly 2,500 employees and their families had boarded the ship, and at 7:25 a.m. it began listing and swaying from side to side.

A large crowd of horrified spectators watched as the Eastland -- a few feet from the bank of the Chicago River between LaSalle Drive and Clark Street -- turned on its side.  It was in 20 feet of water, deep enough to drown 844 people trapped or trampled below decks.

It is the deadliest day ever in Chicago and was the greatest peacetime inland waterway disaster in American history.

"His mother told him to say a rosary of gratitude that night," said Patrick McCaskey, Halas' grandson and Chicago Bears vice president.


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Missing the Boat May Have Saved George Halas' Life-- Part 1: Was Supposed To Be On the Ill-fated Eastland

From the July 24, 2019, Chicago Tribune "Late arrival for boat ride may have saved Halas' life" by Tim Bannon.

Football's George Halas was supposed to go on the ill-fated SS Eastland on Saturday, July 24, 1915.

But, he was late.

At the time, he was a 20-year-old and had a job with Western Electric and that day was supposed to join his coworkers for a fun day aboard the SS Eastland which would cross the southern end of Lake Michigan for the telephone's picnic in Michigan City, Indiana.

But by the time he reached  the Chicago River dock, the Eastland  was already overturned.


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Deaths: NASA's Mission Control Guy-- Part 2: We Did Not Know A Damn Thing About Putting A Man Into Space"

Neil Armstrong once called him "the man who was the 'Control' in Mission Control."

"From the moment the mission starts until the moment the crew is safe on board the recovery ship, I'm in charge,"  Mr. Kraft said in his book, "Flight:  My Life in Mission Control,"  .  "No one can overrule me....They can fire me after it's over.  But while the mission is under way, I'm Flight.  And Flight is God."

In the early days of Mercury at Florida's Cape Canaveral, before Mission Control moved to Houston in 1965, there were no computer displays, "all  you had was grease pencils."

"We didn't know a damn thing about putting a man into space.  We had no idea how much it would cost."

But, Much Success Did Come.  Thanks Mr. Kraft

Monday, August 5, 2019

Deaths: NASA's Mission Control Guy, Chris Kraft

From the July 24, Chicago Sun-Times obituaries "Founder of NASA's Mission Control" by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer.

CHRIS KRAFT (1924-2019)

"Behind America's late leap into orbit and triumphant small step on the moon was the agile mind and guts of steel of Chris Kraft, making split-second decisions that propelled the nation into once unimaginable heights.

"Mr. Kraft, the creator and longtime leader of NASA's Mission Control died Monday (July 22) in Houston, just two days after the 50th anniversary of what was his and NASA's crowning achievement:  Apollo 11's moon landing.  He was 95."

He founded Mission Control and created the job of flight director, which he held, describing it as being like am orchestra conductor making sure all the parts ran well.  He served as flight director for every one-man Mercury flights and seven of the two-man Gemini flights and helped design the Apollo missions that took 12 Americans to the moon from 1969 to 1972.

He was later director of the Johnson Space Center until 1982, overseeing the beginning of the space shuttle era.

Chicago 1919 Race Riot-- Part 10: A Call for Historical Markers

Efforts are underway for a public art project that would erect markers at the visited sites where people were killed ir riot events occurred.

I would definitely like for this to happen as before reading this article I had heard of the 1919 racial conflict but didn't know much about it.  I am a firm supporter of markers (or as they call them in North Carolina, "History On a Stick").  Also memorials and statues.  History must be told.

"My grandmother was about four when the riots happened and had very vivid memories of it" recalled Rebecca Connie, program manager at Blackstone, which trained youth participants as marshals to guide the bike tour.

"I remember she told me the story of how she and her 3-year-old sister and infant brother were hiding in the basement, guarded by an uncle with a shotgun.  He had been injured in the war (WW I).  All the other men were out in the neighborhood standing post," she said.

A Way Too Horrible Thing To Forget.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Chicago 1919 Race Riot-- Part 9: "Firing Indiscriminately at African Americans"

Most of the riot violence against Blacks came during the day as workers going to and from their jobs were attacked by Whites, particularly in the Stockyards.  Injuries to Blacks occurred all around Chicago, but the deaths of Whites came primarily in black neighborhoods where they had gone with the purpose of attacking.

According to records, after the incident at the beach, white people "loaded into automobiles and sped through black streets, firing indiscriminately at African Americans and their homes.  As whites attacked , black people fought back in unprecedented numbers: a street-level expression of the growing race consciousness catching fire across the country."

It continued:  "...Only a handful were tried or saw any prison time -- most of them black.  Many of the riot's most vicious were whites protected by law enforcement and local politicians."

From the historic stockyards gate, the bike tour circles back to culminate at 31st Street Beach.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Chicago 1919 Race Riot-- Part 8: Wendell Phillips High School

Continuing with the bike tour:

**  244 Pershing Road, Wendell Phillips High School, where racial demographics were shifting before the riots.  It became Chicago's first predominantly black high school in 1920.  Notable grads include Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke and John H. Johnson.

Some others:  Gwendolyn Brooks and Herbie Hancock.

Today it is Phillips Academy, one of the best schools in Chicago and a football powerhouse.

**  318-324 E. 43rd St., The Forum, built in 1897, was once the hub for social, political and civic events in the black community.  Shuttered in the 1990s and abandoned and now reclaimed for revitalization.


**  Armour Square Park at 33rd and Wentworth streets on the dividing line between black and white communities.  Opened in 1905, it's been the site of racial violence since 1913, including the 1997 savage beating of black teen Lenard Clark.

**  The Union Stockyards Gate, at Exchange Avenue and Peoria Street, where tensions between Blacks and Whites over competition for meatpacking jobs exploded during the riots.