Sunday, December 30, 2007

What's Upside-Down and Worth $825,000?

It also is worth $977,000. One sold for that price last month.

This is the famous upside-down 1918 Jenny biplane, one of the most sought-after stamps of those who call themselves collectors of stamps or philatelists. There are only one hundred of these stamps in existence.

The "Inverted Jenny" actually a Curtiss JN-4 biplane was sold to a Wall Street Executive who wants to remain anonymous.

Too Expensive for Me. -- The Old Coot

What's Dropping in Your Area?

I see that the famed mirror light ball in Times Square has been replaced with one that is touted to be twice as bright.

It would seem that more and more towns are having something drop to celebrate the New Year.

I read recently that Key West has a huge conch shell descend to the roof of Sloppy Joe's. New Orleans has a pot of gumbo come down on the Jax Brewery.

My dad's hometown of Mt. Olive, NC, has a pickle drop in honor of Mt. Olive Pickle Co. After all, it bills itself as the Pickle Capital of the US. Raleigh, NC, drops a giant acorn.

Bangor, Me, and Ocean City, MD, have a giant beach ball. Prairie du Chien, Wi, salutes with a carp and Port Clinton, Ohio has a walleye.

Pennsylvania leads the nation with 30 communities dropping stuff.

You can go to wikipedia and look under list of objects dropped on New Year's.

The Sky is Falling, the Sky is Falling. --Old Coot

In Keeping with the Christmas Spirit...albeit, Late

There are now 366 radio stations across this great country that play wall-to-wall Christmas music this time of the year. Personally, I think those poor deejays are just a little bit wired after listening to all that stuff.

Too bad they have set play lists. Theses past two weeks, I listened to Little Steven's Underground Garage Christmas shows, and he really played a lot of songs I'd never heard of. Now that was some Christmas music I can really sink my teeth into.

Of course, way too many radio stations pay way too much attention to research companies.

Edison Media Research showed the top 5 loved Christmas songs to be:

1. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting) by Nat King Cole
2. White Christmas by Bing Crosby
3. Do You Hear What I Hear by Johnny Mathis
4. A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
5. Little Drummer Boy by Harry Simeone Chorale

Where do you figure "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" ranked?

Top 5 hated songs:

1. Jingle Bells by the Barking Dogs
2. O Holy Night by Cartman (South Park)
3. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Elmo and Patsy--shoulda figured
4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Jackson 5--more Michael backlash
5. Jingle Bells by Barbra Streisand

Now You Know What You've Been Wonderin'. --Cooter

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Can You Really Patent the Pyramids?

Got this off of Yahoo News.

Believe it or not, Egypt is planning to copyright it's pyramids, Spinx and other historical structures. This means that people around the world will have to pay up to use their likenesses.

At first, this struck me as a bit ludicrous, but when I read why they wanted to do it, it began to make sense.

First off, that means you pay only if Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities considers it to be a 100% copy. Las Vegas' famed Luxor Hotel & Casino would not have a problem since it is not considered a 100% copy.

The second stipulation really makes sense to me. According to somewhat controversial Zaki Hawass, the head of the Council, "It is Egypt's right to be the only copyright owner for these monuments in order to benefit financially so we can restore, preserve, and protect Egypt's monuments." Well, since you put it that way.

It Cost Bucks, Even if They're Worthless, to Preserve. --Cooter

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merriest of Christmasses

Wishing you the Merriest of Holidays.

I'm now working on my third viewing of "A Christmas Story," my all-time favorite seasonal movie.

The movie was made in 1983, but featured Christmas from the late 40s. I really like the Christmas downtown scenes and parade. It was back in a simpler time. Loved the coal furnace and the overloaded electrical outlets. Then there was that great lamp.

Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum, Well, Eggnog. --DaCoot

Since This is a Day for Toys

The December 23rd Chicago Tribune had a "10 Things You Might Not Know About Toys" history lesson by Mark Jacob.

Some of the more interesting facts:

1. Play-Doh was invented as wallpaper cleaner. And there I sat eating it.

2. Milton-Bradley originally called the game Pretzel before it changed its name to Twister. The game really gained in popularity after Johnny Carson played it with actress Eva Gabor. I can just see old Johnny's expressions now. Wish I'd seen it.

3. Chicagoland has been the birthplace of many toys. The Radio Flyer red metal wagon was invented in Chicago and its world headquarters remain here. They are made in China today, however. Big surprise there.

Tinkertoys were designed by Charles Pajeau of Evanston.

Donald Duncan, of Oak Park, popularized the yo-yo. He also invented the dreaded parking meter. If you're like me, it is not that I don't feed them on purpose, it's just that I forget to put the quarters in.

4. Who is Barbra Millicent Roberts?

5. Illinois-based RC2 Corp, maker of Thomas the Tank Engine had to recall one million units because of lead paint from China. They sent free box cars to soothe irate customers, but then it was discovered some of the box cars had lead paint.

6. Barbara Millicent Roberts is better known as Barbie. Various estimates have it that between 10 and 25% of Barbie collectors are men.

Give Me Toys, Give Me Toys. --the Old Coot

This is What Made Me a History Nut

Today marks the 143rd anniversary of the end of a Civil War battle that got me interested in history.

The First Battle of Fort Fisher, NC, took place on Christmas Eve and Day 1864. The first battle featured one of the biggest naval bombardments ever until the Second Battle of Fort Fisher took place 19 days later. The first battle ended as a Confederate victory. The port of Wilmington, NC, remained open as a destination for blockade runners carrying in the desperately needed supplies to Lee's army.

My dad took me to the fort when I was in second grade and told me it was fought between the north and the south. I figured we were on the north's side since we lived in North Carolina and North America. My dad patiently explained the situation to me.

After that, I read everything I could get my hands on about the Civil War. Then, three years later, we had the centennial of the war, and I was hopelessly hooked. I even decided to become a history teacher because of it. I taught geography and history for 33 years in Round Lake, Illinois.

I must admit that I have somewhat become disinterested in the war, but since I started my Civil War blog, "Saw the Elephant." I've reinvigorated my interest.

Funny How Something Can Have an Impact on Your Whole Life. --Cooter

Monday, December 24, 2007

Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas

After seeing this name in the last entry, I just had to look them up and see if this was really, really an organization, It is.

They even have their own website

They were founded 13 years ago by ten Santas filming a commercial for a German company. Every year, membership has increased until, at the last convention in Branson, Mo., 300 attended. You've got to go to the website and look at the group pictures.

Their World Mission Statement--Devoted to Enriching Your Family's Christmas, All Year Long.

This years convention will be in Overland Park, Kansas, July 8th to 13th.

And a Ho Ho Ho to You Too. --RoadDog

Looking Even More Like Christmas--Santa Claus-- Flashback

Nancy Watkins went back to 1956 for a Dec. 8th picture of Santa Claus with a young Craig Parfitt of River Grove. It was taken at Midway Airport.

Of course, Santa is quite the busy old guy right now. A few facts:

1841-- first sighting of Santa Claus at a store--but he was supposed to be on the roof.

1890-- first department store Santa in Brockton, Massachusetts according to

256.89 pounds-- average weight of a member of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas.

8.3-- age at which average American gives up on Santa.

McNeil Nutritionals --(Makers of Lactaid)--company that announced in 2005 that Santa was lactose intolerant (Who'd a figgered that!!).

HOH OHO-- Santa's postal code at the North Pole according to the Canadian postal service.

NORAD-- who's tracking Santa right now.

1983-- the year Ralphie first wanted that thing to put his eye out.

24 hours-- how long TBS will be showing A Christmas Story.

You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Cry..... The Old Coot

Looks a Lot Like Christmas--Toys for Tots-- Flashback

The weekly Sunday Chicago Tribune Magazine runs a Flashback Page at the end. Nancy Watkins digs up an old photo and then describes what is going on and then comes up with some really interesting related facts.

On December 16th, the picture was from Dec. 2, 1955, and showed Rudy Longhi repairing toys collected by Marine Sgt Herb Freeman at a gas station in Chicago at Ohio and LaSalle streets. As a Marine in WWII, Longhi had been blinded by a Japanese grenade. Having trouble finding a job, he filled his days repairing toys for the US Marine Corps' Toys for Tots campaign.


1980-- year Toys for Tots stopped accepting used toys.

5000-- number of toys collected the first year

1947-- the first year of Toys for Tots.

19.2 million-- toys collected in 2006.

Walt Disney-- Designer of Toys for Tots logo that is still used.

I attended a kickoff breakfast for the Toys for Tots campaign this past Nov. 10th, the anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps in 1775.

Toys for Tots is run by the US Marine Corps Reserve and was started in 1947 by Major Bill Hendricks. It was a local effort the first year, but went national the next.

A Great Cause. --Old Coot

Pearl Harbor 66th Anniversary Observance-- Part 1

1. From the December 12th San Luis Obispo, Ca., Tribune.

Ten Pearl Harbor Survivors and their families gathered at Steamers of Pismo for a complimentary lunch on Dec. 7th. This annual event started at F. McLintock's Saloon. The saloon manager had noticed that Pearl Harbor survivors were gathering every Dec. 7th to share experiences and memories. The event has grown ever since.

John Ferlo of Oxnard said, "It was chaos. I don't know if anybody had control of anything. It was big confusion."

2. December 12th El Paso, Tx, Times- "Pearl Harbor survivors remember deadly attack" by David Crowder.

Four Pearl Harbor survivors:Elmer Gaugher, Marshal Nelson, Ray Peevey, and Charles Ward met at the Ambrosio Guillen Texas State Veterans Home in northeast El Paso. This facility houses 129 veterans and about 92 % are from WWII.

Charles Ward, 91- "What a way to wake up at five after seven with a bomb going off outside your window." He was the oldest of the four and had been in the Army Air Corps 12 years at the time of Pearl Harbor.

"I enlisted for Hawaii, and it was a good place to be in those days before the war came along. After that, it wasn't so good." Later, Mr. Ward went on thirty bombing missions without injury.

Elmer Gaugher still has his December 7th extra edition newspaper with huge headlines "War! Oahu bombed by Japanese planes.

The Greatest Generation!! --Cooter

China Raises 800 Year-Old Ship

China has raised an 800 year-old sunken vessel from off the south China coast. It had first been discovered in 1987 in 65 feet of water. The whole ship was lifted to the surface in one piece.

Between 60,000 and 80,000 artifacts are aboard so the ship will give a very good impression of what was going on on China in the 1200s.

Dec. 23rd Yahoo News.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What is the Society of Cincinnati Anyway?

After reading about the $5.3 million for the badge, it came to my attention that I had no knowledge of this organization. I taught US history for nine years, and knowledge. I must admit to being a bit embarrassed. You'd think a history teacher would know.

I wiki'd it and found out some info.

It is an organization in the US and France and named after Lucius Cincinnatus of Rome who left his farm to accept a term as Roman Consul and was Magister Populi for a short time, essentially a dictator. This was during an emergency. Once it was over, he gave up his power and returned to plowing his fields on his farm.

This is in keeping with what I believe to be Washington's idea of leadership.

The bald eagle is the organization's symbol.

Members adhere to three rules:

1. To preserve the rights so dearly won in the revolution,
2. To promote the continuing union of states,
3. To assist members in need, their widows, and their orphans.

Today, the main focus of the estimated 3,700 members is to increase the knowledge of public awareness of American history from the Revolution to the War of 1812.

Ronald Reagan was a member,

The national headquarters of the Society is in the Anderson House in Washington, DC.

Well, You Can't Know Everything. --'Coot

Thursday, December 20, 2007

So, You Just Had $5.3 million Lying Around

At auction this past week, a gold eagle medallion presented by George Washington's family to the Marquis de Lafayette with what is believed to be the original ribbon and red leather box, was sold for $5.3 million.

It was bought by La Foundation de Chambran, Lafayette's home in France, where it will be displayed.

In 1783, Washington, Lafayette and other men from the Revolution formed the Society of Cincinnati which was devoted to keeping alive the Revolution's ideals. Eagle badges were given to its members.

Washington designed the badge. It was consigned to auction by Lafayettes's great-great granddaughter.

Interesting, But Too Expensive for This Coot. --Cooter

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How's This for a Blast Out of the Past?

It took a while to get to its destination, but that, it finally did, 93 years too late!!!

True story out of Kansas. A Christmas postcard featuring a colorful Santa Claus was mailed on December 23, 1914, from Ethel Martin's cousins in Alma, Nebraska. It finally made it to Oberlin, Kansas, this past week.

What it did between 1914 and 2007 is any body's guess. If only postcards could talk. It evidently was in Illinois at some point, because it was placed in an envelope and modern postage rates paid to get it to its destination.

And who says you can't count on the post office to do their job?

This is Some Interesting Story. --Cooter

Friday, December 14, 2007

Captain Kidd Plundered Here

The remains of the Quedagh Merchant were found just off the coast (70 feet to be exact) of the Dominican Republic in less than ten feet of water. This was one of the last ships Captain Kidd captured before he set off to clear his good name of piracy charges. He didn't, and the good folks of London got to see his body decaying over the River Thames for two years.

There was always a question as to whether he was a pirate or a privateer. A privateer has the legal right to act like a pirate, but does so in the name of a country.

Charles Breeder of Indiana University said he'd been to thousands of shipwrecks in his career, but, "This is one of the first sites I've been on where I haven't seen any looting. We've got a shipwreck in in crystal clear water that amazingly is untouched."

This is especially true considering its nearness to shore and depth.

Growing up, I had fond thoughts of being an underwater diver in search of sunken treasure. But, teaching got in the way. I sure would like to be on that site right now instead of sitting here in northern Illinois enjoying the sub-freezing temperatures.

Oh, Well, I Did Really Enjoy Teaching. --the Old Coot

Just Set It Up!!

Brand new blog. I've been posting items of history that interest me on my Roaddog's Roadlog Blog, but am going to try to keep that one for the old two lane highways.

These are history stories OMI, Of my interest.

Other blogs of mine: About old roads and traveling. About the Civil War. About me.

Still Thinkin' I'm Bloggin' Too Much. --Cooter