Saturday, January 26, 2008

James Arthur Welch, USN

I attended the meeting of the Fox Lake/Grant Township Historical Society on January 19th.

Whi;e waiting for the meeting to start, I noticed a photograph of a very young-looking sailor in a cabinet. It was of James Arthur Welch, born January 11, 1927, died November 10, 1944. The caption read "serving aboard the USS Sierra AD-18, in the Pacific. Involved with the destruction of the USS Mount Hood.

No one there knew anything about him. What really got to me was that he died just two months shy of his 18th birthday. He must have lied about his age to get into the Navy. I didn't think they took anyone that young.

Money to Preserve the Mary Rose and Cutty Sark

The January 26th NY Times reports that the British heritage Lottery is setting aside some large funds to preserve two of Britain's historic ships.

Ten million pounds ($19.7 million) will go to the Cutty Sark which was gutted by fire this past May. The ship is permanently berthed in a dry dock in Greenwich, England.

A whopping $21 million pounds ($41.4 million) will go to King Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose, which sand in 1545 and was raised in 1982. The money will go to a museum to house the ship and the artifacts found in it.

I was fortunate enough to get to visit the Cutty Sark (which I always called the Cutty Shark) back in July of 2006. I'm glad money is being set aside to accomplish reconstruction.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

White Castle Burgers

Boy, I love those White Castle burgers, aka Sliders. Like they say, ya gotta crave.

As a matter of fact, last night, on my way home from the Lee-Jackson Sons of Confederate Veterans celebration, I stopped off in Mundelein and ate two and bought ten home. Liz would not allow me in the house if she knew I went by a White Castle and didn't get her any.

It used to be that in the Chicago area, you had to go to the city to get your fix, but now we have some out in the 'burbs. We have one on Il-60 by Mundelein/Ivahoe, one by Gurnee Mills in Gurnee, and one in Kenosha, Wisconsin, just over the Illinois border.

It now costs 53 cents for a slider, up from the original nickel. I always doctor mine up with extra pickles (spread evenly over the meat), the special mustard, and salt. It has to be just so.

The company started in 1921. They used to just stick with burgers, but now have expanded to include chicken, Southern-style sweet tea, and recently, they even had sweet potato fries. Now, that is some good eatin'.

Down south, they have Krystals, but they're no match for a greasy slider.

Before they came out here, we often ate at the one on Addison on our way to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs play. Back then, I liked to wash them down with their tart orange drink. Now, I like the grape drink. We also used to stop at the White Castle in Merrillville, Indiana, when we drove south to visit family.

Nothin' Like a Slider. --The Old Coot

Art Deco

Definitely, one of my favorite styles of architecture is art deco. It got its name from the 1925 Expositon des Arts Decorants in Paris. By 1925, it had made its way to Chicago, where the Chicago tribune Magazine had a picture of artwork on a building.

Many of the buildings in Tulsa, Oklahoma, were built around this time and also show the art deco style, as do many of the buildings in Miami Beach's South Beach area.

The spire of New York City's Chrysler Building and Chicago's Wrigley Building are two other examples.

In Fox Lake, Illinois, we even have an old gas station dating to the 30s whose tower is art deco. The owner had it designed after attending the Chicago's World Fair of 1933 when art deco was the big thing.

The design was originally called art moderne.

Not only was architecture influenced by it, but also interior and industrial designs, fashion, paintings, and graphic arts. Much of the WPA art was of an art deco style. The Nash Rambler of the 1930s was of an art deco style.

Love That Art Deco. --RoadDog

Friday, January 18, 2008

Charles Lindberg was Last Survivor of First Flag Raising

Upon further research, Mr. Lindberg was the last survivor of the first flag raising. His character was portrayed in both Clint Eastwood movies "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima."

The photographer, Lou Lowery, died in 1987 and is buried at Quantico National Cemetery, Virginia.

Charles Lindberg is buried at Fort Snelling national Cemetery, Minneapolis, Mn.

First Lt. Harold D. Schrier died in 1971 and is buried at Mansion memorial Park in Ellenton, Fl.

Louis Charlo was KIA March 2, 1945, and is buried at Saint Ignatius Catholic Cemetery, St. Ignatius, Montana.

Sgt. Ernest Ivy Thomas, Jr., KIA March 3, 1945 and buried in Roseland Cemetery in Monticello, Fl.

PFC James Michels died 1982 and is buried at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.

Sgt. Henry O. Hansen KIA March 1, 1945 and buried at the National cemetery of the Pacific, Hawaii.

Gallant and Brave Men, All.

Dead Page-- Iwo Jima Flagraiser-- Charles Lindberg

Charles Lindberg (1920-2007)

Raised 1st Flag Over Iwo Jima: WWII veteran spent decades explaining his patrol was there hours before Marines in famous photo.

Charles Lindberg died June 24, 2007 at his home in Minnesota.

In the late morning of February 23, 1945, Mr. Lindberg fired his flamethrower into a Japanese pillbox at the base of Mt. Suribachi, then joined five other Marines fighting their way to the summit.

"Two of our men found this big, long pipe there. We tied the flag to it, took it to the highest spot we could find and raised it.

"Down below, the troops started to cheer, the ships' whistles went off, it was just something that you would never forget. It didn't last too long, because the enemy started coming out of the caves," he told AP in 2003.

A picture of the moment was taken by Marine photographer Sgt. Lou Lowery. Three of the men who raised it never lived long enough to see their picture as they were among the 6,800 Americans who died in the battle.

Mr. Lindberg said his commander ordered the first flag replaced lest it became a souvenir. The second, larger flag was raised four hours later. This is the famous raising photo taken by Joe Rosenthal. Lindberg was wounded in the arm on March 1 and evacuated.

Discharged in 1946, he returned to his home in North Dakota and later moved to Richland in 1951. No one believed his story and he was even called a liar. He spent his final years trying to set the record straight. In 1995, the Minnesota legislature passed a resolution honoring Lindberg.

A Man Who Should Definitely Be Honored.

Now We Know Who She Is

For a long time, the identity of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" has been discussed. Now, Heidelberg University, in Germany, has confirmed her identity as Lisa del Giocondo.

This is borne out by notes written in the margins of a book belonging to one of da Vinci's friends, Agostino Vespucci (any relation to Amerigo?). This actually just confirms what has been suspected for a long time.

And I Always Thought the Real Mystery was What happened to Her Eyebrows. --The Old Coot

Holocaust Survivors Gain Access

Historians and survivors now have access to a vast Nazi archive concerning the Holocaust.

More than 100 million digital images are now on file at the US Holocaust Memorial in Washington, DC and two other repositories.

Holocaust survivors and their families can make requests online at or call toll-free at 866-912-4385.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dead Page-- Pearl Harbor Survivor-- Gordon Donald Seastrom

Gordon Donald Seastrom, 82-- 1924-2007

Pearl Harbor Survivor shared tales with kids

Later in the war, the destroyer on which he had taken part in 29 major combat actions was sunk by a kamikaze attack soon after he left the ship

He was 17 when he enlisted in the US Navy and assigned to the USS Reid, DD-369 and was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked. He served across the whole Pacific Theater on the same destroyer which was sunk soon after he left it with hundreds of casualties.

After he retired from teaching, he visited local schools to tell stories about his experiences. He'd tell the kids about the smoke-filled air and fire on the water. His wife said that at first he had a hard time talking about it, but later opened up.

Born and raised in St. Charles, Illinois. After his mother's death when he was 11, he went and lived with the family of his life-long friend Marv Abramson. "We were like brothers--just turned 17 and still in high school when we joined the Navy. We got through boot camp together, but then George was sent to Pearl Harbor. It was weeks before I found out he'd survived the bombing," said Marv Abramson.

Upon military discharge, he received his high school diploma and got an education degree from Northern Illinois University. He taught math at Washington Junior High School for 33 years before retiring at age 62.

He was a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and traveled there several times for reunions.

July 27, 2007 Chicago Tribune "Pearl Harbor survivor shared tales with kids" by Joan Giangrasse Kates.

Quite a Man.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Dead Page--Bakersfield Sound and Jaipur Foot-- Ken Nelson--Dr. Pramod Karan Sethi

Deaths from January 8, 2007. From Yahoo! Obituaries

Ken Nelson, 96

Country music producer, helped launch careers of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and establish the "Bakersfield Sound."

He was a co-founder of the Country Music Association and was in charge of Capitol Records' country music division for over 20 years. He produces almost 100 Number country songs.

One of his big ones was 1952's "The Wild Side of Life" by Hank Thompson.

Mr. Nelson was born January 19, 1911 in Caledonia, Minnesota and served in the army during WWII.

Dr. Pramod Karan Sethi, 80

Died in Jaipur, India. Invented the low-cost prosthetic foot that helped millions of people in developing and war-torn countries.

The Jaipur Foot, invented in 1968, was designed to be worn with or without shoes and was made of plastic pipes, wood, rubber, and strips of leather. Each one costs about $30.

He developed it with craftsman Ram Chandra, who still works at a Jaipur clinic that distributes the foot for free. Their has been a lot of controversy as to who the invention truly belongs to.

Copy of the Magna Carta Sold for $21 Million

One of the several still-existing copies of the Magna Carta, the document that laid the basis for democracy as we know it today, was sold last month at auction for $21.3 million. It was bought by David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group, a private equity fund.

I don't know, but the words private equity fund always translates to me to be "We're gonna screw anyone we can to make as much money as possible."

I Worry About These Guys. --The Old Coot

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Dead Page--Musicians Passing in 2007

Bob Stroud, on his Rock and Roll Roots show (every Sunday on Chicago's WDRV 97.1 and 96.9 FM from 7 to 10 AM) always features musicians who died the previous year on his first show of the year. He calls the show "Gone, But Not Forgotten." He will give the name, group, and play one or two songs they did.

The 2007 deaths.

John Peterson, 65- drummer in Beau Brummels, biggest hit "Laugh, Laugh." One of my favorite 60s songs.

Bobby "Boris" Pickett, 69- whose biggest hit "Monster Mash" keeps coming from the grave around every Halloween.

Lee Hazelwood, 78- songwriter, producer, and vocals on most of Nancy Sinatra's hits.

Denny Doherty, 66- the Mamas and Papas. The voice of the Papas.

Boots Randolph, 80- Nashville session saxophonist. "Yakety Sax." Every time I hear this song, I can't help think about Benny Hill.

Hughie Thomasson, 55- one of the founders of the Tampa Bay country rock band Outlaws, one of my favorites. Wrote most of their big songs: "Hurry Sundown, There goes Another Love Song, and Green Grass and High Tide." Bob said that he had his first job deejaying at a Tampa Bay radio station and met Hughie many times. He played with Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1996-2005 after the Outlaws broke up.

Marvin "Sweet Louie" Smith, 68- drummer and vocalist with Sonny Charles and the Checkmates who had one big hit with the Phil Spectre-produced "Black Pearl" in 1969.

Brad Delp, lead singer for the group Boston, a suicide.

Ike Turner, 76- major mover in early R& B. Had the first Rock and Roll song in 1951 with "Rocket 88." Many hits with Tina Turner, especially on "proud Mary."

Dan Fogelberg, 56- from Peoria, Illinois

More on Pearl Harbor Commemoration This Past December 7th

1. The Newport News-Times, probably of Virginia, reported that an annual ceremony was held at the Vietnam veterans Memorial Park and had had six Lincoln County Pearl Harbor Survivors in attendance: Don Overly, George Brown, Ed Johann, William Stonecker, William Yerkes, and Raymond Reddick.

2. At Citrus Heights near Sacramento California, a ceremony was held at the local VFW Hall. Bill Littlejohn, 85, who was aboard the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco, said "The days after the attack (I remember) all the caskets...stacked high."

3. At Bullhead City, Arizona, a speech was given, after which Pearl harbor Survivors Clare Hetrick and Ed Ralston put a wreath by the USS Arizona exhibit inside the Arizona Military Heritage Center. This center opened in May with exhibits of Arizona veterans from the arrival of the US Cavalry to Iraq.

Lest We Ever Forget. --

Dead Page-- Small World and California-Style-- Joyce Carlson, Ed LaDau

Back when I was teaching, I had the kids do a Current Events map most days. We talked about a major story around the US or the world, wrote a short synopsis of it and locate the site on maps. I started including obituaries of people who had an impact on culture, or who had lived through historic events. We did so many obituaries, the kids started calling it the Dead Page.

I'm keeping this name now that I'm doing this blog, and also back when it was included on Roaddog's Roadlog blog:

Joyce Carlson, 86 died January 4 in Orlando, Fl. If you're a fan of, or even if you're annoyed by it, Walt Disney's "It's a Small, Small World" is hard to ignore. Joyce Carlson was one of its developers.

In a 56-year career with Walt Disney, Ms. Carlson rose from paint and brushes delivery to artists to making films. She was involved with the It's a Small Small World prototype that was first shown at the New York World's Fair in 1964.

She was born in Racine, Wisconsin March 16, 1923 and moved with her family to southern California in 1938. Retiring in 2000, a window on Disney World's Main Street was dedicated to her inscribed "Dolls by Miss Joyce, Dollmaker for the World."

Ed LaDay, 52 died January 4. Pizza innovator and restaurateur. He received notoriety in 1990s for his romaine and watercress salad that supposedly caused contractions in pregnant women within five hours of consumption. Eighteen customers claimed they went into labor. LaDau always believed if that story were indeed true, it was the salad dressing that caused it.

He was a key player in the evolution of California-style pizza when he began loading his pizzas with non-traditional toppings. He opened his own restaurant Caioti.

Trail of Tears Went Through Illinois-- Part 2

The Illinois Trail of Tears Association meets three times a year to share information on the 1838-1839 Trail of Tears through southern Illinois. Their goal is to encourage the development and preservation of the trail.

On Tuesday, January 8, 2008, they will be meeting for a celebration and ceremony of certification at the Joe and Ethel Crabb-Abbott Farm as an official ToT site. Since it is January, it might be cold, but organizers say that will make everyone appreciate the hardships faced by the Cherokees nearly 170 years ago. The group were able to ford a creek at this farm.

This year's first regular meeting will be March 28 in Harrisburg. It will be a continuation of the oral history project and area residents are welcome to attend to share their ToT stories.

The monument committee is working on raising funds for a memorial or statue on the courthouse grounds in Golconda.

The association continues to work with IDOT to improve interpretive and directional signage along the Auto trail Route (which mostly runs along Ill. Route 146). Also, joint projects with other ToT chapters are underway. Research is being made to certify other sites along the Trail.

For more information:

Sad Story, But Finally Being Commemorated. --Cooter

Trail of Tears Went Through Illinois

I wasn't aware of it, but the infamous Trail of Tears marking the forced removal of the Cherokee Indians to west of the Mississippi, also went through the very southern part of Illinois. I always thought it went through southern states. This was truly one of the low-water marks of American history.

According to Jon's Southern Illinois History Page, by Jon Musgrove, nearly 9,000 Cherokees passed through southern Illinois during the winter between Nov. 1838 and January 1839. Very little remains of that event.

According to the Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association, the Cherokees crossed the Ohio River into Illinois at Golconda and mostly followed what is today's Illinois Route 146.

Today, the route enters Illinois at the Cave-in-Rock ferry and continues on Illinois Route 146 until it crosses the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau.

A Truly Sad Chapter in US History. --Cooter

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

More Pearl Harbor Survivors

In a sad announcement, the North Dakota Pearl Harbor Survivors group has disbanded because the membership dropped to four. This is obviously a problem facing every Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Age is doing what Japanese bombs couldn't do back 66 years ago.

Green Valley, Arizona--outside American legion Post 66.

Two survivors living in southern Arizona spoke of their experiences.

William Bridges-- USS Raleigh-- "The next thing I know, I was laying flat out on them tables. That torpedo hit right across from me on the portside right out on the gangway. fact is, we had one of our old boys on the gangway and it blew him plum back to the stern of the ship."

Ed Boyles- Sgt. at Wheeler Field-- on intelligence that day. Described in the article as a"a true survivor hit by artillery and lightning...survived cancer, polio, Korea, and Vietnam. It is important for him that younger generations not forget." According to Boyle, "Bring American history back into schools and make it interesting. It is interesting."

Pearl Harbor Anniversary

Some More on Pearl Harbor Observations from Last Month.

Four Pearl Harbor survivors attended the commemoration in Suffern,NY.

Peter Sarantapoulas was on the USS Argonne, a repair and supply ship at the time of the attack. "We ot strafed and I ran from one side of the ship to the other. I was supposed to be in the radio shack 'caus I was the radioman, but I wound up handling ammunition."

Some of the survivors were not healthy enough to attend.

Other vets in attendance: Robert Stockum of Ridgefield, NJ, Thomas Fallon of Waldwick, NJ, and Al Stillwagon on Newburgh, NY.

Dec. 10th Lower Hudson Online "Suffren commemoration of Pearl Harbor" by Suzanne Clarke.


About 8,000 Oklahoma school students at more than 90 schools statewide participated in a live video conference with USS Oklahoma survivors in Hawaii. This was held in conjunction with the dedication of the new Oklahoma memorial.

The Greatest Generation.

The New Year's Eve Times Square Mirror Ball

One of the great traditions of New Year's Eve is the descent of the mirror ball in Times Square, New York City. This has been going on for 100 years now.

Green is Good

This last year, the ball received another makeover and now can proudly claim that it is officially green. It now contains 9,576 energy-efficient bulbs that use about the same amount of electricity as ten toasters. They are smaller and twice as bright. In addition, they can create more than 16 million colors against the 672 Waterford Crystal triangles.

A Short history of the Ball

It descends 77 feet over a minute's time as the screen below it counts down the seconds.

1907- first descent on a flagpole. Made of iron and wood and had 100 25 watt bulbs. Weighed in at 700 pounds and 5 feet in diameter.

1920-- new 400 pound ball

1942-1943-- stopped because of WWII wartime light restrictions. A moment of silence observed at midnight.

1955-- new 150 pound ball.

1981-1988-- made to look like an apple because of the "I Love NY" campaign

1989-- traditional white lights brought back.

1955-- ball gets computerized, aluminum-coated, rhinestones, and a strobe light system.

1999-- aluminum ball replaced.

2000-2006-- overhauled for the millennium celebrations. Now at 1070 pounds, 6 feet in diameter, 504 crystal triangles, 168 halogen exterior lights and 432 light bulbs of different colors inside.

Thanks to Wikipedia "Times Square Ball"

Who Says You Can't Make an Old Thing Better? --DaCoot

And You Thought You Had an Old Teacher

Shirley Shechtman has been alive a long time and teaching a really long time. At age 83, she has been teaching for 61 years!!!!!

Starting as a physical education teacher in 1946 and still works a six hour day plus another three days a week at an after school program. Currently, she is teaches at Hibbard Elementary School on Chicago's northwest side.

She is Chicago's longest-serving teacher, but Winifred Lowery is the oldest at age 86, but she didn't begin teaching until the late 1980s. There are two other teachers in Illinois who are in their 80s.

Right now, schools are coming to face the increased retirement of baby boomers. In the last five years, 5,938 teachers have retired (Liz and I are two of them).

What makes Shechtman's tenure even more remarkable is that she attended school at Hibbard in the late 1930s when her aunt was a teacher there. After getting her teaching degree at age 22, she taught a short while at Hibbard before transferring to Belden School. In the 1950s, while raising her family, she shifted to substitute teaching.

In 1964, she returned to full-time teaching.

She has seen lots and lots of educational ideas come and go, including the current No Child Left Behind.

In 1964, I was starting 8th grade. I taught from 1973 to 2006 and retired at age 55, not even as old as Ms. Shechtman has been teaching.

From December 23, 2007 Chicago Tribune "Over 60 years, teacher a study in nurturing" by Carlos Sadovi.

One Amazing Person. Now Here is Someone Who Remembers the Old Mimeograph Machines.--The Old Coot is Out Old-ed!!!

1957 Was Quite a Year

We have just finished celebrating the 50th anniversary of quite a special year, 1957. In reflection, it was quite a remarkable year with many "turning point" moments occurring.

First thing was the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik which set off the space race.

Second was the Little Rock Nine, the nine black youths who entered Little Rock's Central High School.

Third , 1957 was the year the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to California and became the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fourth was Ghana, Africa's independence from Britain. Within ten years, 30 more former African colonies became independent.

Fifth, Ford's big mistake, theEdsel.

Then, sixth, in 1957, the first laser was made at Columbia university. This led to toady's CDs, microwave ovens, and less invasive medical procedures.

Seventh, one of the great bridge-building efforts, the "Mighty Mac." the Mackinac Bridge opened.

Eight, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a birth control pill.

Ninth, US Surgeon General Leroy Burney said that excessive cigarette smoking is a major cause for lung cancer.

Tenth, Theodor Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss, had his first book published, ""The Cat in the Hat."

Eleventh, Betty Friedan began writing the "Feminine Mystique."

Twelfth--two guitarists by the names of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, met at a church fair in Liverpool, England.

Well, like them or not, these 1957 had quite an impact on the world.

From December 31, 2007 Chicago Tribune editorial "The end of a golden year."

This was a Remarkable Year Upon Further reflection. --Da Coot