Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dead Page-- "Skip Bombing"-- John Henebry

John Philip "Jock" Henebry (1918-2007)

War hero a master of 'skip bombing'

Flew 219 missions in the Pacific during WWII

John Henebry, 89, a retired Air Force major general, died September 30, 2007.

A biplane landing in a field near his boyhood home near Plainfield, Illinois led to a life-long desire to fly.

After graduating from Notre Dame in 1940, he joined the Army Air Corps. At first, he flew missions along the US coast looking for submarines, but was transferred to the 3rd Bomb Group of the 5th Air Force based out of Australia in 1842.

Flying A-20s and B-25s, he mastered a low-altitude approach called "skip bombing" where released bombs skipped along the water like flat rocks until they slammed into an enemy ship. This greatly increased the odds of hitting the target, but was very difficult to do.

They would start firing their machine guns a mile out, launch the four-bomb payload, and hopefully gain enough altitude to miss hitting the ship themselves.

One time, his plane was badly damaged by enemy fire after sinking two supply ships. He lost power and rudder control, threw all unnecessary equipment overaboard and flew 300 miles before crashing near an Allied-controlled beach. He and his crew were picked up by a PT boat and then boarded a plane, arriving back at base just an hour behind schedule.

He was at the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri.

In 2002, he wrote about his experiences in "The Grim Reaper--At Work in the Pacific Theater."

Oct. 3, 2007 Chicago Tribune "War hero a masterof 'skip bombing' by Trevor Jensen

Quite an Amazing Life and Another One of the "Greatest Generation."

If You're Into History, You Gotta Love the National Trust

And YOU should join it. Since 1949, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has been fighting to preserve our rapidly disappearing landmarks. Landmark commercial buildings, historic homes, and even sacred battlefields are being bulldozed and knocked down at an alarming rate.

With the aid of members and strength of numbers, the NTHP has been able to save a lot of them.

All funding of this organization is private and membership is as low as $15. And, bi-monthly, you will receive the award-winning Preservation magazine.

It is estimated that through the main Street center alone, that over 88,700 buildings were saved.

I finally got around to putting my money where my mouth is and joined. Why don't you?

Louis Sullivan--Architect

In 2006, we celebrated architect Louis Sullivan's 150th birthday. Unfortunately, three of his dwindling number of Chicago structures burned down: the Wirt Dexter Building, George M. Harvey House and Pilgrim Baptist Church.

Sullivan approached architecture in unconventional ways with "form follows function." He was born in Boston in 1856. In 1879, he came to Chicago and joined the architect firm of Dankmar Adler (Adler Planetarium) and four years later the firm became Adler & Sullivan.

Two of their famous buildings in Chicago are the Auditorium Building and Chicago Stock Exchange. In 1887, they hired a young draftsman from Wisconsin named Frank Lloyd Wright, but fired him in 1893 for taking outside commissions.

In 1895, the partnership dissolved, but Sullivan continued designing the Schlesinger & Mayer department store, which later became Carson Pirie Scott & Co. in 1904. This building no longer houses that store, but has been completely renovated for other uses, fortunately.

Toward the end of his career he faced poverty, alcoholism, and small commissions building structures in small Midwest towns like Cedar Rapids, Clinton, and Grinnell, Iowa; Newark and Sidney, Ohio; Owatonna, Minn.; west Lafayette, Ind.; and Columbus, Wis. Each of these structures still stand.

He died in Chicago on April 14, 1924 at age 67 and is buried in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery.

From April 2007 LifeTimes "Louis Sullivan buildings: Going, going and gone" by Robert Goldsborough. Robert is an architecture aficionado and mystery novelist.

Quite an Amazing Man. --Da Coot

Friday, February 22, 2008

The WTC Revenge--USS New York

Tentatively, March 1st is set for the commissioning of the USS New York which was built with 24 tons of steel from the World Trade Center in its bow.

It is the fifth of a new San Antonio class of warships designed specifically for special operations against terrorists and can carry 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines.

When the bow section was poured into molds on September 9, 2003, it was treated in complete reverence at the shipyard. Today, state names are only given to submarines, but, shortly after 9-11, NY Governor George Pataki requested the Secretary of the Navy to make an exception and give it to a surface ship.

The ship already has a website at

Of interest, the previous ship to carry this name was a battleship, the USS New York BB-34, whose keel was laid September 11, 1911, 90 years to the day before the attack took place.

Sure This Vessel Will do the US Proud. --Cooter

Dead Page-- "Son, You're Going to Drive Me to Drinking if You Don't Stop..."-- Charles Ryan

Charles Ryan (1915-2008)

Musician who co-wrote 'Hot Road Lincoln'

Charles Ryan died February 16th at age 92 in Spokane, Washington. He and W.S. Stevenson co-wrote that great car song "Hot Rod Lincoln" about Ryan's drives in his 1941 Lincoln from Spokane to the Paradise Club in Lewiston, Idaho. Mr. Ryan first recorded it in 1955.

It has been recorded many times since then, most notably by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen in 1972 which helped cross it over from country to pop.

He was born Dec. 10, 1915, in Graceville, Mn, and grew up in Poison, Mt. After service in WWII, he played with Jim Reeves, Johnny Horton and others.

He is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

"The Guy beside me was white as a ghost."

A 50th anniversary of the song is being planned at Kent Stage in Kent, Ohio April 25th, with Asleep at the Wheel (who do their own great version of the song) and Commander Cody.

Johnny Bond had the first version of it that I'd ever heard.

Charles Ryan has his own website and you'd never guess what it's called. Great cruisin' music. You Tube has Charles singing the song.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just a "Little House"

You can go to a house in Mansfield, Missouri and see the desk where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote books about her frontier childhood.

This past April, 2007 marked the 75th anniversary of the first publication of "Little House in the Big Woods", the story of her life as a child in a cabin in Wisconsin. This launched a nine book series and an award-winning TV series that ran on NBC from 1974-1983.

The series has sold more than 41 million books in the US and has been translated into more than 40 languages.

She and her husband Almanzo spent half of their adult lives there. The Wilders bought the 400 acre farm in 1894 for $400 and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic House and Museum gets 40,000 visitors a year.

She was in her 60s when she first started writing and it was at first turned down

I have never read any of the books, but sure liked the TV series, something I watched along with "The Waltons" every week. Loved that Mr. Edwards and who could forget dear little Nellie. The best episode was when Laura thought Mr. Oleson had killed his wife.

May 6, 2007 Chicago Tribune "Tears flow over 'Little House' by Marcus Kabe, AP

Things You Didn't Know About the CTA

The Chicago Transit Authority not only has a severe monetary crunch, but here are a few other things you might not have known about it.

From April 29, 2007, Chicago Tribune "10 Things You Didn't Know" by Mark Jacob.

1. Horsecars-- In the second half of the 19th century, streetcars were pulled by horses.

2. Casey Jones was Here-- John Luther Jones was an Illinois Central engineer who shuttled people from downtown Chicago to the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park. Better known as Casey Jones, he was killed seven years later in Mississippi which inspired the folk song "The Ballad of Casey Jones." The Grateful Dead also had a pretty good song about him.

3. Chicago was CTA, Chicago Transit Authority-- The jazz-rock band Chicago originally called itself The Chicago Transit Authority, but changed its name when Mayor Richard J. Daley's office "suggested" they change it.

4. "No L" Merry Christmas-- For decades the Chicago daily newspapers have been wanting the CTA trains to break down on Christmas Day for the headline "No 'L'". Old Mark has a good sense of humor, doesn't he.

5. Worst Transit Accident--Worst Rail Accident--Worst CTA Accident----Worst transit accident--the capsizing of the SS Eastland in the Chicago River, over 800 people died.

Worst rail accident: the 1972 collision of two Illinois Central Gulf trains at the 27th Street Station, killing 45.

Worst CTA accident: the Green Hornet streetcar disaster in 1950 in which a streetcar slammed into a gasoline truck at State and 63rd streets, killing 33 in a tremendous inferno.

6. Most Extensive Cable Car System-- In the 1880s, the horsecar tracks were converted to cable-car tracks. At one time Chicago had the most-extensive cable-car system in the US, even bigger than San Francisco's. The last cable system was converted to electricity in 1906.

7. No Loop-- Contrary to popular belief, the term "Loop" did not come from the elevated track that circled downtown, but from an earlier cable-car route. I didn't know that.

8. "L' not "El"-- The abbreviation for Chicago's elevated trains has always been "L", not "El." I didn't know that either.

9. Good Way to get to Wrigley Field-- My wife and I used to drive into Evanston, park by Dyche Stadium (Northwestern), walk to the elevated, and ride it, along with lots of other Cub fans to Wrigley Field. Sure was an easy way to go.

10. Riding the CTA now costs $2-- I can remember it at $1 and recently saw a Chicago history show where it was a nickel and people had a fit when it was raised to 7 cents.

11. The "L" crossed over Route 66-- in the south Loop at Jackson and Adams.

Get a Horse!! --Da Old Coot

Dead Page-- Renting Cars-- Warren Avis

Warren Avis (1915-2007)

Car rental innivator

Former pilot founded Avis Rent A Car, the first such company to be located at airports, then went on to create other businesses

Warren Avis, 92, died April 24, 2007.

He was a decorated WWII pilot and formed his car rental company in 1946 at airports inMiami and Ypsilanti, Mi, with an investment of $85,000, two employees and less than 200 cars.

Mr. Avis got the idea when he was a pilot and couldn't find any ground transportation once he arrived at an airport. This grew into what became the world's largest car rental system before it was overcome by Hertz. In 1954, he sold his interest for $8 million.

April 25, 2007 Chicago Tribune "Car rental innovator" by AP.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cannons Found Off Cannon Beach, Oregon

Somehow, finding cannons at Cannon Beach doesn't surprise me much. But, this past week, two cannons were found at the beach. The first one by Mike Petrone and his daughter who thought the part they saw was just a stump. The second was spotted Monday while the area was being documented.

It is believed that they are from the USS Shark which sank offshore back in 1846.

I did some wikipedia search on the ship and dound out that the 198 ton USS Shark was launched in 1821 and first was used to suppress the African slave trade and later in the stationed in the West Indies to, in addition to slavers, was to intercept PIRATES.

In 1839, it joined the Pacific Squadron and operated by Peru and Panama.

In 1846, it went to Honolulu for repairs in preparation for an extensive exploration of the Columbia River. It reached the Oregon coast on July 15th and crossed the bar at the mouth of the Columbia. After the expedition, the Shark struck an uncharted shoal and was swept into the breakers and became a total loss, but the crew was saved.

An earlier cannon recovered from the wreck in 1898 lent its name to the town of Cannon Beach.

Martin Van Buren

Some interesting facts about 8th President Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)

1. Economic Depression-- during his presidency caused him to lose reelection bid in 1840

2. First president born after the Declaration of Independence was signed.

3. Loaded pistols-- When he was vice president, he presided over the US Senate with loaded pistols.

4. Democrat Party-- a political faction led by him eventually became the Democratic Party of today.

6. Three unsuccessful bids-- he ran for president unsuccessfully three more times after his presidency

7. First president to be born a US citizen.

Facts from Feb. 10, 2008 Chicago Tribune "Presidential portraits."

Dead Page-- Last Word from Corregidor-- Arnold Lappert

Arnold Lappert

Sgt. who got last word from Corregidor

Arnold Lappert, the army radio technician in Pearl Harbor who received the last messages from the island of Corregidor in the Philippines before its surrender to the Japanese in May 1942 died June 1, 2007, in Daytona Beach, Fl. at age 86.

On May 5, 1942, Army Signal Corps operatorIrving Strobing from Brooklyn tapped the key to his radio to tell the last moments of resistance.

"General Wainwright is a right guy, and we are willing to go on for him, but shells were dropping all night, faster than hell. Damage terrific. Too much for the guys to take."

Arnold Lappert wept at this. He was stationed at Schofield Barracks when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and spent four years in the Pacific before returning home in October 1945. Irving Strobbing had returned home by then after three years as a prisoner. Lappert looked up Strobbing and they got together in January 1946.

Among the messages from Corregidor the last few hours was, "We are waiting for God only knows what. How about a chocolate soda." When the two met they were served a chocolate soda and each given a straw and drank together from the same glass.

Sorry to Be Losing the Greatest Generation.

June 8, 2007 Chicago Tribune "Sgt. who got last word from Corregidor" by NY Times News Service.

Took a Trip Out to NIU Yesterday

One of the events that will go down in history in these days of horrible shootings on college and high school campuses will be the Valentine's Day tragedy at Northern Illinois where five students were killed by a deranged former student.

I'd always wanted NIU to get in the news, but definitely not for this reason.

Anyway, yesterday, Liz and I drove out to Dekalb to visit the scene of sorrow.

I made three entries on another blog. You can view it for today's date at

I am hoping Cole Hall, where the killings took place, will continue to be used for eduaction, but part of it turned into a memorial. I'm hoping they keep the crosses, message boards, some of the seats and shattered doors.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Andrew Jackson

The Chicago Tribune has been running a series of presidential portraits as we approach the elections in November.

Feb. 10th was on 7th President Andrew Jackson.

A few interesting items:

1. Kitchen Cabinet-- first president to consult with a group of advisors.

2. Assassination Attempt-- A man fired two shots at Jackson from 13 feet away, but pistol misfired both times.

3. First party nominated president-- First president to be nominated by his party (Democrat) at a national convention.

4. Duelling pistols-- Killed Charles Dickenson in a duel after Dickinson made disparaging remarks about his marriage.

5. South Caolina Crisis-- obtained power from Congress to use force after SC declared a tariff null and void in 1832.

Old Hickory. Don'tTthink I'd Want to Cross Him. --Old Coot

Dead Page-- "Get That Cheez Whiz Out of Your Mouth" --Edwin Traisman

Edwin Traisman (1915-2007)

Food scientist who helped create Cheez Whiz

Also created McDonald's process for freezing French fries

Edwin Traisman died June 5th in Madison, Wisconsin. He was born in Chicago Nov. 25, 1915, and got a chemistry degree from U of I in 1937.

He worked with Kraft Foods in the 1950s and participated on the team that developed Cheez Whiz and individualized cheese slices and rose to division director of food research.

He decided to open a franchise in the mid-50s and went into a Chicago area McDonald's and approached a man sweeping the floor asking to see the manager. The man said the manager wasn't in but he might be able to help. His wife said the man turned out to be Ray Kroc and the two men became friends.

He opened the first McDonald's in Madison in 1957 and had five restaurants within 14 years.

McDonald's had a problem with french fries when Idaho potatoes were not in season. Freezing cooked potatoes ruined their flavor Mr. Traisman developed and patented a process for partially cooking the fries and freezing them.

Would You Like Fries with That Burger?

It's a Candy Thing

The October 28th Chicago Tribune had Mark Jacob's "10 Things you might not know about candy"

Some of the interesting facts he came up with:

1. The Arabs are credited with inventing caramel, but it was used for harem hair removal.

2. Americans knew little about chocolate until the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition which featured chocolate making machines from Germany. A fairgoer, Milton Hershey bought every piece of equipment...and the rest is history.

3. Chicago area candy-- we've been at the center of candy-making for a long time. Such treats as Tootsie Rolls, Atomic Fireballs, Lemonheads, Baby Ruths, Butterfingers, Milk Duds, Milky Ways, Three Musketeers, Snickers, Oh Henry! bars, Frango Mints, Cracker Jacks, Turtles, Doves, Jelly Bellies, and Pixies have been made here. And they didn't even mention my all-time favorite, Red Hots.

4. The Baby Ruth controversy-- The Baby Ruth candy bar debuted in 1921, but the origin of the name has always been in dispute. Chicago-based maker Curtiss Candy Co. insisted it was named after President Grover Cleveland's daughter. But some historians wonder why it would be named after someone who had died 17 years earlier. The name was quite similar to that of baseball star Babe Ruth.

5. Snickers-knickers-- When the Mars Co. started selling Snickers in Britain, they changed the name to Marathon to avoid any jokes about Snickers rhyming with knickers.

6. M&M Misses the Boat-- Producers of the film "ET" wanted to use M&Ms, but Mars said no. Hershey was only too happy to offer their Reese's Pieces. Sales soared.

7. "Bad" parenting-- The National Confectioners Association says that 90% of parents admit to sneaking Halloween goodies out of their kids booty.

8. Brown M&Ms removed Backstage-- You always hear of rock excess and a good story is that Van Halen's contract requires a bowl of M&Ms backstage with the brown ones removed. Singer David Lee Roth says the removal isn't a big thing, just something to see if promoters have paid attention to the contract. Boy, is that David a smart guy.

Getting H-o-n-gry Typing This. Wonder If There's Any Candy in the Old Pantry? --Da Coot

Dead Page-- One Sausage at a Time-- Bob Evans

Bob Evans (1918-2007)

Founder of a restaurant chain: Ohio entrepreneur began food empire with a single truck stop and a search for the best sausage possible; decades later, 579 Bob Evans eateries are spread across 18 states.

Now here is a man who started with little and really accomplished a lot.

Bob Evans died June 21st. After WWII, he started a small, 12 stool restaurant in Gallipolis in southeast Ohio and complained that he just couldn't find really good sausage to serve.

Starting with $1000, a couple hogs, 40 pounds of black pepper, 50 pounds of sage and other secret ingredients, he made his own, using only the best parts of the hog. He began selling it from his restaurant and peddling it to mom and pop stores and even out of tubs in the back of his pickup.

From that, he had $1.6 billion in sales out of 579 restaurants in 18 states and also operated 115 Mimi's Cafe casual restaurants in the west. He also sold products in grocery stores.

June 22nd Chicago Tribune "Founder of restaurant chain" AP

Quite the Rags to Riches Story.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dead Page-- Film Posters-- John Alvin

John Alvin (1948-2008)

He put artistry into film posters

The next time you see an "ET" poster with ET's and the human fingers touching, that was the work of John Alvin who died Feb. 6th.

Other famous posters by him were "Blazing Saddles," and "Beauty and the Beast."

His goal was to design posters that "created the promise of a great experience."

Director Steven Spielberg supposedly suggested the fingers on the "ET" poster to be aplay off Michaelangelo's "The Creation of Adam."

He also created anniversary posters for "Star Wars."

From LA Times

How Masonic is Our Great Seal?

The February 13th Chicago Tribune had a short article on the Great Seal of the US. Throughout history, there have been many myths about it. On Feb. 12th, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is the 66th custodian of the Great Seal, opened an exhibition to honor its 225th birthday.

Some Myths:

The seal is Masonic because of several of their symbols on it.

The seal draws on satanism.

Repeated references to 13 demonstrates the power of 13 American families.

The Facts

Masons use some symbols on the seal, but they have never been exclusively their domain.

"Novus Ordo Seclorum" translates to "A New Order of the Ages" and not the sinister "New World Order."

References to 13 refer to the original 13 states.

This is a whole lot of stuff I didn't know.

Ever so Sorry About This, Nicholas Cage. --Old Coot

New Book on Old Chicago

The Feb. 10th Chicago Tribune mentioned a newly published book about life in Chicago back in the 1950s and early 60s. "A Mile Square of Chicago."

Marjorie Bear started it 50 years ago, stopped 38 years ago, and died 26 years ago. Columnist Eric Zorn wrote a column about it 14 years ago. Ms. Bear went into great detail describing life in her neighborhood on the West Side between Ashland and Western Avenues, from Lake Street on the north to Harrison Street.

Lots of pictures and 549 pages of what is probably interesting information.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bob's Aching Back

Talked with my brother Bob yesterday in connection with the horrible thing at my alma mater, Northern Illinois.

After awhile, we got to talking about the snow that we're getting clobbered with this winter. That brought back fond (well, for me) memories of the Blizzard of 1967. Bob has not really forgiven me for it, even to this day.

Back in November, 1966, I had broken my leg in wrestling practice a few days after my first match (which I won, by the way). I had a cast all the way up to my hip and this was a big ole plaster one. That took care of my having to do any chores around the house.

Then came the Blizzard of '67 and we got socked with 24 inches of snow out in Palatine. Manning the snow shovels was part of my brother's and my job description. Dad didn't need a snowblower (and I'm not even sure they had them back then) with two strapping young lads to clear the white stuff off. Guess who couldn't do any snow shoveling due to an old sports injury?

Bob claimed that I knew it was coming and broke my foot on purpose. You never heard more grumbling as he put on his boots, coat, cap, and gloves and trudged out the door. I just sat there playing my NHL hockey game I'd gotten for Christmas with a big old smile on my face. I did feel some pity for the poor guy, but that broken leg had finally come in handy

Yesterday, he told me the snow was so deep, he had to remove it in layers which took a long time. He was also mad at the Catholics because there was a church and school across the street. In Palatine, you had to also clear off sidewalks. His sidewalk clearing job was only the width of the shovel. He didn't care if people had to walk sideways to pass, he would shovel no more.

Sorry 'Bout that Dear Bro...Heh, Heh, Heh. --Cooter

We Don't Need No More Stinkin' Snow-- Part 2

Continuing with the white wash.

Think I'll Get a Snowblower-- One thing the 1979 winter did was convince Chicagoans and surbanites alike that perhaps the time had come to fork out dough for a snowblower. Even cheap 'ol me. Plus, we kept hearing dire warnings that if we thought this winter was bad, wait until we saw what mother nature had in store for us next year. You couldn't find a snowblower anywhere in Chicagoland.

Then, the next winter, we hardly had any snow. I wonder if this was a ploy by the snowblower companies. Fortunately, we inherited one from Aunt Lee over the summer of '79.

Don't Eat That Yellow Snow-- Wise words from Frank Zappa. Also, don't eat any snow by the ice houses with yellowish lettering.

But actually, snow can come in an assortment of colors besides tradional white. It can even sparkle as one of the snows we had this last week showed. Glacier snow can appear blue. Algae growing on fallen snow can create greens and reds, sometimes called watermelon snow. Last February, orange snow fell in Siberia, but officials believe it had something to do with a heavy sandstorm in Kazakhistan.

I remember Mom making quite a tasty frozen snow treat but don't remember exactly how she did it.

Pank Me-- In Michigan's Upper Peninsula, an area that gets a fair amount of the white stuff, snow that has settled or been packed down so that you can walk on it is called "panked."

Milton the Snowcat-- We had one cat in Palatine who absolutely loved the snow. His name was Milton. One of his and our favorite things was for him to go out and we would build an igloo around him, even over him. I remember Bob looking in at a hole at the top one time and a paw erupting from the top with snow flying everywhere. Bob dropped back as if he'd been hit, which he had. Now, that was one very funny scene.

Bad, Bad Eagles Fans-- I've heard tell that Philadelphia fans can be somewhat rude and nasty. At a 1968 game, Eagles fans threw snowballs at Santa Claus. Where's the coal?

Big Cubbie Snowball Fight-- I remember one Cub opening day where snow had fallen during the night. There came to be quite a snowball fight between the left and right field bleachers. The air was literally filled with snowballs.

World's Largest Snowball Fight-- A couple years ago, Wauconda, Illinois, about ten miles from here, had the largest snowball fight recorded, but I believe it has been broken since then.

Snowball Fight in Miss Kist's Geometry Class-- Even though as a teacher I was supposed to put a stop to any snowball fights and give detentions (I never did. Everybody knows there are few things in life more fun than a good old fashioned snowball fight), when I was a student, it was a different thing.

I can remember back during sophomore year at good old Palatine High School when we had a pretty good snowball fight in Miss Kist's geometry class. A heavy snow had left snow on the ledges outside the room. A simple lift of a window gave you lots of snowballs. To say the least, we had a great time until she came in and was hit. Quite a scramble for the desks and she was nice enough to laugh about it.

I have to wonder what the janitor thought of all that water on the floor. At least it wasn't yellow.

Pack Fans and the Frozen Tundra at Lambeau-- In Green Bay, fans by the hundreds volunteer to come into Lambeau Stadium and remove snow from the seating sections. They do this for free. What fans!!

Snow at 50 Degrees-- Under certain conditions, you can get snow even at 50 degrees. In the Midwest, about the highest temp for snow is 40 degrees.

Thunder Snow Storm-- I can remember hearing thunder during one snowstorm.

Snow-Removal--Chinese-Style-- While I was teaching georgraphy, I remember one picture of China's Tiananmen Square where hundreds of Chinese people were lines up pushing snowshovels across that massive acreage. Using muscle power instead of machine power. With gas prices what they are these days, I would have to guess they all must have snowblowers.

Definitely Not eating the Yellow Snow. --Old Cooter

We Don't Need No More Stinkin' Snow-- Part 1

This past Sunday's Chicago Tribune ran a Chicago and General Snow history lesson by Mark Jacob.

Some items of interest both Mark's and mine, also Eric Zorn:

How High is It?-- Snowfall records have been kept in Chicago for the last 124 years. During that time, more than 4,500 inches have fallen. That would pile up to about the 29th floor of the Sears Tower, and Bob was complaining about a measly little 23.1 inches in '67.

Wilson Alwyn Bentley-- Vermont farmer and amateur photographer who, beginning in the 1880s, took thousands of pictures of snowflakes on black velvet. Old "Snowflake" believed no two were alike and set out to prove it. Died in 1933 of pneumonia contracted when he walked home in a blizzard. Here a flake, there a flake....

Blizzard of 1967 or Bob's Aching Back-- The 1967 blizzard in Chicago was one mighty strange weather event. On Jan. 24, it was 65 degrees! and there was a tornado watch! Two days later, a snowstorm dropped 23.1 inches of snow on Chicago in 29 hours, effectively shutting everything down. Milwaukee, about 60 miles north, got 2 inches, and Champagne, about 100 miles south, got only rain. Talk about being in the wrong spot!!! For more on Bob's Aching Back, see the Bob's Aching Back entry.

Bozo-- Seven hours after the storm began, with snow falling at the rate of an inch an hour. 193 people showed up at WGN-TV's studios for the Bozo Show. Tickets were that hard to get, often until several years after your request. A little thing like the "storm of the century" wasn't going to stop those parents from bringing their kids to see Ringmaster Ned and the Boze. Real Grand Prize Winners.

1979 Snow Does in Mayor Bilandic, Hello Jane-- Chicago's 1979 snow, which just kept coming and coming and coming anywhere from three to five inches every day, did in Mayor Daley's hand-picked successor, Michael Bilandic. This opened the way for Chicago's first female mayor, Jane Byrne, who capitalized on Bilandic's inability to keep up with the white stuff.

Blue Light Snow Special at K-Mart-- Snow mounted up tremendously during the winter of 1979. I was actually getting to the point I was having trouble throwing shoveled snow up on the piles beside the driveway in Round Lake Beach, Illinois. They were that high.

Then, we made the national news. Part of the roof of our fairly new K-Mart collapsed under the weight of all that snow. No one was killed fortunately, but some were injured. "Attention K-Mart shoppers, we're having a special on snow in aisles 33 through 59."

Chicago-style "Dibs"-- If you're ever in Chicago's neighborhoods after a snowstorm, you will see all sorts of folding and kitchen chairs and other junk out in front of the bungalows. No, they're not having a snow sale or garbage pickup.

This is a time-honored Chicago tradition whereby people claim the areas they clear off in front of their homes for their private domain. Only THEY can park their vehicles there!!!

If you transgress, and have the unmitigated gall to park in such a dibbed spot, be prepared for not-nice words or even physical contacts. These folks take it very seriously.

I once made the mistake of parking at one of these spots and can attest to everything I say.

"Dib" Cheaters-- Lately, somewhat of a controversy has started about certain cheaters who park their cars in front of their homes when snow is falling and then simply pull out. They didn't even shovel off their "parking space." Mighty lazy folks, but I still don't suggest you try to park in that spot.

Is it Fair to "Dib?"-- Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn went out driving around Chicago's Northwest Side and found "Dibbing" alive and well. The Tribune website had an unscientific poll as to whether or not this practice should be allowed. 61.4% of respondents said "Never. This is a selfish and ugly practice that we should discourage." Must have been suburbanites. 37.1% said "Only if they've shoveled out the space." 1.5% said, "As long as there's snow on the ground, the space belongs to the person who puts his stuff there first." Definite Chicagoans. I wonder if they've ever had claim-jumping?

I'm not even going to get into the neighborhood parking stickers required for any popular area in the city. If you don't live in the neighborhood, you can't park on the street. If you do, you get towed and will have to give up your first-born to the Lincoln Park Pirates who'll tow anything away, right Steve Goodman.

That's a Real Snowjob. --Da Coot

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dead Page-- U-Boats and Fruitcakes--Zenon Lukosius, William McNutt, Jr

I've been going through back articles that I found of interest.

Zenon Lukosius (1918-2006)

Unassuming hero in WWII U-boat capture

During WWII, he and shipmates captured the German submarine U-505. In the early 1950s, the Museum of Science was trying to raise money to bring the German boat to Chicago as a permanent WWII memorial. Whenever they would find a potential donor, they would invite Lukosius in for a presentation.

The sub came to the museum in 1954, and since then, over 25 million people have viewed it. He would revisit it and took part in the raising of an additional $35 million protected indoor berth outside the museum.

He always insisted he was not a hero, just a sailor doing what he was trained to do. Lukosius was one of nine sailors who boarded and secured the U-505 on June 4, 1944 in the Atlantic Ocean off West Africa. The sub had been cornered and damaged with depth charges and gunfire.

The 9 man boarding crew passed the fleeing German crew and found that a valve had been opened in the control room in an attempt to sink it. They also had to worry about booby traps.

He groped around the valve and found no wires which would have indicated a trap. A struggle with the valve finally shut it, and the ship was safe.

This was an important prize, not only for its design, but for the top secret German communications code book.

He was born Aug. 24, 1918 in Chicago and enlisted in the Navy when the war began. He was married during shore leave five weeks before capturing the sub.

In the late 1980s, it became apparent that the U-505 was slowly deteriorating in Chicago's elements and an effort began to raise money to save it. Mr. Lukosius, another sailor who boarded the U-505, Wayne Pickels of San Antonio, and a German crewmember Pete Peterson came and aided a lot in fundraising.

Peterson took people for tours and said 'we wouldn't be here inside of the submarine talking about it if it hadn't been for two men who saved it when it was captured. Right then, the two men, Lukosius and Pickels would climb down the cunning tower just they had back in 1944.

I'be been on board the U-505 several times while it was still outside the museum, but not since it was moved to its new berth.

One brave man.

August 15, 2006 Chicago Tribune Unassuming hero in WWII U-boat capture" by William Mullen

William McNutt, Jr (1925-2006)

Built mail-order empire one fruitcake at a time

William "Bill" McNutt, Jr., turned his family's small bakery in Corsicana, Texas into a huge specialized mail-order business shipping thousands of fruitcakes around the US and world died at age 81.

He was president of the Collin Street Bakery from 1967 to 1998. The bakery opened in 1896 but got a jolt when McNutt arrived in 1958 and shifted its focus to mail-ordering. He was an early proponent of direct narketing and computerization.

The company sells about 3 million pounds of fruitcake a year which relates to 1.5 million of the cakes

Collin Street Bakery was begun by German immigrants Gus Wiederman in 1898. McNutt's father, Lee William McNutt and an uncle bought the bakery in 1946.

They send out about 12 million mailings a year. They will ship to most anybody, but in 1979, refused to ship one to the Ayatollah Khomeini because of the hostage crisis.

My parents used to send us one and one to Liz's parents every year back in the 1970s. I personally don't know why so many people don't like fruitcakes. Probably the connotation of being crazy. Put some whip cream on it and it is mighty fine eating in my book.

Chicago Tribune, 2006 (I didn't get the date) "Built mail-order empire one fruitcake at a time" by LA Times.

Wilmington, NC in World War II

The Wilmington, NC, Star News reports that on Tuesday, Feb. 19th, author Wilbur D. Jones, Jr., will give a talk on the impact of WWII on southeastern North Carolina at 7 pm at the Southport Community Building.

Every branch of the armed forces had bases in the Wilmington area:

Army Air Force-- Wilmington Airport (Bluethenthal Field)
Army-- Camp Davis
Navy-- Fort Caswell
Coast Guard-- Fort Caswell and Wrightsville Beach
Marine Corps-- Camp Legeune

Also, the Wilmington area housed German POWs.

The Wilmington Shipyard launched 234 cargo ships
The Port of Wilmington shipped and received large amounts of war materials.
The population of Wilmington doubled with the influx of military personnel, war workers, and their families.

Wilber D. Jones, Jr, has written 16 books.

Looks like am interesting talk. Wilmington also has a tour you can take of WWII sites.

Too Often, US WWII Sites are Overlooked. --Cooter

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dead Page-- WW I Vet-- Harry Richard Landis

Harry Richard Landis 1899-2008

U.S. Veteran of the Great War

2nd-to-last survivor of 4.7 million in war who served America

Mitch Stacy-AP

Richard Henry Landis, one of the only two surviving WWI veterans has died February 4th at age 108.

He was fairly healthy right up to the end, and only took vitamins and eyedrops.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there is only one remaining US vet of WWI, 107 year-old Frank Buckles of Charles Town, WV. The lone surviving Canadian vet is John Babcock, 107, of Spokane, Washington.

Another US WWI veteran, J. Russell Coffey died in December at 109. The last-known German veteran, Erich Kaestner died New Year's Day at age 107.

Mr. Landis trained as a recruit while at college during the last 60 days of the war and never went overseas.

According to Mr. Landis, "We went to school in the afternoon and drilled in the morning.
"We got our uniforms a bit at a time. Got the whole uniform just before the war ended. Fortunately, we got our great coats first. It was very cold."

He said that he spent a lot of time cleaning up a makeshift sick ward and caring for recruits who caught the flu during the influenza pandemic of 1919.

He signed up to fight in WWII but was told he was too old at age 42.

After the war, he worked with S.S. Kresge Co, which later became K Mart.

Almost at an End to Another great Generation.

Dead Page-- Flower Power, Last Eyak-- Bernie Boston-- Marie Smith Jones

Bernie Boston 1933-2008

Captured iconic image

His 'Flower Power' photo caught meeting of war protesters, guardsmen

LA Times

Bernie Boston died January 22nd at age 74. He was a photographer for several different papers, but his signature photo was the one he took Oct. 22, 1967 at an anti-war march against the Pentagon. "It sums up that period, how a lot of people feel about the '60s."

The obituary continues, "Mr.Boston was a photographer for the now-defunct Washington Star when antiwar protesters approached the Pentagon. Positioned on a wall, he watched as a squad of guardsmen marched into the sea of demonstrators. The squad formed a semicircle, their guns pointed at the protestors.

"And this young man appeared with flowers and proceeded...[to] put them down the rifle barrel," said Boston in a 2006 NPR interview.

Actually, he had already placed a flower in one barrel was was proceeding to put another one in when Boston took the shot.

Back at the Star, it wasn't enthusiastically received and wasn't a featured photo.

Talk about your being in the right place at the right time.

Marie Smith Jones 1918-2008

Worked to preserve a rare native language


Marie Smith Jones died January 21st at age 89. She was the last full-blooded member and fluent speaker of the Eyak Indian language of Alaska.

She had worked with Michael Krauss, a linguist professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to have a written record of the language to preserve for future generations.

With her death, the Ewak language became extinct. Currently, there are 20 some other Alaskan Indian languages in the same danger.

It is always sad to see this happen. The world loses just a little bit more of its culture.

Dead Page-- Oh, Bob and Daydream Believer-- Suzanne Pleshette--John Stewart

Suzanne Pleshette 1937-2008

A star of one of my favorite-ever TV shows, The Bob Newhart Show died January 19th. She played the wife Emily for the six year-run and was thw voice of reason among the insanity. Who could ever forget the final episode of the Newhart show when Bob woke up saying he'd had the strangest dream about his running an Vermont Inn.

I did not know she had married George Posten who had roles on both shows.

John Stewart, 68

He was a member of the Kingston Trio before leaving for a career of songwriting and recording. He is best-known for writing my wife's favorite all-time song, "Daydream Believer" by te Monkees. His music was always hard to classify, falling amid country, folk, and rock.

He had 48 solo albums, none that I've ever heard of.

However, I found out from my Route 66 contacts that the last several years, he had one album very much influenced by the Mother Road.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dead Page-- Last German WWI Veteran?-- Eric Kaestner

Eric Kaestner, believed to be Germany's last WWI veteran died at age 107 on January 1st. His death almost went without anyone knowing it as Germany doesn't keep track of its remaining WWI and WWII veterans.

When France's last WWI vet, Louis de Cazenave, died Jan. 20th, it made inetrnational headlines.

He was born in 1900 and upon graduation from high school in 1918, entered the army and was sent to the Western Front, although he was never on the frontlines. His whole service amounted to between a quarter to a half a year. During the war, over 2 million German soldiers were killed.

In 1939, he became a 1st Lt. in ground support for the Luftwaffe and was based primarily in France. After the war, he became a judge in Hanover.

Germany is still coping with the Nazi genocide of WWII and there is no official organization that keeps track. His son, Peter Kaestner told AP, "That is the way history has developed."

It is too bad Germany didn't keep track of its veterans.

The US has three remaining WWI veterans and Canada one, although he lives in the us. This is the passing of a generation.

Found a Really Good Photo Blog

I came across the Old Picture of the Day Blog the other day. Stunning pictures and interesting captions for the rest of the story.

Some recent ones:

Jan. 26- A Dorothy Lange photo of an old general store, gas station.
Jan. 28- inside of a general store from the 30s
Jan. 30- USS Monitor shortly after battle with CSS Virginia, complete with dents from shells.
Feb. 1-- a couple resting under a tree after a 4th of July picnic in Vale, Oregon.
Feb. 2- 1937 of two men carrying luggage down a road near LA. What really makes the picture is a sign saying "Next time...take the train...and Relax" showing a guy stretched out on a recliner.

And, if you go back a bit later than Jan. 26th, you will see a very interesting train wreck.

Well worth checking out and on my favorites now.

Take Me Back to Those Old Days When gas was Around 30 Cents a Gallon. --Coot Forever

Sorry Phil, But I'll Go With Woodstock Willie's Prognostication

This past weekend, I attended the 14th annual Woodstock, Illinois, Groundhog Day festival. This occurred on a Saturday, so attendance, which has been growing in the last several years, was even higher than usual.

I heard that a crowd of 1000 were there when Willie did not see his shadow at sunrise, 7:07 am. This means we'll have a short winter, but with this major snowstorm we're having here in northeast Illinois today, I don't know about that. I, however, was not present, having awakened at 7:10.

Sorry Punxsutawney Phil, but I will go with Woodstock Willie as he (actually she now) is more hometown. The one we had last year died.

A little history of Groundhog Day which occurs every Feb. 2nd

The Germans brought their Candlemas celebration with them to the new world when they began settling in western Pennsylvania. The good folks of Punxsutawney have been having the observance since 1886, during which time Phil has seen his shadow 96 years, not seen it 15, and there were another 9 years in which, for some reason, no records were kept in the 1890s.

There have been two major storms that occurred on Groundhog Day. One was the 1976 Nor'easter that clobbered New England with 110 mph winds. The other was in 1952 when the only tropical storm ever recorded to make a February landfall in the US hit packing 60 mph winds.

What About the Movie?

The movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed in 1992 and released in 1993. Woodstock, Illinois, was chosen as the site because it was determined that having a square with buildings all around it would better exemplify Bill Murray being stuck on one day than a linear Main Street that the real Punxsutawney has. Plus, Bill Murray and director Harold Raimis are native Chicagoans and wanted to film closer to home.

Some Punxsutawney Phil Stories

I have to wonder whether Phil Connors, the erstwhile weatherman, was named after Punxsutawney Phil.

Phil's handler said that Phil doesn't bite (although Bill Murray was bitten by the one in the movie), but will nibble on fingers when he wants to be let down. Phil does not live at Gobbler's Knob, which is on the outskirts of town. He is only there in a precast stump the night before and day of. His real home is in the Punxsutawney Zoo in a very comfortable 12 x 14 burrow. He lives with his wife Phyliss.

He has never escaped, and who would want to under those luxurious conditions. But he did once travel to DC to visit with President Reagan. In 1981, he wore a yellow ribbon for the American hostages in Iran.

I will be writing spme more about the festival at

Not a Bad Job if You Can Get It. --Da Coot

USS Indiana BB-58

After reading about the silver service of this vessel, I decided to do some reading about it. I'd never heard of this ship, despite having a distinct fondness for battleships, the most beautiful ships ever in the US Navy, or anybody's navy for that matter.

The USS Indiana BB-58 was the fourth US naval ship to bear that name. It was a South Dakota-class battleship and one of the last battleships ever constructed. It was launched 16 days before Pearl Harbor was attacked and commissioned on April 30, 1942.

It took part in action at the Solomon Islands, Tarawa, Battle of the Philippine Sea, Palau Island, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

The ship was decommissioned September 11, 1947 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register June 1, 1962, when it was demolished for scrap.

Parts of the vessel are over, including the silver service now at the USS Indianapolis Museum (a very sad story about this ship). The mainmast is at the campus of Indiana University, anchor in Fort Wayne, and prow, for some reason, in a parking lot in Berkely, Ca., across from Springer's Restaurant on Fourth Street. That would be an interesting story to know how it got to be there.

The first USS Indiana BB-1 would be the very first US battleship and took part in the Spanish American War. The second USS Indiana served as a tender for the first one? This doesn't make any sense to me. The 3rd one, the USS Indiana BB-50 was canceled by the Washington Naval Treaty between the world wars.

It is too bad the state of Indiana didn't purchase it. Had they been able to get it through to Lake Michigan, it would have made a great WWII War Memorial.

And Now You Know the Rest of the Story. --Old Cooter

Tea, My Dear-- USS Indiana BB-58

The presentation silver from the USS Indiana BB-58, a WWII battleship, has been placed on indefinite loan to the USS Indianapolis Museum inside the Indiana War Memorial in Indianapolis.

It consists of 39 pieces, inclusing 22 main items. It was originally donated by the state of Indiana in 1896, to the original USS Indiana BB-1. It is currently valued at $1.5 million including two candelabria worth $450,000.

I did not know about the NAVSUP- the Naval Supply System Command, part of whose job is the caring and storing ofsilver sets of decommissioned or inactive ships. They will reissue them to newly commissioned ships of the same name.

Currently, NAVSUP has 8,500 pieces of silver valued at an estimated $17.8 million. Another 2000 pieces are on loan, and 3,777 are on board navy ships.

Let's hope the good Daniel Lorello doesn't get to be in charge of NAVSUP. His daughter could go on one fantastic buying spree.

Pass the Cookies. --Da Coot