Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Alamo Gets John Wayne Autograph

April 10th Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Joe McCarver was just 12 back in 1959, when he got John Wayne to autograph a brochure while filming and directing "The Alamo." He later lost the autograph, but recently found it in a box of Christmas cards in his late mother's house.

He contacted the curator of the Alamo, Richard Bruce Wender, who accepted it and will place it with the coonskin cap worn by Wayne in the movie as Davy Crockett and the Director's Guild Award in the museum's pop culture section.

Davy, Davy Crockett, the King of the Wild Frontier. --Old Coot

Dead Page--Doolittle's Raiders-- Merry-go-Round Designer


Was a member of Doolittle's Raid over Japan. Joined the US Army Air Corps shortly after Pearl Harbor at age 27. Volunteered for a dangerous undisclosed mission as a gunner on a B-25 bomber. One of 16 bombers launched from USS Hornet for an attack on the Japanese mainland. Damage was minimal, but the psychological effect on both the US and Japan was immense.

Crew 16 pilot was Wiliam G. Farrow. Crew bailed out and captured by Japanese. Farrow and two others executed and DeShanzer spent the rest of the war as a POW.

After the war, he returned to Japan as the Reverend DeShanzer and spent 30 years bringing the Gospel to the Japanese people.


Died April 9th. Designed many merry-go-rounds and was also a noted carousel historian. He helped restore and rebuild them in New York City. They were most popular between the 1880s and the Great Depression.

Mr. Sylvor made the 70 foot diameter on in Riverfront Park in Nashville that seats 70people.

Interesting People. --Cooter

Friday, April 25, 2008

HMAS Sydney

We were out of town for six days April 18-23rd, so am catching up with updates.

April 18th-- Sydney relatives and descendants receive permission to join the march in Sudney. They will be behind the RAN band and in front of crew members of the present HMAS Sydney. Up to 1500 currently-serving Australian Navy personnel will take part.

The German ambassador, Martin Luk, expressed gratitude for being allowed to participate in the wreath-laying ceremony at the wreck of the HSK Kormorran.

April 23rd, Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd will attend a memorial service at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney. The church bell will toll 645 times, one for each crew member. At 12:25, three RAAF Hawk aircraft will do a fly-over.

RSL Numbers Dropping

Like here in the US, the numbers of WW II veterans has been dropping dramatically, causing some American Legion and VFW posts to close down. This is also a problem in Australia with the RSL posts.

Now, I didn't know what RSL stood for and looked it up. It stands for Returned & Services League. Some of the branches have closed down or consolidated.


HMAS Sydney-- McGowan's Quest

Continued from yesterday's entry.

On February 6, 1942, it was known that there was a Japanese sub lurking in the waters around Christmas Island and coast watchers saw birds off in the distance acting strangely, then an object came into view.

A launch was sent out and a carley raft discovered with a corpse sitting upright in it.

Birds had stripped the flesh from the face and the right arm had been partially eaten by sea creatures. There was a government-issued shoe in the raft with a nearly illegible name, either McCowan or McEwen, two Sydney crew members.

About five to six days later, the body was buried at the Old European cemetery and marked with a simple wooden cross.

Japanese forces captured the island later that month. The location of the grave was lost after the cross disintegrated due to the elements.

For more info: www.hmassydney.com/christmasisland.html.

It sure would be interesting if this body were to turn out to be Ted McGowan's brother.

Interesting Story-- Da Coot

Australia's Light Horse Brigade Going to Israel

Seven World War II Light Horse Brigade members are going to Israel next week to be at the dedication of the statue at the Park of the Australian Soldier in Beersheba.

They will be there representing the WWI members of the brigade who had a four mile charge against Turkish trenches at Beersheba on Oct. 31, 1917 and suffered 1200 casualties during the Sinai and Palestinian Campaign.

There is just one Australian WWI veteran still alive, and he did not participate in the charge.

We've all heard of the famous Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War, but this one is just as impressive. I'd never heard of the fight.

Well Deserved. --Cooter

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Congratulations on Anzac Day

I'd like to be the first American to congratulate Australia and New Zealand on this national day, ANZAC Day which has been celebrated since 1916 and this year with even more emphasis due to the locating of the wreck of the HMAS Sydney off Australia's west coast.

ANZAC Day honors the brave soldiers who have served n the two countries' armed forces and also marks the date in 1915 when the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps stormed ashore in the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign to capture Istanbul from the Ottoman Turks. Eight thousand Australians and 2,700 New Zealanders died in the effort.

Again, a Tip of the Hat. --Cooter

HMAS Sydney

More information about the Sydney taken from Australian sources. I am still amazed why American media is not covering it.

April 16th

From the Herald Sun-- A wreck site ceremony to be held at the largest-ever loss of life on an Australian warship. Ted McGowan, a retired Melbourne magistrate, was a young child when he lost his brother Thomas on the Sydney. He was one of the fortunate-five descendants able to be taken to the wreck for the special ceremony.

Also present for the ceremony:

Retired Commodore Rory Burnett, the son of the Sydney's captain.

Robyn Leitch, daughter of Petty Officer Edgar Morris.

John Bournes, nephew of Able Seaman John McDonald.

A commemorative cartridge engraved with the names of the Sydney's crew was dropped in the ocean along with a wreath-laying ceremony


Ted McGowan has spent more than a decade trying to find out the identity of the sailor who washed up on the shore of Christmas Island in 1942, a few months after the Sydney's demise. He wanted to find out if this sailor was his brother.

You can find out more about it on McGowan's website "Mystery on Christmas Island."
Margaret Morse, daughter of Petty Officer John Davey.

Friday, April 18, 2008

HMAS Sydney

1. DAVID MEARMS-- is now poised to look for the wreck of the Australian hospital ship, the Centaur, which was sunk by the Japanese sub I-177 off the Queensland coast on May 14, 1943 even though it displayed a red cross and under international law shouldn't have been attacked.

This vessel had picked up 61 of the Kormoran's survivors in 1941. From April Cyber Driver News Network.

2. HMAS ANZAC LEAVES FOR CEREMONY-- The April 14th West Australian reports that the Anzac left Geraldton for the April 15th services at the wreck of the Sydney. Only five of the 797 relative requests were chose at random to be on board.

One is Rorey Burnett whose father was the Sydney's captain. Robyn Leitch's father, Edgar Morris was a Petty Officer.

At 7:30 am Wednesday, there will also be a service at the wreck of the Kormoran. I'm glad to see Australia is doing this.

3. SAYS HE HEARD SYDNEY'S LAST MESSAGE-- The April 15th Barossa Herald says that Keith Fisher, 87, of Kapunda is convinced he heard the Sudney's last distress call while listening on his Croydon radio console. "I was in the living room just looking for anything on the radio. One day, I heard quite clearly, 'HMAS Sydney calling San Francisco,' then a pause, followed by 'San Francisco, why don't you answer?' This was followed by static. Didn't think much of it."

I doubt the Sydney was calling the city of San Francisco. There was a US Navy ship by that name, but it wasn't in the area at the time of the sinking, so I'd have to wonder about this story.

4. MORE INFO, go to www.findingsydney.com

Why the Titanic Sank--Besides Hitting an Iceberg

A new book, "What Really Sank the Titanic" has come out about the what caused the the famous ship to sink. The authors, Jennifer Cooper McCarty and Timothy Foecke, believe the ship was done in by a low grade rivets.

The builders, Harland and Wolff of Belfast, Northern Ireland, had to build the ship quickly and at reasonable cost and may have compromised quality. The company knew items were substandard, but not that bad that it would cause a ship to sink if it hit an iceberg. Of course, who would have figured it would hit one of those.

The authors spent two years going through the company's archives and also tested 48 of the Titanic's rivets where they found they contained 9% slag wheras 2-3% slag content is acceptable. This much slag makes the rivets weaker.

McCarty has been studying the Titanic for ten years and Foecke is a metallurgist.

My mom was nice enough to treat our family to a cruise around the British Isles two years ago, and one of the stops was at Belfast where we tied up opposite the drydock where the Titanic was built. That really put you in touch with the event. There are plans to turn it into a memorial.

Still a Great Story. --Cooter

Thursday, April 17, 2008

HMAS Sydney

1. RELATIVES OF SYDNEY"S CREW KEPT IN DARK-- Close to 780 relatives applied or the five spots available on board the HMAS Anzac when it was to have a ceremony at the wreck site. This is because of a lack of room. Five were selected by random ballot. All ,however, have been invited to attend the national memorial service in Sydney on April 24th.

2. THE APRIL 11th WEST AUSTRALIAN-- reports that the work of the Finding Sydney Corporation had come to a conclusion.

David Mearms said the Sydney will keep some of its secrets forever, but many questions have been answered. "We'll never really know the Australian side of it because no-one lived and it's not our job to speculate--we'll leave that to the historians."

They took over 60 hours of video and 1400 still photos of the two vessels. Their website also has a place for people to write their own theories which is quite active.

3. GERMAN ACCOUNT-- the April 2nd Independent of Europe interviewed German Kormoran survivor Edmund Buttner, 87.

"Sydney went down because we hit it with one of our torpedoes and because it was burning fiercely. Her chance of staying afloat were zero.

The Kormoran, 8,700 tons was disguised as a Dutch freighter but armed with six hidden 5.9 inch guns, torpedoes and seaplanes. The Sydney was 6,800 tons, eight 6 inch guns and four 4 inch guns. The Sydney came within point blank range at 1000 yards. "We took them completely by surprise."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oklahoma Survivor George Brown-- Part 2

Continuing with the story from April 14th. Oklahoma survivor George Brown.

"If was hydraulic operated. I saw that it was open. I told the guys in there, 'You guys can stay in here if you want to, but I'm getting the hell out of here!'
"So I got over there and there on the ladder you have to wiggle yourself around because you had a space where maybe it opened about 12 inches. Squeezed up through there, so it's good to be short, slim and agile....I got through there."

But a lot of the cooks couldn't fit through the small space. Brown swam halfway across the oil-covered bay before being pulled up by a rescue boat.

He served the rest of the war on the USS Worden, a destroyer, and was at both the Battle of Coral Sea and Midway. He became a career Navy man and also served in the Korean War. From 1957-1961 he lived in Henderson, Ky., and was in charge of Naval recruiting in the Owensboro area.

His wife Alice grew up in Hawaii where they now live and can see Pearl Harbor from their house.


The Memorial has the names of all 429 shipmates engraved in granite who died that day. In George's words, "That was the most horrible scene you can ever think of. Shipmates there and you can't help them."

It was made possible by donations from Oklahoma corporations, foundations and residents.

Oklahoma survivor Paul Goodyear, Oklahoma Senator Jim Reynolds and graphic artist Kevin King spearheaded efforts to get the memorial.

Of interest, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor that day was from Henderson, Kentucky.

Today, there are fewer than 100 Oklahoma survivors ranging in age from mid-80s to 94.

Well-Desreved, Albeit Later Than it Should Have Been. --Old Coot

WW II Museum Undergoing $300 Million Expansion

Lafayette, Louisiana's Daily Advertiser reports that the World War II Museum in New Orleans is planning a $300 million expansion.

It will include a 4-D Victory Theater and Stage Door Canteen dining and entertainment place. In the theater, there will also be a 180 degree screen with surround sound and atmospheric effects. Viewers will be actually be able to feel the steam of the Pacific jungles.

This is to be completed by 2014 on the museum's six acres. Also, there will be 5 additional exhibition pavillions.

The Greatest Generation Deserves It. --Cooter

HMAS Sydney Update

LIFEBOATS--The April 6th Adelaide Now reports that five of the Sydney's lifeboats have been found in the debris field about 500 meters from the wreck. One was on top of another one.

This supports the idea that few were launched.

The Sydney's bow is separated from the main wreck and is upturned. It is possible that rough seas during the battle might have led to it breaking away.

SYDNEY EXHIBITIONS-- will open in the Western Australia Museum in Geraldton by Anzac Day. It will be a multi-media display including footage.

The exhibit in the Fremantle Maritime Museum will be updated later this year.

SHOES FOUND-- April 10th Sydney Morning Herald reports that a remarkably preserved pair of shoes have been found on the ocean floor bringing forth the human side of the tragedy.

GERMAN BOMBARDMENT-- The same article also stated that salvos from the Kormoran came every 4-6 seconds. A and B turrets were knocked out within a few minutes. The Kormoran's big guns concentrated on the Sydney's big guns while the smaller guns targetted the decks and torpedo tubes.

The Story Continues. --Cooter

Monday, April 14, 2008

Oklahoma Survivor George Brown

George Brown of Henderson, Ky, was at the Dec. 7, 2007 ceremoney to dedicate the USS Oklahoma Memorial. The $1.2 million memorial consisting of 429 white columns, each 7 feet tall and 120 pounds represent each of the crewmembers who died that day.

The portside of the Oklahoma was ripped open 250 feet and within 20 minutes it rolled over and sank.

Brown's life was saved "by the Grace of God" and the fact that at 5'4' and 100 pounds, he was small. He had just finished writing a letter to his mom when, "I heard general quarters. Naturally, I hurried to my battle station. I got there and got set up. I wasn't there ten minutes and I felt a torpedo hit, andd then another one, and when the fourth one hit, it hit 20 to 30 feet from where I was.

At the time, Brown was a 20 year old ship's cook and was in the belly of the Oklahoma. "The lights went out, the speakers went out, and they would come back on a few minutes at a time. There was an armored hatch right over us. The damage control party had gone through and they left the hatch because they couldn't close it all the way or couldn't open it."

To Be Continued... Cooter

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The First HMAS Sydney

I remembered that when my mom was nice enough to take the family to Australia and New Zealand about five years ago, we took a harbor tour arounf Sudney's harbor and one of the features was the mainmast of the Sydney which is on the side of a hill at Bradley's Head.

How could this be the Sydney's mast when the ship was lost at sea with no survivors?

Did some looking at wikipedia and found out this was the mast of the FIRST HMAS Sydney. It was placed there in 1934. Thios ship was a light cruiser commissioned in 1913 and decommissioned in 1928. Like the second Sydney, it carried eight 6-inch guns.

This ship took part in the RAN's (Royal Australian Navy) first ship-to-ship engagement at the Battle of Cocos in the Indian Ocean in 1914 where it fought the German cruiser Emden. It had been attacking Allied shipping in the Indian Ocean where it captured or sank 30 vessels. A force of 60 Allied ships were looking for it.

Along with the mast, a 105 mm gun is on display at Sydney's Hyde Park.

On Jan. 26, 2007, the RAN decreed that all RAN and foreign vessels would honor the HMAS SYDNEY I when entering the harbor by "piping the mast" where the ship's company would form on the upper deck.

So, That Would Explain IT. --Cooter

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dead Page-- World's Largest Christmas Store-- Wally Bronner

WALLY BRONNER (1927-2008)

Founded Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan

Wally Bronner, 81, died April 1st. He was a rags to riches story. Starting with a sign-painting business in his parents' basement, he built a Christmas empire that today takes up a building the size of five football fields.

Throughout it all, he kept his focus on the Nativity and Christmas.

He was born in Frankenmuth March 9, 1927 and started the sign painting business in 1943 and expanded into decorating parade floats, fair booths and store windows. In 1951 he met with merchants from Clare, Mi, who were looking for Christmas lamppost decorations and soon, other cities were clamoring for his creations.

He married Irene Pretz in 1951, and, in 1954, opened their first store in downtown Frankenmuth and added two others in 1966 and 1971. By the mid 70s, the three stores were so congested during the fall weekends that he had to hire doormen to control the crowds.

In 1977, he moved the three stores to a 45 acre spread on the southside of town and doubled the size in 1991 and had another big addition in 2002.

Business is good. Unfortunately, I have never had the opportunity to visit the place.

Great Chicken Track Hits 50

In the April 10th Northwest Herald, I came across a political cartoon with an old hippy wearing a tee shirt with a Peace Symbol on it facing a monster called War. It was captioned "News Item: Peace Symbol Turns 50." The monster is holding a skull with a candle in it and saying, "Sorry, I didn't have time to bake a cake...I haven't had a break from work since 3000 B.C.!" By Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Is that ever TRUE!!!

Great cartoon, but I had no idea the peace symbol was that old. I just always figured it was something from the 1960s anti-war movement.

Well, after a wikipedia check, I found out I was quite wrong. Here's the story.

It was designed February 21, 1958 by Gerald Holtom, a professional designer and artist in Britain. It is a combination of the semaphoric signals for N and D. N has two flags held downward at 45 degree angles and D has the flags held straight up and down. It stood for Nuclear Disarmament.

It was designed for the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC) and adopted as the badge of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

It was first seen in the US in 1958 when Albert Bigelow sailed a small boat close to a nuclear test site and flew a CND banner.

It made its first appearance in the US in 1960 when Philip Atbach, a freshman at the University of Chicago, returned from a meeting with peace groups in London.

It became the national symbol for the 1960s anti-war movement and is derisively called the Mark of the Great American Chicken by those who were against the anti-war movement. It does resemble a bird foot in a circle.

Happy Birthday to N and D. --Old Coot

Big Ben is 150!!

A big happy birthday to one of the most famous bells in the world and that would be the one that rings on the hour from the Parliament Building in London. I speak of Big Ben.

It was made by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry which also made the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and the Bell of Hope, given to New York on the first anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attack. (I didn't know about the Bell of Hope.) The Lord Mayor of London presented it. There is no account of it in wikipedia.

Big Ben weighs in at 15 tons and was cast April 10, 1858, although it was another year before it rang out of the Parliament Tower.

It survived the Battle of Britain in WWII.

From April 10th Northwest Herald.

Ding-Dong, Ding-Dong. --Coot

Friday, April 11, 2008

WWII News-- 66th Anniversary of Bataan Death March-- Doolittle Museum in Lacrosse, Wi.

Some news of World War II.

1. 66th ANNIVERSARY OF BATAAN DEATH MARCH-- April 9th, in Santa Fe, NM, seven state survivors of the infamous march were honored. There were 1800 New Mexico National Guardsmen stationed in the Philippines and half did not survive the march.

The survivors said that 16 more had died this past year.

2. DOOLITTLE MUSEUM IN LACROSSE, WI-- Mark Doolittle has been operating a WWII museum in LaCrosse, Wi., since July with the main emphasis on Doolittle's Raid. Evidently, he is of no relation, but the last name and reading the book "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" many years ago sparked his interest.

He has accumulated quite a bit of material on the subject which is displayed in the museum. One of his most prized possessions is a painting signed by 41 of the raiders.

The museum is open Wed-Friday at 1203 Caledonia Street in LaCrosse.

As We Rapidly Lose the Greatest Generation. --Cooter

HMAS Sydney

The March 25th Canberra Times had a story about Ted Brand, 86, who remembers the name (but won't tell it) of a friend who took his place on the Sydney. He swapped drafts (orders) so he wouldn't have to serve on a smaller corvette (a small mine-sweeping vessel). His friend was afraid he'd get sick at sea, and wanted to go on the bigger Sydney.

The April 9th Perth Now and other Australia news sources are showing pictures taken of the Kormoran. The photos in the Perth Now showed the Kormoran's underwater torpedo tubes which are believed to be very responsible for the sinking of the Sydney. A torpedo from the Kormoran hit the Sydney's bow in the opening part of the battle and destroyed it.

A few Sydney shells hit the Kormoran and caused a fire in the engine room that could not be controlled. The captain, fearing the destruction that would occur once the fire hit the mines the ship carried ordered the crew to abandon and scuttle the ship. A huge explosion destroyed the rear half of the ship. Much damage can be seen in the photographs.

Other photos show two of the Kormoran's 5.9 inch guns still intact with concealment flaps in the upright position. The Germans claimed that they could de-camouflage the guns in a matter of seconds, another thing that led to the Sudney's destruction.

Still Surprised at Lack Of US HMAS Sydney Coverage

Other than one article in Chicago's Daily Herald, I have not seen one single mention of the Sydney in US media. This is a very interesting story, full of conspiracy theories and human interest. Very surprising.

I talked with a guy from Australia at McKinley's in Clayton, NC, and he had no idea about it. And he definitely would have looked into it had he any knowledge.

Come On US, Get on the Story. --RoadDog

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dad's Autobiography-- Part 3

Also, during that third year of school, I became a charter member of the College Kiwanis Club, Charter member of the College Inter-religious Council and Chairman of the College Point System.

Increased responsibility at the Ford Company and the tightening requirements of upper class curriculum curbed my extra-curricular activities during my senior year.

Because of additional responsibility assumed at work, I had to make a corresponding reduction in scholastic load as a senior. This resulted in my having to attend school an extra semester.

Graduation came February 26, 1952.

March 1, 1952, I went to work with the Hood Motor Company (Studebaker Agency) at Goldsboro as combination salesman, parts man and shop foreman (the latter job including body shop supervision).

During my first year I sold 41 new and used automobiles, the selling being done, for the most part, at night after regular duties at the company were ended for the day.

Throughout my work with automobile companies I have been in contact with insurance adjusters. Their work has interested me for several years.

While in Goldsboro, I became acquainted with J.L. Brown. local representative of Motors Insurance Corporation. Through discussions with him I became convinced that a greater future for me lay in that field and that MIC offered the greatest opportunities for a man withn the interest and ambition to get ahead.


Well. that's it. I sure enjoyed doing this and getting to know my dad at a point in his life when he was a young married man with two sons and trying to make a better life for all.

I'd have to say tht this was probably written as part of a job application or resume for a job in the insurance industry.

Dad's Autobiography-- Part 2

Convincd that herein lay a great future, I plunged into operation of the parts department with enthusiasm. In a few months I was vested with the responsibility. of the entire parts department alone, handling a business with inventory in excess of $20,000. Modesty must not restrain me from stating here that by carrying home all available literature on parts and department operations, I taught myself that part of the automobile business. I have little doubt that I was at that time the youngest parts department manager in our part of the state, being at the time an
11th grade student at Mount Olive High School.

Of the 14 boys who graduated who graduated from my high school class the following year, I was fourth high in scholastic standings.

In September, 1947, I enrolled as a freshman at East carolina Teachers College in Greenville, N.C., and began my studies toward a degree in economics.

My first year at the school was uneventful. To help with my expenses, I worked in the dining room.

The next year, my activities increased. Afternoons I worked in the parts department of the John Flannagen Buggy Company (Ford Company) for $35 a week---a salary which drew the envy of practically the entire campus and convinced me that the days spent shoving the push broom around the garage at Mount Olive and the nights spent studying the parts department literature surely had not been without benefits.

During that second year I was elected president of the College YMCA, a member of the student government, and staff member of the college yearbook.

Though older heads wagged sadly and commented loudly on the impulsiveness of youth, during my third year of college I calculated my weekly earnings, figured on the maturity of a building and loan investment of 10 years earlier, and proposed to marry the girl who had been my sweetheart since high school.

(Three and one-half years and two children, both boys, later, I still am convinced that for once, at least, the old folks were wrong.)

To be continued...

Dad's Autobiography

Mom came across a three page typed story in my dad's belongings while going through some of his stuff after his death. Unfortunately, there is no date on it and we don't know exactly why he wrote it, but it is definitely interesting.

Here it is:

"I was born February 29, 1929, in the Pickle Capital of the South, Mount Olive, N.C., the second son and third child of N.K. and Eva Stith Hatch.

I was named Donald Louis Hatch after an ancestor.

A rural mail carrier, my father was a man of modest but reasonably adequate financial means.

My early childhood probably was not unlike the childhood of any other youngster born in a neighborhood where playmates were plentiful and where stray dogs and cats always found a welcome.

Family life in the Hatch household, however, probably offered something more than was found in many homes. Three children born only 15 months apart and parents who maintained understanding, but strict moral discipline lent itself to family ties which possibly were stronger than found in many homes.

A man not blessed with the privilege of a college education, my father began, as far back as any of the children can remember, stressing the importance and advantages of higher learning.

That probably more than anything else prompted my decision to seek employment as an ambitious eight-year-old at the local Ford agency. I figured that by working Tuesdays and Saturdays as the Ford Company errand boy I might, by the time I was ready for college, have enough money for that higher education my father always taught was so necessary.

Probably, even today, it would be difficult to convince him that a degree is not a ticket to utopia, but merely a good starting point for a march into the future.

As an elementary student, I no doubt was considered no more than average. What I gained in history and geography, I probably lost in deportment. I was very interested in Scouts and attained the rank of Life Scout.

I was, however, somewhat of a politician as a grammar school student, being twice elected as captain of the school safety patrol which was to me at that time second only to the Presidency of the United States----a position I had no doubt that someday I would fill at the insistance of my fellow countrymen.

Meanwhile, work at the Ford Agency continued. By the time I was in high school I was graduated from the push broom to the parts counter. (Though I was certain at the time that promotion came only through recognition of my ability, I must admit that the drafting of most of the company's regular help probably had some bearing on the subject.)

To be continued.

Mom's Memories of Herman Park, Goldsboro, NC

From the January 27, 2002 Goldsboro News-Argus (NC) "DAR members reminisce about 'good old days" by Becky Barclay.

Becky Barclay went to the January David Williams Daughters of the American Revolution meeting and talked to some of the ladies about their memories of the Good Old Days.

My mom, Barbara Hatch, grew up across the street from one of Goldsboro's major parks, Herman Park, in the house she presently lives in today.

Her earliest memories of the park are going there with her nurse and family maid, Nora Stevens. "Nora would take me across the street to play with the other children at the park. And Boots, my white collie, would go with us."

Her parents would use chairs to keep her on the front porch, but one day she watched Boots slip out and followed his example and made an escape to the park. She doesn't remember if she got into trouble or not.

When she got older, she enjoyed visiting the zoo at Herman Park and especially enjoyed the lion cage, monkey cage, deer pen and other animals. One of her favorites was JoJo the monkey.

On hot summer days, she would take wax paper she saved from bread wrappers and go to the park and slide down poles in the play area. "The wrappers helped protect our hands from the hot metal and they also helped us slide down the pole faster."

During the summers the park would host pet shows and she remembers dressing her cats up in doll clothes. "One day we hitched my dad's two bird dogs to a wagon and put the cat in it." This didn't go so well as the dogs disappeared off one way and the cat the other.

Another favorite summer activity was wading in the wading pool at Herman Park. She also took old bread to feed the fish in the goldfish pond in the circle of the road going through the park.

Where the Kiwanis train is located today used to be a pony track and Barbara would ride her favorite, Black Beauty and sometimes the man in charge would let her clean out the stalls.

Three horn blows from her mom meant it was time to come home. "Growing up across from Herman Park was a wonderful experience."

Another DAR member, Lib Bennett remembers her first day in Goldsboro which happened to coincide with a farmer's market. She saw all the men walking around in their overalls. "I wondered where in the world my husband had taken me."

HMAS Sydney-- One Hot Battle

The April 5th Perth Now described some of the evidence coming forth from photos taken at the wreck.

There is a cluster of four shell holes on the Sydney, all within a 20 foot radius, fired separately, but by the same Kormoran gun that shows the rapidity and deadly accuracy of the German fire.

The Sydney's bridge and gun control was knocked out almost immediately.The forward hatches of the "X" turret were open so gunners could direct their fire at the Kormoran.

The April 5th Southern Highland News reports that the bow is gone before "A" turret in keeping with reports of a torpedo hit.

The April 4th Gulf Times reported that the Sydney pulled alongside the Kormoran and was blasted at point-blank range.  It was all over for the Sydney in a matter of minutes.


Gene Roberts on the Press and the Civil Rights Movement-- Part 2

I thoroughly enjoyed this talk at the Wayne Community College this past Friday.

He decided to write a book on how the press approached the monumental Civil Rights Movement and found that he needed help and the book took 15 years to complete. 

The movement was first covered by the black press.  The first black newspaper was published in 1827 with the words, "Too long have others spoken for us."By the 1950s, there had been more than 2800 black newspapers reporting what the white press wouldn't.  The average black newspaper lasted around nine years.  They didn't cease because of readership, but because of advertising.  "Arguably, there would not have been a Civil Rights Movement had it not been for the black press."

The Emmett Till story  started the Civil Rights Movement and the funeral, with its open casket, attracted the attention of the Chicago Press which covered the trial in depth.  This was the biggest coverage of civil rights to that time. 

Then came the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott and within two years of that, the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

More to Come.  --Da Cooter

HMAS Sydney-- Finally Mentioned in US Paper

I have a Google search on for articles about the recent discovery of the HMAS Sydney off the west coast of Australia. This is a big story in Australia, but I'm amazed how little has been said about it here in the US.

This is a major human interest story and a tribute to the "Greatest Generation" who are now so quickly passing away.

The April 5th Chicago's Daily Herald, the voice of Chicao's northwest suburbs, is the first account I've come across in an American paper.

The article says that damage evident in the photos of the wreck show the furious exchange of naval artillery, torpedoes, and machine gun fire and the two ships were perhaps irreparably damaged in the first five minutes of the fight. I believe most of the damage during the first five minutes was done to the Sydney.

For years, the gGrman accounts of the battle were regarded as suspect and there was the general belief that the Germans had machine-gunned the the Sydney's survivors. The fact that the lifeboats are missing tends to support this thought, but Naval Historian David Stevens says they might have become dislodged as the ship sank. He believes the German accounts were very accurate.

On February 6, 1942, a decomposed body with a shrapnel wound in the head, was found washed ashore in a lifeboat at Christmas Island, about 1100 miles to the north. A few years ago, an Australian boy found the grave. Dental records and DNA support the belief that he was a member of the Sydney's crew.

It's About Time America's Press Got Onto This Story. --Cooter

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Exactly When Was the "Leaf" Photo Taken?

Sotheby's will be auctioning off one of the earliest known photos ever taken, the Leaf, tomorrow. It was thought to be made in 1839. For a long time, it was attributed to William Henry Fox Talbot, considered to be the father of photography along with Louis Daguerre.

However, research now shows that it might even have been made as early as 1790, way before anyone ever figured a photo was made.

It is known that inventors Thomas Wedgwood, James Watt and Humphry Davy were also doing experiments with the medium. There is the initial W in a corner and might stand for Wedgwood who died in 1805 or Watt who died in 1819.

This picture is one of six old photos from the collection of Henry Bright whose family had close ties with the three inventors.

The "Leaf" was originally purchased at auction in 1984 for $776. Before the research, Sotheby's expected to get between $100,000 and $150,000. Now, it will obviously be worth considerably more.

How Convenient That This Would be Discovered Now. --Da Coot

Dead Page-- Voice of Chicago-- Creator of NTN-- Wally Phillips and Patrick J. Downs

WALLY PHILLIPS (1925-2008)


Famed Chicago broadcaster Wally Phillips, 82, died March 27, 2008. His morning show on WGN Radio held the ratings sway from 1965 to 1986, and featured a natural flow due to hours of research and practice.

He started the Neediest Kids Fund in 1969.

He was born July 7, 1925, in Portsmouth, Ohio. He dropped out of high school to join the Army Air Force during WW II and spent the duration in Georgia in a tow target squadron.

We once won a nice trip to Lake Geneva and a play in Chicago for knowing who sang Kansas City on his show.



Patrick J. Downs. 71, died March 16th. He was a co-founder of NTN, National Trivia Network along with his brother Dan and NFL Executive Don Klosterman in 1984. It started with QB1, a game you could play on TV where you predict the plays in NFL games. It then branched out to trivia games.

He was the CEO and Chairman from 1983 to 1997.

Here's a guy who who has taken a lot of my time as I am completely hooked on his game.

Big Bucks Heading for Alamo

The March 6th Daily Morning News reports that the Daughters of the Republic of Texas has approved a $60 million capital improvement project for the aging Alamo. Some will go to repair damaged walls and a leaking roof as well as a 48,000 square foot building with a museum, exhibit hall, research library and meeting hall.

Two and a half million visitors come each yewar to visit the birthplace of Texas. Back in 1836 a small force of Tejanos and Americans withstood a 13 day siege before subcombing to larger Mexican forces under General Santa Anna.

We visited the Alamo about ten years ago and found it to be quite an experience.

Rebuild the Alamo. --Cooter

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Gene Roberts on the Press and the Civil Rights Movement

Somehow, yesterday seemed to be the perfect day for this talk at Wayne Community College's Moffatt Auditorium in Goldsboro, NC. Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gene Roberts has written a Pulitzer Prize winning book on the role the press played in the movement and he had a first-hand experience as he covered it for the New York Times for the duration. The book is titled, "The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation."

Mr. Roberts is a native of Goldsboro, graduationg from Goldsboro High School in 1950 and later the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His first journalism job was with the Goldsboro News-Argus.

Today, he lives in New York City, where he is semi-retired, but still teaches a history course on this era after an airplane commute to the University of Maryland.


Former Goldsboro News-Argus and first boss Eugene Price introduced Mr. Roberts whose father had approached Price after Roberts had graduated from UNC about a job. There wasn't one at the time, but Price said he'd keep him in mind. Mr. Price is a stickler on "keeping it short," and six weeks later, an opening became available writing a column about Wayne County. Price sent him a letter advising of the opening and Roberts returned the same letter with the words, "I'll take it." Mr. Price knew right then that he had found his man.

In the closing of his introduction, Eugene Price said that Gene Roberts was "the greatest journalist ever produced by this county, this state, or this country in the past century." I'd have to say Mr. Price is a big fan.

By the way, this talk was originally scheduled for around MLK's birthday in January, but inclement weather kept Roberts plane from leaving NY, so it was rescheduled.

More Tomorrow. --Da Coot

First Photos of HMAS Sydney

The first photographs of the wreck of the HMAS Sydney were released yesterday. It shows the ship sitting upright. I saw a picture of gun turret B.

They show all the lifeboats missing, suggesting that some of the crew might have escaped. There is now the thought that perhaps half the crew got off as the ship sank slowly, and not fast as previously thought. Data will be gathered from the site and a new search made for those who might have gotten off the ill-fated ship.


Now here's a really sad story. Dorothy Cooper, 90, had just been married to her new husband, Leading Stoker Alfred Alfred, for one day, when she saw him sail off, never to be seen again. "I feel great peace and relief knowing the ship is mostly intact and he and his comrades are probably all still together on board."

Gordon White, 87, would have been aboard the Sydney with his shipmates, except a bout with tonsillitis kept him ashore that fateful voyage.


The HMAS Sydney sits upright, but the destruction of the German guns is easily seen. Both funnels and masts are gone. Shell holes are in all the gun turrets. The bridge is completely gone as well.

The pictures are posted at the Finding Sydney Foundation website.

Compiled from Ararat Advertiser and Herald Sun.

Fascinating and Still Unfolding Story. --Cooter

Lincoln Document Goes for $3.4 Million

Sotheby's auctioned off Abraham Lincoln's 1864 reply to the Little People's Petition for $3.4 million smackeroos. Also, there were another 20 Lincoln documents among the 111 items in the lot.

Also, of interest, were several pages from George Washington's diary, correspondence of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, a rare document signed by both Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, 10 Robert E. Lee documents, and items from John Brown, Samuel Clemmens, and Orville Wright.

I couldn't figure out if the $3.4 million was for all 111 items, or just for the Lincoln paper. Plus, was this all from one person's collection, or from many? Plus, where did they get that much money to build a collection like this if it was just one person's?

Who Has That Much Dough in these Recession Days to Afford This? Probably Big Oil Execs. --Da Coot

Friday, April 4, 2008

Some More on Camp Davis

Looked Camp Davis up in Wikipedia and found out some of the numbers were different from in the Topsail Coaster Magazine.

It was built by the US Army starting in December 1940 for use as an antiaircraft training facility. It was manned by about 20,000 officers and men.

There were 3000 buildings on 45,538 acres including two 5,000 foot runways. The camp closed in 1944 when the antiaircraft training was transferred elsewhere.

Apparently, the two runways are still being used by the Marine Corps.

This is close to present day Camp Leguene.

I have heard that very little remains of Camp Davis.

Holly Ridge, North Carolina--and Camp Davis

The town of Holly Ridge is called "The Gateway of Topsail Island." It was incorporated in 1941. It is 12 miles north of Ham Instead, well, Hamstead (see the entry below).


By 1943, the population had ballooned from 28 souls to 110,000 residents and over 1000 buildings!!!! Now, that is some growth. The reason was the establishment of World War II's Camp Davis.

The US miltary came to town and set up camp which included 1000 buildings ranging from barracks, mess halls, recreational buildings, theaters, post exchanges, a hospital, post office, and warehouses.

From 2008-2009 Topsail Coaster Magazine

Hampstead, North Carolina-- What's in a Name?

Drove through Hamstead, NC, on my way to Topsail Beach last week and again returning three days ago.

Historic US-17 is the main road through the town.


A monument at the "Washington Oak" shows where Washington once stayed overnight at a local tavern.


Legend has it that old George himself gave Hamstead it's name. This is a good one. On his stay, George was supposed to have a feast on mullet, which were abundant on Topsail sound. Unfortunately, they weren't running that day and he had to have ham instead. GET IT, he had to have ham instead. That'd be Hamstead.

From 2008-2009 Topsail Coaster Magazine

Well, That's a Good Story Anyway. --Cooter

First Aircraft Carriers Used in War...Well, Sort Of

In April 1914, the battleship USS Mississippi and cruiser USS Birmingham became the first aircraft carriers to be used in war. Operating off Vera Cruz, Mexico, five US Navy seaplanes made reconnaissance flights over Mexican troops.

They were lowered over the sides of the ships and made take-offs and landings in the water.

Well..., I don't know if this would REALLY count as carrier work.

What Do You Think? --Da Coot

Thursday, April 3, 2008

WW II Submarine Losses

The good folks at HMdb.org are at it again. They have recently posted two markers on the grounds of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.

One of the markers was in honor of the 374 officers, 3131 enlisted men and 52 sumarines of WW II who are still on "patrol." The marker also has a list of all 52 submarines, the A's were Albacore, Amberjack, and Argonaut.

In addition, nearby, there is a Mark XIV torpedo which constituted our WW II submarines' main armament. It held 600 pounds of explosives, was 20.5 feet long, 21 inches in diameter, and weighed 2000 pounds.

A fitting memorial to some very brave men who took their lives in their hands every time they went out on patrol.

If you ever want to go to an interesting site, check this one out. Guaranteed to spend awhile looking through their files.

Sure Wouldn't Have Wanted to Drop One of Those Bad Boys on My Foot. --Coot

The Dixie Division

There was a unit of the US Army referred to as the Dixie Division according to the April 2nd Wilmington Star-News. The 31st Division marched under both the US flag and that of the Confederacy.

Today, the Confederate battle flag has come under increasing attack by those who consider it to represent racial division, oppression, and prejudice.

Former member Leo Vereen, 77, says, "I've had buddies to die under that flag." He fought with the unit during the Korean War and he is very upset at the flag attacks.

Most of the unit members were from the South and there were some blacks in it as well, and he never found any of them having a problem with the flag either.

The division was sent to France during WW I and disbanded in 1919. It was reorganized as a National Guard Division in 1923 with units from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. It was inducted into federal service in November 1940.

Two National Guard units from Wilmington were also mobilized, the 120th Infantry Regiment and 252nd Coast Artillery Battalion.

The division served in the Pacific Theater of action and was deactivated in December 1945.

Never Heard of This Group Before. --Da Coot

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

If You're in Minnesota...WWII History Comes to You

According to the April 1st Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, the Apple Valley American Legion Post 17776 will be offering a first-hand World War II experience on three different Mondays during April.

Nine Minnesota WW II vets will give talks at the Legion. One, Robert Thill, 84, was only 18 when he was aboard the USS Ward at Pearl Harbor on that fateful December day.

The ship did not have radar, but the top of a small sub was spotted trying to slip into the harbor. The Number 3 gun hit it and sank it, one hour before the Japanese planes arrived. "We didn't know it was Japanese...we just knew an illergal ship was in our waters."

He continued that once the attack commenced, there was so much confusion that he has learned more about it from the History Channel than the fact that he was actually there.

Too Bad the Ward;s Encounter Didn't Alert Pearl Harbor. --Da Coot