Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dead Page-- Whistle While You Walk by the Lake-- Klondike "Big Inch"


Composed and "whistled" the theme to the Andy Griffith Show. That alone would put him on this page. But he also did the themes of I Spy, The Mod Squad, That Girl, Dick Van Dyke Show, and Gomer Pyle, USMC. This is quite a lineup.

He was born in Chicago in 1919 and moved to LA. He co-wrote "Harlem Nocturne" and performed with the Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey big bands.

After service in World War II, he also wrote "Make Room for Daddy" for the Danny Thomas Show.

ROBERT W. SMYTH, (1922-2008)

Died May 7th. Graduated from Northwestern in 1948 and instead of going into the family business, the John M. Smyth furniture stores in the Chicagoland area, he went into advertising and given credit for coming up with one of the most-successful-ever campaigns for a cereal.

He devised the "Klondike Big Inch" campaign for Quaker Oats where 20 million square inch deeds were given away in Quaker Oats cereals from 1954-1955 which really pushed sales.

He joined the family business in 1974 and hired Shelly Long to be the face of the store which she was for ten years. She later went on to star in "Cheers." The obituary didn't say, but he might have been responsible for the John M. Smith, or do you say Smythe" campaign which was also popular around here.

He served in WW II in Italy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

HMAS Sydney: --Vandalism at Memorial --Surviving Crewmembers To Be Interviewed

Again, it is sad that the American press carries so little on this extremely intriguing and continuing story.

VANDALISM AT TE MEMORIAL-- The May 26th Sydney Morning Herald reports that vandals poured oil on the names of the lost crew members and "the waiting woman" at the Sydney Memorial in Geraldton, Western Australia. Fortunately, there will be no lasting ill-effects, but just the same, who would do such a thing, especially with the recent discovery of the ship?

SURVIVING CREWMEMBERS TO BE INTERVIEWED-- The May 25th Perth Now reports that five surviving Western Australia sailors who served aboard the HMAS Sydney before its fateful meeting with the German raider Kormoran will be interviewed as part of the Commission of Inquiry.

These men, now in their 80s and 90s, will discuss their roles to get a picture of how the ship operated. Since there were no survivors, this is the next best thing.

Crewman Ean McDonald, 89, a former Lt-Cmdr in the Royal Australian Navy, served on board the Sydney for nine months, ending in June 1940.

The Story Goes On. --Cooter

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bell Goes Back to Britain

The ship's bell of the HMS Prince of Wales has been returned to Britain by Malaysia. It has been the showpiece of a RelationShips project to honor those who lst their lives when the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were sunk by the Japanese on December 10, 1941.

A ship's bell is regarded as the soul of a ship. This one was retrieved from the wreck in 2002 and has been in Malaysia ever since.

It's Great Seeing Countries Getting Along-- Old Cooter

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bits O' History-- Doolittle's Raiders Come to Florida-- HMAS Sydney-- Guns Back to Tower

Bits O' History-- Here's Some New Stuff About Some Old Stuff.

1. DOOLITTLE'S RAIDERS COME TO FLORIDA-- The May 17th Northwest Florida Daily News reports that seven of the remaining eleven members of Doolittle's Raid are coming to Fort Walton Beach later this month for a celebration to raise $100,000 or more for the Fisher House of Emerald Coast.

They trained at the then Eglin Field in Fort Walton Beach in March of 1942 a few weeks before they took off from the USS Hornet in their B-25s. One member, Ed Horton, Jr. lives in Fort Walton Beach. A three day celebration is planned.

I'd sure like to shake their hands. These men are really heroes.

2. HMAS Sydney-- The May 16th Perth Now reports efforts are underway to have an interpretive center built near where the ship went down. In 2001, a memorial with a silver dome and 645 seagulls was built to honor the crew.

The Western Australia Museum has a popular Shipwrecks Gallery about Dutch shipwrecks from 1629 and 1727, as well as a section on the Batavia Mutiny.

3. GUNS BACK TO THE TOWER-- The Tower of London will be getting some of its guns back...400 years late. The Alderney sank in 1592 near the Channel Islands of the English Channel. On May 25th, a team of archaeologists plans to begin work at the site.

Items to be recovered are cannons, muskets, grenades, swords, rapiers, body armor and helmets. The ship was carrying arms to English troops fighting in France.

Diving time will be limited to 40 minutes a day as this is a particularly dangerous stretch of water called the "Swinge." Divers can only safely dive during that 40 minutes called slack water.

And the HistoryJust Goes On. --Cooter

Gas Prices Hit $4 Here and Some Stuff You Might Not Have Known About Gas

The May 18th Chicago Tribune had a History Lesson by Mark Jacob titled "10 things you might not know about gasoline."

Some interesting stuff here to help our poor wallets when we get sacrificed at the pump.

1. Even though we are only 5% of the earth's population, we use 44% of the gasoline.

2. In a recent survey, we are the 45th cheapest among 155 countries, paying half of what UK does. Gas in Wonder Boy's Venezuela is 12 cents.

3. Lead was added to gasoline in the 1920s to eliminate the sorrow of engine knock, but did a number on the environment. Even oil additive inventor Thomas Midgley got lead poisoning and he didn't eat the paint chips.

4. There is a gas station in Cloquet, Minnesota, (outside of Duluth) designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Saw a picture of it, and it's impressive. Might just have to fill up there to take my mind off the pain.

5. Two states ban self-serve gasoline: Oregon and New Jersey. Full-service is generally more expensive, but NJ residents have the third lowest gas taxes (after Wyoming and Alaska).

6. The "Molotoc cocktail," a bottle filled with gas that is thrown in street fighting got its name after the Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939. The Soviets dropped cluster bombs and their Foreign Minister Molotov told the world they were dropping food. The Finns started calling the drops "Molotov Bread Baskets." When they fought back with the gas bottles they called them "Molotov Cocktails." I didn't know this.

6. Singer Bobby Fuller, of "I Fought the Law" fame was killed by gasoline in 1966 when his bruised and battered body was found in a car. At first, authorities said he committedsuicide by swallowing the gas and later that it was an "accidental death due to accidental inhalation of gasoline." Many still believe he was murdered. I have never and never will inhale gasoline accidentally.

7. Michael Douglas, Bono, Eddie Vedder and John Mayer all once worked in gas stations.

8. Gasoline Alley, a Tribune comic strip from the 1910s, featured characters who got older. It was based on characters from the Wisconsin town of Tomah.

9. Frank Sinatra called his favorite drink, Jack Daniel's as "gasoline." In some parts of Canada, gasoline stations are called a "gas bar."

So Now You Know Some Interesting Stuff About Gasoline. Something to think About the Next Time You're Cryin' at the Pump. --Old Coot

What was that old song by Elvis, "You Saw Me Crying at the Gas Pump?"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nickerson Mansion Open Again

It took five years, but the Nickerson Mansion, at Erie Street and Wabash Avenue in Chicago, has been completely renovated and open again, looking as good as it did when it was built in the early 1880s and filled with Gilded Age decor from the owner's personal; collection.

It's light gray sandstone exterior became covered with soot from nearby factories almost immediately. It is now the Richard H. Driehaus Museum and will open to the public in June.

Richard Driehaus is a Chicago investment manager known for his efforts to preserve historic buildings. He hired more than 150 craftsmen and designers to restore the three floor, 24,000-square-foot mansion both inside and out.

Samuel Nickerson made his money in the 19th century liquor trade.

Starting June 1st, people will be able to reserve spots in small groups to tour the museum Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Something Else to See in Chicago. --Da Coot

THIS DATE IN HISTORY-- 1819-- First bicycles seen in America on the streets of New York City. Called swift walkers.

Digging the 1989 Columbian Exposition

Archaeology classes at the University of Chicago are getting some close to home practical experience as they did for remnants of the World's 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago's Jackson Park.

They're not finding Indiana Jones type stuff, but rusty nails, broken crockery, and pieces of glass bottles.

The fair lasted for 6 months in1893 and featured the stunning White City, mostly sculpted of plaster and attracted 27 million visitors. Only one building was constructed to be permanent, the Palace of Fine Arts, which is now the Museum of Science and Industry. Almost all of the rest of the fairgrounds was gone a few months after its close.

This is U of C's first attempt at using the city itself for urban archaeology.

Professor Rebecca Graff and 20 students have four different holes dug around the 633-acre site. Each is 6.6 feet square and just three feet deep. At that point they encounter a layer of sand dunes and marsh that existed before European settlement.

They've encountered old pipe at each excavation and believe it to ave been fair infrastructure used for water and sewage.

May 18th Chicago Tribune "Urban 'Indiana Jones' seek traces of 1893 World's Fair" by William Mullen.

Good Experience for the Students, Even Though I Doubt They'll Find Much. --Coot

THIS DATE IN HISTORY-- 1927--Lucky Lindy arrives in Paris, France, after completing his solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. More press coverage on this even than anything in previous history.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stonehenge a Health Spa?

The May 14th Chicago Tribune had an article by Thea Chard about the first excavation within the circle of stones in over 40 years. A team of British archaeologists hope to prove the site was more of a healing spa tham place of sacrament.

They are looking closely at the 82 bluestones which form a double circle with some of them weighing 4 tons that were brought in during the second stage of Stonehenge about 2100 BC and are the first stone construction at the site.

About 150 years later, they were rearranged and the larger sarsen stones brought in.

The bluestones were brought in somehow, from the Preseli Hills in Wales, about 250 miles away. The Welch site had springs that were believed to have medicinal powers.

The team also hopes to get a correct timeline of Stonehenge to within ten years by collecting and analyzing samples taken from the site.

This Date in History: In 1927, "Lucky" Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in New York in the small plane Spirit of St. Louis" en route for Paris and the history books.

Of Course, One of the Halloween Movies Had the Real Reason. --Old Coot

So, What Makes A Recording Good Enough to Get on the National Recording Registry?

The Library of Congress' National Recording Registry had 25 recordings added to it this past week. I don't know who picks them, or what the criteria is, but, one was the best-selling pop album on earth and another went into space.

Ones I'm familiar with are as follows:

1. First trans-Atlantic broadcast (Mar. 14, 1925)
2. Fibber's closet opens for the first time, "Fibber McGee and Molly" program (Mar. 4, 1940)
3. "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tong Angels"-- Kitty Wells (May 30, 1952)
4. "My Fair Lady," original cast recording (1956)
5. "Oh, Pretty Woman," Roy Orbison (1964)
6. "Tracks of My Tears," Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (1965)
7. "The Sounds of the Earth," disc prepared for the Voyager spacecraft (1977)
8. "Thriller," Michael Jackson (1982)

This Date in History-- 1916-- Norman Rockwell's first Saturday Evening Post cover. I used to put his covers up around the room once every year and introduce my 7th graders to his work.

How about Jimmy Buffett's "My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, and I Don't Love Jesus?" --Coot

Monday, May 19, 2008

USS Mugford, DD-389

From Wikipedia.

The USS Mugford, DD-389, was a Bagley-class destroyer and the second ship in the US Navy to bear the name of James Mugford, the commander of the schooner Franklin in the Continental navy.

It was commissioned 16 August 1937 and decommissioned 29 August 1946 and scuttled 22 March 1948. It was 341 feet long, 35 foot beam, and mounted 4 X 5 inch guns, 4 X 50 calibre guns, and 12 X 21 inch torpedo tubes.

The Mugford was at Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, as the Flagship of Destroyer Division 8 and was in the Navy Yard for repairs. It shot down three Japanese planes in ten minutes and was able to get underway. Within an hour, the Mugford was steaming out of Pearl Harbor with guns blazing.

On May 15, 1943, the Mugford rescued survivors of the AHS Centaur which had been sunk by a Japanese submarine the day before.

On Aug. 7th, it was at Guadalcanal and was hit by a bomb and narrowly missed two others. Two more Japanese planes were shot down while the Mugford had 8 killed, 17 wounded, and 10 missing.

She went on to participate in most of the actions in the Pacific, earning 7 Battle Stars.

Two years later, the Mugford participated in Operation Crossroads, the Bikini Atomic Tests. Afterwards, it was retained for decontamination experiments and was sunk off Kwajalein on 22 March 1948.

Interesting Ship Story. -- Old Cooter

65th Anniversary Sinking of Hospital Ship Centaur

This May marks the 65th anniversary of the torpedoing and sinking of the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur by the Japanese Submarine I-177. It was sreaming to Port Moresby to pick up casualties and was off the coast of southern Queensland.

It took 3 minutes to sink, and 268 died. Sixty-three men and a nurse spend 35 hours on rafts before being rescued by the Us Destroyer Mugford.

There is a Centaur Association (but I couldn't find a website).

Tom Leask lost thgree uncles on the Centaur, but not his father because he was sent to be with his mother who was having problems with her pregnancy.

David Mearms, who recently found the wrecks of the HMAS Sydney and German Raider Kormoran is currently doing research with plans on locating the Centaur. He also was in on the discovery of the German Battleship Bismarck and HMS Hood.

For more info:,ca/profs/milligan/centaur/A.HOME

First the Sydney, Now the Centaur. --Old Coot

Some More on Fort Johnson

From Charleston Harbor Tours:

Built 1704 in response to tensions between Spain and England. During the Stamp Act Congress, William Bull, the British Royal Governor, had the stamps moved to Fort Johnson for safe keeping.

Played no big role inthe American Revoultion, althought, it had something to do with thedevelopment of the SC state flag. Gov. Moultrie gave the garrison a flag with a blue background to match their uniforms and a crescent moon to match the one on their hats. Later, the palmetto was added to the flag to honor the historic resistance at Fort Moultrie.

A mortar from Johnson fired the first shot at Fort Sumter. On July 2, 1864, the Union Army launched an unsuccessful amphibious operation against it.

In 1864, it was evacuated and fell into ruin until the College of Charleston purchased the 40 acres. Today it houses the Marine Resources Division and has a graduate program in Marine Biology.

By the Dawn's Early Light. --Old Coot

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fort Johnson-- Charleston, SC Harbor

Archaeologists working at digs in the historic fort have discovered a large stone chip with man-made notches made by a Native-American hunter or fisherman to tie off his weapon dating to 7,500 to 10,000 years ago.

Fort Johnson is known as the place where the first shot of the Civil War was fired, but there have been forts at the point dating back to an earthen one in 1707.

Not much from a military standpoint remains other than an 1800s powder magazine and cisterns.

In addition, many non-military items have been found. Over the years, it served as a quarantine hospital, summer health resort, and freedman's "squatter" farms. In the 1800s, families summered there to escape malaria in Charleston.

May 9th Myrtle Beach Online.

Don't recall of Ever Hearing of this Fort. --Coot

Thursday, May 15, 2008

World War II Aces Talk

The May 5th Sacramento Bee had an article about four WW II fighter pilot aces recalling their experiences at the Aerospace Museum of California. These men were in their late teens-early twenties when they battled the Germans in skies over Europe.

In order to be an Ace, you had to shoot down at least 5 enemy aircraft and only a few pilots attained that level.

They were Col. Bud Anderson, Lt-Col. Don Bryan, Col. Barrie Davis and Col. Art Fiedler. Together, these four destroyed 43 German planes.


Lived in a tent in Italy and escorted B-24 bombers on their missions. One time, he saw 2 German Messerschmidtt 109s and followed one in a verticle dive. He oipened fire with his machine guns and saw it crash. Pulling out of the dive, he found himself flying alongside the other German plane, so close he could see the enemy's pilot's red helmet and oxygen mask.

He couln't fire because his machine guns were facing forward. He firgures they flew next within 40 feet of each other for what seemed liked hours, but was probably more like 3 minutes. He unholstered his 45 and aimed it at the German pilot, hoping he would break off. Instead, the German jettisoned his canopy and bailed out. Fiedler took a phot of the parachute.

When he got back to the base, he got the name Art "Svengali" Fiedler because "He hypnotizes them into bailing out."

Fiedler had 8 confirmed kills during the war.
Anderson had 16, Bryan 5 in one day and ended the war with 13.


Davis shot down 6 and was almost shot down himself. On June 6, 1944, during D-Day, he mistook an enemy plane for an American and was hit. He lost consciousness and came to with the plane flying level at 20,000 feet. The canopy had blown away and he was freezing. His shoes had gotten wet while walking on the dewy grass at the base earlier in the morning, and his shoes were now frozen to his feet.

He managed to land, but his plane was shot up like Swiss cheese and a portion of the tail was gone. Metal fragments had to be extracted from his head.

The Greatest Generation. --Old Coot

USS Mount Hood (AE-11)

I was at the Fox Lake/Grant Township Historical Society Museum a while back and saw a picture of a sailor who died in the explosion that tore this ship apart. I'd never heard of this incident before, so did some research. There was a picture of him and he was 17. The caption under the picture had him dying aboard the USS Sierra, but I did not find it listed as being in the vicinity of the Mount Hood when it blew up. But his date of death was the same as when the ship blew up.

His name was James Arthur Welch, born Jan. 11, 1927, died Nov. 10, 1944.

I'll be at a meeting there tonight and will try to find out more about him.

SEE-- Jan. 26, 2008 entry.

From Wikipedia--Lead ship of her class of ammunition ships in WW II. Exploded at Manus Island 10 Nov. 1944, killing all 267 offoicers and enlisted men aboard.

Built by North Carolina Shipbuilding Co., Wilmington, NC where 54 ships were built for the US Navy. Located 3 miles south of Wilmington on east bank of the Cape Fear River. Wilmington has been doing a lot to document and mark its WW II heritage. There is even a driving tour of sites.

Launched 28 Nov. 1943 and commissioned 1 July 1944.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bits O' History-- Lewis & Clark-- NC Diving-- Mark Twain's Farm-- Pacific War Museum

Here's the New Stuff on Some Old Stuff.

1. LEWIS & CLARK-- The May 5th KREM TV in Spokane had a segment on an arrowhead that was found at what is believed to be a Lewis & Clark campsite at Hell's Canyon on the Snake River. It is at the ruins of a centuries-old Nez Perce fishing village. In May 1806, the explorers camped near it. Archaeologists have found the depression of a lodge described by Sgt. John Ordway. A half of a blue glass bead, two brass tavcks, and the very small arrowhead have been found so far.

2. NC DIVING-- The May 4th Burlington (NC) Times News had an article about Alamance County Sheriffs Lt. Richard Longamove, 44, who travels to a lot of wrecks, and not just cars. He is an avid diver and treasure hunter and often dives wrecks along the NC coast.

He says there are a lot of wrecks off the coast in 100 to 180 feet. On weekends, he's off to Southport, Morehead City, Wrightsville Beach, and Wilmington in search of Civil War vessels as well as German U-boats. He's found pieces of chiona plates, bullets and toys from the City of Houston sunk near Frying Pan Shoals.

A prized possession is an 1860s Springfield rifle.

3. MARK TWAIN'S FARM-- Well, not actually his farm, but his Uncle John A. Quarles' on which Twain spent many boyhood summers. Twain said that a slave at the Quarles' farm was "Jim" in his stories. Samuel Clemmens was born in Florida, Missouri in 1835, but moved to Hannibal soon after.

The farm is located in northeastern Missouri, and Twain called it "a heavenly place for a boy." This farm will be having a private archaelogical dig this summer.

Quarles' home, originally two log cabins joined together by a breezeway, is gone, but workers will have the outline of it from the remaining stone foundation.

4. PACIFIC WAR MUSEUM-- in Fredericksburg, Texas will be expanding with a recent ground-breaking ceremony for 40,000 addition square feet of space. This will triple its size.

It was originally called the Admiral Nimitz Museum as the admiral was born in Fredericksburg. He became fleet admiral and c-in-c for the Pacific Theater during WW II.

The museum sits on a six acre site. In December, the 67th anniversary meeting of the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Association will take place there.

The website shows that they have a piece of the rbber raft LT. H. G. Bush used on September 2, 1944 after his plane crashed. There is also an engine tag from the engine of the Betty Bomber that was carrying Japanese Admiral Yamamoto on his last flight.

And the History Just Goes On. --Coot

Give Me a Fatburger, Please

David Letterman put it on his list of top ten things he'd miss if he moved from LA. Here's some more information on the Fatburger Chain from Wikipedia and their website.

In 1981, they began offering franchises, billing themselves as "The Last Great American Hamburger Stand." In 1985, there were 15 Fatburger sites.

As far as McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's are concerned, Yancey said, "They may be more popular, but a good hamburger sells itself, and I don't think anybody makes as good a hamburger as we do."

He sold Fatburger to an investment company in 1990, but kept the property at Western Avenue. He was born in Texas Jan 3, 1912.

Currently, there are 93 locations in the US, Canada, and Mexico. There are many in Nevada, but most are in California.

Could a Fatburger Make You Fat? --Cooter This has a great retro look to it.

Dead Page-- Fatburger Founder


Founder of the Fatburger Chain of restaurants, a popular postwar LA hamburger stand."I settle don the hamburger because they were the the fast-selling sandwich of America." he partnered with Charles Simpson and used scrap materials to build a 3-stoll hamburger stand stand on Western Avenue near Jefferson Avenue. Opened 1947 and was called Mr. Fatburger because of its size with everything on it. In 1952, he bought out his partner and dropped the Mr.

In a 1985 interview, he said, "I worked 16, 17 and 18 hours a day behind the counter, seven days a week. I'd come home, catch a few hours of sleep and start all over again."

Originally, Fatburger was not an all-night place, but third shoft workers wanted it.

In 1973, he opened a Fatburger on La Cienga Blvd. in Beverly Hills and it quickly became a celebrity favorite.

Fatburger has been included in songs, movies and TV shows. Lamont is going out for one in an episode of "Sanford and Son." It was in the film "The Fast and the Furious" and IceCube sang about it in "It was a Good Day."

I'm not sure that I've ever had one, but it sure got my mouth to watering. There are definitely none here in northern Illinois.

Jan. 26th LA Times, by Dennis McLellan.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Has 25,000 Pearl Harbor Stories

WW II veteran James Evans' home is packed with over 25,000 stories of Pearl harbor as written by the men who were there when they applied for membership in the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Association. Mr. Evans is the National Secretary of the organization and has inherited them.

At its peak, the association numbered more than 25,000, today, the rolls are down to 5000 with an average age of 86.

He was stationed at NAS Kaneohe Bay that day in December and 17 years old. He joined the Marines in 1940 after growing up in Chicago. One reason he joined was the depression.


He remembers being in the barracks and looking at the mirror in his locker before 8 am duty at the field gate when the attack began. Someone yelled to come see, but no one responded immediatelly as they were sleeping in late after partying the Saturday night.

"We heard the thump-thump sound. The station was still under construction, so we were used to that sound. But, it was Sunday, and you know the civil service doesn't work."

His station was attacked first. "You were wondering what the hell was going on. We weren't in a war. You don't know what these planes are doing up there. It could be a maneuver. In 1941, if you asked what was the insignia of the Japanese Navy, 99 out of 100 wouldn't know."

The Marines didn't fire at first. When they started, he climbed to the roof and saw a Japanese plane 50 yards away. "I saw the Japanese pilot grinning at me, and I was cursing him. I shot five rounds and stopped. I figured out I wasn't going to hit a plane going 200 mph, but I could see everything."

The Japanese knocked out 33 planes and set 2 hangers on fire.

He teaches a WW II Generation class at Palomar College where he invites vets to speak.

May 3rd San Diego Union Tribune


Let's hope that something is done with these applications. It would be too bad if they were lost. A good spot for them would be the Pearl Harbor museum in Oahu.

Another Member of the Greatest Generation. --Old Coot

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dead Page-- Black Sheep Pilot


Member of Black Sheep Squadron. Personally reamed out by Pappy.

Ned Corman, in his F4U Corsair shot down one Japanese Zero during his time with the famous Marine Fighter Squadron 214, better known as the Black Sheep Squadron during WW II. This group inspired the popular 1970s TV series "Baa Baa Black Sheep" starring Robert Conrad as Medal of Honor Recipient Gregory "Pappy" Boyington.

Mr. Corman, a native of Zion, Pa., died in Maui May 11th.

Only 12 members of the Black Sheep Squadron remain.

While attending Penn State, he got into the Civilian Pilot Training Program. In 1943, he joined the Black Sheep as a replacement pilot and served 84 days until Pappy Boyington was shot down Jan. 3, 1944 and taken prisoner. The Black Sheep racked up 97 victories and destroyed or damaged 203 Japanese planes.

On Christmas Day 1943, Mr. Corman got separated from the formation in a dogfight. He then encountered five Zeroos and managed to shoot one down.

Back on Vella Lavetta, he was feeling pretty proud of himself until Boyington debriefed him. "He just chewed my (expletive) from one end to the other. One: for leaving the formation, and two: for not getting all five. But that's the kind of guy he was."

Nov. 9th Centre Daily Times, Centre, Pa.

Another of the Greatest Generation Leaves Us. --Old Coot

Fourth Grader Does Her Part for the Alamo

Now here is an excellent story that reaffirms our faith in the younger generation.

The May 10th Dallas Morning News reports that Amanda Dale, 10, and in 4th grade in Elgin. Texas, was upset when she heard of damage to the Alamo due to a leaking roof. "It's the Alamo. If they don't fix it...we'll lose an important piece of our history."

She and her parents met with the principal to have a cake sale to raise money. She also raised $350 in a penny drive pitting the boys against the girls at her school. Not settling for just that, she and her family got 20 Elgin merchants to donate items and services and had a raffle.

Altogether, Amanda raised $1,141.54 for the Alamo.

On May 9th, she was honored in front of the Alamo when she turned her check over to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

Now, This is One Young Person to Admire. Congratulations Miss Amanda Dale!!! --Old Coot

Bits O' History-- WW II Motor Boat-- HMAS Sydney-- "Hallowed Ground" Preservation Legislation

Bits 'O History-- It Ain't Old, It's Current Stuff.

1. WW II MOTOR BOAT-- The May 8th Motor Boats Monthly reports that a WW II motor boat has been relaunched with a voyage up the Thames River to Windsor. It is a 44 foot River Class fast launch and served during the war with the Royal Army Service Corps in Egypt, Hong Kong and the UK. It has been completely restored.

2. HMAS SYDNEY-- The April 25th Mudgee Guardian reports that Maxwell Edwin Bartlett of Mudgee was on the HMAS Sydney when it sank Nov. 19, 1941. He was 19 and the second child of Mugbee Mayor Edwin Bartlett to die.

His second counsin Lynette Bartlett was a toddler when he died, but remembers family sadness when it was reported as missing. At first, the family always referred to him as missing, but later they talked of his going down with the Sydney.

3. PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNS "HALLOWED GROUND" LEGISLATION-- The May 10th Evening Sun reports that President Bush signed legislation to make a 175 stretch of land between Gettysburg and Monticello a National Heritage Area. As a result, Journey Through Hallowed Ground, a national non-profit partnership now is eligible for up to $1 million in federal funds a year.

It joins the list of 38 federally designated National Heritage Areas.

History, It Just Doesn't Stop. --Ol' Coot

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dead Page-- 1970 Barracuda-- Hazel and Mr. Peabody

JOHN E. HERLITZ (1942-2008)

Designer styled Chrysler Cars

His 1970 Barracuda was classic of US muscle car line

John Herlitz, 65, died March 24 in Naples, Florida.

He made his reputation with the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda which brought "a touch of class to the 'pony car' segment" which featured long hoods and short rear decks. His car was clean and largely unadorned, with a wide body and a hunkered-down stance that hinted at the power from its huge V-8 engine. Even today, the 425 hp 'Cudas remain a sought-after vehicle by collectors.

He also designed the 1971 Plymouth Road Runner and the GTX. He also worked with the group which came out with the boxy "K" cars which staved off bankruptcy, and then there was the first minivan.

In 1994, he was appointed vice president of product design. He and his group were responsible for Chrysler designers getting the reputation for bold designs in cars and trucks that borrowed from the past with such vehicles as the 300, Magnum, and the PT Cruiser.

TED KEY (1912-2008)

Creator of Hazel and Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

Died May 3rd. He sold a single-panel cartoon about a maid to the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. This became Hazel which was a popular TV show from 1961 to 1966 starring Shirley Booth who won two Emmys for it.

He was born in Fresno, Ca., on August 25, 1912. He also created the characters of Jay Ward's Mr. Peabody and His Boy Sherman for the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

Presidential Portraits

The Chicago Tribune has been running some interesting facts about US presidents. The May 4th one had numbers 22-24, but that was only two men.

#22, #24


From New York. No military service. He was drafted during the Civil War, but purchased a sunstitute. (As president, he vetoed hundreds of military pension bills as being unwarranted drains on the Treasury. I wonder if it would have been different had he seved?

Democrat, Terms March 4, 1885-March 3, 1889 and March 4, 1893-March 3, 1897.

During first term, presidential succession defined. Dealt with worst US depression during the Great Panic of 1897.



From Indiana, married twice. Served in Civil War with the 70th Indiana. Rose to rank of brigadier general.

Signed the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890. We could use him today to do something about BIG OIL and their cronies. The only president whose grandfather, William Henry Harrison, was also president. His great grandfather, Benjamin Harrison signed the Declaration of Independence. Did not win popular vote in 1888, but carried the electoral college. First president to use electricity at the White House.

Source "The Complete Book of US Presidents" by William A. DeGregio.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Now, That's One Old Lightbulb-- 107 and Counting

A short blurb and picture in the May 7th Chicago Tribune about the 4 watt light bulb that has been burning in the Livermore, Ca. Fire Station No. 6 for 107 years.

It us a low-watt with a curlicue carbon element and has been named the world's longest continuously-burning bulb by both Guinness World Records and Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

For some reason, it never gets turned off-- or dusted.

I did some more research and found that it has its own website and live cam. Went to the site, but the server was overloaded and shut down. It is called the Livermore Centennial Light and hangs 15 feet above the fire engines at the station located at 4550 East Avenue. It gives off a faint glow and surprisingly, the best way to keep a low-watt light like this burning for extended times is to keep it on.

There is an article about it and others in Wikipedia under Longest-Lasting Light Bulbs. You can see it yourself if there are any firemen around.

Now, That's Mighty Old. And, I Can't Even Keep One for More Than a Year. --Old Coot

Dead Page-- 31 Flavors-- 31 Days of Mourning?

The "Dead Page" was what my former students called my daily Current Events lesson. Not only did we talk about, and locate current events, but also obituaries I found of interest of people who had touched their lives or lived through historical events. Evidently, I did so many obituaries, they go to to calling it the "Dead Page." I stuck with the name on my blog.


Co-Founder of the Baskin-Robbins Empire

Irvine Robbins and his brother-in-law Burton Baskin both opened ice cream stores in Los Angeles after WW II and combined them in 1948. Irvine had a definite penchant for creating unusual ice cream concoctions. In 1958, when the Dodgers moved to town, he had Baseball Nut ice cream complete with raspberries for umpires.

The day after man landed on the moon, he had Lunar Cheesecake. Then, there was Beatle Nut for the Beatles. Other creations were Plum Nuts, Cha Cha Cha (cherry chocolate chip).

He retired in 1978 and by then was selling 20 million gallons of ice cream a year at more than 2000 stores world-wide.

He was the son of a dairyman and grew up scooping ice cream at his family's Tacoma, Washington store. After serving in WW II, he opened Snowbird Ice Cream store in Glendale, Ca, after cashing in an insurance policy his father had gotten him for his bar mitzvah to get the $6000 he needed to start.

Buster Baskin married his sister Shirley. He was also a WW II vet and, in 1946, opened Burton's Ice Cream in Pasadena. In 1948, the 5 Snowbirds and 3 Burton's combined. In 1953 it was renamed Baskin-Robbins, the order of names determined by a coin flip. That same year, the concept of 31 flavors was introduced.

1949- 43 stores, 1960 more than 100, 1967 about 500. It was sold to United Fruit Company in 1967 for $12 million. Six months later Baskin died from a heart attack.

Irvine Robbins' license plate read "31BR" for some reason.

From May 7th LA Times.

The Story of a Self-Made Man. More Honor to Him. Let's Commemorate by going to the local Baskin-Robbins 31 straight days. RoadDog

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

LA Schools Settle Suit Over Assassination Site

The Los Angeles School Ditrict bought the formerly elegant and famous Ambassador Hotel and its 24 acres in 2001, as a site for a new school, and ever since had been in a legal battle with a preservation group. That group dropped the battle for a cool $4 million. This hotel was especially famous as the site where Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated in the kitchen on June 5, 1968.

The whole hotel except the Cocoanut Grove nightclub came down in June, 2006.

Linda Dishman, a spokesman for the preservation group said that the what's left of the Ambassador was no longer historically significant and there are other buildings they can focus on.

The district had hoped to preserve the once-glitzy Cocoanut Grove night club where headliners such as Frank Sinatra and Bing Cosby once performed., but it was determined that it was not structurally sound enough to withstand an earthquake, so it will come down as well.

Jan. 17th Quad-City Times.

I Probably Couldn't Have Afforded to stay There Anyway. --Cooter

Buddy Holly Photos Wanted

Well, actually any photos from the 1959 Winter Dance Tour, but especially any from the January 28th appearance at the Capitol Theater in downtown Davenport, Iowa. Three film documentarians are compiling a history of the Winter Dance Party which also featured the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) and Ritchie Valens. They have found pictures of all shows except the one in Davenport.

Just a few days later, the three were killed in a plane crash outside Clear Lake, Iowa.

Hope they get them. From the Jan. 17th Quad-City Times

Drove My Chevy to the Levee. --Coot'

Another Underground Railroad House in Illinois

The May 6th Chicago Tribune ran an article on the 1840s Blodgett House in Downers Grove being moved to its original site. It wqas just a hundred foot move from 812 Randall Street to 813 Maple Avenue.

Besides being an old house with construction starting in 1846 and being completed in 1849, it was owned by staunch abolitionists Israel and Avis Blodgett and was a known stop on the Underground Railroad. They are also known to have befriended Indians during the 1832 Black Hawk War.

The Heritage Preservation Corporation bought it last year from a developer who had planned on tearing it down, but offered it for $10 when he found out its historical value.

The Corporation plans on restoring it to its pre-Civil War condition and set it on a new foundation once it is rotated 180 degree to face Maple Avenue as it originally did.

The project will cost $700,000 and is expected to be open by 2011. So far, $140,000 has been raised. No reason was given for why it was origiannly moved a little over a hundred years ago.

Lots of interesting comments with some questioning the money and whether or not it has the historical significance. One writer pointed out tthat it seems like every old home in Illinois is thought to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Good Point.

George Washington Slept There Too. --The Old Coot

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sad Story From Waco, Texas

The April 27th Waco Tribune reports that hundreds or thousands of Wacoans are buried in the portion of the old First street Cemetery that was SUPPOSEDLY cleared for the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum 40 years ago.

Descendants are obviously not happy. More than 160 remains have been discovered in the recent expansion at Fort Fisher. A cemetery relocation company removed the gravestones, but left the graves.

An archaeological team is exhuming bodies which will be reburied elsewhere.


Some notables that are among the missing. Samuel Forsgard, Waco's first Swedish immigrant and well-known confectioner and Civil War veteran.

Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson's great, great, great grandfather Shedrick Willis, a blacksmith and former slave. He was a two-term Waco City Councilman and mayor pro-tim.

Also in the cemetery somewhere is the father of the founder of Dr. Pepper. Confederate veteran H. C. Lazenby moved to Waco in 1866. His son, Robert Sherman Lazenby, produced Circle A Ginger Ale in 1884 and introduced Dr. Pepper in 1886.

I Bet the Relocation Company Got Paid Lots of Money Not to Do Their Job. Wonder If They'd Have Done Differently if One of Their Ancestors Was Buried There. --RoadDog

HMAS Sydney

1. April 25th-- thousands attended observances in Adelaide with special mention given to the 66 crew members from South Australia.

2. Maxwell Edwin Bartlett, from Mudgee, was one of the Sydney's crew. He was 19 at the time and son of Mudgee's mayor.

3. Eight hundred relatives packed St. Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney for the memorial service.

4. Bob Honor was 4 when his father, telegraphist Charles Leslie Honor died. "I remember my father walking away from our house in Adelaide. He was wearing a flat cap and a silk scarf and carrying an old-fashioned kit bag. And that's all I remember." Sad that that would be all he could remember of his father. "Mum never gave up waiting for him to come home."

5. The cathedral bell tolled 645 times, once for each one of the crew members.

6. David Mearns' next project may be to locate the hospital ship Centaur which was torpedoed by a Japanese sub in May 1943 off Caloundra. Deaths mounted to 268.

This Has Been Quite a Story. Again, I'm Surprised at How Little Attention was Given to it by US Media. --Cooter

Monday, May 5, 2008

USS North Carolina, the Battleship, That Is

Amy Hotz, reporter with the Wilmington Star-News, felt that with all the publicity around the commissioning of the new nuclear submarine USS North Carolina this past weekend, that people might have forgotten about the Battleship North Carolina which has been a memorial in the city since the 1960s.

She reported about its commissioning and service during WW II wjich can be see at the wikipedia entry for the ship.

What I found interesting was the effort to save the ship from the scrap yard after the Navy said they were going to send the ship there in 1958.

The North Carolina was decommissioned June 27, 1947, and put into the mothball fleet at Bayonne, NJ, where it stayed for the next 14 years. In 1958, the Navy said the ship would be scrapped. A campaign called SOS, Save Our Ship, was mounted where thousands on North Carolinians donated money, including most of the state's school children. The sum of $270,000 was needed and $330,000 actrually raised.

The ship arrived in Wilmington Oct. 2, 1961, and was dedicated a WW II memorial in 1962.

I remember bringing in pennies and nickels as a NC student back then. Every class was competing to raise the most in school. The USS North Carolina's stern struck a floating restaurant as it was being turned into it's final mooring place. The next day, the restaurant had a giant purple heart on the side of it.

I'm happy to see so many states now saving their naval namesakes. It is a shame to scrap these magnificent vessels.

A Grand Old Ship. --Cooter

"Such is Life"-- The Life and Times of Ned Kelly

I imagine some of you may never have heard of Ned Kelly unless you're from Australia. I'd never heard of him until I took a trip to Australia several years ago.

This past week, we had an NTN question about him where I was the only person in the place to know who he was.

Ned Kelly was Australia's most famous bush ranger born 1855 and died Nov. 11. 1880. To some he is still and outlaw, to others he is regarded as a folk hero for his resistance to colonial authorities.

He wore a 97 pound suit of armor at his last stand in Glenrowan on June 28th. This covered his whole body except for his legs which received 28 wounds before he was brought down.

He survived and stood trial and was, of course, found guilty. When the judge, as customary, said, "May God have mercy on your soul," Ned supposedly replied, "I will go a little further than that, and say I will see you there when I go. The judge died 12 days later of a carbunde.

Kelly's reported last words before he was hanged were, "Such is life."

Sounds Like a Very Interesting Man. --Old Coot

"Such is Life"-- Good Old Ned Kelly

The site of Australia's famous, or infamous, Ned Kelly is "being scraped, dug and sifted" in attempt to find artifacts of the site where Ned and his group were captured or killed after wearing suits of armor to battle colonial authorities.

The batttle occurred June 28, 1880 in Glenrowan.

Another excavation site at the old Pentridge Prison exhumed some 20 sets of human remains anf these is the hope that one of them might be that of Ned Kelly. Ned was hanged for his crimes on November 11, 1880.

Looking at a picture of him in the article remonds me of John Brown.

Good Ol' Ned. --Da Coot

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Next to Last French WW I Veteran Died

Louis de Cazenave died Januray 20, 2008 at age 110, leaving just one more known "poilus" from WW I. The last-known vet is Lazare Ponticelli.

de Cazenave was born October 16, 1897 and called up to fight in 1916. He was in both the infantry and artillery.

He took part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 where more than a million soldiers died. During WW I, 1.4 million French soldiers were killed and another 4-5 million wounded out of 8.5 million who served.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy said, "This generation has only one remaining representrative today."

Lazare Ponticelli has since died as well.

USS Reid--the "Rugged Reid"

The USS Reid, DD 367, was one of the 18 vessel Mahan-class of destroyers. It was laid down on June 25, 1934, in Kearny, NJ, launched Jan. 11, 1936, and commissioned Novenber 2, 1936.

From 1937 to 1941, it took part in fleet maneuvers in the Pacific and was at Pearl Harbor during the attack.

It did convoy duty afterwards and took part in the Aleutian Island Campaign, then patrolled off New Caledonia, Samoan, and Fiji Islands in 1942. In 1943 it took part in the bombardment of Guadalcanal. At Leyte Gulf, while escorting reinforcements, the Reid destroyed 7 Japanese planes before sinking from repeated kamikaze crashes. It sank December 11. 1944 and there were 150 survivors.

Statistics-- 1,500 tons, 341 feet long, 35 foot beam, 9'10" draft, 37 knots, 158 officers and crew, five 5 inch guns and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.

It was named after Samuel Chester Reid who commanded a privateer in the War of 1812. In 1814 he fought British ships at Azores and his ship was sunk but this delayed British reinforcements and helped Jackson win at New Orleans.

A Great Ship. --Cooter

500 Year-Old Shipwreck Found Off Africa

The May 2nd papers were reporting that the wreck of a 500 year-old Spanish or Portuguese ship has been found on the Atlantic coast of Namibia in Africa. Spanish and Portuguese coins minted in the late 1400s and early 1500s have been found. The reverse sides have the likenesses of monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand.

This find could date back to the earliest African exploreres like Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus.

Copper ingots, elephant tusks and cannons have been found as well.

The Namdeb Diamond Corporation found the wreck after they cleared and drained the seabed offshore to search for diamonds. This is a joint effort by the governmewnt of Namibia and the DeBeers Corporation. An earthern wall has vbeen built to keep the water out.

The surf would have pounded the ship to pieces. Plans have been made to go to Spain and Portugal to research ships lost during that time carrying similar cargoes.

And I Wanted to Do Underwater Archaeology in My Younger Days. --Cooter

Friday, May 2, 2008

World War II Tribute-- Evader-Helper Reunion


The South Bend Tribune reports that this weekend, the 11th annual World War II Commemoration will open tonight with a parade of jeeps and other Army vehicles down city streets.

There will be WW II tanks, airplanes, and living history this weekend at the Buckley Homestead and Living History farm. Tickets are $5.


WTOC in Savannah, Georgia reports that last friday there was a reunion after 64 years at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Pooler, Georgia. Evaders was the name given to US military personnel trying to avoid capture by the Germans. Helpers were the names of those civilians who risked their lives to help them avoid capture.

Evader Jim Armstrong, an airman shot down behind German lines received a lot of help from his Helper, Denise Lenain. This was the first time they'd seen each other since 1943.

Helpers supplied Evaders with civilian clothing, false identity papers, and currency.

Interesting Stories from WW II.-- Cooter

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Rural Pubs Closing in Ireland

Very sad to hear this news. It has been a dream of mine to someday go to Ireland and visit some of the small villages in the country side. A big part of that was to belly up to a quaint pub and have a Guiness with the locals and listen to that great brogue.

After reading this article in the April 27th Chicago Tribune, I'm afraid I might be a day late and Euro short.


The count by the Vintner's Federation of Ireland shows that the number of pubs outside Dublin have dropped from 6,000 to 5,000 in the last three years. A lot of this has been caused by Ireland's increasing affluence. As recently as the 1980s, young Irish had to leave the country to find work and millionaires were rare. But by 2005, the number of millionaires stood at 30,000 (out of 4 million people). That number increases by 300 in 2006. Ireland's per capita income is among the highest in the world and is even higher than that of the US, Sweden and Japan.

Irish people are finding other things to do instead of a night of "craic", as good times are called, at the local pub. Smoking bans and tougher DUI laws are also a problem. Some Irish even said there were too many pubs anyway.


The village is a small group of buildings around a Catholic church. "For generations, village life revolved around the church, the pub and a small post office that collected mail, cashed checks and dished out news."

All three of these Irish institutions are under pressure. Regular church attendance is down from 90% in the 1970s to 45% today. Ten years ago, there were nearly 1,900 post offices and 1,255 now.


Obviously, I should get myself over to Ireland as soon as possible. The big problem with that is that our money is so worthless these days. For me to get $100 Euros would cost $150 and then the service charges.

My mom took the family for a cruise around the British Isles two years ago, but the only Ireland stop was Dublin and that place has gotten so urbanized, I don't think it really represents that part of Ireland I'd like to get to know.

Well, Here's Hoping a Get to Quaff that Guiness Some Day. --The Old Coot

Dead Page-- Manhattan Project/Black Hole-- Last of "Nine Old Men"


Died April 12th. Worked with Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr. He was born 1911, and, at 21, earned a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.

He was a part of the Manhattan Project which designed the atom bomb. Unlike other scientists, he regretted that the bomb had not been completed earlier to hasten the end of the war. His brother was killed in European combat in 1944.

He also coined the term "Black Hole" in 1967.


Last of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men" who animated movies such as Pinnochio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Bambi and other Disney classics.

The group got their name from FDR's name for the justices of the Supreme Court.

Mr. Johnston was hired for $17 a week when Disney expanded his studio to do full-length feature films. He also worked on Cinderella, Peter Pan, and The Lady and the Tramp.

Born October 31, 1912.

Lockport, Illinois' "Settlement Village" Looking for a New Home

The April 25th Chicago Tribune had an article about the collection of original and reconstructed buildings that have lost their home due to urban renewal.

Lots and lots of area school kids visited these buildings on field trips to get an idea what life was like on the Illinois prairies back in the 1800s. The village features an real 1830s log cabin, as well as a 19th century schoolhouse, and train depot.

The village is getting the boot because of Abe Lincoln. A tree-lined public park with his statue is planned as a catalyst for redevelopment of historical downtown Lockport.

The Will County Historical Society owns Settlement Village and the village has accepted a $1.5 million grant to relocate the buildings by June. As of yet, no plans are in motion.

Settlement Village was started in 1973. There are 12 buildings and six are original. A blacksmith shop, barn and others are replicas constructed with original lumber and materials. Lockport itself, is an old town, having grown up at first because of its location along the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Downtown features mnany 150 year old buildings.


The historical society has been talking witht he Will County Forest Preserve District for a suitable site. So far, four possible spots have been identified, but nothing has come of it. It is likely that the next destination for the village will be storage.

The buildings are currently being emptied. The replica structures will be torn down piece by piece. Original buildings will be lifted off their bases and transported in tact.

It is too bad that someway could not have been found to leave the village where it was and build the park around it.

Sounds Like an Abe Problem to Me. --Old Coot