Friday, August 29, 2008

Dead Page--Isaac Hayes--

Definitely a sad day when we lost the "Shaft" man this past August 10th at age 65.
Chicago Tribune Critic Greg Kot did an article on him August 13th.

"Draped in gold chains with a shaved head and barrel chest, Isaac Hayes was an intimidating presence...and his voice was as bottomless as the Grand Canyon." Now that was a great summation of the R&B superstar.

He attained superstar status in the early 70s with his masterpiece "Theme from Shaft" and became the first black composer to win an Oscar.

His career started as a pianist for the seminal Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee, in the early 60s and started writing songs with lyricist David Porter and had great success with the duo Sam and Dave, one of my all-time favorite groups.

The two of them co-wrote over 200 songs including Sam and Dave's "Soul Man," "Hold on I'm Comin',"You Don't Know Like I Know" and others for artists such as Carla Thomas and Johnny Taylor.

Recording on his own, Hayes had great covers of diverse songs such as Dionne Warwick's "Walk on By" and Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix."

His "Hot Buttered Soul" album was something else.

Mighty Great One We'll Miss.

The Old Chicago Congress Expressway-- Now the Eisenhower

A while back, the Flashback page in the Chicago Tribune's Magazine went back to 1950 and showed a house being moved to make way for the construction of the Congress Expressway.

The construction of the expressways through Chicago disrupted a lot of neighborhoods. Some say, they were also targetting black ones and helped isolate them.

About 200 houses around Maywood had to be moved, a process that took 3-4 days for each.

11- Years it took to complete the Eisenhower.

3,000-- number of homes removed for a three-mile stretch of the Dan Ryan.

Up to $8000-- cost of moving a home in 1950.

$25,000 to $40,000-- cost of moving a home in urban area today.

I Don't Know How How Nancy Watkins Comes Up With All This Stuff, But It Sure is Interesting. --Old Coot

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Real Meaty Subject

Singer Kanye West has announced he is bringing ten stores of the Fatburger chain to the Chicago area earlier this month. In the August 24th Chicago Tribune had Mark Jacob's History Lesson of Ten Things You Might Not Know About Meat.

He started off saying Chicago was once the "Hog Butcher of the World with its Union Stockyards complex. Then, in 2006, foie gras was banned until the mayor decreed that to be silly.

1. Roman emperor Elagabalus ordered 600 ostriches killed once for ostrich-brain pies. Who? What?

2. A 1655 book by English physician Thomas Muffet wanted animals tortured before slaughter to make the meat more tender. Someone call PETA.

3. Jesse James once refused to rob a bank in McKinney, Texas because he like a chili parlor in the same building.

4. On a 1965 space flight, John Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich on board for Gus Grissom. I don't blame Gus at all.

5. In 1971, Tokyo got its first McDonald's. Den Fujita, a Japanese partner said, "The reason Japanese people are so short and have yellow skins is that they have eaten nothing but fish and rice for 2,000 years. If we eat McDonald's hamburgers for 1,000 years, we will become taller, our skin will become white, and our hair will become blonde." Did he really say that? Not to mention huskier.

6. Chicago artist Dwight Kalb made a 180 pound statue of Madonna out of ham. Ham and Beans?

7. Turkeys have been bred for large breasts and as a result can't have sex and have to be artificially inseminated. Where's the fun in that?

8. Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie on why he became a vegetarian at age 60, "My intestines wrote me a letter."

9. There is NO CHICKEN in chicken fried steak. This is likely because the batter looks so much like that of fried chicken. I always wondered why they called it that?

10. In Francois Mitterand's dying days, he ate an illegal dish: the ortolan, an endangered bird.

Where Does This Guy Come Up With This Stuff. Mighty Interesting. Thanks Mark. --Old Coot

Your Scorecard for the Generations and Who Is Generation Y?

I know who the Baby Boomers are, being one myself, but just actually who are the generations X and Y?

Mu uncle sent a tongue-in-cheek e-mail about the generations that sure helped clear it up for me, especially with generation Y.

Here goes:

Silent Genration-- born before 1946
Baby Boomers-- 1946 to 1959
Generation X- 1960-1979
Generation Y-- 1980-1995-- sometimes called the children of the Baby Boomers.

One sure way to tell a generation Y person is the y formed at the top of their rear end because of those low-slung pants. Their heroes were, no doubt, plumbers.

By the way, a survey of 7,000 Generation Y folks had these findings:

97% own computers
97% have downloaded music
28% author a blog
44% read blogs

So, Now You Know. --Old Coot Who Has Never Knowing Downloaded Nothing.

Search for the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur

While on the subject of torpedoed ships, I came across an article in the Aug. 18th Adelaide Now about the impending announcement by the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh of the state's intentions of financing part of a search for the WW II wreck, believed to be about 24 nautical miles off North Stradbroke Island.

In the past year, the wrecks of the HMAS Sydney and German Raider Kormoran were found off Australia's west coast. Now the search turns to the hospital ship Centaur which left Port Moresby May 12, 1942 (about the same time as the U-506's Gulf of mexico cruise) with 332 wounded Australians and full crew and medical staff.

Two days later, a Japanese submarine with only 64 survivors.

It Will Be Interesting to Follow This Story. To My Knowledge, i Was the Only One in the US Following the HMAS Sydney. --Old Coot

The First RMS Laconia

While on the subject of RMS Laconias, I might as well talk about the first one.

It was 18,099 tons, 600 feet long and could cruise at 17 knots. Launched 1911 and began service 1912. At outbreak of World War I in 1914 turned into an armd merchant vessel, like the 2nd and patrolled the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean.

Returned to Cunard in 1916.

In 1917, torpedoed twice by the U-50 while returningfrom the US with 75 passengers and 217 crew. The first torpedo didn't sink her, but the second one, 20 minutes later did. It took 40 minutes to sink with a loss of 12.

I Guess It's Not a Good Idea to Make a Ship Named Laconia an Armed Merchant Ship and Sail Out Where the U-Boats Are. --Old Coot

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

RMS Laconia

In continuing with the story of the U-506, it was involved in the sinking of the RMS Laconia on September 12, 1942. This gave rise to the "Laconia Order."

Of interest, there were two RMS Laconias. Both were sunk by German U-Boats. The first one during WW I and the second in WW II.

The second RMS Laconia, like the first, was a Cunard liner which had its maiden voyage May 25, 1922 from Southhampton to New York. The following year it embarked on an around-the-world voyage covering 130 days and making 22 port-of-call.

On September 4, 1939, the British Navy acquired it and turned it into an armed merchant vessel carrying eight 6-inch guns.


THE SINKING

On September 12, 1942 it was hit by torpedoes from the U-156 at 8:10 pm. Most of the 450 Italian prisoners on boardwere killed instantly. Women and children were ordered off and the ship sank at 9:11.

When the U-156's commander realized that Italian prisoners, women and children were in the lifeboats, he called for assistance from nearby U-Boats U-506 and U-507 to come to their aid. While in the process of towing the lifeboats to the African coast, the ships were attacked by an American bomber.


LACONIA ORDER

This attack caused overall U-Boat commander Karl Donitz to issue what became known as the "Laconia Order" which forbade U-Boat captains from sttempting to rescue or assist survivors of torpedoed boats. After the war, Donitz was brought up on war crime charges and this was one of the items, but he successfully defended himself of the charges.

So, the U-506 not only had the highly successful cruise off the coast of the US, but was also involved in this incident.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to the McTarnahan Story

I've been following the story of U-Boats off the US Gulf Coast. I found some information on the U-506. By the way, the one before it, the U-505, was captured and can presently be seen at Chicago's Science and Industry Museum in its new berth.

From May 10th to May 20th, 1942, the U-506 had a very good cruise. It sank three tankers: the Gulfpenn, the Gulfoil, and Hale. It damaged five more including the Aurora, David McKinley, Sun, McTarnahan and Heredia.

Altogether, 144 men were killed on these ships.

Later, the U-506 torpedoed and sank the British ocean liner Laconia. Altogether, it sank 15 Allied ships before being sunk July 12, 1943, between the Azores and Spain's coast. Six survivors were picked up by a British destroyer.

So, There's the Story. --Cooter

School Lunches

As schools across the country swing back into gear without me, the Chicago Tribune Magazine's Flashback page by Nancy Watkins had the words "Hunger makes children ill-natured and unhappy," spoken by a Chicago teacher in 1931.

Under it was a picture of the kitchen of Austin High School at 231 Pine with seven ladies busily preparing the day's meal back in 1938.

The article says lots of laws, regulations, and money have been poured into the school lunch program across the United States. The NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM was started in 1946. Menus are supposedly carefully planned to provide nutrition. Unfortunately, if it is not hamburgers, pizza, or fries, a goodly portion is thrown away.

### Cost of a lunch of butter bean soup, milk, raspberries and two slices of bread at Chicago's Dante School in 1930: 5 cents. (I might just throw this away myself.)

### Cost of seconds of any item: 1 cent. (You have to be kidding me.)

### Percentage of Chicago public school kids eligible for free lunch: 80.


The earliest school lunches I remember were 25 cents. When I retired from teaching in 2006, it was $2.

I can remember lots of tater tots. What we wouldn't have given for french fries. Today, it I have a choice, it's tots all the way.

Then there was the time we had ketchuo, or is that catsup? listed as a vegetable. That is sure pushing it. The kids at Magee had fries with their ketchup.

I remember thinking how fine it was to get the opportunity to buy a milkshake when I started high school at Fremd in Palatine, Illinois, back in 1965.

I Thought the Lunches Were Pretty Good. --Old Coot

Thursday, August 21, 2008

William C. McTarnahan, Motor Tanker

The William T. McTarnahan was a 7,306 ton motor tanker launched in 1941 in Mobile, Alabama. It was attacked May 16, 1942 and seriously damaged by the U-506 under command of Erich Wurdemann. Of the 45 crew members, there were 18 dead and 27 survivors.

The ship, however, did not sink, and was repaired. In 1943, it was transferred to the Soviet Union and returned to the US in August 1944 and had the name changed to St. James.

At 11.01 hours, the McTarnahan, unescorted and cruising in a non-evasive manner, was hit by two torpedoes on the starboard side about 35 miles east of Sip Shoal Light, Louisiana. Fire broke out in the fuel bunkers on the after part of the vessel and killed everyone there. The U-506 then shelled the McTarnahan for 15 minutes before her crew abandoned ship. It then closed to within 400 yards and began shelling the burning ship with 12-15 shots.

The shrimp trawlers Defender, Pioneer (the article was about this boat) and Viscali picked up survivors and took them to Houma where four more died of burns.

The badly damaged McTarnahan was towed to the entrance of Southwest Pass and arrived in Mobile for repairs on the 23rd of June.

A Tanker is Still a Bad Place to Be When You're Torpedoed. --Da Coot

WW II Closer to Home

When most folks think of World War II, they think of Europe or the Pacific, but there was quite a way going on right off the US coasts as German U-Boats plied their deadly craft and a lot of men died and ships went down.

The August 17th Houma (La) Today had an article about a shrimp boats encounter with a U-Boat.

In May,1942, shrimper Ira Pete and his father were drifting along just after dark and separating the day's catch when they say a U-Boat nearby, also drifting. They could even hear the diesel engines, but fortunately, were not seen. Wisely, they decided to keep quiet and not do anything to draw attention.

The U-Boat suddenly pulled away at high speed and a short time later, the shrimpers saw a flash of light and heard an explosion as the submarine sank one of the 41 American ships sunk in the Gulf of Mexico during the month.

The victim was the tanker William C. McTarnahan. Always a bad thing to be on a tanker or ammunition ship when you get torpedoed. The Pioneer then spent the rest of the night rescuing the badly burned sailors from the ship.


STANDARD WARTIME OPERATIONS

Shrimpers could always expect to be boarded before leaving port during the war years. They were assigned a strict fishing area and even had the amount of fuel they were carrying checked. Authorities wanted to know the amount of time the ship would stay out as well.

Much More Serious Than Most Know. --Cooter

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bits 'O History: WW II Bombs, --Spy Pie

Some New Stuff About the Old Stuff.

1. WW II BOMBS-- Two 100 kg bombs were found on the side of a Czech bridge in the town of Znajno. Construction workers found one, called in the bomb squad who found another one nearby. Both were detonated at the site (but no mention of damage to the bridge). The squad will return to look for more.

They were Russian-made but likely placed by retreating German soldiers near the end of the war. Cars have been driving over the bridge for over six decades, but the bombs posed no threat because they did not have fuses.


2. SPY PIE-- According to recently declassified documents, Julia Child was a WW II spy in OSS, a forerunner of the CIA. Other spies on the list were historian Arthur Schlesinger, John Hemingway (Ernest's son), Teddy Roosevelt's children and Miles Copeland, father of Police drummer Stewart.

Here, Have a Piece of Pie, By the Way, Where Are You Sending Your Troops. --Old Coot

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Short History of the USS Saginaw-- Heroic Story

From Wikipedia.

On October 29, 1870, it hit an outlying reef on the Kure Atoll and was battered to pieces. A group of five men left the atoll on November 18th in an effort to get to Honolulu. Thirty-one days and 1500 miles later the small boat was upset near Kauai and there was only one survivor.

The ship's gig, in which the men sailed is now in the Saginaw Historical Society.

The USS Saginaw was the first ship built at the Mare Island Shipyard near San Francisco. The Navy bought the site in 1853 and the Saginaw was launched in 1859.

She served in the East Indian Squadron to protect American interests and stop pirates. In 1862, the Saginaw was decommissioned in Hong Kong and taken back to Mare Island for a refit and recommissioning. In 1863, it was attached to the Pacific Squadron to protect the west coast from Confederate activity.

At one point, the Saginaw visited the Puget Sound when rumors of Confederate privateers being built in British Columbia, but this report proved unfounded. In 1864, she made appearances at Mexican ports and in Central America.

Sidewheel steamer, 453 tons, 155 feet, 4 foot 5 inches draft, crew of 50, and 4 cannons.

Quite a Story About the Voyage for Help. --Cooter

Bits O' History: Berlin WW II Ruin-- 1837 British Whaling Ship Wreck Found

Who says history is old?


BERLIN WW II RUIN-- The August 17th DW-World reports that the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church tower, all 230 feet of it, is indanger of collapse from the original damage done by A British bomb, age, and traffic vibration from the busy street it is located on. Cost to repair it will be over $5.1 million.


1837 BRITIH WHALING SHIP FOUND-- off Kure Atoll in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Four big anchors, cannons and cannonballs found. It could be the Gledstanes which was lost in rough seas in the area around that year.

It is the fourth whaling ship discovered there whih points out to the large amount of whaling done in the area in the 19th century. Not much is known of the ship.

The expedition will also look for artifacts from the USS Saginaw which was also lost by the Kure Atoll in 1870 as well as the whaling ship Parker which was lost in 1842.

From August 16th Honolulu Advertiser.

New Stuff About Old Stuff. --Old Coot

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dead Page: Scarlet's Sister-- 40s-50s Singer

EVELYN KEYES, 91

Actress

Played younger sister Suellen of Scarlet O'Hara on "Gone With the Wind," one opf my favorite all-time movies. I didn't even know that any of the cast members were still alive. Her biggest film, but starred in many others, including "Seven Year Itch."

At different times, she was married to directoy John Hughes and Big Band leader Artie Shaw.



JO STAFFORD, 90

Singer from the 40s and 50s


A favorite of soldiers during WW II. Former member of Pied Pipers and went solo in 1944. Some of her biggest hits were #3 "Jambalaya", #2 "Shrimp Boats," and #1 "You Belong to Me."

She recorded quite a bit with frankie Laine as well as Gordon McRae, and Johnny Murcer.

Dead Page: WW II Flying Ace-- Bad Yankees

The name "Dead Page" comes from my students. Back when I taught, we did Current Events every day, and often talked about notable persons who had died.


ROBERT DEHAVEN 1922-2008

Died July 10th.

Flying a P40 during WW II, Mr. Dehaven became a flying ace by shooting down 14 Japanese planes. His first victory came on July 14, 1943. During one stretch, he shot down ten Japanese planes over Markham Valley, Hollandia and Buna Lae. During another seven day period, beginning in late October 1944, he downed another four.

After the war, he met multi-millionaire Howard Hughes and became his personal pilot as well as a test pilot was Hughes's company.

Amother of the Greatest Generation.


BOBBY MURCER May 20, 1946-July 12, 2008

Played 17 seasons in the majors, mostly with the New York Yankees. He played with them from 1965-1966 and from 1969-1974 and compiled some impressive stats, including 252 home runs. He was in the military from 1967-1968.

He was among the Yankee teams that drove me crazy with their knack for defeating the White Sox, my favorite team. These guys included Joe Pepitone, Bobby Richardson, Mickey mantle, Roger Maris, Tommy Tresh (who I called "Tommy Trash"), Jim Bouton, Al Downing, Whitey Ford, and Mel Stottlemyre.

These guys drove me nuts with the ways they found to defeat the Sox. We could be ahead by seven runs in the 9th and lose.

Great player, but "Bad, Bad Yankees."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Some More on the USS Constellation

The 1797 USS Constellation was one of the six original frigates authorized by Congress.

It was the first to put to sea, engage, defeat, and capture an enemy vessel. A fine beginning for the US Navy under the Constitution.

In 1853, it was broken up for scrap in the Gosport Navy Yard in Virginia. The second USS Constellation was started at the same time, which has led to the confusion as to whether Baltimore's current ship is the 1797 or 1853 Constellation.

There is the possibility that the 1853 one was built out of materioal from the 1797 one. Perhaps all that was done was to rebuild the original.

Who's to Know, Who's to Know? --Cooter

Happy 50th Peace Sign

I already talked about this, but the April National Geographic Magazine had a picture of the first group of people carrying what is considered to be the peace sign at a nuclear disarmament march over Easter in 1958. They looked quite miserable and were in full rain gear. But, there they were carrying that very familiar symbol. Actually, it IS the sign of nuclear disarmament.

They set out from London on a four-day march. This was in the very early days of the movement and it was determined that they also needed a new symbol. Artist Gerald Holtom based it on the semaphore initials for nuclear disarmament. The letter "n" is the flags being held down at 45 degree angles and "d" is straight up and down. It was purposely never copyrighted and has been usedoften since, especially in the Vietnam peace movement.

Not the Great American Chicken. --Da Coot

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dead Page: WASP--- "Walk Right In"-- Dig On Out

MARGARET RAY RINGENBERG

Former member of the Womens Air Force Service Pilots, better known as WASPs. Took first flight at age 7 from a neighboring farmer's field and was hooked on flying ever since. During the war, WASPs towed targets for antiaircraft batteries and taxied planes from place to place, freeing men to fight.

Just last month she participated in an air race and she was at the EAA in Oshkosh when she died. Like Bing Crosby, she died doing what she loved.

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette


ERIC DARLING 1934-2008

Folk music songwriter and member of the Weavers. Died August 3rd.

Stepped in with the Weavers after Pete Seeger left the group. Best known for his hit "Walk Right In" with the Rooftop Singers. His arrangement of "Tom Dooley" inspired the Kingston Trio to record it. Also a member of the Tarriers, known for their version of "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O).

Bet you're singing or humming one of those three songs right now.

Associated Press


ERIC DOWLING 1915-2008

Helped map out 1944 Great Escape

Got the nickname "Digger" for helping to excavate tunnels from a German WW II POW camp in what became known as the "Great Escape." Played a key role in the escape of 76 prisoners from Stalag Luft III prison by forging documents and helping dig three tunnels code named Tom, Dick and Harry. This inspired the 1963 film starring Steve McQueen.

All but three of the escapees were captured and 50 of them executed by order of Adolph Hitler to deter future attempts. One tunnel was discovered, one abandoned, but Harry was completed and used.

A lottery was held to pick 200 men to escape and Mr. Dowling was not selected. By the time German guards discovered the breakout, 75 had gotten out of the camp.

His son said Dowling did not particularly like the movie.

Associated Press

Three More of the Greatest Generation.

USS Constellation on the Move

It's a VERY old ship and this past weekend, it was towed from its berth in Baltimore out to where the latest US destroyer, the USS Sterett was being commissioned. The Sterett's namesake was a third lieutenant on the original Constellation.

This new destroyer cost $1.3 billion.

This USS Constellation was built in 1854 and was the US Navy's last full sail warship and was launched in Gosport Navy Yard. Before the Civil War, it spent time apprehending slave ships and during it, chasing Confederate raiders.

There is some question as to whether or not this is the original USS Constellation, built in 1797. When the city of Baltimore got the ship, it said this was the original.

Always Great to See an Old Ship Saved. Too Bad More of the Historic Ships Weren't. Glad to See so Many World War II Ships Being Saved. --Da Coot

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Internment Barracks Saved

It was destined to be hauled off to a local dumb and destroyed, but Ron Solders saw it and realized its importance and saved it. It, was a barracks from the the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho. One of 400 that were originally erected to house Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The National Park Service owes him a big thank you as they have been trying to locate about a dozen such structures spread across the state of Idaho. Most of the 20 by 200 foot barracks were given to local farmers after the camp was closed. The NPS is striving to restore a block of the camp to show what life was like during the war.

President Bush signed a $38 million bill in 2006 to preserve the various relocation sites.

Most of them have very little left, so the acquisition of this barrack is a major find. I'm glad to see effort being made to preserve this not-so-glorious aspect of American history, lest it be forgotten.

Congratulations and Thanks Mr. Solders. --Old Coot

Ten Most Catastrophic Shipwrecks-- Part 2

Continuing the countdown.


5. RMS TITANIC-- April 15, 1912. 1517 deaths. Probably the most famous shipwreck ever. The movies didn't hurt its fame either. Looks like old "Lucky" would have figured out a life at sea was not for him after this one, but NOOOOOO!!! Get a land job Lucky.


4. SULTANA-- 1800 deaths-- April 27, 1865. Another little known sinking, this time in the Mississippi River. At least 1800, and probably more, recently released Union prisoners on their way back home died from the boiler explosion and subsequent sinking. This should be a very good book or movie.

Of interest, the remains of the ship were recently found in a farmer's field because the Mississippi had shifted its course.


3. MV JOELA-- 1863 deaths. Sank September 26, 2002. A ferry off the African coast. Never heard of it.


2. HALIFAX EXPLOSION-- 1950 deaths. December 6, 1916. From the collision of a weapons ship with another. Never heard of it, either.


1. MV DONA PAZ-- 4,375 deaths. December 20, 1987 by the Philippines. Never heard of it.

To see more details, go to http://listverse.com

Interesting Site with Lots of Lists of Different Things. --Old Coot

Ten Most Catastrophic Ship Wrecks

According to List Universe and based on number of deaths. Since I am always interested in shipwrecks and even considered underwater archaeology as a possible career when growing up, especially with SUNKEN treasure.

These would be ships that sank in non-warfare situations.

10. MARY ROSE-- 400 deaths. English Tudor warship. One of the first ships to ever fire a broadside. Sank July 20, 1549.


9. HMS BIRKENHEAD-- Never heard of this one-- 460 deaths. One of the first iron-hulled British ships. Sank Feb. 26, 1852. Converted to a troopship and was also carrying passengers.


8. SS EASTLAND-- 845 deaths. July 25, 1915 in the Chicago River in downtown. Very few people know about this major catastrophe.


7. MS ESTONIA-- 852 deaths. Cruise ferry


6. RMS EMPRESS OF IRELAND-- May 29, 1914. One of the survivors was "Lucky" Tower, maybe. He also survived the sinkings of the Titanic and the Lusitania. His real name was either Frank Toner or William Clark, but not much is known about him. I guess he really EARNED the sobriquet "Lucky."

To be continued...


Women and Children and Old Coots First. --Old Coot

Some More on Higgins Boats

I have seen these boats many times in movies like "The Longest Day" and "Saving Private Ryan" along with documentaries, but never had any idea what they were called.

Here some more information on them from good old Wikipedia.

These were designed by Andrew Higgins of Louisiana (hence the name) and made of plywood. They were generally entered by climbing down cargo nets on the side of the troopships and exited by the ramp on the front of the boat.

They were called LCVP-- Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel and were 36 feet 3 inches long and 10 feet 10 inches wide, capable of carrying 36 troops.

Thanks a Lot There, Andrew. --Old Coot

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rare Higgins Boat in North Carolina

One of only four-known remaining Higgins Boats from WW II, has been bought by the North Carolina Maritime Museum from a West Virginia company which had found it in Normandy, France. Perhaps it was one of the mamy used at D-Day.

Around 36,000 were made during WW II and these were used to transport soldiers from the troop ships to shore during amphibious assaults. It willbe completely restored over the next 6-8 months and visitors can view the progress at the museum in Beaufort.

Along With the Liberty Ships, a Major Factor in Allied Victory. --Cooter

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who Put the Beep-De-Beep in Wall-E??

Well, that guy would be Oscar-winning sound designer Ben Burtt. And I never evenheard of a "sound designer." When Wall-E actually spoke,that was Burtt's own voice, but significantly modified.

He also created sound for the "Star Wars" movies, the "Indiana Jones"movies, and "E.T.." That's quite a group of significant movies if you ask me. And I never heard of this guy.


He created Darth Vader's breathing and Chewbaccas's yowl (I especially like that). That was made from the sound of an idling movie projector and microphone feed-back. The sound of Indiana Jones' whip? That's also Ben Burtt.

Burtt figures he created over 2,600 sound files for Wall-E, way more than the usual 700-1000 for Star Wars.

From July 5th Chicago Tribune article "Ben Burtt: The Man Behind R2-D2 and Wall-E's Beeps" by Tom Russo.

Beep, Beep, His Horn Went Beep, Beep, Beep. Old Coot

Chicago's Navy Pier-- Not Always Fun and Games

The August 3rd Chicago TribuneMagazine's Flashback was about Navy Pier back before it was today's fun park and even before Chicagofest took place in the 70s.

Before that, it was home to the University of Illinois' two-year Chicago branch which was started in 1946 to serve returning WW II veterans and commuters.

Nancy Watkins said the campus was little more than a "5/8ths mile-long hallway." An learnuing conditions weren't exactly wonderful. Classrooms were cramped and dingy, hot in the summer and cold in the winter and rain leaked through the walls and roof. Birds nested in the library rafters which brought an earlyuse of white-out.

19-- years it remained at Navy Pier before moving to UIC

Nicknames-- "Harvard on the Rocks", the "Horizontal Cathedral of Learning", the "Sideways Skyscraper," "Navy Pier Illini."--pretty good nicknames if you ask me.

Square Feet Per Student-- 93. At Champaign: 240.


Get Your Education Where You Can. --Cooter

Dead Page-- Monsters His Game

Stan Winston, 62

He created the nasty T.rex in Juraissic Parkand Bad News Mama from Aliensas wellas the exo-skeletons from the Terminator movies.

He was a master at special effects to say the least. He worked with such noted directors as Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg, and James Cameron.

That Alien monster sure scared me, especially when the extra set of teeth came out of the mouth, then there was that scene where the Alien baby popped out of the guy's stomach!!!

Ex GI Dies Hours After Apology

A sad follow up to the story of the Army finally apologizing for the injustice done at Fort Lawton in Seattle during WW II. Samule Snow, one of the 28 black soldiers found guilty in the riot and death of an Italian prisoner, died within a few hours of the apology.

He refused to cash the check sent him last fall to cover back wages, but was very happy to receive the apology. The total compensation offered by the Army was $725. Snow believed it should be based on interest and inflation. His son, Ray, said the family would probably just frame the check.

Only a few of the other 27 families has submitted claims. The man whose book on the event brought about the review, Jack Hamann, said the Army wasn't making any effort at finding the families.

There is now only one-known survivor of the incident, Roy Montgomery, 87.

A Sad Chapter in US History, But One That Needs to Be Faced. --Old Coot

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Army Finally Apologizes for Injustice Done in WW II

On July 29th, KOMO TV announced that the US Army had issued a formal apology to 28 black soldiers who were court martialed at Fort Lawton after a riot on August 14, 1944, due to resentment of favorable treatment to Italian pows. The black soldiers felt that they were not treated as well as the prisoners. One Italian pow was killed in the melee.

The apology took place at Seattle's Discovery Park which was the site of Fort Lawton. A total of 43 black soldiers were court-martialed and 28 found guilty and sentenced to as many as 25 years in prison. Three were convicted of manslaughter.

A recent probe, sparked by the publication of a book on the incident found them not guilty. However, only two of the 28 are still alive and family members of the others accepted the apology.

It would seem to be very wrong that Italian prisoners, because they were white, would receive better treatment than black US soldiers, but those were the times. Glad things have improved.

It Was ABOUT Time. --Cooter

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More on the Spitfire

It was one of 7 54 foot gunboats called gondolas, that Benedict Arnold had built. It was the last unaccounted-for ship from the Battle of Valcour Island.

It is intact and sitting upright on the bottom and in pristine condition with mast still standing and the bow gun in place. The reason for its remarkable condition is the lake's cold, dark fresh water.

Benedict Arnold's "Spitfire"

Vermont's newest site on the National Register of Historical Places lies on the botton of Lake Champlain. It is a ship hastily constructed by Benedict Arnold's forces in 1776 to oppose a British invasion from Canada.

The Spitfire was sunk at the October 11, 1776 Battle of Valcour Island. The outnumbered and outgunned US fleet lost the battle, but did delay the British invasion until the following year. The British ships had been prefabricated in England. This ended up in the pivotal Battle of Saratoga, a resounding American victory.

The Spitfire's sister ship, the Philadelphia, was also sunk and a replica of it is at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes. The Philadelphia was raised in 1935 and the original remains can be seen at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

The wreck was discovered in 1997 while Lake Champlain was being sonar mapped. It's exact location has been kept secret to prevent looting.

Never heard of This Ship or Battle. --Cooter

"We Have Met the Enemy"... Now We're Looking For It

A group is set to explore the battle of Lake Erie site for whatever items remain from it.

No ships sank in the battle, but there were lots of cannon shells, and, at one point, it was believed the US flagship Lawrence was sinking so a lot of stuff was thrown overboard.

They will be using sonar in their efforts.

Now, Where'd We Leave that Anchor. --Old Coot