Saturday, September 27, 2008

Less-Visited Historic Sites

The September 22nd Houston Chronicle had an article listing some lesser-known national historic sites. These give insight on neglected aspects of American history, even some many are completely unaware of such as the Thaddeus Kozciusko home in Philadelphia which goes into this Polish-born man's valuable assistance to the new country during the American Revolution.

Then, there is Andersonville, Georgia, where 13,000 Union soldiers lost their lives in one of the more infamous prisons during the Civil War. Johnsburg, Pennsylvania, where almost as many people died in a manmade flood as during 9-11.

I'd never hear of the Carl Sandberg home in NC until my mother visited it. Then, there is also one of my favorite forts, Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida. This is one classic fort.

Great Places to Visit For The Other Side of History. --Old Coot

Trail of Tears Expansion

It is good to see even without the current financial problems facing the US, that we have not forgotten our past. The US House has approved a bill to increase the current Trail of Tears by 1,500 miles. The bill now goes to the Senate.

This is the route taken by the Cherokee Indians during their forced removal east of the Mississippi back in the 1800s.

One new area includes Fort Payne, Alabama, and goes through Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Another starts in Charleston, Tenn., and went through Arkansas.

I'm Glad to See the Event Remembered. --Old Coot

So You Always Wanted to Own Your Own Museum?

Now's your chance to get one of your very own. And even better, it's one about Elvis still being alive.

It is on sale on e-Bay with a minimum bid of $15,000. The owner, Andy Key of Mississippi, will be involved in the military for at least 5 months. He bought the museum last year for $8,300. Nice profit for one year.

He hopes someone will buy it and continue operating it from Hattiesburg, Ms, where it is now.

The collection includes photos, FBI files, DNA reports and other stuff that supports the belief that Elvis is still alive.

Bill Beeny founded the museum in 1990 in Missouri.

Here's Your Chance. --Coot

Lincoln Pennies-- 2009

In keeping with Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday celebration, the US Treasury is going to have four different backings on pennies during the course of the year. Roughly every three months, a new backing will be issued with the first of a log cabin, second of Lincoln sitting on a log and reading a book, third with him standing by the old Illinois state capitol building, and fourth with the unfinished capitol building in Washington, DC. Lincoln had ordered construction of the new capitol dome to continue during the Civil war as a sign of the nation's unity.

Of interest, Lincoln's head first appeared on US pennies in 1909, the centennial of his birth. The familiar Lincoln Memorial appeared on the back in 1959, in honor of his 150th.

Sounds Like a Lincoln Thing to Me. --Old Coot

Sunday, September 21, 2008

WW II German POW Camp Gets Marker in Wilmington,NC

WECT 6 News September 18th. Wilmington's WW II German POW camp at the corner of 10th and Ann streets had a sign dedication recently. The WW II Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition co-sponsored the event.

There were actually three German POW camps in Wilmington from February 1944 to April 1946. This was the location of the main camp, which, at its peak, housed 550 Germans and covered a four block square area. Local businesses and farms employed them.

Another camp was at the corner of Carolina Beach Road and Shipyard Boulevard and there was a satellite camp at Bluethenthal Army Air Base, now ILM, Wilmington's airport.

Wilmington has been doing a lot to portray the war on the home front, including a driving tour of war-related sites.

Keep Up the Good Work. --Old Coot

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Smithsonian Magazine's This Month-- September-- Part 2

170 YEARS AGO, Frederick Douglas, born a slave in 1818, escaped bondage in Baltimore September 3, 1838. dressed as a seaman and carrying borrowed free papers from a sailor, Douglas got on a north-bound train and convinces the conductor the papers were legit. He gets to NY City the next day and marries Anna Murray, his free fiancee.

he recounted his slavery experience and pushes abolition.

50 YEARS AGO, Texas Instruments engineer Jack Kilby demonstrates the first microchip on September 12, 1958. This made complex circuits and modern electronics. Kilby won a Nobel Prize in 2000.

All of These Were Important Events in the History of the World. --Da Coot

Friday, September 19, 2008

Smithsonian Magazine's This Month-- September

I always find this magazine's look at events for the month of interest.

For September:

70 YEARS AGO, it was the Munich appeasement where British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain made a pact with Adolph Hitler September 30, 1938. This allowed Germany to annex a portion of Czechoslovakia in exchange for peace. It didn't work.

120 YEARS AGO, you needed to say cheese. George Eastman patented his Kodak box camera September 4, 1888. His flexible film was much easier to use than the glass plates in use before it. The $25 camera brought photography to the masses, much like the Model T brought the automobile.

80 YEARS AGO, Scottish bacteriologist came home from a holiday September 3. 1928, and found mold growing on one of his staphylococci cultures, and none of that was near the mold. He named the "mould juice penicillin, for the penicillium mold that produces it. ten years later, Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain isolate and purify it and it begins use as an antibiotic.

Two More Things to Come. Interesting Stuff. --Coot

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bits 'O History: Swamp Ghost Coming Home-- WW II Torpedo Washes Ashore-- Pirate Ship Whydah

Some New News About Old Stuff.

1. SWAMP GHOST COMING HOME-- Papua New Guinea's government will allow a US company to repatriate the World War II bomber wreck known as the Swamp Ghost.

In February 1942, it crashed into Agaiembo Swamp after being damaged by Japanese Zeros in an attack on Rabaul. All nine crewmen survived.

The American company spent $500,000 getting it out of the swamp and will pay the PNG government another $177,000 to leave the country.

This is especially interesting with the news of a WW II aviator's remains being found in a tree in PNG and a recent story about the Swamp Ghost in the Smithsonian Magazine.

2. WW II TORPEDO WASHES ASHORE-- A German World War II torpedo washed up on Timmendorf Beach in Germany. It was removed for investigation. Many munitions were dumped into the North Sea at the end of the war.

3. PIRATE SHIP WHYDAH-- The August 8th ABC News reported that the pirate ship Whydah is thought to have captured at least 50 ships before sinking in a storm off Cape Cod in 1717 and taking its treasures down with her.

It stayed undiscovered at Wreck Hill until 1984 when underwater explorer Barry Clifford found "the only verified pirate shipwreck ever discovered. Since then, over 1000 items have been recovered.

Avast There matey!! --Old Coot

Chicago Radio

The September 14th Chicago Tribune had History Lesson by Mark Jacob on Chicago Radio.

Some items of interest:

Hindenburg explosion in Lakehurst, New Jersey covered by Chicago broadcaster Herb Morrison. "Oh the humanity!" These words, however, were not broadcast live, but the next day when a recording disc was played. Also, his voice sounded excited and high-pitched, but experts believe the recording speed was off. He actually had a deep voice.

Call Letters of Chicago stations:

WCFL-- Chicago Federation of Labor
WGN-- World's Greatest Newspaper-- Chicago Tribune
WLS-- World's Largest Store-- Sears Roebuck & Co.
WVON-- The Voice of the Negro
WBBM-- We Broadcast Broadmoor Music-- when it broadcast from the Broadmoor Hotel
In the early stood for World's Best Broadcast Medium

The real name of Chicago broadcaster Paul Harvey is Paul Arvy Aurandt.

The FM station 94.7 now calls itself WLS-FM. Great to have those call letters playing music instead of blah, blah, blah.

The WLS-WCFL Wars. --Old Coot

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

About Those DC Cherry Blossoms

While going through some of my old National Geographics, I came across an article in the April 1997 issue about how Washington, DC's cherry trees came to be.

They came about through the initial efforts of writer and photographer Eliza R. Scidmore. After returning from a trip to Japan in 1885, she decided the beautiful cherry trees she had seen there would look great on the newly dredged and reclaimed land along the Potomac River.

Sh encountered lots of adversity until William Taft was inaugurated president in 1909. His wife, Helen had also been to Japan and ordered 90 cherry saplings from a Pennsylvania nursery and had them planted along the Potomac.

When Tokyo heard this, it sent 3,000 more flowering cherries in 1912.

And the Rest Was History. --RoadDog

Dead Page-- Coined Term "Rhythm & Blues


Died August 15th. Helped shape the sound of the second half of the 20th century. While working for Billboard, he coined the phrase rhythm and blues to replace the "race music " category.

After he got together with Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records, they pushed black music on the American public with such artists as Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and Ray Charles. That's quite a lineup.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pearl Harbor Vets Remember that Fateful Day-- Part 2

Continuing with the USS Oklahoma Survivors Reunion in Oklahoma City.


GERALD HALTERMAN, 87, of Farmingham, Massachusetts, had served seventeen months on the USS Oklahoma before being assigned to naval headquarters on land and was on the midnight watch Dec. 7th. He typed a message to headquarters from the USS Ward that reported seeing seeing a submarine in Pearl Harbor and dropping depth charges on it. "I think I typed the first message of World War II."

He had just gotten off duty and back to his room when he heard loud explosions and the attack had begun. "They were using our building to make a left turn and fly down on the ships."

ED VEZEY, 88, of Center, Colorado, a USS Oklahoma survivor, said that he later talked with the commander of the USS Ward who told him, "At 4 o'clock in the morning, I'm already sinking subs and nobody is paying any attention to me."

Before Dec. 7th, Americans had standing orders to fire on any vessel entering operational areas that didn't respond to challenge.

From June 26th Oklahoman.

More to Come. --Cooter

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center

Groundbreaking for the new visitors center will take place near the end of the year. The current building, built in 1980, can't handle the 1.5 million annual visitors and it is settling as it was constructed on land fill in Pearl Harbor.

The new center is scheduled for completion in 2010. It is going to be built in phases so that the center can remain open. It will have indoor and outdoor galleries, interactive displays, and two movie theaters.

It will serve as the gateway to the other pearl harbor Memorial Sites, including the new USS Oklahoma Memorial (thanks Mr. Goodyear), USS Bowfin Museum and Park, Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum--Pearl harbor.

I was fortunate to get to visit Pearl Harbor several years ago and went to the current center. It is woefully inadequate to handle all the visitors, so this is badly needed.

A Salute to Our Veterans. --Cooter

Pearl Harbor Vets Remember That Fateful Day

As we honor the seventh anniversary of death of 3000 innocent Americans on 9-11, this article is very appropriate about another one of those fateful days so ingrained in our collective conscious.

This was from the June 28th Oklahoman, by John Greiner. "Vets recall fateful day in Hawaii."

Just seven former members of the USS Oklahoma made it to the reunion in Oklahoma City this year. There are an estimated 85 survivors altogether.

GEORGE A. SMITH, "I was running like hell to my battle station. I didn't go anywhere." he saw a Japanese pilot turn his plane and come in straight toward the USS Oklahoma, drop his torpedo, and wave goodbye.

He finally got to his battle station, but didn't know how to operate the 5-inch gun.

PAUL GOODYEAR, 90, of Casa Grande, Arizona, was there. His efforts played a major role in the establishment of the USS Oklahoma Memorial to the 429 crew members who died that day.

BILL HENDLEY, 88, of Wilmington, NC, served on the ship from 1937 to November 1941 and was transferred to New Jersey. From there, he shipped off to the European Theatre and served on a ship that took part in the invasions of Italy at Salerno and Anzio.

More to Come... --Cooter

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Last World War I Vet Wants a Real National Memorial

From CNN, Sept. 9th, Frank Buckles, 107, the last-known US World War I veteran came to Washington, DC, Tuesday hoping to get a national World War I memorial to his departed comrades. After all, there are ones for theKorean War, Vietnam War, and now, World War II.

Texas Representative Ted Poe has introduced the Frank Buckles World War I Act, to renovate and expand the existing WW I memorial. Estimates are for $1 miilion to do it. The current gazebo-style one is not a national one, but honors the 500 World War I veterans from DC.

This is also supported by the DC Preservation League and the World War I Memorial Foundation.

They say that in the summer, you almost can't see the current memorial for the foliage.

A National World War I Memeorial on the mall would be a great parting thank you for Mr. Buckles and his generation.

My grandfathers were in World War I as was a great-uncle.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

LST-342-- Part 2

The remains of the LST-342 can still be seen beached off Tulagi Island. The name/number is listed in Wikipedia, but nothing else.

It was commissioned December 15, 1942 and was a landing ship for tanks. It was flat-bottomed so it could get up close to the beach. They could hold twenty Sherman tanks. Crews called then "Large Slow Targets."

The Japanese submarine R0106 sank it off the island of New Georgia. After it was hit, the bow was towed and beached so the equipment could be salvaged.

There are many pictures of the remains of the LST-342 and LST-325 at

Like I Said, Interesting Story. --Old Coot

LST-342 Disaster

The July 11th Orange County Register had an article about the loss of the LST-342 with 121 deaths and 158 survivors on July 18, 1943. Survivors of the attack met at the Hometown Buffet in Santa Ana.

This was organized by Lyon Harrer, 87, who wason a different ship that night, but has since become an expert on it. Three years ago, he realized that he didn't know a single man on the LST-342 and started to do research and even flew back to the Solomon Islands to view the wreck.

On that July night, no one aboard was happy to be cruising in Iron BottomSound, so-named for all the ships sunk there. Gunners Mate Theron MacKay had just begun the 2 am watch and clearly saw the torpedo wake.

Seaman Jim Cogswell had justloaded 325 tonsof ammunition into the hold. There were three explosions that night and by the time he reached topside, the stern was gone and men were jumping overboard. He jumped as well, but returned when he sawthe forward section was still floating.

At dawn, an APc 27 US troop transport came across them and picked up the survivors. They asked for two survivors to stay with the remaining hull and Cogswell volunteered.

Like Most Other Stories, I'd Never Heard of This One Either. --Da Coot

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dead Page: Another GWTW Cast Member Gone

HAZEL WARP 1914-2008

"Gone With the Wind Stand-In

This is the third cast member to die in the last several months. Hazel Warp was Vivian Leigh's stunt double in the movie and died at the age 93.

She rode and trained horses for a living and was a stand-in for all of Vivian Leigh's riding scenes in the 1939 movie. She was also seen tumbling down the stairs of Tara in the famous scene near the end of the movie when Scarlett reaches out to slap Rhett Butler and loses her balance.

She also appeared in 'Ben-Hur," "Wuthering Heights ' and "National Velvet."

Walking in the Cemetery

The September 31st Northwest Herald out of Crystal Lake, Illinois, had an article about the 7th annual cemetery walk which will take this Saturday in the Union Cemetery. This year's theme will be "War Veterans--A Patriotic Salute."

People will meet six residents of the cemetery who will share their stories. Costumed interpreters will represent William Jackson (War of 1812), Albert Dilley (Civil War), William Chandler Peterson (killed in service WW I), Alice Fitzgerald ( sister of William Fitzgerald killed in service during the Spanish-American War), Alvina Peters (mother of two sons killed in service during WW II) and Victoria Booth Short (daughter of Herbert Booth killed in service in Vietnam War).
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students.

This is put on by the Crystal Lake Historical Society.

I would like to go to this, especially since the focus is not just on soldiers, but the impact on their families. However, I will be out in Lake Villa, Illinois at the annual Civil War re-enactment and manning the table for the Sons of Confederate Volunteers.

Great Program. --Old Coot

Sunday, September 7, 2008

HMAS Sydney Back in the News-- Part 2

The Bayside Bulletin continued with the story. Former cook Francis Sheldon-Collins had very little good to say about Captain Burnett. According to him, the crew were more than a little concerned about Burnett's lax efforts at action station drills. The previous commander had the crew at that practice at dawn and dusk of every day.

However, the ship's log showed daily action drills, but Sheldon maintained they hadn't. How did they get the ship logs if everything went down with the Sydney, unless the logs were taken off the ship at regular intervals.

Also, Burnett had ordered the auxiliary life boats removed. These were made of empty flour tins and other drums to be used if the ship sank and the regular life boats were damaged by gunnery fire.

Sheldon said that on another occasion, Burnett had allowed the Sydney to get within a kilometer of an unidentified vessel, all the while with no signal to go to action stations.

I'd Have to Say That Sheldon Was Not a Big Burnett Fan. --Cooter

Saturday, September 6, 2008

HMAS Sydney Back in the News

It's been awhile since the sinking of the Sydney has been in the news, but there is a court of inquiry going on in Australia right now. Since there were no survivors,men who served on the ship prior to its sinking are being questioned as the search for answers continues. One major question is how could both ships sink and 300 germans survive, but not one person from the Sydney.

The September 3rd Bayside Bulletin reports that a month before the Sydney sank, its commander, Captain Joseph Burnett, told the crew he thought a German raider was in the area after they discovered a crudely-made target raft was found floating near Christmas Island while the Sydney was escorting a convoy.

This is according to Retired Gunnery Officer Alaistar Templeton who transferred off the Sydney before its last voyage. Burnett speculated that a German raider might have been using it for target practice.

And the Story Continues. --RoadDog

Friday, September 5, 2008

USS Oklahoma Dead Identified

A touching story comes out of Hawaii this week. According to the September 4th Honolulu Advertiser, the Department of defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced that the Remains of three servicemen who died on the USS Oklahoma when Pearl Harbor was attacked have been identified and their remains will be returned to their families.

They are Ensign Irvin A. R. Thompson of Hudson County, New Jersey; Ensign Eldon D. Wyman of Portland, Oregon; and Fireman 2nd Class Lawrence A. Boxrucker of Dorchester, Wisconsin. His service will be September 6th in Dorchester and arrangements are being made for the others.


When the Oklahoma capsized, 421 men died. Thirty-six were identified and 329 were buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

In 2003, an independent researcher contacted the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command saying that one of the unknown could positively be identified and the casket was exhumed. It was discovered that the remains of at least 28 other men as well as the three identified were in the casket. I don't understand how all those remains would be buried in the same casket so am a bit confused by the last part.

This Has to be a Great Comfort for the Families of These Three Men. --Cooter

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Some More on Ferry Farm

Went to good old Wiki.

This is also where George supposedly skipped the silver dollar across the river. I have my wonders about throwing a silver dollar away like that, even today. Money was worth much more back then. In 2006 and 2007, an internist accomplished the feat. Sinve the 1920s, there has been a series of failed preservation efforts, the first being stopped by the Great depression.

In the 1960s, a home for troubled Virginia boys was built on the site. Ferry Farm was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2000.

The official website:

Sure Never Heard of This Place Before. --Old Coot

Washington Did Sleep Here-- as a Youngster

Go through the eastern part of the US and you will encounter lots and lots of places where old George may or may not have slept. But this is one, little known to most, place where he most definitely did sleep and where, if the cherry tree story is true, the famous tree was chopped down.

The July 3rd Chicago Tribune had an article with pictures and a map of the archaeological work going on at Washington's boyhood home at Ferry Farm in Virginia.


Archaeologist have identified and excavated Ferry Farm and their findings are expected to fill in some of the gaps about his youth which has little documentation.

The remains of two chimney bases have been uncovered as well as two stone-lined cellars, and thousands of artifacts found.

The house in Stafford County, Virginia, was 53 feet long and 37 feet wide with 8 rooms--five on the first floor and three more upstairs. How they can get this from scattered artifacts is anyone's guess. It is on the banks of the Rappahannock River, about 50 miles south of Washington, DC.


You never know who is going to be cutting it down. If the story is true, this is where it happened. The team found no evidence of an axe or even a cherry tree on the property.


Washington's father, Augustine, bought the 600-acre property and moved there in 1738. George inherited it at age 11 in 1743 when his father died and sold it after he moved to Mount Vernon.

During the Civil War, Union troops camped on the property, using the farmhouse for headquarters before demolishing it for firewood. During the later part of the 1800s, the land was plowed, destroying even more artifacts.


The George Washington Foundation plans to create a trail linking Mt. Vernon, Ferry Farm, and his birthplace at Pope's Creek. Plans also call for reconstructing buildings at the Ferry Farm to their 1740s appearance, using tools and construction techniques from the era. Work is scheduled to begin in 3 to 4 years.

I'd Never Heard of Ferry Farm. --Cooter

Bits O' History: WW II Bomb Found-- Old Street-- Another WW II Bomb Found-- PHS Chapter Closing

Some New News about Old Stuff.

1 WW II BOMB FOUND-- June 3rd-- A runway at Amsterdam's Schipol Airport was closed after a 500 pound WW II bomb was found nearby. It had to remain still for 53 hours and was expected to be removed after that. A similar bomb was found in the area back in 2006.

2. OLD STREET-- The June 7th Dorsett Daily Echo (UK) reports that old cobblestones dating back to the 18th century, were found under a modern street. Construction also discovered a Roman street surface.

3. ANOTHER WW II BOMB FOUND-- AP on June 16th announced that a 550 pound WW II bomb was found during construction on Residence Palace in the city of Wuerzburg. Experts determined it was no longer functional. Unexploded bombs arestill found regularly in Germany.

4. PHS CHAPTER CLOSING-- Another sad story as the Greatest generation dies off. The June 11th nevada Appeal reports that the five members in attendance voted to close the Silver State Chapter #1 Pearl Harbor Survivors Association down. They unanimously voted to turn in their charter.

It was founded in 1972 by Howard Spreeman, 86, president. There were 50 members when it started. Today, only 16 members remain, many of whom are with health issues.

Remaining funds will be used to purchase a plank to be placed at the Commemorative Wall in Washington, DC.

Sad to Hear About the Pearl Harbor Survivors. My Advice to Diggers in Europe, Careful Where You Dig. --Old Coot

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dead Page: Tuskegee Airman-- Scarlett's Beaux


Lt.-Col. Howard Lee Baugh died August 23rd at age 88. He was one of the of the famed Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. Through their meritorous servive, they helped bring about the desegregation of the American military.

He enlisted in 1942 and flew 135 combat missions earning a Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, the French legion of Honor andmany other awards.


Back on August 16th, actress Evelyn Keyes, who played Scarlett O'Hara's sister Suellen, died. On August 27th, Fred Crane, one of her beauxs died.

His Southern accent helped him land the role and he spoke the very first lines in the movie Gone With the Wind. He was one of the Tarleton twins, the other being played by George reeves of TV's Superman fame.

The film opens with him saying, "Whatdo we care if we were expelled from college, Scarlett? The war is going to start any day now, so we'd have left college anyhow."

Then came Scarlett's classic reply, "Fiddle-dee-dee. War, war, war. This war is spoiling all the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored I could scream."

The Dread Pirate Stede Bonnet

From Wikipedia.

Known as the "Gentleman Pirate" because he was a moderately wealthy landowner before turning to piracy. There was no mention of his gentlemanly conduct toward captives or captured ships.

Born in Barbados around 1688 and inherited his father's estate. Possible marital problems cause him to become a pirate although he had no sea experience.

He became a pirate in 1717 and bought a ship called the Revenge. Wounded in a fight with a Spanish warship. In Nassau, he met Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. Bonnet sailed with him for awhile, capturing ships, until he was unable to capture one shipand his crew went over to Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge. Bonnet then was a guest on that ship for awhile.

In 1718, he was pardoned by North carolina's governor, but decided to turn to piracy again. Not wanting to give up his pardon, Bonnet adopted the name Captain Thomas.

After his capture, hedid manage to escape, but was recaptured.

The Life of a Pirate. --Old Coot

Stede Bonnet Marker to Be Dedicated

The Friends of the Southport Maritime Museum in Southport, North Carolina, will dedicate the Stede Bonnet historical marker on September 26th. My wife and I will probably be in the area then and might just attend it. She has become quite a "Pirate" fan since the Pirates oif the Caribbean movies have been released. A reception will follow at the museum.

Stede Bonnet was nicknamed the "Gentleman Pirate. Col.William Rhett of Charleston, SC, led an expeditionthat captured Bonnet September 26, 1718 in Smithville Harbor. Bonnet was hanged in Charleston in December 1718.

Oh, the Life of a Pirate. --Old Coot

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Little-Known Civil Rights Story

The August 28th Chicago Tribune ran an article titled "For rights pioneers, another wall falls" by Ron Grossman.

In 1951, students at the all-black Robert Russa Moton High School, in Farmville, Virginia, went out on strike. This strike helped lead to the landmark 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision in which segregation in public schoolswas banned.

This is a little-known story, at least to me. I had never heard of it. People are familiar with the big names like Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King, but not Joy Cabarrus Speakes, John Stokes, and Samuel Williams. They also played a role in the movement.

On April 23, 1951, on a ruse, students got the principal out of the building and teachers to bring their classes to the auditorium. The school, built for 180 was badly overcrowded with 450. Classes were being held in cheaply built buildings and education was not as good as what the whites got.

The strike ended two weeks later and the NAACP had persuaded them to aim higher than just conditions. Their parents signed a petition calling for the end of segregated schools.

These early Civil Rights activists could hardly ever have envisioned a black man saying that he accepted his party's nomination for president of the United States.

These people faced down huge odds to bring about what should have been all along.

A Job Well Done. --Cooter

Where to Sit, Where to Sit?

The August 29th Chicago Tribune had an article about a very historic lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was cut into pieces a long time ago and carted off to museums, including the Smithsonian in DC. But the stools where the four black college students launched a sit-in Feb. 1, 196o to protest segregation laws that denied them being served, are still intact at the back of the former F.W. Woolworth store downtown.

However, they can't be seen by the public as the planned International Civil Rights Center & Museum at the site, never materialized after they ran short of funds in 2005. Major structural problems werediscovered in the 1929-era building.

It is estimated that $8 million will be needed before it can open.

A Piece of History That Needs to Be Open. --Old Coot

Monday, September 1, 2008

WW II Aviator Found in Papua New Guinea

The August 29th Earth Time sreports that hikers in Papua New Guinea have come across the skeletal remains of what is belived to be a WW II aviator. It is suspended in a parachute harness from a tree.

The tree is located along a flight path used often by Allied flyers and a number of aircraft were reported missing in the area.

The next step will be to determine if the remains are American, Australian, or Japanese.

It Will Be Interesting to Follow This Story Further. --Coot

Derelict WW II Oil Tanker's Last Voyage

The Ked, a WW II oil tanker has been declared a derelict and took her final voyage Sunday from Bremerton, Washington, where she has essentially been abandoned to Seattle where it will be broken up for scrap.

The rusting 156 foot ship has been rusting in one spot for the last ten years. The last owner had wanted to restore it and turn it into a salvage and research vessel. Lack of funds stopped him so the state DNR declared it a derelict and took it over.

It was built between 1943 and 1945 and was once named the Fletcher J and was one of several YO-153 class of fleet oil tankers. Some are still in use as fishing boats in Alaska.

The YO-153 itself was sunk in 2005 to create an artificial reef off Long Island.

Goodbye Ked. -- Cooter

Dead Page-- Tuskegee Airman --Bring 'Em Back WW II Aviator

CHARLES DRYDEN-- Sept. 16, 1920-June 24, 2008

Tuskegee Airmen who earned his wings in 1942. Nicknamed A-Train for Duke Ellington and the fact he was from New York City. Wrote his memoirs titled "A-Train: Memories of a Tuskegee Airmen. He and the others helped lay the foundation for the desegregation of the US military.

He also flew missions during the Korean War.


Died August 8th. Was a member of the 9th Air Force, 323rd Bomber Group, 453rd Bomb Squadron. Flew 65 missions and had four very close shaves.

Once, he landed a bomber with a 2000 lb. bomb dislodged in the bomb bay. Another time one of the engines was dead.

Yet another time, the right stabilizer was cut in half and brakes failed.

He also participated in D-Day.

Two More Members of the Greatest generation. --Old Coot

Bits O'History: WW II Anniversaries-- Prop Returned-- WW II Group Disbands

Bits O'History-- New News About Old Stuff.

1. WW II ANNIVERSARIES-- This blog tends to cover World War II to a large extent. Two impotant anniversaries of that war took place on this date.

1939-- WW II began with Germany's invasion of Poland.
1945-- Americans received word of Japan's formal surrender that ended WW II.
A beginning and an end on this date.

2. PROP RETURNED-- The June 30th Northern Territory News reports that two fishermen accidentally raised up an airplane propeller from the wreck of the American troopship Mauna Loa which was sunk by Japanese planes on Feb. 19, 1942. The prop had come up when their anchor became entangles with it.

Darwin has been described as the "Pearl Harbor of Australia" when Japanese aircraft from four aircraft carriers attacked the unprepared port.

3. WW II GROUP DISBANDS-- For lack of members as the Greatest generation continues to die. There are only six members left of the Co. F 153rd Infantry who served in the Aleutian Islands. Unfortunately, this is happening all too often these days.

It Would Appear That the Darwin Story Needs to Be Examined in More Detail. I'd Never Heard of it Before. --Da Coot

Dead Page-- The Drummer


Considered to be one of the top session drummers in Nashville and his drumming can be heard on some 18,000 recordings. He took up drums at early age, following his mom who played percussion in the family band. His career spanned nearly 50 years.

The September 8th Time Magazine said, "From the distinctive cymbal crashes that punctuate Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer" to the chugging beat of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" his work can be heard.

He was on some of my all-time favorite songs such as:

Cathy's Clown and Bye Bye Love by the Everly Brothers
Pretty Woman and Only the Lonely-- Roy Orbison
King of the Road-- Roger Miller
Stand By Your Man-- tammy Wynette
The Battle of New Orleans-- Johnny Horton

These are ones I found with a quick look. That would have to be one impressive list.