Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Injun Summer-- John T. McCutcheon

For years, every fall I looked forward to the Sunday Chicago Tribune Magazine's Fall cover of John T. McCuthcheon's classic "Injun Summer" drawings and words. This was every bit as much as fall to me as those burning leaves, something else that is being taken away from me with all these burning leaves ordinances. Fortunately, here in Spring Grove, Illinois, we can still burn them during October and November, but that probably isn't for long.

Then, because of protests from Indian groups about the strips' insensitivity, the Tribune dropped this annual event.

John T. McCutcheon made the strip for the Chicago Tribune and it first appeared September 30, 1907. I'm not sure when it became an annual event.

McCutcheon was born in Indiana May 6, 1870, and attended Purdue University. He worked for the Chicago Morning News and went to the Tribune in 1903, where he worked until retiring in 1946. He died June 10, 1949.

He won a Pulitzer Prize in cartoons in 1932 and is regarded as the "Dean of American Cartoonists."

You can view "Injun Summer" at http://www.tkinter.smig.net/Chicago/InjunSummer/index.htm

The Chicago Tribune Store has copies for sale for $5.95.

Gotta Get Me One of Those. Thanks John!! --Cooter

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sad News: WW II Veteran Dies Before Visit to WW II Memorial in DC

T, Dan Benson, in the October 12th Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Bob Smasal, 82, died just before his Stars and Stripes Honor Flight to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.

In June 1943, the 17-year-old dropped out of high school and joined the Marine Corps in Milwaukee, One year later, he was at Iwo Jima to witness the historic flag-raising.

This past August, he learned of the Honor Flight Program that provides World War II veterans a free charter to DC to see the memorial and he was one of the first to sign up in Port Washington. On September 8th, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and died September 27th, two days after receiving notice of his acceptance on the flight.

However, the flag that draped with casket will make the trip this November 19th.


WW II VETS DYING

An average of a thousand World War II veterans are dying each day now as they enter their eighties and nineties. This program that provides quick, one-day trips to the World War II Memorial now has 52 hubs in 26 states. The one at Port Washington is Wisconsin's second, the first being at LaCrosse. The first flight from the Port Washington hub leaves November 19th and will have 113 aboard, including 80 veterans.

A Great Program, But Too Bad for Mr. Smaal. The Greatest Generation.

Crystal Beer Parlor Closes

While looking at the Battery Backus article I came across the closing of one of Savannah, Georgia's best-known restaurants, the Crystal Beer Parlor at 301 West Jones Street this past Friday, October 24th.

Always a sad thing to see a place that old, dating back to 1933, close. Maybe someone will buy it and reopen the place. It had closed back in 2000, but reopened three years later with the current owners. However, business was down 25% and even with big crowds coming in on Fridays to see their in-house Dixieland jazz band, the Beer Parlor Ramblers, that was not enough.

Its web site at www.crystalbeerparlor.net referred to it as Savannah's Best Kept Secret and the city's last speakeasy. It was also one of the first places to serve alcohol at the end of Prohibition and the second oldest restaurant and oldest in the historic district.

The most popular item was crab stew with a cornbread loaf on the side.

Guess There Will Be No Crab Soup for Me. Too Bad. --Da Coot

Savannah's Battery Backus in Danger

The October 27th Savannah (Ga) Morning News had a report by Chuck Mobley about the concern regarding Battery Backus, an 1898 fortification built on Tybee Island to protect the city from foreign attack.

It is up for sale for $2.1 million and, since it is right on the oceanfront, fear is that it will be torn down for a beach mansion. It is listed at 21 and 23 Pulaski Street.

Earlier this month, it was put on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's "10 Places in Peril" list.

It's construction began in the Spanish-American War and continued into the 1900s. It was one of seven batteries that made up Fort Screven. It was occupied during both world wars and deactivated in 1945.

Nearby Battery Gantt is now the foundation for a beach house. Backus is one of only two of Fort Screven's six batteries that have not been completely altered. At one time, the whole fort had about 265 buildings and only half of those remain today. Restoration of Battery Backus is possible, but not without government assistance.

Save the Battery!! --Old Coot

Getting Nostalgic for the Cold War in Berlin

In these post-Cold War days in Germany, some people are getting nostalgic for those days according to an article in the September 29th Time Magazine by Stephanie Kirchner.

Hans-Holger, an East German border guard recalles thedays he was supposed to shoot fellow citizens for trying to escape to West Berlin. He had to serve a 17-month prison sentence for trying to escape himself.

Now, Zur Furma is open in East Berlin, close to the former Stasi headquarters. It's theme comes from East Germany's feared secret police. The place has a surveillance camera over the door, old wiretap devices and furnishings from a 1970s interrogation room. The name itself translates to "The Firm."

Some people do not like this taking light of a dark era. But, folks can buy G.D.R. souvenirs, stay at the Ostel, a G.D.R.-themed hostel, or take a "Trabi-safari" which involves taking a Trabi car sightseeing. Trabis were the notoriously poor-quality cars build in East Germany.

Tourists can also pose with actors dressed as US and Russian soldiers at Check Point Charlie, for years the only way to get from East to West Berlin.

Wail Long Enough, and Anything is Possible. --Cooter

Saturday, October 25, 2008

USS Grunion Ceremony

On October 15th, I wrote about the discovery of the final resting place of the USS Grunion, a World War II submarine that was lost.

The October 12th Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that more than 200 attended the ceremony honoring the Grunion's crwe held aboard her sister submarine, the USS Cod, now located in Cleveland. Both subs were built in the same year.

There was a tolling of the Grunion's salvaged bell and a 21-volley salute and casting of carnations on Lake Erie.

The Grunion's final radio message said she was under intense ant-submarine activity near Kiska Harbor in the Aleutians. That was the last anyone ever heard from the 70 crew members.

A Salute to the Undersea Service.

Lost Sullivan Work Uncovered

The October 14th Chicago Tribune had an article by Blair Kamin about several works by noted architect Louis Sullivan have been found in Chicago at 22 South Wabash Avenue in the form of an iron storefront complete with his signature nature-inspired ornamentation.

Workers have removed scaffolding from the front of the building so it is now on view for all. This is all part of a $190 million restoration of the former Carson Pirie Scott store next door.

Of course, the last several years have not been kind to Sullivan's legacy with three buildings destroyed in 2006 including Pilgrim Church. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina's storm surge seriously damaged Sullivan's vacation cottage in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

In 1961, his Garrick Theater building was demolished to make way for a parking garage. In 1972, the Chicago Stock Exchange Building was demolished to build an undistinguished office building.

Great news that some lost Sullivan has been discovered.

Chicago and the Elements Have Not Been Very Nice to Louis Sullivan. -- Cooter

Poland Running Out of Funds to Preserve Symbols of Nazi Genocide

The September 12th Chicago Tribune had an article by Laurie Goering about how Poland is short funds for preservation of the symbols of Nazi genocide, particularly in the most infamous concentration camp, Auschwitz.

However, Auschwitz and it neighboring satellite camp of Birkenau, were not built to last. hastily-constructed brick barracks where hundreds of thousands of prisoners spent their last days sleeping in straw on crude wooden bunks have been buckling and heaving each winter. Efforts have been made to prevent corrosion on the camps' concrete fence posts with their barbed wire. The tens of thousands of aging documents and vast piles of shoes, suitcases, and dolls are suffering as well.

An official says that Poland is not a rich country and that the whole camps may have to be closed in ten to twenty years if preservation does not take place.

At Birkenau, where most of the 1.5 million Jews and others who died at the camps were murdered, visitors can still walk the railway siding where families were herded out and checked by Nazi physicians to see who could work and who would die.

Nearby, there are also 150 brick and wooden barracks and other camp buildings as well as the ruins of mass gas chambers and crematoriums that were destroyed by the Nazis as the war ended.

Last year, 1.5 million people toured the camps.

Lest We Forget. Let's Hope the Camps Are Saved. --

And We Though We Had a Drought

The US southeast was hit by quite a drought in the last two years, but that was nothing compared to what the first English colonists found in the New World for Roanoke (Lost Colony) and Jamestown.

According to University of Arkansas dendrochronolgist David Stahle, the 117 members of what has since become known as the "Lost Colony" in North Carolina who disappeared in 1587, leaving nothing but the word "Croatoan" carved in a tree. An examination of tree rings from that time show that the region was suffering its driest year in 800 years.

Twenty years later, the first permanent English settlement, Jamestown, almost didn't make it because of the misfortune to arrive during a drought that lasted from 1606 to 1612. Only 38 of the original 104 colonists survived.

From National Geographic March 1999.

How Dry I Am. How Dry They Were. --Old Coot

Thomas Jefferson's "Other" Home

I've been going through some old National Geographics and came across an interesting article in the Geographica section of the March 1999 issue.

Most everyone knows about Monticello, but I didn't know about Thomas Jefferson's other home near Lynchburg, Virginia, that he designed himself called Poplar Forest. It had a small octagonal structure, service wing, and landscaping.

He journeyed to this other home as often as four times a year from 1809 to 1823, and, like Monticello, constantly refined it.In 1813, he wrote about, "The excellent dwelling house I have built there has been associated by me with delight."

His grandson sold the house in 1828. In 1845, there was a fire and major alterations. Throughout the following years, there were more alterations until it didn't much look like the home envisioned by Jefferson.

In 1984, encroaching development led to the creation of a nonprofit group that bought the property and set about restoring it to the 1826 appearance.

The exterior restoration work is now finished.

That was 1999.


NOW

Looked up Poplar Forest and found a site at www.poplarforest.org. In 2008, excavations are going on for some new Jefferson building sites discovered on the grounds as well as slave quarters. This November 1st, five poplar trees are being planted on the north lawn in honor of former resident Jimmy Watts. The public is invited.

Thomas Jefferson, Architect and Designer. --Old Coot

Friday, October 24, 2008

So, What Did Abe Eat?

Now you can find out if you get a copy of the "A. Lincoln Cookbook: A Cookbook of Epic Portions" which goes up for sale today at he Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Lincoln had a slim physique, but our 16th president was a hardy eater with a taste for rare steak, fruit, coffee, and quite a sweet tooth. Mary Todd Lincoln's pecan cake and apple tart were favorites.

The book has some 623 recipes. However, it appears a lot are from volunteers at the museum, not Lincoln. Proceeds of the sale of the $40 book will go to the museum's volunteer services.

According to James Cornelius, a curator, , "Lincoln, like many from his era, was not a recreational diner. He ate to maintain his health for chores in the summer and to stave off illness in the winter."

"They ate many heavy meals [in the winter] because they didn't have central heating. Eating was about survival."

October 18th Chicago Tribune. By Joel Hood.

Makes Me Hungry Just Typing This. --Cooter

Dead Page: Special-Effects Genius-- Cigar Pitchwoman

STAN WINSTON 1946-2008

Memorable work in "Aliens," "Terminator 2," and "Jurassic Park" earned him four Academy Awards. Died in June.

received an Emmy for aging Cicely Tyson into a 110-year-old woman on "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" in 1974. Most recently, Mr. Winston and his team made the crystal skeletons for "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and the character suits for "Iron Man."

He and his team also came up with the make-up and scissor appendages of "Edward Scissorhands."


EDIE ADAMS 1927-2008


Wife and foil of comedian Ernie Kovacs has died at 81. Probably best-known for being the sexy spokeswoman of Muriel Cigars, especially cooing the memorable line, "Why don't you pick one up and smoke it sometime?"

She was born Elizabeth Edith Enke in 1927 in Kingston, Pennsylvania.

Vice Presidents Who Have Become Presidents

The October 19th Chicago Tribune had an article about how vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin are not releasing their personal medical statements. Biden had two near-fatal brain aneurisms in 1988.

The Tribune then went on to list nine vice presidents who became president.

JOHN TYLER-- 1841--succeeded William Harrison who died of pneumonia.

MILLARD FILLMORE-- 1850-- Succeeded Zachary Taylor after his food-poisoning death.

ANDREW JOHNSON-- 1865-- succeeded Abraham Lincoln after his assassination.

CHESTER A. ARTHUR-- 1881-- succeeded James Garfield after his assassination.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT-- 1901-- succeeded William McKinley after his assassination.

CALVIN COOLIDGE-- 1923-- succeeded Warren G. Harding after his death from a stroke.

HARRY S. TRUMAN-- 1945-- succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt after his death of a cerebral hemorrhage.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON-- 1963-- succeeded John Kennedy after his assassination.

GERALD FORD-- 1974-- succeeded Richard Nixon after his resignation.


Nine All Together. --Cooter

Ten Great Places to Dig Into Our Human Past

October is Archaeology Month, or do you spell it Archeology. The October 3rd USA Today had archaeologist Brian Fagan, author of many books on the topic, list his top ten.


1. Historic Jamestowne

2. L'Anse aux Meadows-- Newfoundland, Canada-- founded by the Norse in 990s. First European settlement in the Americas.

3. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump-- Alberta, Canada-- Plains Indians hunted buffalo here for thousands of years, stampeding them to their deaths over the cliffs.

4. Vindolanda-- Northumberland, England-- Hadrian's Wall, forts, especially around Housesteads.

5. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site-- Collinsville, Illinois--Height of a ten-story building. Earth carried in woven baskets to make the 100-foot Monks Mound.

6. Hopewell Culture National Historic Park-- Chillicothe, Ohio-- hunters-gatherers from 200 BC to 500 AD.

7. Fort Mose Historic State Park-- Near St. Augustine, Florida-- First free-black community in North America.

8. Museum of Ontario Archaeology-- London, Ontario-- Next to 500 year-old Lawson archaeology site, an Iroquoian village.

9. La Purisima Mission State Park--Lompoc, California-- Known as the "Williamsburg of the West" The 11th of 21 Spanish missions.

10. Peche Merle--near Cahors, France-- One of the few Stone Age caves still open to tourists. Cave paintings from 25,000 years ago.

Heard of 1, 4, 5, and 7. Actually been to 1, 4, and 5.

World Traveler That I Am. --Cooter

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dead Page: Singer of the Sixties

This one really hits home as the Four Tops and Temptations were two of my favorite groups from the sixties.

LEVI STUBBS 1936-2008

From Mike Householder, AP

"Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs, who possessed one of the most dynamic and emotive voices of all the Motown singers, died Friday at 72."

That was him singing lead on such million-selling 4 Tops songs as "Baby I Need Your Loving," "Reach Out (I'll Be There)" and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)."

Even more remarkable, the Four Tops performed for more than 40 years with all the original members. His death leaves just one remaining original member, Abdul "Duke" Fakir.

The Four Tops began singing in 1953 as the Four Aims and signed with Chess Records. They later changed their name to the Four Tops so as not to be confused with the Ames Brothers. Motown signed them in 1963 and they scored 20 Top Forty hits until 1973.

Their biggest hits were from 1964 to 1967 and written by Holland-Dozier-Holland. "I Can't Help Myself" and "Standing in the Shadows of Love" went to #1. They joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Levi Stubbs was born in Detroit in 1936. Original Tops Lawrence Payton and Renaldo "Obie" Benson died in 1997 and 2005.

My fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi only played four albums at our parties, and one of them was the Four Tops Greatest Hits. I really enjoyed him as the man-eating plant on "Little Shop of Horrors."

A Great Performer.

Auctioning Off Bob Hope Stuff

This past weekend, an auction was held of some of Bob Hope's stuff and $601,000 for charity was raised.

An autographed photo of Lucille Ball went for $6,500 and cuff links give Hope by Richard Nixon for $10,000.

Comedian George Lopea, an avid golfer, bought Hope's golf-related items.

An executive desk from which Bob Hope did business went for $18,750.

A 1951 letter from friend Bing Cosby went for $5,000.

That Old Bob, Dead and Gone and Still Doing Good. --Old Coot

Here a Plumber, There a Plumber-- Part 2

Here are three more.

See earlier entry for what the abbreviations stand for.


LIQUID-PLUMR

H-- Under your sink
A--Flesh-and-blood plumbers
G--Destroy the clog you hate (Real Slogan)
B--After roughly 15 minutes
BF--Anyone who has ever paid a real plumber
Ally--gravity
GSW--"b" and "e" are added to name


SUPER MARIO

H-The Mushroom Kingdom and other fantasy worlds
A--Bowser
G-- Save Princess Peach, a.k.a. Princess Toadstool
B-- "Donkey Kong" for Nintendo
BF-- 13-year-old boys--and 30-year-olds who still act 13
Ally-- Luigi (brother)
GSW--He grabs a magic mushroom
I've never played it so will take James and Jim's word for it.


CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER

H--The silver screen (and made-for-TV movies)
A--Oscars and Nazis
B--"The Sound of Music"
Allies--singing children
GSW--Assassinated in "Star Trek VI"

How Do They Come Up With This Stuff? --Old Coot

Here a Plumber, There a Plumber

With all the talk of Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher, John McCain's "Joe the Plumber," the October 17th Chicago Tribune had an article on "Our Favorite Plumbers" by James Oliphant and Jim Tankersley. I thought they did a great job on it.
H--Home
A--Archenemies
G--Goal
B--Breakthrough
BF--Biggest Fans
Ally
GSW--Grows in Stature When

Here they are:


JOE THE PLUMBER

H- Holland, Ohio
A-- Taxes
G-- Buy pumbing business
B-- Third 2008 presidential debate
BF-- Woking-class voters
Ally-- Sen. John McCain
GSW-- He questions Se. Barack Obama


DWAYNE F. SCHNEIDER

H- Indianapolis
A--locked doors/high-waisted pants
G-- Romance Ann Romano
B-- 1970s empowerment sitcom
BF--lecherous, mustachioed supers
Allies--tool belt/Julie and Barbara
GSW-- Helps family deal with weekly crisis


G. GORDON LIDDY


H-- Washington, DC
A--Night watchmen
G--Re-elect Richard Nixon
B--Indictment for conspiracy, wiretapping
BF--Conservative radio listeners
Ally--CREEP ?? not sure what this means
GSW--Places hand on open flame-- not sure about this either

Three More to Come... --Cooter

Monday, October 20, 2008

Last Titanic Survivor Puts Momentos Up for Sale

Milvina Dean, 96, was only two months old when she was wrapped in a sack and put into a lifeboat from the doomedship, and now, she is the only survivor still alive. Now, she is having to sell her precious momentos of that time to pay for her nursing home care.

Her two-year-old brother Dean and her mother Geogetta were also rescued by the Carpathia the next morning, three of the 706 survivors. Her father Bertram Dean was one of the more than 1,500 who died.

Her family was emigrating for a new life in Kansas City, Missouri and were steerage passengers. Four days out, the Titanic hit an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912and sank a few hours later.

Millvina currently lives at Woodlands Ridge, a private nursing home in Southampton, the Titanic's home port. She has been there the past twoyears since she broke her hip and can no longer afford it.

So, she is selling these momentos. her brother, mother, and she were taken to New York with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Before returning to England, they were given a small wicker basket of donated clothing by the people of that city.

That suitcase and other items are expected to go for $5,200.

Actually, I would like to see a collection made so she can keep these momentos. Thety can then go to a museum after her death.

Associated Press. Jill Lawless.

I see that the traveling Titanic collection is now in Milwaukee at the museum. I'm thinking about seeing it.

A Real Survivor. --Cooter

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

USS Grunion-- Continued

WHAT HAPPENED

It is now thought that on the morning of July 21, 1942, the Grunion attacked a Japanese troop transport, but only one of four torpedoes hit and detonated. The Grunion surfaced to finish off the Kano Maru with her deck gun, but the Japanese ship returned fire and allegedly hit the Grunion's conning tower and sank her.

A wreck was discovered in August 2007 and it was verified earlier this month as the wreck of the USS Grunion.


THE STATS

The Grunion was 311 feet 9 inches in length and had a 27 feet 3 inch beam.
Speed was 23 knots on the surface and 9 knots submerged. The Grunion had a range of 11,000 nautical miles.

Armament: ten torpedo tubes, 6 forward and 4 aft, 1x3 inch deck gun and 4 machine guns.



THE SONS

The Grunion's skipper, Lt-Cmdr Mannert L. Abele, had three sons by the name of Bruce, John, and Brad. For years it was their mission to find out what happened to the Grunion. This effort was funded mostly by John who is the founder of Boston Scientific, a major medical device company. In 2005, Forbes ranked him as the #132 richest person in the world with a net worth of $4 billion.

He began funding the effort after a discussion with undersea explorer Robert Ballard who declined to look for the ship.

In 2002, now armed with the information from Yataka Iwasaki, they began the search in earnest. They also searched for the wrecks of the Japanese subchasers SC-25 and SC-27 as well as the Japanese destroyer Arare.


The Grunion was found in 3,300 feet of water.

A memorial service was held in Cleveland, Ohio, at the USS Cod on October 11th.

Job Well Done Abele Brothers. --Cooter

USS Grunion Follow-Up

On October 4th, I had an entry about the submarine USS Grunion being found in the Aleutian Islands. I did a follow-up thanks to Wikipedia.

The Grunion was a Gato-class submarine and the only naval vessel ever named after the grunion, a small fish found off the US west coast. It was built and launched December 22, 1941 (15 days after Pearl Harbor) by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut, and commissioned April 11, 1942.

The Grunion picked up 16 survivors of the USAT Jack as it exited the Panama Canal on its way to Pearl Harbor. I was unable to find out any other information as to this ship sinking or even what a USAT was. I was also unaware that German U-boats might have been sinking US ships in the Pacific.

After Pearl Harbor, the Grunion took up station off the Aleutian Islands and engaged a Japanese destroyer with no results. During July, it sank two Japanese patrol boats.


MISSING

The Grunion reported encountering heavy anti-submarine efforts and was ordered back to Dutch Harbor on July 30, 1942 and was never heard of again.

A big search was conducted and on October 5th, was reported as overdue from patrol and assumed lost with all hands. It was stricken from the Naval Register on November 2, 1942.

And, That was how it remained for the next 65 years, until this month.

More to Come. --Cooter

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dead Page-- US WW II Ace

DONALD BLAKESLEE

Died September 3rd in Ohio. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and was sent to England in May, 1941 and recorded his first kill Nov. 22, 1941. It soon became apparent that he was not a great shot, but a brilliant air tactician.

In the summer of 1942, he became a flight leader and he received the first of his Distinguished Flying Crosses. At the end of his first tour of duty, he had put in 200 hours and had three victories.

He moved over to the American Eagle volunteer squadron and recorded two more victories to become an Ace. He later became commander of the 4th Fighter Group US Army Air Corps and on March 6, 1944, flew the first Mustang over Berlin. Under his command, the 4th FG shot down 1,020 German planes.

By the end of the war, Blakeslee had 15.5 kills in the air and 2 on the ground and flew in over 500 operating sorties. He reportedly had more missions and hours than any other American pilot.

He also fought in the Korean War and retired from the USAF in 1965 with the rank of colonel.

Another of the Greatest Generation.

The Little Gun That Started a Big Old War

The September 25th Guardian.co.uk had an article about the new exhibit at the Imperial War Museum in London called "In Memorium: Remembering the Great War" which runs through September 6, 2009. This includes the gun carried by Gavrilo Princip, an 18 year-old Bosnian Serb who assassinated Austria's Archduke Ferdinand and launched World War I which last four years and claimed over 20 million lives.

This is the first time the gun, and a homemade grenade/bomb have been in the UK, and is on a rare loan from the Heeresgeschichtlinches (How's that for a name) Museum in Vienna. The exhibit also focuses on the lives of 90 individuals during the war including Winston Churchill and Harry Truman as well as personal possessions of regular folks.

One reason for the display now is that of the more than 5 million persons who entered British service during the war, only three remain: Bill Stone, Harry Patch, and Henry Allingham.

One other article mentioned that there were six people involved in the assassination plot.

I'd Sure Like to See This Gun. --Cooter

Monday, October 13, 2008

WW II US Home Front

The June 2007 Smithsonian had a book review by Winston Groom on Alistair Cooke's book "The American Home Front: 1941-1942. This book was "found" in 2004 when his secretary was clearing out some papers in his office.

When the US entered the war, Cooke, then a correspondent of the BBC decided to drive across the country and see first-hand the impact of the war. He concentrated on the regular folks.

Some interesting stories:

The Texas couple in Charlestown, Indiana, who like thousands of others had driven long distances to get jobs in war-related industries. They had slept in all sorts of places during their odyssey for new jobs.

Cooke also wrote about Midwest farmers who weren't sure why bread rationing was on despite the fact they had more wheat than they knew what to do with. They believed it was because of incompetence in Washington, DC.

The huge losses from German U-Boat attacks along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Wisconsin and Florida farmers sent their products to factories where "tons of milk, eggs and oranges were processed into shipments of powdered milk and eggs and concentrated citrus juice that was transported across the ocean so that half-starved British children could have a proper breakfast."

He found huge efforts on both coasts. In California, 'industrialist Henry Kaiser had his factories producing 'Liberty Ships' at the unheard of rate of one a month. In Detroit, tanks and airplanes were moving off the assembly lines at a stupendous pace."

Cooke found women taking up their husbands work as they went off to war. The entire town of Deming, New Mexico, was in shock when 150 men from there had been posted to and captured at Bataan in the Philippines. In Vermont, he found a new surge in business as tombstones were needed for the fallen.

When Cooke finally got around to turning it into a book in 1945, no publisher was interested and so it sat for 60 years.

Sounds Like a Great Book to Read, Especially for Us WW II Fans. --Cooter

Sunday, October 12, 2008

World War I Statue Stolen

The September 12th Ohio.com reports that a WW I statue was stolen in Lakemore, Ohio from where it has stood for more than 70 years. The thieves broke it off at the feet. It is called "Resting Doughboy" and was on a six feet tall granite base in the center of town and served as a centerpiece for Memorial and Veterans day activities.

It was created in 1936 by Indiana artist E. M. Viquesney and depicted a WW I doughboy at rest with his helmet pushed back and rifle in his left hand. It was dedicated in either 1937 or 1938.

The thought is that the thieves believed it was bronze and worth something as scrap (it was zinc). Police have no leads.Lakemore plans an erected a new statue to replace it.

About 130 Spirit of the American Doughboy statues were erected across the country, but Lakemore's was smaller than the rest and in a different pose.

Give Us Back Our Doughboy!! --Coot

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dead Page: Coined Term Rhythm & Blues

JERRY WEXLER, 91

The man who pushed the careers of Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin and coined the phrase Rhythm & Blues, died August 22nd.

He also worked with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, George Michael, Dire Straits, Dusty Springfield, and Santana. He helped build Atlantic Records with Ahmet Ertegun and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Atlantic was a major outlet for black music for fifty years. He worked with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and Percy Sledge, producing "Respect," "In the Midnight Hour," and "When a Man Loves a Woman" among others for them.

One other major accomplishment was Dusty Springfield's album "Dusty in Memphis."

In 1967, he and Ertegun sold Atlantic to Warner Brothers for $17.5 million.

He Sure Helped Make Music What It Is.

USS Oklahoma Memorial Painting Unveiled

The October 9th Oklahoman reports that two Pearl harbor survivors, Ed Vezey of Colorado and Paul Goodyear of Arizona, were at the Oklahoma state capitol yesterday and unveiled a painting of the new Oklahoma memorial by OKC artist Christopher Nick. Both of these former USS Oklahoma sailors led efforts to get the long overdue memorial.

Lisa Ridge, a teacher from Indiana lost her grandfather, Paul Nash, and found out that one of the columns at the memorial is for him.

Eugene Wicker also attended the ceremony. His uncle, radio operator Eugene Wicker, gave the first warning to "man your battle stations."

Unfortunately, I have not been able to view this painting yet in any sources. They say the picture of the sailor in the clouds is particularly inspiring.

Let Us Never forget. --Cooter

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Some More on Ewa Marine Air Station

From Wikipedia-- Located 17 miles west of Pearl harbor. After Pearl harbor, a hub for all Marine aviation in the Pacific Theater. Closed in 1952 when runways were too short for jets.

During the 20s and 30s, three of four dirigibles stationed there crashed, leading to the cancellation of the airship effort.

George Welch and Ken Taylor, the two aviators whose efforts to fight off the Japanese attack in their planes which was shown in the "Pearl Harbor" movie, were at a Christmas dinner/dance and an all-night poker party the night before the attack. When they heard of the attack, they drove their Buick at high speeds to Ewa and took off.

The were recommended for the Medal of Honor but received the Distinguished Flying Cross as they had taken off without orders. Imagine that.

It Would be Hoped That at Least Part of Ewa Will be Preserved. --Cooter.

Ewa's "Lost Battlefield" Days Numbered?

The June 18th Honolulu Advertiser reports that today, the Ewa Marine Corps Air Station on Kalaeloa is overgrown with runways covered, foundations cracked, and only a quonset hut and one other building standing.

Dozens of arched concrete revetments, once used for aircraft, remain, some used as horse stables.

Up to 24 Japanese zeroes attacked the site on December 7, 1941.

John Bond has started a one-man campaign to preserve it from development.

It was used as an airship mooring station in the mid-1920s and the famous dogfight with George Welch and Ken Taylor took place over Ewa. During the attack, almost 50 US aircraft were destroyed or damaged on the ground during three waves of attacks. Four Marines were killed.

Here's Hoping for Success to John Bond. --Cooter

President Roosevelt, MacArthur, and Admiral Nimitz visited in 1944.

Dead Page-- Pearl Harbor Survivor

The Merced, Ca. newspaper reported Sept. 28th, that Pearl Harbor survivor, Fred McMullens, 88, died. He was on the USS Nevada that day and rarely talked about it afterwards until 2002, when his family sent him on vacation to Hawaii. This coincided with a reunion of the Nevada's crew.

After that, he spoke more of it. He threw a splicing tool at one Japanese plane that was quite close.

He was reassigned to the cruiser USS St. Louis for the remainder of the war and had vivid memories of the kamikazee attacks.

Another of the "Greatest Generation."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

SS Portland Artifacts Found-- No Bodies Though

Five Massachusetts divers dove 460 feet to the remains of the SS Portland during August and September. They found lots of artifacts such as plates, dishes, mugs, and toilets, but no human remains, even though all 192 passengers and crew aboard perished when the ship was hit by 100+ mile per hour winds and 60 foot waves on November 26, 1898.

It is still not known why the Portland left Boston that day, even though the captain was well aware of the storm.

The wreck was located in 1989, but was not absolutely known to be the Portland until 2002.

The Portland Gale of November 26-27, 1898 killed over 400 people and sank more than 150 boats. It even reversed the course of Massachusetts' North River.


Ah, Sunken Ships, the Stuff of Dreams. --Old Coot

Monday, October 6, 2008

USS Intrepid Returns

The USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier dating back to World War II, is returning to its Manhattan pier after a 22 month $120 million overhaul and will feature more planes exhibits, and deckage than ever before.

It is referred to as the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Grand Reopening is scheduled at Pier 86 on November 8th.

On its way to its New Jersey drydock for the overhaul, the Intrepid ran aground and to make sure this didn't happen on the return voyage, $10 million was spent to dredge the Hudson River and the ship's four 16 ton, 22-foot diameter propellers were removed.

The USS Intrepid is 900 feet long and was launched in 1943. It participated in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars and was also involved in space capsule recovery.

Glad to Have You Back, Old Girl. --Da Coot

Saturday, October 4, 2008

USS Grunion Found

The WW II submarine Grunion left on a mission and never returned, and until recently, no one knew what had happened to it.

Today, I was watching TV when they had a segment on two brothers who financed an expedition to find it. Their dad commanded it.

A while back, a Japanese researchere came across a short account of a battle between a Japanese armed cargo ship and an American submarine off the Aleutian Islands. This took place about the same time as the Grunnion disappeared.

This bit of information led to the submarine's discovery. Photos were taken of the badly damaged vessel.

Always Glad When This Happens. --Old Coot