Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving-- Part 3

Still taking this from Oneida Joyce Martin's "Devotions for Clubs and Life."


After the Union victory at Gettysburg in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

Businessmen seeking relief from the Great Depression by having a longer Christmas shopping season, got President Roosevelt to move it to the third Thursday in 1939, but after three years of protest agreed to return it to the fourth Thursday.


The abiding symbol of Thanksgiving, the turkey, was originally a wild bird known to Mexicans and Central Americans. Early Spanish explorers took it to Europe and the bird was finally domesticated in Turkey. Hence the name.

Sounds Turkish to Me. --Old Coot

Thanksgiving-- Part 2

Continued from Nov. 28th.

President John Adams proclaimed Thanksgiving in May in 1798 and April in 1799. President Jefferson believed it to be too religious and citing the separation of church and state, refused to proclaim it. One minister, somewhat upset, had a prayer in church, "Oh Lord, endow the president with a goodly portion of Thy Grace for Thou, Oh Lord, knowest he needs it."


Things were looking pretty bad for it until three Southern states: Georgia, Texas, and Virginia began observing it in 1855.

Sara H. Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Book in the mid-1800s waged a one-woman campaign for more than forty years urging politicians to adopt a uniform national Thanksgiving Day. She first wanted July 4th.

More to Come. --Cooter

Friday, November 28, 2008

Speaking of New England

The Swamp Fox, writing in the Nov. 27th Dixie Historical Society Blog had a part of a 1946 pamphlet printed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to North Carolina Public schools.  It was saying that history was being rewritten to give a earlu US history a New England slant at the expense of southern contributions.  They mentioned a couple things that I didn't know about.  Guess I'll have to do the old Wiki.

"There is a grave danger that our school children are  learning more about Massachusetts than about Carolinas..." One example was that all children knew about Paul Revere's ride, but, very few, including myself, have ever heard of the 40 mile ride Jack Jouitte took from  tavern to warn Virginia's governor Thomas Jefferson and the legislature of the approach of a British force intent on capturing them. I have since found the name spelled as Jack Jouett.

Everybody's heard about the Boston Tea Party which took place at night by colonists disguised as Indians, but few, again myself, have heard  of the Wilmington, NC, Tea Party done in broad daylight by undisguised colonists.

Then, there is the trend of calling Plymouth the cradle of American liberty when there was already an English colony on the James River preceding it by 13 years.

Looks Like I Have Some Stuff to Look At.  --Don't Know Nothing Coot


From Devotions for Clubs and Life by Oneida Joyce Martin.

Mom brought this to my attention and there were some items I hadn't hgeard of before.

Thanksgiving's beginnings can be traced to 1621 when Gov. William Bradford of the Massachusetts Colony proclaimed a three-day feasting and sporting day to celebrate the survival of the group. A small band of Indians joined them for boiled eels (YUM), venison, wild duck, clams, mussels, cornbread, plums, and SWEET WINE!! I didn't know the Pilgrims drank.

Massachusetts Bay Puritans and the Dutch in New Amsterdam liked the idea and observed it every so often. The Puritans, of course, were against drinking and games.

Historians in the Middle and Southern colonies believe the observation started there, but, usually this is regarded as a New England custom.


George Washington proclaimed a day of thanks for his army in 1782 and each soldier got extra food and TWO NEW SHIRTS. Later, Washington as president proclaimed November 26, 1789, as a day of thanks.

More to Come. --Coot

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another Illini Tradition Bites the Dust

Just a year ago, famed Chief Illiniwek, a University of Illinois symbol who performed at football and basketball games was forcibly retired due to NCAA pressure. I was glad to see that he made a one game return, albeit not at a football game, but on campus in a non-college appearance.

Now, the sweet Sioux Tomahawk, given to the winner of the annual Northwestern-Illinois game has also bitten the dust.

This was started by the schools' respective student newspapers in 1945. At first, it was a cigar-store Indian, but in 1946, it was stolen. The Tomahawk trophy replaced it in 1947.

Illinois still has the wooden turtle called Illibuck which goes to the winner of the game with Ohio State and the winner of the game with Purdue gets the possession of a cannon.

That Is, At LEAST Until a Reptile Lover Group or Anti-War Group Gets Their Way. I Hate to See Traditions Die Because of PC. And I'm Not Talking About Personal Computers. --Da Coot

Sand Island Lighthouse-- Alabama

The Sand Island Lighthouse which has withstood over a century of storms, including Hurricane Katrina, is in a precarious situation these days with its island being washed away by the Gulf of Mexico. For all these years, it has guided vessels into Mobile Bay.

The original lighthouse was blown up by Confederates in 1861 to prevent its falling into Union hands, and rebuilt in 1883 on a man-made pile of granite rocks.

Withstanding Katrina was no easy feat, considering that the small Chandeleur Island Lighthouse simply disappeared and the 1890 New Canal Lighthouse on Lake Pontchartrain was demolished.

Lets Hope Funds Can be Found to Save It. --Cooter

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another World War II Bomb Found

According to Channel 13 TV News in Orlando, another WW II was found at the former Pinecastle Jeep Range near Orlando, Florida.

The nearly 12,000 acre range was used during World War II for practice bombing, air-to-ground rocket firing, and high-explosive bombing.

Most of the heavy practice occurred in a 500 acre part of the training grounds.

Dead Page: Decorated WW II Vet--- Slinky


Died Nov. 17th in San Bernardino, Ca.. A highly-decorated veteran of World War II, he joined the military at age 17 and was captured at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and assigned to Stalag 12, near Nuremburg, Germany.

From there, he and fellow prisoners were often moved from one camp to another. During those times, they suffered great hardships marching hundreds of miles in the snow and sometimes subsisting on one potato and a piece of bread a day.

He received five Bronze Stars and a Silver Star during the war.

San Bernardino, (Ca) Sun


Co-founded the company that made the popular toy Slinky, along with her husband Richard, in 1945. In 2001, they were inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. She took charge of James Industries 14 years later in 1959, when her husband joined a cult in Bolivia. He died in 1974.

Hundreds of Millions of them have been made. She described their success in 1995, "I think really it's the simplicity of it. There's nothing to wind up; it doesn't take batteries. I think the price helps."

Associated Press

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dead Page: Holocaust Ar Dealer-- Jimi Hendrix Drummer

JAN KRUGIER 1928-2008

Dealer Used Art to Deal with Holocaust Memories.

Died Nov. 15th. Born into a Jewish family in Radom, Poland. His father was an art collector which sparked his interest. Joined the resistance to Nazi occupation at age 12 and arrested. Taken to several concentration camps, including Treblinka, but managed to escape.

Captured again and taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau where one night he witnessed the execution of 8,000. Forced on death marches as the Nazis retreated from the Soviet advance. Liberated at end of war, but lost all of his immediate family.

Established an art gallery in Geneva which specialized in 19th and 20th Century art.


Last Surviving member of the Legendary Guitarist's Band

Drummer Mitch Mithchell was found dead in his hotel room Nov. 12th. His drummer was a powerful force on the Jimi Hendrix Experience's 1967 debut album "Are You Experience?" and especially on "Fire" and "Manic Depression." He had been on the Jimi Hendrix Tour at his death.

Jimi Hendrix died in 1970 and Noel Redding in 2003.

Both obituaries from AP

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama's Sam Cooke Connection

As I mentioned yesterday, the Chicago Tribune has gone Obama crazy. However, i must admit that the articles are quite interesting.

Mary Schmich, in her Nov. 16th column, wrote about Barack Obama using Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" in his Grant Park address to those celebrating his victory. "It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election, change has come to America."

Sam Cooke's brother, L.C. Cooke was listening and said, "It shows you the longevity of Sam."

"A Change is Gonna Come" was a hit for Sam Cooke in 1964 and became an unofficial anthem of Obama's campaign. Of course, there are the other great Cooke songs like "You Send Me," "Chain Gang," "Wonderful World," and "Twisting the Night Away.

Sam and L.C. were born only eleven months apart and went with their family as babies on the Greyhound bus from Mississippi to Chicago. Their father, a minister, got them and three of their siblings into a group called The Singing Children.

Sam was a successful singer by 19, famous by 26, and dead at 33, shot by a hotel clerk who claimed it was in self-defense.

One of My Favorite Performers. --Cooter

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

World War II Merchant Marine Experience

All to often, the role the United States Merchant Marine played in the final victory in World War II is overlooked. Very simply put, without them, we couldn't have won it. They are the ones that carried the supplies, equipment, munitions, and men to where they were needed. They faced dangers from submarines, mines, armed raiders, destroyers, aircraft, and the elements. In fact, one in twenty-six on average died for their efforts.

Beverly Brand had an entry in the November 12th Quincy Remembers World War II Blog-a look back at the war years in Massachusetts' City of Presidents.

Beverly Brand accounted of her step-father First Mate John J. Diehl and his 36-ship Liberty ship convoy's Murmansk run carrying Lend-Lease supplies to the Soviet Union. This was the most-dangerous run of all. They were attacked constantly by German U-Boats operating in wolf packs.

In July 1942, only 11 of 36 merchant ships in Convoy PG17 made it. First Mate Diehl was one of the lucky ones. He later became a captain after the war.

A Very Unappreciated Branch of the Services. --Cooter

Gettin' Obamafied-- Part 2

Some more headlines from articles in Sunday's Nov. 16th Tribune.

Obama urges aid for homeowners and automakers

Democrats weigh how hard to hit agenda

Obama security strains force-- about the amount of money the city doesn't have to pay for all the added security to the president-elect.

Seeking a spiritual home in D.C.-- where will they attend church?

Loyalty pays off for Gibbs-- advisor Robert Gibbs who will likely be White House press secretary.

They met Obama when... 13 people who knew him before he became president including the Illinois Senate president Emil Jones, political reporter Dick Kay, his brother-in-law, pastor of Lilydale First Baptist Church, his barber, founding-member of his South-side organizing group, another brother-in-law, law professor at Univ. of Chicago, Sox general manager, a Chicago writer and activist,, the Illinois comptroller, and chef Rick Bayless.

Question irks gun owners
Hello White House, bye-bye BlackBerry--he'll probably have to give up his beloved BlackBerry.

Obama's Sam Cooke connection-- about the song "A Change is Gonna Come."

Whoa, I'm Completely Worn Out. And, That's Just ONE Day. --Old Coot

Gettin' Obamified

The Chicago Tribune sure has jumped on board the Obama bandwagon. Just some articles in Sunday's paper.

WhatWould These Be Worth to You?

About Topps coming out with Obama trading cards before the inauguration ($1.99 a pack of six cards and a sticker (WHAT, no GUM???).

A 2000 Dodge Neon once-owned by Obama.

A doodle made by Obama of fellow Democratic senators a man bought at auction for $2,075.

And what they're going to do with his old chair from the Illinois Senate.

Top stories on the Tribune web-site about the Secret Service code names and the Tolerance fails story about the middle school girl in Oak Brook who received all sorts of grief when she wore a McCain Girl tee shirt, but was a cool person when she wore Obama Girl the following day.

And, That's Just Some of Them. I'll Continue. Had Enough? --Cooter

Monday, November 17, 2008

HMAS Surviving Crewmembers Disappointed

The November 15th Perth Now reports that the surviving members of the Sydney's crew, in their 80s and 90s, are greatly disappointed that they will not be able to attend Wednesday's funeral for the "Unknown Sailor." They can watch it on the big screen in a public service in Geraldton, Western Australia, because the Geraldton War Cemetery is too small.

Former Sydney torpedo man Tom Fisher, 87, who transferred off the ship just three weeks before its disappearance after serving nearly two years, says that he is sure the "Unknown Sailor" would have preferred his crew mates at the ceremony as opposed to politicians and dignitaries.

There are six former Sydney crew members living in West Australia.

Former Sydney signalman Ean McDonald, 90, says it is a snub and a disgrace.

The Royal Australian Navy says it is not a snub, but due to how small the cemetery is.

The Crew Should be Allowed to Attend Before All Others. --Cooter

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dead Page: USS Waller "Plank Owner"-- WW II Vet Dies at Ceremony


Of Wilmington, Delaware, died October 8th. He was a "plank owner" which means an original crew member on the USS Waller, DD-466, a 2,100 ton Fletcher-class destroyer. He served as radioman from 1942-1944, and was many famous battles, including Rennell Island (where the Waller rescued survivors of the USS Chicago after it was torpedoed and sank), Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Kula Gulf, Vella Lavella, Solomon Islands, and others.

The Waller never suffered any casualties while Kingston was aboard. He attended every USS Waller reunion which took place every two years. Oct. 17th Coastal Point, Ocean View, Delaware.


WTMJ Channel 4 of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, reported that John Weinberger died Tuesday at the Veterans Day ceremony in Washington County. He was one of the two remaining Pearl Harbor survivors in the Washington County.

In 2006, he had returned to Pearl Harbor and placed a wreath 50 yards away from where he had stood that day on board the USS Whitney.

The Greatest Generation.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bits O' History: 16 Million-- Hamlet Sunk-- Monopoly in WW II

Some New News About Old Stuff.

1. 16 MILLION-- Records indicate that some 16 million Americans served during WW II. By 2000, only 5.7 million still were alive. Estimates say that 1000 a day are dying now. How many will be alive by 2010?

2. HAMLET SUNK-- C.J. Christ in his War in the Gulf column in the August 31 Houma (La) Courier wrote about the Norwegian Motor Tanker Hamlet which was torpedoed by a German U-Boat May 27, 1942, and sank off Morgan City en route from Beaumont, Texas, to the United Kingdom with 64,139 barrels on crude oil.

it was hit by 3 torpedoes from the U-753 and sank in 60 feet of water. Christ specializes in the naval war in the Gulf of Mexico during World War II and wrote 7 columns from 2000 to 2001. Makes for interesting reading.

Thanks, Mr. Christ.

3. MONOPLY IN WW II-- Helen Mildenhall in her August 26th Conversation at the Edge blog wrote about the British Secret Service putting maps in the Monopoly game boxes to help prisoners escape from German prisoner of war camps. The guards didn't check them much as they were happy that the games kept the Allied prisoners occupied.

The POW version had a metal file and a compass in the game pieces and some of the game money was real, for use in the escape.

I never knew this. Check it out at Look up Monopoly World War II. Very interesting article.

Now, You Know. --Da Coot

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

HMAS Sydney: Eight Bells-- Stories Based on Nothing

1. Eight bells tolled for the crew of the HMAS Sydney across Australia at yesterday's Remembrance Day. A special service was also held at St. Patrick's Basilica in Freemantle.

2. STORIES BASED ON NOTHING-- Claims that bodies of the Sydney's crew were buried in the sand hills along the West Australian coast have been dismissed by an inquiry as "mere stories based on nothing.

A claim was made by David Angwin who describes himself as "a digger with a shovel." He also claimed that the captain of the Kormoran, which sank the Sydney, had the crew of a Japanese submarine in the area executed.

The article seemed to indicate that the Kormoran's crew killed the Sydney's survivors and buried them on land.

Kind of Hard to Believe. --Cooter

Oldest World War II Medal of Honor Winner

While reading about Veterans Day observances, I came across the name of John W. Finn, 100, who is not only the oldest surviving World War II Medal of Honor winner, but also the only MoH winner at Pearl Harbor still alive.

On December 7, 1941, he was stationed at a VP-41 squadron at Kaneohe Bay on Oahu. He manned a 50 caliber machine gun in an open area and for 15 minutes maintained fire on the Japanese planes, shooting one down while being wounded 21 times in his chest and abdomen.

He was ordered to leave his post, was treated in sick, and returned to duty to rearm planes. He later spent 14 days in sick bay.

On 9-11, he was only 55 miles from New York City on his way to Boston for a Medal of Honor Reunion when the planes hit.

One of the Greatest Generation

Mexican Campaign 1914

I'd never heard of it before, except for the Medal of Honor won by Henry Nickerson in the earlier post from today. So, I had to look it up.

It dated back to the Tampico Affair, April 9, 1914, where a group of US sailors and Mexican forces loyal to Victoriano Huerta faced off during the Mexican Revolution. In response, President Wilson ordered the US Navy to Vera Cruz, Mexico.

On April 21, 1914, Wilson ordered the immediate occupation of Vera Cruz upon hearing that a German ship was headed there with a huge arms shipment for Huerta... Ninety Americans and 300 Mexicans were killed.

This united a divided Mexico with Venustiano Carranza and Huerta demanding an immediate American withdrawal. Wilson later accepted mediation from the ABC Conference with Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.

The occupation lasted six months and did nothing to improve Mexican-American relations.

Thanks Wikipedia and Wilson Foreign Policy.

Medal of Honor Memorial Planned for Wheeling, West Virginia

The November 12th Wheeling Intelligencer News-Register reported on a Veterans day observance in Wheeling.

The speaker noted that there were seven Medal of Honor winners from the Wheeling/Ohio County area and that plans are in motion for a marker to remember them by. It will be at the Wheeling Heritage Point and will cost approximately $15,000.

Four of the recipients got theirs in the Civil War:

JOSIAH M. CURTIS-- at Petersburg--buried at West Liberty Cemetery
DANIEL A. WOODS-- Sailor's Creek-- buried Greenwood Cemetery in Wheeling
JOSEPH MCCAUSLIN-- Petersburg-- buried West Alexander cemetery in West Alex, Pa.
THOMAS ANDERSON-- Appomattox Station-- Dunkard Cemetery in Lone Pine, Pa.


WILLIAM DIXON-- civilian scout for Army-- at Washita River, Texas Sept. 12, 1874-- buried at Adobe Walls Battlefield Site in Hutchinson, Texas.
DANIEL BISHOP-- March 25, 1873--Turret Mountain, Arizona Territory-- buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Bellaire.


HENRY NEHEMIAH NICKERSON-- USS UTAH-- seizure of Vera Cruz, Mexico August 21, 1914-- buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Wheeling.

Always Honoring Our heroes. --Cooter

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The VJ Day Kiss Seen Round the World

The November 10th World Net Daily had an article on the woman in the famous Life photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt at Broadway and 45th Street on Victory in Japan Day on August 14, 1945. This is where the sailor grabbed a nurse and planted a big kiss on her lips. This day is also called VP Day, Victory in the Pacific.

The nurse, Edith Shein, 90, of Los Angeles, will serve as the grand marshal at New York City's Veterans Day parade today. After the picture was taken, the former kindergarten teacher and still unidentified sailor went their separate ways.

She said, "This guy grabbed me and we kissed, and then I turned one way and he turned the other. There was no way to know who he was, but I didn't mind because he was someone who fought for me."

Several women over the years have claimed to be the nurse, but most believe Edith is the one.

Wouldn't It Have Been Neat If They Had Ended Up Marrying Each Other? --Cooter

Bits O' History: Remembrance Day-- NJ WWII Memorial

In Honor of Veterans Day.

1. REMEMBRANCE DAY-- Being held in Australia. Especially poignant with the locating this year of the wreck of the HMAS Sydney off the west coast of Australia. A bigger memorial is planned for later this month on the actual day of the ship's sinking.

2. NJ WW II MEMORIAL-- Will be dedicated today in Trenton, New Jersey. Ground for the $7.4 million project was broken in January. It is estimated that 90,000 WW II veterans live in New Jersey.

A Salute to All Our Veterans. We Can Never Repay Them. --Cooter

Last Veterans Day for WW I Vets?

This 90th observance of the end of the War to End All Wars could also be the last one for the four remaining veterans of World War I who are all in their 100s.

Today, representatives of the warring countries between 1914 and 1918 are gathering at the 1916 Battle of Verdun in France where 300,000 men died over an eleven month period.


Britain has three: Henry Alingham, 112; Harry Patch, 110, and Bill Stone, 108. These three men, representing the RAF, Army and Royal Navy will lead a two-minute silence at the Cenotaph National War Museum in London today.

In the US, Frank Buckles, 107, of West Virginia, is the sole remaining veteran.

Erick Kastner, the last German soldier died in January of this year at age 107. Lazare Ponticelli, the Italian-born last French soldier died in March.

CASUALTIES 1914-1918

Germany- 1.9 million
Russia-- 1.7 million
France-- 1.4 million
Austria-Hungarian Empire-- 1 million
Britain-- 760,000

Staggering Thoughts. A Salute to the Few Survivors.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Marine Corps Women's Reserve

Like I said, I knew nothing of this organization before Saturday. I looked it up in Wikipedia.

By the end of World War II, 85% of all enlisted personnel at the Marine HQ were women. They were demobilized in 1946 with 17,640 enlisted and 820 officers having served. The purpose of the organization was to provide women with shore duty so the men could do combat duty.

After demobilization, only 1000 women remained until 1948 when they officially became part of the Corps.

Dead Page: World War II Woman Marine

ADA DODSON 1914-2008

From the September 30th LA Times.

Ada Dodson was one of thousands of women who served in the Marines during World War II. Until Saturday, I didn't even know there were women Marines, but the oldest Marine at the Marine Corps Birthday breakfast was an 84-year-old female corporal from the war.

"I joined the Marines because they were the toughest and the best."

Born Ada DiStasio in Italy in 1914, she was living in Milwaukee working in a defense plant making turbines for US submarines when the Marine Corps Women's Reserve was established in February 1943.

She enlisted in 1944 and was sent to Norman, Oklahoma to be trained as an aviation machinist along with other women and men. She said, "The men didn't like us girls being there. They didn't treat us very well, but that made me work all the harder...."

Despite her training, she was assigned to office work at the El Toro air station where she spent the duration of the war. She was discharged in 1946 and married fellow Marine Marcus Dodson, who had been at Iwo Jima and later worked with her.

Their marriage lasted 60 years. She was very active in all things dealing with women in the Corps.

Another of the Greatest Generation.

Dead Page: Blighted Gardner-- JFK's Photographer-- Dinosaur Guy-- Under the Boardwalk

November Deaths


Her group turned blighted spots of Chicago's North Lawndale Neighborhood into bright spots.

As president of the North Lawndale Greening Committee, she and her volunteers filled more than a dozen vacant and debris-strewn lots with flowers, vegetables, walking paths, and benches.

She was a career postal worker. This part of Chicago is what is referred to as a really bad neighborhood, dangerous for passers-through and those who live there. Her efforts helped improve the situation and I hope others will take up her work.


JFKs Photographer. First White House Cameraman who took famous picture after assassination.

Cecil Stoughton took the famous photo of Lyndon Johnson being sworn in as president on board Air Force One. A stunned Jacqueline Kennedy stood beside him.

His photographs of the Kennedy White House helped create the aura of what later became known as Camelot. He was an Army captain in 1961, when he was picked to photograph daily life in the White House. In all, he shot about 12,000 pictures during the Kennedy years.


Screenwriter and author of "Jurassic Park" and "The Andromeda Strain." Also, the popular TV series "ER" is based on his work.

RAY ELLIS 1923-2008

Pop music arranger and writer who worked with the Four Lads, Bobby Darin and others.

Arranged music for Four Lads' "Standing on a Corner" and "Moments to Remember;" "Splish Splash" and Dream Lover" for Bobby Darin; and "Where the Boys Are" for Connie Francis.

Working with Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records, he arranged R&B classics such as Ben E. King's "Spanish Harlem" and the Drifters' "Under the Boardwalk."

In 1958, he arranged Billie Holiday's last two albums.

Dirty Politics

The October 19th Chicago Tribune ran an article in their Perspective section on 10 Things You Might Not Know About DIRTY POLITICS by Mark Jacob. They run these ten Things You Didn't Know columns several times a month and they are always interesting.

And, of course, this being Chicago, who would have any idea about such a thing. "It can't happen here."

Before we forget about the election and all the mudslinging. We were fortunate in Illinois not to be one of those "Battleground" states. Mudslinging and bad talk was all I heard while visiting family in North Carolina the last year. We didn't have much here in the Prairie State.

Anyway, here goes:

1. In Britain, operatives showed up in nursing homes with pre-marked absentee voter ballots in what was called "Granny Farming."

2. At one time, Roman Catholics were considered scary. Al Smith, a Catholic running for US president in 1928, was called a "rum-soaked Romanist." His opponents circulated pictures of New York's Holland Tunnel with captions saying it was the beginning of a tunnel to the Vatican.

3. In the 1946 Georgia primary for governor, Eugene Talmadge appealed to white racists by hiring a look-alike of his opponent to ride around in a limousine with two cigar-puffing blacks in the backseat. It worked, but Talmadge died the night before his inauguration.

More to Come. That Mark Jacob is One Funny Guy. --Cooter

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lincoln at the Chicago Historical Museum

October 22nd Chicago Tribune by William Mullen.

The Chicago Historical Museum plans events and exhibits in honor of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday celebration next year even though he didn't spend a lot of time in the city.

According to Russell Lewis, the museum's chief historian, "He was a leading railway lawyer, and all railroads in those days went through Chicago so he had a lot of important business acquaintances here and a lot of political allies and supporters."

he was even a member of the museum, inducted as an honorary member in January 1861, five years after the museum's founding. After his death, some 1,500 Lincoln artifacts and documents ended up at the museum. Most of these are not on display, but, for the bicentennial, an effort will be made to get them out.

Some of the items are ballots from the Republican National Convention of 1860 in Chicago, campaign banners, his handwritten note to Stephen Douglas agreeing to the debates during his 1858 run at US senator.

The two most famous museum pieces are his death bed and carriage.

Zima, Falstaff, Brim, Burma Shave, and Underalls

What do these have in common? They were here and now they're gone, or almost gone.

ZIMA-- MillerCoors has announced they're pulling the plug. That's ok. I don't like it.

FALSTAFF BEER-- Falstaff Brewing Launched 1903. In 1960s, Falstaff was America's third largest brewer. Tapped out 2005. Don't remember drinking it, but probably did because it was cheap.

COLECOVISION-- Launched 1982. Gaming system discontinued 1984. Not a gamer.

BRIM-- Launched by General Foods in 1971. "Fill it to the rim with Brim." Overshadowed by Sanka. Pretty much gone. I don'tmuch like decaffeinated.

BURMA-SHAVE-- Launched 1925. Great billboards along roadsides until mid-sixties when Americans flocked to interstates. Owned by American Safety Razor today, but none made. I'd use it for the signs.

BURGER CHEF-- Launched 1954 in Indianapolis. Had first kids meal; Funmeal. By 1970, there were 2,400 of them. Mascots Burger Chef and Jeff. Last one closed in 1996. Hardee's acquired them in the 1980s. Don't remember ever eating at one.

UNDERALLS-- Launched by Haines in 1976. Combo of hose and panties. "Show us your Underalls." Oh Yeah!!

October 22nd Chicago Tribune. By Louis R. Carlozo.

Gone And Not Completely Forgotten. --Cooter

Illinois Site Attendance Related to Past Presidents

It is expected that sites associated with President-Elect Obama will have an increase in visitors.

Here are the 2007 numbers for other Illinois presidential-related sites.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN-- and they'll be even higher in 2009 as we celebrate his 200th birthday.

LINCOLN'S TOMB-- 339,073
LINCOLN HOME-- 369,747



From Nov. 6th Chicago Tribune

Presidents Are Big Tourist Draw. -Cooter

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bits O' History: WW II Remains Identified-- New Jersey WW II Monument-- Unknown WW I Group

1. WW II REMAINS IDENTIFIED-- The remains of Army Air Force Staff Sergeant Martin F. Troy have been identified and will be buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery November 20th. He was a native of Norwalk, Ct.

On June 30, 1944 he was in a B-24H Liberator in a bombing mission to the oil refinery in Blechammer, Germany when the plane was shot down by German aircraft and crashed into a swampy area near Nemevita, Hungary, beside Lake Balaton. Nov. 3rd NewsDay

2. NEW JERSEY WW II MONUMENT-- The New Jersey World War II Memorial will be dedicated November 11th in Trenton across from the State House. Yesterday, a 12 foot statue of "Lady Victory" was put in place on a five foot pedestal.

She holds a sword in her left hand and a wreath of peace in her right. Her left foot is on a German swastika flag and left on a Japanese Rising Sun flag. Nov. 3rd Real Time News.

3. UNKNOWN WW I GROUP-- Suffolk, England playwright Juliet Gilkes-Romero has a play called "At the Gates of Gaza" honoring the hundreds of Jamaicans and West Indian men who served in World War I in Palestine fighting the Turks under General Allenby.

Very little is known of these valiant soldiers.

Now, You Know. --Cooter

If Barns Are Your Thing

Here's a great site to visit, especially a good one for me since I not only like old wooden barns, but also live in McHenry County, Illinois.

We have a barn group called the McHenry County Historical Barn Preservation Association which is quite active in working to save McHenry's rapidly decreasing number of barns. They are falling into disrepair and also being torn down as more and more farms become subdivisions are commercial areas.

They've had five barn tours now, most recently last month where they visited eleven barns. There are lots of barn pictures in the gallery section.

As a matter of fact, today we are taking out boat to a barn west of Hebron for winter storage. One barn on our way to Woodstock on Ringwood Road is half fallen in and another on 120 was torn down. A great one with a boo face on the side was torn down or collapsed on Miller Road.

Great website at

The group was established in 1997.

Save That Old Barn!! --Cooter

Dead Page: Rockwell's Boy Scout-- Benihana Chain Founder


Died July 28th at age 82. He was the model for Norman Rockwell's Boy Scout paintings during WW II. He became an Eagle Scout at age 15. In Rockwell's 1944 painting, he was the teenager giving the Boy Scout Salute in "We, Too Have a Job to Do" urging the collection of rubber and growing victory gardens.


October 9, 1938- July 10, 2008

A former Japanese wrestler who founded the popular Benihana chain of Japanese steakhouses. He was also a thrill-seeker, offshore power boat racer, and inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1995.

He was born in Japan and moved to the US where he worked seven days a week on an ice cream truck he rented. He got an associate degree in restaurant management at NY City Community College.

In 1964 he used $10,000 that he save from his ice cream business and got his father to co invest in the first Benihana, a four-table place on West 56th Street.

Benihana is taken from the Japanese word for a safflower, suggested by his father who had seen one while walking through the bombed ruins of Tokyo at the end of WW II and came across a single safflower growing in the rubble.

Dead Page: Motown Songwriter and Producer


He didn't get all the publicity of Berry Gordy or Motown performers, but he was at the heat of many notable recordings like "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and most of the Temptations recordings.

Mr. Whitfield died September 18th. He won two Grammys during his career.

Most often he'd write with Barrett Strong and along with "Grapevine", wrote "Ain't Too proud to Beg" and "Just My Imagination."

He produced song like "Beauty is Only Skin Deep, "Ball of Confusion," "Cloud Nine," and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone."

One of the Greats.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

US WW II Tank Discovered in France

Back in June, a US tank from WW II was discovered under a street in a town in northern France. Bomb experts were brought in to check to see if there could be an explosion.

It is thought that the tank was part of the 31st Tank Battalion. Old-timers in Chartres, about 55 miles southwest of Paris remember that it broke down or ran out of gas. After France was liberated, it was pushed down a hole and covered. Several tanks have been found in such a way in France over the years.

Ten years ago, a British 27 ton Mark 4 WW I tank was found in Flesquires near the Belgium border. It had been abandoned at the Battle of Cambroi.

Anybody Want to Buy a Slightly Rusted and Used WW II Tank? --Cooter

HMAS Sydney-- The Mystery Man

In the last minutes of the battle with the Kormoran, a badly wounded Sydney crewman climbed into a life raft and drifted away from the burning ship. Weeks later, the body drifted up on Christmas Island and was buried.

People have long been wondering if he was from the Sydney and now they know he most-likely was. But, which of the 640 crewmen was he?

Navy forensic experts have narrowed his identity down to four possibilities. They have tracked down and obtained DNA samples from the families.

The body was recovered in October 2006. Little clothing remained, but there were button eyelets from WW II overalls. Samples were sent to the Australian War Memorial which discovered the threads had been white, the color worn by officers.

Dental records and bone structure had already narrowed the list of possible identities to just over 200 of the 645 crew members of the Sydney. But only twelve of that number would have worn white.

The Sydney Story Continues. --Cooter

An Election Story

This being election day 2008, there was an interesting story in today's Chicago Tribune about a photograph taken back in 1946.

During a 1946 voter registration drive, the mother of Charles Linn parked his stroller out in front of a sign reading " Don't Cry.. About Bad Government If You Don't Vote!! Register Now." And, as if on cue, or perhaps he missed his mother, Charles Linn started crying and the moment was captured by a Tribune photographer.

Now, how's that for being in the right place at the right time. The picture was published in the Tribune the next day, October 6, 1946.

Charles Linn was stricken by polio as a child, but didn't let that stop him. He went on to be a lawyer and active in many social causes before dying in 1998.

I guess today, if Linn's mother left him outside a store, she'd be arrested for child endangerment.

Hope this gets through to those who didn't register or who don't vote. I'm out of here in a few hours to vote myself. Pretty important election you might say.

A Trip Back. --Cooter

Monday, November 3, 2008

Still Hunting Down Nazis

The October 15th Chicago Tribune had an article about the state of the Nazi Hunt. The war ended over six decades ago, and like all people from that era, they are dying off of old age fast. But the German Office for the Investigation of "National Socialist Crimes, in charge of tracking the guilty ones down is far from shutting down. Actually, they are busier than ever.

Kurt Schrimm and his staff of six comb records from around the world in a final push for justice. Right now, they are pursuing 20 to 40 cases, including former US auto worker John Demjanjuk accused of being Nazi concentration camp guard Ivan the Terrible.

The office was established in 1958. A big problem today, is that the targets and witnesses are in their eighties and up, many have died, and others are too frail to stand trial. Most of today's leads come from documents as opposed to witnesses.


He has been fighting the Ivan the Terrible charges for 30 years now. After emigrating to the US in the 1950 Ukranian-born DemJamjuk worked at a Ford plant in Ohio and gained US citizenship.

In the 1970s, Holocaust survivors identified him as the feared Treblinka guard and he was extradited to Israel where, in 1988, he was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death. That was overturned in 1993 after judges ruled there was reasonable doubt.

DenJamjuk,88, is now living in Ohio and has had his US citizenship revoked and restored. Germany is trying to extradite him on charges that he also took part in the killings at Sobibor Death Camp in Poland.

"As Nazis age, leads still live" by Laurie Goering. Notice the name.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Little Hair of the Dog that Bit You-- Well Human Actually

It's a hair thing. Collecting hair has become a big business, and I'm not talking about just any old hair, but hair of the rich and famous.

John Reznikoff has a collectible shop in Westport, Ct, where he has a copy of the Declaration of Independence and Ernest Hemmingway's briefcase typewriter, but says his best piece is a $500,000 strand of Abraham Lincoln's hair. he says it was taken from Lincoln on his deathbed and the detritus is dried brain matter.

He also has strands of hair from George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Napoleon, Beethoven, and Chopin.


At the turn of the 20th Century, it was the hobby of a few dozen gentlemen, but, today, it is a multi-million dollar industry. It first took hold in the Victorian Era where admirors would ask for a lock of hair instead of an autograph.

Today, thousands clamor for Marilyn Monroe's hair (rare), Katherine Hepburn (rarer) and Elvis Presley (rarest).

Now, with DNA, the lives of celebrities are open to investigation. In October, one collector spent $119,000 for Che Guevera's hair. Babe Ruth's hair went for $38,000 and John Lennon's for $48,000/

There are Big Bucks in Hair, Indeed.


Some of his specimens are John Wilkes Booth, John Dillinger, and recently, Eva Braun's. Most of his archive came from the Margaretta Pierrepont collection. She was the wife of President US Grant's attorney general. Reznikoff purchased the 60 locks for about $100,000.

July 31st Chicago Tribune. By Jerry Guo, New York Times NewsService.

She Asked Me Why, Why I'm a Hairy Guy. For the Money Says I. --Cooter

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Drive-Ins on a Rebound?

This year, the venerable American institution called drive-ins celebrated its 75th anniversary. However, they face a dismal future with encroaching suburban sprawl, VCRs, and DVDs. Yet, in Charleston, Illinois, there is going to be a new drive-in opened this year by Mark and Carl McSparin.


Drive-ins started as an experiment by Richard M. Hollingshead in Riverton, NJ, around 1930. He placed a Kodak projector on the hood of the family car and nailed a screen to a tree.

By June 6, 1933, he had gotten partners and opened the "Drive-In Theatre" in Camden, NJ. "Wives Beware," was the first film with tickets selling at 25 cents apiece.

By the end of the thirties, there were about 20 drive-ins. By 1949, the number stood at 820. Returning GIs were looking for affordable family entertainment. The 1950s are regarded as the golden age of the drive-in. Most historians regard 1958 as the high point with 4,063 around the US.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the number remained around 4,000. Original owners began retiring and theaters had problems getting first-run movies. The biggest wallop came from the growth of VCRs, cable TV, and indoor multiplexes. By 1990, the number was down to below 1000. In 1999 the number stood at 447 and today is 383.


That number is stabilizing. People are returning to the drive-ins. Partly because of the low price which will often get you a twin feature of current movies. Also. many return for the nostalgia and want their kids to experience it.

Illinois has a dozen, including the McHenry Outdoor Theater, about six miles from my house. Plus, there is a fairly new one a few miles off Route 66 in Springfield, Illinois, and the Skyview in Litchfield, an original one.

Every year, I go to a nearby Dog 'N Suds and then to the Drive-in for a Retro Night. This last year it cost $7 to see two first-run movies. Not a bad deal, but getting a bit too late for these tired old bones.

Glad to See Drive-Ins on the Rebound. --Da Coot

June 8th Chicago Tribune "Drive-ins find hope in twilight years" by Ted Gregory.

Bits O' History: --Maxwell Street Market On the Move Again-- Old Ship Found-- Blackbeard's Cannon

Some New News About Old Stuff.

1. MAXWELL STREET MARKET ON THE MOVE AGAIN-- The September 8th Chicago Tribune reports that Chicago's famous Maxwell Street Market is on the move again. This past September, vendors sold on Canal Street for the last time and then moved a few blocks away to Desplaines Street.

It was on Maxwell Street for 120 years. In 1994, it moved to Canal Street because of University of Illinois at Chicago's expansion.

What would the Blues Brothers think?

2. OLD SHIP FOUND-- UPI October 30-- A ship that sank in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana sometime between 1808 and 1820 has been discovered to have a vast amount of weapons on board.

The so-called Mardi Gras wreck was found in 2002, but only recently has been filmed by remote vehicles and it appears that it was up to questionable activity.

3. BLACKBEARD'S CANNON-- Greenville, NC's Eyewitness News reports that another cannon has been recovered from what is believed to be Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge which ran aground at Beaufort Inlet in 1717.

Twelve cannons have been raised so far. This one will be brought to a conservation center in Greenville and will undergo a year of work before being returned to the Beaufort Maritime Museum.

Now, You Know. --Old Coot

San Francisco's "Vertigo"

The October 3rd USA Today had an article by Laura Bly about the role the city of San Francisco played in the Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" which premiered 50 years ago.

The movie starred Jimmy Stweart as a detective afraid of heights and Kim Novak who played two roles. Various places around the city also had starring roles.

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, where the portrait was, Fort Point National Historic Site where Kim Novak jumped into the bay with the Golden Gate Bridge above are still there. But, you can't get to the exact spot because of 9-11 security measures.

Other sites are gone including Ernie's Restaurant where the duo first met. The York Hotel (Empire Hotel) in the movie is being restored at the Vertigo Hotel with motto "Equilibrium is Overrated" with free "Vertigo" movies.

Two hours south of San Francisco is San Juan Bautista, the largest of California's 21 missions, which was the setting for the film's finale. The church is there, but the tall tower never existed and was built in a studio.

I always find the filming of a movie almost as interesting as the movie itself.

Oops, That Looks a Little High to Me. --Cooter