Thursday, April 30, 2009

Interesting Happenings April 29th and 30th

I now get on my home page and the last two days there have been some interesting happenings.

APRIL 29th-- In 1852, Peter Mark Roget, a doctor (physician) and philologist (lexigrapher) published his thesaurus.

Earlier, he had invented (devised) a forerunner (percursor) of the sliderule.

The word thesaurus comes from the Greek and Latin word for treasury (storehouse).

I like the way Answers gave the words with alternative words. Good sense of humor, folks!!

APRIL 30th-- Truley a day for inventions here in the US. Pencil sharpeners (electric I figure), television, FM radio (YEAH!!!), typewriters (again, probably electric), and new streetlight technologies were introduced at the 1939 New York World's Fair which opened on this date.

The General Motors (broke) Futurama Exhibit was especially popular. FDR became the first US president on TV and Walt Disney based his Disneyland on the fair.

What's in a Date? --Da Coot

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

History and Cruising-- Part 2

Still in Indianapolis on the 24th.

Next we stopped at a marker to show where US-421 (from Michigan City, Indiana, and Wilmington, NC) intersected.

We then drove the National Road/US-40 eastward to Ohio. We stopped in Knightstown, Indiana, and went into the high school gym where the movie "Hoosiers" was filmed. It is open to the public and no one was there. Pat nailed all sorts of baskets while I managed 100% air balls. Never was any good at b-ball. Guess I'll have to re-watch the movie now. Saw that Kent and Sue from St. Louis had been there before us.

Drove by the Madonna of the Trail in Richmond, to the Golden Inn right across the state line in New Paris, Ohio, where we spent the night and met up with the rest of the cruisin' crew.

This is a true 50s roadside motel, reasonable, clean, and operated by a husband-wife team. I highly recommend it. I drove back into Richmond and played NTN at BW3 and talked with a guy who was running a dog show on Saturday. Later that night, the motel "went to the dogs" as a lot of folks in the dog show stayed there.

We drove a mile or so north and had some really fine bbq at Baumbach's. Outstanding pulled pork and not only did they have a baked sweet potato for a side, but sweet potato fries as well. I got both. I also liked their jalapeno jelly (sounds bad, but it is really good. And I ESPECIALLY liked their $1 bottles of Dixie Beer, always the beer of the house.

The place is fairly new, but who needs history with food like that!!

Back to the Golden Inn and had a roadie gabfest out by Denny's room. This is one of my favorite parts of any cruise, just sitting there drinking and talking with like-minded folk.

Cruisin' the National, Joe's, Pennsylvania House Coming. --Cooter

First Hundred Days of Presidency-- Part 4

Today marks the 100th day of Obama's presidency. Continuing with the Chicago Tribune's First Hundred Days graphic by Adam Zoll and David Ingold.

DWIGHT EISENHOWER-- 1952 election-- 83rd Congress House 213 Dem. 221 Rep, Senate 47 Dem. 48 Rep.-- Electoral College 442-89, Margin victory 11%. Carried all but South.

KOREAN WAR-- One month into administration, makes good on campaign promise to go to Korea to help end war. It will be several more months before armistice signed July 27.

JOHN KENNEDY-- 1960 election Electoral votes 303-219. Margin of victory 0%. 87th Congress-- House 263 Dem. 174 Rep., Senate 64 Dem. 36 Rep..

PEACE CORPS-- March 1-- issues Executive Order creating agency to send Americans to poor countries to help improve living standards and promote friendlier relations.

BAY OF PIGS-- April 17-19-- Group of 1400 US backed Cuban exiles land in Cuba in attempt to overthrow its Communist government. Total disaster.

LYNDON JOHNSON-- 88th Congress-- House 259 Dem. 176 Rep., Senate 66 Dem. 34 Rep.

THE GREAT SOCIETY-- First State of the Union Address (Jan. 8, 1964), urges Congress to help him build liberal social policies on issues such as civil rights and poverty.

Let's See How Well Obama Did? --Cooter

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

History and Cruising

I just returned from a five day cruise to Ohio and back. It was in conjunction with a Midwest get-together of American Road Magazine Forum members. Not only was this quite a bit of history and road history in particular, but some unique and great eating was involved and there were 20 NTN sites of which 18 were new to me.

A short summary of the trip.

THURSDAY-- April 23rd-- I needed to be in Indianapolis Friday morning which made it necessary to leave the day before. I went to seven NTN places in Indiana ( 1 in Lafayette, 1 in Lebanon, and five around Indianapolis.

FRIDAY-- Apreil 24th-- Met two other roadfolk, Pat and Jennifer, at Charlie Brown's Pancakes in Speedway and then went on a tour of both the speedway and museum of the Indianapolis 500, saw the graves of Benjamin Harrison, John Dillinger, Richard Gatling, and Carl Fisher at the Crown Hill Cemetery, and drove around downtown Indianapolis, seeing the Soldier and Sailors Monument and the athletic venues.

More to Come. --Cooter

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Fifth USS Missouri to Be Launched

The $2 billion nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN-780) is being put together in Groton, Ct, and will be christened later this year. It is the fifth ship to bear the name, including the last battleship built in the US, where the Japanese surrender was signed ending World War II. Presently, it is a museum ship in Pearl Harbor, tied up several hundred yards from the USS Arizona. In a short space, you have where World War II began for the US and where it ended.

It is a Virginia-class submarine and plans eventually call for 30 of them. Armament includes torpedoes and Tomahawk missiles.

Right now, it is in nine sections and will be slightly longer than a football field. It will be 377 feet long, 34 feet wide and can dive to depths of up to 800 feet. The crew will consist of 134 enlisted and 14 officers. To the top of the tower, it is six stories.

Of interest, the Hermann, Missouri-based Stone Hill Winery which made the wine used to christen the 1901 USS Missouri, has offered to do the same. Now, that's a bit of history.

Getting Stronger Every Day. --Cooter

Thursday, April 23, 2009

First Hundred Days of Presidency-- Part 3


Succeeded Roosevelt April 12, 1945. 79th Congress: House Democrats led 242-191, Senate Democrats led 57-38

First 100 days events:

SURRENDER OF GERMANY-- (May 7)-- Twenty-five days after Roosevelt's death, Germany surrenders to Allied forces, ending the War in Europe. VE Day.

A-BOMB TEST-- (July 16)-- US secretly detonates the first atom bomb in Alamogordo, NM.

POTSDAM CONFERENCE-- (July 17-August 2)-- Truman, Churchill and Stalin meet in Potsdam, Germany, to establish terms for the demilitarization and division of Germany. They also call for Japan's unconditional surrender.

Next, Dwight D. Eisenhower. --Cooter

97th Anniversary of Titanic Sinking

The 97th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic came and went with little note anywhere.

The April 19th Flashback page by Nancy Watkins in the Chicago Tribune Magazine had a very interesting and little-known story about one Chicago mother and daughter who were aboard the Titanic. Their story also involves an equally sad event in Chicago, the 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire.

Ida Hippach, wife of Chicago plate glass industrialist Louis Hippach, and her daughter Jean, 19, were returning from a trip to Europe where she had been trying to regain her health which hadn't been the same since two of her sons, Archie, 12, and Robert, 14, had died in the tragic Iroquois Theatre Fire nine years earlier.

On April 12, 1912, they were aboard the ill-fated ship and had to be coaxed upon a lifeboat by John Jacob Astor. They survived, but two years later, son Howard was killed in a car crash.

Nancy Watkins then always has some interesting facts to go along with the story and old photo (of Ida, daughter Jean, and son Howard taken some time before the Titanic sank).

35-- Estimated number of Titanic passengers bound for the Chicago area.

$6,600-- fares for each of the Hippachs in 2008 dollars.

$50,000-- Winning bid in 1998 for Titanic scrapbook kept by Chicagoan Frank Blackmarr, a passenger on the Carpathia rescue ship. (Who says scrapbooks are a waste on time and effort?)

28-- Days after the Titanic's sinking that Collapsable Lifeboat A was found adrift about 200 miles away with three bodies on board.

There is a fascinating and huge web site devoted to all things Titanic at

Where Does Nancy Watkins get All This Interesting Stuff? --Cooter

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First Hundred Days of Presidency-- Part 2

Continuing with FDR. His first 100 days were no doubt the busiest of any president.

Still working with the agencies he and Congress created.

FERA-- Federal Emergency relief Administration-- Provided states with funding to help the needy.

NRA-- National Recovery Administration-- Enforced fair business practices, including establishing a minimum wage, maximum hours and worker right to join unions.

PWA-- Public Works Administration-- Built dams, schools, bridges, and other projects.

TVA-- Tennessee Valley Authority-- built dams to combat flooding and provide electricity to the Tennessee River Valley.

Also, Fireside Chats starting March 12th. FDR delivers the first of many regular radio messages on his plans to address the country's problems.

Now, this was one busy president in those hundred days. And, that is not to mention the WPA and Social Security which came later. I imagine the public was pretty-well lettered to death with all those administrations and such: AAA, CCC, FERA, NRA, PWA, and TVA.

Quite the President. --Cooter

Doolittle Reunion: Toast to the Recent Dead-- Air Force Cadets--

More reports from last weekend's 67th Reunion in Columbia, South Carolina. From the Columbia State newspaper.

1. TOAST TO THE RECENT DEAD-- Raiders Davy Jones and Master Sgt. Ed Horton, Jr, who died last year, were toasted by the four Raiders who were able to come. These were drunk from silver goblets donated by the City of Tucson in 1959. I've read that either four or five of the nine surviving Raiders attended.

2. AIR FORCE CADETS-- The goblets are always guarded by at least two Air Force Academy cadets. This year, it was even more special because the granddaughter of the late Raider Carl Wildner, navigator of Plane No. 2, Megahan Wildner, was one of those cadets.

3. WILL CONTINUE-- The children and grandchildren say they will continue with the reunions once the Raiders are all deceased. They will continue to meet on or about April 18th each year. April 18, 1942, was the day of the raid.

What an Accomplishment. This Was Huge for the American Morale, Coming So Soon After Pearl Harbor. Not to Mention the Blow to the Japanese Morale. --Cooter

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First Hundred Days of Presidency

April 29th will mark the 100th day of President Obama's administration. Historians usually say that the first hundred days are key to what the president will be able to accomplish.

The January 27th Chicago Tribune ran an article recounting the first hundred days of the FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations, compiled by Adam Zoll and David Ingold.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the 1932 election carried the whole US except for Pennsylvania and a some of New England. He won the electoral college 472-59 and had an 18% margin of victory in the popular vote.

The 73rd Congress had a 313-117 Democrat majority in the House of Representatives and 59-36 Democratic majority in the Senate.


BANK HOLIDAY-- March 6th-- All US banks closed so US Treasury can determine financial health. Those reopening are seen as solid, restoring public confidence in them.

NEW DEAL-- March 9th to June 16th-- Congress passes a series of recovery measures, creating the following agencies:

AAA-- Agricultural Adjustment Administration-- Limited farm production to raise prices.

CCC-- Civilian Conservation Corps-- Put the unemployed to work on conservation projects.

More to Come. --Cooter

Thousands Honor 5 of 9 Surviving Doolittle Raiders

The April 20th Air Force Link had an article about the April 16-18th 67th Doolittle's Raid Reunion held in Columbia, SC. Five of the nine surviving members attended.

There was a picture of Thomas Griffin, the navigator of Plane No. 8 signing autographs. In 1943, he was shot down over Germany, captured, and held prisoner until April 1945. So, this would be another anniversary for him as well.

A visible reminder of the flight deck of the USS Hornet was painted on the runway at the airport and, at least two of the Raiders went up in planes. Retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, who was Doolittle's co-pilot in Plane No. 1 flew a B-25 for a short while.

Raiders who attended:

Richard E. Cole of Comfort, Texas
Lt. Col. Edward Saylor
Thomas Griffin of Cincinnati, Ohio
Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite of Nashville, Tennessee
Staff-Sgt. David J. Thatcher of Missoula, Montana

The Doolittle Crest "Toujours an Danger", "Always into Danger" was passed on to the airmen of the 34th Bomb Squadron flagship B-1.

About 40 Raider children and grandchildren also attended. There have been Reunions every year but two since 1946. A great tradition to carry on.

The Greatest Generation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

USS Curtiss AV-4

Yesterday, I wrote about Pearl Harbor veteran Joseph Thornton, 86, who died in January and is going to have his ashes spread over Pearl Harbor.

The ship he served on, the USS Curtiss was quite active in the attack on Pearl Harbor and shot down several Japanese planes and engaged a minisub.

The ship's crew was also involved in the atomic blasts at the Bikini Atoll after the war, earning Thornton and crew mates the name Atomic Veterans.

The Curtiss was a new (launched 1940) sea plane tender and got underway quickly once the attack began and began firing at the attackers. At 0836, the Curtiss spotted a periscope in the harbor and opened fire. A torpedo barely missed it and four minutes later, the submarine surfaced and dived. The destroyer USS Monagham then engaged it with depth charges.

At 0905, gunfire from the Curtiss hit a Japanese plane and it crashed into No. 1 crane and burned. Three minutes later, they shot another one down. Then, a dive bomber approached, and dropped a bomb which crashed through the deck near No. 1 crane and exploded below deck, causing a fire, then, the plane crashed into the water.

The Curtiss lost 19 men that day.

A Valiant Ship and Crew.

Doolittle's Raiders Come to South Carolina

The Columbia (SC) State newspaper has been running articles on the Reunion of the Doolittle Raiders that took place this last weekend in that city. This is from April 12th.

One older resident who goes by the e-mail name rcorbitt, made a comment of interest that occurred when he was young and saw history taking place, but didn't realize it.

As a child, he lived near the Columbia Army Air Base in West Columbia, and he and his buddies would ride their bikes to the woods across from the base and "watch the planes land and take off. I remember watching the B-25s setting at the end of the runway one at a time and would rev up the engines so loud it was deafening and then all of a sudden they would go down the runway for a short distance and then go almost straight up into the air. Little did we know they were practicing taking off from an aircraft carrier."

The Raiders did some of their early training for the attack in Columbia.

Now, That's Some History to See. --Cooter

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pearl Harbor Survivor Honored

At age 19, 19-year-old mess cook Joseph Thornton was on board the USS Curtiss, a new seaplane tender in Pearl Harbor that fateful December morning when the Japanese attacked.

He helped load the 50-caliber machine guns, but never forgot the chaos.

He died in January, and now, his ashes will be spread across the harbor near his battle station. His passing leaves 44 remaining Pearl Harbor Survivor Association members in Massachusetts. About 3,900 remain across the whole country.

His grand daughters will spread the ashes from Ford Island and a Navy Honor Guard will fire a 3-volley salute. A US flag that flew over the USS Utah Memorial will be presented to his family.

Mr. Thornton said that about twenty men died when a Japanese plane crashed into the Curtiss about 30 feet from where he stood.

He also was witness to the US Bikini Island atomic tests.

The Greatest Generation.

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's Still a Lincoln Thing

I see that visitors to Springfield, Illinois, this summer will be seeing three foot high stovepipe hats all over the place. The fiberglass creations will be decorated by artists. Sort of like a Chicago "Cows on Parade" only for hats.

What will happen when the rappers and hoppers stop wearing those funny-looking straight-bill baseball hats and adopt the Lincoln Look?

ALSO, I see where a collection of some 10,000 stamps bearing Lincoln's likeness are being put up at auction in New York City today.

It was put together by Lincoln admirer William J. Ainsworth of Roswell, Georgia who says it is time to pass it on and has an estimate worth of $2 million.

Some of the stamps date back to the 1860s and all are from the US are former possessions.

It's a Lincoln Thing, You Wouldn't Understand. --Da Coot

Famous Misquotes-- Part 3

Finishing up with List Universe's March 9th list of top fifteen military and political misquotes. I found this to be very interesting. Thanks.

#5. EDMUND BURKE-- "It is necessary only for good men to do nothing for evil to triumph." This never appears in any of his writings.

#4. PLATO-- "Only the dead have seen the end of war." Douglas MacArthur gave a speech and attributed it to Plato when George Santayana actually wrote it.

#3. OTTO VON BISMARCK-- "To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making." The 1869 Daily Cleveland Herald reported that Godfrey Saxe said, "Laws, like sausage, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made."

#2. ANDREW JACKSON-- "To the victors belong the spoils." Even though he definitely agreed with it. Actually, this was said by an ally of New York Governor William marcy in 1928, telling how Jackson would dole out appointments and jobs.

#1. ADMIRAL ISOROKU YAMAMOTO-- "I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant." Actually, it was from the screenwriters of the 1970 movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" The admiral definitely believed Japan could not win a long war with the US.

In 1942, he did write: "A military man can scarcely pride himself on having smitten a sleeping enemy; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack."

Made You Think. --Da Coot

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Doolittle's Raiders South Carolina Connection

Three of the Doolittle Raiders had SC connections.

HORACE "SALLY" CROUCH-- navigator, bombardier, and gunner, in Plane No. 10. A Citadel graduate from Columbia. No. 10 sustained the most damage of all 16. retired as a Lt. Col. in 1962.

NOLAN HERNDON-- navigator, bombardier and gunner in Plane No. 8. Attended Texas A & M for two years before joining the military in 1940. On the only one of the 16 planes to land in the Soviet Union rather than China where he a and four crew mates were held prisoners for a year.

As the last surviving member of #10, he caused controversy in 2002 when he said they were also on a secret mission to test the Soviets' commitment to the Allied cause. The US military has never confirmed or denied this.

After the war, he raised cattle and ran a wholesale grocery business in SC and married the sister of Horace Crouch.

WILLIAM "BILLY" FARROW-- from Darlington. Pilot of Plane No. 16. One of eight raiders captured by the Japanese in China. He was tortured for 6 months and executed at age 25 with two other Raiders. When news of his death reached the US, his "Rules of Life" written while a student at the University of South Carolina was touted by FDR as an example for the country. I wasn't able to find anything about his rules, however.

Heroes All. --Cooter

HMAS Sydney-- Survivors Not Machine-Gunned

The March 16th West Australian reports that a life raft found in the vicinity of where the Sysney sank Nov. 28, 1941 with 339 holes in it, was not the result of machine gun fire from the Kormoran.

Evidently, this canvas Carley Float is still around, as the story seemed to indicate that the analysis was just recently made, but it might have been made at the time.

Either way, the low angle of trajectory rules out fire from the Kormoran which would have been at a bigger angle. It is thought the holes were made by shrapnel during the battle and not afterward.

And the Mystery Will Forever Continue. But, At Least Now, the Final Resting Place is Known. --Cooter

AHS Centaur

From Yahoo 7 News April 7th.

When the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur sank, only 64 of the 268 aboard survived. Of the survivors, only three are still alive. Martin Pask, 87, is one of them.

He was interviewed and this is what he had to say. It is a bit confusing though, but a first-hand account nonetheless.

"I was the last one out of the quarters and I got sucked back into the ship's hull. We tried to keep the lifeboats away and couldn't get them away. I left and I said, 'grab something safe until the ship's gone under' and I left and went up to grab the rail on the side of the ship, and before I had the chance to do it, the suction took me down number one hatch. And with the lights on the red crosses illuminating the water, I found my way out from there."

There have been a number of false findings of the wreck over the years. Richard Jones lost an uncle. Jan Thomas lost her father, a doctor.

A search for the wreck is now underway.

First the Sydney, and Now the Centaur. --Cooter

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Doolittle Reunion In Columbia, SC, This Weekend

Big celebrations were held here on the 50th and 60th anniversaries, but this one will be more laid-back.

Nine of the 80 Raiders are still alive and six are planning on attending. Eleven of them were captured or killed after the attack. Fourteen complete crews were able to make it back to American lines.

Columbia's connection to the raid was that they did some of their initial training at the Lexington County Army Air Force Base in Columbia.

I went to Wikipedia and found the names of some of the 16 planes that took part:

Whiskey Pete, The Green Hornet, The Ruptured Duck (Good one), Whirling Dervish, Hari-Kari-er (especially appropriate), Fickle Finger of Fate, The Avenger, TNT, and Bat Out of Hell.

I wonder if the others had names?

A Salute to a Great Bunch of Guys!! --Cooter

Famous Misquotes-- Part 2

Continuing with March 9th's List Serve's 15 famous misquotes.

10. THOMAS JEFFERSON-- "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance." He probably said it, but it was essentially said before. It was originally said by Irish judge John Philpot Curran: "The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance."

9. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN-- Even more true today. "Nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes." In 1724, Edward Ward wrote, "Death and taxes, they are certain." In 1716, Christopher Bullock wrote, "Tis impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes."

8. HARRY TRUMAN-- "The buck stops here." Got it from a 1945 gift from El Reno, Oklahoma bearing those words. A Yale historian discovered an El Reno newspaper photo from 1942 that shows the phrase on the desk of a colonel at the federal Reformatory in El Reno where the gift came from.

7. WILLIAM PRESCOTT-- "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes. Then fire low." 1775 at Bunker Hill. Frederick the Great said it in 1755 during the Seven years War.

6. CHIEF SEATTLE-- "How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land." These are the opening and closing lines of a very long speech. However, it was written in 1971 for an ecological movie.

A Word, A Word, My Kingdom for a Word. --Da Coot

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bits O' History: War Horses-- Trail of Tears-- Home Plaqued

Some New News About Old Stuff.

1. WAR HORSES-- Bloomberg USA reports the opening in England of a popular show starring a puppet horse operated by three people. During World War I, more than one million British horses served and only 62,000 returned. Easy targets for those German machine guns.

2. TRAIL OF TEARS-- President Obama has signed into law a bill expanding the Trail of Tears 2,845 more miles, more than doubling the size of it. The Omnibus Public Lands Act bill was signed March 30th. The Trail of Tears was the forced removal of southeastern Indians to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in the 1800s.

The Trail was established by Congress in 1987 and is now in the states of NC, Ga, Tn, Al, Ky, Il, Mo, Ark, and Oklahoma. New trail mileage was added in every state but Illinois.

3. HOME PLAQUED-- The Northwest News reports that the Edward H. Cooke home in Huntley, Illinois, was plaqued at 10813 Woodstock Street in that northwest suburban town.

It was built during Illinois' "Guilded Age" in 1898, by Edward H. Cooke who was born in 1863 in Franklinville, Illinois. He was known around Huntley as Uncle Ed and was postmaster, druggist, farm auctioneer, banker, race horse owner, undertaker and county coroner. he and his brother opened a bank and drugstore downtown. A man of many talents.

It is owned by Todd and Claire Rutkowski and is in excellent shape.

Now, You Know. --Cooter

We Need a World War I National Memorial in DC

Pamela Wills makes a very good point saying that we need a National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC, preferably somewhere on the mall. At present, there is a World War I memorial there, but it is for the DC veterans of the war. We need one for ALL of these heroes.

The one that exists is for the 499 residents of the District of Columbia and is largely obscured and in need of renovation. It was dedicated November 11, 1931 by President Herbert Hoover and is an open air Doric column edifice 40 feet in diameter.

Representative Ted Poe, (D-Texas) has introduced the Frank Buckles World War I Memorial Act to renovate the DC memorial and to rededicate it 2018 as a national shrine, the 100th anniversary of the end of the war.

My own belief is that another site be found for a much larger memorial and this bill should be pushed through while Mr. Buckles, our last-surviving World War I veteran is still alive, which, unfortunately, won't be much longer.

After all, Korea, Vietnam and World War II already have their memorials.

Let's Do the Right Thing.

White House Gone to the...Dogs, Cats, Ponies, and Cows

Well, one cow.

The Obamas new pet dog, Bo, is one neat looking Portuguese Water Dog that he got as a gift from Senator Kennedy. Hopefully, with a name like water dog, it can swim.

Anyway, the Chicago Tribune internet had photos of other presidential pooches and pets.

Going back to Teddy Roosevelt First Family and pet name:

George W. Bush-- Barney (the biter) and Spot
Clintons-- Buddy and Socks the cat (I see Socks just died)
George H.W. Bush-- Millie (my favorite White House dog)
Reagans- Rex
Carters-- Grits
Fords-- Liberty
Nixons-- King Timahoe, Pasha, Vickie and Checkers while VP
Johnsons-- Blanco and two beagles: Him and Her (ear-pulling)
Kennedys-- Caroline had two ponies: Macaroni and Tex
FDR-- Fala
Hoovers-- King Tut
Coolidges-- Rob Roy
Hardings-- Laddie Boy
Tafts-- a pet cow
Teddy Roosevelts-- pony Algonquin

Here Spot! --Cooter

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Dirt on Baseball

This being the start of baseball season, I have a baseball story on the dirt on baseballs. The Sox are now 3-3 after beating those dastardly Twins twice in a row. Sure hate to see Joe Crede in that uniform.

They are now leaving Comiskey (I don't call it that other name) and hitting the road for ten games.


Before every game, a time-honored tradition takes place deep in the bowels of every major league stadium. Batboys rub brown gunk on dozens of new baseballs and then toweling them off once the gunk dries. Only then can they be used in a game.

Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud has been used for over 70 years after a wild pitch killed a batter in 1920 and it was decided something needed to be put on baseballs to allow the pitcher to get a better grip.

Shoe polish and tobacco juice was used, but didn't work that well.

However, a feldspar-rich clay was found in a New Jersey swamp by player and coach R. A. "Lena" Blackburne. Used since 1938, it made the baseball Hall of Fame in 1968.

The company has six harvests a year from two 'secret holes." They filter out debris and add a special ingredient for extra grip. The three-pound vats are then aged for six weeks and then two are sent to each team, enough for a season.

From National Geographic

So, Perhaps That is Where the Term "Mudville" Comes From. --Da Coot

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Add This to Your Lincoln Tour

This being the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, many, including myself, are going to be out retracing his life.

The September 21, 2008, Chicago Tribune Travel Section had an article about a little-known Lincoln site in Rock Island, Illinois, that helped seal his stature as a lawyer.

There were no bridges across the Mississippi River until 1856 when the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad spanned the river between Rock Island and Davenport, Iowa, which greatly upset the steamboat companies.

Just 15 days after the opening, the steamer Effie Afton crashed into it, causing afire that destroyed both the boat and bridge. The steamboat operators sued the railroad, claiming that the bridge was an impediment to boat traffic.

The bridge and railroad owners got Lincoln to defend them in court. (Lincoln was noted for his work with the railroads.) The trial ended with a hung jury and viewed as a victory for Lincoln and the railroads.

There is a historical marker along Davenport's River Drive (by 3rd Street) which marks the western end of the bridge. There are now more than a dozen bridges in the area. The story of the bridges can be viewed at the new Centennial Bridge Center at 201 15th Street in downtown Rock Island, Illinois.

Lincoln Must Have Slept Here, Too. --Cooter

Dead Page: Tuskegee Airman/Judge-- Chicago Architect/Bridge Too Far


Judge, Former Tuskegee Airman

Died Feb. 15th at age 90. Defense attorney and Cook County Circuit Court judge for 28 years. Born in Mississippi, moved to Chicago where he graduated from Tilden High School and received undergraduate degree from U of I.

During World War II, he was an artillery officer in the famed Tuskegee Airmen, fighting in Italy and later joined the National Guard where he became a lieutenant-colonel.

JOHN A. HOLABIRD, JR. 1920-2009

Chicago Architect in Historic Firm/At "Bridge Too Far"

Holabird & Root founded by grandfather in 1880, shaped city

From family dynasty of architects who designed and built early skyscrapers and the art deco Chicago Board of Trade. Died Feb. 16th at age 88.

His grandfather, William Holabird, established the firm in 1880 and led the way in the construction of tall buildings with steel girders instead of load-bearing exterior walls. Built the Marquette Building at 140 S. Dearborn. The firm later designed the art deco Palmolive Building and Chicago Board of Trade.

During World War II, John served in World War II in the paratroops and received a Silver Star in the action made famous by the movie "A Bridge Too Far" when he and others paddled across a river to reach it.

He contributed to the design of the Ravinia Festival main pavilion.

From the Feb. 18th Chicago Tribune. Trevor Jensen and Blair Kamin

The Greatest Generation.

Going Back to April 1968

Some top twenty songs that Bob Stroud did not play last Sunday to complete your 1968 experience. To see what he did play for April 5, 1968, go to

YOUNG GIRL-- UNION GAP-- Talk about your soaring solos!!
HONEY-- BOBBY GOLDSBORO-- If there ever was a GAG song, thi's be it.

LOVE IS BLUE-- PAUL MAURIAT-- Almost as GAG as Bobby.
COWBOYS TO GIRLS-- INTRUDERS-- Sure liked this one.

PLAYBOY-- GENE AND DEBBE-- Never heard of this one, however.

TOP TWENTY UK CHARTS (Again, those not played by Stroud.)

#1 for the month was "CONGRATULATIONS" by Cliff Richard, who never made the mark on American charts that he did in England.

DELILAH-- TOM JONES-- Second favorite TJ song behind that dirty 'ol "What's New Pussycat?" Also liked "She's a Lady."
IF I WERE A CARPENTER-- FOUR TOPS-- Move over Bobby Darrin. Done souls style.

JENNIFER ECCLES-- HOLLIES-- One of my favorite Hollies songs.


## Archie Bell was still in the army when he first cut "Tighten Up" back in 1964. This was originally recorded as a throw-away instrumental.

# Pink Floyd, T-Rex, and Jethro Tull appeared at the first free concert at London's Hyde Park.

I Could Actually Afford Gas Back Then on My $1 an Hour at Burger King. --RoadDog

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bits O' History: WW II Vets-- LST-325 Cometh-- War Brides-- Bomb Shelter Found

Some New News About Old Stuff.

1. WW II VETS-- The life expectancy of an American male is 74.4 years. The youngest WW II vets are 79. The Greatest generation is dying at the rate if 1200 a day. Sad statistic.

2. LST-325 COMETH-- The 1942 Landing Ship Tank, will be leaving its home base in Eavansville, Indiana and visiting Jeffersonville, Kentucky to coincide with the American Legion's convention in Louisville August 21-30. LSTs could carry 20 Sherman tanks and 300 soldiers.

3. WAR BRIDES-- One thing I'd never heard about was the World War II War Brides Association. There is a newly-formed Northeast Florida chapter. Nationwide, the group had 535 members from 22 countries. I remember meeting a waitress at Balyeat's in Van Wert, Ohio, who was a war bride.

These war brides were foreign women who married American service men during the war.

4. BOMB SHELTER FOUND-- Construction workers destroying a factory complex in Rochdale, UK found a two-man bomb shelter. many of these were installed in public places and underground station around England during World War II. Plans call for relocating it to a museum somewhere.

Now, You Know. --Cooter

Eggsteresting Stuff in Other Blog

This being a season of eggs, I listed ten things you didn't know about eggs in my Down Da Road I Go blog. These were from the April 5th Chicago Tribune.

What do Michael Jordan, Woodrow Wilson, the Beatles, numbers racket, golf, Benedict, Joseph Coyle, and kiwis have to do with eggs.

Plus, I see, they have discovered an actual egg shell collected by Charles Darwin during his Pacific voyage that led to his discovery of natural selection. Unfortunately, somebody cracked it or, perhaps it fell off a wall.

Eggactly. --Da Coot

Centaur Search Getting Underway

The April 6th Australian Courier-Mail, reported that David Mearms will head the search for the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur. He was the one who headed up the successful operations to locate the HMAS Sydney and German raider Kormoran last year.

Mearms told government officials and Centaur stakeholders that the final recorded bearing of the Centaur's navigator Gordon Rippon will determine the search area.

The Centaur was brightly lit and identified as a hospital ship, but was still torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sank within minutes. Shortly before the torpedo hit, Rippon took a bearing 23 nautical miles e-ne of Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island.

Rippon was one of only 64 survivors and continued his naval career during and after the war.

In the 1970s, the Japanese admitted that submarine I-177 sank the Centaur. Mearms will be examining Japanese archives for a few moths before actual operations begin.

The Centaur is believed to be in 2000 meters of water on the continental slope. Look-but-don't-touch rules will be in effect for the expedition. The expedition won't attempt to solve the continuing rumor that the Centaur was carrying war munitions.

Sure Hope They Discover the Ship. --Cooter

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dead Page: World War II Medal of Honor Winner

And, what a story!!! I was just going to mention it, but the story was just too interesting not to tell.


World War II Medal of Honor Winner

Russell Dunham died in Godfrey, Illinois. On January 8, 1945, he single-handedly assaulted three German machine gun emplacements, knocked them out, killed 9 German soldiers and took two prisoners.

At the time, he was a Tech Sergeant in the 3rd Infantry Division and was facing the Germans at Kayserberg, France on the German/French border. His unit was issued mattress covers for camouflage in the snow.

Pinned down by machine gun fire, he scrambled 75 yards up a hill, used a grenade to take out the first emplacement, where he was wounded in the back. A German grenade landed near him and he kicked it away. He then crawled to the second machine gun and threw another grenade, killing two more Germans. By now, his gun was empty and he jumped into the nest and grabbed a third German by the collar and forced him to surrender.

In pain and with the white mattress now stained red with his blood, he ran 50 yards more to a third emplacement and also took it out with a grenade and chased the retreating soldiers.

His brother Ralph was in the same unit and he took out a fourth machine gun nest. A German rifleman shot at him point blank, but missed and Ralph killed him.


After treatment for his wound, Russell Dunham returned to the front and on Jan. 22nd, his unit was surrounded by German tanks and troops at Holtzwihr, France and most were forced to surrender. Russell hid in a sauerkraut barrel (you just have to wonder about the smell), but was found. Two German soldiers patted him down, but got distracted when they found a pack of cigarettes and started arguing over who would get it. They didn't find his pistol in a shoulder holster under his arm.

Later that day, while transporting him back to German lines, the driver stopped at a bar and the second soldier was not paying attention to Dunham who shot him in the head, and set off to Allied lines in subzero temperatures. His ears and feet were frostbitten when he arrived and he almost lost his feet, but a medic's efforts saved them.

Quite a Story from This Fine Person from the Greatest Generation. This Could Be a Great Movie.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bits O' History: That's Shakespeare-- Get Yo' Confederate Money

Some New News About Old Stuff.

1. THAT'S SHAKESPEARE-- A portrait supposed to be of the bard at age 46 in 1610 has been owned by the same family for centuries. This may be the ONLY surviving portrait.

2. GET YO' CONFEDERATE MONEY-- The South Carolina Department of Archives and History in selling some of its Civil War-era money on eBay. It was issued by the Bank of the State of South Carolina and comes in $4, $5, and $10 notes.

Bidding starts at $79 for the $5 note and $150 for the other two.

The $5 note has a picture of US Senator John C. Calhoun and President Thomas Jefferson. The $4 note has a picture of Fort Moultrie. No word as to what is on the sawbuck.

Now, You Know. --Cooter

Dead Page: Munchkin-- Cigarette Guy


Played Munchkin in "Wizard of Oz"

Died Feb. 25th in Texas. Regularly attended "Wizard of Oz" festivals after playing a Munchkin soldier. Seven Munchkins now survive. They received a collective star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007. Not allowed to attend public school until he was 9 because of his height; eventually reaching 4 feet six inches.

In the late 1930s, he joined the Stanley R. Graham All Midget Circus which led to a MGM offer to play a Munchkin for a salary of $700. He said they worked them hard-- 7 am to 7 pm.

I always liked how the soldiers marched with that exaggerated arm swing.

ALAN LANDERS 1940-2009

The 'Winston Man' Activist battled cancer, sued tobacco companies.

Died Feb. 27th at age 68, a former cigarette pitchman who had a 14-year battle with R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies, claiming smoking caused his health problems.

In the late 60s and early 70s he appeared in Winston ads on billboards and magazines.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Last Shot of Lincoln?

Photographer Henry F. Warren took it and for years it had been in a personal album belonging to the family of US Grant. It shows what may be Lincoln standing in front of the White House.

If it is indeed Lincoln, it joins about only 130 photos taken of the man in his lifetime and was taken shortly before the assassination.

Grant's great-great grandson, Ulysses S. Grant VI, 38, and a Springfield, Missouri, construction business owner, had seen it many times before, but didn't look closely until this past January. The tall figure caught his eye, but the facial features were obscured.

He called Keya Morgan, a noted collector of Lincoln photos. Upon examination of the 2 and a half by 3 and a half inch photo and examination of the backside of the photo which read, "Lincoln in front of the White House" believed to have been written by Grant's son, Jesse. There is also the date 1865 and the seal of photographer Henry F. Warren and a government tax stamp issued for photos to help the war effort between 1864 and 1865.

It is known that Warren, from Massachusetts, took a trip to Washington, DC to photograph Lincoln in March.

Morgan purchased the picture for $50,000 and it will be added to his $25 million collection of Lincoln artifacts and original images.

Now, this is some interesting news here on the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. You'd have to wonder why Grant sold this keepsake. Perhaps the economy?

Wonder if it is really Lincoln?

Too Bad It Can't be in a Public Place so Everyone can See It. --Da Coot

The Sydney Battle and Petty Officer Steward Leslie Alexander Harrison

From the April 4th Inverell Times of Australia.

John Harrison was 4 and a half when his father died on the HMAS Sydney in November 1941 and has been closely following all the hearings on the ship these past months.

The Sydney spotted what turned out to be the Kormoran on the afternoon of Nov. 19th at a distance of 40 centrementers and closed in to check credentials. At 8000 to 9000 metres, the Kormoran identified itself as the Dutch merchant ship Straat Malakka.

At 1200 metres, the Sydney asked for the secret identification code which the Kormoran did not know which was when the German Captain Detmer decamouflaged and opened fire, catching the Sydney unprepared. It was hit by 48 shells on the starboard and 45 port.

John Harrison's father, Petty Officer Steward Leslie Alexander Harrison, service number 14010, was a ward room steward who had joined the Navy in 1923. He was also qualified as a medical orderly and was probably at that station once the battle started. His mother was left with two children and got a job to take care of the family.

A Fascinating Story. --Coot

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fifteen Notable Misquotes-- Part 1

The March 8th List Serve ran a list of 15 misquotes from the political and military sector.

15. WILLIAM T. SHERMAN-- "If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve." What he REALLY said:
"I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected."

14. GEORGE SANTAYANA-- "Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it." ACTUALLY wrote in "Life in Reason, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

13. LORD ACTON-- "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely." ACTUALLY, "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

12. KARL MARX-- "Religion is the opiate of the masses." ACTUALLY, "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of the heartless world and the soul of the soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."

11. CALVIN COOLIDGE-- "The business of America is business." ACTUALLY, "After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with productivity, selling, investing and prospering in the world."

I Didn't Know That. --Cooter

Sunday, April 5, 2009

HMAS Sydney-- Kormoran Survivors Probably Told Truth

March 26th Australian Express article by Malcolm Brown.

The survivors of the Kormoran most likely were telling the truth about the encounter with the HMAS Sydney.

Eleven Germans were interviewed after the fight and all said that no white flag was run up as if to surrender and a war ensign was raised while the ship was decamouflaging in preparation to open fire.

They also denied that the Sydney's survivors were machine-gunned in the life rafts.

The Australian court of inquiry began back in May, 2008 and so far have had 22 days of evidence from 66 witnesses, had 230 exhibits and looked at 200,000 pages of archives. A final report is expected in June.


And probably always will. Rumors that the German Captain Detmer lured the Sydney in and fired a torpedo abound. Also, there is the story that a Japanese submarine working with the Kormoran torpedoed the Sydney as she was withdrawing from action.

Professor Tom Frame wrote a book about the engagement and said that he did not think Detmer was above ruthless behavior.

And the Story Continues and Most Likely Will Never Be Known in Its Entirety. --Cooter

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tuskegee Airmen

The April 2nd, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that William Hicks, a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, spoke before a high school history class about this units role in World War II.

During the war, he was a mechanic on P-51 Fighters.

Before Congress authorized this unit, there were no black pilots because of segregation and a 1920s study that blacks were unable to fly or maintain planes. They trained at the historically black Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, hence the name of the group.

Their main job was to escort B-17s and B-24s on bombing missions. Each of these carried about ten men and cost between $8 and $10 million.

Overcoming a Horrible Thing with Honor, --Da Coot

Bits O' History: Mass Grave Found-- AHS Centaur

Some New News About Old Stuff.

1. MASS GRAVE FOUND-- A mass World War II grave containing the remains of German officers and their Croatian allies, has been found near Zagreb, Croatia. At least 4,500 bodies have been found in caves.

They are from the German Army's 39th Division which consisted of Croatian troops commanded by German officers. It is known that they surrendered early in 1945 to Communist troops of Tito.

So, the Germans weren't the only ones to kill captured foes.

2. AHS CENTAUR-- Reports have it that the search for the AHS (Australian Hospital Ship) Centaur, could begin as early as November. Blue Water Recovery, who were responsible for finding the HMAS Sydney II and Kormoran has received permission to search.

The federal government of Australia and Queensland state governments have each matched $2 million for the project.

The Centaur was sunk by a Japanese submarine southeast of Queensland in May of 1943 and sank in minutes with a loss of all but 64 of 322.

Another Tragedy of the War.

Now, You Know. --Cooter

Thursday, April 2, 2009

HMAS Sydney-- the Unknown Sailor

Big Pond News reports that the unknown sailor whose body washed ashore on Christmas Island in a raft several months after the HMAS Sydney was sunk, may have survived for days despite the head injury he sustained.

His body washed ashore Feb. 1862 and had a piece of what is believed to have been shrapnel embedded in his skull. Professor Johan Duflou, a forensic pathologist, said the metal would have unlikely caused major brain damage, but would have pushed against the brain.

The metal is unlikely to have been from a bullet as there are no radiating fractures that are usually caused by a gunshot wound.

Any way you look at it, surviving out on that raft for any length of time, would have been a horrible way to die.

The Story Continues. --Cooter