Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oh Dear, Too Many Deer

From Feb. 20th Chicago Tribune.

Spotlight Deer Culling

Valley Forge National Historical Park in Philadelphia is overrun with deer, and they aren't shy, either. When not grazing, they spend lots of time just staring at tourists.

However, officials are planning a big sharpshooting expedition to kill up to 1,300 during the next four years, dropping the herd by 80%. After that, the deer will be maintained through contraception.

This is necessary because they are eating so many plants, shrubs, and saplings, that the forest can't regenerate.

The first shoot takes place this coming winter. Of course, animal-rights groups are against this saying that fee-living animals can control their own numbers.

Several years ago, I was able to visit Valley Forge and just about anywhere you looked, there were deer. I'd have to say they were over-populated.

Venison Anybody? --Cooter

Dad Page-- "Queen of the Blues"

KOKO TAYLOR 1928-2009

Chicago's legendary "Queen of the Blues"

This one made the front page of the June 4th Chicago Tribune.

Died at age 80, four weeks after her last live performance at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Her signature hits were "Wang Dang Doodle," "I'm a Woman," and "Hey Bartender."

Born Cora Watson on a sharecropper's farm outside of Memphis in 1928, she and her brothers slept on pallets in a shack with no running water or electricity. She moved to Chicago in the 1950s. She had sung gospel music back in Tennessee and on the weekends would go to the Chicago Blues Clubs and began singing.

Willie Dixon got her to sing his "Wang Dang Doodle" in 1965, and this launched her career.

From June 4th Chicago Tribune.

One of my favorite artists. I was fortunate to see her in concert once and she wore me out up on that stage.

I have three CDs by her: Royal Blue, Force of nature, and What it Takes.

Three LPs: From the Heart of a Woman, The Earthshaker, and Live from Chicago.

Two cassettes: Koko Taylor and Jump for Joy.

I know that Tom Marker on WXRT's Bluebreakers plays one song of hers each Monday on his show.

Guess I Liked Her Music.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Living in 1909

Better or worse? You make the call.

If you were living in 1909, one hundred years ago:

Life expectancy-- 47
14% of households had a bath tub
8& had telephone
8,000 cars and 144 miles of paved roads
Maximum speed limit 10 mph
Eiffel Tower highest structure in the world
Average wage 22 cents an hour. Average yearly salary $200 to $400 a year
95% of births at home
Flag had 45 stars
Population of Las Vegas was 30
Crossword puzzles, beer cans, ice tea not invented yet
Marijuana, heroin and morphine available over the counter
230 reported murders in US

Better or Worse? --Cooter

Monday, September 28, 2009

Five Most Mind-Numbing State Songs

From List Universe.

#1. FLORIDA-- "Old Folks At Home."

#2. NEW JERSEY-- No song. Suggests "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen.

#3. MARYLAND-- "Maryland, My Maryland." a song supporting the Confederacy. No pc these days.

#4. TENNESSEE-- has seven songs: My Tennessee, When It's Iris Time in Tennessee, Tennessee Waltz, Rocky Top, Bicentennial Rap.

#5. Every other state song.

Of course, the official state rock song of Ohio and OSU is "Hang on Sloopy.: That can't be all that bad. State song is "Beautiful Ohio."

I Wonder What Illinois' Song Is? --Cooter

Sunday, September 27, 2009

USS Oklahoma Survivor Dies

The August Las Vegas Review Journal reported on the death of World War II Marine veteran Ray Turpin, 88, who was aboard the USS Oklahoma during the Dec. 7, 1941. He escaped by crawling along a rope hand-over-hand to the USS Maryland.

Before that, he rescued five sailors from a porthole and was assisted by Father Aloysius Schmidt who rescued 12 sailors. He later died in the battle. Father Schmidt received the Navu and Marine medals posthumously.

Turpin ended up in the water when the crew of the Maryland cut the line to prevent the battleship from going down with the Oklahoma.He fell into the oil-slick water and was pulled to safety by a sailor who could swim(Turpin couldn't).

Raymond John Turpin was born to a poor family in Alabama in 1921.

Greatest Generation. -- Cooter

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ten Things You Might Not Know About World War II-- Part 1

May 24th Chicago Tribune. Mark Jacob has come up with another ten interesting things. How he keeps doing this is amazing.

This was in honor of the upcoming Memorial Day and 65th anniversary of D-Day.

1. BALLOON ATTACK-- On May 25, 1945, Elsie Mitchell took five neighborhood kids out for a trip to Gearhart Mountain in Oregon. One of them touched a strange object they found. It exploded and all six were killed by a Japanese balloon bomb. It was one of 6,000 released by the Japanese to drift in the upper air currents to the US. These were the only known civilian war deaths on the US mainland.

2. PATTON-- General George Patton nearly lost his job when he slapped a soldier hospitalized from shell-shock in Sicily. However, before the Sicily invasion, he also ordered that any enemy troops who did not surrender when Allied troops were within 200yards of their position should be killed even if they surrendered.

This was against international law, but it did happen in a few instances. This was not reported at the time.

I knew about the balloon bombs and Patton slapping the soldier.

File Under Things Most People Don't Know.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Interesting Stuff

Just some interesting stuff I've come across in the entertainment industry.

Questions to American Profile Magazine July 26th.

GARY LEWIS & THE PLABOYS--. He has been popping up on You Tube lately. The singer of "This Diamond Ring" and "Count Me In" and a bunch of other of my favorites, hasn't stopped performing at all. Today, Gary Lewis, the son of comedian Jerry Lewis, performs about 60 dates a year with a revised Playboys. He lives in Rochester, NY with his wife, Donna.

JOHN WAYNE played more leading roles, 142, than any other star. However, Tom London of Louisville, Ky, has appeared in more than 2,000 movies between 1915 and 1961. Never heard of him. Guess I'll have to look him up.

SARA GILBERT, who played Darlene on Roseanne, is the adoptive half-sibling of Melissa Gilbert of Little House on the Prairie. They were adopted by Barbara Crane and Paul Gilbert.

Now, That's Interesting. --Cooter

Goodbye Kiddieland-- Part 1

After an 80-year run, the 17 acre Kiddieland in Melrose Park, a Chicago suburb, closes down this Sunday, September 27th. It is one of the last small, privately-owned entertainment venues in the country and area. It is "a vintage shrine to mild family entertainment" in this day of EXTREME entertainment and mega parks.

My wife says she used to go there between ten and fifteen times a year all through the time she lived in Chicago. I don't remember ever going to the place. Either her dad, mom, or friends of the family would take her. It was about 9-10 miles from her apartment. When she would go, tickets were bought individually for the rides.

It has been a family business since it started as a pony ride. Part of the family owns the land and has refused to renew the lease for the other part. Possibly a family squabble?

The park draws between 400,000 and 500,000 visitors a year. The 30 rides appealed especially to children between ages 2 to 9. The seasonal workforce consisted of 250 mostly high school students and there were 14 year-round employees who will be looking for jobs.

First Santa's Village, now this. Is Adventureland still open?

From the May 21st Chicago Tribune "Kiddieland's 80-year ride ending" by Ted Gregory.

Sad to See Another Piece of the Past Go By the Way. --Cooter

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Typhoon Cobra, 1944-- Part 2

Barometric pressure during the storm dropped to 26.8. Most ships reported rolls of as much as 70 degrees. and 120 knot winds were reported. This was one serious storm. Definitely not a place you'd like to be on a ship, but, this was 'The Greatest Generation, after all.

Fletcher-class destroyers Spence, Hickox, and Maddox had nearly empty fuel stores, thus lacking the extra weight for stability. However, the latter two pumped in sea water for ballast and were able to ride the storm out.

Two older Farragut-class destroyers, the Monaghan and Hull, had been refitted with 500 tons of extra equipment and were top heavy. The ships sank either by water coming down the funnels on the rolls or because they lost power and were at the mercy of the seas..

Sever officers and 55 men were saved from the Hull and six from the Monaghan.

Information from Wikipedia, but there are a lot of websites about the event.

Not Where I Would Want to be. --Cooter

Typhoon Cobra, 1944-- Part 1

Also known as the Typhoon of 1944 and "Halsey's Typhoon" after the fleet commander. I think the "Halsey's Typhoon" might very well be somewhat derisive.

Yesterday, I wrote about George Trask not being aboard the USS Spence on that fateful December 17, 1944, when the typhoon struck. Typhoon is another name for hurricane.

Task Force 38, sometimes called the greatest fleet ever to sail, consisted of 7 fleet carriers, 6 light carriers, 8 battleships, 15 cruisers, and about 50 destroyers (not counting support vessels) was 300 miles east of Luzon in the Philippine Sea. Three destroyers were sunk, 790 lives lost, 146 planes destroyed or washed overboard, and damage to one light cruiser, 2 light carriers, and 2 escort carriers.

Fire on board the carrier USS Monterey caused when a plane struck a bulkhead was finally brought under control after tremendous effort. Ninety-three men's lives were saved as a result of it.

More to Come. --Cooter

J. Russell Coffey, WW I Veteran

I came across this obituary that I had written notes on from awhile back regarding the death of Mr. Coffey on December 20, 2007, the oldest US veteran at the time age 109.

At the time, he was one of the only three surviving Doughboys from the War to End All Wars. The one my two grandfathers and a great uncle were in, but only my great uncle saw action.

More than 4.7 million American men joined the military from 1917 to 1918. Mr. Coffey never saw combat and was in basic training when the war ended.

At the time, the two surviving veterans were Frank Buckles, 106 of Charles Town, West Virginia, and Henry Richard Landis, 108, of Sun City Center, Arizona, 108. John Babcock, 107, of Spokane, Washington, served in the Canadian Army, the last-known Canadian veteran.

Other World War I veterans who died in 2007: Emiliano Mercade de Toro, 115, oldest person in the world at the time. Charlotte Winters, 109, last-known female veteran of the war.

Coffey enlisted while attending Ohio State University in October 1918, one month before the Armistice. two older brothers fought overseas.

He was born September 1, 1898, and played semi-pro baseball in Akron. He later earned a doctorate in education from New York University before starting a career in education. His daughter said he delivered newspapers as a boy and would read them to immigrants, "That was the beginning of him being a teacher." he later returned to Ohio State and earned two more degrees.

A junior high and high school in Phelps, Kentucky and Findley, he taught phys ed at Bowling Green State University from 1948 to 1969 and married Bernice in 1921. She died in 1993.

He had a remarkable memory and was quite independent near the end of his life, driving a car until age 104 and lived on his own until age 105. He was a swimmer and credited healthy eating and exercise for his longevity.

From "Oldest US WW I Vet Dies in Ohio at 109" by John Seewer, AP.

Another Great Generation. --Cooter

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

George Trask and the USS Spence (DD-512)

The July 18th Lakeland (Fl) Ledger had an article on an event that took place 65 years ago, when the USS Spence, a destroyer, sank in a bad typhoon in the Philippine Sea. Fortunately for George Trask, he wasn't aboard at the time. There were only 24 survivors of the 336 man crew.

Mr. Trask enlisted after Pearl Harbor, in early 1942. After basic training, he was sent to Bath, Maine, where the Spence was christened October 27, 1942.

The Fletcher-class destroyer was 376 feet long and had five 5-inch guns. ten 40-mm antiaircraft guns, ten torpedo tubes, six depth charge projectors and carried a crew of 336.

It was commissioned January 8, 1943, and served off North Africa.

During May 1943, during a brief layover, Mr. Trask married his girlfriend.

The Spencer was then sent to the Pacific Theater where it participated in many battles. In October 1944, the USS Spence was in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. In November, Trask was sent to San Francisco for three weeks of additional training.

On December 18, 1944, the Spence and destroyers Hull and Monaghan were sunk in a massive storm some called "Halsey's Typhoon." Before it hit, the ships were low on oil and had spent all day pumping out sea water ballast in preparation to being refueled.

There was little ballast to steady the ships in the heavy seas, causing them to sink.

Afterwards, Trask was assigned to the Light Cruiser Santa Fe in 1945.

A Very Fortunate Break for Mr. Trask. --Cooter

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Looking for the Centaur

The July 4th Courier Mail from Australia wrote about the upcoming search for the Australian hospital ship Centaur which was sunk during World War II.

David Mearms, who found the HMAS Sydney and German raider Kormoran, is heading up the search.

The Japanese archives were researched for anything that might help locate the lost vessel, but nothing came of it. Last month, tenders were sent out to locate the Centaur using deep water sonar, but I heard nothing of the results.

The Australian government has allocated $4 million for the expedition.

Hoping They Find It. --Cooter

Monday, September 21, 2009

Some Good Reasons to Visit St. Louis

Besides having several different alignments of Route 66 through it, Ted Drewe's ice cream, and the Chain of Rocks Bridge, there are some more reasons to visit the Gateway City.

Of course, there's the 630-foot high Gateway Arch. Tickets to the top are $10, but you'd best get them in advance. I know, I visited and didn't get to go to the top as they were all sold out for the day.

Nearby is the old courthouse where slaves Dred and Harriet Scott argued for their freedom and was just another in the incidents dividing the country before the Civil War.


Besides being one of the birthplaces of the blues, St. Louis has been the residences of Scott Joplin, Ike and Tina Turner, and Chuck Berry, who still performs once a month at the Blueberry Hill restaurant and club.


CALVARY-- General William Tecumseh Sherman, Tennessee Williams, Dred Scott.

BELLEFONTAINE-- Gen. William Clark (of Lewis and Clark), Adolphus Busch (Anheiser-Bush), James Eads (inventor and engineer, Mary Marsha Rexford (Red Cross worker and first woman to land on Utah Beach on D-Day) and William Burroughs.

From April 5th Chicago Tribune. Cheryl Wittensauer AP.

Things Other Than the Cardinals. --Cooter

Sunday, September 20, 2009

D-Day Paratrooper Gets French Legion of Honor

It made front page on the June 6th Chicago Tribune. Louis Venditti was part of an advance wave of paratroopers to prepare the way for the D-Day assault on Normandy Beach. He survived four major battles and came home with lots of medals. Afterwards, he worked for the Chicago Heights fire department, retiring in 1979.

He was awarded the French Legion of Honor, France's highest honor along with 37 other veterans.

According to Venditti, nothing in his firefighting career compared to the fear of that day. He landed with the 101st Airborne Division in a field surrounded by hedgerows. At first he thought what he saw were German soldiers, but they ended up being cows. He figured this was great because where there are cows, there are no land mines.

Four months later, he had his closest call while pinned down in a ditch by artillery fire in the Netherlands. A shell exploded behind him, nearly severing his right big toe.

This was the first time he had been back since the war.

The Greatest Generation. --Da Coot

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Scarface Slept Here

That's right, Noted Chicago gangster Al Capone. And it can be yours for a minimum bid of $2.6 million. Just a bit more than I can afford, but a piece of interesting history nonetheless.

The Hideout, in northern Wisconsin, is 407 secluded acres with a 37 acre lake, a stone lodge, caretaker's house, 8 stall garage and other outbuildings.

It has been advertised in Chicago to drum up interest.

Al Capone owned it in the late 20s and early 30s. Rumor has it that bootleg liquor was flown in with planes landing on the lake where the booze was put on trucks and driven to Chicago. It is known that Capone spent a lot of time there.

Any Takers? --Cooter

Goodbye USS Gage (APA-168)

The Gage was the sole remaining vessel from the 117 ship Haskell class of Attack Transport Ships.

It was built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation in Portland, Oregon, and launched in October 14, 1944, and commissioned November 12th. It was 455 feet long, had a 62 foot beam and carried a crew of 536. It was armed with one gun and machine guns.

It participated at Okinawa where it was on alert for five days due to kamikazee attacks. It also landed troops on several islands and earned one battle star.

It is currently being dismantled in Brownsville with some parts going to the USS Texas museum ship.

Definitely too bad this ship couldn't have been turned into a museum ship. The aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers, submarines, and destroyers get all the glory in World War II, but they couldn't have operated without the support ships that really did the grunt work.

Too Late Now. --Cooter

James River Ghost Fleet/Brownsville

The July 20th Pilot on reported that the USS Ortolan, a submarine rescue ship and USS Gage, an Attack Transport Ship launched in 1944 left on their way to being broken up in Brownsville, Texas. It also mentioned that there had been an effort to turn the latter into a museum ship.

Of course, now I will have to look this one up, plus this is a World War II ship.

There are only about 30 ships remaining in the James River Ghost Fleet.

Hate to Lose a World War II Ship. --Cooter

Some Historical Things to See in Jacksonville, Florida

Jannell Parker in Travel World. co. in made a list of interesting things to see in and around Jacksonville.

Three I found of particular interest:

FORT CAROLINA NATIONAL MEMORIAL-- Marks the site of the first Protestant colony in America, 1564, by the Huguenots from France. A little-known part of colonial history. There was a major conflict between the Spanish at nearby St. Augustine.

RIBAULT MONUMENT-- Marks the site where Frenchman Jean Ribault and his crew became the first Protestants to set foot in America in 1562.

YELLOW BLUFF FORT-- Built in 1862 by the Confederates to protect Jacksonville in the "form of labyrinths and mazes." No battle fought here, but cannons were mounted.

Worth a Visit. --Cooter

Friday, September 18, 2009

Brownsville, Texas Ship Channel

Most of the ghost ships end up at companies along the Brownsville Ship Channel which was built in 14 months from December 1934 to February 1936. It is 17 miles long, 400 feet wide, and 42 feet deep with a turning basin at the end.

Brownsville began seeking the channel back in 1928. It has been deepened over the years and always registers 40 feet at low tide.

No other US port has received more orders for ship recycling. Part of this being labor costs. The workers along the Rio Grande River area are very poor and desperate for jobs. This is also a non-union area. As such the companies can get by with very low wages and no benefits.

There was hope that more of the ghost fleet ships could be placed in the Ships to Reefs program, but still most end up as shipbreaking, where they are broken into smaller pieces.

Some of these ships also contain hazardous materials which is causing problems.

Next, the USS Gage. A Sad End. --Cooter

James River's Ghost Fleet

I came across an article in the September 17th Virginia-Pilot by Scott Harper about ships being taken out of the James River Reserve Fleet (part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet) and being towed to Brownsville, Texas, where they are being broken up and salvaged.

The story was primarily about why other US ports were not getting the jobs which primarily was the low wages and non-benefits of the workers there. The average one earns maybe $17,000 a year.

In the past four years, 31 of the ghost ships have been dismantles, 23 across the border in Mexico. In 2008, eleven ships were taken here.

This ghost fleet is made up of ships not needed by the US Navy and some date as far back as World War II. One of these was the USS Gage, an attack transport ship, which I will write about later.

Let's Save Some of the Ships. --Cooter

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bill Shea at D-Day

Yesterday, while touring Bill Shea's automotive museum in Springfield, Illinois, two of the best dollars you'll ever spend, I was surprised to find out he was at Omaha Beach and the Battle of the Bulge as well as three other actions during the World War II.

I never knew that. The museum has a pair of boots that were worn at the the landing as well as sand from the beach from two reunions at the site that he attended.

Also of interest, is the uniform Bill Shea wore when he got back home from the war. It was also worn by his son, Bill, before he went off to the Vietnam War, his grandson, and even great grandson.

That is some family military history.

Bill Shea operated a gas station, now turned into a museum for over 50 years in Springfield and is the original Mr. Texaco Man.

A Real Piece of History. --Cooter

Doing a Lincoln Thing Here in His Hometown

Well. it's his 200th birthday anniversary, you know.

Yesterday, we parked over by the Lincoln Museum and Library and took a walk around. Both buildings have striking architecture. There were a lot of people around, but not nearly as many as the year they opened.

Then there's that wonderful old 1900 train depot that has been restored to its former glory, even including the tower. As impressive as that structure is, the surrounding grounds have been landscaped beautifully.

We didn't have time to tour the museum, which is now $2 more expensive at $10 for adults. We wanted to see if buddy JJ was going to be at Capital City to play NTN and he is the security guard at the Lincoln Library, so we dropped in.

He was there and said he'd be at Capital City. He also had us take a look at the birthday cards and banners sent by people and students from all over the US. He said just a small number were on display with thousands more stored away. Quite impressive, especially the banners which are hanging in the main hall.

One person even sent a card made of tile.

Happy Birthday, Abe!! --Cooter

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lincoln Land Here in Springfield, Illinois

We've finished the Missouri Motor Tour and are in Springfield, Illinois, right now. Planning on spending a couple days here looking at Route 66 and Lincoln stuff. I've often wanted to visit the GAR museum.

Of course, there are horseshoe meals to enjoy, Charlie Parker's, Cozy Dog (1940s), the AUCE walleye at Capital City, and, of course, the Curve Inn (1930s) across from the hotel. Also, there is a new Golden Corral right down the road.

Hopin' There's Enough Time to Do All That Eating. --Cooter

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's a Road History Thing

Since Wednesday, we've been cruising the old Route 66 from Dwight, Illinois, out to Afton, Oklahoma.

Lots of old places still in business and some falling into disrepair and ruin. It is like a trip back into the 40s to 60s and something we really enjoy.

Route 66 dates back to the 1920s. Two weeks ago, we toured the original transcontinental road, the 1913 Lincoln Highway through Illinois and Iowa.

Yesterday, we ran into small groups of road enthusiasts from Germany and France at the old Gay Parita gas station in Missouri, a couple from Ireland at 4 Women on the Road in Galena, Kansas. While driving the old Ribbon Road stretch of 66 between Miami and Afton, Oklahoma, we came across two bicyclists pedaling away. They were from Spain and said they are doing the whole route from Chicago to LA. They'd left Chicago on Tuesday.

A Real Piece of History. --Cooter

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Eating in a 1930s Cafe-- The Palms Grill in Atlanta, Illinois-- Part 1

We had read about the Palms Grill opening in Atlanta, Illinois, about three months ago, and put this high on the itinerary for this trip. That means forsaking a trip to the Cozy Dog in Springfield, but it was something that was necessary.

We always try to support businesses on the Route, especially new ones. We're on a trip to Joplin and points west and will hook up with the Missouri Route 66 Association's Motor Tour on Saturday and take it east to Pacific, where we're at tonight (with a car that presently will not start).

I've been watching the progress of the place over the last several rears. I once peered through the windows and saw nothing but bare earth for a floor. The last time through, there was a floor as well as the counter and stools.

This place is a credit to the community and a definite plus for Route 66. They have taken every effort to make the interior the same as it was all those years ago. They have succeeded admirably.

More to Come. --Cooter

Sunday, September 6, 2009

USS Batfish High and Dry in Oklahoma

And, it's a submarine. The August 3rd Oklahoman reported that and Oklahoman group is seeking donations to restore the vessel.

It was launched in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in May 1943 and earned nine battle stars for action in World War II. Its 85 man crew sank 11 enemy vessels, including one in Tokyo Harbor.

Today, it sits upright on dry ground in Muskogee War Memorial Park where more than 10,000 a year tour it.

In 1972, it was destined for Tulsa, but its length was too much for the Verdigris River and it ended up in Muskogee for the last 37 years. The weather and elements have been rough on its exterior. The wooden deck planking needs to be replaced and the outer skin needs $180,000 to blast off the rust and repaint.

A Worthy Cause. --Cooter

Saturday, September 5, 2009

World War II in September

From the 2009 Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor 2009 calendar.


US fighter planes attacking an enemy ship. Message: America's Fighting Forces Will Keep 'Em Flying.
You Take Part.
Buy U.S. Defense Bonds*Stamps


Gen. Douglas MacArthur signs as Supreme Allied Commander during the formal surrender ceremonies on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.


September 2, 1945-- Japanese sign surrender documents.
September 8, 1945-- General MacArthur enters Tokyo
September 12, 13,14, 1942-- Guadalcanal

The Greatest Generation. --Cooter

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

I highly suggest any one interested in World War II to contact the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl harbor and order their calendar for next year if they make it like this year's. What I really like about it is the poster for each month of an actual one from the war. Then there is always at least interesting picture and a few items from selected days during the month.

I'm sure going to get one if it's the same.

Well Worth Ordering. --Da Coot

Top Ten Worst Military Decisions in History-- Part 2

Continuing with List Universe's top ten.

I sure don't know about #8, but it was a dumb decision under the circumstances.

5. IGNORING THE GATLING-- George A. Custer June 1876. He had two to four Gatling guns with him, but left them in camp. Really could have used them that day.

4. INVADE GALLIPOLI-- Winston Churchill 1915. Slaughter.

3. SOVIET INVASION-- Adolf Hitler September 1941

2. MICROMANAGING THE WAR-- Lyndon B. Johnson August 1964

1. INVADING AFGHANISTAN-- Yuri Andropov December 1979. And, what country is there right now.

Military Intelligence? --Da Coot

Friday, September 4, 2009

Top Ten Worst Military Decisions in History-- Part 1

The September 2nd List Universe had a thought-provoking list of top ten worst military decisions in history. Of course, they go into greater detail and have pictures, so, if you want to learn more, go to the site.

10. INVASION OF RUSSIA-- Napoleon Bonaparte June 1812

9. THE ALAMO-- General Santa Anna Feb. 1836-- gave Texans time to organize

8. ADDING LARD TO RIFLES-- unknown British bureaucrat May 1857-- cartridges for the new Pattern J Enfield rifle had to be bitten off and poured in. They were lubricated with animal lard from pigs and cows. The big problem was that most of Britain's colonial troops were Muslim (who regard pigs as unclean) and Hindus (cows are sacred). They refused to touch the cartridges, causing what is called the Sepoy Mutiny.

7. LOSING YOUR BATTLE PLANS-- unknown Confederate officer-- September 1862-- led to the Battle of Antietam.

6. NOT FOLLOWING THE ENEMY-- General George Meade July 1863. Allowed Lee's army to escape after the Battle of Gettysburg.

More to Come. --Cooter

Spanish Cruiser Vizcaya-- Part 2

An 11-inch gun from this ship rests today at Grant Park in Galena, Illinois.

Continuing with the history of the vessel.

Coming under fire of the American fleet and with troops approaching, it was decided to have the Spanish fleet attempt to make a run for it July 3, 1898. Two Spanish ships were sunk right away, then the Vizcaya came under fire of the US fleet.

The Vizcaya was pounded by the USS Brooklyn and battleships Texas, Oregon, Iowa, and Indiana. The Vizcaya's 5.5-inch guns hit the Brooklyn twice, resulting in the only American casualty of the day.

At 11, the Brooklyn hit the Vizcaya twice, one detonated a forward torpedo tube, blowing a large part of the bow off. The other shell destroyed the bridge and set the ornate woodwork afire and ammunition began to explode. At 11:06 it turned to shore, struck her ensign, and ran aground.

After the war, a US survey team looked at the feasibility of raising it, but determined the wreck was beyond salvage.

The Wikipedia site has film taken of the Vizcaya in new York Harbor taken 2-28-98 and of the wreck.

There are also nice pictures of the ship at

A Little Known Ship. --Cooter

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Spanish Cruiser Vizcaya-- Part 1

I have been writing about the 11-inch gun from the Vizcaya, which was sunk at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba July 3, 1898, in a very one-sided battle between the Spanish and American fleets.

Some stats and history on the Vizcaya from Wikipedia.

The Vizcaya was an Infanta Maria Teresa-class armored cruiser, launched June 1891: 6,890 tons, 364 feet long, beam of 65.3 feet. Main armament: 2 X 11-inch guns and ten 5.5 inch guns.

Of interest, the Vizcaya was in New York City on a reciprocal visit while the USS Maine was in Havana Harbor. The Vizcaya left quickly when the USS Maine blew up. I didn't know that.

The Vizcaya needed dry docking badly as its bottom was befouled. Plus, some of its 5.5-inch guns had defective breach mechanisms and probably 80% of the shells for these guns were also defective.

The Spanish fleet sailed to Santago de Cuba harbor in Cuba because it had not yet been blockaded by the US fleet. However, once inside, the American fleet arrived and bottled them up. An attempt by the crew of the USS Merrimac to scuttle their ship and block the entrance failed.

Under bombardment and with an American Army approaching the harbor, it was decided that the Spanish fleet make a run for it which led to the battle.

A Very One-Sided Battle. --Cooter

Dead Page: Song-Wrter Supreme

ELLIE GREENWICH Oct. 23, 1940- August 26, 2009

While on our road trip, I was sorry to find out of the death of this prolific songwriter, producer, and, even singer. What she created by herself and other partners is a list of some of my all-time favorite songs.

She discovered Neil Diamond and co-wrote many of these with husband Jeff Barry.

Here's just a partial list:

Be My Baby
Da Doo Ron Ron
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Leader of the Pack
River Deep, Mountain High
Baby, I Love You
Chapel of Love
Do Wah Diddy Diddy
Hanky Panky
I Can Hear Music
Look of Love

She'll be missed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Spanish-American War Cannon in Galena, Illinois-- Part 2

One reason it takes me so long to do this blog is hat I'm always digging a little deeper into the story and finding out all sorts of interesting stuff.

If I'd just stay with the story, I could go a lot faster. But, NOOOOO!!!

I found out that three of the secondary guns on the Vizcaya are spread out across the US. These were the 14 centimeter guns and there are pictures at a great site that I added to my favorites:

There is information and pictures.

One is at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. Also see http://vizcayaannapolis.htm.

Another is in Columbia, Tennessee, outside the municipal building.

The third is at the US Military Academy at West Point, NY.

Even though the Vizcaya is long gone, parts of it remain in the United States. And, one of the two main battery guns, the 11-incher, is in Galena, Illinois.

Saving Those Old Guns. --Cooter