Sunday, November 29, 2009

World War II Plane to be Recovered

The November 29th Aero News Net reports that plans are in place to raise a World War II F6F-3 Hellcat fighter (serial number #25910) from 250 feet down in Lake Michigan off Chicago on the 30th if the weather holds good.

Pilot Lt.jg Walter B. Elcock was practicing landings on the aircraft carrier USS Sable, a converted Great Lakes passenger liner when his plane went into the drink January 5, 1945 after leaving Glenview Naval Air Station.

The frigid waters of the lake keep the planes very well preserved. During the war, 17,000 naval pilots trained at Glenview, including one Lt.jg George H. W. Bush who also crashed his training plane into Lake Michigan. His plane was raised and restored and is now on display at the Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola.

A Bit of Lost History Recovered. --DaCoot

North Carolina Military Camps

The November issue of North Carolina's Our State Magazine had the Our State Quiz out military camps in the state from the past.

Of course, most people know of the Big Three: the Army's Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, and the USMC Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville.

However, there were eight more:


Named for the Confederate general, Camp Bryan Grimes was a US Army facility located in Raleigh, the troops trained here for the Spanish-American War.


Set up in 1943, Camp MacKall in Hoke County first trained paratroopers and glider pilots during World War II. These days the Special Forces unit used it for training.


Consisting of 6,000 acres, Camp Greene trained soldiers for World War I from 1917-1919. It was named for Revolutionary War hero Nathaniel Greene.

156,000 ACRES

A major training and operations base for the US Marine Corps, Camp Lejuene was founded in 1941 and located in Onslow County. It consists of 160,000 acres. A road goes through it and you see tank crossing warnings, something you don't often see on the US highways.

I ended up missing 6 of the 8 questions.

Had to Guess on Some As Well. --Cooter

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Revolutionary Idea

The November 26th Goldsboro (NC) News-Argus reported that a skull believed to have belonged to a Revolutionary War soldier was to be reburied at the Milford Cemetery in Connecticut today.

The unidentified soldier's remains were discovered in the 1840s when workers laying railroad tracks in Milford near where 46 Americans captured by the British in 1776 died of smallpox. Their British captors left them by what is now Milford Cemetery.

The skull belonged to a man of European descent between the ages of 25 and 35 years of age. The state archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni says there is now way to be absolutely sure, but circumstances suggest that it might be.

He will be buried with full military honors.

I have to wonder what happened to the skull between the 1840s and today?

A Part of History, --DaCoot

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Avast There Ye Pirates!!!

The Nov. 22nd Goldsboro (NC) News-Argus reports that this Friday artifacts from what is believed to be the pirate Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge will be shown at he QAR Conservation Lab in Greenville, North Carolina.

The wreck of it was located in 1996 within sight of Fort Macon State Park. Artifacts including cuff links and cannons will be shown.

The ship was a former French slave ship named the La Concorde. Blackbeard captured it, renamed it, and made it his ship until it sank after running aground a year later.

Lost Stuff from the Sea. --Cooter

World's Biggest Flops-- Part 10

The Last Five.

5. MOOSE MURDERS-- One-night-run play became theater synonym for bomb. (Never heard of it.)

4. 1964 PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES-- Blew NL pennant after holding 6.5 game lead with 12 games left. (How about the Cubbies anytime?)

3. BELL ROCKET BELT-- (1960s) Maximum flight time 23 seconds. (Definitely would not have tried to do this. That and motorcycles.)

2. SMELL-O-VISION-- (1960)-- Technically, the Scent of Mystery, the first and only film in this format, stank. (Something definitely fishy here.)

1. FORD EDSEL-- (1957-1959)-- Faulty engineering? Misguided marketing? The grille's proboscis? Whatever was to blame, Ford sold about 116,000 Edsels and lost $350 million. (Small loss compared to today's automotive losses.)

Go Ahead and Pick Some More on the Poor Edsel. --RoadDog

Monday, November 23, 2009

World's Biggest Flops-- Part 9

10 The SYMBOL NAME formerly used by the artist formerly known as Prince. (Formerly, formerly, formerly a hit-maker, but no more.)

9. SUSAN B. ANTHONY ONE-DOLLAR COIN-- (1979-1981)-- Tens of millions never left US Treasury vaults. (Make it look like a silver dollar, not a quarter.)

8. WEBVAN.COM-- (1999-2001) Online grocery service crashed within 18 months of raising $375 million in an IPO. (Poor, poor investors.)

7. PAPER CLOTHING (1960s)-- Must have been a hippie or green thing.)

6. MICHELLE PHILLIPS-DENNIS HOPPER-- (1970) She was the second of his five wivws; he her second of five husbands. The Mamas and Papas singer later recalled her marriage with the Easy Rider star as "the happiest eight days of my life. (Dennis Hopper, the corporate sell-out.)

Five More to Go. --DaCoot

Saturday, November 21, 2009

One Slightly Used Cigar

The Nov. 21st had an article "Cigar Winston Churchill chomped planning D-Day uncovered after 60 years,"

Christian Williams, 33, was given a cigar when he was 12 by his grandfather Ronald Williams, who acted as Winston Churchill's butler at the 1943 Casablanca Conference where D-Day was planned.

Since then, Christian has always kept it in a safe place, only taking it out on special occasions. His grandfather also kept Churchill's name plate from the conference.

Churchill smoked ten cigars a day, always leaving the last couple inches. His gardener would take the cigars and break them up so he could smoke them in his pipe.

Definitely the Kind Of History That Interests Me. --DaCoot

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

World's Biggest Flops-- Part 8

15. CARRIE, THE MUSICAL-- (1988)-- Broadway musical based on Stephen King's book.

14. WIN-- (1974)-- Whip Inflation Now. President Ford's weapon for fighting inflation. (Where is my old button?)

13. RUDY GIULLANI '08-- Presidential campaign chest $66 million. Republican delegates: 0. (I didn't even vote for him.)

12. PREMIER-- (1988)-- R.J. Reynolds' "smokeless" cigarettes.

11. BAY OF PIGS INVASION-- (April 17-19, 1861)-- Of 1,400 invaders-- Cuban exiles trained by the CIA-- 1,200 were captured by Fidel Castro's troops and ransomed for $53 million in baby food and other pharmaceuticals.

World's Biggest Flops-- Part 7

20. XFL-- (2001)-- One season was enough.

19. DELOREAN-- (1981-1982) Only 9,000 made. (Way too expensive for me, even if Michael J. drove one.)

18. COMB-OVER HAIR STYLE-- Doesn't Fool Anybody. (How about a toupee?)

17. PLAYING BASEBALL IN SHORTS-- (1976)-- Chicago White Sox. Slide! No don't!! (How about those uniforms as well. Then, there were those nifty uniforms from the early 80s. Then, there was the Sox 80s logo featuring the guy with the incredible hitch in his batting stance. And, I am a big White Sox fan.)

16. NEW COKE-- (April 23-July 11, 1985)-- Coca-Cola's 99-year-old formula was banished in favor of the New Coke. Public outcry led to Old Coke coming back as Classic Coke.

More of a Pepsi Fan Myself. --DaCoot

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Top Ten Canadian Comedians

Thanks to List Universe again.

10. Seth Rogan-- "Forty Year Virgin"
9. Lorne Michaels-- SNL
8. Leslie Nielsen-- "And don't call _____."
7. Phil Hartman
6. Eugene Levy
5. Russell Peters
4. Catherine O'Hara
3. John Lundy
2. Mike Meyers
1. Jim Carrey

What, No Dan Ackroyd? --DaCoot

World's Biggest Flops-- Part 6

25. ROSIE MAGAZINE AND ROSIE O'DONNELL-- Rosie O'Donnell was no "O" as in Oprah. (Didn't watch it.)

24. US PSYCHIC ESPIONAGE RESEARCH-- (970s to 199r) (Did they stare at goats?)

23. JELL-0 GELATIN FOR SALADS-- Celery, Italian salad, mixed vegetables and seasoned tomatoes flavors. (Sound gross.)

22. CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC-- (1980)-- The Disco-era film disaster starring the Village People and Olympics star Bruce Jenner inspired the annual Razzle Awards for the worst film. (didn't see it.)

21. MONKEES-JIMI HENDRIX TOUR-- (July 1967)-- Prepubescent TV pop fans drove king of acid rock to quit. (Daydream Believer Meets Purple Haze.)

And I Thought I Could Retire and Not Pay MORE Taxes. --DaCoot

Monday, November 16, 2009

Major Watson, Revolutionary War Veteran

Today, while researching Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery, I came across a site listing Revolutionary War veterans buried in Illinois by county. I looked those of Lake County, where I live, and found the name of Major Watson who was captured by Indians, made to run the gauntlet, at the Battle of Monmouth, captured in the War of 1812 and lived to be a hundred.

I had four entries on him this date on my blog.

Interesting Story. --Cooter

Dead Page-- The PTA


Died October 7th. Producer of "Walk on By" by Leroy Van Dyke, "Ahab the Arab" by Ray Stevens, "Wooden Heart" by Joe Dowell and Jerry Lee Lewis, Roger Miller, Charlie Rich, Brook Benton and Tom T. Hall.

In 1968, he created an overnight sensation when he recorded an unknown singer, Jeanne Carolyn Stephensen doing a Tom T. Hall and changed her name to Jeanne C. Riley. This song was "Harper Valley PTA."

He used the profits from this million-seller to buy Sun Records.

We're talking a lot of my favorite songs and artists here.

Thanks, Mr. Singleton.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Japanese WWII Supersubs Found Off Hawaii

November 13th Chicago Tribune article by Thomas H. Maughn II.

It was announced Nov. 12th that two very high tech Japanese World War II submarines that were scuttled by the US Navy after the war off Hawaii have been found. They were sunk to prevent their advanced technology from falling into the hands of the Soviet Union as the Cold War began to warm up.

One of the subs, the I-14 was the largest non-nuclear one ever made with the ability to sail around the world one and a half times without refueling. It was 400 feet long, 40 feet high and had a crew of 144. It could launch two folding wing bombers that could be used on kamikaze missions against US cities like New York and DC.

The second one, an attack submarine called the I-201 had a sleek design that resembled the ones used today. It could go more than twice as fast as any US sub when submerged.

The war ended fortunately for us so neither was ever used. They were among five that were captured at the end of the war by the US and sunk off Oahu after US technicians had learned all their secrets.

Col. Robert Hackett said, "In their time, they were very revolutionary.

The Lost Past Found, Always Neat. --Cooter

World's Biggest Flops-- Part 5

30. THE TRANSFORMED MAN-- (1968) Star Trek captain William Shatner's spoken-word album. (Didn't hear it, but that had to have been b-a-d!!!

29. SWINE FLU IMMUNIZATION-- (1976)-- canceled after ten weeks of public fear. (You could really getsick from it. Getting sick from the cure?))

28. ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH-- (2002) Starring Eddie Murphy. Made for $100 million. Global box office $7.1 million. (Never heard of it. This will have to be an NTN question if I can remember it.)

27. 2002 US MEN'S OLYMPIC BASKETBALL TEAM-- 1st, 2nd and 3rd-ever loss by NBA All-Stars. (I loved it!)

26. SONY BETAMAX-- First home videotape that was outmaneuvered by the VHS format. (And now, VHS is on its way out as well. I still use it though, but never let it be said I'm "Up" with the times.)

Still Using Cassette Tap Old Me. --Cooter

Friday, November 13, 2009

139 WWII Marines Entombed on Pacific Atoll?

November 30, 2008 Goldsboro (NC) News-Argus.

"Researchers say 139 WWII Marines entombed on Pacific atoll: Ground-penetrating radar used to find mass graves on Tarawa." by Associated Press.

Mark North of Florida has been leading an effort to locate the graves of 139 Marines on Tarawa by using funds made by supplying rides on historic aircraft. Researchers have used ground-penetrating radar, interviewed hundreds and gone through thousands of documents in the search.

James Clayton Johnson, 60, never met his uncle James Bernard Johnson who died on Tarawa at age 17, but he was named after him. He learned of the effort to locate his uncle's grave and those of 541 other missing Marines who died at the battle..

More than 990 Marines and 680 sailors died and 2,300 wounded in the amphibious battle, one of the first in the Pacific. Eight burial sites that may have contained Americans have been determined.

Names and locations are believed to have been lost as US Navy crews rushed to build desperately needed landing strips in the days following the November 20, 1943 in vasion.

Let's Hope the Remains are Found and Properly Identified and Sanctified. --Cooter

Shard From a Night of Hatred?

October 29, 2008 Chicago Tribune by Melissa Eddy, AP.

Klandorg, Germany. Yaron Svoray has been combing through an old garbage dump looking for remnants of the Jewish people in Germany before World War II. He scrapes layers of dirt from a shard of glass and finds a sunflower at the heart of a Star of David. He speculates that it might have been used for Passover celebrations in pre-war German Jewish homes.

He is in a former dump about an hour north of Berlin that locals say was used by Nazis to deposit rejected loot from the November 9th and 10th 1938 pogom known as Kristallnacht, or "Night pf Broken Glass" where 99 Jews were killed, between 25,000 and 30,000 arrested and put in concentration camps and 267 synagogues destroyed. Many believe this event the beginning of Hitler's Final Solution.

Many other items have been found here, including a beer bottle with a Star of David on it and a metal Swastika.

Digging Up History. --DaCoot

Lots of History to Be Torn Down

From Chicago Tribune Sep. 5, 2008.

"Activists say dorm filled with history: Woodstock (Illinois) structure on path to demolition hosed students from 1848 to 1954--including big names." by Robert Channick.

A young Orson Welles attended prep school at the Todd School for Boys and could really tell impromptu stories. and would write scripts for radio shows in the basement sound studio of Grace Hall dormitory where he lived.

Grace Hall, now offices for the Woodstock Christian Life Service, is planned to be demolished to make room for independent living duplexes for seniors.

Caryl Lemanski, 67, and others are trying to save the 88-year-old structure which is built in Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie-style. The original Todd School had an expansive campus featuring a farm, airstrip and sailboats and was where the sons of wealthy business and industrialist were educated.


Welles arrived in 1926, a Kenosha native who had moved to Highland Park. The school's progressive, hands-on philosophy encouraged to students to pursue their interests and Welles pursued his with passion, directing plays and producing radio shows until he graduated in 1931. Of course, there was that famous War of the Worlds broadcast in 1938 and the classic movie "Citizen Kane.".

Other famous alumni were physicist Robert Wilson, founder of fermilab in Batavia and Gahan Wilson whose macabre cartoons appeared in the New Yorker.

After the school closed, the airstrip became Marian Central High School which opened in 1959.


Hearings have been held. Christian Life Services says the building is structurally sound but it would cost $700,000 to bring it up to code. They were given permission to raze the building, but as of this month, it is still standing. Let's hope they find a way to keep it standing. It is a beautiful building.

Don't Tear It Down. --Cooter

World's Biggest Flops-- Part 4

35. FASHION CAFE-- (1995-98) oxymoronic, super-model themed business that served food. (What? Not around here.)

34. CHER-GREGG ALLMAN-- (1975-1979) Bad marriage produced a bad album, "Two the Hard Way." (What was their son's name?)

33. WATERGATE BREAK-IN-- (1972)-- (Goes without saying.)

32. GERBER SINGLES-- (1974) The baby food giant introduced single-serving pureed entrees for adults-- creamed beef, chicken Madeira-- in jars. Adults didn't bite (or was it gum?)

31. FORMER DEMOCRAT JOHN CONNALLY'S $11 million bid for 1980 Republican presidential nomination netted him one delegate, Ada Mills of Arkansas. (Wasn't he the one in the car with Kennedy when he was shot?)

Keeps Getting Better. --DaCoot

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dead Page: USS Indianapolis Survivors


Chicago Tribune, July 22, 2008

He was 19 and a radio technician for just 13 days when his ship, the cruiser USS Indianapolis was hit and sunk. He floated in the pacific for 4 days and was one of only 317 who survived the worst single loss of life at sea ever for the US Navy. Many survived the attack but died of exposure, dehydration and shark attacks.

Another sailor had swiped his mattress so he was sleeping on a cot topside and that probably saved his life.

The Indianapolis was torpedoes July 30, 1945 while returning from a mission to deliver the atom bombs. Since the mission was top secret, not many knew about it further complication the matter.

He had a life jacket and held on to a buddy as long as he could, but he slipped top his death. He would wind his watch to keep track of time and think of his parents back home.

Mr. Miner was an active member of the USS Indianapolis Survivors Associated and testified in Washington, DC, in the 1990s to clear the name of his captain, Charles Butler McVay III, who was courtmartialed for not doing enough to avoid the attack. President Clinton cleared the captain in October 2000.


Died October 3, 2009

Among 317 rescued after floating in the Pacific for almost five days.

Mr. Kuryla wouldn't talk about it for many years, but became an active speaker and advocate when the survivors came together to clear successfully their captain's name.

Born 1925 and enlisted while a junior in high school. he was in several Pacific battles before the sinking and said many died from drinking salt water.

He was active in and a leader in the Survivors Association and helped raise money to build the memorial to the ship in Indianapolis.

Oct. 10, 2009 Chicago Tribune

The Greatest Generation

World's Biggest Flops-- Part 3

Back to AARP's November Bulletin with list prepared by Betsy Towner.

I don't agree with all of them, but remember most. My comments in parentheses.

40. MILLI VANILLI'S GRAMMY-- award in 1990 for an album the duo didn't make. (They were lip-synching, but whoever made that album sure did a good job.)

39. PSYCHEDELIC PEZ-- (1967) They were flower-flavored. As in roses. (Never heard of it, but I do like my Pez products. What a sugar shot.)

38. THE CAPEMAN-- (1998) Paul Simon's rock opera about a murdered teen. (Never heard of it.)

37. BASKETBALL SUPERSTAR MICHAEL JORDAN'S-- baseball career (1994) (But he sure made the lives of those Birmingham players better. He more than made up for it with those never-ending commercials he made and we had to endure here in the Chicago area.)

36. YOU'RE IN THE PICTURE-- (1961) Poor ratings persuaded Jackie Gleason to cancel his game show after one episode. In week 2's time slot, the Great One apologized for "the biggest bomb in history. (I don't remember it, but with just one TV in the house, we watched whatever the parents did.)

Well, I Remembered Two of Them. --DaCoot

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back to Pearl with Gus Petterson-- Part 2

After Pearl Harbor, Gus was assigned to the USS Lexington. In May 1942, he was on the flight deck when the ship was attacked by Japanese planes. Six hours later, he was ordered to abandon ship.

During the course of the war, he was involved in three plane crashes.

Later in 1942, he was on the rescue plane that found World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker who had been on a tour and secret mission to deliver a secret message to General Douglas MacArthur.

After being shot down, his raft was spotted 24 days later and Petterson noted that "their tongues were so swollen they couldn't close their mouths."

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

Back to Pearl with Gus Petterson-- Part 1

Dec. 7, 2008 Monroe (La) News Star.

Gus Petterson was on his bunk at Ford Island smoking a cigarette. He was a mess cook and had just finished serving meals when an aircraft machinist mate ran downstairs yelling that they were being attacked. Some didn't believe him and threw their shoes because they'd been sleeping.

From the third floor of the barracks he watched the Arizona get hit and saw sailors blown into the air from it and the California. He also witnessed the spectacular explosion of the destroyer USS Shaw.

His mess hall had been turned into a temporary hospital. Dining tables became operation tables and the kitchen cooler became a morgue.

At one point in the battle, Gus was standing next to a soldier firing a rifle at low-flying planes. He hit the pilot of one and the plane crashed. After the attack, they went out to the crash site and found the dead pilot was wearing a UCLA graduation ring and had a roll of American money. His plane had an American-built propeller and an RCA radio.

More to Come. --Da Coot

World's Biggest Flops-- Part 2

45. NFL QUARTERBACK RYAN LEAF-- (1998-2001) He signed a $31.3 million contract. Career stats: 14 touchdown passes; 36 interceptions; 4 wins; endless run-ins with teammates, management, media and fans. (That reminds me of the wonderful Cade McNown, the Bear's Mr. Wonderful. I bet neither one gave their ill-got money back, or even some of it.)

44. 1988 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE-- Michael Dukakis. (Well, he didn't win, but a lot of candidates have lost. What makes him so special?)

43. MY MOTHER THE CAR-- (1965-1966) TV show about a lawyer and his reinCARnated mother. (To my credit, I didn't watch it.)

42. APPLE LISA-- (1983-1985) The computer's cost stung at $9,995 ($21,660 today). Apple buried its last 2,700 Lisas in a Utah landfill in 1989. (Never heard of it, but never used a 'puter till 2000.)

41. GERALDO RIVERA-- opening Al Capone's "vault" on live TV in 1986. (Hey, sometimes in history work you don't find the treasure or anything for that matter. The American public always expects something interesting, but in historical research of any sort, it is usually 1% excitement and something really interesting to every 99% NOTHING!!)

Oops Up Side the Head. --Cooter

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Britain Observing Armistice Day Service

Nov. 10th BBC.

A special service presided over by Queen Elizabeth will be held at Westminster Abbey tomorrow on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to commemorate the death of all three surviving British veterans still living in the country last year.

Bill Stine, 108. died in January and the world's oldest person, Henry Allingham died in July at 113 as did Harry Patch at age 111. A pictured accompanied the article showing all three in wheel chairs at last year's observance.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be there as will former prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Majors.

Two minutes of silence will be observed.

The Passing of Another Great Generation, Including My Two Grandfathers. --Cooter

Marine Corps Birthday

Captain Samuel Nicholas was given orders by Congress on this date in 1775 to form two battalions of Continental Marines.

During the Civil War, the USMC played a very moderate role, primarily serving aboard blockade ships. About half of the officer corps resigned and started the Confederate States Marine Corps.

A battalion of land-based Marines was quickly formed and participated poorly at the First Battle of Bull Run, running away with the rest of the Army.

Quite a few Marines participated in the Naval Column's attack on Fort Fisher in 1865. This force was forced to withdraw under very fire.

Like I Said, Ooh-Rah!! --Cooter

Approaching the Pearl Harbor Anniversary

We're less than a month from it now.

1. BOB HILL, 87-- sailed into Pearl harbor in 1942 and had a voice come over the intercom for all hands to man the rails and come to attention as they passed the wreck of the USS Oklahoma lying on her side. he was one of the thousands of Americans who joined the military in the aftermath of the attack. He was aboard the USS Enterprise at the time. Dec. 7, 2008 Muskogee (Ok) Phoenix.

2. RAY TURPIN-- was a young Marine gunner on the USS Oklahoma and swam over to the USS Maryland after the order to abandon ship was given. While there, he put a few rounds into one of the Japanese fighters.

3. NORMAN OHLENDORF of Chicago Heights, Il., was 20 at the time and remembers sitting in a car in the US when he heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor. At first, he couldn't join the military due to vision problems but eventually entered the Army.

December 7, 2008 Southtown (Il.)Star

I'll Have a Lot More Pearl Harbor Memories as the Anniversary Approaches. --Cooter

World's Fifty Biggest Flops-- Part 1

The November issue of AARP (Yes, I'm older than dirt) had an article by Betsy Towner called "Biggest Flops."

I've heard of most of these and don't agree with all she said, but very thought provoking nonetheless. My comments in parentheses.

50. WORLD BELLY FLOP RECORD-- (2008) 35.5 feet into one foot of water, by Darren Taylor, aka Professor Splash. (Not the smartest thing I can think of.)

49. OPTI-GRAB-- (1979) Eyeglass handle invention that bankrupts Navin R. Johnson in Steve Martin's movie The Jerk. (The White Guy who thought he was black.)

48. TEN-CENT BEER NIGHT-- (June 4, 1974) Rowdy fans trigger Cleveland Indians forfeit. (Kind of like Disco Demolition at old Comiskey Park?)

47. COP ROCK-- (1990) TV crime drama with singing boys in blue. (Watched about ten minutes before gagging.)

46. MCDONALD'S ARCH DELUXE-- (1996-1997) Over $300 million in burgers lost. (I liked this McD Answer to the Whopper.)

Obviously, a Few More to Go. --Da Coot Man

Happy Birthday USMC!!!

Today marks the 234th Birthday of America's Finest Fighting Machine, the United States Marine Corps. November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized this fine branch of the military.

It is with this group that I had my very limited military experience in the summer of 1971 as I prepared to become an officer. Fortunately, the Vietnam War began winding down and finally ended before I graduated from NIU in 1973 so my services were no longer needed.

Even though I never really served, I am a Marine at heart.

I have a longer account of my Marine Corps days at

Today is also the 55th anniversary of the dedication of the Iwo Jima Memorial in 1954.

Ooh-Rah!! --Cooter

Monday, November 9, 2009

95th Anniversary of Australian Navy's First Action

It was on today's date, 95 years ago that the HMAS Sydney engaged and destroyed the German raider Emden in an engagement by the Cocos Islands, northwest of Australia. This was the baptism of fire for the newly formed Australian Navy.

This glorious victory was overshadowed by the disastrous Gallipolo Campaign. Being an island, Australia is very dependent on maritime trade.

The German raider Emden, under Lt.-Cmdr. Karl von Muller was cruising the Indian Ocean and in a short while captured or sank 30 Allied merchant and naval ships. Muller was known for both his boldness and chivalrous nature.

On October 28, 1914, he sailed into the British port of Panang and sank a British and Russian cruiser as well as the French destroyer that followed the Emden when it left. Muller rescued the French sailors and put them aboard a British merchant ship he captured two days later and had them returned home.


There was great fear in Australia and the Allies dispatched British, Russian and Japanese ships to look for the Emden. On November 9, 1914, the German raider approached an Allied wireless station on Direction Island in the Cocos Islands. It sent out warnings and the HMAS Sydney, which was escorting a convoy was ordered to intercept the German ship.

Even though smaller, outgunned and slower, Muller engaged the Sydney and after a few hits was pounded by over a hundred shells with the loss of 131 of its crew. Muller was forced to ground the Emden, whereupon the Sydneys commander John Glossoy called for surrender. When he received no reply, another shot and the flag came down.

The Sydney that the search was for a few years ago was the namesake of this HMAS Sydney I.

Another Interesting Story. --Coot

World War II in Wilmington, NC

Again, of all the cities and communities in the United States, I doubt that there is any that is doing more with their World War II heritage than Wilmington, North Carolina. They even have a group that concentrates on it called the Wilmington Homefront Heritage Coalition which recently installed a German POW sign in the lobby of the USO Building located at 10th and Ann streets..

It was painted on the mess hall by German prisoners and originally in the Swift and Co. fertilizer plant across the Cape Fear River on US-421. The plant closed in the early 1970s and was donated to the Coalition earlier this year. When the building was torn down, it was saved.

These Germans were part of Rommel's Afrika Korps and among 550 prisoners interred in and around Wilmington during the war. None tried to escape and they were returned to Germany in 1946.

The Little-known US Homefront. --Cooter

Quite an Anniversary-- The Berlin Wall

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall. I remember just looking at the TV in wonder of those East Berliners standing on top of the wall, a place wherethey would have been shot had they done it just 24-hours earlier.

I never thought I'd see this as the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union and fall of Communism.

Some friends of ours who ran the Black Bear Restaurant in Ingleside, Illinois, which featured German food, were returning home for a visit to Berlin and I asked if they would get me a piece of it, figuring this would be a way for my students to actually touch history. They came back with a small bag with a piece of it for $15.

It was a really small piece, but had paint on one flat piece which I figure must have faced the West Berlin side unless it had been painted on after the wall opened.

I understand there are some sections of the wall left in place.

I have also seen sections of the wall at a fort out in Kansas and at Westminister College in Fulton, Missouri, where Winston Churchill gave his Iron Curtain speech.

An Important Wall. --Cooter

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bring Back Harry! -- Part 2

***Just a regular guy, he and a group of friends in Independence would rent a room in a downtown business to hold their poker games.

***Then, there was that great "The Buck Stops Here" sign on his desk. Here is a man who didn't shirk responsibility and decisions.

***On May 6, 1971, Congress was preparing to award the Medal of Honor for his 87th birthday. He refused, saying: "I don't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise."

***I've always loved the picture of him holding the Chicago Tribune with the headlines that he had been defeated by Thomas Dewey in the 1948 election. That big smile on his face said it all.

***As president, he paid for all his travel expenses and food.

***Today's politicians find new levels of success cashing in on the presidency (Right, Bill?), resulting in huge wealth.

***Truman reportedly once said, "My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And, to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference."

My Kind of Guy, That Harry. --Cooter

Bring Back Harry!-- Part 1

You keep hearing about one of the things politicians are shocking us with these days, but a friend recently sent me an e-mail about a man who, after reading it, would sure have gotten my vote and support.

I was alive during his term as president, but way too young to know anything about him.

FACTS ABOUT HARRY S. TRUMAN, President of the United States

***When he died, the only asset he had was his house he lived in.

***When he retired from the presidency in 1952, he lived at first on his US Army pension of $13,507.72 yearly.

***After Eisenhower's inauguration, he and his wife drove back to Independence, Missouri, all by themselves as there was no Secret Service assigned to them.

***When offered corporate positions with large salaries, he declined, saying: "You don't want me. You want the office of the President and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale."

More Harry to Come. --Cooter

Top Ten Most Controversial Flags

List Universe came up with another list on September 26th that gets you to really thinking. Maybe you agree with it, maybe not, but they listed the ten most controversial flags. I was sure the Confederate flag had to be #1. Was it? Of course, these were just one person's thoughts on the matter.

They had pictures of the flags and a short history of each, so go to the site to view them.

10. Rainbow/Gay Pride Flag
9. Angus Flag in Scotland
8. Sun of Vergina Flag of Macedonia
7. Pre-Islamic Revolution Flag of Iran
6. Rising Sun Flag of Japan

5. Patriot's Flag of Quebec, Canada
4. Flag of Europe
3. Flag of Iraq
2. Confederate Battle Flag-- Still shocked it was not #1. With all the attcks on that flag by certain groups, I was sure it was number one, but it wasn't. The Number One Most Controversial took me by surprise, but after thinking about it, I would have to agree.

1. The United States Flag-- I've seen it being burned and dragged through the streets more than I care to think of.

Gets You to Thinking. --Da Coot

Friday, November 6, 2009

Visiting a Movie Hotel

Richard Roeper in his August 10th column in the Chicago Sun-Times, talked about the ultra-funny movie starring two of my favorites, John Candy and Steve Martin, 1987's "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."

This is the one they arrive at after one calamity after another and they need a place to rest. Steve Martin's credit cards have been burned beyond recognition, but he talks his way into a room for $7 and a really nice watch.

As id the case often in films by director John Hughes, who had just died back then, many of the scenes were set in Illinois and that motel, the El Rancho, is still open in Gurnee to this day.

"The place has not changed," says Thomas Krawczynski who lives and works there. "The room depicted in the movie is almost exactly the same, as is the motel office. Andsome of the residents who live here could have been in the Hughes film."

Roeper closes with: "Sure. The Del Griffiths of the world are still out there on the road, selling shower rings and telling stories."

Two of the scenes were also filmed in Woodstock, Illinois, as was most of the "Groundhog Day" movie. Also, the Braidwood Motel in Braidwood, Illinois, right on old Route 66 and near the Polka-Dot Drive-In, was used in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."

One Hilarious Movie. --Da Coot

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What is This Camp David? --Part 2


ESCAPING THE U-BOATS-- FDR selected the site in 1942 as an escape from the muggy summers of DC. Before, he had gone on the presidential yacht USS Potomac which was considered vulnerable to German U-boats in World War II.

NAMED, RENAMED--FDR called the place the USS Shangri La after the mythical Tibetan retreat in James Hilton's 1933 novel "Lost Horizon." In 1953, Eisenhower renamed it Camp David after his grandson.

A FOREIGN EXPERIENCE-- The first foreign guest at Camp David was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1943. Presidents have often invited foreign dignitaries there, but all haven't liked it. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin called it "Concentration Camp de luxe."

HAPPY CAMPERS-- By one unofficial count. President Reagan spent the most time there, all, or part of 517 days. He is closely followed by George W. Bush at 487. Harry Truman used it the least with just 27 days. But, of course, he also called the White House the "great white jail."

EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE-- Jimmy Carter: "Of all the things about the presidency, I guess going to Camp David now and then is the one I would miss most."

Pat Nixon to Nancy Reagan, "Without Camp David, you'll go stir-crazy."

"The one job I would never want would be president, but to live in the White House and go to Camp David would almost make it worth it." Cooter. But, I guess I'll never get that chance to go to either.

Give me a Home at the Camp, Well, At Least a Visit. --Cooter

What is This Camp David?-- Part 1

The September 7th Chicago Tribune had an article by Katherine Skiba about President Obama making his tenth visit to Camp David. It is the ultra-private presidential mountain retreat a half-hour from the White House by helicopter.

Starting with FDR in 1942, presidents have gone to the 143-acre hideaway with its swimming, horseback riding, bowling, skeet shooting, movies and sleigh rides in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains and surrounded by a 5,810-acre national park.


Obama is the 13th President to use it.

In addition to what I already mentioned, other activities available: rock-climbing wall, well-equipped gym, indoor tennis, batting cage, pitch-and-putt golf course (?), bike trails and bomb shelter.

More to Come. --Cooter

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Remembering the Boss Pitches

The September 25th Chicago Tribune ran an article by Sandra M. Jones "Bosses cast in commercial roles" about Edward Whitacre, Gregory Wasson and Daniel Hesse, who head up GM, Walgreens and Sprint respectively. They are making TV pitches.

They follow in the shoes of these men. See if you can guess the blanks. Answers below:

HARLAND "______" SANDERS, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, whose likeness, complete with bow tie and goatee still appears on logos.

LEE IACOCCA-- former CEO and chairman of Chrysler; "If you can find a better car, ___ __."

ORVILLE REDENBACHER-- folksy founder of namesake popcorn proclaims, "You'll like it better, or my ____ ____ ______ ____________."

FRANK PERDUE-- founder of the Perdue chicken company, "It takes a tough man to ____ _ _____ ______."

VICTOR KIAM II-- former chairman of Remington Products, Co. used to like Remington shavers so much, "_ ______ ___ _______."

____ ______-- founder of Wendy's, known for his plain folksy way of talking.

Buy It
Name isn't Orville Redenbacher
make a tender chicken
I bought the company.
Dave Thomas

I Remember These Guys. --Da Coot

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dead Page-- Chicago Suburb Mover and Shaker

JACK HOFFMAN 1923-2008

Hoffman Estates was named for him. Developer aimed to offer affordability.

Died December 16th. Bought 300 acres of rolling farmland northwest of Chicago and covered it with three bedroom ranch-style homes.

Mr. Hoffman got into the house-building business in the boom following World War II. With his father Sam, he formed the F & S (Father and Son) Construction in Phoenix, Arizona and put up 5,000 homes while also expanding into Salt Lake City, Denver and Albuquerque.

With the expansion of O'Hare Airport and construction of Interstate 90 in Chicago, they entered the market with construction beginning in 1954 with the first residents moving in a year later.

Eventually they would build 5,000 homes and the town of Hoffman Estates was incorporated in 1959.

In the early days, he would negotiate with the area's German farmers over schnapps. Today, the town has over 50,000 residents.

So, that's where Hoffman Estates got its name.

From December 19, 2008 Chicago Tribune, by Trevor Jensen.

New Month, New Look at World War II

The 2009 Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor calendar.


The poster belongs to Norman Rockwell, the one showing the family sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner. The words read " fight for. FREEDOM FROM WANT.

THE PICTURE-- Pilots pleased over their victory during the Marshall Islands attack, grin across the tail of an F6F Hellcat on board the USS Lexington, after shooting down 17 out of 20 Japanese planes heading for Tarawa. Comdr. Edward Steichen, November 1943.

November 13, 1942-- Sinking of the cruiser USS Juneau and the deaths of the five Sullivan brothers.

November 20, 1943-- Battle for Tarawa begins.

November 23, 1943-- Japanese end resistance on Makin and Tarawa.

Haven't Seen My New Calendar Yet. --Cooter

Monday, November 2, 2009

World War I British Submarine Found

The October 25th ABC News reported that the wreck of the HMS E-18, sunk in the Baltic Sea off the Estonian coast in World War I has been located by a Swedish survey team after a ten year search.

Germany was moving iron ore from Sweden to Germany and the British Navy mounted a major underwater offensive to stop it. All 33 crew members were lost.

In May 1916, the E-18 left an Estonian port for a routine patrol and never returned. It was found in good shape, but damage suggested that a mine had sunk it while running on the surface. The submarine had been operating in an area which was heavily mined.

The British offensive in the Baltic had caused Germany to become the first country to use the convoy system.

Britain is the only country that can claim ownership under maritime law.

At Least Now They Know. -- DaCoot

Bits 'O 'History: USS North Carolina-- 12-Year Old Soldier-- A Real Blunder

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

1. USS NORTH CAROLINA-- The November 1st Wilmington (NC) Star News had an article about 1400 runners participating in the 2009 Carolina Sports Half Marathon which started at the battleship Saturday.

Karen Foley from Clinton, NJ, ran for her father Dante Renta who served on the USS North Carolina from 1941 to 1946. $20,00 was raised for local charities.

Next Saturday there will be a Beach2Battleship Iron Distance Triathlon. That's using the old warship.

2. 12-YEAR OLD SOLDIER-- Records now show that a 12 and 13-year old fought for Britain at the Battle of the Somme. The 12-year old was too short to see over the edge of the trench.

The 13-year-old, George Maker, lied to his recruiting officer and said he was 18 to join the 2nd King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment in 1917. Under fire at Somme, he broke down in tears and was brought before an unsympathetic officer. He died in 1999at age 96.

3. A REAL BLUNDER-- The Nov. 1st Observer reports that 50,000 Allied POWs in Italy were ordered by the British M19 to remain in their prison camps after Italy dropped out of the war.

This made it easy for German troops to recapture them and send them north to prisons in Germany and Poland where thousands died.

Now, You Know. --Cooter