Friday, December 31, 2010

Dead Page: Rosie the Riveter

GERALDINE DOYLE (1924-2010)

Face of World War II's Rosie the Riveter Dies at Age 86

At age 17, Geraldine Doyle graduated from high school. With the men away fighting the war, millions of American women started working in factories producing what was needed to win the war. At age 17, Geraldine got a job working in a metal processing plant in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Shortly after starting, a photographer from UPI came around and took her picture. That picture was used by illustrator J. Howard Miller for a poster series commissioned by the US government to inspire factory workers. Evidently, Miller added the muscular arm as she said they definitely weren't hers.

The poster was later used by the feminist movement.

Geraldine wasn't even aware of the poster's existence until 1982.

Also, surprisingly, Geraldine also only worked at the factory for two weeks. The work was dangerous and a fellow worked was badly injured. Since she played the cello and worried about her hands, she quit.

In 1943, she got married and helped her husband set up a dental clinic, ending her factory days.

I have a metal copy of that familiar pose and "We Can Do It" right here in my work area.

Adios, Rosie.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Christmas Movie Rumble-- Part 4

Which is the best Christmas movie: "A Christmas Story" (CS) or "It's a Wonderful Life"(WL)?

Continuing with the Dec. 24th Chicago Tribune's article. My comments are after (MC).


CLIMAX

WL-- Building and Loan is saved, angel gets his wings, George's entire life is validated.

CS-- Ralphie gets a BB gun.

Winner: Wonderful Life

MC-- I agree. Also, the kids and Mary get their father and husband back. The old uncle and two other employees keep their jobs. Everybody now knows George. In Christmas Story the brother has his neat Zeppelin. Mom and Dad have that great restful final scene by the front window, which no longer has that major prize glaring forth soft sex.


FINALE

WL-- The happy crowd rallying around George, the children, the singing, but especially George's palpable joy truly convey "good will to men."

CS-- In a movie otherwise played for laughs, the Old Man's reaction as Ralphie opens the BB gun is genuinely touching. Otherwise, it's all material gain.

Winner: Wonderful Life

MC-- I always get a big old lump in my throat at WL's final scene. I don't know how it could possibly have more of an impact.


OVERALL WINNER

"It's a Wonderful Life." As Uncle Billy said, you just can't keep those Baileys down. Heehaw and merry Christmas.

MC-- Actually, you really can't compare these two meetings as they are two completely different genre as Troutbirder pointed out. But, anything about either of these movies is always fun to read.

Waiting for Next year. --Cooter

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

As Video Stores Ride Off into the Sunset-- Part 2

Christopher Borrelli doesn't remember when the last time he walked into a video store, rented a movie, took it home and then returned it. he uses Netflix and streams movies through Xbox.

Not only do I not remember my last visit to a video store, I have never used Netflix and what is Xbox? For that matter, I have never even looked at a DVD here at home. I only use VHS tapes. They still work fine. But, I am not one to jump on a technological bandwagon and have to be dragged kicking and screaming into such things, usually only because I can no longer use what I am accustomed to.

However, Borrelli, does have some warm thoughts about little independent mom and pop video stores like Specialty Video on Broadway in Chicago. He says it looks like the very first video stores. These are places where the workers are just as happy to turn the shopper on to different stuff than they came in for.

These stores are like the old mom and pop stores where people would come in and talk shop about records. I had two )Full Cyrkle in Crystal Lake, Il. and The Record Rack in Goldsboro, NC) that I liked and would spend hours in just talking and looking for little nuggets.

I doubt that I will ever get into video stores like I did record stores.

The only video store I went to was Rollins Video which started up in Round Lake Beach, Illinois, by a resident. He did so well, he had to move to a bigger store and even opened another one in Antioch.

Like They Said, "They Can't Take That Away from Me." --DaCoot

A Christmas Movie Rumble-- Part 3

Continuing with the comparison of my two favorite Christmas movies: "A Christmas Story" and "It's a Wonderful Life."


CHRISTMAS FOCUS

WL: Though the key, climatic scene takes place on Christmas Eve, three-fourths of the story has nothing to with Christmas.

CS: Take a cue from the title.

Winner: Christmas Story

MC-- If you want your Christmas experience, CS is it. But, there never be a more lump in your throat Christmas scene than WL's finale. That makes up for all the non-Christmas. I have to go with WL.



VILLAIN

WL-- Henry Potter, experienced bully with enough money to (almost) control a town.

CS-- Scut Farkus, callow bully who relies on fists, sidekicks and yellow eyes to terrorize school children.

Winner: Wonderful Life, though Farkus gets extra credit for his name.

MC-- Potter not only represents an individual villain, but these days Big Business. He hurts huge numbers of people while Scut Farkus' victims are limited. Definitely Potter wins it here.

Two More Essential Components Coming Tomorrow. --Cooter







OVERALL WINNER

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

As Video Stores Ride Off Into the Sunset-- Part 1

From the October 20th Chicago Tribune "Deserted Aisles" by Christopher Borrelli.

We are fast approaching the time these once ubiquitous stores join the ranks of the old mom and pop record stores and disappear thanks to public tastes.

Christopher Borrelli asks the question, "What have we lost when we lose all our video stores."

"We've wrung hands over the closing of local bookstores, and we've lamented the demise of record stores. But video stores---should we care."

He believe video stores were always colder and less lovable.

For those of you who have never been to one, this is where you would go into the store, pick a movie and rent it for an allotted time. And heaven help you if you returned ot late or forgot to rewind it.

The emergence of Netflix spelled the end of it. The biggest video chain was Blockbuster, which at its peak of almost 5,000 stores, has filed for bankruptcy as has Movie Gallery (which owned Hollywood Video). However, there are still 3.425 Blockbuster stores left, but for how long?

Never Went To 'Em Much Myself. --DaCoot

A Christmas Movie Rumble-- Part 2

The Chicago Tribune article then broke down "A Christmas Story" (CS) and "It's a Wonderful Life" (WL) into a comparison in seven categories.


HERO--

WL-- George Bailey, a small-town everyman who thinks of everybody.
CS-- Ralphie Parker, a small-town 9-year-old boy who thinks of himself.

WINNER: "It's a Wonderful Life"

My Comment (MC) No contest here. George was trying to do right, but the loss of the money by his uncle made him question his life. Ralphie was just being selfish.


HUMOR HIGHLIGHTS--

WL-- The dance at the gym where the floor opens and George and Mary fall in the pool followed by most everyone else.
CS-- The flagpole incident, the leg lamp, the Bumpus dogs, the visit to Santa.

WINNER: "A Christmas Story"

MC-- I agree. By a landslide. CS was just one funny thing after another. "Ohhhh Fudge." But I always like the looks on the face of the bridge tender when he was listening to Clarence.


FANTASY SEQUENCES--

WL-- Clarence shows George what would have happened had he never been born.
CS-- Teacher rhapsodizes over essay; Ralphie saves family from Black Bart; Ralphie gets soap poisoning.

WINNER: "It's a Wonderful Life."

MC-- I agree. That part where New Bedford Falls became Potterstown was something else.

More to Come. --Cooter

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Top Twelve Grossing Movies of Christmas

And, there's not "A Christmas Story," "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Miracle on 34th Street" among them.

Adjusted for inflation.

HOW THE GRICH STOLE CHRISTMAS-- (2000)-- $330 million
SANTA CLAUSE-- (1994)-- $214 million
THE POLAR EXPRESS-- (2004)-- $210 million

ELF (2003)-- $173 million
THE SANTA CLAUSE 2-- (2002)-- $169 million
A CHRISTMAS CAROL-- (2009)-- $141 million

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION-- (1989)-- $126 million
FOUR CHRISTMASES-- (2008)-- $122 million
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS-- (1993)-- $114 million

SCROOGED-- (1988)-- $112 million
THE SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE-- (2006)-- $92 million
CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS-- (2004)-- $85 million

I Wonder What the Grosses of "A Christmas Story" and "It's a Wonderful Life" Are? --DaCoot

Hollywood No Longer Believes in Christmas.

From the December 8th Chicago Tribune article of same title by Dawn C. Chmoelewski and Steven Zeitchik.

This year the role of Grinch for Christmas will be played by Hollywood. The release of Christmas movies are as much a part of the seasonal tradition as Black Friday and carols. This year, there is just "The Nutcracker in 3D" which has limited release and poor reviews.

Instead of new home for the holidays or Santa Claus movies we're getting new installments of old movies and lots of animated and kids' movies. This year, the way to do big budget movies is to take stories that everyone knows and take them in new directions.

Insiders say the beginning of the end came in 2006 when there was an overabundance of Christmas movies released. There were so many that Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas" had to open before Halloween, which even then wasn't so bad because if there was ever a Halloween-Christmas movie, this was the one.

Of Course, I'm REALLY Getting Put Out by All These Incessant 3D Movies to get Those Eight and Nine Year-Old-Boys to Exclaim "Awesome!!" --RoadDog

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Movie Rumble-- Part 1

From the Dec. 24th Chicago Tribune "Christmas movie rumble" by Nancy Watkins.

It's a Scrappy "A Christmas Story" taking on Venerable "It's a Wonderful Life" for Bragging Rights as the Best Christmas Movie.

There are lots and lots of Christmas movies being shown on TV right now. But the real heavy hitters come out Christmas Eve just like the Bowl Games beginning New Years Eve. Before that, they are often just a reward for a .500 season for the big guys like Georgia and Tennessee or an excellent season for little guys like Northern Illinois, 11-3.

Last night, NBC ran "It's a Wonderful Life" for only the second time of the season. It began at 7 pm Central opposite the beginning of TBS' 24-hour marathon of "A Christmas Story."

I have already seem parts of "A Christmas Story" and will at some point today will see the whole thing. (I'm also recording Spike's Star Wars marathon which started last night.)

For more that 20 years "It's a Wonderful Life was numero uno without question. This was due to a copyright lapse and stations showed the movie so often that many people grew to dislike it. In 1994, NBC got exclusive rights and now only shows it once or twice a year. I didn't watch it last night because I'd already seen it a couple weeks ago.

This has allowed "A Christmas Story," with the TBS marathon and other showings to mount a serious threat for top spot. Some say it is already number one.

I have to admit that these are my two favorites, but "A Christmas Story" is first.

Nancy Watkins then broke the movies down into some essential components for a comparison of the two, much like sports channels do with opposing teams.

That Will Be in Part 2. --Cooter

Friday, December 24, 2010

"A Christmas Story" Where Are They Now?

Frpm this month's Rockenbach Chevy Dealership News, Grayslake, Illinois.

"A Christmas Story" premiered in November 1983.

PETER BILLINGSLEY-- Ralphie Parker-- currently a producer. He produced "Iron Man" and is best friend with Vince Vaughn. He had a cameo in "Elf." Wonder if it had to do with a bb gun?

MELINDA DILLON-- Mrs. Parker-- Began her career with Second City. Starred in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Harry and the Hendersons." Presently keeping out of the public eye.

DARREN McGAVIN-- Mr. Parker-- reportedly got $2 million for "A Christmas Story. Starred in the TV series Kolchak the Night Stalker. Died in 2006 at the age of 83.

SCOTT SCHWARTZ-- Flick-- Roles have dried up. Wonder of his tongue ever recovered.

ZACK WARD-- Scut Farkus-- the ultimate bully who gets his from an out-of-control Ralphie. Doing well. Has a steady acting career. In the movies "Almost Famous" and "Transformers."

JEAN SHEPHERD-- writer of "A Christmas Story" and narrator. He had a cameo in the movie as the man who got after the Parker boys for cutting into line. Died in 1999 at age 78.

BUMPUS HOUNDS-- Probably dog food or Pa Parker got his revenge.

I Triple Dog Dare Ya. --DaCoot

Those Christmas Movies

I just got home so have not as of yet watched any of the Christmas movies being shown, particularly, that Christmas show of all Christmas movies "A Christmas Story."

I wondering if they still have the "A Christmas Story" display at the Indiana Welcome Center on I-80 by the Illinois line. We saw it back a few years ago and it was pure "Story" nirvana.

These were the windows at Macy's in New York City awhile back.

Anyway, I accidentally posted two stories on my Down Da Road I Go blog yesterday that I had intended to have on this one. I hate when I do that.

One story was on the 70th anniversary of the Red Ryder BB gun and continued to today. The other one was about what the kids on "It's a Wonderful Life" are doing these days.

Worth checking out if you are a fan of either movie.

http://downdaroadigo.blogspot.com

I Have Seen Three of My Top Four Must See Christmas Movies, So Now Have to See #1, "A Christmas Story." --Cooter

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Destroyer USS Gravely (DDG-107) Commissioned at Port of Wilmington, NC

From the November 20th Island Gazette.

The Gravely arrived at Wilmington November 12th and was commissioned Nov. 20th.

It is named after Vice Admiral Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr. (1922-2004), the first black to achieve the rank of Flag Officer in the Navy and to command a major warship and a fleet.

Some 6,000 attended the commissioning. The ship was built and christened in Pascagoula, Mississippi, is 510 feet long and has a crew of 276.

It is the 57th ship of the Arleigh Burke class of destroyers.

destroyers came about after the Chilean Civil War of 1891 and the Sino-Japanese War of 1894, when small torpedo boats could dart up to large warships, launch a torpedo and dart away.

The torpedo boat destroyer was developed as a counter weapon and the name later shortened to destroyer.

The Gravely is armed with missiles, torpedoes and one lone gin.

The Latest Pride and Joy of the US Navy. --DaCoot

Shipyard Day Care Centers of World War II: The Kaiser Experiment

By Aminn Hassam at http://wwiishipyarddaycare.tripod.com.

Kaiser Company built day care centers for mothers working in its West Coast shipyards, especially in Richmond, California, and Portland, Oregon.

To maintain a profit and meet war production deadlines and funded by the US Maritime Commission, kaiser established 24-hour-a-day children's centers.

Portland had two, serving nearly 40,000 children.

Black parents at both centers were uncomfortable leaving their kids with white teachers.

By the end of the war, kaiser Centers and 3100 other state and federal funded centers had served between 600,000 and 1.6 million children.

And, We definitely Still Have It Today, Especially with All the Mothers Working to Support Their Families. --Cooter

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

World War II Navajo Code Talker Speaks

From the 2008 VA Watchdog.org.

Sgt. Allen Dale June, USMC, one of the last three living original 29 Code Talkers, spoke before a group of twenty Young Marines. The code they developed, using their native language as a basis, confounded the Japanese who were never able to crack it.

June served in the Pacific Theater until 1945. By the end of the war, there were a total of 420 Navajo Code Talkers out of 3,600 who tried to get in the program.

In 1994, Sgt. June was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his service. On July 26, 2002, the original 29 Code talkers were all awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor with four of the five still-living members attending in Washington, DC: John Brown, Jr., Allen Dale June, Chester Nez, and Lloyd Oliver. Ted Draper, Sr., of New Mexico, was unable to attend.

Mr. Brown has since passed away and recently June also died.

The families of the others no longer living attended.

In November 2002, more than 200 other Code Talkers received the Congressional Silver Medal at Window Rock, Arizona.

The Greatest Generation.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Enola Gay Hangar to Be Restored

From the Dec. 19, 2008, Salt Lake City (Utah) Tribune.

The hangar in Wendover used by the crew of the Enola Gay will be restored with a $450,000 grant.

The 509th Composite Group trained at the site in June 1945 for the August 6th mission to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima.

The metal hangar, offices and shop at the historic Wendover Airfield are to be restored. This is part of the Federal "save America's Treasures" program, a public/private effort.

The Wendover Airfield began in 1940 when the Army needed additional bombing ranges. In 1943, there were 2,000 civilian employees; 17,500 military personnel; 8,100 feet of runways and 7 hangars.

It is a civil airport today.

Always Good to Hear Something Like This Happening. --Cooter

Monday, December 20, 2010

Utah's Final Four Pearl Harbor Survivors

From the Dec. 20th Deseret (Utah) News.

Marion Kesler, 91, was a cook on the USS Hulburt when the attack came. he attended the 1991 and 2006 reunions and expects this to be his last because of deteriorating mobility.

A total of 128 survivors attended the event this past Dec. 7th.

Ken Potts, 89, of Provo is one of only 20-known USS Arizona survivors.

Max Burggraaf, 92, lives in Salt Lake City as does Ralph Wadley.

They are the only four active members of the Utah chapter of the Pearl harbor Survivors Association. The passing of any one of them puts them at one below what they need to remain an active chapter.

Mr. Potts acts and feels like a 69-year-old and still drives. Mr. Kesler and Mr. Burggraaf both still live in their own homes, but are slowing down.

Chapter President Wadley has recently become bedridden and is under hospice care.

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

So Few Return to Pearl Harbor

Dec. 4th Santa Rosa (Ca) Press-Democrat.

Fewer and fewer are left. The end was known in the beginning, but it still doesn't diminish the sadness of the passing on of the survivors of the event 69 years ago that plunged the United States into World War II.

There are just six members left in the regional Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and half of them attended the recent reunion in Hawaii.

Jesse Love and Herb Louden were chaplains at the time of the attack and went back as did Walt Urmean.

Bill May, Don Blair and Frank Sennello remained.

The Greatest Generation. --Cooter

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Marshall, Texas, Veterans Remember Pearl Harbor

From the Dec. 6, 2008, News Messenger.

Gunner's Mate 2nd Class James Clark was on "gun watch" on the USS Vestal.

"At 9 I was wearing headphones and word came down that unidentified planes were approaching. Later they said they were friendly planes and repeated, 'Do not fire, do not fire, do not fire'

"But there were some with machine guns in the tower of the USS California and they started firing at this plane.

"Tracer bullets were hitting the water by the plane and ricocheted right over my head. I told my buddy we'd better hit the deck.

"They shot down our search plane," Clark said of the sailors aboard the California. "They call that friendly fire, but it killed the pilot. Everybody was jittery that night.

He didn't leave Pearl Harbor after the attack. "I stayed and worked on the salvage. We were involved in taking fire control equipment and guns off the sunken ships."

In March 1942, he was transferred to Naval Proving Grounds in Dahlgren, Virginia, where he served in the Navy's land-based gunnery school. There, he was involved in testing 20 and 40 millimeter guns to improve their accuracy.

Another Pearl Harbor Story. --Cooter

Ten Things You Might Not Have Known About Republicans-- Part 3

Again, Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer have done a great job bring little-known facts to this column. It is always a treat finding their column in the Sunday Chicago Tribune. Real research reporting.


7. Republican National Chairman's half-sister married MIKE TYSON after the boxer's rape conviction and later divorced him. Tyson endorsed Steele's unsuccessful run for US Senate in 2006.


8. Four cities call them the BIRTHPLACE OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: Ripon, Wis.; Exeter, N.H.; and Crawfordsville, Iowa, held meetings in 1853-1854 to discuss forming a new party. The first official meeting of the Republican Party took place in Jackson, Michigan, in July 1854. (I'd always heard Ripon was the first place.)


9. A Republican named PINCKNEY BENTON STEWART PINCHBACK was the nation's first black governor, serving 35 days in 1872-1873 after Louisiana's governor was impeached.


10. MARGARET CHASE SMITH was a freshman senator from Maine when she denounced Joseph McCarthy on the Senate floor in 1950. One memorable quote from the speech: "I don't want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny--Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear." (Calumny?)

Despite McCarthy's wrath, she went on to serve six more terms.

Of interest, Illinois, the home of Abraham Lincoln, has not gone for a Republican president in many years.

So, Now You Know. --DaCoot

Talking About D-Day-- Part 2

Continued from Oct. 28th entry from Time Magazine Nov. 2, 2009.

This was the Lev Grossman review of a new book at the time ""D-Day" by Antony Beevor. It must be quite a book just looking at the information in the review.

Allied commanders knew that Omaha Beach was going to be the hardest to take because of its curve (great for crossfire) and imposing cliffs. Bombers were supposed to soften the defenses, but attacked too late and, for fear of hitting attackers, missed the bunkers altogether. "All it's done is wake them up!" remarked one officer.

The attack on Omaha Beach succeeded partly to the bombardment by destroyers and the courage and determination of the soldiers. But, as Beevor says, the purpose of valor is usually to make up for someone else's stupidity. (This would seem to hold true for all wars.

The crossing of the English Channel, alone involved the assemblage of the largest fleet of shops ever assembled, almost 5,000.

This large book, 592 pages, which would mean it would take me forever to read it, is the first comprehensive account in twenty years. Beevor had access to a lot of new material though there are no major revelations, though many surprises in his account.

More to Come, Hopefully Not in Two Months. --Cooter

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Repiblicans-- Part 2

4. ABRAHAM LINCOLN was a very admired president, but not above playing politics. Worried about losing the 1864 election, he arranged for soldiers who were unfit for immediate duty to leave their units and return to their home states to vote.


5. NEWT GINGRICH was born Newton Leroy McPherson to a 16-year-old mother and 19-year-old father. Their marriage broke up in three days.


6. One of the biggest Republicans ever was Col. ROBERT McCORMICK, publisher of the Chicago Tribune. he was so anti-Democrat that when the other party won a political battle in Rhode Island, he ordered that state's star to be cut out of the American flag that flew by the Tribune Tower.

Bur, an employee pointed out that mutilating the flag was a crime punishable by a fine and jail time.

The Colonel relented.

Four More to Go. --Cooter

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What Was the Mothball Fleet?-- Part 2

About time I got around to finishing this. Part 1 was on August 27th.

Five of the ships at Wilmington's Mothball Fleet had to be ready to sail at a moment's notice. The others were mothballed by being coated with red oxide paint, oil and varnish to prevent rust and decay.

The US Maritime took over control of the ships in 1950 from the Maritime Commission and employed 296 workers with a $600,000 a year payroll to take care of the ships. Many were armed guards to prevent the theft of valuable copper and brass fittings.

The ships were lashed and anchored together in groups of five with every fifth one then moored next to pilings.

Two of the Mothball ships broke loose during Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and drifted into the Cape Fear River channel.

December 8, 1958, the SS Edgecomb, a Victory ship, became the last vessel to be tied up in the fleet. Beginning that year, older and less-fit ships began to be sold off for scrap and others were moved to the James River fleet in Virginia.

By 1964, only 152 were left and four years later the number was down to 15.

The last ship, the SS Dwight W. Morrow was towed away on Feb. 27, 1970.

The Final Wind-Down of World War II. --DaCoot

World War II Soldier, Missing for 88 Years, Is Buried

From the Dec. 10th WHTM ABC 27 in Pennsylvania.

Fourteen military funerals a day are held at the Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, but this one was different as it was a World War I soldier, only the second from that war to be buried at the place which opened in 1982.

Private Henry Weikel was killed during fierce fighting in a French forest in 1918. His remains were not discovered until 2006 and it then took the military four years to identify the body.

Private Weikel was even forgotten by his family. No one at his funeral had ever met or spoken with him.

I Think It is Great That the United States Never Stops Looking for the Remains of Those Missing Heroes. --Cooter

Dead Page: Another Baseball Hero Dies

BOB FELLER, 92

December 15, 2010

This part comes from a column in the Dec. 9th Idaho State Journal column by Greg Eichelberger "Bob Feller transferred from hospital to hospice." I see in today's alerts that he died yesterday.

Bob feller was one of the last of a dying breed, professional athletes who also served during World War II and the Korean War.

He was born and raised in Van Meter, Iowa and in 1940, had his fast ball clocked at 100 mph in those days before radar guns. They did it by having a motorcycle drive by him at that speed when he released.

He is also a rarity (especially with today's players) in that he played his entire career with the Cleveland Indians where he won 266 games, three no-hitters, 12 one-hitters and 2,581 strike outs.

Impressive stats, but even more striking is the fact that he lost four years in his prime while he proudly served as a gun captain aboard the USS Alabama from 1942 to 1945. He enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor.

Few professional athletes today, other than Pat Tillman from the Arizona Cardinals, have done this.

The Greatest Generation.

Top 25 All-Time Christmas Movies-- Part 2

12. HOLIDAY INN (1942)
11. A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951)
10. NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1985)

9. BABES IN TOYLAND (1934)
8. HOME ALONE (1990)
7. CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT-- (1944)

6. ELF (2003)
5. WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954)
4. SCROOGED (1988)

3. MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1944)
2. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
1. A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)

I'll be having my Top ten Christmas movies from this list in the next several days.

And a Ho-Ho-Ho to You!! --Cooter

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Republicans-- Part 1

The Nov. 14th Chicago Tribune had another "Ten Things You Might Not Know" column, always interesting. I also always wonder where they come up with so many interesting tidbits. As usual, mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer compiled it.


1. The IOWA REPUBLICAN PARTY has nearly 400 planks. One of these is to support the definition of manure as natural fertilizer. (Hey, must be a political thing.)


2. ELIZABETH DOLE, transportation secretary under Ronald Reagan, was the first woman to command an armed service, the Coast Guard.


3. Republicans were PIONEERS IN CIVIL RIGHTS FOR BLACKS AND WOMEN. The GOP actually supported some women's rights 40 years before Democrats.

Sounds Like a Political Thing to Me. --DaCoot

After the Bravery, a Little Gravy

I kind of liked this headline in the November 14th Chicago Tribune.

Besides the great honor of receiving a Medal of Honor, there are other perks that come with it.

The most recent Medal of Honor winner, Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta has received the nation's highest award for battlefield courage.

In addition, they get more money, a $1,194 monthly pension and a 10% increase in their retirement pay.

They also get to fly for free on military planes if space is available along with invitations to presidential inaugurations.

One interesting thing is that all military personnel, even those of higher rank, traditionally salute MoH winners.

Their children are not subject to quotas for attending military academies.

Also, on death, their grave is marked with a special headstone.

Military Personnel with the Highest Honor. --Cooter

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

HMAS Sydney/HMS Neptune

From Sep. 2, 2009 Yahoo News. From the hearings held about the ship's sinking off the west coast of Australia during World War II. Even to this day there are all sorts of conspiracy theories and rumors surrounding the event.

In regards to the Sydney being tricked by a message from the German raider Kormoran (which was disguised as a merchant ship), Gordon Johnson, a naval communications expert said naval ships used a different frequency and usually didn't monitor commercial activity on the air waves.

The HMAS Sydney did not manage to get off a distress call that was picked up by a short wave radio at a hotel in Geraldton as some people believe.

Mr. Johnson said that light cruisers like the Sydney were built for speed and because of that were lightly armored. A similar cruiser in the British Navy, the HMS Neptune, ran into a mine in the Mediterranean in 1941 and sank as fast as the Sydney with only four survivors.

When these ships were hit by shell fire or torpedoes, there was lots of damage.

The HMS Neptune was a Leander Class cruiser with a crew primarily from New Zealand. Wikipedia says there were 30 survivors of the 767 and only one was still alive when the life boat was picked up five days later. The ship struck the mine on December 19, 1941.

I'd never Heard of the HMS Neptune. --Cooter

Japanese Balloon Attack on US Mainland-- Part 2

Continued from Nov. 9th.

Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Dallas Barnett, now 91 and living in Amherst, Ohio, was one of the men put in charge to find out the launching sites for the Fu Gu Balloons.

These balloons were 31-feet in diameter, hrdrogen-filled paper balloons with a control system to keep it at altitude for its three-day Pacific crossing.

Ballast sand found at crash sites indicated the balloons were launched from areas of Japan that had been bombed.

Barnett said that after the war, he went to Japan on a business trip and met a Japanese veteran who said they launched the Fu Gus from a ship.

A Sneak Weapon. --DaCoot

Top 25 All-Time Christmas Movies-- Part 1

According to Moviefone.

#25. The Polar Express (2004)
#24. We're No Angels (1955)
#23. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
#22. Joyeaux Noel (2006)

#21. Gremlins (1984)
#20. The Santa Clause (1994)
#19. Bad Santa (2003)
#18. The Dead (1987)

#17. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
#16. Die Hard (1988)
#15. Love Actually (2003)
#14. The Bishop's Wife (1947)
#13. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Top 12 Tomorrow. --Cooter

Monday, December 13, 2010

Original Basketball Rules Net $4.3 million

From the December 11th Chicago Tribune.

That sure is a lot of money for two typed pieces of paper, but you could call it the birth certificate of basketball.

The document's 13 rules were written 119 years ago by James Naismith as a winter sport for YMCA boys to cover the time between football and baseball. It was sold at auction for $4.3 million by Sotheby's for the Naismith International Basketball Foundation. The proceeds will benefit the organization which promotes sportsmanship and provides services to underprivileged children around the world.

David and Suzanne Booth purchased it and hope to give it to the University of Kansas where he is an alumnus. Naismith penned the 13 rules on December 21, 1891 for the YMCA training school in Springfield, Massachusetts.

He gave the list to his secretary who typed it up on two pages which Naismith then pinned up on the bulletin board outside the gym.

In 1898, he moved to Lawrence, Kansas and became the first basketball coach at the University of Kansas. He remained in that position for nine years before performing other academic duties and athletic director.

Naismith died in 1939, three years after his sport became an official sport at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

So, It Comes Home. --Cooter

National WASP World War II Museum-- Part 2

At first, Army Air Corps General Hap Arnold resisted Jackie Cochran's plan to train women to ferry military aircraft, but after seeing them perform, relented.

Not much is actually known about the WASPs.

** Official WASP files were sealed for 35 years.

** The War Department abruptly disbanded the WASP on 1944 when victory in Europe was assured.

** The women of WASP were not classified as members of the Air Force until 1966 and were denied the right to join veteran groups after the war!!

** It wasn't until 1977 that members of WASP won the right to some of the benefits of their male counterparts.

** In 2002-- 57 years later-- the WASP were awarded the right to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with honors.

** They logged more than 60 million miles of operational flights.

** They delivered 12,650 military aircraft-- more than half of all aircraft built in the US during the war.

** And, of course, their service freed up male pilots to fly in war zones.

Definitely a very overlooked and neglected branch of the military finally starting to get their due.

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

Dead Page: The Heart of the Cubs

RON SANTO (Feb. 25, 1940-Dec. 2, 2010)

The Heart of the Chicago Cubs.

This one hit me hard. Although a White Sox fan, I still like the Cubs and pull for them unless they are playing the White Sox. But, Ron Santo is one Cub I always respected.

He played major league baseball from 1960 to 1974, all but one year with the Cubs (the last one for the Sox).

During that time, he had five straight Gold Gloves at third base, appeared in nine All Star games and had a life batting average of .277, hit 342 home runs and 1,133 RBIs.

In that great Cub 1969 season that ended with so much disappointment, he batted .289, hit 29 home runs and batted in 123 runs. That year, he also became famous for his heel click.

His number 10 was retired and he broadcast Cubs games from 1990 to 2010.

And, sadly, he never made it into the Hall of Fame. Who knows how that ever happened?

I have written about him on my Down da Road I Go blog at http://downdaroadigo.blogspot.com since last week.

One of the greatest moments of my life was when he gave me a ride home back when I was in high school and I will write about that in full later this week on that blog.

A Great One.

Friday, December 10, 2010

National Wasp World War II Museum-- Part 1

In the last week, I received a letter asking for money for the National WASP World War II Museum, written by Mary Alice Putnam Vandeventer who served in the group.

She said she had gotten interested in flying in college and after 100 hours of flight training, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. She was accepted and graduated from the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas.

"As a WASP, I piloted aircraft like the PT-13, PT-17, and PT-19. I also flew an AT-6 pulling 20' X 3' targets for aerial gunnery practice. This was dangerous work as shells would sometimes miss the targets and hit our planes." (Hey, the gunners were learning!)

She believes it was unfair that the 38 WASPs who died in World War II didn't receive death benefits. They would "pass the hat" to insure proper burial.

More to Come. --DaCoot

New Jersy's Fort Monmouth Slated to Close

This fort in New Jersey was built on land that formerly the Monmouth Park Racetrack and Hotel during World War I to train critically-needed Signal Corps personnel which had started the war with 150 officers and 1,150 enlisted, way too few to provide the service needed by AEF forces.

Several battalions trained here. By 1918, the number of Signal Corps members stood at 1,000 officers and 9,000 enlisted. (The Corps was originally established during the Civil War.)

At first, it was called Camp Little Silver, then Camp Alfred Vail, a local New Jersey inventor who assisted Samuel Morse invent the telegraph. In 1925, it was renamed Fort Monmouth in honor of the Revolutionary War battle.

Construction was more on a permanent basis after that.

researchers there developed the first aircraft detection radar which detected incoming Japanese planes at Pearl Harbor, but sadly was ignored.

In 1942, the first female soldiers trained here.

The 1,126 acre base is now scheduled to be shut down.


INTERESTING FACTS

Spy Julius Rosenberg was a radar inspector there in 1942 and 1943when he stole and passed along FUZE plans to the Soviet Union. In October, Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed that Rosenberg had a spy ring at Fort Monmouth. Shortly after, two scientists fled to the Soviet Union.

The US Pigeon Service was shut down in 1957 because of advancements in communication. At that time, the pigeons were mostly sold at auction and a few "hero" ones were given to zoos.

Never Heard of It. --Cooter

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One of the Last Massachusetts Pearl Harbor Survivors Dies

From the July 26th Patriot (Mass) Ledger.

Earl Kuja, 94, of Quincy, Massachusetts was at Pearl harbor on that fateful day. With his passing, only 12 men who were there remain alive in the state.

He joined the Army July 8, 1941, and was stationed in Hawaii when the attack took place. He later recalled, "They blew reveille and we got in trucks and we went down to Hickam Field to protect it. We were down there within an hour and a half, and we started to shoot at some planes. We could look right at Pearl Harbor and the planes flew so low we could see the pilots."

He was not injured and sent a telegram home afterwards that only said, "I'm safe."

The Greatest Generation.

Looking Back at Pearl Harbor

One thing about newspapers this time of the year, you start getting lots of articles about Pearl Harbor (and John Lennon on December 8th) and it was the same, even 50 years ago.

From the Dec. 8th Wilmington (NC) Star-News Back Then Column.

On December 7, 1960, the paper interviewed people about Pearl Harbor, nineteen years later. Most said they'd heard the news on the radio (although a lot of them had phone calls). They stayed glued to their radios the whole day listening to news as it became available. I'm sure more than a few were looking up Hawaii to see where it was.

Mrs. S.W. Binson of Wright Street said she was preparing Sunday dinner for her two daughters and their dates from Camp Davis. The dates were cut short when the radio announced that all military personnel were ordered to return to base.

I wonder if her daughters married the two fellows?

An Impact Still felt Today. --Cooter

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Possible Last Hurrah for the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association-- Part 2

Unfortunately for the PHSA, it was incorporated in Missouri and has a lot of paperwork to do because of its tax-exempt status. It is also a Veterans Affair service organization. These old veterans are just too old to do all this anymore.

There are now fewer than 3,000 members world-wide and the number of state chapters are dwindling. When it started in 1958, there were 80,000 survivors eligible for membership. In the 1960s, that number dropped to the 20,000s

There are about thirty members in Hawaii. Everett Hyland, 87, who was wounded on the USS Pennsylvania, and Ray Emory are the only two members who were on ships that fateful day. He said that 8-10 show up for meetings every third Thursday.

A vote on closing it down was expected on December 6th.

Two hundred PHSA members are expected for the 69th anniversary, up from 40 last year. Along with family members, that number rises to 1000.

Part of the reason for the large turnout this year also is the dedication of the new $56 million USS Arizona visitor center and museum which will enable the story of Pearl Harbor to be better told and in more detail than before.

Again, here's hoping the organization continues until the last man standing.

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

UK's Last World War II Submarine to Be Preserved

From the November Portsmouth (UK) News.

Well, technically, the ship did not fight in the war. I would have rather seen this to be one that had actually seen action.

Seven million pounds have been earmarked to preserve Britain's last remaining submarine from World War II. This will be the biggest restoration on the HMS Alliance since the 1960s and will include new mechanical and electrical plants as well as a new dry dock.

The ship is in desperate need of repairs.

New stairs will be built at the bow along with a new viewing platform and pontoons.

The submarine will remain open during the work.

According to Wikipedia, the Alliance was launched in 1945 and not completed until 1947 and today serves as a Royal navy Submarine Museum at Gosport in Hampshire.

Never Heard of This Old Ship. --Cooter

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Possible Last Hurrah for the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association-- Part 1

From the December 3rd Honolulu Star Advertiser "Pearl survivors group fights age and paperwork" by William Cole.

This week, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association (PHSA) will vote whether or not to disband. It is inevitable that it will have to end as the members get older and older. But, I hope they will continue on at least in name even if there are no meetings or events. I'm also hoping that there will be a Sons and Daughters of the PHSA to carry on their memory.

At the very least, I'd hope that the groups records be turned over to some sort of institution which will conserve them and make it available to researchers.

The article was accompanied by a picture of PHSA members Donald Armstrong and Louis Contes on the Arizona memorial in the harbor.

Both Willaim Muchleib, 88, vice president of the organization and President Arthur Herriford believe the time to end has come.

The organization was formed in 1958 and chartered by Congress in 1985. Today, old age and infirmity are wracking the survivors and bookkeeping has become a huge problem.

More to Come. --Cooter

Two USS Phoenix Survivors Returning to Pearl Harbor-- Part 2

Both Kamenicky and Russell grew up during the Great Depression; the first on a farm in Milam County, Texas, and the second in Memphis, Tennessee.

Russell joined the Navy as a teenager just before the war began. he said, "Being a Depression baby, in the Navy I had three good meals a day and I was issued clothing. I had it good."

Kamenicky remembers loading 275 pounds of gunpowder on board the USS Arizona on the day before the attack. He was below decks on the Phoenix washing dishes in the scullery when the attack began. He said, "As I stepped through the hatch I was facing the Arizona and it blew. It took a minute for the sound and concussion to hit us bodily."

The Phoenix was undamaged and steamed out of the harbor. Both men served on the ship for the duration of the war. Fortunately for the ship, there were few casualties. One of the few killed met his fate by ricocheting shrapnel from a Japanese bomb as he spoke with Kamenicky.

After the war, both got jobs with railroads, but still never met until they went to the veterans home.

Quite a Story. --DaCoot

Two USS Phoenix Survivors Returning to Pearl Harbor-- Part 1

From the December 3rd Victoria (Tx) Advocate.

Robert Kamenicky, 86, and Ben Russell, 87, were both on the cruiser USS Phoenix December 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor, but didn't know each other until 40 years later. As a matter of fact, both served the duration of World War II aboard that ship with its crew of 1200, and even then, never met. Something you definitely would not expect.

According to Kamenicky, "Neither of us ran across each other. We just never did hang out together. He was on the fantail (stern of the ship) and I was on the bow." Forty years later, they met at the William R. Courtney Texas State Veterans Home in Temple

They, along with one other Pearl Harbor veteran in Mission are the last living survivors in Texas' seven veteran homes.

These two friends are attending the 69th observance of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii today. Their costs are being for by donations.

More to Come. --Cooter

Friday, December 3, 2010

Coast Guard Cutter Frederick Lee

Back on November 18th, I had a blog entry about Warren F. Kaplan who served during World War II aboard the Frederick Lee. I also had a liberty pass from him.

Surprisingly, there is no article in Wikipedia about the ship.

The USCGC Frederick Lee WSC-139, was a 125 foot-long Active Class Patrol Boat commissioned in 1927 and manned by a crew of twenty.

In 1941, its armament consisted of 1X3 inch gun and 2X depth charge racks. It was named after revenue Captain Frederick Lee who commanded the cutter Eagle in the War of 1812.

During World War II, the ship was stationed in Boston on weather and escort duty as well as Greenland Patrol.

From 1945 to 1951, it was at Chicago. From 1951 to 1963 at New Bedford, Massachusetts and in Freeport, Texas from 1963 to 1964.

The US Coast Guard in World War II. --Cooter

Pennsylvania Pearl Harbor Survivors Sought

From the November 28th Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Mike Randazzo, spokesman for the Old Philadelphia Navy Yard is trying to locate Pennsylvania Pearl Harbor survivors for a Remembrance to be held at the Harrisburg, Pa., capitol on the 7th of December, the 69th anniversary of the attack that caused the US to enter World War II.

A total of 925,000 Pennsylvanians served and 26,000 died.

In 2002, 25 attended the Pennsylvania Remembrance. In 2009, just 7 showed.

Floyd Laughlin, 93, of McDonald, Pa., served in a searchlight unit at Fort Kamchameha near Pearl Harbor. He was standing on the barracks porch when the Japanese attack began, "I could watch the harbor from where I was standing. I watched the Arizona go up."

He used to be president of the local chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association which once had five chapters statewide, but now is down to one with only a couple guys. They haven't had a meeting in a long time.

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

Currituck Beach Lighthouse

From the November 28th Virginia-Pilot.

December 1st was the 135th anniversary of the lighthouse.

It was originally supposed to be built in the 1860s after many ships had been wrecked and run aground in the "dark spot" between Virginia's Cape Henry Lighthouse 34 miles to the north and North Carolina's Bodie Island Lighthouse 32 miles to the south.

The Civil War delayed the release of the $178,000 to build the 162 foot high lighthouse and construction did not begin until 1873. A First-Order Fresnel lens was put in it and light shone out 18 miles to sea.

We'll Leave the Light On. --Cooter

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Towards a World War I Memorial in DC

From the November 28th LA Times.

This was my first chance to see the existing World War I Memorial in Washington, DC, in a photo.

The $182 million World War II Memorial opened on the mall six years ago.

Just a mile away, the District of Columbia's World War I Memorial, honoring the 26,000 Washington residents who served stood neglected and overlooked. The names of 499 who died are inscribed at its base.

Nowhere in the city is there anything to honor the 116,516 Americans who died in the Great War 1917-1918.

However, restoration work did begin on the DC memorial in October.

Frank Buckles, 109, is the last-known living US veteran and it would be great to have something in place before he is no longer with us. I have heard he is not doing well at this time.

The DC Memorial is located in a grove of trees south of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pond and has a classic circular dome supported by 12 Doric columns.

Renovation is expected to cost $2.3 million.

Glad to See at Least Something is Being Done. --Cooter

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Anne Frank Tree Toppled in Amsterdam

From the August 24th Globe and Mail.

On August 23rd, strong winds toppled the tree which besides age, was suffering from rot and moths.

The massive chestnut tree gave comfort to Anne Frank who wrote about it three times in her diary while hiding out from the Germans during World War II.

In 2007, Amsterdam ordered it cut down, but a global campaign saved it. In 2005 the Anne Frank Council decided to germinate seedlings from the tree.

Canada is getting a sapling that will be planted September 27th outside the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.

A Part of History. --Cooter

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sinking of the HMT Rohna in World War II

In the Today in History in the November 26th Goldsboro News-Argus there was a tragic entry: "In 1943, during World War II, the HMT Rohna, a British transport ship carrying American soldiers, was hit by a German missile off Algeria; 1,138 men were killed."

I did not know missiles were used in such a manner during the war, nor had I ever heard of it.

I just typed HMT Rohna into the label and I saw that I had written about it before on June 29 and July 9, 2009. Those posts were related to the death of John Lynwood Smith who was a survivor of the Rohna.

A Sad Day. --Cooter

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dead Page: A Tarheel Yankee

CLYDE KING 86

King Leaves Stamp on Many Hearts in Baseball World.

A lifelong native of my hometown, Goldsboro, North Carolina, Mr. King played basketball and baseball and signed with the Dodgers and had only a short major league career. From the mid-1950s to early 1970s he managed many minor league teams.

Starting in the 70s, he managed the San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees, compiling a record of 234-229. He joined the Yankees in 1975 and became a trouble-shooter for George Steinbrenner and managed the Yankees for part of 1982.


Mr. King lived next door to us for about a year and a half in Goldsboro and he and his wife remained friends of my parents for years afterwards.

A great man, but too bad he had to do a lot of his baseball career with a team like the Yankees.

Friday, November 19, 2010

69th Anniversary of the Sinking of the HMAS Sydney II

Sixty-nine years ago, the HMAS Sydney sank after an engagement with the German raider Kormoran off the west coast of Australia with a loss of 645 Australians.

There is a memorial at Geraldton in Western Australia that was dedicated in 2001 and declared a military memorial of national significance in 2009.

Australia's government is funding $290,000 toward making a memorial Pool of Remembrance at the site. It will feature 645 sea gulls symbolizing the number of Australians who died on the ship. The 645th gull's wing will touch a granite map showing the ship's final location.

The HMAS Sydney II was the second ship of that name in the Australian Navy. It was located in 2008.

The rest of the money for the pool will be coming from the Rotary Club of Geraldton and it is hoped the project will be completed by this date in 2011, the 70th anniversary.

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

World War II Mines and Bombs Still a Problem

From the November 19th Scotsman.

The Northern Diving Group based at HM Naval Base Clyde in Scotland is the foremost experts in bomb disposal techniques in the country, a skill largely honed from years of dismantling World War II mines and even bombs that turn up each year.

They are regularly called out to disarm munitions caught up in fishing nets or suspicious objects washed up on shore.

An example of their work occurred this past January when they were called out to disarm an unexploded Second World War caught up in a trawler's net off Port Seton in East Lothian.

Still a Problem After All These Years. --Cooter

Thursday, November 18, 2010

World War II Liberty Card

Warren F. Kaplan's daughter had a Liberty Card at the display which read:

No. 14 NCG2518

US Coast Guard Cutter Frederick Lee

Kaplan, Warren F. SOME (R)

This entitles bearer to leave the ship in liberty, and, if the ship is in a Navy Yard, to pass through the gates. To be shown to O.O.D. when leaving and dropped in a check box on return to the ship.

Karl B. Weiland, LT (jg)
Executive Officer

Meet-A-Vet-- Part 2

HAROLD ZAYOREN, 87

Mr. Zayoren was a member of the 9th Air Force.

He had a 27 calibre carbine made in Italy and issued to German soldiers that he picked up off a dead soldier. Also had a Nazi armband also taken off another Germqn soldier.

he has the dress uniform he wore as well as a blue braid that was given to him in thanks from the Belgium government for his service.


HY FLIGELMAN

Mr. Fligelmen was dead, but his son made a presentation for him.

His dad captured a Japanese flag at Okinawa taken off a dead Japanese soldier who had bayoneted him. As the Japanese soldier was pulling the bayonet out, he fired and blew Hy's big toe off. Hy was a tough guy from Chicago's West Side and got mad and killed the Japanese soldier.

He also took the gun and bayonet.

There is a big picture of Hy returning to the US with his unit.


WARREN F. KAPLAN

Died two and a half years ago, but his daughter was there to tell about him.

Mr. Kaplan was in the Coast Guard and stationed in Iceland during the war on the cutter Frederick Lee. Their primary duty was to hunt for German U-boats and the Lee got credit for two and a half kills (sinkings).

The Coast Guard as well as Merchant Marine usually do not get credit due for their service in World War II.

The Greatest Generation. --Cooter

Meet-A-Vet Day-- Part 1

This past November 6th, the Fox Lake, Illinois, American Legion sponsored their first Meet-A-Vet Day. We weren't sure how well it would turn out, but judging from the fact that people complained about how hard it was to find a place to park in our large lot, I'd have to say it was an overwhelming success.

There were a lot of veterans and re-enactors there talking about their experiences and show momentos. There were also sons and daughters of veterans showing stuff about their fathers.

All wars from the Civil War to present were represented and there was a mini Civil War US Signal Corps encampment by the lake.

I had expected a lot of older people, but there were a lot of kids in house along with scouts. Many local teachers were giving extra credit for students if they attended. It is great that these kids now know that "Freedom Ain't Free."

I visited with several veterans, particularly World War II as I have definitely gotten more interested in it because of this blog which seems to be more-and-more heading in that direction.

I especially enjoyed my talk with Thomas E. Decker, a Pearl Harbor survivor and Navy veteran. This led to the five part Pearl Harbor Coincidence entries I finished yesterday.

More to Come. DaCoot

27th Tom Grosvenor Memorial Marine Corps Birthday Breakfast and Toys for Tots

I attended this November 13th at the Fox Lake, Illinois, American Legion.

It's quite an honor to get together with Marines from World War II all the way up present wars.

Like in the headline, this is the 27th year this has happened. The original breakfast took place at Hoff's Kitchen in Grayslake, Illinois, on November 10, 1983 when 13 Marines met for S.O.S.,eggs and coffee. And that is just what was on the menu last Saturday.

We were celebrating the 235th birthday of the USMC, which started November 10, 1775, as the Continental Marines.

Our guests of honor were the five World War II and 8 Korean War veterans as well as six active duty Marines who sat with the Korean War guys.

After a prayer, the colors were posted, the whole Marine Corps Hymn sung (and it's a lot more than the one verse usually sung. Fortunately, the words were printed on the pamphlet so I could sing.)and then we had the Commandant's address which this year spotlighted the Korean War and specifically the Chosin reservoir where the Marines pulled off an unbelievable withdrawal in the face of overwhelming numbers. In the course of it, 4400 Marines became casualties while the enemy suffered over 37,000.

One thing I always like is the cake ceremony where it is cut with a sword and the oldest Marine gives a piece to the youngest to signify the continuation of the Corps from one generation to the next. This year the oldest was 85 and youngest 24. The oldest had a Marine Corps jacket with the words

Chesty's
A Co.
1 Battalion
1 Regt.
1 Division

This was also the 63rd year the Corps has sponsired the Toys for Tots program.

OOO-RAH!! --Cooter

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Pearl Harbor Coincidence-- Part 5-- Thomas Decker

During the attacks, he helped batten down the hatches and carried 5-inch shells to the gun on the fantail (rear of the ship). The Hull received credit for shooting down two and a half enemy planes during the attacks.

After the attack, Decker served three and a half years on the Hull during which the ship earned Battle Stars for participating in actions against the Japanese. After being promoted to Pharmacist Mate 2nd Class, he was transferred to the Naval Hospital at Great Lakes for awhile.

Then, it was back to action on the LST-321 where, on D-Day, he assisted in the landing at Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy. During this time, he was in charge of 30 HMCs who picked up the DMS 35.

He completed his Naval service at St. Louis, Missouri on October 31, 1945.

He joined the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in 1966 and was President of Illinois Chapter 1 in 1968 and National President in from 1980-1982.

He said there are still two chapters of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in Illinois and one meets at Lamb's Farm in Libertyville twice a year. The other chapter meets in Springfield. Only six or seven Pearl Harbor Survivors remain in Illinois now, down from 91 at one time.

Quite a Coincidence. --DaCoot

Jewish WWII Vets Recall Fight Against Nazis-- Part 2

The veterans who spoke last Friday at Highland Park, Illinois' Congregation Solel were Courtney Shanken, Howard Haas, Jack Heiman and Marshall Domash.

Haas and Shanken were among six local WWII veterans who received the French Legion of Honor last week in Chicago for their roles in helping to liberate France.

Howard Haas dropped out of the University of Chicago in his freshman year in 1942 to join the Army Air Force where he was a bombardier stationed in Italy bombing strategic positions throughout southern Europe. He completed his required fifty missions from June to December 1944.

One of his missions took him directly over Auschwitz, but, at the time, he didn't know the extent to which the atrocities had occurred.

"We flew over Auschwitz, but we didn't know Auschwitz was a death camp. We just thought it was a concentration camp." Even had they known, "We couldn't have bombed Auschwitz from 22,000 feet. We would have killed more Jews than the Germans did," said Haas, the former president and CEO of Sealy Mattress Company.

More to Come.

The Greatest Generation. --Cooter

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Pearl Harbor Coincidence-- Part 4-- Thomas E. Decker

This past November 6th, my American Legion Post 703 in Fox Lake hosted a Meet-A-Vet Day and one of them was Mr. Thomas E. Decker. Handouts were given to those attending and this is what his said.

He enlisted in June 1938, in St. Louis, Missouri and had basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in North Chicago.

Upon graduating, he was ordered to Hospital Corps School in San Diego, California, and afterwards did a short tour of duty at Mare Island Hospital. He then shipped out to the USS Relief (a hospital ship) stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where he was appointed to 3rd Class Pharmacist Mate and was reassigned to the USS Hull (DD-350).

On December 7, 1941, the Hull was in a group of five destroyers tied up to the supply ship USS Dobbin. Decker was asleep in his bunk when he was awakened by, "We are being attacked!"

More to Come. --DaCoot

Jewish WWII Vets Recall Fight Against Nazis-- Part 1

From the November 10th Chicago Tribune.

Four who had "H"-- for Hebrew-- on their dog tags to speak Friday in Highland Park" by Robert Channick.

When most people think of the Jewish experience during World War II, thoughts immediately turn to concentration camps and the Holocaust. However, that is not the whole story.

As Americans, Jews joined the military to defeat the Axis Powers. As Jews, they fought against the atrocities committed by the Nazis on their European brethren.

Some 500,000 Jews served in American forces and four have agreed to give a talk about their experiences in Highland Park. All are members of the Congregation Soleil in the city.

Deborah Dash Moore of the University of Michigan and author of "GI Jews" says "we only think about European Jews who were victims of the Holocaust. We don't think about American Jews and the ways in which military service was a response to the war and the persecution of European Jews."

Of course, I have to wonder how much was actually known about the Holocaust and Final Solution during the war. I have never found a definitive explanation. Obviously, the Nazis hated Jews and had done horrible things to them before the war, but, how much actually was known once the war commenced.

More to Come. --Cooter

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Pearl Harbor Coincidence-- Part 3-- Robert Coyne

Continuing with the article about Robert Coyne on the USS Hull during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

"Three of them came down on us, the first one hit the Dobbin and killed all the gun crew. The next one lifted from the stern and out into the water and the third one crashed after on the beach.

The battleship USS Nevada got underway. "We got underway, too. And we were lucky because we got out." No one was killed or wounded.

The Hull cleared Pearl Harbor at noon and went looking for Japanese ships. The ship returned to Pearl two days later and fires were still burning and smoke was everywhere.

Mr. Coyne left the Navy as a lieutenant.

Last year, he visited San Diego and visited with Archie Deyerke, one of his closest buddies who served with him at Pearl Harbor. He also met another friend, Pat Douhon, 89.

The Greatest generation. --DaCoot

A Pearl Harbor Coincidence-- Part 2

Here is the article about Robert Coyne from the October 14th Lehigh Acres (Fl) Citizen. "Pearl Harbor vet to celebrate 90th birthday."

Robert Coyne was born October 20, 1920 and grew up in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. He turned 18 in 1939 and went into the CCC before joining the Navy. After training in Newport, Rhode Island, he was sent overseas in the spring of 1941 aboard the destroyer leader USS Winslow.

From Long Beach, California he went to Pearl harbor aboard the USS Hull where he worked on the bridge as a signal man quartermaster.

December 7, 1941, found Mr. Coyne as a petty officer third class. "Yes, I was scared and I cried when it happened. Not ashamed to say so." When the attack started, he was in his bunk and remembers some yelling, "The Japs are attacking us!"

The Hull was tied up alongside the USS Dobbin, a destroyer tender. He grabbed his shorts and ran up to the bridge and saw action and the USS Arizona blowing up.

More to Come.

The Day of Infamy. --Cooter

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Pearl Harbor Coincidence-- Part 1

Today, while over my backlog of e-mails, I came across one for a 90th birthday party for Robert Coyne who was at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, when the attack came.

Every year, there are fewer and fewer survivors who were there at the Day of Infamy. This past Saturday, I was able to meet Thomas E. Decker, a Pearl Harbor survivor at the Meet-A-Vet Day at the Fox Lake, Illinois, American Legion.

While reading the article on Mr. Coyne in the October 14th Lehigh Acres (Fl) Citizen, I saw where he was on board the destroyer USS Hull at Pearl Harbor. I had seen that ship's name just recently.

Mr. Decker had handouts Saturday and I got one. I looked at it and sure enough, he also was on the Hull during the attack.

They must know each other. I had Mr. Decker's business card and phone number so called him. He remembered Mr. Coyne and said there were still three crewmembers living from the attack and he had been trying to get in touch with him. The article gave Mr. Coyne's phone number so I gave it to Mr. Decker.

Quite the Coincidence. --Cooter

Last Living US World War I Veteran Pushing for a Memorial.

From November 11th CNN "Last Living U.S. WWI vet pushes for Great War memorial" by Paul Courson.

Frank Buckles is 109 and will turn 110 in February. During World War I he was a corporal and drove an ambulance in Europe.

For the last several years on Veterans Day, he would stop at Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, DC, to visit the grave of General John "Black Jack" Pershing, the supreme US commander in the conflict.

He would also visit Washington DC's World War I Memorial on the National Mall which he has been pushing in a bill to pass Congress naming both the DC site and one in Kansas City, Missouri, as the national monuments to the War to End All Wars.

However, the bill, called the Frank Buckles Memorial Act, has been stalled for months and he is not getting any younger. It is hoped that it will pass before he dies.


IMPROVEMENTS

Recently, National Park Service Officials led a tour of the DC site which is looking better than it has in years. Repairs have been done on a neglected walkway, the deteriorating dome and marble columns have been fixed. The whole memorial has also been cleaned, broken flagstone repaired and overgrown holly trees which obscured the site from view have been cut down.

Here's Hoping That the Bill Passes Before Mr. Buckles Is No Longer with Us.

Today's Top Ten: Veterans Day Reminders-- Part 2

Continued from yesterday.

6. THE UNKNOWN OF WORLD WAR I-- On Memorial Day 1921, four unknown American servicemen were exhumed from four different American World War II cemeteries in France and one was selected at random. He was transported to America on the USS Olympia, a Spanish-American warship. The others were reburied at the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery in France.

The body lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC. and November 11, 1921, the memorial was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery.


7. UNKNOWN OF WORLD WAR II-- Two unknown dead, one from the Pacific Theater and one from the European Theater were exhumed and one selected at random. He was reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery (on the grounds of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's home) in 1958.

8. UNKNOWN OF KOREAN WAR-- Four unknown bodies were disinterred from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii and one was selected to be buried at Arlington.

9. UNKNOWN OF VIETNAM-- Selected the same way as the previous wars. Reinterred at Arlington in 1984.

10. VETERANS DAY-- I hope you commemorated Veterans Day in some manner yesterday. We owe these people more than we can ever pay.

Thank You Veterans.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Last US World War I Veteran in Declining Health

Frank Buckles, 109, the last surviving US veteran of World War I has been reported by his family as having declining health the last several months.

In recent years, he has gone to Washington, DC on Veterans Day, but this year has decided to spend the day resting at his farmhouse in West Virginia.

He will be turning 110 this February. Here's hoping he improves, but that is quite old. It will be a sad day when Mr. Buckles passes on.

The Last of Another Great Generation.

Veteran Memorials in Chicago

From the Nov. 11th Chicago Tribune "Honoring Heroes" by Ron Grossman. Pictures accompanied the article.

KOREAN WAR MEMORIAL-- In the Far South Side's Kennedy Park remembers the "forgotten war."

VIETNAM VETERANS-- A marker on the Chicago River downtown.

BATAAN-CORREGIDOR MEMORIAL-- The State Street Bridge is a memorial to this brutal chapter of World War II.

MAYWOOD MONUMENT-- The suburb's Veterans Memorial Park has a tank that honors the 192nd Tank battalion.

VICTORY MONUMENT-- A memorial at 35th Street and Martin Luther King Drive honors black soldiers in World War I.

Things You Might Not Know About Chicagoland.

Today's Top Ten: Veterans Day Reminders-- Part 1

On this day to honor those who have put their lives on the line so that we might live as we do, here are ten items of interest as reported in the November 10th Delaware County (Pa) News by Mary Ann Fiebert.

1. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th to be Armistice Day to honor World War I veterans.

2. At first the day was to honor World War I veterans, but in 1954 Congress amended the Act of 1938 and changed the word Armistice to Veterans in order to honor all who served.

3. The Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier is in Washington Square in Philadelphia. An eternal flames burns there by a statue of George Washington.

4. The Unknown Soldier of the Confederate States of America is buried at Jefferson Davis' home, Beauvoir, in Biloxi, Mississippi. (For more information, go to today's entry at http://sawtheelephant.blogspot.com.

5. The Tomb of the Unknowns is at Arlington national Cemetery outside of Washington, DC.

More to Come.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

35th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald

On this date 35 years ago in 1975, the Great Lakes freighter Edmund Fitzgerald, once the largest ship operating, sank in a huge storm that swept across Lake Superior, taking all 29 aboard to their deaths.

It had been launched in 1958.

The wreck was located that same year by US Navy planes using detectors that usually searched out submarines. The ship was lying in two pieces. Quite a few dives have been made on the Fitzgerald since then.

In 1976, singer Gordon Lightfoot had a big hit with his account of the sinking called "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

The last ten years I taught, my students had a two day unit on the sinking of the ship, partly using the song. They also had the opportunity to draw the ship.

One of the Last Great Lakes Shipping Disasters. --Cooter

Centaur and Sydney Finder Awarded Medal

From November 1st Adelaide Now (Australia).

When David Mearns and his team found the HMAS Sydney in March 2008 they jumped around like children. "It was absolute euphoria," said Mearns.

Just under two years later, a similar thing happened when they discovered the final resting place of the AHS Centaur.

At the same, the finds gave closure to hundreds of Australian families who knew their loved ones were most likely dead, but didn't know where.

David Mearns received the Medal of the Order of Australia.

He is director of Blue Water Recoveries and under his direction they've found more than fifty wrecks.

They found the wreck of the Sydney March 16, 2008, leaning slightly over to starboard 2.5 kilometers deep on the floor of the Indian Ocean about 100 nautical miles off the West Australian coast. Four days earlier, they had found the wreck of the German raider Kormoran which sank after sinking the Sydney in a tremendous firefight. All 645 crew members on the Sydney lost their lives. The search for the Sydney covered over 1,500 square nautical miles, more than ten times the area involved in the search for the Titanic.

This past January 10th, they found the AHS Centaur which had been torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-177 off the Queensland coast in 1943, despite obviously being a hospital ship. Of a crew of 332, loss of life numbered 268. The remaining 64 were rescued by an American destroyer after floating on wreckage for 36 hours.

An Award Well-Earned. --DaCoot

And, a Big Happy Birthday to the USMC!!!

It was this date back in 1775, that Captain Samuel Nichols formed two battalions of Continental Marines in Philadelphia to serve as naval infantry. Thus began one of the greatest military organizations in history.

I myself had a short tenure as a Marine, serving six weeks back in the summer of 1971 when I was enrolled in Officer candidate School and went to Quantico, Virginia, for six weeks. Let me tell you that was the roughest six weeks of my life. I couldn't do anything right in a military way for the first three weeks but eventually started catching on.

Fortunately, the Vietnam War began winding down after that and there was no need for more officers and it was over by the time I graduated from college in 1973.

This Saturday, I plan to attend the Marine Corps breakfast at the American Legion in Fox Lake, Illinois.

Great Fighting Group, Those Marines. --Cooter

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And, Speaking of the Battleship USS North Carolina

From the September 29th Wilmington Star-News Back Then column where they look back at old news from the paper.

An editorial in the September 26, 1960, Wilmington newspaper about "Club 68" which was founded in Greensboro to bring industry to North Carolina. One side project of the group was to bring the decommissioned battleship North Carolina to the state and anchor it in Wilmington.

Sure Glad They Did. --Cooter

Top 15 Most Evil Nazis

From the August 20th List Universe.

I wonder where Hitler will rank?

I am just listing them. You can find out the hows and whys and pictures at the List Universe site. www.listverse.com.

15. Hermann Goering
14. Ilse Koch (only female on the list)
13. Joseph Goebbels
12. Franz Stangl
11. Paul Blobel
10. Josef Kramer
9. Ernst Kaltenbrunner
8. Friedrich Jeckeln
7. Oskar Dirlewanger
6. Odilo Globoenik
5. Adolf Eichmann (I remember hearing about his trial while a young boy.)
4. Joseph Mengele
3. Reinhard Heydrich
2. Adolf Hitler
1. Heinrich Himmler

Worth Checking Out. --DaCoot

Japanese Balloon Attack on US Mainland-- Part 1

From the July 20, 2008 Cleveland Plain Dealer by Brian Albrecht.

On May 15, 1945, the Reverend Archie Mitchell, his wife and five kids went for an outing in the woods near Bly, Oregon. While out there, they found a large deflated balloon in a tree and while investigating it, set off a fragmentation bomb, killing all but the minister.

The Mitchells were the only civilian casualties of a Japanese attack on the US mainland during World War II.

Their gravestones read "Killed by enemy balloon bomb."

A NEW WAY TO ATTACK

Between November 1944 and April 1945, the Japanese launched some 9,000 balloon bombs into the high westerly winds going from Japan to the United States. An estimated 1,000 Fu Gu balloons completed the trip with 300 confirmed.

Landings and sightings were reported from Mexico all the way to Canada and as far east as Michigan. The US government persuaded the media to hold off on their reports on it to avoid a wide-spread panic and further hatred of Japanese-American citizens. Plus, they landed mostly in unpopulated areas.

More to Come. --Cooter

Monday, November 8, 2010

USS North Carolina

From the June 13th Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

On This Date, June 13, 1940.

A total of 84 ships were launched in the Brooklyn navy Yard. Number 72 was the USS North Carolina, launched this date in 1940 as World War II was heating up. The US wasn't in it yet, but it wouldn't be long.

There were ten months of post-launch construction and outfitting until the ship was commissioned April 9, 1941.

it was the first US battleship to be commissioned since 1923. During sea trials, it got so much attention it earned the nickname "Showboat."

Construction had begun October 27, 1937.

It was decommissioned after a stellar career in 1947, but remained in reserve until 1961 when it was transferred to its namesake state and made into a memorial.

One Great Battleship. --Cooter

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Meet a US Veteran

In just a few minutes, I'm heading over to the Fox Lake, Illinois, American Legion where they are having a meet-a-veteran assembly in the main hall.

I understand several will be from World War II and they will also have items from their service with them.

I'll be taking my cameras and tape recorders to get some of their stories which I will report in this blog.

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

World War II Trolley Tours-- Cape May, NJ-- Part 3

There is a bunker in front of the Fire Tower No. 23. During WW II, it mounted 155 mm guns and the whole place was 900 feet inland. Pilings were sunk into the sand for stabilization of the heavy structures.

FORT MILES is on Cape Henlopen, near Lewes, Delaware. Funds were approved for its construction in 1934, but it was not built until 1941. It was situated to defend Delaware Bay and the river. Completion occurred just before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Several Coast Artillery units were based there and it was further protected by railway artillery.

The fort never saw any action and only fired its cannons once.

U-858 appeared off the Delaware coast on May 14, 1945 and became the first enemy warship to surrender to the US since the War of 1812. It was held at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyards until it was sunk in 1947 during a torpedo test.

Stuff You Didn't Know. --Cooter


FIRE CONTROL TOWERS-- Five of them are located within the boundaries of Cape Henlopen State Park. Each is 4 to 5 stories high.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dead Page: Mr. Baxter-- Cool Ruler

JAMES WALL, 92

Captain Kangaroo's neighbor Mr. Baxter. Died October 27th.

Former vaudevillian and joined the Captain Kangaroo show in 1962 as a stage manager.

In 1968, he persuaded the producers to create the Captain's neighbor, Mr. Baxter, the show's first black character. Mr. Wall portrayed Mr. Baxter and another recurring role until 1978.

He was also stage manager for CBS' "Sixty Minutes."


GREGORY ISAACS, 59

Called "Cool Ruler" because of his smooth, jazz-style of reggae music.

Died October 25th. Born in the Jamaican slum Kingston in 1951 and was a leader in the "Lover's Rock" reggae style. Two of his big songs are "Love is Overdue" and "All I Have is Love."

World War II Trolley Tours-- Cape May, NJ-- Part 2

Sadly, today, the ocean is eroding the ground under it so it is now known how much longer it will be with us.

FIRE TOWER #23 stands 100 feet tall. Armed Coast Guardsmen watched from the top while others galloped up and down the beach on horseback watching for landing parties from German U-boats.

It was built in 1942 and the tower served as lookout for enemy subs and acted as spotters for artillery onthe beach. It was part of a series of fifteen, all of which were under the jurisdiction of Fort Miles.

The tower at Wildwood was torn down and the one at Cape May City was absorbed into the Grand Hotel on Beach Avenue, but part of it can still be seen on the roofline.

Across from Tower #23 is an empty lot where the Northwest Magnesite Co. was once located. During World War II, this company operated 24-7 making the fire necessary for making steel.

More to Come. --Cooter

Thursday, November 4, 2010

World War II Trolley Tours-- Cape May, NJ-- Part 1

You can get a good glimpse of aspects of US Homefront defense during the war with this tour which makes stops at Fort Miles, Battery 223, Fire Control Tower #23, Cape May NAS and the Cape May Canal.

It will cost you $15.

During World War II, Cape May went from being a beach town and area to being a pivotal part of homeland defense.

As part of the World War II tour, you will go to the bunker at Cape May State Park. It was built during the war on the beach to protect Delaware Bay.

More to Come. --Cooter

Doolittle's Raiders

From the June 5, 2009 South Carolina The State.

Doolittle's Raiders returned to Columbia, South Carolina, for their 67th reunion. They also celebrated their 50th and 60th reunions in Columbia.

Columbia is important in Raider history because this is where they met Doolittle and began their training in 1942. As od 2009, there were eleven survivors of the raid, all in their late 80s and 90s. As many as seven plan to attend the ceremonies.

Richard Cole, 92, Doolittle's co-pilot on Plane No. 1 was one of sixteen five-man crews whom met Doolittle at Columbia Air Base, now Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

Three of the raiders were killed, eight were captured in Japanese-occupied China, three captives were executed and one died in prison. Sixty of the eighty continued to fight in the war.

The 60th Reunion was the first time the media was allowed to witness the Goblet ceremony where surviving Raiders toast those who lost their lives in the operation and those who had died since it. Special silver goblets are used.

There were three South Carolinians among the Raiders:

Darlington Farrow, pilot of No. 16, captured and executed.
Nolan Herndon- navigator of No. 8 who died in October 2008.
Horace "Sally" Crouch, navigator of No. 10 who died December 2005.

The Greatest Generation.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Candy By the Numbers

From the October 31st Parade Magazine.


#1 Kids favorite treat? No surprise here: it's CHOCOLATE. (I personally like McRibs.)

68% Adults who admit midnight raids on their kids' stashes.

7.2 billion. The number of Smarties (?) (15 per roll) in kids' trick-or-treat bags. What's a Smartie?

$2 billion. Amount spent on Halloween Candy this year. I spent $22 on 360 pieces, not counting what I have bought at the half-price sales starting Monday.

16 The number of Trick-or-Treaters we had. An all-time low. Even giving four pieces at a time, we still have LOTS o' candy to eat. Sorry kids.

9 billion The number of pieces of candy corn produced for 2010. Enough to circle the moon nearly four times is laid end-to-end.

19 million Pounds of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups made in October (about as heavy as the Eiffel Tower).

August 15th-- The first Halloween displays up that I saw.

It's a Sweet Tooth Thing. You Wouldn't Understand. --DaCoot

Who Did You Want to Be Halloween 2010?

From the October 31st Parade Magazine.

Kids have been trick-or-treating for a long time, but it was only the late 70s-early 80s that adults started getting into it. Nowadays, Halloween costume-judging is a real big thing in bars all across the US.

Top adult costumes by decade:

1970s

John Travolta in Saturday Night fever (well they already had the duds for that disco dancing anyway.
KISS
Darth Vader


1980s

Michael Jackson
MC Hammer (Heh, heh, those pants)
Edward Scissorhands
Ghostbusters


1990s and 2000s

Harry Potter
Jack Sparrow
Hannah Montana
Sarah Palin


THIS YEAR

Lady Gaga


I Personally Dress as an Old Coot. --Cooter

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dead Page: Rock and Roll Pioneer

Still going through my old files, but these are stories I'm interested in.

BO DIDDLY (Dec. 30, 1928-June 2, 2008)

Even though Bo Diddley, born Ellas Bates in McComb, Mississippi, was snubbed by Rolling Stone in its "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All-Time," he broke new ground in rock and roll's formative years with his unique guitar, indelible African rhythms and inventive songwriting.

The sound "BOMP-and-BOMP-BOMP-pause-Bomp-Bomp" can be heard on Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away," Johnny Otis' "Willie and the Hand Jive," the Strangeloves' "I Want Candy, the Who's "Magic Bus" and many other songs.

The distinctive "Shave and a Haircut, two bits" man died at age 79. He was so well-known for his signature square home-made guitar, dark glasses and black hat.

He was a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1999 Grammys.

Hit songs by Bo Diddley:

Bo Diddley-- in 1955 with "I'm a Man" on the B side.
Say Man
You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover
Who Do You Love

Denied the money he should have made, he was forced to always work and was always broke. He continued to tour up until he had a stroke.

I was fortunate to see him one time at Summerfest in Milwaukee.

A Great One.

Doolittle Raiders Reunion 2008

From the June 2, 2008, Pensacola (Fl) News Journal.

Retired Major Tom Griffin wanted to get back at the Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He and 79 other men got that chance on April 18, 1942, with Doolittle's famous raid on Japan. This was a major blow for American morale and shocked Japan.

Griffin and six other raiders returned to Eglin Air Force Base where they trained for the mission.

Retired Master Sgt. Wes Fields was also an original Doolittle raider.

Five of the seven returnees took a tour of the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. While there, they posed for a picture by a B-25 similar to the ones they flew off the deck of the USS Hornet that day.

While at Eglin AFB, they had practiced short take-offs to prepare for the mission.

Retired raider Col. Bill Bower, 90, of Boulder, Colorado, said, "We competed, and they pulled those who had the best performance."

Sixteen bombers with five-man crews, took off from the Hornet that day in B-25s loaded with 500 pound bombs.

Three B-25 bombers flew over the reunion at one point.

Old News, But We're Surely Losing the Greatest Generation, and Especially the Limited Number of Doolittle's Raiders. --Cooter

Monday, November 1, 2010

Some More Old News: PHSA Chapter Dwindling

From the Nevada Appeal.

The Carson City Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association was chartered in 1972 by Howard J. Spreeman and had more than fifty members. Last month, on March 7, 2008, they had a meeting and only three of 18 still alive attended. Today, that number is down to 16.

Chapters in the association can remain active as long as they have 6 officers.

Roland Peach, 92, is one of the oldest members. he was a cook on the USS Rigel during the Pearl Harbor attack. He said they are losing chapters all over the US as members die and are either hospitalized or house bound.

Sad to See Us Coming To This Time.

Some Older News: New National Monument-- Europe's Oldest Man and WW I Veteran

I found some old items while looking through my archives and found them of interest, so will write about them now.

NEW NATIONAL MONUMENT-- President Bush has asked the secretaries of Defense and the Interior to look into making Pearl Harbor and other Pacific sites into a national monument: "These objects of historic and scientific interest may tell the broader story of the war, the sacrifices made by America and its allies, and the heroism and determination that laid the groundwork for victory in the Pacific and triumph in World War II."


EUROPE'S OLDEST MAN AND WORLD WAR I VETERAN-- From the Guardian.co.uk "RAF flypast for Europe's oldest man." A Hurricane and a Spitfire will do a flypast in honor of Henry Allingham who turned 112 this week.

he was born in 1896, the same year the first Modern Olympics were held and Queen Victoria became the longest reigning monarch in British history.

Henry Allingham is also one of Britain and the world's last remaining veterans of World War I. He was at the Battle of Jutland, the greatest naval clash of the war. In 1917, he was posted to France to service and rescue aircraft that had crashed behind trenches at Ypres and the Somme.

While there, Allingham fell into a shell hole full of legs, arms, ears, rotten flesh in no-man's land and has never forgotten the stench of death.

He was guest of honor at RAF College Cranwell near Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

For eighty years, he did not speak of his wartime service.

Allingham remains in good health and lives in St. Dunstan's home for blind veterans in Brighton.

In November, he will join two other surviving British World War veterans, Henry Patch, 109, and Bill Stone, 107 at the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day at the Cenotaph in London.

Unfortunately, all three of these men died this year.

As We Are Now Down to One US World War I veteran Still Living.

Exactly Where You Wouldn't Expect to Find World War II Bombs

October 29th Reuters "World War II bombs found on Galapagos island."

Twelve bombs were found by fishermen on Bartolome Island which is part of the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the South American coast.

These islands are a providence of Ecuador which let us set up a base during World War II on Baltra Island because of its strategic location southwest of the Panama Canal which had become very strategically important for shipping between the east and west US coasts.

The bombs had been buried and Ecuador is planning a more thorough search.

The Galapagos Islands became famous for Charles Darwin's research on natural selection.

Got to keep an Eye on Those Sneaky Tortoises. --Cooter

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Top Ten Stutterers in History

Of interest to history-minded folk would be the List Universe's Top Ten Stutterers in History. These guys sure didn't let their impairments stop them.

But, I sure don't know how they figured out that Moses stuttered.

10. James Earl Jones
9. Bruce Willis
8. Somerset Maugham
7. Lewis Carroll
6. Scatman John
5. Anthony Hopkins
4. Claudius
3. Winston Chirchill
2. Moses
1. Demosthenes

T-T-T-That's All Folks. --Cooter

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Talking About D-Day-- Part 1-- Sherman DD Tanks

From the November 2, 2009, Lev Grossman Time Magazine review of Anthony Beevor's new book "D-Day."

Five thousand yards offshore June 6, 1944, a cluster of ships was waiting along the French coastline between Vierville-sur-Mer and Ste.-Henorine-des-Pertes which had now been code-named Omaha Beach for D-Day purposes.

Two companies from the 741st Tank Battalion were waiting to drive their tanks ashore. These were no ordinary tanks, but Sherman DDs (duplex-drive) which, along with standard features, had floatation devices and propellers.

Even under best conditions, they barely floated, but the seas this morning were very heavy. They launched those 5,000 yards away and 27 of the 32 ended up on the bottom of the English Channel. In the opening scenes of "Saving Private Ryan" you hear Tom Hanks yelling "We got no DD tanks on the beach!"

Of the five that survived, three of them had their launching mechanisms jam and they were landed directly on the beach. In all, 33 men drowned.

I don't recall the line from the movie and had never heard of these tanks, but it was an interesting concept for a new weapon.

Much More to Come. --DaCoot

Hazy Future for the Lady Elgin-- Part 5-- History

The Lady Elgin sank within a half hour. Passengers were pitched into the stormy lake and clung to whatever wreckage they could find. many did not know how to swim and there were not enough lifeboats.

It is estimated that around one hundred made it to shore and survived. Many were helped by witnesses on shore.

In the aftermath of the disaster, lawmakers required better lighting and inspections for ships on the Great Lakes.

The Lady Elgin was 252 feet long, had a 32.6 foot beam and was built in 1851 in Buffalo, New York for $95,000. It was one of the most elegantly appointed ships in service on the Great Lakes.

It was placed on the NRHP in 1999.

Officials from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency have expressed interest in an exhibit, but the cost of an exhibit and conservation would be too much, so, for now, the artifacts on the ship remain deep in lake Michigan's waters.

A Ship I Had Never Heard of Before. --Cooter

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hazy Future for the Lady Elgin-- Part 4-- The History

The History of the Lady Elgin

The sinking of the Lady Elgin has been referred to as the Totanic of the Great Lakes even though most people have never heard of it.

The ship was returning to Milwaukee from a political rally in Chicago on September 8, 1860, when the 252-foot long sidewheel steamer had the lumber schooner Augusta run into it.

On board the Lady Elgin was the Irish Union Guard of Milwaukee, a Democratic organization whose weapons had been confiscated over questions as to whether they would fight for the Union in case of a civil war with the South.

They had gone to Chicago to buy weapons and to support Stephen Douglas who was running against Abraham Lincoln for the presidency.

The waters were stormy and rolling when the collision occurred. A gaping hole was torn into the Lady Elgin while the Augusta disengaged and went on its way without helping the stricken ship.

More to Come. --Cooter

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago's North Side-- Part 5

Last entry.

9. Developer Jesse Bowman helped establish the village of Bowmanville in the late 1800s. The big problem, though, was that he didn't own the land he was selling. When found out, he skipped town (imagine that in Chicago), but the name stayed on the neighborhood located just south of Rosehill Cemetery.

Many small towns on Chicago's outskirts were annexed as the city grew in the late 1800s and early 1900s.


10. Towertown, named after the famous water tower that survived the Great Chicago Fire, was a community of artists, writers and free-love advocates who settled on the Near North Side just west of Michigan Avenue in the early 20th century. But high property values drove them out and the neighborhood no longer exists.

Again, thanks to the Chicago Tribune and writers Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer for doing all the research.

Didn't Know Most of This Stuff. --Cooter

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hazy Future for the Lady Elgin-- Part 3

Continued from September 11th. From the September 9th Chicago Tribune.

September 8th marked the 150th anniversary of the shipwreck of the Lady Elgin, the worst on the Great Lakes with 350 men, women and children losing their lives.


Harry Zych has won a court case and is the owner of the Lady Sterling's relics after he found it in 1989 after a long search. He does not put a price on it, but the court ruled that it has "very little salvage value." He maintains that he was not into it for the money.

Zych had an exhibit of the wreck at the Milwaukee Public Museum in 2008, but there were no relics. He has talked to several other museums about an exhibit were willing to finance it.

What is known is that the wreck is continually picked over by other divers so that it has gotten to the point where no one knows what remains.

It Was the Titanic of the Great Lakes. --DaCoot

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago's North Side-- Part 4

As usual, Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer have done a great job in digging up bits of really interesting information. From the July 25th Chicago Tribune.

7. The STREETERVILLE neighborhood is named after a whiskey-selling squattor and scamp who was despised by city fathers.

In 1886, Captain George Streeter ran his steamboat aground on a sandbar about 400 feet off Superior Street.

He urged builders to dump their drunk around his boat, then declared his newly created land to be the "District of Lake Michigan" and separate from Chicago. He defended this claim in court with a shotgun which he wasn't afraid to use.

The city fought back by extending Lake Shore Drive south, creating the curve at Oak Street to surround Streeter's ville. It took decades for the city to get control of Streeter's land.


8. In LINCOLN SQUARE, you'll find a lot of things with the name Budlong. Lymon and Joseph Budlong had a 700-acre farm and pickle factory northwest of Western and Foster avenues. This area is still designated Budlong Woods.

One Last Ten to Go. Stuff You Didn't Know. --Cooter

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dead Page: Mr. Beach Music

GENERAL NORMAN JOHNSON, 69

Beach Music Loses a Great One

I was sad to hear one of my favorite performers has died. he was a member of the Showmen who gave us that great "It Will Stand" song (which Bob Stroud uses in the intro to his Rock and Roll Roots radio show on WDRV in Chicago), and was the leader of the Chairmen of the Board from the 1970s to the present.

That band formed in Detroit and had hots with "Give Me Just A Little More Time," "You've Got Me Dangling from a String," and "Everything is Tuesday."

Then, the group moved to Atlanta and became a mainstay on the Beach music circuit with songs like "Carolina Girls," and "Down at the Beach Club."

There were lots of messages about his passing on the Carolina Beach Music e-mail Yahoo group.

More to Come.

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago's North Side-- Part 3

5. CREATIVE PLANNING-- The Old Town Triangle is another geographically-challenged triangle. Today, it is bounded by North Avenue and Clark Street, but no longer Ogden Avenue (which was named after Chicago's first mayor for you Route 66 fans), which was cut off due to some 1967 urban planning to separate the infamous Cabrini-Green slum from their more up-scale neighbors to the north.

Imagine something like that happening in Chicago?


6. RIVERVIEW PARK-- at one time billed itself as the world's largest amusement park, took up 74 acres at Belmont and Western and had a sixty-year run. In May 1928, Chicago Mayor William "Big Bill" Thompson, closed Chicago public schools, 10 to 20 a day, so kids could attend the park for free despite protest from outraged teachers and parents. The park closed suddenly in 1967.

I wonder how the kids felt about this?

Remember, Kids grow Up to Be Voters. Was There Another Reason to Let the Kids Out? --Cooter

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dead Page: America's Mom and Dad

Within four days this last week, we lost "America's Mom and Dad," Barbara Billingsley and Tom Bosley. I spent many nights watching them raise theior respective families, the Cleavers and the Cunninghams. I still watch them a lot on reruns.


BARABARA BILLINGSLEY (DEC. 22, 1915-OCTOBER 16, 2010)

Film, TV and stage actress, best known for her role as June Cleaver on the 1957-1963 TV show Leave It to Beaver. Hugh Beaumont starred as her husband Ward Cleaver, Tony Dow as son Wally and Jerry Mathers as Theodore, the Beaver.

It debutedon CBS, but had low ratings and was cancelled. It then moved to ABC for the rest of its run.

She was noted for always wearing a dress and that string of pearls around her neck which she said she wore to hide a hollow. Regarded as the "Perfect Mom."

Then, who can forget her role as the jive-talking grandma on the movie "Airplane."


TOM BOSLEY (OCTOBER 1, 1927-OCTOBER 19, 2010)

Starred as Howard Cunningham on Happy Days from 1974-1984, Sheriff Amos Tupper on Murder, She Wrote from 1984 to 1996 and Father Frank Dowling on the Father Dowling Mysteries from 1987-1991.

We'll sure miss these two people.