Friday, April 30, 2010

Goodbye Jim Bowie's Home

From April 21st Houma (La) Today "Home's demolition angers former owner" by John DeSantos.

The former home of frontiersman, inventor Jim Bowie, who was killed at the Alamo, has been destroyed. The Acadia Plantation House at 918 E. First Street in Thibodaux, Louisiana, which had been cobbled together from two antebellum homes in Louisiana has been torn down to make way for a subdivision.

It was once listed on the National register of Historic Places, but no longer.

It was Jim Bowie's home from 1827-1831. He is given credit as the inventor of the Bowie Knife. His home was a consolidation also, from two Creole cottages, one which had been owned by Philip Barton Key, nephew of Francis Scott Key (who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner) and Andrew Donelson, nephew of President Andrew Jackson's wife, Rachel.

During the Civil War, Union officers lived inside and soldiers camped on the grounds which were called Camp Stevens.

Always sad when historical structures are lost. Too bad they weren't able to keep it and use it for something else, perhaps a clubhouse or office if not living quarters.

Adios Acadia. --Cooter

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Now Those Are Real Funny Guys!!

The April 26th List Universe listed "The Top ten Comedy Teams of All Time." Of course, they had photos and write ups about each so you should check that.

10. Amos and Andy-- Very politically incorrect these days
9. Frick and Frack-- Didn't know them, but they were comedic ice skaters.
8. Smothers Brothers-- Loved their show.
7. Cheech and Chong-- "Hey, Dave's Not Here!!"
6. Abbott and Costello-- "Who's on 1st" is probably the funniest bit ever done.
5. Laurel and Hardy-- Loved Laurel's facial expressions. Dick Van Dyke could do a great Stan Laurel impression.

4. Monty Python-- Now there was a really funny group of lads.
3. Three Stooges-- It's a Stooge Thing, some just don't understand.
2. Martin and Lewis-- I don't agree with them. Definitely not funny.
1. Marx Brothers-- Real funny. I loved the Lucille Ball-Harpo mirror bit.

Real Funny Folk, Other Than #2, Jerry Just ISN'T FUNNY. --Cooter

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Live World War I Bomb Found in Britain

I accidentally entered this story in my Down da Road I Go Blog for this date.

It was found by a ferry in Langstone Harbor along the English Channel.

I didn't think planes of that time were able to drop three foot long bombs so have to wonder if this was a bomb.

Several years ago, my family took a boat cruise around the island of Great Britain and I guess I should have been paying more attention to the water, but am happy to report we had no deadly encounters.

There's Danger in Those Waters. --Cooter

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Careful Out in Those Waters

The April 24th Washington Post reports that there is an estimated 100,000 mines out in the world's waters of all types and sizes.

World War I and World War II mines in the North Sea still damage or sink fishing boats plying those waters. Back in February, a German World War II mines was detected in the Kattegat Strait between the north and Baltic seas and it was rendered safe.

A 2009 NATO mine assessment calculated that there are still 80,000 mines in the North Sea, Baltic sea and English Channel from both world wars.

Since October 1945, mines have sunk or damaged nearly four times as many US Naval ships than all other means of attack.

And, we're not even talking about unexploded bombs, shells and land mines.

All I Can Say Is, Be Careful Out There. -RoadDog

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dead Page: Soul-- SF Earhquake-- 50-Star Flag


Died Jan 5th. Record producer and label head. In 1970s owned Hi records which featured Al Green, Ann Peebles. Born and raised in Ashland, Mississippi. Created the Memphis Sound, a sophisticated sound of funk. Other artists on the Hi label: Otis Clay, O.V. Wright and Syl Johnson.


Survivor of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. remembered the terrible smell and smoke and living in a tent. Born on April 21, 1902 and lived on Telegraph Hill.


Died Dec. 12, 2009. In 1958, as part of a history project, he created what is today our 50-star flag. He spent 12 hours sewing it. President Eisenhower chose his design.

Some Interesting People I've Never Heard Of. --Cooter

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Real "Rosie the Riveter"

This is a story about a woman named Rosie Schramski, 85, of Suttons Bay, who, during World War II actually worked in a factory making bombers and whose job was riveting.

This was in the April 21st Traverse City (Mi) Record Eagle "'Rosie the Riveter' alive and well" by Carol Smith.

In 1944, she spent six months at the Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, as a riveter. She worked nine hours a day constructing the center wings on B-24 bombers on a mile-long assembly line.

With all the men going off to fight the war, thousands of women entered the work force to make the instruments of war they needed. Her daughters interviewed her and sent the story to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Homefront National Park in Richmond, California.


She had met her future husband Frank Schramski before the war. He enlisted in the Navy ten days after his high school graduation in 1943 and served on the destroyer USS Benham.

Rosie graduated at the same time and moved to Ypsilanti to help her sister and brother-in-law by babysitting while they worked at Willow Run. She came home for Christmas where she and her girlfriend Gladys decided to get a lucrative job at the plant themselves.

They went back to Ypsilanti, got jobs, and lived in dormitories set up for the workers. They attended the Ford Airplane School and studied from "A Manual of Elementary Rivet Theory."

They were assigned to what was considered to be the noisiest assembly line where the pieces were put together. Rosie was a riveter and Gladys the bucker. They worked hard and carefully, knowing the lives of the crews depended on their effort.

They often volunteered for the night shift where they made more money.

Part of the Interesting Story of the US Homefront During the War. --Cooter

Friday, April 23, 2010

Shorpy Takes a Look at 1890s US Navy

Always a great place to find some great old photographs and even better since you can blow them up for unbelievable detail, the Shorpy site featured this era in US Navy history with photos taken aboard the USS Maine, USS Brooklyn and USS Oregon as well as at the US Naval Academy back then as well.

The USNA photos were of the baseball team and the Class of 1894, all 23 of them.

There were also two pictures taken below deck on the Brooklyn c. 1897 and a boxing match on the Oregon the same year.

Yesterday, there was a picture of some of the unfortunate USS Maine's crew dressed for a masquerade ball and a gun gang in 1896, two years before the unfortunate explosion in Havana Harbor, Cuba, which prompted the US entry into war with Spain.

Of interest, there were black sailors serving aboard the ships, indicating that they were not segregated at the time.

A Real Trip Back. Thanks Shorpy. --Cooter

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

History of the National Education Association

Today, I went to Springfield, Illinois, to participate in a rally to Save Our State which attracted around 15,000 for a speeches and a march around the state capitol building to show concern over the state's budget crisis.

I went as part of the IEA, Illinois Education Association, a part of the NEA, National Education Association.

In keeping with a history theme, I'll take a look back at the NEAs history.

It started back in 1857, when 43 educators met in Philadelphia to unite in voice in support of education across the United States which was really hot or miss back then. For most children reading and writing was a luxury and for slave children, even a crime.

The present name was adopted in 1870 and the group chartered by Congress in 1906. In the 1960s, the NEA adopted union activities to further education.

Four years before the Civil War, the NEA began accepting black members and in 1966, it joined the largely black American Teachers Association.

In 2007, at the 1550th anniversary of the organization, membership stood at 3.2 million.

Quite a History. --Cooter

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Death Camp Liberator Looks Back

Mary Schmich in the April 14th Chicago Tribune.

We just recently observed Holocaust Day, a very sad day in the annals of history. On April 15th, Carl Levy and 119 other veterans were honored in Washington, DC, as liberators of German concentration camps. However, at the time, neither he or the others in his platoon thought of themselves as that.

There were "no grateful tears, huzzas or smiles, no cinematic fanfare," according to Schmich.

On that cool May 2, 1945, most of the men weren't sure what they were seeing. there was no warning from officers about what they were to witness. According to Levy, "In those days, a lowly infantryman was a lowly infantryman. There were no lectures on the grand scheme of things."

But Levy knew. he is Jewish and Jews knew.

there was a compound, guard towers, a wire fence and humans in striped uniforms, filthy and starving. Then, there were the corpses. They weren't cheering, "They didn't have the energy to cheer."

Levy later learned he was at a subcamp of the infamous Dachau. He didn't remember a smell, but in the ensuing weeks, nearby Germans told of the strange odor that would waft from the camp that came from the bodies being burned in ovens.

Levy believes that the men who came behind him and provided medical assistance and saved so many lives were the real ones deserving the honor he received.

Completely Unbelievable That Something Like This Would Happen. --Cooter

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bits O' History: Bomber Found-- Pearl Harbor Remains Identified

1. BOMBER FOUND-- April 15th Kent (UK) online. The body of British pilot Bernard Frederick Taft and his Lancaster bomber has been found east of the small German village of Brandau which is east of Frankfort. His brother, John Taft, had spent decades tracking down his remains.

Archaeology buff Felix Klingenbeck, 20, had heard stories about a bomber that crashed near the village and went looking for it. He found sections of it and posted numbers online. It was an Avro Lancaster III JB221.

Hard to believe that it would take so long to find something like this in a non-jungle or water site.

2. PEARL HARBOR REMAINS IDENTIFIED-- Gerald Lehman was an 18-year-old Fireman 3rd class on board the USS Oklahoma that momentous day in Pearl Harbor. His body was never identified and he was buried with four other unknowns at the Punch Bowl National Cemetery in Hawaii.

Thanks to saliva from the glue on 64 letters he wrote home, his body has now been identified.

At Least, His Family Now Knows. --Dacoot

OK, Not the Last Doolittle Reunion

A few days ago I posted that the 68th annual Reunion was to be the group's last one, but I now read that the 2011 one is planned for Omaha, Nebraska.

The April 17th Dayton (Oh) Daily News reported that four of the remaining eight members of the famous Doolittle's 1942 Raid attended the 68th Reunion:

Richard E. Cole, 94 of Comfort, Texas
Thomas C. Griffin, 92 of Cincinnati
Robert L. Hite, 90 of Nashville
David Thatcher, 88 of Missoula, Montana

The other four were not well enough to attend.

They spend two hours autographing books, photos and even the wings of World War II model airplanes. Hundreds of people waited in line to meet them.

Major Thomas Griffin said that one of the bombs his plane dropped missed the intended factory target, but hit the next door Tokyo Gas and Electric Company which he considered a fair trade-off.

Seventeen B-25 Mitchell bombers landed at the Air Force Museum airfield Saturday and remained until Sunday. That had to have been something to see.

Hopefully, I will get Out to Omaha Next April. --Cooter

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Like I Was Saying...Why It Takes So Much Time to Do These Blogs: Fort Douglas, Utah

Alright, I had to do some research on Fort Douglas. It was established to protect the Central Overland Road in 1862 as Camp Douglas, three miles east of Salt Lake City. The name came from Stephen A. Douglas, at President Lincoln's insistence. In 1878, the name was changed to Fort Douglas, which it remained until it closed in 1991.

During World War I it was used as an internment camp for Germans living in the US (I didn't know we had internment camps in World War I). German Naval personnel from the raider SMS Cormoran (never heard of this ship either, something else to look up).

Between wars, it was the home of the 38th Infantry. During World War II, it became an Army Airfield, home of the 7th Bombardment Group (B-17s).

It is now closed, but a group is running it as a museum.

Stuff I Didn't Know. --Cooter

Final Doolittle's Raiders Reunion This Weekend

Another era comes to an end this weekend when four of the eight remaining members of the April 18, 1942 Doolittle's Raid on Tokyo gather for one last time at the 68th Reunion at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

Lt. col. Dick Cole, then 26, said, "I was scared to death." as he was co-pilot of the lead B-25 bomber taking off from the USS Hornet that day.

Also returning are Major Thomas Griffin, Lt. Col. Robert Hite and Master sergeant David Thatcher.

At least 17 B-25 Mitchell bombers will do a fly-in to the Air Force Museum's runway today, one of the largest gatherings of that or any World War planes since World War II ended.

The B-25s began flying into Urbana, Ohio's Grimes Field on Thursday and attracted aviation enthusiasts from all over the country. Today, they will leave from Grimes Field and fly to the Air Force Museum.


On April 16th, yesterday, a solemn ritual took place at an undisclosed location. The four survivors raised their goblets to drink a toast to the ones who have died and then they overturn those deceased goblets.

each goblet is engraved with each individual's name twice, once upside down so the name can be easily read.

When there are only two members remaining, a final toast to departed comrades will be made and the ritual will end. At one time the goblets were kept at the Air Force Academy in Colorado between reunions, but in 2005, the survivors decided they would be on permanent display at the Air Force Museum in Dayton.

I Had Considered Going, But It Slipped Up on Me. That Would Have Been Something to See. --Cooter

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why It takes Me So Long to Do These Blogs

Case in point with the last story. As a two-fingered typist who has to keep looking back and forth between the source and keyboard, this takes time. Plus, I have sloppy handwriting so time is spent trying to figure out what I've written.

Then, I tend to head out into other directions from the story. I looked up the history of Fort Douglas and found there is a historical society involved with preserving it, so time was spent looking at their site. Then, in Wikipedia, I saw that it was used as a camp for German Navy personnel.

Then I learned they were from the SMS Cormoran, a German raider. I have done a lot on the battle between the German raider Kormoran and its battle with the HMAS Sydney and the recent location of the wrecks.

Then, the history of this World War I raider was of great interest as well.

Lots of Time, But i Sure Do Find This Stuff Interesting.-- Cooter

Utah in World War I-- Part 2 -- "Goodbye Boys. They've Got Me."

During the war, there was much reporting done on events at Fort Douglas. Some of these stories:

MAY 30, 1917-- there was to be an increase in enlisted pay from $21 to $36 a month.

AUGUST 30, 1917-- The 42nd Infantry was making seven miles of trenches like on the Western Front. Soldiers will begin training in bomb and grenade throwing, sapping and mining, bayonet charges, machine gun firing, counter charges and periscope work.

I will write about sapping and periscope usage later. By then, the Western Front had ground down to trench warfare so this was a very useful thing to train troops bound for it. I wonder if any of these trenches still exist.

From 1917 to 1920, the fort was used as a prison for German soldiers (Naval), civilian internees and conscientious objectors, one of three such camps in the US.

After Raymond F. Crow was hit, his last words were "Good-bye boys. They've got me." The Germans had been shelling the camp and Crow had been getting his men from the mess hall back to a dug our for safety. reports say he was literally riddled with shrapnel from the shell.

Utah at War. --DaCoot

There's Gold in Those Waters!!!

The SS New York which sank off the Louisiana coast in an 1846 storm has proven to be a treasure trove of gold coins. Some of these are from the now-forgotten Dahlonega, Georgia, US Mint.

These coins, some of which are in uncirculated mint condition could bring up to $100,000 each at auction. Some of them are called quarter eagles and half eagles with face value at $2.50 and $5.00.

Mints in Charlotte, NC, and Dahlonega, Georgia, operated from 1838 to the onset of the Civil War in 1861. The Dahlonega Mint produced 1.38 million gold coins and Charlotte 1.2 million.

Most of these disappeared after the US Treasury confiscated gold coins in 1933 and melted them down which is why, besides being gold, makes them so expensive.

Dahlonega was a major source of gold in the 1830s.

From the May 15th 2009 Access North Georgia.

Man, Diving for Sunken Treasure. I Would Have Liked to Do That. --Cooter

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Utah in World War I-- Part 1

From the April 5th Salt Lake City Deseret News "World War I left impact years after conclusion" by Mark Haddock.

The April 5, 1917 Deseret News headlines blared "SENATE DECLARES FOR WAR." World War I had been raging for three years, but now the US was going to get into it which it did 93 years ago this week.

It would be one year before the first Utahn (so that's what they call a person from Utah) was killed. Raymond F. Crow died near Verdun, France by shrapnel from an exploding German shell.

The war was over 7 months later, but another 644 Utah soldiers had died of a total of 21,000 from the state. Most of these trained at Fort Douglas, which became a prison after the training and was a final deployment site when the men returned.

More Utah in World War I to Come. --Cooter

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Where Were You March 28, 1977?

Continuing with Bob Stroud's Rock and Roll Roots Time warp from March 28th.


SILVER SPRINGS-- FLEETWOOD MAC-- Definitely two different Macs here.

NIGHT MOVES-- BOB SEGER-- teenage angst and lust

YEAR OF THE CAT-- AL STEWART-- A Stewart by a different name.

CARRY ON WAYWARD SON-- KANSAS-- One of the all-time great rock songs.

MAYBE I'M AMAZED-- WINGS-- try not to sing along with this one.
THE THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE-- 10CC-- the number one song in Chicago.

Some Memories. --Cooter

Well, this actually was supposed to be in another blog, but it is a slice of history and I don't feel like going back and retyping it again so will leave it.

Dead Page: Centaur Survivor Dies

From the April 11th Leader Community Newspapers.

Matthew Morris, 89, the oldest remaining survivor of the AHS Centaur, died April 9th in Ringwood, Australia. He was 23 when the ship was sunk in 1943.

despite advanced dementia, it was clear that he still was haunted by the memories. Recently he was interviewed and said, "I wish I had never seen that ship."

The funeral was yesterday, April 13th and fellow Centaur survivor Marty Pash, 89, was there and said "He was a great mate" about Mr. Morris.

A sad Part of History.

Tuskegee Airman Gives Talk

From the Feb. 26th Panama City News Herald.

Herbert Carver, 91, still lives in Tuskegee, Alabama, where he carved out a place in aviation and civil rights history as one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. He spoke at Tyndall Air Force Base Feb. 26th for Black Heritage Month.

As a young man he had thoughts of being a veterinarian but signed up to be an aviation cadet at the newly-formed group at Tuskegee Army Air Field. there were 13 cadets in the first class with a total of 992 graduating by the end of World War II.

He talked of doing double duty as a maintenance officer in North Africa and Europe and recalled planes he flew as being shot up and having to patch flak holes on return to base. They felt like they were fighting two wars, one in Europe and one against racism back home. According to Carter, they won one, but the lost the other. When "we got back home and nothing had changed."

The Tuskegee Airmen shot down 112 enemy aircraft in flight and destroyed another 150 on the ground while flying 15,000 combat sorties. Carter stayed in the Air Force after the war and retired as a Lt. Colonel in 1969. After that, he served as a Tuskegee Institute administrator.

Like other World War II veterans, his group is dwindling. Out of the 14 in his class, only four survive. Altogether, there are still about 100 Airmen alive in 45 Tuskegee Airmen chapters across the United States.

On hand to hear Carter's speech was Raymond "Mac" MacKinnon, 90, a Panama City Beach resident and one of the last surviving original Tuskegee Airmen instructors. He was one of the first ten volunteer instructors, all white. He taught from January 1942 to January 1945.

Hard to believe That veterans Who Served So Proudly Would be treated So Badly When they returned Home. --Cooter

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Most Blacks Excluded from World War II Action

From the March 16th Jackson (Ms) Sun "Most black units excluded from World War II combat" by Dan Morris.

About 900,000 blacks served in the military during World War Ii and of that number, only a small fraction actually saw battle. Only one black division, the 92nd saw combat in Europe.

Most blacks were assigned to segregated construction or supply units. It wasn't until President Truman signed a bill in 1948 that the military was desegregated.

Robert Shumbert, 84, of Selmer was drafted in 1943 and assigned to the all-black 1323rd Engineer regiment. He drove a truck and delivered supplies in Europe. He said, "Nobody that I knew complained that they didn't get to fight. That was just the way it was."

The last all-black Army unit wasn't disbanded until 1957.

The most famous black units in World War II were, of course, the Tuskegee Airmen and the 761st Tank Battalion under Patton.

Segregation Sure Was a Waste of Good Fighting Men. --Cooter

Bits O' History: NC WWII Wrecks-- Attendance Records-- WW II Motor Boats Saved

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

1. NC WWII WRECKS-- A diving website had good, up-close pictures of the U-352 off the North Carolina coast. Lots of sand sharks as well. Also had pictures of World War II ships Shurz, Spar and Bedfordshire, a British ship sunk by a U-boat when a torpedo hit the ammunition and blew the ship to splinters. There is obviously not much left, but you can see the boilers and depth charge rack.

2. ATTENDANCE RECORDS-- The National World War II Museum in New Orleans reports that attendance records have been broken. Since January 1st, 100,000 people have visited the six acre campus. This past march, they broke the monthly attendance record when 43,301 came across the turn styles.

3. WW II MOTOR BOATS SAVED-- Two small motor boats that participated in World War II have been saved. The MCB 81 took part at D-Day and the HSL 102 rescued downed airmen. They will go on display in Portsmouth as a result of a grant from the National heritage Memorial Fund and purchased by the Portsmouth Naval Base Property for 580,000 pounds.

Always Something Going On. --Cooter

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dead Page: The Box of the Tops


Leader of the Box Tops

Alex Chilton died March 17th and was the lead singer of the great old 60s group, the Box Tops out of Memphis, Tennessee. Who says white boys can't sing soul?

He took over the lead vocals of the Devilles and at age 16 had the number one song in the country with "The Letter." i always thought a much older person sand it. How could a person so young have a voice like that?

The Box Tops had a string of hits in the late 60s to early 70s, most of which are favorites of mine: Cry Like a Baby, Soul Deep, Neon Rainbow, Choo Choo Train, I Met Her in Church and Sweet Cream Ladies (Forward Marchdied March.

Thanks For All the Songs.

Top Ten Domestic Movie Grosses Adjusted for Ticket-Price Inflation

From the January 29th Chicago Tribune.

On my other blog, I listed the Top ten Domestic Grossing movies by actual ticket income. Of course, this would rule out earlier movies. To get a better of idea of the top grossers, the Tribune also ran this list.

1. GONE WITH THE WIND-- 1939-- $1.48 billion
2. STAR WARS-- 1977-- $1.31 billion
3. THE SOUND OF MUSIC-- 1965-- $1.05 billion

4. E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL-- 1982-- $1.04 billion
5. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS-- 1956-- $963 million
6. TITANIC-- 1997-- $943 million

7. JAWS-- 1975-- $941 million
8. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO-- 1965-- $912 million
9. THE EXORCIST-- 1973-- $813 million
10. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS-- 1937-- $801 million

Going to the Movies with an Old Coot-- Cooter

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Casualties at the Mount Hood Explosion

I came across these figures for deaths at the unfortunate Mount Hood Explosion:

MINDANAO ARG-3-- 23 188 wounded, according to Wikipedia, 82 killed.
Oberrende DE-344-- 1
YMS-293-- 2
YMS-238-- 1
YMS- 49-- 1
YMS-340-- 1
CEBU ARG-6-- 5
YO-77-- 1
YOUNG DD-580-- 1
KYNE DD-744-- 1

The Piedmont was 3,500 yards away and one man suffered injuries from a direct hit by the base of a 5-inch shell.

Manus Island is by Papua New Guniea.

A Horrible Accident. --Cooter

World War II Veteran Up in Plane Again

From the April 9th Fox 12 (Oregon) News.

Bill Steitz led 85 bombing missions and was on 100 in the European Theater of World War II. At age 19, he was the youngest pilot to ever fly a B-24 bomber and says on reflection that he was lucky to have survived.

On April 8, 1945, 65 years ago, he led the biggest bombing mission during World War II at the front of the entire 15th Air Force in the Plosetti Raid.

Yesterday, he was honored at the Aurora, Oregon, airport on the 65th anniversary of his last mission. he was taken up for a plane ride on a civilian plane.

Too bad It Couldn't Have Been on a B-24, --Cooter

World War II Home Front

The Old Picture of the Day Blog had pictures of women working on aircraft during the war all of this past week. Everyone always hears about the fighting and military, but usually there is very little about the total impact on the home front.

As the men left for the military, women stepped in to industries to make the weapons they needed to win the war. Even after the war, women in larger numbers began leaving the house and working in the business world. A breakdown of the photos:

APRIL 5TH-- 1942-- a woman painting the insignia of a plane.

APRIL 6TH-- 1942-- three women working on the fuselage of a Liberty Bomber in Ft. Worth, Texas, at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation.

APRIL 7TH-- 1942-- woman at North American Aviation, Inc.'s Inglewood, Ca., factory.

APRIL 8TH-- Flying Fortress-- 1942-- women assembling bombardier nose section of a B-17 F bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Co. plant in Long Beach, Ca.. The B-17s were known as Flying Fortresses and carried a 7-9 man crew.

APRIL 9TH-- woman working on the control surface of a horizontal stabilizer at the North American Aircraft company.

Definitely worth a look.

World War II Home Front. --Cooter

Friday, April 9, 2010

The USS Mount Hood Explosion

I last wrote about this ship January 26th and May 15th, 2008.

I am going through some old notebooks and covering items I wrote down back then that are of interest.

The USS Mount Hood (AE-11) exploded at Manus Island November 10, 1944, killing all officers and enlisted aboard along with sailors from many ships elsewhere in the harbor. It was one of the worst accidents in US Navy history. Altogether, nearly 1000 lost their lives in the event.

The Mount Hood was built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Co. in Wilmington, one of 54 ships they built for the US Navy and was launched November 28, 1943.

Twenty-two small boats and landing craft were sunk, destroyed or damaged and 371 other sailors injured, Most of these withing 2000 yards. The repair ship Mindanao caught the explosion broadside and had 82 killed and almost a hundred injured. Everyone topside was immediately killed.

Manus Island is close to Papua New Guinea and a Mount Hood Cemetery has been established on it.

Along with the Port Chicago Explosion and the one that occurred at West Loch in Pearl harbor, these were the worst accidents to happen to US forces during World War II.

A Very Sad Story. --Cooter

Captain William Crawford Eddy-- Pioneer in TV

Definitely a person I had never heard of, but he had a far-reaching impact on our lives.

From the Jan. 21, 2008, Michigan City (In) News-Dispatch. "The famous among us" by Amanda Haverstick.

Captain William Crawford Eddy, 1902-1989, was a versatile genius, pioneer in the development of Tv and microwave transmission.

As a submariner, he developed gear for tracking ships in the US Navy. In 1936, he teamed with Philo Farnsworth and researched and developed a sawtooth scanning television transmission that paved the way for today's TV transmission.

In 1941, he was involved with the founding of Chicago's WBKB, now WLS and handled all aspects of its operation, including producing "Kukla, Fran and Ollie." He moved to Michigan City and became a permanent resident.

During the Cold War, Mr. Eddy helped the US set up radar and communication networks in the Middle East to monitor the Soviet Union.

he was also an innovator in cruise control and endless loop cassette tapes. In a series of interviews in 1985, he predicted 3D TVs and TVs designed as pictures on walls. I see there is an actual TV now that can show 3D pictures at home.

Quite a Person and One I'd Never Heard Of. --DaCoot

World War II-- A Look Back

The September 9, 1939, Daily telegraph of Britain reported that four merchant ships had been sunk in recent days. These were in the early days, but the U-boats were already putting on a choke hold on Britain.

The ships:
Manaar-- 7,242 tons
Pukkastan-- 5,809 tons
Winkleigh-- 5,055 tons
Tamara-- 3,747 tons

The Manaar was torpedoed without warning and survivors were without food for 24 hours. The sub surfaced and opened fire. There was also one account that said four subs joined in the attack.

The steamer Olivegrove was sunk Thursday and the sub stood by and took two life boats in tow. It signaled the liner Washington then submerged while the Washington picked up the Olivegrove's crew.

I imagine the crew of the Washington had to be more than a little worried about all this and keeping an eye open for torpedoes.

Some Really Bad Days for England. --Cooter

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bits O' History: Bomb at Berlin Airport-- Hemingway's "Hooligan Navy"-- Bomb in Rome

Some New News About Old Stuff.

1. BOMB AT BERLIN AIRPORT-- Berlin's main international airport, Tegel, was shut down for an hour April 7th after a 550-pound World War II bomb was found at a building site. Bomb disposal experts were called in to disarm it.

2. HEMINGWAY'S "HOOLIGAN NAVY"-- The Jan. 24th Wilmington Star-News in its Bookmarks column, reported that during World War II, Ernest Hemingway participated in what is called the "Hooligan Navy" from June 1942 to 1943 in his 38-foot boat Pilar. This group was recruited to spot German U-boats which were sinking lots of Allied shipping off the American coasts.

Some still think it was just an excuse to sail off, drink, fish, pal around with his buddies and be a big shot. He might have once actually spotted a German sub.

3. BOMB IN ROME-- Construction on a high speed train station was stopped and 4,000 evacuated when a 550-pound World War II bomb was discovered. It was removed and destroyed in a controlled explosion.

You Definitely Have to Be Careful Digging in Europe. You Never Know What You Might Find. --DaCoot

US World War II POWs Tell Their Stories-- Part 2

All agree that their was never enough to eat and never feeling warm. Meals normally consisted of soup, black bread and potatoes. They did receive Red Cross parcels intended to feed one man for one week, but two to four men had to share it. They also were always conspiring about ways to escape.

GAYLE ALEXANDER-- was captured Nov. 2, 1944 on "one of the largest bomb raids in history" where 1,200 bombers and 800 fighters struck off for Germany. His boots fell off while parachuting from his burning plane and he had to march seven hours in his sock feet in temperatures near zero. When he would slow down, a German soldier would prod him with a bayonet.

However, brutality was rare. If you outranked a German soldier, you would receive a salute from him and vice versa.

After the war, COBERLY got a check for $300 from the government as compensation for his incarceration.

German POWs Had It Much better. --DaCoot

US World War II POWs Tell Their Stories-- Part 1

October 18, 2009, Lexington (Ky) Herald Leader "Ex-World War II POWs tell their stories" by Karla Ward.

These men gave a talk at the Kentucky Chapter of the 8th Air Force Historical Society in Georgetown.

JAY COBERLY remembers shuffling around discreetly to dispose of yellow sand from the tunnel they were digging for the Great Escape. They were on 700 calories a day.

DON KREMPER-- remembers eating boiled grass and cattle feed and sleeping in rain-soaked clothes. At one time he had to sale his coat for food. He was also forced to endure a 600-mile march in the cold, sleet and rain.

JOHN HOULIHAN-- remembers the "happy day" when general George S. Patton came into his tent and congratulated him and the other prisoners on their liberation.

Whenever I read about the treatment of German and Italian prisoners in the United States, I can't help but notice that there was absolutely no comparison to Americans held prisoner by the Germans.

Although, I definitely must admit that I would rather be a prisoner of the Germans than the Japanese who considered surrender to make you less than human.

Another Aspect of the War. --Cooter

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

World War II Shipwreck Appears in Coos Bay, Oregon

January 6th KMTR News.

The ship Helen E made a brief appearance along the southern Oregon coast. During World War II, it was used as a Navy subchaser. It grounded on the beach bu Coos Bay in 1951 and was first sighted around Thanksgiving. More and more became visible and between Christmas and New Year's it could really be seen at low tide. The sea has since reclaimed it.

After the war, it was used as a fishing boat until it beached at North Spit March 5, 1951, north of the entrance to Coos Bay. All the crew made it to shore safely. Efforts to salvage it failed and it was burned.

The ship was built in Nyack, New York, of both metal and wood components in 1943 as Subchaser SC-1316. It becomes visible as a result of El Nino.

I came across a mention of SC-1316 being damaged by a coastal mortar in the Marianas Islands, but that is the only mention of its war service.

The ship was 110 feet long. An article and picture of it burning is in the Jan. 6, 2010 The World, serving Oregon's southern coast.

A Memory Comes Back. --DaCoot

Dead Page: Survived Both Atom Bombs

I accidentally posted this entry on my Down Da Road I Go blog today. Tsutomu Yamaguchi of Nagasaki was on a business trip to Hiroshima when the first one fell and recovering at home when the second one hit.

He died of stomach cancer January 7th.

To see the full story, go to

USNS Mission Santa Ynez T-AO-134

One of the ships that was at Suisun Bay in the "Ghost Fleet," but is now in Richmond, California, undergoing bottom cleaning in preparation for it being towed to Brownsville, Texas. for scrapping is the USS Mission Santa Ynez. a World War II veteran and the last of the 500 Type T2 tankers built for the war effort.

It was built by the US Maritime Commission during the war and acquired by the Navy afterwards where it became AO-134. It is a Mission Bueanaventura Class oiler and named for the Mission Santa Ynez in Solvang, California.

The Marinship Corporation of Sausalito, California, laid down the keel September 9, 1943, and launched December 19, 1943. The war years were spend delivering oil to our forces overseas. At war's conclusion it was placed in the James River, Virginia, Maritime Reserve Fleet until the Navy got it in 1947. It provided service in the Korean War as well.

It joined the Suisun fleet in 1975 and has been there ever since, slowly rusting away.

It is 524 feet long with a 68 foot beam and carried a crew of 52 and no armament.

It is really too bad that this ship can't be saved, although most likely it is too far gone. I would like to have at least one example of every major World War II class of ships preserved to honor the Greatest Generation. Especially since it is the last one.

Save That Old Ship. --DaCoot

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Some More on Twinkies

April 6th Chicago Tribune.

A happy 80th birthday to Twinkies.

The Tribune had a graphic on Twinkie's Place in Pop Culture which I found of interest.

1950s-- Twinkies are hawked to children on the popular "Howdy Doody Show." I don't remember that, but I don't remember all that much from the show either.

1960s-- Archie Bunker gets a Twinkie in his lunchbox every day in "All in the Family."

1978-- The girls in "Grease" talk about Twinkies and wine at their slumber party.

1984-- "Ghostbusters" introduces the "big Twinkie" metaphor. I don't have any idea what this means.

1990-- The Blue Man Group feasts on Twinkies and then regurgitates. Never saw them.

1994-- Apu demonstrates "You cannot hurt the Twinkie" on "the Simpsons" as the food regains its form. Didn't see this episode.

2009-- A quest for Twinkies in Zombieland" puts Woody Harrelson up against the undead. Now this was very funny. Imagine risking your life for a Twinkie.

But, Then Again.... --DaCoot

Good Stuff Turning 60 and 80


From the March 25th Chicago Tribune said that one of my favorite places, Dunkin' Donuts turned 60. It was founded in Massachusetts back in 1950 by Bill Rosenberg. Back then, Mr. Donut was a major competitor, a problem he solved by buying the company. They also managed to ward off that growth spurt of Krispy Kreme a few years back.

Today, there are over 6,500 franchises in the US, but only 200 west of the Mississippi River.

Around here, there seems to be one in every town.


Hostess Twinkies turns 80 today according to today's Chicago Tribune. It was conceived right here in Chicago by bakery manager James Dewar and Hostess cranks out over 500 million of the sift, spongy cakes every year.

One packet contains two of the cream-filled treats, along with 300 guilt-free calories. It just tastes s-s-s-s-o-o-o-o- good!!

Think I'll Go Upstairs and Scrounge Through the Pantry for Something. --Cooter

Monday, April 5, 2010

Suisun Bay Ghost Fleet Grows Smaller

There are 70 vessels in the Suisan Bay Reserve Fleet in San Francisco Bay and all are now shedding toxic paint after all these years on not being used.

Back in December, the last two Victory Ships were removed, the Rider Victory and Winthrop Victory. The SS Mission Santa Ynez, built in 1943, is also slated to be towed through the Panama Canal to Brownsville, Texas, where it will be scrapped by Esco Marine Dismantling Service.

Next, the History of the Ships. --DaCoot

Bits O' History: Liberty Ship-- Steve Goodman's Post Office-- Stupid Business Move

Some New News About Old Stuff.

1. LIBERTY SHIP: Feb. 19th Wilmington Star-News. Dane Fulton's senior project was to make a scale model of a World War II Liberty Ship which he presented to the Hannah Block Historic USO Homefront Museum and will be displayed in the building's lobby.

It represents the SS Virginia Dare, a Liberty Ship built in Wilmington during the war. It is quite an impressive model.

2. STEVE GOODMAN'S POST OFFICE-- The March 17th Chicago Tribune reports that there is an effort underway to name the Lakeview post office at 1343 W. Irving Park Road near Wrigley Field after the singer and songwriter so associated with Chicago.

Mr. Goodman died in 1984 at the age of 34.

He wrote the Cubs fight song "Go Cubs Go," "Lincoln Park Pirates," "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request," and "The City of New Orleans."

This would be a very fitting memorial.

3. STUPID BUSINESS MOVE-- The March 23rd List Universe had a list of top ten stupidest ever business decisions. I'm just going to write about one, Quaker Oats' acquisition of Snapple. Mt dad worked most his life for Quaker Oats and really loved that company, but he went ballistic when he found out the company had bought Snapple, saying it would break the company.

It did just that. CEO Smithberg bought Snapple for an overpriced $1.7 billion and then found out the product had to be refrigerated, and Quaker had no refrigerated trucks. After selling off much of the company, Quaker finally unloaded Snapple for $300 million.

Dumb Move, Mr. Smithberg. --Cooter

Killer Subs at Pearl Harbor-- Part 4

Japanese mini-sub #5 escaped to West Loch after firing its torpedoes. and set off a scuttling charge when it became apparent they couldn't get out. It appears that the charges were set off underwater with the two men still aboard.


Cables were found on all three pieces of the sub.

On May 21, 1944, a huge explosion took place at the West Loch as ammunition and supplies were being loaded on LST-353 for the attack on the island of Okinawa. The explosion also sank six other LSTs and damaged two others. The Navy lost 163 sailors killed and 396 wounded.

Because of the operation, this was kept secret and all the wreckage was raised an taken three miles out of the harbor and dumped in the Pacific.

Very Interesting Show. --Cooter

Saturday, April 3, 2010

One of the Last Surviving Black World War II Submariners

From Channel 13 WJZ, Baltimore, Maryland.

Arthur Brown, 82, falsified his age as 18, when he was actually 17 to go to war. "Well, I wanted to help win the war, you know. Young guys like excitement. That's why I went into the service."

He served aboard the USS Narwhal, SS-167, commissioned in 1930.

He had hoped to be on a large ship like a battleship, but ended up in the Silent Service. "They needed 'em right away and that's how I got put on a submarine. I went down there and didn't see no battleship and I told the guys I didn't want to get on a submarine. They said, 'It's too late now; order's been cut. You get on.

He served on the Narwhal for more than a dozen missions in the Pacific and Alaska and left the Navy as a Petty officer 3rd Class.

Two of the Narwhal's six-inch guns are on permanent display at the Naval Submarine base at New London, Connecticut.

There is a book titled "Black Submariners in the United States Navy 1940-1975" by Glenn A. Knoblock.

You Don't hear Too many Stories About Black Submariners. --Cooter

Killer Subs at Pearl Harbor-- Part 3

There is evidence that at least one of the torpedoes fired by this mini sub hit a target.

Arnold Bauer, on the USS Vestal, said he saw one or more torpedo tracks coming in too deep for ones dropped by planes. Don Stratton remembers seeing a pair of torpedoes.

After the attack, an unexploded 1,000 pound torpedo was found. The Japanese planes dropped 500 pound torpedoes.

Divers have gone over the wreck of the Arizona and have found nothing to indicate a torpedo hit on the hull. The West Virginia was hit by 7 torpedoes and up to 9 hit the Oklahoma. One struck the West Virginia.

At the attack's conclusion, there was a big hunt for Japanese submarines. A US minesweeper reported firing on a submarine.

A picture taken from a Japanese plane during the attack shows some splashing in the waters off Battleship Row. This could be the backwash caused by the force of a torpedo being fired from a mini submarine.

More to Come. DaCoot

Killer Subs at Pearl Harbor-- Part 2

Back on January 18th, I wrote about the PBS special on the Japanese mini submarines at Pearl harbor December 7, 1941.

I'm continuing with it.

An area has been found outside of Pearl Harbor which is a World War II underwater museum of debris. Among the objects found are three pieces of a Japanese mini submarine. Items on the sub have positively identified it as one of the five making the attack that day.

Rudders on these submarines were different after the attack. The ones December 7th were too small for much maneuverability. Sharp-edged wire-cutters, called figure-eight net-cutters, were found on the bow to cut the submarine nets across the harbor entrance. Plus, there was a pulley.

Apparently, the other four mini subs didn't fire their torpedoes, but this one had empty torpedo tubes. A message was received by the Japanese Navy from the sub after the attack in morse code saying "Tora" which stood for a successful attack.

The ten sailors on the five submarines became instant heroes in Japan after the attack.

More to Come. --Cooter

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bits O' History: Tidying Up-- Kure Beach-- UNC-W

Some New News Abould Old Stuff.

1. TIDYING UP-- The Feb. 24th Advertiser reports that the minesweeper HMS Walney has been working to clear and destroy old bombs in the seabed off Lowestoft. It is being assisted by the HNLMS Middelburg and the Belgian minesweeper BNS Aster. They have already destroyed four old bombs. Old World War II ordnance is discovered on a weekly basis.

According to Wikipedia, Lowestoft is the easternmost British city and was used as a navigational mark for German bombers during the war. As such, it was the most heavily bombed British city per head. Old mines and bombs are still found and pose a threat to shipping.

2. KURE BEACH, NC-- Development of this ocean side town began in the 1870s when Hans Anderson Kure (pronounced Cure-ee) moved there from Denmark and bought large tracts of land. It was incorporated in 1947.

3. UNC-W-- On February 17, 1960, ground breaking took place during the 13th annual Azalea Festival for Wilmington Junior College on Highway 132. It has since become University of North Carolina at Wilmington, a place that I would have liked to have taught at as I was growing up.

So, That's It. --DaCoot

Youngest World War II Service Casualty Identified

February 15th BBC.

Reginald Earnshaw was 14 years and 152 days old when he died under enemy fire on the SS North Devon July 6, 1941. He was a merchant marine cabin boy who had lied and said he was 15 to enter the service.

For years, his body had been buried in an unmarked grave until a former shipmate went looking for his final resting place. His sister, Pauline Harvey, 77, laid flowers on his grave at Comely Bank Cemetery in Edinburgh.

The North Devon had been on its way to Tyneside when it was attacked by German bombers.

The previous youngest was thought to be Raymond Steed, also in the merchant marine, who was 14 years and 207 days old when he met his death.

The SS North Devon weighed 3,658 tons and was built in 1928, a year after Reginald was born on February 5, 1927. A poem was written about him at Poet by Ken D. Williams. It evidently was not sunk in the attack.

Sad to See a Life So Young Come to an End. --Cooter

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The L-5 Sentinel

Yesterday, i wrote about the World War II pilot who was reunited with the very same plane he flew at Iwo Jima in 1945. I had never heard of these particular planes, so did a little more research, compliments of Wikipedia.

The particular one that Thomas Rozga flew, the L-5B, was one of 729 of that particular model built, of which only about 300 are known to exist and of those, only half are able to fly.

After the war, many found usage in the Civil Air Patrol program.

Each carried a two man crew: a pilot and observer.

Over 3,896 of these observation planes were built in total by the Stinson manufacturing company. They were useful in operating in forward airstrips and delivered information and supplies and could return with badly wounded soldiers.

Interesting Story. --DaCoot

England's Oldest Surviving Veteran

From the Jan. 16th

Actually, he is a she, Florence Green, who is now 109. A researcher recently discovered her. She enlisted in the newly-formed Women's RAF at age 17, two months before the end of the war and worked as a waitress in the officer's mess.

She was stationed at RAF Markham and Narborough Airfield, both in Norfolk, England.

She was born February 19, 1901, and is the only survivor of the Great War living in the UK. The other survivor, Claude Choules, lives in Australia.

One of the Few World War I Veterans Left. --Cooter