Saturday, July 31, 2010

Best World War II Movies

ABS/CBN, June 19th, had a list of what they considered the most accurate portrayals of World War II in the movies.

1. Schindler's List
2. The Pianist (I've heard of it, but know nothing about it.)
3. Saving Private Ryan (especially the opening D-Day scenes)
4. The Diary of Anne Frank
5. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (I don't know anything about this one)
6. Valkyrie

I've seen #1, #3, #4 and #6. I would have to guess that #5 is about concentration camps.

Friday, July 30, 2010

USS Gravely-- Part 2-- Admiral Samuel Lee Gravely

Good old Wikipedia said the USS Gravely is DDG-107 and is an Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer (the Wilmington Star-News said it is an Aegis-class guided missile destroyer) and the 57th of its class.

It was laid down 26 November 2007, launched 30 March 2009 and christened 16 May 2009.

Vice Admiral Samuel Lee Gravely was born June 4, 1922, and died October 22, 2004. He was the first black to be commissioned as an officer, the first black officer serve aboard a fighting ship, the first black fleet commander and the first black admiral.

He served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War.

His wife Alma christened the ship.

One of the Greatest Generation Who Was Quite a Standard Bearer. --Cooter

Thursday, July 29, 2010

USS Gravely to Be Commissioned in Wilmington, NC

July 27th Wilmington Star-News "USS Gravely accepted by Navy; Destroyer coming to Wilmington for commissioning this fall" by Gareth McGrath.

The commissioning of the Navy's newest guided missile destroyer will be November 20th in Wilmington.

The Aegis-class vessel was built by Northrop Grumman in Mississippi and is 510 feet long and weighs 9,500 tons.

It was christened May 2009 and named after the late Vice Admiral Samuel Lee Gravely, the Navy's first black admiral. It is undergoing sea trials right now.

This will be the second Navy vessel commissioned recently on the Cape Fear River. In 2008, the nuclear attack submarine USS North Carolina was commissioned amid high security.

Of course, Wilmington is also the home port of the battleship USS North Carolina.

I've never been to a commissioning.

I'd Sure Like to Be There. Control of the Seas Keeps Us Free. --DaCoot

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Big Surprise, Adolf NOT a Popular British Baby name

Imagine that! Since the end of World War II, only 20 British children have been named Adolf, the most recent in 2005.

Using records back to 1873, there were 320 Adolfs registered in England and Wales, but the name became less popular after World War I. Then, of course, came World War II.

Five British babies have been named Ringo, after the Beatles' drummer. Eight boys have been named Pele after Brazil's World Cup Soccer win in 1970.


Then, there's the Fish family of Lancashire, England, who have named ten babies with the surname Fish. I'd like to introduce Fish Fish. And one Fish baby got the name Fish Fish.

Something's Fishy in Denmark. --Cooter

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Russians Are Coming! Showing the Flag and Fighting Fires-- Part 3

While the Russian Pacific Fleet was in San Francisco, a major fire broke out October 23, 1863 in the city's Financial District. City firemen were losing the battle until a boat load of Russian sailors arrived and took the places of the worn out firemen and conquered the fire.

Unfortunately, six of the sailors gave their lives and are believed to have been buried on Mare Island. Three of the sailors are buried in a grave marked "Unknown Russian Sailors. The names of three are known: Artemy Trapeznekov, Yakov Butorin and Karl Koit.

Their graves have long since been damaged and disappeared.


On September 11, 1904, during the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian cruiser Lena sailed into San Francisco Bay seeking repairs. It had to leave in 48 hours or remain for the duration of the war due to US neutrality.

The ship's captain claimed the boilers were in bad shape and a US delegation inspected the ship and decided he was correct. The Lena was escorted to Mare Island in Vallejo, California where it remained for the rest of the war.


The flotilla of Russian ships, led by the Varyag, departed from San Francisco June 25th.

US-Russian Relations in the Pacific. --Cooter

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Russian Are Coming! The Varyag and the Civil War Visit-- Part 2

Two days ago, I wrote about this vessel, the flagship of Russia's Pacific Fleet becoming the first Russian surface vessel to visit San Francisco since the Civil War.

Thanks to Wikipedia.

It was commissioned in 1989, is 611.5 feet long, has a 68.2 foot beam, has 480 crew and can cruise at 32 knots.

It mounts quite a few guided missiles.

Two Russian squadrons visited the US between 1863 and 1864 in support of the Union war effort and to thwart England and France in their support for the Confederacy. The Russian Atlantic fleet went to New York City, Baltimore, Annapolis, Hampton and also the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

The Russian Pacific fleet visited San Francisco under Rear Admiral A.A. Popov and consisted of the corvettes Bagatyr, Kalevala, Rynda, Norvik and the clippers Abrek and Gaidamak. These ships sailed from Far Eastern ports.

More to Come. --Cooter

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hitler's Airport Update-- Part 2

Today, Berliners wander through the prairielike 950 acres.

During the war, Allied forces knew that one day they would need the airport after the war, so it was spared the bombing that destroyed so much of Berlin.

Tempelhof became the eastern end of President Harry Truman's famous air bridge during the 1948-49 Soviet blockade of West Berlin which was surrounded by Soviet East Germany. Today, there is an abstract monument bearing the names of 70 British and American "Candy Bombers" who died ferrying food and supplies to West Berlin. It's three fingers represent the three air routes into the city.

Tempelhoff became a major US base and the main civilian air link. As commercial airlines began using the other two airports, private planes carrying high-end travelers continued to use it.

The Story of an Airport. --DaCoot

Hitler's Airport Update-- Part 1

July 22nd Chicago Tribune "From Nazi icon to tranquil oasis" by Borzou Daraghal.

Tempelhof Airport shut down two years ago as more and more air traffic went to the more modern Tegel and Schoenfield airports. There were lots of plans for it, but today it is just essentially open park land.

This airport represents German history since the 1930s after being designed on a monumental scale to glorify Hitler's Third Reich by his top architect, Albert Speer. It was massive to say the least, at 950 acres, larger than New York City's Central Park and twice the size of Berlin's biggest park, the 19th century Tiergarten.

Nothing has essentially been done, other than city workers painting huge Xs on the runways so no planes will land there.

Hitler had Speer create "an ominous and imposing edifice, decorated with eagles that grasped swastikas which have long been scraped off."

The 4,000 foot long airport building is being left as is for now. Parts are sometimes rented out for events and the grounds are essentially left as they were.

Cold War Edifice Next, --Cooter

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming!!-- Part 1

From the June 22nd San Francisco Chronicle.

Well, actually, they've come and gone by now, but still an interesting story.

The first Russian surface ship in 147 years, the Cruiser Varyag, the flagship of Russia's Pacific fleet, made an appearance in the harbor. This is the first Russian ship since 1863 when Czar Alexander II sent his fleet to San Francisco and New York City to show Russia's support for the Union during the Civil War.

A Russian/Soviet submarine did come into San Francisco Bay back during World War II.

Six Russian ships led by a rear admiral entered the bay. Britain was considering recognizing the Confederacy and the French were about to send troops into Mexico. Confederate raiders were sailing in the Pacific.

While in San Francisco, Russian sailors helped fight a huge fire and six lost their lives.

Russians in SF!!! --DaCoot

Gotta Have That Morbid Elvis Stuff

You've been anxiously awaiting for the opportunity, well, some folks maybe. But, now is your chance to acquire some real morbid Elvis Presley stuff, items used for preparing him for his burial.

From the July 22nd Chicago Tribune.

The former senior embalmer at the Memphis Funeral Home is going to auction off tolls used to embalm the King in 1977.

The items are estimated to bring in $8,000 and will include the "John Doe" tag, rubber gloves, forceps, lip brushes, comb, eyeliner, needle injectors and aneurysm hooks used during the embalming. Preparations for Elvis' funeral involved embalming his body, dressing him in a suit, applying makeup and dying his graying hair.

Also for sale is the coffin shipping invoice, the hangar to Elvis' suit, his preparation room case report and case sheet.

Chicago-based Leslie Hindman Auctioneers will be hosting the event.

In the past, clumps of Elvis' hair have gone for $18,000 and a syringe used on Abraham Lincoln on his death bed brought in $10,000.

My Advice to You Is Go out and Buy, Buy, Buy!! --Cooter

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ship Unearthed in New York City-- Part 3

Continuing with the story about the remains of a ship discovered at the site of the World Trade Center.

The pit where the ship was discovered is on a sixteen acre site where the new 1776 foot World Trade Center is going to be built. A marine historian believes that the ship may have sailed in the Caribbean, based on the 18th century organisms that had bored into the timber.

A 100 pound anchor was found a few yards from the hull. When the city was extending its shore line, derelict ships were often used to provide fill.

The ship had been weighted down and sunk into the bottom of the river as support for new city piers.

Another such ship was found in 1982 in Water Street.

The remains will be removed, but the wood is so delicate they are not sure how much of it will remain. It is deteriorating fast now that it is exposed to the air.

Archaeologists are measuring and photographing the ship's remains, but it is not clear how long the ship actually was.

Now, This is My Kind of Story. --Cooter

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July Mississippi River Trip-- Part 4-- Galena and Grant Hills Motel

July 17th continued.

We did have some reasonable food at the Elizabeth Fair, but that was the high point of it. It was definitely a hard deal to beat the $1.25 for a big slice of pie.

Drove US-20 to Galena and took a walk around US Grant Park on the other side of the Galena River. They have monuments to Grant and soldiers as well as four captured cannons from the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War II.


Unbelievably, we found a parking space right in front of the Grape Escape where we had seen they were going to have entertainment in the afternoon.

Johnny Rocker is in two bands and also performs solo singing a great variety of different songs. Too bad we were the only folks in the place for awhile, but he went ahead and gave us a show anyway. Eventually others came in. He played several songs by Social Outcast which i will have to check out.


We went back to the motel and ended up sitting outside from five to 10:30 talking with several other couples, including one from Woodstock, Illinois, about ten miles from us back home. This sitting outside your room and talking with people is one of the things I really like the most when you stay at a Mom and Pop Motel. Try doing that at the newer ones. It just doesn't happen very much, if at all.

What I'd Call a Pretty Good Day. --Cooter

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ship Unearthed in New York City-- Part 2

Back on July 16th, I came a cross a short article in the USA Today about a ship from the 1700s that was found on the site of the World Trade Center, but not much else about it.

The fact that it was not discovered when the WTC was being built, survived the terrorist attack and is that old fascinates me.

I did some research and found coverage, believe it or not, from New Zealand, but nothing else from the US.

Here's what the July 16th Channel 3 News had to say about the ship.

It is a 32-foot piece of the former ship, not the whole thing as I was led to believe in the USA article and found twenty feet below street level. Workers at the site were unexpectedly thrilled by the find. From what they see, they believe it was a ship from the 1700s. They know that back around 1810, derelict ships and earth and rocks were buried in the area to extend New York's shoreline to accommodate the huge increase in trade as the city was really bustling.

It was first spotted Tuesday, July 13th, in the pit where the new World Trade Center is being built.

More to Come. --DaCoot

July Mississippi River Trip-- Part 3-- Elizabeth, Illinois

On July 17th, we took a trip on a lot of back roads throughout Jo Davies County in the very northwestern part of Illinois.


We visited Blanding's Landing by the Mississippi River across from Bellevue, Iowa, the only section of privately-owned land between the railroad tracks and the river for miles and miles in that area. The rest is owned by the government, in part for the nearby lock and dam as well as probably for flooding. There used to be the town of Blanding there, but no more.


We went to a parade in Elizabeth, Illinois, a small town about twelve miles southeast of Galena. With a population of 682, you wouldn't expect much, but you sure would be wrong. Besides a picture-perfect main street, US-20, (which unfortunately has traffic and LOTS of TRUCKS coming through), this is one town aware of its heritage. They have two museums as well as a reconstructed fort from the Black Hawk War.

They were having their 90th annual Community Fair and a parade to go with it. We watched the parade from the air conditioned Jug's Bar and Grill on Main Street. As hot as it was, that cold air sure felt good and the $2 parade specials like rum and Coke slaked our thirst. Being an agricultural community, there were plenty of tractors in the parade.

After visiting the local winery, we came back for the fair, but weren't too happy to have to pay $6 apiece to enter. There wasn't much of interest for us, but we did have a great meal at reasonable prices, capped off with some really great pies at $1.25. How do you beat that in these expensive days.

A Real Fine Town. --Cooter

Sunday, July 18, 2010

July Mississippi River Trip-- Part 2

Friday July 16th.

The History of It

Drove through Thompson, Illinois, today on Il-84, a very pretty little town which is about to get some notoriety because the government is thinking about sending the Guantanamo prisoners there.

Clinton and Dubugue, Iowa, are river towns that at one time had lots of maritime trade. The same with Savanna, Illinois (no "H" in it).

At one time, Galena, Illinois, was a larger city than Chicago and bustling with shipping and steam boats. But the lead (called Galena Lead) played out and the river silted in to about a quarter of its original size and depth (because of the denuding of surrounding hillsides as men looked for the lead).

Time essentially then sidestepped Galena, leaving us with a town frozen in time back in the 1830s and 1840s. No urban renewal or altering was done.

Galena languished as such until the 1960s when it was "discovered" and today is a major tourist destination.

Lots of History in Them Thar Hills. --Cooter

Friday, July 16, 2010

July Mississppi River Trip-- Part 1

Historically speaking about yesterday's drive through northern Illinois.

We passed two sites associated with the Blackhawk War dating to the 1830s. The town of Stillmam Valley has a statue honoring soldiers killed fighting Chief Blackhawk and his warriors. Their graves are nearby.

We also visited the Blackhawk Statue on the bluff overlooking the Rock River. Well, it's not actually of Blackhawk, but represents Indians in general. The impressive fifty foot statue was built 100 years ago by famed sculptor Lorado Taft. Three weeks ago, I saw it from a river boat, but today saw it up close and personal. Impressive.

Then, there is the small town of Grand Detour where one man named John Deere developed his famous prairie plow that enabled farmers to break through the tough prairie sod in the midwest which led to its becoming one of the world's major agricultural areas.

Historically Speaking, Of Course. --DaCoot

Ship Unearthed in New York City

From the July 16th USA Today "Ship Unearthed in NYC"

I came across an interesting photo and short blurb about the remains of an 18th century 32-foot long vessel that was discovered at the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City.

Construction workers unearthed it from the mud about thirty feet underground.

How it got there and how it wasn't discovered during the WTC construction is still a mystery. If it sank, that would mean that the site was once under water.

From the photo, it appears that a large portion of the hull is still in one piece. I don't know why they are working at the site but imagine it's probably for a memorial.

I hope to find out more information.

Boy, Am I Ever Interested in Stories Like This. --Cooter

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Another Battle of the Alamo

Dallas, Tx, CBS 11, July 14th.

Thousands of visitors come to the Alamo every year, but now there is another Battle of the Alamo brewing between the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) and a member who has filed suit against the organization saying that they are not properly preserving it.

The DRT has been running the operations at the Alamo in San Antonio since 1905. Sara Reboly has filed a complaint against them because the roof is cracked and leaks. Bits of plaster fall from time to time.

The DRT do not charge to visit the place and rely on donations, grants and souvenir sales to bring in $5 million a year, about half of it going to the 98 employees who work at the site.

I wouldn't mind spending $5 to see the place. Besides Fort fisher and Pearl Harbor, this is my favorite battle to study and read about.

Let's Hope This Gets Settled Soon. --Cooter

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

German POW Camps in Wilmington, NC-- Part 2

Margaret Sampson was a student at Williston Primary School near the second camp. She remembers that occasionally the teachers let the students speak to the prisoners behind the fence, "We'd dash across the street and give them candy andgum and talk to them. A lot of times we couldn't understand them, but the gestures were friendly."

When Germany surrendered, there were 552 prisoners in Wilmington. On April 12, 1946, some Germans were sent home and by the end of May, all were gone.

The 8th and Ann site was turned over to the city. Some of the farmers who had the POWs working for them kept in touch.

From "A Sentimental Journey" about wartime Wilmington by Wilbur D. Jones, Jr..

Captured Germans Were Certainly Treated Better Here Than Captured Americans Were in Germany. --DaCoot

German POW Camps in Wilmington, NC-- Part 1

From the My Reporter Column in the Jan. 15th Wilmington Star-News.

Between February 1944 and April 1946, there were three German prisoner of War camps in the Wilmington area.

The first group of 250 Germans arrived February 7, 1944 and were held in a camp at the intersection of Carolina Beach Road and shipyard Boulevard. They had been captured in North Africa in 1943 (probably members of Rommel's Afrika Korps).

By September 1944, the camp had become overcrowded and a second one opened in a four-block area around 8th and Ann streets. During World War I it had been a Marine hospital. By October, this camp was open and all prisoners were transferred there and the first one shut down.

These prisoners were put to work in local sawmills, fertilizer plants and farms. A third group worked in the officer's mess and grounds keeping at the Bluethenthal Army Airbase, now Wilmington International Airport.

Local citizens took Sunday drives out to see the prisoners.

The Life of a German POW in the US. --Cooter

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Australian Nurses Who Died on the Centaur

Eleven nurses dies when the Centaur was torpedoed:

Sister H. Haultain
Sister E. King
Sister M. Moston
Sister E. Shaw
Sister D. Wylie
Sister M. Adams
Matron S. Jewel
Sister A. O'Donnell
Sister E. Rutherford
Sister W. Walker
Sister M. McFarlane

A Sad and Unnecessary Loss. --Cooter

Back to the Centaur

From the January 14th Northern Daily Leader.

Ellen (Nell) Savage was one of only twelve nurses to survive the Centaur. She enlisted in 1941 and was described as "curly brunette with a dimpling smile. After the sinking, she was honored with the George Medal by King George IV, which is primarily a civilian decoration but can be awarded to serving military personnel for gallant conduct not in the face of the enemy.

The citation reads, "Although suffering from severe injuries...she displayed great heroism while she and some male members of the ship's company were floating in a raft to which they clung for 34 hours before being found by an American destroyer.

"She rendered conspicuous service in attending to wounds and burns sustained by the other survivors.

"Sister Savage's example of high courage and fortitude did much to maintain the morale of her companions. With sharks circling the raft, ships and planes missing them, she organized a singalong to keep up spirits."

Ellen Savage died in 1983.

A Hero for the Times. --DaCoot

USS Oklahoma's Mast Finally Back Home-- Part 2

Well, it was never actually there in the first place, but it has returned to its namesake state.

From the July 11th Muskogee Phoenix.

The two Pearl Harbor survivors spoke. Ed Vesey, who had been on the Oklahoma in the attack said, "We're kind of crusty and rusty and have barnacles, too. It was a wonderful, happy ship. A good ship with great food." He continued saying people would come to the Oklahoma just to eat.

Arles Cole said he survived the attack because of a dud bomb. "I was on the third deck and I saw water coming into the third deck below. I was knocked to my knees and everything went black. I was entombed in oil and water." He also recalled finding a hole overhead made by the 500-pound did bomb. "I put the flag up while the battle was still raging...."

After the war, the Oklahoma was raised and sold for scrap, but it sunk in a storm while being towed to California.

Quite a few Oklahomans were involved in getting the mast, including state representative George Faught, Rodney Mish and Dr. Judy Morty.

A 120 square-foot building is planned to protect the mast and for displays on the ship's history.

Everyone Always Hears About the Arizona So It's Great That People Are Now aware of the Tragedy on the Oklahoma. --Cooter

Monday, July 12, 2010

USS Oklahoma's Mast Finally Back in Oklahoma-- Part 1

A 40-foot section of the USS Oklahoma's mast, lost at the bottom of Pearl Harbor ever since that fateful day in 1941, and recovered during dredging of the harbor in 2006, has now found its way back to its namesake's land, at the USS Batfish Memorial Park in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma lost 429 crew members during the Japanese attack.

Today, it is covered with barnacles and rust, but back on December 7, 1941, it proudly flew the US flag. A ceremony was held July 10th.

Three veterans were given pieces of it at the ceremony:

Ed Vesey of Moore, was a gunnery officer on the Oklahoma.
Arles Cole of Tulsa was on the USS West Virginia and is president of the Pearl harbor Survivors of Oklahoma.
Donald Ritz served on the Oklahoma from 1936-1937.

From the July 11th Tulsa World and July 11th Muskogee Phoenix.

More to Come. --Cooter

Friday, July 9, 2010

In Congress, July 4, 1776-- Part 3

I haven't read it yet, but still have some of the textbooks I used to use, so will find a copy and read it by Sunday. This editorial moved me and sort of shamed me at the same time.

On July 3rd, John Adams wrote his wife Abigail that in the future July 2nd would be "celebrated by succeeding generations...with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."

He was wrong about the date but right on the mark with the celebration aspect. I wonder how he knew the country he was starting would one day stretch from sea to shining sea?

From the Tribune: "So, start the parades. Let the 'illuminations' fly. Light the bonfires. And what about starting a new tradition? Find the text of the Declaration of Independence and read it aloud. It takes less than 10 minutes-- though you might want to allow some extra time for the cheers.

Think I'll Do Just That. Where Are Those Old Textbooks? --DaCoot

In Congress, July 4, 1776-- Part 2

"He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coast, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people."

People cheered as our ancestors built a case for independence. At the end came the actual declaration and the resolve.

"And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

From the Tribune: "The words have astonishing power and eloquence. They stand the test of time. Credit the principal author, Thomas Jefferson."

The second Continental Congress approved the Declaration July 2nd. Jefferson added a few modifications and the second one was approved two days later, July 4th. However, it was signed until August 2, 1776.

By signing this document, these men were putting their lives on the line. I don't know that I would have signed it. I might have supported it, but signing it irrevocably casts your lot. If England wins, and there is no reason to think they won't, you are ruined and perhaps dead. Your family is also put into danger.

Mighty Brave of These men and They definitely Weren't Speaking for All Americans. Many Were Still Loyal to the Crown and Then There Was the Slave Question. --Cooter

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago Food-- Part 5

I sure love it when Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer make one of these columns. They have to do a LOT of research to come up with this stuff.

I close out the look at Chicago food today.

9. CHICAGO-STYLE HOT DOGS-- There is always lots of discussion as to what is a proper Chicago-style hot dog, one of my favorite things in the world to eat. However, all agree that there can be NO KETCHUP, or do you say CATSUP? In November 1995, famous Chicago columnist Mike Royko denounced US Senator Carole Mosely Braun for including ketchup in her recipe printed in a hot dog cookbook. He was also upset that she omitted celery salt. It certainly isn't "proper" without a top dressing of that salt.

10. IT WAS A PEARL HARBOR THING, YOU KNOW-- Before World War II, Chicago-based potato chip maker Leonard Japp, Sr., had a great business going on selling his Mrs. Japp's Potato Chips. But, after December 7, 1941, that name was a public relations nightmare and sales dropped tremendously.

The solution was to change the name to Jay's Potato Chips. So, that's how that name came to be.

Every year, I'd spend several days in my classroom around December 7th talking about Pearl Harbor. I'd bring up how anti-Japanese Americans were, something that led to the internment camps and then would point out the name change. This struck home with the students especially because Jay's is a big snack food around the Chicago area.

Think I'll Go Out to Billy's or Hello Folks Today and Get Me One of Those Properly Dressed Chicagah Dawgs. --DaCoot

In Congress, July 4, 1776-- Part 1

The July 4th Chicago Tribune had an editorial titles "The Declaration."

It related how last year, a group of Midwesterners crowded into a barn while it was raining and a man began to recite the Declaration of Independence.

"When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people...
"We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..."

He read not only the parts we're familiar with, but the whole thing. Most adult Americans probably have not read it since high school. Actually, I taught it in Middle school for the last ten years before retiring, so am very knowledgeable about the document as a result. Otherwise, I wouldn't be.

At first, the crowd was restive, but more and more began tuning in, then pretty much everyone. There was silence, then cheers and fist-pumping when the man got to the part about King George's abuses.

Liz and I definitely celebrated the 4th of July with bands, boating, parades, bars, flea markets, parties and fireworks, but I didn't do this. I think next year, I will get out the copy of the Declaration and read it. That would be the least I could do. As a matter of fact, I think I'll do it this weekend.

God Bless the USA. --Cooter

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago Food-- Part 4

7. Boxer JOE LOUIS' trainer, Chapple Blackburn, tried to toughen him up by taking him out to Chicago's stockyards to drink blood from the slaughterhouse.

Sounds like a vamp thing to me.

8. DEEP-DISH PIZZA was invented in Chicago during the '40s in a lumber baron's former mansion at 29 E. Ohio St., now the site of Pizzeria Uno. Who invented it is not exactly known with credit going to co-owners Richard Novaretti and Ike Sewell and employee Rudy Malnati.

The invention came about partly by accident as Sewell wanted to open a Mexican restaurant. A test meal made Novaretti sick and he suggested Italian instead.

Today, there is also a Pizzeria Due and a chain of pizza places called Lou Malnati's in the Chicago area. Lou is the son of Rudy Malnati.

So, That's Where Malnati's Pizza Come From. --DaCoot

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago Food-- Part 3

Well, the Taste of Chicago is over now and again, I didn't go. The old Chicago hassle, you know.

However, continuing with the June 20th Chicago Tribune column.

5. In 1916, an ANARCHIST named Jean Chrones attempted to kill many of Chicago's most important men by spiking the chicken soup at a reception for the new Roman Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Mundelein. many guests got sick and vomited, but no one died. However, Chrones escaped and was never captured.

And, I heard chicken soup was good for you.

6. If you've ever been in a Greek restaurant, you've probably seen the serving of saganaki where the cheese is set on fire at the table and the flames extinguished with lemon juice and the chanting of "Opaa!" This did not start in Greece as might be expected, but in Chicago at the Parthenon Restaurant in Greektown.

Burnt Cheese, How Appetizing!! --Cooter

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Charles Weeghman-- Restauranteur, Cubs Owner and Klansman

I never heard of Charles Weeghman until the earlier post. I looked him up in Wikipedia and this was one interesting person.

He made his fortune with restaurants that served cold sandwiches. At one time, he had 15 of them in Chicago and he was worth$8 million back in the early 1900s. That is a lot of money even now, but really something back then

I read that his place at State and Madison served 35,000 people a day. He used one-armed school desks to seat his patrons so he could fit more in his place.

He was one of the founders of the Federal league in baseball after he was unable to buy the St. Louis Cardinals. He built Weeghman Park for his Chicago Whales which played there from 1914 to 1915. After the league folded, he acquired part ownership in the Chicago Cubs, but because he hosted an Illinois Ku Klux Klan meeting at his home in Lake Zurich (a Chicago suburb) customers at his diners declined and he was forced to sell more and more of the Cubs to William Wrigley, Jr.

It is reported that12,000 attended themeeting and 2,000 were initiated.

Eventually, by 1920, Wrigley controlled the Cubs and Weeghman Park became known as Cubs Park until 1926, when it was renamed for Wrigley.

So, the Cubs Came Close to Playing at Weeghman Park. --Cooter

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago Food-- Part 2

From July 2nd.

3. WEEGHMAN PARK-- Before there was a Wrigley Field with its chewing gum connections, there was a Weeghman Park, associated with Charles Weeghman who operated a chain of quick-lunch places in the city.

The park at Clark and Addison was a pioneer in ballpark ripoff, er, food, as it was the first with a permanent concession stand.

4. As former Bear running back star WALTER PAYTON was dying of a rare liver disease in 1999, he and former teammate Matt Suhey bought a Zagat's restaurant guide and decided to eat at Chicago's ten finest restaurants, but, unfortunately, Sweetness died before hey were able to finish the project.

And You Thought Chicago Was All About Hot Dogs. --Cooter

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Titanic's Last Secret-- Part 2

Continued from Newsweek Oct. 13, 2008.

The reason these serious faults were overlooked was the race to get the Titanic to sea on time. An investigation was held after the wreck and the Harland and Wolff, the builders, allowed the full blame to fall onto the captain. Lawsuits by the families of the many victims would have bankrupted the owners, including J.P. Morgan.

Ocean liner shipwrecks were not uncommon at the time. As the Titanic was being built, a collision between luxury liners Republic and Florida near Nantucket, Massachusetts. Both sustained far greater damage than the Titanic, but the Florida was able to get to New York under its own power and the Republic stayed afloat for 38 hours before sinking and all 750 passengers were rescued.


In 2005, two large sections of the Titanic's hull were found, enough for forensic scientists to determine that the hull was flimsy and the rivets skimpy.

After that, Tom McCluskie, a retired Harland and Wolff archivist went through the company's 1912 investigation (which had been hidden until then). It showed that a stronger hull and rivets would have kept the ship afloat much longer and the resulting lower death toll.

Part of the problem was the profits to be made in the North Atlantic crossing trade. By making the hull a quarter of an inch thinner and the rivets an eighth of an inch thinner, the ship's weight would be decreased by 2,500 tons and make it faster

However, the thinner specifications did meet the standards of the day.

The Story That Still Keeps Us Interested. --DaCoot

Lotsa Stuff happening July 2nd (In History)-- Part 2

1926 The Army Air Corps created. This was before today's Air Force which was created until after World War II. Of course, there is navy and marine Air Corps as well.

1937 Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan, disappeared in a flight over the Pacific Ocean as she was attempting to be the first woman to fly completely around the world. Today, there is still a lot of theories as to what happened to her, including one that said the Japanese captured her. On my part, I believe the plane crashed into the ocean somewhere.

1947 An object crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, giving rise to speculation it might have been an alien spacecraft. Again, lots of theories and was it or not. Only ET really knows for sure.

Back in college, Tom Smith and I took a spring break vacation to Florida, and near Cape Canaveral, we saw a huge fire and what appeared to be some sort of spacecraft above it. We freaked out and though the aliens were shooting at us and Tom floored his VW Beetle as we sped down the road. Dumb college kids.

1964 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Way too long overdue. This country can only be strong if all its citizens have the opportunity to rise to the best of their limits. That holds true today as well as it did back then.

1997 Actor Jimmy Stewart died at age 89. One of my all-time favorite actors.

Like I Said, Lotsa Stuff. --Cooter

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lotsa Stuff Happening July 2nd-- Part 1

Every day. the Chicago Tribune runs a list of events that took place on that day's date. July 2nd, there were a considerable number of important things. I was going to do this yesterday, but forgot about it.

1776 The Continental Congress resolved that, "These united colonies are and of right, ought to be , free and independent states." And so it began.

1881 President James Garfield (a Civil War veteran) was mortally wounded by Charles Guiteau, a disappointed office seeker in Washington, DC. Garfield died September 19th. How'd you like to go through life called "a disappointed office seeker" and president killer? I have lost count of how many times I've seen Guiteau referred to as "a disappointed office seeker." Had he gotten a job, would he have shot the president?

1904 A great day in Chicago as Riverview Park was opened at Western and Belmont avenues on the Northwest Side. Millions of people visited it before it closed in 1967. The first and almost last roller coaster I ever went on was called The Bobs. That cured me from wanting to go on any roller coaster for a long time.

A Real Busy Day, and I've Got More to Write About. --Cooter

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago Food-- Part 1

The annual Taste of Chicago began June 25th and goes on until this Sunday, July 4th.

Our intrepid reporters Mark jacob and Stephen Benzkofer at the Chicago Tribune had a column June 20th about Chicago Food with lots of interesting stuff, much of which I didn't know.

1. STINKY PLANTS-- Centuries ago, Chicago already had a smelly reputation (and not one that spent $400,000 for clothes while governor). It seems that vast numbers of stinky wild onions, or leeks or garlic grew along the shores of Lake Michigan right where there came to be a small settlement called Chicago. Actually the Indians in the area had the same name for the plants and skunks which sounded something like the word Chicago. So that's how the name came to be. Think Stinky Cubs and Stinky Sox. No more Stinky Blackhawks, at least for now.

2. RUNAWAY SLAVES-- During the Civil War, one of the most popular restaurants in Chicago was run by two runaway slaves, Ambrose & Jackson on Clark Street. Such famous folk as Senator Stephen Douglas, Cyrus McCormick and Chicago's first mayor, William Ogden, ate there.

Eating My Way Through the 4th of July. --Cooter

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Titanic's Last Secret-- Part 1

From the Oct. 13, 2008, Time Magazine "The Titanic's Last Secret" by Jeneen Interlandi.

I recently came across this article I had filed away about one of the things in history that has always attracted me, the sinking of the Titanic. I'm also interested in the Alamo and Pearl Harbor. I just can't get enough of these topics.

A few months ago, I saw the special about this new secret on PBS here in Chicago.

Historian Steven Biel has said, "Only Jesus and the Civil War (something else I'm really into) have been written more about." Close to 200 books, documentaries and movies have been written and made about the event. And that includes the highest-grossing film of all time.

How the largest ship of the time which was referred to as "unsinkable" could sink in just two hours and forty minutes and cause 1,522 deaths has long been discussed since then.

Brad Marsen has a book out now called "Titanic's Last Secrets" and he says the questions were answered a long time ago in an investigation. It is now known that the ship broke into three sections and it went down faster and at much less of an angle than has been thought and depicted.

In addition, documents from Harland and Wolff, the builders of the ship in Belfast, Northern Ireland, reveal incompetence and poor construction and negligence as well in that the hull was too flimsy.

There's Got to Be a Morning After, Or Does There? --Cooter

D-Day-- 66th Anniversary-- Part 5

9. OOPS. PARDON MY BLOOPER-- Back in 2004, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin referred to the "Invasion of Norway" when he meant to say Normandy. In 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Omaha Beach "Obama Beach."

10. NOT JUST ACTION AT D-DAY-- On June 5th, the B-29 Superfortress flew its first combat mission against Bangkok.

On June 4th, US forces were able to capture the German submarine U-505 off the African coast because the Allies had cracked the top-secret Enigma Code and learned that a U-boat was in the vicinity.

It was on the eve of D-Day and the Allies couldn't risk the Germans finding out the code had been broken. So, the sub and crew were hidden away until the end of the war and Germany determined it had been lost at sea.

But the U-505 survived and is a top attraction at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry in its new housing.

How do Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer come up with all this interesting stuff?

Must Be a Prime Thing. --DaCoot

D-Day-- 66 Years Ago-- Part 4

Continuing with the 10 Things You Might Not Know About D-Day by Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer in the June 6th Chicago Tribune. The last posting was June 10th.

7. In 1964, Dwight Eisenhower said that a single person "won the war for us." And, it wasn't Patton or MacArthur, but a relatively unknown ANDREW HIGGINS who designed and built the amphibious assault craft that took the soldiers to the beaches of Normandy.

He realized the need for small craft to bring the soldiers to shore as well as the steel shortage so, in 1939, bought the Philippines' entire crop of mahogany and his New Orleans company produced thousands of what became known as Higgins Boats.

8. EXERCISE TIGER-- American forces were ambushed by German torpedo boats off the southwestern coast of England while training for the assault on Utah Beach. More than 700 Americans were killed. This was more than were killed at the actual attack on Utah beach a few months later.

This took place April 28, 1944, and was immediately covered up. Close to 3,000 ships and 30,000 soldiers were participating when they were attacked by nine German torpedo boats. Two ships weresunk and one badly damaged. Some of the casualties came from "Friendly Fire."

A Giant Undertaking. --Cooter