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


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.


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."


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.

Some Old HMAS Sydney News

From the May 31, 2008, Advocate.

The first day of Commission of Inquiry into sinking of the HMAS Sydney during World War II was held and they were asking for any and all information. They would also use the 95 hours of video and 1400 photos taken at the wrecks of it and the German Raider Kormoran.

They were also going to try to confirm as to whether or not the sailor who drifted to Christmas Island in 1942 was from the Sydney.

Two brothers, Bruce and Keith Elder from Way Way on the New South Wales coast were at the hearing. Their uncle, Bruce Alfred Elder, had been on board the Sydney when it disappeared.

They believe the Japanese Navy played a part in the battle, even though Australia was not yet at war with that country.

Bruce Elder says an unnamed diary found years ago on the Western Australian coast and credited to his uncle gave the last brief account of the Sydney before it sank. It gives rise to the possibility that a second ship, besides the Kormoran, was involved in the fight that sank the Sydney.

This Whole HMAS Sydney Story is of Great Interest. --Cooter

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago's North Side-- Part 2

3. The early residents of one Far NorthSide community were really proud that they were the first "electric suburb" because of their cutting-edge streetlights. In 1890, they asked for and received permission from Thomas Edison to name their village after him. He agreed and the place became known as Edison Park. It joined Chicago in 1910.

4. The famous Steppenwolf Theatre is located at the Ranch triangle, which gets its name from what it borders: Racine, Armitage, North, the Chicago River and Halsted. Of course, you might be wondering how five sides make a triangle. Well, it IS Chicago.

More to Come. --DaCoot

German Prisoners on US Homefront-- Part 3

Today, most Americans don't even know of the large numbers of Italian and German prisoners who were kept in prison camps on the US homeland. This is the story of one camp in Oklahoma.

Roland Brashears was too young to go to war, but he did his part by driving German prisoners back and forth from farms where they worked in the fields.

Most times, the moving went with no problems, but there was one time he got scared.

"We normally had about thirty prisoners in our truck and the ones in the middle had to stand up. One afternoon after we had already loaded up, the guard had lost count. He told the interpreter to tell everyone to get out of the truck and he was going to count again.

"Well, all but one got out. He was on the front end and just said, 'Count me as number one.' There were two guards. One on each side of the truck. One guard told the interpreter, 'I said tell him to get out one more time.'

"He nodded his head and flipped his rifle up and loaded at the blink of an eye. When he cocked the gun, the prisoner came out in a hurry. I don't know that he could have shot him, though, due to the Geneva Convention rules.

"I asked him what he would have done if the prisoner would not have gotten out. The guard said, 'Well, I bluffed him and it worked.' I didn't know what was going to happen."

I guess the German was just having a bad day or feeling a bit cantankerous.

A Little-Known Aspect of the War. --Cooter

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago's North Side-- Part 1

Chicago's North Side is the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, the Water Tower and Wrigley Field. Even with all that Cub futility, there has never been a World Series Title on the North Side as the Cubs were on the West Side when theylast won one in 1908.

1. BILLY CALDWELL AND SAUGANASH are two names for the same person. he was the chief of the Pottawatomi and half white, half Indian. He played the role of peacemaker between Indians and the early settlers. He helped save white famlies in the aftermath of Fort Dearborn in 1812.

The US government gave him 1600 acres on the North Branch of the Chicago River, an area that includes the Sauganash, Forest Glen and South Edgebrook neighborhoods.

2. RIVERVIEW PARK was torn down after it closed in 1967. This was Chicago's playground. The Bobs was one of the most popular roller coasters. Even though it was just 87 feet tall, its tight curves and rough ride made it a favorite among patrons. The park featured 120 rides when it closed.

The Bobs was the first roller coaster I ever went on, and, for a long time, the only one. I'll tell you, that ride really scared me to death.

Always interesting stuff in the Ten Things. Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer really come up with some interesting things.

Keep Up the Good Work. --DaCoot

German Prisonerrs on the US Homefront-- Part 2

Continued from October 13th.

Roland Brashears got together with a reporter from the Grady County (Ok) Express-Star and recounted his memories at the prison camp.

"All this area was fenced off with about eight to ten foot high barbed wire fence to keep the prisoners in. You know, actually they didn't want to escape. It was better than what they had where they came from. Here they got three meals a day, cigarettes and a place to sleep. The guards carried rifles, but because of the Geneva Convention rules they weren't even loaded.

I didn't find out until later that when our boys would go overseas, they would send the POWs back on the troop shops. Since our boys were gone fighting, we needed the POWs to work the farms."

Farmers could come to the camp and make deals for the prisoners. They had to haul the prisoners back and forth to the fields and each truck had an interpreter.

There were escapes occasionally, but they always came back. "Where were they going to go? And, they couldn't speak English."

The Germans would not get intothe trucks if they were dirty, "We would have to take the cattle out at night, clean out the truck and have it ready to go for them to load at 6 a.m.. They carried their own lunchbox. The farmers didn't have to feed them."

More to Come. --Cooter

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

USS Mugford (DD-389)

I mentioned in my post on October 18th that the survivors of the AHS Centaur were rescued by the USS Mugford so went to good old Wikipedia and found some information on it.

The Mugford was the second destroyer to bear the name of James Mugford who was killed in hand-to-hand combat aboard the Continental Navy's schooner Franklin on May 19, 1776. The first USS Mugford was DD-105 commissioned 1918 and decommissioned in 1922.

The USS Mugford (DD-389) was a Bagley Class destroyer built at Boston Navy Yard, commissioned 1937, decommissioned 1946 and scuttled March 22, 1948. It weighed 2,325 tons was 341 feet long and had a top speed of 38.5 knots. It mounted 4X5-inch guns, 4X50 calibre guns and 12X21-inch torpedo tubes.

The USS Mugford was at Pearl harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and shot down three Japanese planes in ten minutes and was underway an hour after the attack began.

More to Come. --Cooter

Back to the AHS Centaur-- Part 2

The $4 million search for the Centaur's final resting place was financed by both Australian state and federal funds.

At the ceremony on September 24rh, "The Last Post" was played by bugler Andy Aitchison and the ship's bell rung 268 times, once for each victim. The ashes of three loved ones were also scattered overboard.

Some of the relatives aboard the HMAS Manoora:

David McFarlane-- his aunt was nurse Mary McFarlane.

Jan Thomas-- secretary of 2/3 AHS Centaur Association. Was six when her father, Captain Bernard Hindmarsh died. She recalled a girl at her school desperately needing penicillin which was not available to civilians. Her dad came home with the needed drug and saved her life.

Irene Burrows received a telegram about the loss of her two brothers.

Mrs. Butcher's older brother, Private Bill Lawson, died.

Barry McCosker's father, Vince, was 20 and was one of 26 who survived in a single life boat. he later died in 1998.

The wreck is at 27 degrees 16.98' S and 153 degrees 9.22' E.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back to the AHS Centaur-- Part 1

From the September 25th Brisbane (Au) Times "After 67 years 'cloud of sorrow' finally lifted" by Daniel Hurst.

Mary Sutton, Tom Bracken and Peter Bracken attended the ceremony. They lost two brothers when the Centaur was torpedoed, Paul and John Bracken.

Martin Pash, a Centaur survivor, was also there and remembers spending 36 hours in the water before being rescued.

The memorial service was held on the HMAS Manoora on September 24th.The ship was over the wreck of the Centaur. More than 300 attended the service. Most were relatives of the 268 who died that day and the 64 survivors who were rescued bu the destroyer USS Mugford.

"I cried and threw the wreath over for my brothers. Now, I'm going to a pub and going to have a beer for me."

The Centaur's final resting place was found by UK-based shipwreck-hunter David Mearms 48 kilometers east of the southern tip of Moreton Island.

More to Come. --Cooter

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Tradition Continues at Georgia: Welcome Uga VIII

Today, at the University of Georgia's homecoming game against Vanderbilt, new mascot Uga VIII will make his grand debut.

The Bulldogs have played their last six games with an interim bulldog, Russ. I believe their record this year is an unremarkable 2-4, even with last Saturday's trouncing of Tennessee, so this just might be the ticket for improved play.

So, Uga VIII is the eighth in a continuous line of white English bulldogs to serve as Georgia's mascot.

Uga VIII is registered under the name "Big Bad Bruce" in honor of the university's school of veterinary medicine's Dr. Bruce Hollet who has cared for and treated the Ugas which are owned by the Sonny Seilers family of Savannah, Georgia.

The new Uga is 13 months old and weighs in at 55 pounds and is the grandson of Uga VI. All Ugas have to be direct descendants.

The year I was at Georgia, I think the mascot was Uga III or Uga IV.

Georgia's Gone to the Dogs. --Cooter

Thursday, October 14, 2010

USS Iowa Looking for a Home

One of the last four US battleships is currently in San Francisco where groups there are looking to find a way to keep the ship there. In the meantime, a group from Los Angeles is making an effort to get the ship to their town as well.

From the October 13th Log: California Boating and Fishing News by Ambrosia Brody.

The Pacific Battleship Center is a group trying to get the USS Iowa (BB-61) moved from Valencia to Los Angeles in a bad way. This past month, they made a presentation to the Port of Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners. Residents, officials, veterans and others talked for over an hour in support of the move.

The port has hired a consultant to analyze the cost, expected to be $8.5 million, and benefits of having the Iowa berth in Los Angeles at San Pedro.

The Iowa is currently in the national defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay near San Francisco.

The Iowa was the lead ship of her class, probably the mightiest battleships ever built. The three other ships that were launched have already become museums:

USS New Jersey (BB-62) is in Camden, New Jersey
USS Missouri (BB-63) is in pearl Harbor, Hawaii
USS Wisconsin (BB-64) is at Norfolk, Virginia

Two other sister ships, the USS Illinois (BB-65) and USS Kentucky (BB-66) were under construction when the war ended and were scrapped.

So these are the last of our proud fleet of battleships.

Here's Hoping the Iowa Goes Somewhere and is Preserved for the Future. --Cooter

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

German Prisoners on the US Home Front-- Part 1

From the September 15th Grady County (Ok) Express-Star. "Local Man Recalls Driving WWII Prisoners" by Debi Desilver Terry.

Roland Brashears was only 16 during World War II and too young to serve, but he did his part for the war effort by transporting German prisoners from what is now the Grady County Fairgrounds to work in the broomcorn and cotton fields.

Today. many Americans do not know about German POW camps in the United States, bur there were. Oklahoma alone had 34 camps scattered across the state.

Chickasaw had two separate camps. One was located on the south side of Highway 62 at the fairgrounds which opened August 17, 1944 as a branch of the Alva Camp and later a branch of the Fort Reno camp. Between 240-400 Germans were held here before it closed Nov. 16, 1945.

The second camp was located on the west side of Chickasha at the Borden General Hospital and was a branch of Fort Reno. It opened April 16, 1945. Some of the prisoners may have worked at the hospital before the camp opened. It closed after a couple weeks, May 1, 1945.

Taking Care of the Prisoners. --Cooter

Chicago's Mayor Levi Boone-- Part 2

From Wikipedia. Continued from October 11th.

This is where Levi Boone's history gets really interesting.

In the 1855 election for mayor, Boone received support from Temperance people and the American Party (known better as the "Know-Nothings." He ran on an anti-immigrant platform and won.

There were claims that voted from the Bridgeport district, largely Irish and German immigrants, weren't counted.

One of Boone's first moves in office was to establish the first Chicago police force. He also banned all immigrants from city jobs.

Soon afterwards, he raised the city liquor licenses from $50 to $75 a year and thenk, as a Temperance proponent, he enforced a law already on the books, but not enforced, the closing of taverns on Sundays. This move led to the Lager Beer Riot, which I will write about later.

After the riots, Irish and German immigrants joined together to defeat Boone and the Know Nothings the next election.

During the Civil War, Levi Boone was held 38 days at Camp Douglas under suspicion that he had helped a Confederate prisoner escape.

He was buried at Chicago's Rosehill Cemetery in 1882.

Some Chicago Politics Don't Change. --Cooter

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Motels Update Properties

From the September 19th Chicago Tribune.

Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express are currently underway with a major renovation campaign on most all of their motels.

Some interesting facts about them and other motel chains. Year founded, number of hotels, typical room cost.

HOLIDAY INN: 1952, more than 3,400, $80-$119 a night.

BEST WESTERN: 1946, more than 4,000, $70-$100 a night.

RED ROOF INN: 1972, 345, $50-$72 a night.

MOTEL SIX: 1962, 1,060, $40-$59 a night.

SUPER 8: 1974, 2,150, $55-$75 a night.

Keep those prices down. I stay in a lot of motels on travels. So far this year I've spent 40 nights in motels so price is a major consideration.

Do You Have AARP? --Cooter

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chicago's Mayor Levi Boone-- Part 1

On an earlier post, I mentioned that a former Chicago Mayor by the name of Levi Boone had been held at the Confederate prison in Chicago, Camp Douglas, because of his supposed Southern leanings.

I decided to use good old Wikipedia and find out some more about him. And, an interesting read it was. Chicago politics at its best, even as far back as the 1850s.

Levi Boone was born in Kentucky in 1808 and died Jan. 24, 1882. He was the great-nephew of one Daniel Boone. After graduating from medical school, he moved to Illinois and set up a medical practice in Hillsboro. In 1832, he served in the Black Hawk War.

He arrived in Chicago in 1835 and helped to establish the Cook County Medical Board.

he was a longtime temperance advocate and claimed that the scriptures provided a basis for slavery.

More to Come. --DaCoot

Dead Page: The King of Rock and Soul


Died October 10th on a plane arriving in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Signed in the early 60s to Atlantic records. A very influential voice in r & b and soul music, who never attained the crossover success of Aretha Franklin or Wilson Pickett, but he did gap the chasm between the mainstream r&b of the Coasters and Drifters and he Atco sound of grittier Southern soul of Sam and Dave and Otis Redding.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

His best-known songs were:

Cry to Me
Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
Got to Get You Off My Mind

I'll never forget that great rendition of "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" on the "Blues Brothers" movie.

A Great One.

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago Mayors Not named Daley- Part 4

9. NOT THE FIRST FATHER-SON COMBO-- The Daleys weren't the first father-son dynasty. Carter Harrison served ten years in the 1880s and in the 1890s, son Carter Harrison II ran the city into the 1900s. An experts survey in 1895 rated the Harrisons as the number 2 and number 3 best Chicago mayors behind Richard J. Daley.

10. HAROLD WASHINGTON's, Chicago's first black mayor, parents divorced when he was young, lived with his father. Washington had a way with words and once said: "My father was my role model. He was a real man. He was a good man. For many years, he was not only my father, he was my mother. And so I knew who Santa Claus was. He came home every night, put his feet under the table and had dinner with me."

I Did Some Research on Mayor Levi Boone and Will Write About Him Next. --Cooter

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago Mayors (Not Named Daley)-- Part 3

7. CIVIL WAR--During it, two former Chicago mayors were held prisoner at Chicago's infamous Camp Douglas Confederate prison (where 6,000 died). They were suspected of being "Copperheads" or Southern sympathizers. Both were eventually freed-- Levi Boone after 37 days and Buckner Morris after 6 months.

8. HARD DRINKIN', HEAVY EATIN'-- "Long John" Wentworth was called a hard-drinking, heavy-eating, 6'6" autocrat.

When a state law shifted control of the Chicago police force from him, he fired the whole force in the 1860s. This left the city of 100,000 with not one single cop for a few hours until new board could meet.

One More to Go, and Nary a Daley Amongst Them. --Cooter

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dead Page: Original Navajo Code Talker Dies


This is especially sad because I have just been making entries about the Original 29 Navajo Code Talkers and mentioned him.

Mr. June hitchhiked to Fort Defiance and Fort Wingate to enlist and left the Marine Corps as a sergeant.

He had been in ill health back when the article "Original Navajo Code Talker tells story" by the Associated Press appeared in the Goldsboro (NC) News Argus on September 5th.

After the war, he received his bachelor's degree from the New Mexico Highlands University in 1952 and his master's at the University of Utah in 1975.

The obituary mentions that he received the Congressional Medal of Honor December 21, 2001, but that is in error. I believe he received the Gold Medal.

He died September 8th at age 89.

The Greatest Generation.

Original Navajo Code Talker Tells Story-- Part 5

Continued from October 5th.

After World War II, Chester Nez, volunteered for two more years during the Korean War and retired in 1974 after a 25-year career as a painter at the Albuquerque Veterans Hospital.

Allen Dale June, 88 has spent the last several weeks in and out of hospitals in Wyoming and Arizona and requires around-the-clock care. His third wife, Virginia, has been doing much of the work.

Lloyd Oliver, 87, speaks audibly, but his words are difficult to understand. His hearing is also impaired, but he doesn't like wearing a hearing aid.

Heroes, All.

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

4. FAST JUSTICE-- After Giuseppe Zangara mortally wounded Mayor Anton Cermak during an appearance with President-elect Franklin Roosevelt in Miami on Feb. 15, 1933. Within five days, he was sentenced to 80 years in prison. Cermak died of his wounds March 6th and three days later Zangara pleaded guilty of murder and died in the electric chair March 20th, just two weeks after Cermak's death.

5. MAYOR DALEY MARATHON-- What the Chicago Marathon was first called when it debuted in 1977. The mayor at the time, Michael Bilandic, ran in it.

6. MAYOR WITHOUT RUNNING FOR MAYOR-- Fred Busse was elected mayor in 1907 with out giving a speech or making any campaign appearances. He had spent the whole campaign recovering from a near fatal train wreck. The Chicago Tribune did his campaigning for him.

I Would Have Like to See Mayor Richard J. Running in His Marathon. --DaCoot

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Chicago Mayors Not Named Daley-- Part 1

The September 19th Chicago Tribune had one of those great Ten Things You Might Not Know columns in the Perspective Section by Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer.

Many were shocked when the current Mayor Daley, Richard M., announced that he was not going to run again. Most likely this is because of the mess Chicago finances are in.

But, Chicago has had other mayors over the years.

1. EIGHT OF THE LAST NINE mayors were born in Illinois, with the exception being Eugene Sawyer, born in Alabama. In the city's early years, New Yorkers dominated with fifteen being born there. Only eleven Illinois-born have been and two were foreign-born: Joseph Medill in Canada and Anton Cermak in Bohemia.

2. JANE BYRNE, Chicago's only female mayor, battled sexism in her rise to mayor.

3. MOST CROOKED MAYOR could be BIG BILL THOMPSON who threatened to punch Britain's King George V in the nose and once staged a "debate" in which he appeared on stage with two caged rats to represent his opponents.

Welcome to Illinois--Richard J. Daley, Mayor. --Cooter

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Black Medal of Honor Winners

In the last post, I wrote about how no blacks received the Medal of Honor during World War II because of systematic discrimination.

That was kind of strange because blacks had received the nation's highest honor all the way back to the beginning of it during the Civil War. Wikipedia has a very good entry on this at "List of African-American Medal of Honor Winners."

A total of 88 blacks had been awarded the Medal of Honor out of 3,464 as of June 2009. Eight were given out during peace time, including two of them to Robert Augustus sweeney who received two of them.

Wars and numbers of Medals Awarded to blacks.


It's kind of strange that blacks would face the discrimination in World War II after receiving the award in so many wars before that, although, there wasn't but one in World War II.

I think more records from World War II should be opened to determine if more Medals of Honor are necessary.

Let's Be Fair. --Cooter

Dead Page: Last Black World War II Medal of Honor Winner

On September 24th, services were held at the grave Vernon Baker, the last of seven blacks to receive a Medal of Honor, although belatedly, for their service in World War II. He died July 13, 2010.

Baker, a lieutenant in the 370th Infantry regiment of the 92nd Division, and his platoon, over a two day period April 5-6, 1945, in Italy, killed 26 enemy soldiers, knocked out six machine gun nests, two observation posts and four dugouts.

Until President Clinton awarded Baker and six other blacks the nation's highest military honor in 1997, no other blacks had received one. A 1993 Army commission described a "systematic racial discrimination in awarding medals to blacks" during World War II. Baker was the only living recipient at the time.

The others: Edward A. Carter, John R. Fox, Willy F. James, Jr., Ruben Rivers, Charles L. Thomas and George Watson.

The Greatest Generation.

Original Navajo Code Talker Tells Story-- Part 4

The Code Talkers had orders not to discuss their roles during the war and after it. It wasn't until 1978, 23 years later, that their mission became declassified.

In 2001, Nez, Dale and June took the same plane to Washington, DC, to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the military's second highest award. This elevated them to a celebrity status, especially with the following year's movie on their service.

They appeared on television, rode in parades and spoke to veterans groups and school children. Nez through out a pitch at a MLB game in 2004. Oliver and other Code Talkers were guests of honor in the nation's largest Veterans Day parade in New York in 2009. Residents of Longmont, Colorado, found out June and his wife didn't have a permanent home and raised money to buy them one.

The last three members of the Original 29 don't live in the Navajo Nation where they have a tribal holiday and it is unlikely they will reunite again.

The Greatest Generation. --Cooter

Monday, October 4, 2010

Original Navajo Code Talker tells Story-- Part 3

It was here that Nez met the other two surviving original Code Talkers: Lloyd Oliver and Allen Dale June. "Using Navajo words for red soil, war chief, clan, braided hair, beads, ant and hummingbird, for example, they came up with a glossary of more than 200 terms, later expanded, and an alphabet."

They weren't sure if the code would work. The Japanese did everything they could to break it but never did. Nez no longer remembers the whole thing, but he does remember one instruction he gave at Guadalcanal, "Enemy machine gun on your right flank, destroy!" Each message read was immediately destroyed.

Once, while running a message, Nez said he and his partner were mistaken for Japanese soldiers and were threatened at gunpoint until an officer cleared up the confusion.

He also remembers a close call in Guam when a Japanese sniper bullet whizzed by his head and struck a palm tree.

More to Come. --Cooter

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bits O' History: Germany Finally pays Up-- Centaur-- USS Emmons Vandalized Under Sea--

Bits O' History-- New news about old stuff.

1. GERMANY FINALLY PAYS UP-- This Sunday, Germany will make its final payment for World War I, 92 years later. I doubt that any payments were made during Hitler's reign. The payment will be 59.5 million British pounds, I'm not sure how many Euros that would be.

About time!!

2. CENTAUR-- Bill Munro attended the September 24th memorial above the wreck of the AHS Centaur. His uncle Driver Bill Lawson died May 14, 1943, when the ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Munro scattered the ashes of Driver Lawson's sister, Jean Mooney, over the site.

3. USS EMMONS VANDALIZED UNDER SEA-- The World War II destroyer USS Emmons (DD-457) was vandalized by unknown divers at its final resting place beneath the sea near Okinawa. It is 145 feet down and the final resting place of 60 of its crew members.

despite being hit by five kamikaze planes, it wouldn't sink and the Navy later had to sink it.

Thieves have gone aboard and removed the name plate that gives the proud history of the ship. It is not likely that the thieves will be caught.

Now You Know. --DaCoot

Original Navajo Code Talker Tells Story-- Part 2

I started this on Sptember 17th. From the September 5th Goldsboro News-Argus.

Chester Nez, 89, is still able to speak, but hobbled since losing both legs to diabetes. As a boy, he lived a traditional Navajo life in Two Wells Reservation, Arizona. That changed when he was sent to a boarding school set up by the federal government to assimilate Navajo children into American culture. He had his mouth washed out with soap for speaking his native language.

This is very ironic considering what he was later asked to do.

He was in 10th grade when a Marine recruiter came looking for young Navajos who were fluent in both their native language and English. He jumped at the chance to defend his country and get out of that boarding school.

About 250 Navajo showed up at Fort defiance, Arizona, but only 29 were selected to be a part of the first all-Native American unit of Marines and they were inducted in May 1942.

After basic training, the 382nd Platoon was given the job of developing the code.

More to Come. --Cooter

Friday, October 1, 2010

World War I's "Lost Army"

From January 6, 2008,

Archaeologists believe they might have found the final resting site of 399 soldiers killed and missing in a battle in northern France in 1916. These men were killed in a frontal attack at Fromelles July 19-20, 1916. This is the biggest grave find since 1920 when efforts to locate bodies lost along the Western front ended.

They believe that a Corporal Adolf Hitler participated in the action along with his unit.

The attack came a s a way to divert German troops from the Somme and took place across open ground by 5,500 Australian and 1,500 British troops against heavily fortified German positions.

The bodies were recovered by the Germans and names and belongings passed on to the Red Cross to be returned to their families. Where they were buried was not known all these years.

But, archaeologists believe they have found it next to an area called Pheasant Wood.

Never Stop Looking for the Missing. --Cooter

It's a Mesker Thing...You Wouldn't Understand

Evansville, Indiana, is a city more than a bit "Mesker-ized." There is a Mesker Zoo, Mesker Park, Mesker Music Trust Fund and a Mesker Amphitheater.

Just who were these Meskers to get their name all over the place.

Actually, if you live in any midwestern town dating back to the turn of the last century, there is a chance you too are "Meskerized."

From the February 26, 2008, Evansville Courier-Express.

From 1885 to the 1920s, the George L. Mesker & Co. of Evansville manufactured thousands of ornamental and cast iron and sheet metal components to buildings on America's main streets all across the country, but especially in the Midwest.

This was a great way for small store owners to spiff up the front of their businesses cheaply and that is just what they did.

Some still exist and there is a movement to catalog all remaining ones.

In Newburgh, Indiana, there is one at 7 State Street and there are two more at 425 and 514 Main Street in Evansville.

In 1915 Indiana had 4,130, Illinois 2,915, Kentucky 2,646 and even the territory of Alaska had 7.

Got Mesker? --DaCoot

Medal of Honor Winners Gather in Charleston, SC

From the September 27th Charleston (SC) News-Sun.

While on the subject of Medals of Honor.

About 55 recipients of the military's highest award, the Congressional Medal of Honor are expected to attend this weekends meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. A total of 3,450 have been awarded, dating back to the Civil War, and of those, only 87 are living.

That number will grow to 88 when Army Staff Sergeant Salvatorz Giunta receives his.

Ceremonies for the winners began Wednesday.

The Medal of Honor Society and Medal of Honor Museum are both based aboard the World War II aircraft carrier USS Yorktown at Patriots Point in Charleston Harbor.

Definitely Heroes, All. --Cooter