Friday, December 31, 2010

Dead Page: Rosie the Riveter


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

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

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

The poster was later used by the feminist movement.

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

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

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

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

Adios, Rosie.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Christmas Movie Rumble-- Part 4

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

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


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

CS-- Ralphie gets a BB gun.

Winner: Wonderful Life

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


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

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

Winner: Wonderful Life

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


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

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

Waiting for Next year. --Cooter

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Christmas Movie Rumble-- Part 3

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


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

CS: Take a cue from the title.

Winner: Christmas Story

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


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

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

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

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

Two More Essential Components Coming Tomorrow. --Cooter


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

He believe video stores were always colder and less lovable.

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

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

Never Went To 'Em Much Myself. --DaCoot

A Christmas Movie Rumble-- Part 2

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


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

WINNER: "It's a Wonderful Life"

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


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

WINNER: "A Christmas Story"

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


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

WINNER: "It's a Wonderful Life."

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

More to Come. --Cooter

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Top Twelve Grossing Movies of Christmas

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

Adjusted for inflation.

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

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

FOUR CHRISTMASES-- (2008)-- $122 million
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS-- (1993)-- $114 million

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

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

Hollywood No Longer Believes in Christmas.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Movie Rumble-- Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That Will Be in Part 2. --Cooter

Friday, December 24, 2010

"A Christmas Story" Where Are They Now?

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

"A Christmas Story" premiered in November 1983.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Triple Dog Dare Ya. --DaCoot

Those Christmas Movies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

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

From the November 20th Island Gazette.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Aminn Hassam at

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

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

Portland had two, serving nearly 40,000 children.

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

World War II Navajo Code Talker Speaks

From the 2008 VA

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

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

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

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

The families of the others no longer living attended.

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

The Greatest Generation.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Enola Gay Hangar to Be Restored

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

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

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

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

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

It is a civil airport today.

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

Utah's Final Four Pearl Harbor Survivors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

So Few Return to Pearl Harbor

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

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

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

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

Bill May, Don Blair and Frank Sennello remained.

The Greatest Generation. --Cooter

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Marshall, Texas, Veterans Remember Pearl Harbor

From the Dec. 6, 2008, News Messenger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Pearl Harbor Story. --Cooter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, Now You Know. --DaCoot

Talking About D-Day-- Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

The Colonel relented.

Four More to Go. --Cooter

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What Was the Mothball Fleet?-- Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead Page: Another Baseball Hero Dies


December 15, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Greatest Generation.

Top 25 All-Time Christmas Movies-- Part 2

12. HOLIDAY INN (1942)

8. HOME ALONE (1990)

6. ELF (2003)
4. SCROOGED (1988)


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

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds Like a Political Thing to Me. --DaCoot

After the Bravery, a Little Gravy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Military Personnel with the Highest Honor. --Cooter

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

HMAS Sydney/HMS Neptune

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japanese Balloon Attack on US Mainland-- Part 2

Continued from Nov. 9th.

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

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

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

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

A Sneak Weapon. --DaCoot

Top 25 All-Time Christmas Movies-- Part 1

According to Moviefone.

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

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

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

Top 12 Tomorrow. --Cooter

Monday, December 13, 2010

Original Basketball Rules Net $4.3 million

From the December 11th Chicago Tribune.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, It Comes Home. --Cooter

National WASP World War II Museum-- Part 2

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

Not much is actually known about the WASPs.

** Official WASP files were sealed for 35 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

Dead Page: The Heart of the Cubs

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

The Heart of the Chicago Cubs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have written about him on my Down da Road I Go blog at since last week.

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

A Great One.

Friday, December 10, 2010

National Wasp World War II Museum-- Part 1

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

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

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

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

More to Come. --DaCoot

New Jersy's Fort Monmouth Slated to Close

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

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

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

Construction was more on a permanent basis after that.

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

In 1942, the first female soldiers trained here.

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


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

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

Never Heard of It. --Cooter

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One of the Last Massachusetts Pearl Harbor Survivors Dies

From the July 26th Patriot (Mass) Ledger.

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

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

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

The Greatest Generation.

Looking Back at Pearl Harbor

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

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

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

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

I wonder if her daughters married the two fellows?

An Impact Still felt Today. --Cooter

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

UK's Last World War II Submarine to Be Preserved

From the November Portsmouth (UK) News.

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

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

The ship is in desperate need of repairs.

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

The submarine will remain open during the work.

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

Never Heard of This Old Ship. --Cooter

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More to Come. --Cooter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quite a Story. --DaCoot

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

From the December 3rd Victoria (Tx) Advocate.

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

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

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

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

More to Come. --Cooter

Friday, December 3, 2010

Coast Guard Cutter Frederick Lee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pennsylvania Pearl Harbor Survivors Sought

From the November 28th Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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

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

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

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

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

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

Currituck Beach Lighthouse

From the November 28th Virginia-Pilot.

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

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

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

We'll Leave the Light On. --Cooter

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Towards a World War I Memorial in DC

From the November 28th LA Times.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Renovation is expected to cost $2.3 million.

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