Friday, July 29, 2011

World War II Shipwrecks Could Threaten US Coast-- Part 1

Fuel, Cargo Tanks Corroding

From the July 8th Baltimore Sun, by Frank D. Roylance.

On February 2, 1942, the unarmed tanker W.L. Steed was cruising in the Atlantic Ocean, about 90 miles off Ocean City, Maryland with 66,000 barrels of crude oil, when a torpedo from a German U-boat struck the ship. Only a few of the 38 crew members escaped death.

After the US entered World War II, the German U-boats moved operations to off the American coast and stayed there until July 1942 when they shifted main operations to intercept North Atlantic convoys. Even them, enough of their submarines remained off the shores to claim 397 ships.

Now, some of those ships have reached the point where hull integrity is breaking down, releasing the dangerous contents of their cargoes.

More to Come. --Cooter

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Skull Discovered at Pearl Harbor

From the July 21st AP Newsbreak.

Forensic scientists are conducting tests on a skull unearthed from the bottom of Pearl Harbor to determine if it was a Japanese pilot (also might have been a Japanese sailor from one of the mini submarines, at least one of which got in the harbor that fateful day).

The skull was found by an excavation crew dredging the harbor. After early analysis, they are 75% sure it was a Japanese skull. It is not from an ancient Hawaiian group or from anyone currently listed as missing. Items found with it like forks, scraps of metal and a Coca-Cola bottle date the skull as being from the 1940s.

During the attack, 55 Japanese airmen were killed in the 29 aircraft shot down. The US lost 2,400 service men.

No Japanese remains have been found in the harbor since World War II. The skull was dredged up April 1st and put out to dry as are all dredging debris at the harbor.

It Is Neat When a Part of History Accidentally Comes to Light Like This. --Cooter

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dead Page: Patton and Drive-Thrus

EDWARD A. RADEK, SR. (1920-2011)

Died July 18th at age 91.

The fast-food giant, McDonald's, was needing to make changes to its drive-thru windows in the 1970s and owner Ray Kroc turned to a Chicago metal-manufacturing company run by Edward A. Radek, Sr. and his brother John, Ready metal manufacturing, which they had founded on the city's Southwest Side shortly after World War II on a $500 grant from the GI Bill.

The two of them developed three different designs to be used at the various McDonald's franchise stores, the basic components of which are still in use.

The son of Polish immigrants and one of 12 children, Mr. Radek humorously remembers having 'to fight for his meals." He joined the military right after graduation and served two years in the 6th Armored Division, part of Gen. George Patton's Third Army during World War II.

He and his brother opened their business in the garage of their parents' home in 1947, creating covers for radiators and selling them door-to-door. Eventually the company had 500 workers and did work for Target and Radio Shack.

So the next time you choose the drive-thru instead of going inside, you know who to thank.

One of Those in the Greatest Generation.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Did a World War II Plane Crash Near Masonboro Church, NC, in 1944?

From the Wilmington (NC) Star News My Reporter column by Cece Nann.

An Army airplane crashed on Masonboro island in 1944. Emerson Willard, 89, a Wilmington resident, was standing outside a seafood restaurant at Whiskey Creek when a Douglas Dauntless dive bomber crashed across the sound.

He and another person got a small boat and crossed over to the site, but the army had already flown in a small plane and evacuated one of the pilots. The other one was taken out by boat. One of the pilots died.

Said Wilard, "They used to have gunnery practice over there (Masonboro Island) quite a bit."

Wilmington resident Wilber D. Jones wrote in his book about Wilmington during the war, "By my count at least 21 planes crashed and 14 pilots died in and around Wilmington during the war."

The planes operated out of Bluethenthal Army Air Base, which today is Wilmington International Airport.

Just Another Aspect of the War on the Homefront. --DaCoot

Bomber Specs Through the Years-- Part 2



66 in service of 100 built
Wingspan: 137 feet
First year: 1984
Top speed: 900 mph
Range: 6,100 miles
Engines: 4
Ceiling: 30,000+ feet
Crew: 4


20 in service of 21 built
Wingspan: 172 feet
First year: 1988
Top speed: 600 mph
Range: 7,255 miles
Engines: 4
Ceiling: 50,000 feet
Crew: 2



Wingspan: 50 feet
Top speed: 600+
Range: 1,500 miles
Engines: 1
Ceiling: 40,000 feet
Crew: 1 or unmanned

Bombs Away!! --Cooter

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bombers Bombed Out on Saturday

I've been writing about bombers a lot these past two weeks and this past Saturday was planning on seeing a B-24 Liberator and a B-17 Flying Fortress with a P-51C Mustang thrown in for good measure. They were at the Chicago Executive Airport near Wheeling, Illinois.

However, mother nature had other ideas. I didn't want to see the planes in the rain and it either drizzled or threatened a downpour all morning. Not to mention all the flooding from the largest one-day amount in Chicago's history. O'Hare recorded just shy of 7 inches Friday night-Saturday morning.

There were floods every where and one shopping center parking lot we visited resembled a lake.

No Rain, Then, Too much. --Cooter

Bomber Specs Through the Years-- Part 1

Still getting this information from the June 16th Chicago Tribune which ran a full page on bombers and the new Phantom Ray drone bomber. It was on their FOCUS page "Focus the next U.S. Bomber: A bomber-bidding dogfight?"

I got the information from recent posts from the graphics "Bigger, faster, stronger: 92 years of the bomber. This info comes from the bottom of the page "Bomber specs through the years."



Wingspan: 74 feet
First Year: 1920
Top Speed: 98 mph
Range: 400 miles
Engines: 2 radial
Ceiling: 7,700 feet
Crew: 4


Wingspan: 104 feet
First Year: 1935
Top Speed: 287 mph
Range: 2000 miles
Engines: 4 radial
Ceiling: 35,600 feet
Crew: 9



744 built, 85 still in service
Wingspan: 185 feet
First year: 1952
Top speed: 650 mph
Engines: 8
Ceiling: 50,000 feet
Crew: 5

Three More to Come. --DaCoot

Back Online Again

Today is the first day I've been back online since Thursday, between all the storms and internet being down since then. Yesterday, I could have been on, but that is my day off. Plus, we had a bit of a storm in the morning, including what most-likely was a nearby lightning strike with the brightest flash and loudest thunder clap I've ever heard. I was sitting out in the sun room and am sure I felt a shock wave from it.

It even woke Liz up!!

Of course, if I don't blog da history, da history din't happen.

Trying Not to Go Online Sundays. --Cooter

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Little More on Those World War II Aircraft Coming Here

The B-17G Flying Fortress is named the "Nine O Nines," and is one of only 14 B-17s still flying in the US.

The B-24J Liberator is the only restored flying B-24J in the world and was restored by the Collings Foundation in 1989.

They have changed the planes colors to represent the 8th Air Force and a famous bomber called "Witchcraft."

The Mustang P-51C is one of less than five B and C models still flying. These were changed to allow a second person to fly in it.

Definitely Interested. --DaCoot

And Some World War II Bombers Are Coming to Me

Yesterday, I saw that The Wings of Freedom Tour is coming to four airports in the Chicagoland area. The one nearest to me is the Chicago Executive Airport (formerly the Palwaukee Airport.

They'll have a B-24 Liberator, a B-17 Flying Fortress and a P-51 Mustang fighter. It costs $12 to do a walk through of the three planes and you can even go up in them, but the cost is a bit prohibitive for me: $2200 for a half hour in the Mustang (but you can actually take the controls) and $425 on either bomber.

Thinking about going to see them Saturday.

That would be a direct connection with World War II.

Sure Would Like to Go Up. Oh, Well. --Cooter

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Short History of the Bomber-- Part 5

1960 and Beyond


The bomber-naming system is simplified. The "B" designation is kept for bombers, but the numbering system starts over. (That would explain the Stealth Spirit Bombers being B-2s; I was wondering about that).

The two-stage Titan I and Atlas, the nation's first liquid-fueled, strategic, intercontinental ballistic missiles become operational.


Conceived in 1960 before the new naming convention went into effect, General Dynamics' F-111 Aardvark enters service as a tactical bomber.

1982: Designs for the supersonic B-1 Lancer begin in 1972, but the planes are not ordered until 1982. The first plane is delivered in 1984.


The Northrup Grumman B-2 Spirit, popularly known as the stealth bomber, is introduced. It uses sophisticated low-observable technologies, high aerodynamical efficiency and sizable payloads to accomplish missions.

Stuff You Didn't Know. --Cooter

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dead Page: The Grass Roots


Lead singer of the Grass Roots died Monday, July 11th at a hospice in Florida where he had been since a recent head injury from a fall. His good looks and voice helped the group achieve many hits in the 1960s and 1970s.

Starting in 1967, the group had hits with:

Let's Live for Today #8
Things I Should Have Said #23
Sooner or Later #9
Midnight Confessions #5
Temptation Eyes #15
Bella Linda #28
The River is Wide #13
I'd Wait a Million years #15
Heaven Knows #24
Two Divided By Love #16 Glory Bound #34

I liked them all and remember buying their greatest hits album. A few years ago, we saw him at the Route 66 Festival in Springfield, Illinois. The music was good, but he had lost a lot of his vocal abilities.

I plan on digging out that greatest hits album and playing it this week.

Loved Those Grass Roots. --Cooter

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Short History of the Bomber-- Part 4

1946: The Douglas XB-43, America's first all-jet powered bomber makes its initial flight. Plans for production are dropped in favor of the North American XB-46 Tornado.


1950s: Bomber development escalates after the Korean War begins in 1950. But more than half the bomber designations allotted were for missiles and not aircraft.

1952: First flight of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, which is later used in Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm. The B-52 is still part of the fleet.

1954: The Douglas B-66 Destroyer is developed as a tactical light bomber and photo reconnaissance aircraft. It sees much use in the Vietnam War.

1956: The delta wing Convair B-58 Hustler is the first operational supersonic Air Force bombers.

1958: Missiles stagnate the development of bombers. The first operational single-stage intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), Thor, enters military service.

More to Come. --Cooter

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ten Brands That Will Disappear in 2011

Back on July 5th, i wrote about ten brands predicted to be gone by the end of 2010. This is the 24/7 Wall Street's predictions for this year.

1. BLOCKBUSTER-- once the national leader in video rental
2. READERS' DIGEST-- once the most widely read magazine in the world.


6. BP P.L.C.



Gone With the Wind. --Cooter

A Short History of Bombers-- Part 3

From the June 16th Chicago Tribune.

1940s and WORLD WAR II

EARLY 1940s:

Two medium bombers, the North American B-25 and the Martin B-26 are produced. The B-25 is used primarily throughout the Pacific Theater,including Doolittle's Raid). The B-26 is used in the European Theater.


The Boeing XB-29 Superfortress makes its initial flight. This long-range bomber is capable of carrying bomb loads as much as 20,000 pounds against targets as far away as 1,500 miles.


Jet engines are incorporated into the design of new bombers. The dual-jet engine Douglas XB-42A reaches a top speed of almost 500 mph.


The B-29s Enola Gay and Bochscar drop the first atomic bombs used as weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively.

Ended the War. --DaCoot

A Short History of Bombers-- Part 2


The Air Service and the Army adopt bomber naming types based on mission. Examples would be XI for day bombardment and HB for heavy bombardment. The most significant bomber of the period is the NBS-1 (MB-@), essentially an enlarged and strengthened GMB.

EARLY 1930s:

All-metal planes are mass-produced. The Air Corp's first all-metal monoplane (one wing) bomber is the Boeing B-9, folowed by the more popular Martin B-10.

MARCH 1935:

The War Department establishes the General headquarters (GHQ) Air Force to serve as a central striking force for long-range bombardment and to defend US coastal areas from sea attack.

SUMMER 1935:

Boeing unveils a four-engine, high-speed, long-range heavy bomber, eventually designated the B-17 Flying Fortress. More than 12,500 B-17s are manufactured. They saw much action in the next war.

Bombs Away! --Cooter

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eagle Scouts-- Part 2: Just the Facts

Some Eagle Scout Facts:

** The first was New Yorker Arthur Alfred, who attained the level in 1911.

** Well-known Eagles include astronauts Neil Armstrong, James Lowell and Charles Duke. President Gerald Ford, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield and entrepreneurs Sam Walton and H. Ross Perot.

** Higher than average percentages of young men at West Point and the Air Force Academy are Eagles.

** My nephew Andy made Eagle Scout. I'm so proud of him said the lifetime Tenderfoot, the lowest level in Boy Scouts.

** Eagle Scouts get a step up in rank, E-2 instead of E-1, upon joining the US Army. That makes monthly pay $177.30 higher.

** Eagles can earn scholarships from the National Eagle Scout Association which awarded $400,000 in 2011 to 151 Eagles. In 2012, there will be a new $50,000 scholarship in science.

The Best of a Great Organization. --Cooter

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Short History of Bombers-- Part 1

From the June 16th Chicago Tribune "A bomber-bidding dogfight?" by W.J. Hennigan.

Boeing Company has a new fighter-size Phantom Ray drone that is currently undergoing test flights at Edwards Air Force Base in California and will compete for an estimated $55 billion contract from the government for a new fleet of radar-evading bombers.

This fleet will consist of 80-100 nuclear bomb capable bombers that can operate with or without a pilot.

These new bombers will be the first since the last of 21 bat-winged B-2s was built ten years ago.


The Tribune had an excellent graphic on the history of American bombers. Since I have gotten into World War II in this blog, I am going to write about it.


WORLD WAR I: The US Army relies on English and Italian bomber designs. Planes are primarily built of wood and fabric with metal tubular frames. The Martin GMB (MB-1) is the first design type. Primary use for reconnaissance, with bombing secondary.

More Bombing to Come. --DaCoot

Eagle Scouts-- Part 1

From the July 6th Chicago Tribune "Through scouting, Eagles learn to fly" by Leslie Mann.

The article started with a funny quote from Tom Lehrer, a spoof on their "Be Prepared" pledge: "Be prepared to hold your liquor well. Don't write naughty words on walls if you can't spell."

Of course, Scouting today is battling the technology battle that keeps so many young boys out of the program. In addition, Scouting is often viewed as uncool.

However, in 2005, 49,895 young men earned Eagle status, scouting's highest rank by completing 21 merit badges and a service project. In 2010, the number was 59,176, an 8% increase.

Some community service projects ranged from sprucing up parks and cemeteries, directing summer camps and, in one case, enabling a load of original Lincoln Highway bricks to be delivered from Ohio to Nebraska.

What makes an Eagle Scout? According to Ray Piagentini, president of the Illinois School Councelor Association and counselor at Barrington High School: "They tend to be the compassionate, reflective, respectful kids who know how to look beyond themselves. Some are high achievers academically, some aren't. Some are into sports, some aren't. But like the Navy Seals, they tend to be the rarest of the rare kids."

And I Never Made It Past Tenderfoot. I'm So Embarrassed. Those Rotten Knots. --Cooter

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chicago's Crosstown Classic: A Civil War in Town-- Part 4: Through the Years

1903: Cubs and Sox each win seven games in what was to be a best-of-15 games series. There was a rain out couldn't be rescheduled because players' contracts expired, and Cubs shortstop Joe Tinker had a date to be married.

1924: White Sox finish last in regular season play, but win the City Series.

1934: Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley cancels series because he thinks his players aren't trying to win pennant in the regular season.

1942: Last year of the City Series. The White Sox won for the eighth straight time and had an overall 18-6-1 winning record.

1945: Teams play a benefit game for a war-effort charity.

1949: Annual mid-season charity game begins.

1997: Major League Baseball starts interleague play.

Enough Baseball. --DaCoot

Bill "Moose" Skowron-- Part 4: TV Star

Skowron says his favorite team he played on is the 1961 New York Yankees, who ran away with the pennant with a 109-53 record that year and, of course, there was the home run derby between Mantle and Maris.

Even with all the stars who made up the Yankees back then, Skowron found his place to shine. Beyond baseball, he appeared on the Ed Sullivan show several times, including a 1958 episode when he, mantle, Berra and Whitey Ford sand "take Me Out to the Ball Game."

He also appeared on "What's My Line?" and in 1963, after being traded to the Dodgers, co-starred with Leo Durocher on an episode of "Mr. Ed." He was also the godfather of Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster on the "Munsters."

In 1963, his .385 World Series batting average helped the Dodgers sweep the Yankees. Then, a year later, we joined the White Sox, who ended the season just one game behind the Yankees.

An Interesting Life, Indeed. --Cooter

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chicago's Crosstown Classic: A Civil War in Town-- Part 3

For the Cub and Sox players, the series meant big money as they shared the gate receipts. In 1909,the victorious Cubs got $717.44 apiece. Owner Phil Wrigley canceled the 1934 series when he thought the Cubs were coasting through the pennant race and saving themselves for the City Series payoff.

The Crosstown Classic ended in 1942 and was replaced by a midseason charity game. It remained that way until interleague play began in 1997.

I know that my Sox buddies get up for the Cub games just as much as my Cub fans do. And, I especially like the fact that the games now count in the season and both teams use the real players.

Woe is to us Sox fans when the Cubbies win. Then we have to hear about it the rest of the year.

Usually, the Crosstown Classic Is Our World Series. --Cooter

Bill "Moose" Skowron-- Part 3: Playing Hard; Paid Little and Casey

William Skowron grew up on Chicago's Northwest Side where he excelled at all tree major sports, but he really excelled at baseball and football. Notre Dame was his favorite college and he would have gone there had Coach Frank Leahy allowed him to play baseball along with football. However, at Purdue, he could play both.

As a sophomore,he was starting right halfback and even kicked an 82-yard punt left-footed (claimed it got a good roll). The same year he hit a Big Ten record .500 for coach Hank Stram.

The Yankees offered him a $25,000 signing bonus and Moose took the dough. His rookie year, in 1954, Skowron made $6,000. In his 14-year major league career with the Yankees, Dodgers, Senators, White Sox and Angels, he grossed less than $600,000.

The Yankees were in the process of having another run at domination while Moose was there and they were managed by none other than Casey Stengel. One time in his rookie year, Stengel removed him with bases loaded, angering Skowron, who threw his bat as he returned to the dugout.

The man who replaced him cleared the bases with a double. Stengel didn't say anything to Moose until the next day, "Then he walked up to me and said, 'Don't ever show me up again, kid. My reasons got reasons you'll never figure." Pure Casey.

Not Finished with the Moose. --DaCoot

Saving Pearl Harbor History

From the April 15, New York Times.

Students and faculty at Palomar College in San Diego, California, are scanning and digitalizing the records of the people who were at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941.

As we see the rapid loss of members occurring in the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association (PHSA) this is a great thing as we won't have them around much longer. If their stories are not recorded, they're lost forever.

Every time a new member joined the organization, they were asked to write a brief account of their experience that day. As a result, a mass of over 25,000 stories were accumulated over the years.

Three PHSA members attended a meeting at the school the previous week.

Congrats to Palomar. --Cooter

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bill "Moose" Skowron-- Part 2: A Hard Prognosis

Continued from May 30th. From the May 22nd Chicago Tribune.

William Joseph "Moose" Skowron was both a Yankee and a White Sox player as well as a "Mr. Ed" the talking horse co-star.

After turning 80 in December, he collapsed at a ballpark in Arizona during spring training.. His oldest son, Greg, said that they were leaving the ballpark during the fifth inning, "which was unusual for him. Then he turned down an autograph request, which I'd never seen him do before. Then he turned to me and said, 'I don't feel so good.'"

It turned out to be lung cancer.

A few years ago, a Chicago newspaper ran a list of the 25 greatest athletes produced by the city and Skowron's name wasn't on the list. To this day, his friends and fans remain outraged. (Must have been an oversight.)

Skowron played baseball and football at the city's Weber High School and played two years at Purdue before going to seven World Series in his nine seasons with the Yankees (1954-1962).

Surely, that should be enough to get him on that list. And that's not even including the World Series he won with the Dodgers against his old team the year after they traded him.

Quite the Man. --Cooter

Chicago's Crosstown Classic: A Civil War in Town-- Part 2

And speaking of Civil War, a little later today, I will be going out to Wauconda Illinois for the Civil War Days camp and re-enactment. Looks like a great day for it. I will be at the Sons of Confederate Veterans tent, but will make the rounds of camps and sutlers.

In the first series, the Cubs and Sox each won seven games. The rubber game went unplayed when the player contracts ran out. Figures! They should have played the game anyway. A tie is as bad as an exhibition game.

However, Sox owner Charles Comiskey, though noted for his penny-pinching was so elated that he gave each Sox player a $2,5000 bonus, a huge sum back in those days. His Sox were at least equal to those Cubs.

Embarrassed by the tie, the Cubbies refused to play in 1904. But after that, the two teams usually met in the postseason if one wasn't in the World Series (which actually happened back then).

Sportswriters began calling the games between the two a "Civil War." Tickets were hard to get.

The Chicago Flashback page had a Tribune political cartoon from Oct. 14, 1911 (almost 100 years ago) titles "WAR EXTRA! CUB FORCES ROUTED; RETREAT IN CONFUSION." Then you see the Cubs and their fans running full flight from seven cannons being fired by Little Alexander with the names "Big Ed," "Zeider," "Kreitz," "Callahan" and "Bodie" on the barrels.

More to Come. --DaCoot

Chicago's Crosstown Classic: A Civil War in Town-- Part 1

From the July 3rd Chicago Tribune by Ron Grossman.

Hey, it's a Civil War because you have the North Side (you know, the Cubs) versus the South Side, (Da Sox). Maybe that's why I am a Sox fan.

According to Grossman, before the meaningless exhibition games that I grew up with (where the regulars didn't even play) and the great interleague series (where it counts), there was already a high stakes series between the city's two teams.

When the American League was founded in 1900, the Cubs, who were one of the best National league teams, were determined the remain THE CHICAGO TEAM. The new American League team, the White Stockings couldn't even use the city name and were forced to take minor league status.

But in 1903, the World Series came into being between the two leagues, pitting the best of each.

Each league had something to prove. The American that they were really major league and the National that those other guys were bush league.

So, starting in 1903, the Cubs and Sox faced off.

Who Da Best? --Cooter

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chicago's Crosstown Classic: Sox vs. Cubs

This past weekend, the second series in the Chicago Crosstown Classic was played between the White Sox and Cubs. This is usually referred to as Chicago's World Series since neither team usually makes it to that series (especially that team on the North Side).

The six game series is played home and home, with three at Wrigley and three at Comiskey (I don't use that other name).

Happy to report, Da Sox won 4 of 6 games and should have won the first game at Comiskey.

Of course, I'm a Sox fan and definitely in the minority around here. Man are there a lot of Cub fans and many really hate the Sox. Then, again, many Sox fans really hate the Cubs. Myself, I always back the Cubs UNLESS they play the Sox.

Back before baseball started their Interleague play, people still got up for the Crosstown Classic even though it was an exhibition and both teams gave most of their players the day off and brought up minor leaguers, which I hates.

You can not tell who is better when it is just minor leaguers playing.

Chicago Flashback, a new page in the Chicago Tribune had a page on the history of the games on July 3rd and I will be blogging about it in the next few days.

Go, You White Sox. Now, If We Can Just Figure Out a Way to Beat Those Mean Old Twinkies. --DaCoot

Ten Things You Might Not Know About the Founding Fathers (and Mothers)-- Part 3

8. Like the ROSS legend, the MOLLY PITCHER story did not become popular until many decades after the war. But, the tail of a woman operating a cannon after her husband had fallen matches the real exploits of two women: MARY LUDWIG HAYS at the Battle of Monmouth and MARGARET CORBIN at the Battle of Fort Washington. Corbin was badly wounded and became the first woman to earn a US military pension.

9. SAMUEL ADAMS wasn't a very good brewer (he ran the family business into the ground), but he was a first-class revolutionary. One of the first colonists pushing for independence, he wrote hundreds of letters to newspapers promoting the cause. To make the "cause" look stronger, he signed his letters with many different names to make it seem he had more supporters (but also likely to evade British efforts to catch him).

10. Probably the best military commander on the American side was none other than old BENEDICT ARNOLD. His attacks in upstate New York and Canada protected New England early in the war (and that area had the most Patriots committed to independence) and, if for nothing else, the shocking American victory at Saratoga which turned the tide of the war after France decided to come to our aid. At it, he suffered a horrible leg wound. "OK, so Arnold later committed treason. Nobody's perfect."

Again, Messrs. Jacob and Benzkofer, Great Job. Looking Forward to Your Next Effort. --Cooter

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ten Things You Might Not Know About the Founding Fathers (and Mothers)-- Part 2

4. PHYLLIS WHEATLEY, whose first name came from the slave ship that brought her over from Africa as a child was too frail for housework, but brilliant at poetry, After writing patriotic verse honoring George Washington, she was welcomed at his headquarters (considering that she was a slave and he was a slave owner). Four of the first five presidents owned slaves, the exception being John Adams.

5. Hold on to your letter signed by BUTTON GWINNETT. The Georgia politician signed the Declaration of Independence and died violently during the Revolutionary War fighting a duel. Because of this early death, his John Hancock is quite rare. A letter of his got $722,500 at auction last year.

6. Another Declaration signer, FRANCIS HOPKINSON, most likely designed the Stars and Stripes flag, but was never paid for it. In 1780, he asked the government for "a quarter cask of the public wine" as a reward. He never got it.

7. There is little reason to believe that BETSY ROSS sewed the first US flag. This legend gained popularity after her grandson addressed a Philadelphia historical group in 1870 about it and presented sworn statements of relatives who said they had heard Betsy tell the story.

Sounds a Bit Flaggy to Me. --Cooter

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Al Capone Was a Baseball Fan, Too: "You Tell Him"

From the July 3rd Chicago Tribune Chicago Flashback page.

In conjunction with the Crosstown Series, which was being played at Wrigley Field between the White Sox and the Cubs.

The Cubs and Sox also played an extra game in 1931 for charity to raise money for the relief of those hard-hit by the depression on September 9th.

Unfortunately, the Cubs won 3-0 (said the Sox fan).

But a photo made the headlines all over. Cub star Gabby Hartnett trotted over to the box seat occupied by Public Enemy No. 1, Al Capone and had a chat. At the time, Capone was under indictment for tax evasion. Capone's young son (who looks a bit like a young Babe Ruth) sat next to him and his bodyguard "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn, sat behind him.

When baseball commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis saw the picture, he was livid and telegraphed Hartnett, "You are no longer allowed to have your picture taken with Al Capone!"

Hartnett replied, "OK, but if you don't want me to have my picture taken with Al Capone, you tell him."

Capone was convicted of tax evasion the next month so I imagine it never became a problem.

Good One. --Cooter

Ten Things You Might Not Know About the Founding fathers (And Mothers)-- Part 1

From the July 3rd Chicago Tribune.

Another masterful list by those Tribune research guys, Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer.

1. PAUL REVERE did not shout "The British are coming!" He was a British subject at the time. He actually said, the "regulars" were coming, referring to British soldiers. Regulars had one too many syllables for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem, so "British" be it.

2. I liked President Josiah "Jed" Bartlett in the TV show "West Wing," but there was another JOSIAH BARTLETT from New Hampshire who signed the Declaration of Independence. He was a physician and credited with saving the lives of people with diphtheria by breaking with the practice of bloodletting or sweating as treatment. He treated his patients with Peruvian bark which contains quinine.

3. The "FOUNDING FATHERS" obviously did not refer to themselves with that term. Probably "Dead Meat" if the British got them. The term is usually credited ti President Warren Harding who said it at the 1916 Republican National Convention in Chicago when he was still a senator. Actually, Judson Welliver was his speech writer so he should receive the credit.

More to Come. --DaCoot

Ten Brands That Will Disappear in 2012

From 24/7 Wall Street in Yahoo! Finance.

These are brands expected to end by the end of next year.

1. Sony Pictures
2. A&W restaurants (started 1919)
3. Saab Auto (started 1949)
4. American Apparel
5. Sears

6. Sony Ericsson
7. Kellogg's Corn Pops
8. My Space-- once the world's largest social network (Never belonged to it, but don't belong to that Face Book thing either.)
9. Soap Opera Digest
10. Nokia-- largest handset company

They have their reasons for each one. Check out the article.

I'd Really Miss A&W. Love Their Root Beer and Dogs. --Cooter

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 235th Birthday, USA: Big John's Big Signature

From the July 1st Yahoo! Shine "The Story of John Hancock's Signature" by Mike Krumboltz.

This story would seem appropriate today, even thought the actual signing of the Declaration of Independence did not take place this date 235 years ago. What did happen today was that the delegates voted to accept it.

Why did John Hancock sigh it so big? Most stories have it was to make sure "fat old King George" could read it without his spectacles.

Actually, this account is not true according to As president of the Continental Congress (which would also make him our country's first president), he was the first to sign it, as it should be. And he put his name front and center. He did not know that the rest of the delegates, who signed it days and months afterwards (the last signatures coming in late November), were going to sign smaller.

As the custom of the time dictated, the others signed to the right of the text and signing was arranged by state geographic location with New Hampshire being the farthest north, signing first and Georgia last.

Actual signing of the Declaration of Independence began August 4th.

The famous painting of the delegates signing the declaration at Independence Hall was actually a lot of artistic license.

As I have said before, I don't know that I would have signed the Declaration. Putting your signature on it branded you as being guilty of treason with execution your fate if you were captured. Mighty brave men.

Thanks John et All. --DaCoot

The Last Vietnam Draftee Retires from...THE ARMY!!

From Yahoo! News by Kimberly Hefling.

Command Sergeant Major Jeff Mellinger didn't enter the service of his own accord, he was drafted, but, evidently, he did find a home, for 39 years.

He was drafted from his home in Eugene, Oregon, in 1972, to fight in the Vietnam War, and according to the Army, he is the last draftee of that era to retire from the service.

Most draftees did their two year stint and then left. Had I been drafted, which I almost was, that is what I would have done. As a matter of fact I so much did not want to be drafted, I joined the Marines. With a draft lottery number of 22 and a 1-A rating, I was sure to go.

The war was winding down by then and Mellinger found himself assigned to an office in Germany. he soon left that to join the Rangers and during his time in that part of the Army, made over 3,700 parachute jumps, one of which seriously injured him.

On 9-11, he was sent to Ground Zero in New York City.

More recently, he was the top enlisted soldier in Iraq and survived 27 roadside bombings.

Mt Congratulations to Command Sergeant Major Mellinger on a Job Well Done!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Remnants of Chicago's Riverview Amusement Park-- Part 3

Ralph Lopez has all sorts of Riverview memorabilia at home and operates a website at The park was closed on Mondays.

He loved working there and was clearing over $300 a week, good money back then.

Today, Lopez conducts tours of the site, which today has Riverview Plaza strip mall, the Chicago Police Belmont Area station, DeVry University and Richard Clark Park. At the south end of Clark Park in a wooded area by the river, there is a huge concrete foundation that was once part of the Shoot the Chutes tower where boats were dropped.

Rumors have it that racial tensions in 1967 led to the park's closing, primarily due to one of the park's rides, the African Dip, where patrons threw balls at a target trying to dunk a black man into a tank of water. This, however, was closed in the late '50s due to pressure from the black community.

Another possible reason was that the land had become too valuable. The park drew 1.7 million people in its last year of operation, 1967. Another theory has the changing North center neighborhood which had once been dominated by Germans, Italians and other European groups, but more minorities were moving in.

You can take a video tour of the Riverview at

Back before Today's Same-Old, Same-Old Parks. --Cooter

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Remnants of Chicago's Riverview Amusement Park-- Part 2

Riverview closed its doors in September 1967 and called itself "The World's Largest Amusement Park."

Ralph Lopez worked at the park from 1957 to its closing and now is the historian of the place. People always ask him about the Bobs Roller Coaster, nearly 90 feet tall which would reach speeds of 50 mph. Then there was the Pair-O-Chutes, where people dropped free-fall for 100 feet. No thank you for that one, the Bobs scared me badly enough.

Don't forget Aladdin's Castle, the huge fun house at the park entrance, getting smooched on the Tunnel of Love or throwing up on the Wild Mouse, another roller coaster. No way I was going on that one after the Bobs.

Lopez worked on the Shoot the Chutes where boats dropped 65 feet into a pool, an early water ride.

More to Come. --Cooter