Tuesday, July 31, 2012

USS Olympia Battles for Survival-- Part 1

From the September 11, 2010, Albany (NY) Times-Union "Olympia, 2-war naval veteran, battles for survival" by Joann Loviglio.

Photos accompany this sad article about the slow-death of a famous ship.  One is taken inside the ship and shows sunlight seeping in through the hull at the waterline.

This was a hero ship from the Spanish-American War.

"Time and tides are conspiring to condemn the weathered old warrior to a fate two wars failed to inflict."  As it stood back in 2010, the ship would either sink at its moorings on the Delaware River, sold for scrap or be scuttled for an artificial reef off Cape May, New Jersey.

The 344-foot long, 5,500 ton ship has hundreds of patches on its lower hull and very likely will be beyond saving in a few years.

The ship receives some 90,000 visitors each year (I had a dinner and a cruise when visiting Philadelphia right next to this proud ship several years back, but did not go on board.  Admission is up to $12.

More to Come.  --Cooter

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dead Page: Mouseketeer-- Lucy

Two more deaths over this past month whose lives had an impact on me.


The "Mickey Mouse Show" was must-see TV for me growing up.  Just to see Annette was enough for me, but, I liked all of the show.  I don't remember Ginny so much, but she was a head Mouseketeer.  Afterwards, she was the voice of Bambi and on "Babes in Toyland" on Disney records.

In "Dr. Doolittle," she was the voice of Polynesia the Parrot who helped teach Rex Harrison to talk to the animals.  She was also some of the barnyard animal voices in "Mary Poppins."

Her real name was Merrie Virginia Erlandso.  Died July 13th.


I was, and still am, a big fan of the "I Love Lucy" show and "Bewitched" and this man was largely responsible for them.  He directed 100 of the 186 "Lucy" shows from 1952-1957.  He also directed "Bewitched" while he was married to its star Elizabeth Montgomery.  He was also involved with the "Patty Duke Show."

He brought Sally Field to TV in "Gidget."  On the silver screen, he directed the Annette Funicello teen romps "Beach Blanket Bingo" and "Beach Party."

Thanks, Mr. Asher.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dead Page: Funk-- Deep-- Queen

While looking through the Yahoo! obituaries, I came across the names of two people I'd never heard of before, but whose music I greatly enjoyed.  Also, there was a woman who was called the Queen of Country Music that I had heard of, but for only one song, but, what a song that was.

What they had in common was that all died July 16th.


Was a studio musician for Motown and a member of the Funk Brothers who backed up so many of those great Motown singers and groups.  Some of the 200 Top 40 songs he played on were the Temptations' "Ball of Confusion," Marvin Gaye's "Mercy, Mercy Me (Ecology Song)," Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered,"  Smokey Robinson's "Tears of a Clown" and Edwin Starr's "War."

If there is a bigger Motown fan than me, I'd like to know.


British keyboardist and member of Deep Purple and later, Whitesnake.  Co-wrote one of my favorite songs ever, "Smoke on the Water."

I am still a big Deep Purple fan and liked some of Whitesnake's songs.


Called the Queen of Country Music after she became the first female to have a #1 song on the Country charts, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels."  Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976.  Her most success was in the 1950s.

This was the only song of hers I am familiar with, but what a song!!

Gone, But Not Forgotten.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dead Page: Commander McHale


One of my favorite actors primarily for his role as Quentin McHale commanding that zany bunch of misfits in "McHale's Navy" on TV in the 1960s.  But, he did get the Best Actor Oscar for "Marty" in 1955.  Died July 15, 2012.  As Fatso Judson, he beat Frank Sinatra to death in "From Here to Eternity."

From 1935 to 1945 served in US Navy and was on a destroyer during World War II.

"McHale's Navy" ran from 1962 to 1966 and was patterned after "Sgt. Bilko."

Captain Bimington Never Caught Him.  --Cooter

Thursday, July 26, 2012

USS Gravely (DDG-107)

From the July 27, 2010, Wilmington, NC, Star-News by Garreth McGrath.

One of the Navy's newest ships, the destroyer USS Gravely, was commissioned into the fleet in Wilmington in the fall of 2010.  According to Wikipedia, the vessel is an Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyer, the 57th one in the class.

Laid down 26 Nov 2007, launched 30 March 2009 and christened 16 May 2009.  It is named for Vice Admiral Samuel lee Gravely (June 4, 1922- October 22, 2004) the Navy's first black man to hold that position.  His was a huge impact on the service.  He was the first black to be commissioned an officer, first to serve aboard a fighting ship as an officer, the first fleet commander and the first admiral.  He served during World War Ii, the Korean War and Vietnam..

His wife, Alma, christened it.

A Real Hero Who Opened Doors for His Race.  --

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

North Carolina's "Old Baldy"

From the July 30, 2010, "Some Tomorrow's Morning" by Dan Hardison.

Featuring a 1940s-1950s postcard of "Old Baldy" lighthouse on Bald Head Island, also called Smith Island.  This is North Carolina's oldest standing lighthouse built in 1817, the second one built on the island using the brick from the first one.

The 110 foot high brick octagonal lighthouse is 36 feet wide at its 5-foot thick base tapering to two feet thick at its top.  A spiral staircase goes up to the offset lantern room which can be reached by a narrow ladder through a small opening in the floor.

During the Civil War, Confederates built Fort Holmes near it.

The lighthouse was used until 1935.  From World War II to 1958. a radio beacon was used for navigation.

It is open to the public and a replica 1850s keepers cottage at its base is also a museum.

We'll Leave the Light On for You.  --Cooter

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Them Tarheels

From the July 8th Keeping it Heel "So What Is a Tarheel?" by Bryant.

People know the name TARHEEL is the nickname of the state's university and of the state.  But where did they get it?  Exactly what is a Tarheel?  Surely it isn't a type of a goat as the school's mascot appears to be.

There are two stories.  One I will blog here and the other in a bit on my Civil War blog "Saw the Elephant."

The first story goes to the Revolutionary War.  British soldiers under Lord Cornwallis were fording a river in the eastern part of the state on their way to Yorktown.  When they got to the other side, they discovered their feet were covered with tar, a product of the pine trees and naval stores that the state produced.

Some say the North Carolina soldiers dumped tar in the river to slow the British advance down.  The British supposedly said that if you wade in a North Carolina river you're likely to get tar on your heels. 

I wonder if they were fording through the Tar River or going to Tarboro?

Well, Shiver Me Timbers and Patch It With Tar.  --Cooter

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Beginnings of Carolina Beach, NC-- Part 2

From the Arcadia book "Carolina Beach" by Elaine Blackmon Henson.

For the 1888 season, Captain Harper purchased the steamer Sylvan Grove which could carry 600 passengers on its three decks.  On July 4, 1888, it made two trips from Wilmington, bringing over 800 people who swam in the surf, looked for shells and took a hack (carriage) to Fort Fisher. That evening, fireworks were shot off from the bow of the ship.

In 1889, the Sugar Loaf pier was moved to Doctor's Point which had deeper water for the new steamer and because of it, the railroad was lengthened a mile.  New cottages were built along with a windmill and reservoir.

In 1889, 19 more cottages were built, making a total of 34.  Lots were selling for $1 a foot.  That winter, a fire of unknown origins destroyed the Sylvan Grove.  Captain Harper went loooking for another steamer and found one in Wilmington, Delaware, which was already named the Wilmington.  It made its first  trip to Carolina Beach in 1891.

The next few summers, more steamers began bringing people to the thriving resort: the Clarence, Murchison, Italian and Lillie.  Baseball became very popular and many teams formed playing the game on the beach

In 1910, a fire destroyed the Pavilion, Kure's Bathhouse and Smith Cottage in 1910.A new pavilion opened in 1911.

Carolina Beach Was On Its Way.  --Cooter

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Beginnings of Carolina Beach, NC-- Part 1

On one of the trips to "The Rocks, Joseph Lloyd Winner of Wilmington, NC, got off at Sugar Loaf on the Cape Fear River and walked across to the beach on the ocean.  He bought a large tract of land fromJames T. Burris in December 1880.  (The land had previously been owned by blacks.)  He laid out streets and named a new town St. Joseph.  It failed to prosper because of its remote location and lack of transportation.  However, St. Joseph Street is still in town and Winner's descendants still play a major role in Carolina Beach.

Seeing potential, Captain Harper, William Smith and some others bought a 24-acre strip of land for $66.50 from Robert Bruce Freeman which essentially is the north end of Carolina Beach today.  They began building a railroad in January 1887, and by June, passengers were cruising down the Cape Fear River on the Passport, landing on a pier at Sugar Loaf, boarding a little train named the "Shoo Fly" for the two-mile ride to the beach.

For the first summer, most came just for the day and used the facilities at the new pavilion.  Those wishing to stay found lodging at Bryan's Oceanic Hotel and ate at the Railroad Station Restaurant.  So many people wanted to go to the new resort that the 350-passenger steamer Passport started pulling a barge fitted to hold another 150.

Business Was Good.  --DaCoot

Federal Point, North Carolina-- Part 2

The construction of "The Rocks" and the great fishing it caused as well as the ruins of Fort Fisher became a big tourist draw and people started going there.  Captain John W. Harper was already taking passengers to Smithville (now Southport) on his steamer Passport.  By 1880, he started making stops at New Inlet Dam (The Rocks).  Soon, a Fort Fisher Fishing Club was established and they built a clubhouse.

By 1883, Harper was including Sheephead dinners at Mayo's Place in the 50 cent price of a round trip.  By 1884, there were two cottages for rent at the Rocks.

From time to time, there would also be reunions of Fort Fisher's soldiers and on occasion, even the Union ones.  Some of these old veterans even started a move to make Fort Fisher a National Park.

How Carolina Beach Greww Out of These Trips.  --Cooter

Monday, July 16, 2012

Federal Point, North Carolina-- Part 1

From the Arcadia Book "Carolina Beach" by Elaine Blackman Henson.

Federal Point is a peninsula south of Wilmington, North Carolina, searating the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River.  When Snow's Cut was dug in 1931 at the northern end for the Intercoastal Waterway it became an island now referred to as Pleasure Island.

By 1817, the federal government built a lighthouse at the southern end.  The 1860 census listed 72 households living there.  During the Civil War, the name was changed to Confederate Point.

In 1879, the Army Corps of Engineers completed the closing of New Inlet from Fort Fisher's Battery Bucahanan across to Zeek's Island after several years and tghousaands of man-hours.  New Inlet, which was the favored waterway of blockade-runners during the Civil War (and why Fort Fisher was built), was formed by a particularly nasty hurricane in 1761.  Shifting sands through it made navigation on the Cape Fear River dangerous.

More to Come.  --Cooter

Friday, July 13, 2012

Most Memorable TV Moments-- Part 2

11.  Death of Whitney Houston (2012)  What about all the hoopla over Michael Jackson's death?
12.  Capture and Execution of Saddam Hussein (2006)  Should have taken hiding lessons from Osama and the Palistani government.)
13.  Barack Obama's election night speech (2008)  Promising all that change.  Didn't fool me none.)
14.  Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (2011)  Oh, the Royaltiesers.
15.  John F. Kennedy assassination (1963)

16.  Oklahoma City bombing (1995)
17.  Bush/Gore disuted election (2000) Oh Chad, where art thou?
18.  Los Angeles riots/Rodney King beating (1992)
19.  Casey Anthony murder trial verdict (2011)
20.  John F. Kennedy funeral (1963)

I really have to wonder about#11, #14 and #19. 


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Most Memorable TV Moments of the Past 50 Years

From the July 12th Wilmington Star-News by David Bauder AP.

Sony Electronics and the Nielsen television research company worked together on the survey.  They didn't just ask people if they watched it, but also if they remembered where they were when they watched it, who they watched it with and whether they talked about it.

These are the Top Moments on TV

1.  September 11th terrorist attack (2001)
2.  Hurricane Katrina (2005)
3.  The O.J. Simpson verdict (1995)
4.  Challenger Space Shuttle explosion (1986)
5.  Death of Osama bin Laden (2011)

6.  The O.J. Simpson white Bronco chase (1994)
7.  Japanese earthquake and tsunami (2011)
8.  Columbine School shooting (1999)
9.  BP oil spill in Gulf of Mexico (2010)
10.  Princess Diana's funeral (1997)

I'll have my own comments later.

Can You Believe Nos 6 and 10?  --Cooter

Monday, July 9, 2012

Putting Tendulkar Into Another Perspective

From the May 21st Time Magazine.


Tendulkar leads his nearest cricket rival, Australia's Ricky Ponting, by a margin wider than the two top scorers in other major sports.

Career leader in each sport category and percentage ahead of the runner-up:

41% Sachin Tendulkar in cricket 100-run innings 100 over Ricky Pont, 71
21%  Brett Favre football passing touchdowns 508 over Dan Marino, 420
12% Wayne Gretzky in hockey goals 894 over Gordie Howe, 801
4% Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in points 38,387 over Karl Malone 36,928
1% Barry Bonds in baseball home runs 762 over Hank Aaron, 755

That Pretty-Well Sums It Up.  --DaCoot

What It Was, Was Cricket

From May 21st Time Magazine "The God of Big Things" by Bobby Gosh.

I'd never heard of him, and just know that Sachin Tendulkar's sport, cricket, is a bit like baseball.  But other than that, I didn't know much until I read this article.  On March 16th, he broke a record with his 100th century, a single inning score of 100 or more runs.  It was not thought possible

A century, or ton as it is also called, requires great batting prowess.  Top players may end careers with 25 to 50 of them.  Tendulkar once even hit 241 runs.  In cricket, a batter hits until they make an out.

To say he's India's pride and joy is putting it mildly, even though at age 39, he is facing retirement.

An interesting graphic about cricket was in Global Games, the single-game viewership of sports as an indicator of popularity.  Even though cricket hasn't caught on in the U.S., it is the second-most popular game in the world.

Persons Watching:

2010 World Cup Soccer Final: 620 million
2011 World Cup Cricket Semifinal: 150 million

And, putting it into context:

Super Bowl XLVI: 111 million
2011 World Series Game 7: 25 million
2011 NBA Finals Game 6: 24 million
2011 Stanley Cup Finals Game 7: 9 million

Maybe I'll Have to Find Out Stuff About Cricket.  --Cooter

Saturday, July 7, 2012

So Hot, You Can Fry An Egg On the Sidewalk?

From the July 6th Chicago Tribune "So hot, you can fry an egg on sidewalk? Whose idea was that? "by Bob Manker.

The Chicagoland area has really been hit up with a bit of a heatwave: three straight days of 100+ and today in the mid-90s.  And, it was in the 90s most of last week.  It has bothered me, even though it usually doesn't.  And poor Liz is about to dab her head off.

The earliest-known reference to the above cliche appeared in the June 11, 1899, edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Later, the October 5, 1933 Los Angeles Times mentioned it.  There is a June 14, 1929, of two women with one holding what appears to be a fried egg in a skillet on a concrete wall in Washington, D.C. with the caption "Women frying eggs near US Capitol."

Sadly, however, it would have to be really, really hot to cook an egg, even more than Chicago's record 103 degrees this past Thursday.  An egg needs a temperature of 158 degrees F. to become firm.

And, a bit of Route 66 connection.  The organizers of the Sidewalk Egg Frying Contest in the venerable old one-horse, many burros, town of Oatman, Arizona, have been running the even every July 4th since 1991 did not have a winner from among the 15 contestants Wednesday, even though they were allowed to use aids such as foil, mirrors and magnifying glasses (no blowtorches though).

A YouTube serach of "fry egg on sidewalk" tuened up 200 attempts.

How Hot Was It?  --DaCoot

No Such a Thing As a Mermaid

From the July 6th Chicago Tribune "Mermaids officially a fish story" by Rene Lynch.

Sorry Disney and Wiki Watchie, but, according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in a public declaration, the half-human, half-fish creature "just ain't so."

"No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found."  Not even in Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

The NOAA usually is tasked with such things as coastal problems, climate change, population growth, port congestion and contaminants.

No Little Mermaid?  Awww!!  --Cooter

Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday to the Girl Scouts

From the March 11th Parade Magazine.

Today, membership in the Girl Scouts stands at 3.2 million and several groups were in the recent 4th of July parade here in Spring Grove, Illinois, along with the pre-Girl Scout groups, the Brownies.  That's a long way from when Juliette Gordon Low formed the first troop in Savannah, Georgia, 100 years ago.

Like with the Boy Scouts, members strive to earn badges.  Long-gone are Girl Scout badges for dairy maid, telegraphist and laundress.  Now, badges can be earned in technology, engineering, movie-making, financial literacy and web design.

Even cookies have come a long way.  When troops started selling homemade sugar cookies in 1917, they cost 15 cents a dozen.  In 1935, commercial bakers tok over, first producing sandwich cookies and later my favorite, Thin Mints.  These days, over 200 million boxes, in a dozen varieties, are sold annually, and, if I recall last time, for $4 a box.

A Great American Organization, Along with the Boy Scouts.  DaCoot

John Philip Sousa's 4th of July Connection

From the June 6th Chicago Tribune "Made in America: A century later, John Philip Sousa's marches still quickn the pulse" by Howard Reich.

As we get ready for the second weekend of this nine-day 4th of July celebration, it is only fitting that we salute a man who could very-well be called Mr. Fourth of July, and that would be Mr. Sousa.

"What Scott Joplin did for ragtime and Jelly Roll Morton for jazz, John Philip Sousa achieved for another expression of the American spirit-- the march."

However, the first two created indigenous American genres whereas Sousa took on a European form and re-energized and took it to new heights.

His great grandson, John Philip Sousa IV, is co-author of the new book "John Philp Sousa's America: The Patriot's Life in Images and Words" written with Loras John Schissel.

Actually, besides marches, Sousa composed 17 light operas, plus books, concert pieces and songs.  But it is the 136 marches that distinguish him.

His love of marches came from childhood as he heard them everywhere growing up in Washington, DC during the Civil War where his father was trombonist in the Marine Band and played on many occasions, including Abraham Lincoln's delivery of the Gettysburg Address.

In 1880,at the age of 25, he became the youngest leader of the Marine Band and that is when his marching career took off.  The band began touring and eventually Sousa led an estimated 14,000 concerts during his lifetime.  In 1892, he left the Marine Band to form his own ensamble and was launched at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. 

In 1900, he took his 60-piece band to Europe on the first of three European tours.  On March 6, 1932, he led a rehearsal then went up to his room and died.

Got Me Humming "The Stars and Stripes Forever" Now.  Thanks Sousa.  --Cooter

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The 11 Films That Have Earned More Than $1 Billion Worldwide

From April 16th Time Magazine.

1.  AVATAR (2009) $2,782 billion
2.  TITANIC (1997) $1,843 billion
3.  HARRY POTTER AND THE DEADLY HALLOWS-- PT 2--  (2011) $1,328 billion

4.  TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON--  (2011) $1, 124 billion
5.  THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING--  (2003) $1,120 billion
6.  PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST--  (2006) 1,066 billion
7.  TOY STORY 3--  (2010) $1,063 billion

8.  PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES--  (2011) $1,044 billion
9.  STAR WARS EPISODE 1-- THE PHANTOM MENACE--  (1999) $1,025 billion
10.  ALICE IN WONDERLAND--  (2010) $1,024 billion
11.  THE DARK NIGHT (2008) $1,002 billion

Yup, I Saw All of 'Em.  Jus' Take My Money Now.  --Cooter

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Goodbye Andy


Very sad to learn of the death of this beloved person yesterday. 

Growing up, his "Andy Griffith Show" with all those great characters, and of course, Barney, was one of my favorites.  Plus, he was from my home state, North Carolina and even a teacher for a few years at Goldsboro High School, in the town I was born in.  My mom graduated from there just a year before he arrived.

In the past ten years, a favorite stop when I'm going to and from North Carolina is Andy Griffith's home town of Mt. Airy where he was born and lived through high school.  I especially like stopping into Snappy Lunch (which he mentioned on the show) and having one of those fantastic pork chop sandwiches.

I was only too happy to have a second TV Land statue of Andy and Opie placed in Mt. Airy (the first one was in Raleigh).  I only hope that he is buried in Mt. Airy.

We Lost a Great One.

Chicago's Shuttered Rosenwald Apartments

From the July 3rd Chicago Tribune "TIF may help revive historic complex" by Blair Kamin.

Singer Nat "King" Cole lived there as did poet Gwendolyn Brooks and music producer Quincy Jones.  Even with these notable past tenants, the Roserwald Apartments in Chicago, occupying a block on Michigan Avenue and 47th Street, has been shuttered for over a decade but may be on the path of coming back if a developer has his way.

Built in 1929 with an endowment by Sears, Roebuck & Co. president and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald (who also built the Museum of Science and Industry) the complex of five connected buildings was designed by his nephew Ernest Grunsfield, Jr, who was also the architect of the Adler Planetarium. It was home for generations of blacks.  He also was the reason for the Rosenwald Schools being built to educate blacks in the South.

In 2003, it was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 11 most endangered list after the neighborhood around it declined, residents moved out and it became a haven for drug dealers.

Let's hope these plans come through and it becomes a part in the redevelopment of the surrounding area.

Saving Those Old Buildings.  --Cooter

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

World War II Liberty Ships

One of these Liberty Ships was the Thomas J. Rusk (J for Jefferson) and was an EC2-S-C1 type. Other ships build by Houston Shipbuilding Corporation were the Sam Houston, Davy Crockett and James Bowie as a nod to Texas history.

Quite a few were named after Civil War persons such as Matthew Maury, Winfield Scott, A.P. Hill, James Longstreet, Joseph E. Johnston, J.E.B. Stuart, John B. Hood and Fitzhugh Lee.

Also, one was christened the Amelia Earhart.

To get an idea how fast these ships could be built, the Rusk had its keel laid 3 Sep 1942, was launched 11 Nov 1942 and delivered 26 Nov 1942.

One Liberty Ship was possibly the only one ever named after a living person. Francis J. O'Gara was the purser on the Jean Nicolet which was sunk by a Japanese submarine. It was thought that he had died, but he returned from a Japanese POW camp after the war.

Building 'Em Fast. --Cooter

Monday, July 2, 2012

Also Going, Going, Almost Gone Already

From the June AARP Bulletin.

These are almost already gone.

Of course, I still have all but one (well, two) of these items (and use them).

ANSWERING MACHINES--  Still using ours.  Great for screening incoming calls.

TUBE TELEVISIONS--  All ours are the old ones.  Waiting for them to start breaking down (the old '83 console still works well other than the volume that goes in and out sometimes).  I've got my eyes set on a 50-inch new one.  But not until the old one breaks.

PHONE BOOKS-- Don't use these a lot. That print is too small for these old eyes.

BANK DEPOSIT SLIPS--  Well, ok, my pension checks are automatically deposited.  Whenever I finish a check book these days, there are lots and lots of deposit slips still left over.

SUBWAY TOKENS--  I haven't seen a subway out here in Spring Grove.  Must be a city thing.

ROLODEXES--  Never had one.  Don't know that many people.  Always getting it confused with Rolex somehow. Don't have one of those either.

PRINTED ENCYCLOPEDIAS--  I still have my set of Funk & Wagnall's, compliments of Jewel grocery store.  Haven't used it in many years.  Love that Wiki, you know.

FILM--  Have a couple cameras using film but don't use them.  I really miss the viewfinder, especially trying to take picturers outside.

INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULBS--  I stocked up and have an ample supply.  Then, they extended them.  Don't like the light given off by the new lights.

I Hate When Things Change.  --Cooter