Saturday, September 29, 2012

Presidential Perks-- Part 4

Finishing up the this topic.


The president gets the West Wing, where the Oval Office is (and I always thought it was in the White House), with a view of the Rose Garden (good for those thorny issues).   Also in the West Wing (I liked the TV show) is his top staff, usually about 18. 

The first lady gets the East Wing.  Both wings extend from the White House, which is the residence only.  She has an office with several staff assistant offices.


A putting green on the South Lawn; a gym in the White House; and the circular drive on the South Lawn is rubberized for aerobic walking.  The pool was removed to make room for the media briefing room in the West Wing.  (And, I'd heard something about a bowling alley and a movie theater.)


A paneled and mirrored private elevator is in the residence manned by a fellow who tells select visitors, "Welcome to the presidential elevator."  (Not having ever been invited, I can't attest to this, however.)


Each morning the Bushes had several newspapers delivered, which they liked to read in bed.  (Wow, getting news the old-fashioned way.  Perhaps the current president gets his his a teleprompter.)

Of Course, I Have to Wonder Why Anyone Would Ever Want the Job.  --Cooter

Friday, September 28, 2012

How Did Washington Get His Name?

From the Sept. 14, 2008, Chicago Tribune "Whence 'Washington'?" from the Washington Post.

We all know how Washington, S.C. got its name, but how did George get his last name?

To get the answer, you have to go back to 12th Century England.  Around 1180, the Bishop of Durham wanted to add some acreage to his estate so arranged a swap with a knight living there named William of Hertburn in those names before surnames were common.

The land the bishop trade to William was known as Wessynton in Anglo-Saxon.  So, William took the name William took his new name, William of Wessynton.  The name eventually evolved to Washington.

In 1530, a merchant named Lawrence Washington moved his family to the south, settling near Northamptonshire and built a house known as Sulgave.  During the English Civil War, Lawrence's great-granson backed the Royals and had to lay low, but his son, John, decided to try his luck in the New World and immigrated to Virginia, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today Sulgave Manor and Washington Old Hall, the house of William de Wessynton, are both open to the public and both have U.S. Independence Day celebrations and hoist the American flag.

George's English Roots.  --DaCoot

Presidential Perks-- Part 3


The presidential retreat in the woods atop the Catoctin Mountains in Maryland, about an hour's car drive away from Washington, but usually reached by helicopter.  Elevation 1500 feet.  Opened with the name Shangri-La, but President Eisenhower renamed it Camp David.


Has access to a fleet of helicopters.  The one the president is on is referred to as Marine One.  The helicopters fly three at a time, with the president on one and the other two decoys.  The Marines have a contract out to replace these with even more sophisticated and expensive ones.


The White House has a fully staffed kitchen with a head chef, pastry chef and more.  The White House Mess in the basement of the West Wing is a men's club like restaurant with paneling and service by a formally attired Navy staff.  Navy bean soup is a specialty.


$100,000 given each term for decoration or redecoration of the residence and Oval Office.  The First Family also can set up an outside fund through the White House Historical Association to help cover additional costs.

Good Job If You Can Get It.  --Cooter

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Presidential Perks-- Part 2


The president has a ticket to see the world.  In addition to whatever trips he chooses to take, there are three on the regular annual agenda.

GROUP OF EIGHT SUMMIT Location rotates each year among G-8 members: US, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Russia, Italy and Japan (kind of surprised that China is not here).

ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION FORUM  Rotates among the 23 Pacific Rim nations.  I imagine China is in this one.

NATO SUMMIT  Annually in Europe.  But, I think we just had it in Chicago in 2012 with all that protesting.  But, this was printed in 2008 so may have changed.


There are two identical missile-proof black Cadillac limos with indestructible truck tires.  One serves as a decoy in the motorcade.  Motorcades are generally 15 vehicles long with the two limos, several SUVs full of heavily armed Secret service agents, a communications truck, hazardous materials truck, ambulance, media vans, staff vans, etc.

And, Lincoln used to go out for carriage rides in Washington, DC, by himself.

OVERSEAS  Motorcade vehicles are flown to where the president travels.  There is a separate "car plane" a military transport, that ferries the vehicles.

And, Then There's Camp David.  --Cooter

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Presidential Perks-- Part 1

From the Nov. 10, 2008, Chicago Tribune by Mark Silva and Laura Olson.

You always hear about Air Force One and see the helicopters and all the White House amenities, but this is the first time I really got a full list of the perks.


Two 747s serve the president.  Only one at a time is called Air Force One.  In fact, any plane carrying the president is called Air Force One for that trip.  So, if he gets on your commercial flight, congratulations, you made the Big Time.  They are based at Andrews Air Force Base.  Both fly on foreign trips for both security decoy and to carry staff.

And, I should mention, when arriving somewhere, there is no hassle arranging transport from the airport to destination as I always encounter.


A respectable mess located in back of the plane, tailoring the menu to First Family desires.  None of that extra money for your meal or snacks here.  Let's see, I want Carolina BBQ, sliders....


When the First Lady flies on her own, she gets a 737 with similar color scheme.  The plane also carries the vice president and secretary of state.  Hey, I'd settle for a Piper Cub.

It would have been interesting to get a breakdown of costs.

Great Perks If You Can Afford to Get the Job.  --Cooter

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

So, What Happened to My Paperboy?-- Part 2

Actually, I've never had a newspaperboy or girl.  It has always been adult-delivered from a car.

Anyway, these were entry-level, low-skilled jobs for America's teens.  US Labor Bureau statistics show that on average by the age 27, men who worked in high school earned an average of a dollar more an hour than those who didn't.  (Hey,  I worked at Burger King in high school.  Must be why I'm so doggone rich.) 

A young Benjamin Franklin delivered the Boston Gazette, Thomas Edison sold papers at age 12 and Warren Buffett delivered the Washington Post.  See, mess with papers, get rich.

At least one US daily newspaper still employs an all-youth carrier force, the Times News near Allentown, Pennsylvania, with 14,000 subscriptions.  Kids get paid 12 to15 cents per delivery.

The paper's publisher of 41 years, Fred Masenheimer, said his carriers still sling canvas bags and risk the occasional dog bite.  he was also a teen carrier, delivering the Hanover Evening News.  "They used to tell us it was the last 2 cent newspaper in America.  So you can imagine how much money we made in a week."  Nobody's getting rich as a carrier, "but nobody's getting rich as a journalist these days either."

And there I was, cub reporter for the Palatine High School Cutlass student paper in Palatine, Illinois, and then sports editor my senior year.  Another profession I could have gone into and not made much money.

Where's My Paperboy?  --Cooter

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dead Page: Bonnie Blue and Carreen

Two actresses from "Gone With the Wind"  Die in the last two years.


Died September 1, 2010.  Played the role of Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) and Scarlett O'Hara's (Vivien Leigh) daughter, Bonnie Blue, whose death from the fall off her pony broke her family up.  I still can't believe that Rhett went out and shot the pony, though.  Was 4 when chosen to play the part in 1939 and liked to joke "that I peaked at age 5."

Three years later, she voiced the part of the doe Faline in "Bambi."  She earned $1,000 for her role in GWTW.

ANN RUTHERFORD (1917-JUNE 11, 2012)

Starred in radio, movies and film.  She was also in the 30s-40s Andy Hardy series.  In "Gone With the Wind" she was Scarlett O'Hara's sister Carreen, who had to take Scarlett's leftover beaus.  In December 1939, while promoting the movie, she visited six Confederate veterans at the Confederate Soldiers Home near Atlanta, Georgia, and one gave her a rose corsage tied with the Confederate colors.

She also had two guest appearances on "The Bob Newhart Show" as Suzanne Pleshette's mother.

In the late 1990s, she was offered the role of the elderly Rose Calvert on he movie "Titanic" but turned it down and Gloria Stuart got it.

I've seen "Gone With the Wind" so many times, I can't remember how many.  I'll sure see it again.

The only major actress still alive is Olivia de Havilland, 96, who lives in France.  She played Melanie.

So, What Happened to My Paperboy?-- Part 1

From the Feb. 14, 2011, Time Magazine "Money: Paper Trail" by Tom Vanderbilt.

The old paperboy of days gone by hardly exists anymore . In 1990, they delivered nearly 70% of newspapers.  In 2008, just 13%.

One reason for their demise is cost-conscious with a shift to large distribution centers which deliver larger bundles of papers across a wider area, where adults in vehicle fill the delivery role.  "Instead of a kid throwing your paper on your porch (or in the bushes), an adult in a car puts it in your roadside mailbox or drops it at the end of your driveway." 

We get the Chicago Tribune adult-delivered at the end of our driveway here in Spring Grove.  I don't believe we've ever had one delivered by a paperboy (or girl) even when we lived in Round Lake Beach.

Culture is also part of it.  Many kids have stopped delivering papers for the same reasons many have stopped walking to school (walkers have shrunk from 50% in the late 60s to 16% in 2001).  Part of this is the "Stranger Danger" fears and even bigger is that the movement from suburbs to exurbs has made it too far to walk or bike to school.

I'll have to write about the current way kids get to and from school in another blog.

A By-Gone Thing?  --Cooter

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Top Ten Greatest U.S. Presidential Acts

From September 1, 2010, Listverse.  Go to site for photos and more information.

10.  Washington refusing to be king.
9.  Jefferson doubling the country in the Louisiana Purchase.
8.  Nixon opening relations with China (Well, maybe not so good.)

7.  Lincoln freeing the slaves  (Well, sort of.)
6.  John QuincyAdams raising taxes to improve roads.  Also forming a national bank, national currency, founding universities and creating waterways.  (Well, taxes? really?)
5.  Theodore Roosevelt's Square Deal, consumer protection, control of big business and conservation of natural resources, especially national parks.

4.  Reagan and Pax Americana and defeat of Communism.  (Well, sort of Pax Americana.)
3.  Monroe Doctrine
2.  FDR and the Last "Good" war.

1.  Kennedy's Nukes (You'll have to check this one.)

An Interesting Way to Get Discussion/Arguments Started.  --Cooter

Friday, September 21, 2012

Top Ten Most Evil Humans

From the Dec. 31, 2010, List Universe

10.  Delphine LaLaurie--  US
9.  Ilse Koch--  Germany
8.  Shiro Ischii-- Japan
7.  Ivan the Terrible--  Russia
6.  Oliver Cromwell--  England

5.  Jiang Qing--  China
4.  Pol Pot--  Cambodia
3.  Heinrich Himmler--  Germany
2.  Adolf Hitler--  Germany
1.  Josef Stalin--  Russia

As usual, the article has photos and plenty of information.  Never heard of #10, #9, #8 and #5,

Real Bad Boys and Girls.  --DaCoot

Dead Page: Mighty Funny Guy

Probably the King of the Deadpan.  Nobody can deliver a punch line like he could.


Died Nov. 28, 2010.

Actor and comedian who was in many movies, including "Forbidden Planet" and ""Poseidon Adventure."  But, he was best known for his role in "Airplane." 

"Surely, you can't be serious."

Nielsen then says, "I am serious.  And don't call me Shirley."

I'm chuckling even as I type this.   There is a town in central Illinois called Shirley on Route 66 and every time we drive past it, you know what we say.

He was also hilarious as the bumbling detective Frank Drebin in the "Naked Gun" comedies.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

That Was Some Toy Collection

From the Dec. 17, 2010,

It was a case of the rich getting richer.  The toy collection of the late Malcolm Forbes was but up at auction at Sotheby's.  A 37-inch long replica of the Lusitania (sunk by a U-boat in 1915) went for $194,500.  That sets a record for a toy boat at auction.  Macolm Forbes had bought it in 1983 for $28,600.

Also included in the collection was the earliest-known Monopoly game, hand-made by its inventor Charles Darrow.  It sold for $146,500.

There were 237 lots and not all sold.  Altogether, $2.3 million was taken in.

Evidently, there were quite a few toy ships.  A 19th century toy gunboat made in Germany in the 1880s went for $131,500.  However, the longest Forbes boat, the 47-inch French battleship Andre did not sell.  The German-made 1905 vessel known as the Plank "Kind Edward VII" clockwork battleship sold for $68,500.  Forbes had bought it 30 years earlier for $2,250.

So, you'd better think twive before pitching out those toys.

And Mom Was Throwing Ours Out.  Might Have Been Able to Retire on Some of Them.  --DaCoot

Sand Island Lighthouse Gets Its Island Back-- Part 3

John Glenn swore that he'd return and "tumble the Light House down in their teeth."  February 23, 1863, a month after his first attack, he did just that, placing 70 pounds of gun powder under the tower and blew it up.  He reported to Daniel Leadbetter, a brigagadier general in the Confederate Army of his success.  Leadbetter had been the builder of the lighthouse.  You have to wonder how he felt about the deed?

Union forces then erected a temporary 48-foot tall tower that served until the end of the war.

The new brick tower was built and activated Sept. 1, 1873.  Constuction involved 171 pilings overlaid with 12 feet of cement.  This new 132 foot tall lighthouse was built 670 feet from the previous one.

Yet, there was erosion back then and by 1880, the previous one's foundation was under water.

We'll Leave the Light On...Maybe.  --Cooter

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sand Island Lighthouse to Get It's Island Back-- Part 2

A 1962 picture in Wikipedia shows the home still standing, but a greatlt reduced island.

The latest of four lighthouses is on the Ligthouse Doomsday List.  It has been seriously damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Katrina in 2005 and the 132-foot high structure is located 3 miles offshore.

An earlier lighthouse on the island was destroyed during the Civil War.

From Lighthouse Friends.

The very first lighthouse on Sand Island was built in 1830.  It proved inadequate and in 1839, another 55-foot one was built by Winslow Lewis for $10,000.  Then, in 1858, a new first-class tower was built with a 1st Order Fresnel Lens and operated for two years when the Civil War broke out.

Confederates removed the 9-foot lens and placed it in storage before Union forces took the island.  They reinstalled a 4th Order Lens and also used the tower to spy on Confederate activity by the harbor entrance.  A force under John W. Glenn rowed from Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island to Sand Island and burned several buildings near the lighthouse before being chased off by the USS Pembina.

More to Come.  --DaCoot

Sand Island Lighthouse to Get Its Island Back-- Part 1

From the Dec. 10, 2010, Mobile (Al) Press-Register by Ben Raines.

The island disappeared decades ago due to erosion caused by the dredging of the Mobile Ship Channel.  But now, using $6 million in federal funds, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be dumping millions of tons of sand around the lighthouse beginning in March.

Right now, the lighthouse stands alone, atop a pile of rocks.

In the 1800s, Ship Island consisted of 400+ acres.  Besides the ligthouse, there was the keeper's two-story cottage and livestock found plenty of forage.  Since then, Sand Island and Dauphin Island have suffered great erosion as the ship channel disrupts the natural flow of sand in the area.

Replenishing the sand is a major step toward saving the lighthouse. 

Saving a Lighthouse's Island, One Load at a Time.  --Cooter

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Custer Flag Auctioned

From Dec. 10, 2012, WDET, Detroit, Michigan.

The Detroit Institute of Art has sold a rare George Custer flag that was at the Little Big Horn for $2.2 million.

It was one of five flags with Custer that day, and the only one to survive.  A burial detail a few days after the massacre was at the site and Sgt. Ferdinand Culbertson discovered the tattered swallow-tail guidon under a dead soldier.  He picked it up and later brought it home.

In 1895, the Detroit Institute of Art bought it for $54.  The flag was appraised at $5 million and was bought by a private American collector.  It was sold to raise money for the museum's operation.

Too Bad a Private Collector Bought It As This Is an Artifact That the General Public Should Be Able to See.  --DaCoot

Dana-Thomas House Closed in Springfield

From the Dec. 13, 2010, Springfield (Il) State Journal-Register.

It closed January 1st and was expected to be that way for a half year until some $2.5 million in repairs is spent.  It was built in 1904 by Frank Lloyd Wright.  The state acquired ownership in 1981 and it reopened in 1990 after a 3-year, $5 million restoration.  No significant work has been done on it since then.

There is a long list of needed repairs.

The house brings in about $85,000 a year in suggested donations.

Of course, it has since reopened and if you're ever in Springfield cruising Route 66, this makes a great, though often overlooked, stop.

See the House.  See It.  --  Cooter

Monday, September 17, 2012

Four Confederate Officers Who Were Spanish-American War Generals

I posted about this September 14th in my Saw the Elephant Civil War blog.


Ten Things You Might Not Know About Teachers-- Part 4

As the Chicago school strike enters its second week.  Of course, our strike in Round Lake, Illinois, back in 1994 went for 38 school days and was an early attempt by Republicans and their ilk to break our union.

8.  Teacher GUIDEBOOKS stress avoiding offending students and their parents.  A student is not "lazy."  He is "a reluctant scholar."  A student isn't spoiled, she "only responds positively to very firm handling."  And, the dice you use in math class are "probability cubes" to avoid upsetting parents opposed to gambling.

I used a die in class to pick students to answer the Daily Challenge.  First roll picked the row and second one the student.

And you definitely can't say what you really think to the parent of a trouble-maker, "Sir, you child is a little _______."

9.  Kiss bassist GENE SIMMONS of the long tongue and funny make-up, was once a 6th-grade teacher in Spanish Harlem and said, "I did it for six months, and I wanted to kill every single kid."  In another interview, he said: "Children need to learn to be selfish, to put themselves first and not care what other people think."

I would have loved to see a parent-teacher conference with him in full Kiss regalia as the teacher.  And then, stick that tongue out.  The parent would have to be taken to the hospital.

10.  FEMALE INSTRUCTORS in Chicago became more active in the women's suffrage movement in the 1890s after school board member William Rainey Harper (also president of the University of Chicago) rejected the idea of raises for teachers, noting that they already made more money than his wife's maid. he also sugested a compromise to raise male teacher salary only.

Sadly, his view is one of the reasons teachers had to form unions.  The public thought they were great people, but wouldn't pay them a fair salary for their effort. 

Another reat job, Jacob and Benzkofer.

It's a Teacher Thing, You Wouldn't Understand.  --Cooter

"Cars 2" a Lemon?

From the June 30, 2011, Chicago Tribune by Russ Britt.

Some considered the "Cars 2" sequel to the 2006 "Cars" as the first clunker in the 25-year history of Pixar Animation Studios.  Critics are giving it failing marks, even as they had for the original one.

So, why was it worth a sequel?  In a word, merchandising. More than 300 toys will come from the new movie and Disney, who owns Pixar, is planning a huge product-push.

I saw "Cars 2" and must admit, it was nowhere near as good as the original.  Kind of contrived and it really lost its emphasis on Route 66 and the loss of a way of life.  And, of course, I am a big old roads fan, especially Route 66.

But, it is always fun to see Tow Mater and what he says.

I'd say a "Cars 3" should be in order, but more of a Radiator Springs thing.

And, I Love My Animated Movies, Especially Those "Ice Age" Ones.  --DaCoot

Cookie Outlasts All of Zoo's Originals

From the June 25, 2011, Chicago Tribune by Victoria Pierce.

All the rest have died, but Cookie, believed to be the world's oldest Major Mitchell cockatoo living in a zoo, turned 78 last year, and apparently is still alive this year.  All the rest would be Brookfield Zoo's original animals from when it opened in 1934.

He arrived at the zoo back then in a huge shipment of animals from Australia with 200 mammals and 900 other birds.  Cookie has outlasted the normal life expectancy of his breed, 40-60 years in a zoo.He was just 1-year-old when he arrived. from the Taronga Zoo in Australia.

He has some of the typical ailments for his age including osteoarthritis and osteoporasis and has been removed from display ever since 2009, but still entertains the staff from his home in the trainer's office.  He has a birthday celebration June 25th with a chorus of "Happy Birthday" and a muffin-size birthday cake made of his favorite foods.

So, Happy 79th, Cookie. --Cooter

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Microbes Digest Titanic's Remains

From the Dec. 14, 2010, Scientific American.

Tiny, iron-eating bacteria are proceeding to finish off the great ship.  Scientists analyzing the ship discovered a new microbe that eats iron.

The ship is covered with rusticles, icicle-shaped accretions of iron oxide, otherwise known as rust.

Some estimates put the Titanic's end in as little as twenty years.

Rust to Rust.  --Cooter

Friday, September 14, 2012

The McHenry County (Il) Courthouse-- Part 2

A seventy page architect's report has been made and it estimates that about $4.7 million is needed for improvements and repairs on he structure.  The City of Woodstock is recommending a five-year spending program to cover $2 million of it.  The rest will be covered by a private investor.

Immediate repairs are needed to stop the cause of all the water damage.  Also, the front steps are in bad shape as is the dome.  These last two are eligible for a grant to which the city has applied.

The courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.  There is also discussion as to when the building will be available to the private sector.  Mayor Brian Sager thinks January 2014 by the earliest, but perhaps 2015 more realistically.

Here's Hoping Things Will Work Out, But At Least No One Even Considers Tearing It Down.  That Would Be a Huge Mistake.  --DaCoot

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Teachers-- Part 3

5.  When future president LYNDON JOHNSON taught speech at Sam Houston High School in Houston, he drove his debate team relentlessly, putting them through 50 practice competitions.  The team easily won the city and district competition, but lost at the state level, upsetting Johnson so much that he ran into the bathroom and threw up.

6.  AN ITALIAN CONNECTION:  Famed educator MARIA MONTESSORI left Italy and went into exile because of philosophical clashes with a former teacher--  Italian dictator BENITO MUSSOLINI, whose students nicknamed him "il tiranno" (the tyrant).  (Couldn't you have just imagined a lecture by Adolf Hitler had he been a teacher.  No way you could have fallen asleep in that class.)

7.  Teachers are HEROES everyday, but espcially when violence erupts.  SHANNON WRIGHT shielded a studnet and was fatally shot during a school massacre in Jonesboro, Arkansas.  In 1998, DAVE SANDERS was killed while helping students to safety at Columbine High School outside Denver in 1999.  When a student started setting off pipe bombs at a school in San Mateo, California, in 2009, KENNET SANTANA tackled him.

Three More to Come.  --Cooter

Thursday, September 13, 2012

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

2. When AMERICANS are asked which occupations contribute the most to society's well-being, they answer teachers, second only to military personnel according to a 2009 Pew Research survey. (Scientists were third and medical doctors fourth.) Generation Next (born 1981-1988) has an even higher regard as twice as likely to name a teacher when asked for a list of people they admire.

3. Teenage outlaw JOHN WESLEY HARDIN, wanted for killing four men, hid for three months in the late 1860s by working as a teacher at his aunt's school in Texas. A schoolgirl recalled that he prayed before class each morning.

4. Educators in 19 states, including Indiana and Missouri, can still discipline a student by paddling. Most states allowing corporal punishment are in the South, but is also legal in Idaho and New Mexico. Earlier in 2011, New Mexico became the most recent state to ban the practice.

A 2010 bill in the House of Representatives to ban corporal punishment in the whole nation died in committee.

More to Come. --DaCoot

The McHenry County (Il) Courthouse-- Part 1

From the September 5th Northwest Herald "Sights set on Old Courthouse" by Chelsea McDougall.

A former sheriff's garage located behind the old courthouse may be in jeopardy as a result of a joint City Council and Historic Preservation Committee meeting. The unsightly building has deteriorated significantly and has no roof and its windows are boarded up. Its structure also limits access to the water main, which is causing damage to the courthouse and needs replacing anyway.

The garage, however, has a bit of a history as it was built by jail inmates, including two members of the Dino O'Banion gang, Dapper Dan McCarthy and Heimie Weiss, who had been convicted of hijacking booze during Prohibition.

One Historical Preservation Committee member thinks that fact alone is significant and a good reason to save the structure.

More to Come. --Cooter

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

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

From the August 28, 2011, Chicago Tribune by Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer.  These guys are a pair of great researchers to be able to come up with all this interesting stuff.

Of course, this was from a year ago, before the Chicago teachers went out on strike, now entering its third day.  Of note, yesterday, Der Mitt went to Lake Forest, Illinois, to raise $4 million from some of his rich buds in that millionaires' conclave, and while there blasted Obama for "his" Chicago teachers' strike.  This morning, the Lake Forest teachers went on strike.  Coincidence?

1.  PINK FLOYD'S 1979 song "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II"--  with lyrics such as "We don't need no education" and "Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone" put an unwelcome spotlight on a maverick London high school teacher known for chain-smoking in class.  Of course, with these lyrics, perhaps "them" kids needed some grammar (or is it grammer?).

Music teacher Alun Renshaw brought 23 students to the studio to record the song's chorus for Pink Floyd, but failed to secure his boss' permission.  The school got lots of criticism, the music department got 1,000 pounds, and Renshaw got out of the country, moving to Australia.

When Liz and I retired and had our last annual End-of-the-Year Party, this was one of our two "Theme Songs" along with "School's Out" by Alice Cooper.

"Hey, Teacher, Leave Them Kids Alone!"  We Sure Did.  --Cooter

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Pre-Dreadnaught USS Texas and Spanish Cruiser Vizcaya

From Wikipedia.

In the previous post, I mentioned the USS Texas so did some follow up on the vessel.

It was regarded as the first US Battkleship to be commissioned and mounted its main battery of two 12-inch gins amidships, one to a turret.  Battleships later had main gun turrets fore and aft.

It was at the Battle of Santiago in the Spanish-American War in which the Spanish cruiser Vizcaya was sunk.  Before the war, the ship had the reputation of being jinxed and sailors called her "Old Hoodoo."

The ship was renamed in 1911 to the San Marcos so that the new battleship Texas could have the name.  This new Texas is still afloat as a museum in Texas, the oldest of our preserved battleships.  One person wrote to Shorpy that they thought the new Texas' tampions were the ones made from the Vizcaya, but didn't know for sure.

The original Texas became a target ship and was sunk at Tangier Sound in Chesapeake Bay in 1911 and was used as that until the end of World War II.  In 1959, it was demolished as a navigational hazard.

The Vizcaya was the pride of the Spanish fleet and sunk at the Battle of Santiago.  Of interest, there is movie footage of its visit to New York City in February 1898, shortly before war broke out.  Its secondary battery consisted of 5.5-inch guns and three are in the U.S.  The two at Tennessee and Annapolis are still housed in their open turrets and the one at West Point is just the tube lying on the ground.

The 11-inch gun and turret are still visible where the ship sank in Cuba.

The Texas and Vizcaya.  Both Sunk.  --DaCoot

Adios Vizcaya: 1900

A Shorpy photo showing the tampion of the USS Texas's 12-inch cannon which was made from the metal of the Spanish cruiser Viscaya, sunk during the Spanish-American War.

One of the comments to the site said that a 5.6-inch gun is at Fort Wayne, Indiana, (I'm writing about the siege of that fort in my War of 1812 blog) and several others are at Westt Point (USMA) and Annapolis (USNA).

Another is at the Columbia, Tennessee, Building.

War Relics and Momentos.  --Cooter

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Happy Birthday to Shorpy

From the Shorpy site.  The site features some of the neatest old pictures from back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and even better, they allow you to blow these up so they can be examined in great detail.

The site was named after Shorpy Higginbotham, who was born Dec. 23, 1896.

At age 14, he was a "greaser" on the tipple at the Bessie Mine, Alabama or at the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Co.  The photo was taken in 1910 and he is covered in black.

His job was to carry two heavy pails of grease to be used on coal car tracks.

Shorpy died 17 years after the photo at the age of 31 in a mining accident.

And kids today think they have it rough.

Check out the site at

I Sure Didn't Have It That Hard.  --DaCoot

So, This Is That Northwest Passage They Were Looking For

From the Spetember 6th Chicago Tribune "Crew braves ice to sail through strait"  by Matt Pearce.

Back when I was teaching US History, I often mentioned the search for this famed passage as an incentive for much of the exploration back in the 1500s and 1600s.  Turns out, there actually was a Northwest Passage, but because it was so cold, it would have been of little use.  It still isn't.

This global warming and melting polar ice has enabled a trio of explorers to go where few have in their 31-foot fiberglass sailboat, the Belzebub II, through the M'Clure Strait in far nothern Canada.

The Belzebub II was in the Prince of Wales Strait when they received word for Canadian ice-watching officials that there was a window open to make the attempt and the ice had opened.  The decision to go through took place immediately said the crew in a Monday blog post.

The ice would return.  The attempt continued for 24-hours, without sleep and they received word that the ice was closing in behind them.  Another 12 hours and they reached their destination.

It is regarded as the first time this was accomplished by a sailboat.

Congratulations!  --Cooter

Saturday, September 8, 2012

America's Oldest Lighthouse

From the August 5th Parade Magazine.

Built in 1716, the Boston Light on Little Brewster Island in Massachusetts is the nation's oldest.  But because it was reconstructed in 1783 after being damaged in the Revolutionary War, the oldest lighthouse as it was originally built is the Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey which dates from 1764.

Both landmarks are still in use, and the Boston Light is the only light station that still retains an official Coast Guard keeper. 

National Lighthouse Day was August 5th this year.

We'll Leave a Light On.  --DaCoot

A Sooty Philadelphia City Hall

From the December 6, 2010,  If you're not familiar with this site and like old pictures, this is the one for you.  Even better, you can blow up the pictures and really see them in detail.

This Shorpy photo was taken around 1910, and shows the City Hall covered with soot.  It is still the largest municipal building in the United States.  For a time, it was the highest building in the world, topping out at 548 feet.  Construction began in 1871 and continued into the 1900s.

The main architect died in 1890 and his successor died in 1910.  One reason for the long building process was major revisions brought about for the inventions of electricity and elevators.

All the way at the top, is a statue of Pennsylvania's founder, William Penn.

Traditionally in Philadelphia, no building was allowed to be taller than Billy Penn, but that was broken in the 1980s.  At one time, breaking the tradition was blamed for the lack of success which was the lot of Philadelphia's professional teams.

The soot has since been removed.

And, Then, There Is That Great Sandwich.  What Do You Call It?  --Cooter

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dead Page: Billy and Wyatt Go for a Ride

DENNIS HOPPER (1936-2010)

Maverick director and co-star in film classic "Easy Rider" and in many other movies.  The man with the bad-boy reputation, died at 74.

Made his film debut with James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause."  Also in "Giant," "Cool Hand Luke" and "Apocalypse Now."  Like, "Man."

Nobody could play a stoner better than he.  Then, there was that "Easy Rider," one of my all-time favorite movies.  Talk about a roadtrip (some of it on Route 66) and, then there was that great soundtrack.  He was long-haired Billy with Peter Fonda's Captain America and that great role of Jack Nicholson.

I need to get a DVD or VHS of the movie.

They Hate What You Stand For.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dead Page: Romper Room-- "What You Talkin' 'Bout?-- Black Businessman-- The Darndest Things-- Doc to the Stars

I am going back through some old articles and entering them in the blog.  During the week ending May 30, 2010, there were quite a few noteworthy deaths of interest to me.

From the May 30, 2010, Chicago Tribune.


Former schoolteacher who hosted the children's TV show "Romper Room" during the 60s.  I seem to remember watching the show in the 50s, however.


Former child actor best known for his role in the pipular 80s sitcom "Different Strokes."  I didn't watch it, but everyone knows "What you Talkin' 'Bout, Willis" in that particular way he said it.


Pioneering black businessman, chief executive officer of Parks Sausage Co. which in 1969 became the first black-owned business in US to go public.


Radio and TV talk-show pioneer known for getting the kids to "Say the Darndest Things."

I sure had fun watching that show.  There were some mighty embarrassed parents.


Doctor whose patients included Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie Gleason, Henry Fonda and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

There were also three deaths concerning people from World War II which I will put in my World War II blog.

Dead Page: Officer Hightower

BUBBA SMITH (1945-2011)

Died August 3, 2011.  6-foot-7, 280 pound defensive end who played at Michigan State, and started his pro career in 1967 with the Baltimore Colts and later Raiders and Oilers.

I have to admit that I didn't follow him in football, but he became a favorite afterward in his acting career with the Miller Lite Beer commercials and as Officer Moses Hightower on the six "Police Academy" movies.

Those former athletes in the Lite commercials were hilarious and there was that one commercial where Smith beamed,  "I also love the easy-opening cans," while ripping off the top of a can.

I like the story of why he walked away from the popular and lucrative Miller Lite commercials.  In 1986, he told a reporter: "I went back to Michigan State for the homecoming parade last year.  I was grand marshall and I was riding in the back seat of this car.  The people were yelling, but they weren't saying, 'Go State, go!'  One side of the street was yelling, 'Tastes great!' and the other side was yelling 'Less filling!'

Then we go to the stadium.  The older folks are yelling, 'Kill, Bubba, kill!'  But the students are yelling 'Tastes great! Less filling!'  Everyone in the stands is drunk.  It was like I was contributing to alcohol, and I don't drink.  It made me realize I was doing something I didn't want to do."

I Have To Admit That I Would Have Been Yelling "Tastes Great, Less Filling."  --Cooter

From the August 5, 2011 Chicago Tribune.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Bonus From This Summer's Drought: Shipwrecks and Ghost Towns

From the August 20th Discovery News "Drought Exposes Sunken Ship"  Sunken ships in the Missouri River are starting to make an appearance with the low waters.  In 1882, the largest ship on the river, the Montana, struck an underwater tree and managed to run aground before sinking.  There it lay, underwater for 128 years, but now it is visible again.

And, this is not the only Missouri shipwreck seeing the light of day again.

From the August 20th Yahoo! News "Midwest drought reveals Indiana 'ghost towns'."

The drought has dried up the Salamonie River in northeast Indiana and receding water has revealed remnants, bricks and foundations from Monument City.

The small town of just 100 people was one of the ones along the river where the residents were relocated before the river was dammed and submerged for a reservoir built in 1965.

One Good Thing About the Drought.  Well, Two.  --DaCoot

Oh, and I didn't have to cut the grass for five weeks.

USS Olympia Under Attack By Economy-- Part 2

In the Spanish-American War, it was the flagship of Dewey's Pacific Squadron.  During World War I, it was obsolete, but patrolled the US east coast on the watch for German raiders.  It later escorted troops to Russia during the Allied intervention in the Russian Revolution.  The ship also carried the remains of the Unknown Soldier back tio the U.S.

In 1931, it was reclassified as an ayxiliary relic and in World War II served as a barracks.  In 1957, the Olympia was given to a non-profit group for use as a floating museum.

At this point in time, it appears to be doomed.  The Friends of the Cruiser Olympia is trying to raise money in order to take custody of the ship and begin work to save it.

Sixty-two leaks have been discovered.  A steel-hulled ship should be drydocked every twenty years for repairs, but the ship has been in the water since 1945.

Here's Hoping for the Best for This Historic Ship.  --Cooter

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dead Page: Moon Man

NEIL ARMSTRONG, August 25th.

This man would have been notable even without the famous trip.  He was a pilot flying missions during the Korean War and in both the Gemini and Apollo space programs.

July 20, 1969, I was in Goldsboro, North Carolina, watching the grainy black and white images at friend Ronnie's house and thinking this is nothing short of amazing. I remember walking outside and looking at the Moon and thinking, "Wow, there is a man getting ready to step onto it."

Everyone in the house was watching.

Then, we heard "Houston, Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed."  WOW!!

Then, "I'm going to step off the LEM now."  That would be the lunar module.  DOUBLE WOW!!

At 2:56 UTC (?), it was around 9 PM in Goldsboro, those even more famous words, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."  WOWWWW!!  Couldn't have said it better myself, even if there is some question of whether there was an "a" before man.

Either way, we know what you were saying.

And, then, talk about your man who always tried to aoid the spotlight.

Whenever I look at the Moon, I will think about you.


USS Olympia Under Attack by the Economy-- Part 1

From the November 13, 2010, Suite 101 by Christopher Eger.

This is definitely a ship that should be saved, firstly, because it is the only surviving warship from the Spanish-American War, but also because it was where Admiral Dewey issued orders for Gridley to fire when ready at the Battle of Santiago Bay.

Dewey's flagship was set to close to the public, after 62 years of service in the Navy and the rest as a museum, November 22, 2010.

It cost $1,796,000 to build the Olympia in 1895, the Navy's most-modern warship.  It mounted four 8-inch guns, ten 5-inch and smaller six- and one-pounders and even machine guns, manned by 33 officers and 378 enlisted men.  It was an engineering marvel, one of the first ships with electricity and power-steering gear.

Save the Old Ship.  --Cooter

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ten Explanations for the Bermuda Triangle

From the August 12th Listverse.  as always, I'm just listing them, if you want pictures and much more detail, check the site out.  Mighty interesting stiff.

10.  Plain old human error
9.  The Gulf Stream
8.  Rogue Waves (And, we get them in certain parts of the Chain of Lakes, but they're no threat to sink the boat, just very annoying when you're trying to nap or read.)

7.  Methane Hydrates  (Hunh?)
6.  Hurricanes
5.  An Electromagnetic Aberration
4.  Positive Gravitational Maseon (Hunh?)

3.  Aliens
2.  Rip in the Space Time Continuum
1.  Submerged Island of Atlantis

Oh Well.  --DaCoot

Now, That's a Real Old Message in a Bottle

From the August 30th Side Show "98-year-okd message in bottle sets world record" by Eric Pfeiffer.

A Scottish fisherman, Andrew Leaper, 43, found a bottle off Scortland's northern coast and, according to the Guinness people, this old messgae in abottle beat the previous oldest by five years at 98.  By coincidence, the previous record-holder was also found by the fishing boat Copious out of Scotland. 

In 1914, Scottish Captain C. H. Brown of the Glasgow School of Navigation released 1,890 bottles as part of an government experiment to map underwater currents in the seas around Scotland.

Each bottle had a postcard asking the finder to record details of where it was found and promised a reward of six pence.  Sadly, the reward is no longer in effect.

Only 350 of those bottles were found, including this one.

Sting and Police Would Be So Proud.  --Cooter

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Some Famous Last Words

From Listverse.

1.  "Die, my dear?  Why that's the last thing I'll do."

2.  "Relax.--  This won't hurt."  --Hunter S. Thompson on his suicide note.

3.  "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death.  One or the other of us has to go."  --OscarWilde

4.  "This is a hell of a way to die."  --George S. Patton after his car accident.

5.  "Don't disturb my circles."  --Greek mathematician Archimedes

Of Course, There Is Always the Tombstone That Reads, "I Told You I Was Sick."

Taco Bell's Origins: Happy 50th

From the March 22nd Orange County Weekly "Mitla Cafe Is the Restaurant That Birthed Taco Bell" by Gustavo Arellano.

This year marks the 50t anniversary of Taco Bell, based in Irvine, California.

And, the 75th anniversary of the Mitla Cafe, just off Route 66, in San Bernandino, one of the oldest Mexican restaurants in Southern California.

Taco Bell was founded by Glenn Bell who discovered tacos at the Mitla and then opened Bell's Hamburgers and Hot Dogs in 1950 across the street from the Mitla which was already famous for its hard shell tacos.  Bell would go across the street and buy tacos then go back to his kitchen and experiment.  He sold his first taco in 1951 and opened the first Taco Bell in Downey in 1962.

I Am a Big Fanof Taco Bell, Especially With Thei Free Senior Citizen Drinks.  --Cooter