Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ten Famous Elephants Who Died Bizarre Deaths

From the Sept. 12, 2011, Listverse.  I'm just listing their names. If you want to find out how they died, go to the Listverse site.

10.  Abul Abbas
9.  Old Bet (2nd elephant in the Americas)
8.  Caston

7.  Pollux
6.  Jumbo  (gave name to big-size)
5.  Topsy
4.  Mary

3.  Black Diamond
2.  Hanno
1.  Tyke

Big-Size.  --Cooter

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Twelve Worst Supermarkets

From the April 13, 2012, Fiscal Times.

This was a survey of 24,000 shoppers who rated chains on such things as long lines, rude employees, unsanitary conditions and poor selection.  I also would have had prices as a consideration.

Quite a few of them have been around for a long time and, one is a local chain here in Chicagoland.  Date founded, locations.

12.  STOP & SHOP--  Founded 1914 as Shopmate.  Became Stop & Shop in 1947  New England

11.  ACME--  Founded 1891-- Mid-Atlantic

10.  RALPH'S--  1873--  Southern California

9.  PICK 'N SAVE--  1872--  Wisconsin

8.  FOOD LION--  1957, originally Food Town, Mid and South Atlantic

7.  WEIS MARKETS--    1912--  Northeast

6.  TOPS--  1962--  NY and Pa.

5.  JEWEL-OSCO--  1899--  Il, Ind, Iowa  Our local chain.  Too expensive unless you buy their specials.

4.  A & P--  1859--  Northeast.  Wonder if they still have those great Spanish Bar Cakes.

3.  SHAW'S--  1860--  New England

2.  WALMART SUPERCENTER--  WalMart est. 1962, Supercenters in 1988--  All Over the place.

1. PATHMARK--  1968--  Northeast

There Were Quite a Few I Hadn't Heard of Before.  --Cooter

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chestnuts Making a Comeback-- Part 4


The blight resistant Dunstan chestnut is named for Robert Dunstan, a plant breeder in North Carolina who, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, crossed the American chestnut with blight-resistant Chinese chestnut trees. It was the first chestnut to receive a U.S. plant patent.


Half to 1 inch in diameter (Chinese are generally larger).  Chestnuts are  brown with a pointed end.  The interior edible portion is called the kernel.


The starchy nuts have about half the calories of other nuts.  They have a potatolike consistency when cooked.  Before cooking chestnuts, score them with a sharp knife to penetrate the shell to prevent the nut from bursting during cooking.  Nothing worse than chestnuts exploding in the air.

FAT CONTENT:  Chestnut 4-5%, Hazelnut 62% Pecan 71%


LOCALLY:  Near North Side Farmers Market, Beverly Farmers Market, Andersonville Market.  All in Chicago.


Maybe I'll get My "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire" Someday.  --DaCoot

Top Ten Revolutions Felt Around the World

From the Oct. 4, 2010, Listverse.

10.  Haitian Revolution--  1791
9.  Iranian Revolution--  1978
8.  Cuban Revolution--  1959

7.  Chinese Revolution--  1911
6.  Young Turk Revolution--  1908--  Did Rod Stewart sing about this one?
5.  Taiping Revolution--  1851-1864--  Never heard of this one.
4.  October Revolution--  1917

3.  The Glorious Revolution--  1680s
2.  American Revolution
1.  French Revolution--  1789-1799--  So Misrables.

I sure thought we were seeing a revolution after Kent State.

Rise Up and Overthrow!!  --Cooter

Monday, February 25, 2013

Chestnuts Making a Comeback-- Part 3

Continued from Feb. 20th and 22nd.


 Many Americans, including me (or at least I think), have never tasted a chestnut though the nut was once common throughout the country before an invasive disease wiped out virtually all American chestnut trees.  Now several growers in the U.S. are working to bring the chestnut back.


EARLY AMERICA:  The eastern half of the U.S. was full of American chestnut trees before 1900.  Twenty-five per cent of the hardwood canopy in the eastern forests was made up of chestnut trees.

WOOD:  Because the trees grow quickly and tall (80 feet or more) and the wood resisted rot, they were preferred for building early cabins, poles and railroad ties.

FOOD:  Besides humans eating the nuts, they were often used to fatten livestock.  In the forests, many animals depended on the hardy trees.

BLIGHT:  A fungus brought to the U.S. on Asian trees infected the forests, eventually wiping out almost all the mature trees.

NATURAL RANGE OF THE AMERICAN CHESTNUT:  A band running from northern Mississippi and Alabama to the New England states.  (Illinois wasn't in it, though).

There were an estimated 4 billion American chestnuts before the chestnut blight.

One More Entry to Go.  --DaCoot

Top Fifteen Miniseries of All Time

From the September 28, 2010, Listverse (List Universe).

How many did you watch.  **  Means I did.

15. John Adams (2008) HBO
14. Gulliver's Travels (1996)
13.  D'Artagnan and the Three Musketeers (1976)
12.  Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003)
11.  V (1983) **

10.  I, Claudius (1976)
9.  The Thorn Birds (1983) **
8.  Shaka Zulu (1986)
7.  Shogun (1980) **
6.  Lonesome Dove (1989) **

5.  North and South (1985) **  Of course.
4.  The Winds of War (1983) **
3.  Band of Brothers (2001) ##
2.  Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
1.  Roots (1977) **

Of course, pictures and more information and reasons why at the site.

Watching WAY Too Much TV.  --Cooter

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wanna Buy an Autograph?

From EZINC by Justin Hanus.

Here's what you can expect to pay:

10.  Paul McCartney --$2,400
9.  Tiger Woods--   $2,625 (probably before his "problems"
8.  Neil Armstrong--  $7,500

7.  Jimi Hendrix--  $61,000
6.  Jimmy Page--  $73,000
5.  Babe Ruth--  $150,000
4.  Joe DiMaggio & Marilyn Monroe $191,200

3.  John Lennon--  $525,000
2.  Abraham Lincoln--  $748,000
1.  William Shakespeare--  $3 million (only six signatures known to exist)

Wonder If Jesse Jr Knows About These?  --DaCoot

University of North Carolina--Wilmington

From the Nov. 15, 2011, Wilmington (NC) Star-News Back Then Column.

NOVEMBER 19, 1961--  Governor Terry Sanford was on hand for the dedication of the new Wilmington College campus on NC Highway 132.  The $1.3 million campus includes a library-classroom building--Hoggard Hall which also houses science labs, math classes.  There is also a student services building.

It was originally operated by the New Hanover County Board of Education at the Isaac Bear building across from New Hanover High School.

In 1963, Wilmington College became a senior college offering a four-year curriculum authorized to offer bachelors degrees.

In 1969, it became UNC-W.

I always thought I would have liked to be a professor there.

My Kinda School.  --Cooter

Deaths: "A Different World"-- Over 500 Foster Kids


Died Feb. 19th.  Character actor best-known for his role on "The Cosby Show" spinoff "A Different World" from 1988-1993.  He played the owner of the campus eatery, Mr. Gaines.  His career spanned five decades.

I really enjoyed that sitcom and his gruffness.


Died Feb. 19th.  She and her husband took in over 500 foster kids beginning in the 1930s until the late 70s after raising two of their own children.  She's take them for a few days or until grown.  Starting in the 1980s she began volunteering three days a week at the Salvation Army food kitchen and did that well into her 80s.

The world needs more people like this woman.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Chestnuts Making a Comeback-- Part 2

Illinois' climate is just right for chestnut trees.  The exact number of growers varies depending upon the source. 

Dale Black, 65, worked for Stark brothers Nursery in Louisiana, Missouri as a boy and trees and plants are in his blood.  They chose to grow chestnuts because they are rare.

Their biggest threat, besides a drought like last summer, are white-tailed deer who stomp on the sharp chestnut burs with their hooves to open them.  They love the nuts, the leaves and the bark of the tree.

Those burs, pods, are so prickly that they can't be handled without gloves.  Usually there are three nuts inside a bur.

It is estimated that 85% of Americans have never tasted a chestnut (count me among those).

Just the Facts Next.  ----  DaCoot

Deaths: McDonald's-- Death Wish


Died Jan. 7, 2013.  Former McDonald's CEO from 1974-1987, liked to just be called "Fred.  More than tripled the locations during his tenure and established Hamburger U. to train owners and managers in the McDonald's way.  Started working for Ray Kroc in 1956, one of his first employees and worked his way up.

Turner was the architect of "quality, service and cleanliness" model. 

This is the way CEOs should be.  Come up through the ranks.  None of these here today, gone tomorrow ones like we have today whose only loyalty is to how much they can put in their pocket.

What a CEO should be.


Died Jan. 21, 2013.  Filmmaker who made all three of the "Death Wish" movies with the late Charles Bronson where a law-abiding citizen turns vigilante to right wrongs.

Loved these movies.  They could really get your anger up.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Top Ten Fictional Geniuses

From the September 18, 2011, Listverse.

10.  Egon Spengler--  "Ghostbusters"
9.  MacGyver--  "McGyver"
8.  Gregory House--  "House"

7.  Tony Stark--  "Iron Man"
6.  Will Hunting "Good Will Hunting"
5.  Emmett Brown--  "Back to the Future"
4.  Hannibal Lecter--  "Silence of the Lambs"

3.  Victor Frankenstein--  "Frankenstein"
2.  Adrian Veidt--  "Watchman"
1.  Sherlock Holmes

Now You Know.  --Cooter

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Top Ten Legendary Giants

From the September 20, 2011, Listverse.

Go to site for pictures and more information.  I'm just listing them.

10.  Cyclops
9.  Gargantua and Pantagruel
8.  Jack's Giant  (That beanstalk guy coming to a theater near you next month)

7.  Bigfoot
6.  Giants of Jotunheim (?)
5.  Paul Bunyan
4.  Frankenstein's Monster

3.  Jolly Green Giant
2.  Little John
1. Goliath

Ho Ho Ho--  DaCoot

Chestnuts Making a Comeback-- Part 1

From the October 7, 2012, Chicago Tribune "Deeply rooted in U.S. history, chestnuts make comeback: Illinois orchard helping revive once-plentiful tree and its tasty crop" by Joan Cary.

Back in September, Linda and Dale Black were busy with harvest of their chestnut trees at their Chestnut Ridge of Pike County Orchard between Quincy and Rockport in Illinois.  Theirs is one of a handful of chestnut orchards and had collected 8,200 pounds of nuts by hand.

Before the chestnut blight, more than a century ago, the tree was plentiful and valued not just for their nuts but also rot-resistant wood and tannins used to process leather.  However, in 1904, the blight was introduced through imported Asian trees and almost all chestnuts were gone by the 1950s.

I have to wonder about that old Nat King Cole song about "chestnuts roasting on an open fire."  No wonder I don't remember ever having a chestnut roasted or otherwise.

Growers in several states have been working to restore the mighty chestnuts with blight resistant trees.

The Blacks started their orchard in 2001 with 100 seedlings and now has 3,000 tress on 30 acres of their 160-acre farm.  The first seedlings are now 25-30 feet tall (can grow to 100 feet).  Dale estimates the trees will be 75-feet tall at maturity at age 20 and yield 50 pounds each.

Let's Get That Fire Going.  --Cooter

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

HMS Bounty Sinking Inquiry: Rot Found

From the Feb. 15, 2013, 7 CBS News WSPA "Crewmembers to testify About Sunken Tall Ship" by AP.

The HMS Bounty sank last year off Cape Hatteras, NC, in Superstorm Sandy.  The Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board is holding a hearing to determine why.  The ship had been built for the 1962 movie "Mutiny of the Bounty."

From the Feb. 13, 2013 Jacksonville (NC) Daily News.

Shortly before the ship sailed on its final voyage, the captain had been told of rooted and decaying hull frames.  Todd Kosakowski of a Maine shipyard had told Captain Robin Walbridge he had found rot before it sank.  Rather than replace the rotted timbers, the captain had his crew paint over it.

One crewmember died and the captain's body was never found after the ship sank.

Eight days of hearings will be held.

I had the opportunity to see the ship years ago at a Tall Ships show in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

And, I Had Hoped They Would be Able to Raise the Ship.  --DaCoot

Presidential Libraries-- Part 4


College Station, Texas, dedicated Nov. 6, 1997.

**  Cost $80 million

**  Unlike the Oval Office replicas at other presidential libraries, visitors can enter the space and sit behind the desk and have their picture taken.  (Sounds neat to me.  Sign me up.)

**  Wondering if they have a lip-reading exhibit?


Little Rock, Arkansas, dedicated Nov. 18, 2004.

**  Includes the Clinton/Univ. of Arkansas School of Public Service  The $165 million library has the largest collection of artifacts and documents of all libraries--  more than 35,000 cubic feet.

**  An exhibit mentions his relationship with Monica Lewinsky which led to his impeachment.  It categorizes it as a personal lapse that was a part of the larger fight for power with the Republican Congress.  Sure, blame it on the Republicans.

**  What, no museum?  I would liked to have seen the dress and cigar.

**  Quite a bit more expensive than Ford's library.  Could have been paid for with his speaking fees.


Dallas, opening in April.

**  Expected to cost $250 million to $300 million

**  And I thought Clinton's was expensive.  I hope they're using private funds.


Springfield, Illinois, opened in 2004 (I thought 2005)

**  Not operated by the National Archives and Records Administration.  It was created by the Illinois State Historical Society which was established in 1889 to house state records, governor prison records and other materials.

**  With 300,000 visitors a year, the highest attendance of any presidential library.

**  We've been to it twice, the only presidential museum I've been to.  Well worth it.

Well, That's About It.  --DaCoot

Presidential Libraries-- Part 3


Ann Arbor, Michigan, opened April 27, 1981

**  Cost $4.3 million

**  What, no museum?


Atlanta, dedicated Oct. 1, 1986

**  Includes the Carter Center, a nonprofit human rights agency that helped elevate Carter's status as an international humanitarian formed in partnership with Emory University.

**  A $10 million renovation completed in 2009.

**  I think it should have been in Plains, Georgia.


Simi Valley, California, dedicated Nov. 4, 1991.

**  The $60 million library originally planned for Stanford University, but some at the school objected to its connection with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.

**  A $15 million renovation completed in 2011, adding an exhibit featuring the Boeing 707 aircraft Reagan used as Air Force One during his administration.

**  Should have been in Tampico or Dixon, Illinois (hopefully that lady wouldn't have stolen any of its money).


Yorba Linda, California, dedicated March 1994.

**  Before the National Archives took over in 2007, the library had been accused of glossing over Nixon's 1974 resignation.  After assuming management, the Archives removed the Watergate exhibit and in 2011 reopened it with a new, more historically accurate one.

**  Why no first name?

Four More to Come.  --Cooter

Monday, February 18, 2013

Top Ten Countdown Strikes in Recent History

From Listverse.

A countdown by length of strike in days:

10.  General Motors Strike 2007
9.  UK Postal Striker 2009-2010
8.  South African Miner Strike--  2009

7.  Wal-Mart Strike  2006
6.  Verizon Strike
5.  Hockey Strike 2004-2005
4.  Football Strike

3.  New York City Transit Strike 2005
2.  Writer's Strike 2007-2008
1.  Teachers Strike at Washington State Sept. 2011

Then, there was the 38-day teacher strike in Round Lake, Illinois, in 1994.


Presidential Libraries-- Part 2

These are listed in order of dedication.


Abilene, Kansas, dedicated May 1, 1962 (Abilene is where my mother-in-law, Frances Klaus, grew up).

**  The site includes his boyhood home and grave site.


West Branch, Iowa, dedicated Aug. 10, 1962, his 88th birthday.


Austin, Texas, dedicated May 22, 1971.

**  Reopened in December after a $10 million redesign that included a Vietnam "situation room" with an interactive display of formerly secret documents.  Visitors get to decide how they'd handle things and then see what Johnson did.


Boston, dedicated October 20, 1979.

**  Kennedy had selected a site next to Harvard University in Cambridge, but the plan was scrapped after his death mostly because residents were concerned about traffic from visitors and tourists.

Eight More to Go.  --DaCoot

Repairing Washington, DC's National Cathedral

From the Dec. 16, 2012, Chicago Tribune "Return to the Pinnacle: Stonemason who put final stone in National Cathedral is redoing his life's work to repair damage from 2011 D.C. earthquake." by Timothy M. Phelps.

On August 23, 2011, the nation's church was rocked by that surprise east coast earthquake.  It snapped some of the 53 carillon bell cables causing them to ring.  Outside cracks appeared on some of the flying buttresses.  Tops of pinnacles started swaying.

Back in 1991, Joe Alonso, mason foreman, had put the Episcopal cathedral's last stone in place.  Now, he has back repairing it.  It is the house of prayer for all people.  In 2004, President  Ronald Reagan's 2004 state funeral drew 4,000.

The quake hit at 1:51 PM and shook things from Georgia to Canada along the east coast.  At least 29 pinnacles weer toppled, rotated on their base or otherwise damaged.  Fortunately, no visitors or employees were injured and the cathedral closed for nearly three months.

I was at Topsail Beach, North Carolina, trying to close hurricane shutters at Mom's condo and other units, many of which hadn't been closed in years and were a bit rusted into place.  I was pounding away with a hammer and talking to myself and didn't feel it.  Another condo owner asked Mom if she had felt shaking and she thought it was me with those darn shutters.

One Very Impressive Bit of Gothic Architecture.  --Cooter

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Presidential Libraries-- Part 1

From the Dec. 25, 2012, Chicago Tribune residential libraries are.

Of course, my being someone who really loves to research, these would be of interest to me.

These are Libraries Overseen by the National Archives and Records Administration which is responsible for its operation and maintenance.  The presidential library system began in 1939 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt donated his personal and presidential papers to the federal government.

These are in order of dedication.


**  America's first presidential library was conceived and built under Roosevelt's direction while he was still president.

**  It is undergoing a $41 million renovation.

HARRY S. TRUMAN LIBRARY AND MUSEUM: Independence, Missouri, dedicated  July 6, 1957.

**Truman played an active role in the daily operation of the library, personally training museum guides and was known for showing up and answering questions from students.

**  A $23 million renovation completed in 2009.  A $1.6 million project preserved his office as it was at the time of his death in 1972.  His funeral was held in the auditorium and he and his wife Bess are buried on the grounds.

That Would Have Been Something to Visit and Have the President Talk to You.  --DaCoot

Bits O' History: HMAS Choules-- Pittsburgh's Bridge of Sighs

Some New News About Old Stuff.

1.  HMAS CHOULES--  One of Australia's newest Navy ships is the HMAS (Her Majesty's Australian Ship) Choules, named after their last World War I veteran, Claude Choules who died in May 2011 at the age of 110.  He served in World War I in the British Navy and World War II in the Australian Navy. I have written more on Mr. Choules, just hit the label.

2.  PITTSBURGH'S BRIDGE OF SIGNS--  This comes from the Jan. 30, 2013 Shorpy Bridge of Sighs: 1903.  And reads Pittsburgh "Named after the famous span in Venice (and it looks like that one) it was used to transport prisoners between the Alleghenny Courthouse and jail.

It is still there.  The courthouse was built between 1883 and 1888.  The jail remains as well,but now houses child support, custody and family law services.

When looking at the Shorpy pictures, always read the comments which give a lot more information.  Plus, I like to blow up the pictures for a closer view.

Shorpy, One Great Site.  --Cooter

Friday, February 15, 2013

First World War Trench Training Camp to Be Excavated in England

From the Feb. 1, 2013, Birmingham (Britain) Post by Ben Hurst.

During the First World War, Cannock Chase became a huge depot (camp) for training soldiers destined for the trenches along the front lines. 

Two depots were built, each of which could hold 20,000 troops, the size of a British infantry division back then.  On the site, the Messinaa Ridge trenches, a battlefield near Ypres, had been recreated.  It cost 80,000 pounds to reconstruct it.

Work started on it  and it was built with permission of Lord Litchfield who owned the land.  The camps were known as Brocton and Rugeley and they were used to train soldiers for trench warfare until 1918.  Generally they would train for two months there.

It is thought that German POWs built them.

Practice Makes Better.  --Cooter

French Build a Replica Paris to Fool Germans in World War I

From the Daily Mail.

An incredibly-detailed second Paris was built at the end of World War I to fool German bombers who they hoped would be fooled into destroying the fake one.  It was built on the northern outskirts of Paris in the Maisons-Laffitte area, about fifteen miles from the city centre and on the Seine River and was a project of the French Army.  Very little is known about it and it included many bright lights.

The electrical engineer of the project was designer Ferrand Jacopazzi who would later get fame for illuminating the Eiffel Tower.

At the time, the Germans were using long-range Gotha bombers where a crew member would hold a small bomb by its fins and drop it over the side.

The last German air raid on Paris was September 1918, while the project was not yet finished.

Paris, however, was largely unscathed in both wars.

Poor London didn't do as well in either war.  In June 1917, it was severely damaged by Gotha bombers with 162 killed (46 at a kindergarten).  Up to 500 were injured.   Part of the reason for the high casulaties was that it was a novel thing and large crowds had gathered to watch the attack.

Bombing Civilians During World War I?  Where Would This Go?  --DaCoot

Jamestown Church Where Pocahontas Married Is Found

From the Oct. 23, 2011, Daily Press (Va) "Jamestown dig reveals footprint of 1608 church" by Mark St. John Erickson.

Student archaeologists in the summer of 2010 first discovered a site that had been scoured by slaves for a Confederate earthwork near the 20th century statue of Captain John Smith.

They found large post holes at the site of a 1608 church where Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married.  Further digging in 2011 revealed the entire footprint of an enormous building by early Jamestown standards, the 24 by 64 foot church.

Finding the Old Stuff.  --Cooter

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Historic Ship Lost in 1932 Ecorse Fire

This story started with a Shorpy picture from Nov. 3, 2011, photo of the Frank E, Kirby.  "Toledo, Ohio, circa 1910.  Sidwewheeler Frank R. Kirby at steam landing."

From the Mind of James Donahue Blog.

I'm always interested in stories about less famous ships such as the Dover.

Fire swept a number of Great Lakes vessels laid up for the winter at Ecorse, Michigan, in 1932.

The Dover was one of them, originally named the Frank E. Kirby, a familiar sight on the Great Lakes for 42 years.

Launched in 1890, the steel-hulled sidewheeler was designed for passenger service and named after the 19th century ship architect Frank E. Kirby.  The 196-foot long Ashley & Dustin Steamer Line made regular trips from Detroit to Sanduskey, Ohio, with stops at Put-In-Bay, Middle Bass Island and Kelley's Island (three places I am very familiar with).

It was eventually renamed Silver Spray and later the Dover.

While it was the Dover, it was in two fires.  The first was February 2, 1929 while laid up next to the steamer Erie.  Both were damaged, but rebuilt and restored to service.

The second and final fire destroyed  the Dover and several other ships at Ecorse in 1932.

Its remains were scrapped, but engine taken to Greenfield Village for display and it was later scrapped during World War II.

I was unable to find a picture of the ship, however.

Wonder What It Looked Like? Never Mind.  Found It.   --Cooter

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Some Ships Sunk Off U.S. East Coast


"Bottle Wreck" 25 miles south of Ocean City with coins, clay pipes pottery and, I imagine, bottles.  Storms change the field and expose new items every so often.


World War II submarine TARPON off Cape Hatteras.
PROTEUS--  ocean liner that sank in 1918


SHERMAN, 200-foot-long Civil War blockade-runner with buttons, bottles and belt buckles.
GOVERNOR--  a Civil War-era paddle-wheeler with rifles and bullets.  The real name is not known.


NUESTA SENORA de ATOCHA--  The famous gold ship.

And There Are Many More.  --Cooter

Divers Go Deep for Trinkets and Treasure

From MSNBC Itineraries by Rob Lovitt.

The MANTOLA was a British ship sunk off Ireland in 1917 by a torpedo.  It is believed there might be 20 tons of silver aboard, worth $18 million.  It was found in early October 2011 by Odyssey Marine Exploration based out of Tampa, Florida.

In September, the same company found the GAIRSOPPA, also off Ireland, but sunk in World War II with supposedly 240 tons of silver.  Both ships had been owned by the British India Steam Navigation Company.  (I wrote at length about the sinking of the Gairsoppa in my Tattooed On Your Soul World War II blog.)

The MANTOLA was carrying 18 passengers and 165 crew members.  Its captain was David James Chivas, great nephew of the Chivas brothers, makers of Chivas Regal Scotch.

I'll Drink to That Silver.  --DaCoot

Back in 2011, Dismantling America's Most powerful Nuclear Bomb

From October 25, 2011, AP

Always good news when another nuclear weapon is dismantled, but always cause for thought when it's one of ours.

This last one was 600 times stronger than the one used at Hiroshima.  It is being dismantled VERY CAREFULLY, let's hope, a half century after it was put into the arsenal at the height of the Cold War.

It is the B53 and its fuel components were being broken down at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas.  No doubt this made those folk there and along Route 66 feel good.

It was made in 1962 and weighed 10,000 pounds and was the size of a minivan.  The 9 megaton bomb was carried by B-52s and was designed to destroy facilities deep underground.  Now, our biggest nuclear device is the 1.2 megaton B83 bomb.

The bomb was made using older technology and by engineers who have since retired or died so a system of disassemble had to be developed.  The era of the really big megaton bombs, where size and destruction capacity made up for lack of accuracy, is over.  Today's bombs are smaller and much more precise.

Most of the B53s were disassembled in the 1980s, but a significant number remained.

I'm not sure if this was the last one or whether there are still others.

Since I Didn't Hear of Any Nuclear Explosions I Have to Figure They Were Successful.  --Cooter

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

1865 Baseball Card Brings $92,000 At Auction

From the Feb. 6, 2013, Northwest (Il) Herald "Rare 1865 baseball card to be auctioned in Maine."

And Mom either threw my cards out or sold them for pennies at a garage sale.  Well, actually, I did not have this one so no harm done.

This article was before the auction, but I found out it did sell for $92,000.

A six-figure amount was expected for the 148-year-old Brooklyn Athletics baseball card that was discovered in a photo album bought at a yard sale in Balleyville, Maine, on the Canadian border.  I would have liked to know how much they spent for the album?

This card, however, is not the same as modern baseball cards which became popular in the late 1800s.  It is an original photograph mounted on a card.

The Library of Congress says only one other copy exists and they have it.

(Of course, baseball cards sold in stores today have sure gotten expensive.  I used to spend just 5 cents for a pack of five and that break-your teeth piece of bubble gum.)

Should Have Been Mine.  --DaCoot

Who Was He and This Date in Music History

From the Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac.

Today's question was which singer-songwriter back in the early 60s wrote hit songs for Bobby Vee, Ricky Nelson and the Crystals?  In addition, he had sixteen Top 40 singles himself.  Answer below.

Normally, this would be  entered on my Down Da Road blog, but today I am keeping it devoted to Mardi Gras.


1965--  Eighteen-year-old Donovan Leitch appeared on the British music show "Ready Steady Go" and sang his first hit single "Catch the Wind."  Another Taylor Swift?

1967--  Police raided Rolling Stone Keith Richard's home in Sussex, England and found "Various substances of suspicious nature."   Who'd have figured?  Richards, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful were arrested.

George and Patti Harrison had been there but it was rumored that the the police waited until they left to raid.  It just wouldn't do to arrest an MBE, Member of Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for such a thing.

ANSWER:  This Rock and Roll Hall of Famer died in 2006 and wrote "Rubber Ball" for Vee, "Hello Mary Lou" for Nelson and "He's a Rebel" for te Crystals.

That person would be Mr. Gene Pitney.

Didn't Know He Wrote Those Other Songs.  --Cooter

Recovering the Queen Anne's Revenge's Cannons

The NOAA's Office of National marine Sanctuaries will help North Carolina recover a large cannon from what is believed to be Pirate Blackbear's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge which sank in 1718 after running aground of the state's coast.

The RV-8501, an 85-foot NOAA research vessel will be assisting.

The October 26, 2011, Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that the 2,000 pound, 8-foot-long cannon had been recovered from the ship after being underwater for almost 300 years.

Blackbeard Would be So proud.  --DaCoot

Oysters and Beer Cause a Ruckus in 1911 Wilmington, NC

From the Oct. 12, 2011, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then."

OCTOBER 1, 1911

This was during North Carolina's Prohibition.

Sheriff S.P. Cowan and law officers raided an oyster roast stand where the owner was openly selling beer.  Neighbors along Market street were complaining.

"The sheriff and his party were driving down the road when someone from the stand hollered for them to come over and buy some oysters.  They apparently did not realize they were calling out to law officers and when the officers came over the men at the stand fled.

Several were nabbed before they could flee and was charged with carrying a concealed pistol."

Hopefully, the Police Were Not in a Marked Vehicle.  --Cooter

Monday, February 11, 2013

Search Does Not Find Australia's First Submarine

From the Oct. 28, 2011,

The Australian Navy has examined images of a newly found shipwreck and believe it to be that of a Japanese submarine sunk during World WarII and not Australia's first submarine, the AE-1.  The Australia Daily Telegraph had earlier speculated that it might be the World War I Australian 600 ton submarine.

It sank with the loss of all 35 crew on September 14 or 15, 1914, Australia's first naval loss in World War I. The new find is near the last AE-1 sighting at Mioko Harbor, about 20 kilometers away near Duke of York Island. 

An Australia naval court of inquiry at the time ruled that it sank during a dive and hit a reef.

The AE-1 was the very first Australian submarine.  At the time of its loss, it was part of a Royal Australian Navy expedition heading for an attack on German New Gunea..

Still Not Found.  --Cooter

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Deaths: Yoda-- Tony


Died Feb. 6th.  He was the makeup artist for Yoda and Chewbaca of "Star Wars" fame.  His work can also be seen on "2001: A Space Odyssey" and transformed Alec Guinness into Fagin in "Oliver Twist." 

Some say there is an uncanny resemblance of Mr. Freeborn and Yoda.  I saw a picture of him.  There is.

I like all these movies.


Died Jan.22nd.  His talent and artistry with the Leo Burnett advertising agency brought to life such characters as Tony the Tiger and Charlie the Tuna.  He could capture the mood and expression wanted for his characters on the storyboards for the commercials.

After retirement, he was known to do a quick sketch of Tony the Tiger for children he encountered at restaurants.

What can I say, "They're ______" and "Sorry _____."  Fill in the blanks.

Chicago's Famed Christmas Tree Ship-- Part 4: Lost and Gone

Captain Herman Schuenemann's family and friends waited.  Days went by.  Finally, on Dec. 5, 1912, the Chicago Tribune's headlines read: "'Christmas Ship' Lost On the Lake With 17 On Board."  No proof that it was, though.

The family still waited, but a note found along the Wisconsin shore, reportedly written by Schuenemann, read: "Friday--Everybody goodbye.  I guess we are all thru.  Sea washed over our deck load Thursday.  During the night the small (liveboat) was washed over.  Leaking bad...God help us."

There were no survivors and a Chicago tradition was gone.

His wife, called the "Christmas Tree Lady' continued the family business.  She died in 1933.  Her daughters continued for a few more years.before ending it.

A diver found the well-preserved remains of the Rouse Simmons in 1971, 170 feet deep, east of Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

The Chicago City Council has authorized placement of a cast bronze plaque this year, 2013, at the southwest corner of the Clark Street bridge.  On it will be a line drawing of the Rouse Simmons.

The Story of a Tradition.  --Cooter

Friday, February 8, 2013

Deaths: Different Strokes-- Ralph the Doorman


Died Jan. 14th.  Played the wealthy Manhattan widower who raised his housekeeper's kids after she died on "Different Strokes" which ran 1978-1984.  Earlier he had played the conservative neighbor, Dr. Arthur Harmon, who often clashed with "Maude" from 1972 to 1978.

I never watched "Different Strokes" but was a big fan of "Maude."  I knew he looked familiar the few times I did see parts of "Different Strokes."  Mostly, I just couldn't stand that Gary Coleman.


Died Jan January 2nd.    Played the uniformed, mustachioed Ralph the Doorman on the Jeffersons from 1975 to 1985.  He was a Navy pilot during World War II.  Star of the show Sherman Hemsley died July 24, 2012.

I was a big fan of the show and liked how he was always angling for a bonus.  Not as good as "Rhoda's" Carlton, your doorman, though.

Chicago's Famed Christmas Tree Ship-- Part 3: Dangerous Business

There were other ships bringing Christmas trees to Chicago, but Captain Schuenemann's was the favorite.  He and older brother August sailed what is believed to be the first boatload of Christmas trees to Chicago in December 1887.  Of course, that late in the season winter gales and ice were a constant threat. 

On November 9, 1898, a storm sank brother August's ship off Glencoe.  he and his four-man crew drowned.  Herman would have been on the ship except he stayed behind to take care of the family lumber business and twin babies just born in October.

However, he wasn't so lucky in November 1912.  After making the 300-mile trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula and loading the trees aboard the 44-year-old schooner Rouse Simmons, he set off for the return trip.

The day they left, November 21st, weather conditions were deteriorating, temperatures dropping, sheets of rain and 50+ mile-an-hour winds kicking up twenty-foot waves.  Ice covered the trees and deck and the ship sank deeper in the water under the weight.

A Coast Guard station in Wisconsin spotted a ship matching the Rouse Simmons' description with sails in tatters and flag at half-mast in distress, but it then disappeared in the storm.  This was on November 23.

A Dangerous Business.  --Cooter

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chicago's Famed Christmas Tree Ship-- Part 2

Six to 7-foot trees sold for 25 cents to $1.  A few hotels and businesses preordered 20-foot trees and paid more.  Those trees not sold would be given to poor families, churches and orphanages.

Captain Schuenemann was an excellent marketer and a bit of a showman.  He and his family were members of a church known in those days as the German United Evangelical Lutheran St. Pauls Congregation,back then located at LaSalle Drive and Ohio Street.  Today it is St. Pauls United Church of Christ on North Orchard Street in Lincoln Park.

They will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Tree Ship on Nov. 18th.  One of those attending will be retired Dr. William Ehling of Streator, Schuenemann's grandson.

Captain Schuenemann was a jovial spirit who would go to Manisque and Thompson, Michigan where he and his men would go out into the woods and with local help, cut the trees down, load his ship and sail home.  This would take about six weeks.  If everything worked out, he would spend the holidays with his family and make a profit.

Way Back before Artificial Trees.  --Cooter

Chicago's Famed Christmas Tree Ship-- Part 1

From the November 11, 2012, Chicago Tribune Chicago Flashback "When the Christmas spirit foundered in Chicago" by Tony Trowbridge.

Captain Herman Schuenemann was called "Captain Santa" because for 25 years he sailed fresh-cut trees to Chicago to the southwest corner of the Clark Street bridge.  "For Chicagoans, this meant one thing: Christmas was just around the corner."

He used a variety of ships in the late 1800s-early 1900s, including the Mary Collins, the Margaret  Dal, the Ida, the Truman Moss and the George L. Wren.  But the best-known and most beloved was the old schooner Rouse Simmons.

Word of his arrival would soon spread and thousands of stacked trees would be on the deck.  The good captain would tie a Christmas tree atop the main mast and he would string colored lights on the 127-foot boat.  His wife and daughters would make wreaths and garlands.

And, Captain Schuenemann knew how to sell Christmas trees.  Cut out the middleman and sell direct to the people.  He would hand a hand-printed sign on the dock saying: "The Christmas Tree Ship.  My prices are the lowest."

Is It Too Soon to Get Into the Christmas Spirit?  --DaCoot

Paris' Notre Dame Spruced Up for Its 850th

From the Dec. 13, 2012, Chicago Tribune, by Alexandria Sage- Reuters.

"Quasimodo would be overjoyed.  Notre Dame Cathedral has had its lighting improved, a new platform to admire its Gothic facade erected, its organ renovated and is about to have new bells made for a nearly yearlong 850th anniversary celebration that kicks off this week."

Built in the 12th century, it has survived the Hundred Years War, the French Revolution and two world wars.  It is in an island in the Seine River.

"With its graceful flying buttresses, imposing facade and famous bells -- immortalized in Victor Hugo's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" by the bellringer Quasimodo..."  The first stone was laid in 1163 in the presence of Pope Alexander III.

Some important things that have happened at Notre Dame:  where France's King Henry IV converted to Catholicism, Napoleon crowned himself emperor and Joan of Arc was beatified.

I had the opportunity to see the cathedral in 2000 during a boat trip on the Seine.  believe me, it's impressive.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ten Things You Might Not Know About North Korea-- Part 3

8.  More than half of North Korean men SMOKE.  That is double the rate in the U.S..  The government has been trying to get people to quit, but a photo taken in December shows Kim Jung Un smoking away after the rocket launch.

9.  South Korean movie director SHIN SANG OK, known as "The Orson Welles of South Korea" had North Korean agents sent to kidnap him in 1978.  Ordered to produce propaganda films, he refused and was thrown in prison where he ate grass to survive.

Five years later he was released and treated nicely, but later escaped.

10.  Kim Jong Un's succession to leader was helped when half-brother KIM JONG NAM was caught in 2001 trying to enter Japan on a fake Dominican Republic passport.  Evidently he wanted to visit Tokyo's version of Disneyland.

So, There You Have It.  --Cooter

Ten Things You Might Not Know About North Korea-- Part 2

4.  North Korea, despite a horrible record on many issues, has an excellent LITERACY RATE.  The CIA Factbook lists it at 99%.  But, what's available to read?

5.  Nortth Korea announced the construction of what was to be the WORLD'S TALLEST HOTEL, but the 105-story Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang has taken 25-years and two in Dubai have surpassed it.  It is expected to open this year, maybe.  Esquire magazine has called it "the worst building in the history of mankind."

6.  Many things are bleak in the country, but North Korea has GOLF.  But only one course and a golf pro there claims that Kim Jong II once shot five holes-in-one during a single round.  He was REALLY  that good.  It's nice to be king, ruler or whatever.

7.  Despite being part of "The Axis of Evil", North Korea does accept American TOURISTS.  But, the US State Department warns that it is a criminal act to show disrespect to the former or current leaders and that unauthorized picture-taking or talking to locals can be considered espionage.

Fore!!!  Rats, Went in the Hole On First Swing Again.  --Dacoot

Ten Things You Might Not Know About North Korea-- Part 1

From the Dec. 23, 2012, Chicago Tribune  by Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer, researchers par excellence.

"North Korea is an international pariah, a bandit state, the "Hermit Kingdom."  On December 21st, it announced it had detained an American citizen and they also had a rocket launch.

1.  THE KOREAN WAR did not actually end in 1953.  An armistice was signed by the UN, China and North Korea (but not South Korea) to establish a truce until a peaceful settlement achieved.  It hasn't been.  Even though those wacky personnel at MASH 4099 were so excited.

2.   The history of North Korea can be summed up in three names: KIM, KIM AND KIM.  Kim II Sung was the first leader.  His son, Kim Jong II led until last year and now his son, Kim Jung UN is leader.  That's called keeping it in the family.

3.  The QUALITY OF LIFE in North Korea has been so bad, they are now physically different from their South Korean cousins.  South Korean men and women are 2.3 inches and 2.6 inches taller.  Children are nearly five inches taller.

Hey, Shortie!!  --Cooter

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Evolution of Communication-- Part 2

1930s--  From the famous "Fireside Chats" to adventure programs and :Little Orphan Annie, radio adds the "mass" to communications.

1950s--  The typewriter goes portable, allowing novelists to further the American road trip story.  Anyone thinking Jack K.?

1990s--  E-mail arrives and forever revolutionizes the way the world connects.

2000s--  Video calls put a face to the voice.

Today--  Spreading the word by blog, tweet, Facebook or other social media makes communication faster and more efficient than ever.  Blog, what blog?

That Was Interesting.  --Cooter

The Evolution of Communication-- Part 1

From a Vaseline ad in the November 26, 2012, Time Magazine.

And, Vaseline is over 140 years old.  A Timeline:

3200 BC--  In the Fertile Crescent, cryptic messages set in stone tablets.

1870s--  The telephone invented

1920s  Initiated in the mid-nineteenth century, telegrams became widespread for communicating right away with far-flung places.

Make Mine a Singing Telegram.  --DaCoot

Deaths: Helped Design Wrigley Field's Scoreboard

From the December 2012 Chicago Tribune.

CURTIS HUBERTZ, 95.  Died Dec. 15, 2012.

I'm more of a White Sox fan, but you've just got to love that Wrigley Field scoreboard, probably the most famous scoreboard, hands down.  Two years ago, Mr.Hubertz made a trip to Wrigley Field from his Fontana, Wisconsin, home, not to see the Cubs (way too sad these days), but to bring some old parts for the score board that he had found while cleaning out his garage.

He worked at his family's Hubertz Electronics in Franklin Park, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) in the 1930s.  In the mid-1930s they had built a reputation for scoreboards and the Pittsburgh Pirates were using one of theirs. 

Cub officials asked them to build a prototype for Wrigley Field and they brought it to the park to have it tested.  Owner Phil Wrigley motioned them over to his box seats and asked if they could make the letters and numbers bigger, from 36 inches to 4 feet and to add a few extra digits.

"They made the changes and the rest is history."

Whenever they had problems with it, the first person they called was Curt.

A Real Piece of History There.  --Cooter

Monday, February 4, 2013

Deaths: Civil Rights-- The Man-- Manager


Died Jan. 17th.  And I just wrote about him in the Fiftieth Anniversary of 1963 entries last week in this blog.  One of two black students whose attempt to enroll at the University of Alabama in 1963 led to Gov. George Wallace's segregationist "stand in the schoolhouse door."

The courage exemplified by this young man was something, leading to greater educational opportunities for blacks.


Died Jan. 19th.  Hall of Fame slugger for the St. Louis Cardinals.  I've always heard of Stan "The Man" Musial, but his last year playing was 1963 and I didn't get interested in baseball until the following year.


Died Jan. 18th.  Hall of Fame manager who led the Baltimore Orioles to four American League pennants and the 1970 World Series title over 17 years.  As a White Sox fan, I sure hated to have to play this guy.  He'd beat you nine ways to Wednesday.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fiftieth Anniversary of 1963-- Part 6: Kennedy Assassination

Well, if anything else, I did learn how to spell fiftieth.  Not an easy word to spell nor one that I write out very often.


"Lillies of the Field" starring Sidney Poitier as a handyman who helps a group of nuns build a chapel in Arizona, opens in US movie theaters.  Poitier becomes the first black to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film.


President John F. Kennedy is assassinated while riding in a motorcade through Dallas.  Aboard Air Force One at Dallas' Love Field, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as the new US president.  Two days later, the accused assassin was murdered.

I'm sure there will be a whole lot about this last item.  It is a defining moment for a generation.  It sure was for mine.

These 1963 happenings were compiled by Katherine Borgerding.

Fiftieth Anniversary of 1963- Part 5: Civil Rights


James Meredith whose 1962 entry into the previously segregated University of Mississippi sparked a student riot, graduates.  Meredith later earned a law degree from Columbia University and ran as a Republican against Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell.  Eventually he moved back to Mississippi.


The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. highlights the March on Washington with his "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln memorial in Washington, DC, before a crowd of about 250,000 people.  The march pressured Congress to pass a civil rights bill granting equal opportunity and an end to segregation and discrimination.


The Ku Klux Klan bombs the 16th Street Baptist Church, a black congregation in Birmingham, Alabama, and a meeting place for civil rights leaders at the time.  The blast kills four young girls, all under the age of 15.  The church remains open today.

So, It Appears There Was a Whole Lot Going On in the Area of Civil Rights Back Fifty Years Ago.  --DaCoot

Fiftieth Anniversary of 1963-- Part 4: Civil Rights-- Nuclear Weapons


Standing in a doorway, Alabama Governor George Wallace blocks the enrollment of Vivian Malone and James Hood, the first black students at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  Wallace steps aside when President Kennedy mobilizes National Guard troops to the scene.


Following the confrontation in Alabama. President Kennedy delivers his landmark civil rights address, "I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public--hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores and similar establishments.  This seems to me to be an elementary right.

Eleven months later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.


The United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Union sign the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.  The treaty signing follows nearly a decade of negotiations aimed at slowing down the arms race and limiting the effect of nuclear testing on the atmosphere and environment.  The signing comes one day before the 18th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima near the end of World War II.

Something we can all live with.

All Big Events.  --Cooter

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fiftieth Anniversary of 1963-- Part 3: MLK, James Bond, Equal Pay


After being jailed for disobeying a state court junction against public protests, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., writes his "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" to a group of white clergymen.  The letter--a response to the clergy men's belief that the courts should handle civil rights--includes the famous line, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."


"Dr. No," the first James Bond movie opens in US theaters after debuting in the UK in 1962.  Sean Connery (and still the best Bond) is the first actor to slip on the tux and play the debonair British Secret Service Agent 007.

There have been 23 James Bond films since then with either Connery or five other actors playing the role.  Most recent was 2012's "Skyfall" starring Daniel Craig.


The Equal Pay Act mandates equal pay for women doing the same job as men is signed into law.  Since its passage, women's pay has increased, though it doesn't match men's pay.

More to Come.  --DaCoot

The Fiftieth Anniversary of 1963-- Part 2: Civil Rights, Women's Lib, Beatles

From the Dec. 2012 AARP Bulletin.

Some interesting dates from back fifty years ago.  Has it really been that long?


Harvey Gantt, the first black admitted to Clemson University, begins classes there and went on to graduate with honors and then earned his master's degree in city planning from MIT.  In 1983 he became the first black mayor of Charlotte, NC.


Betty Friedan publishes The Feminine Mystique.  This examination of women's lives in the decades after World War II was the author's first book and is widely credited with igniting the women's liberation movement.


The Beatles release their debut LP album, Please, Please Me, in the United Kingdom.  The album which contains the classics "I Saw Her Standing There," "Love Me Do" and their cover of "Twist and Shout" was renamed Introducing...the Beatles for its U.S. release the next year.

The beginning of Beatlemania, although it didn't really hit the US until 1964.  In 2012, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Please, Please Me #39 on its list of the 500 greatest albums.

More to Come.  --Cooter