Saturday, August 30, 2014

Montgomery Ward Preserves Chicago's Lakefront-- Part 1

From the August 10, 2014, Chicago Tribune "Montgomery Ward deserves our gratitude" by Ron Grossman.

On summer days, thousands of people visit and enjoy Chicago's magnificent lake front, but it almost wasn't to be as developers sought the land, but one store owner, businessman had the foresight back in the late 1800s to save it.  That man was Montgomery Ward.

That's right, the Montgomery Ward that those of us who are older remember was a big department store chain.  It was the man who pioneered mail-order retailing.

Four times between 1897 and 1910, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld Ward's contention that Chicago's lakefront should be parkland.  Ward felt that this land should be "forever open, clear and free."

Four years before his death in 1913, Montgomery Ward told the Tribune: "Had I known in 1890 how long it would take me to preserve a park for the people against their will, I doubt if I would have undertaken it.  Perhaps I may yet see the public appreciate my effort.  Bit I doubt it."

They Didn't back Then, But Sure Do Now (If They Can Afford the Parking Meters).  --Cooter

Friday, August 29, 2014

Where "Alabam" Lives On-- Part 2: Fishing in a Latrine

"Alabam" is one of several statues that have been erected around the former federal company town of Boulder City, Nevada, to honor the Hoover Dam workers and their families.  Among them were "high-scalers" who hung suspended from flimsy guide ropes; "powder monkeys," named for the dynamite they planted; cable operators who kept the huge buckets of concrete moving around the clock; and the wives and children who set up camp in the bleak desert wilderness.

The statues are part of what is called "an amazing public arts program," according to Nevada State Museum Director Dennis McBride.  The project started a decade ago when town officials set aside $75,000  a year for five years to promote the role of the city and its residents in erecting the dam.

McBride is a historian who has done a lot of research on Boulder City and the dam.  He came across the many stories about "Alabam."

A favorite of his was the one when someone saw him fishing inside a latrine with a stick.  He explained that he had dropped his jacket into it.  When told his jacket would probably be ruined, "Alabam" replied that he didn't care about the jacket, but his lunch was in the pocket.

Now, That's a Good, But Smelly Story.  --DaCoot

Where "Alabam" Lives On-- Part 1: Dirty Job, But Somebody's Got to Do It

From the June 4, 2014, Chicago Tribune by John M. Glionna.

Nobody really knew his name.  They all just called him "Alabam" probably because he was from there or somewhere in the South.  But, they all knew him as the old guy (in his 70s) who made his contribution to the Depression-era building of the famous Hoover Dam.

He cleaned the latrines.  As far as is know, he was a one-man sanitation crew for the 7,000 workers at the site.He is long gone, but not forgotten

On the main drag through Boulder City, Nevada, stands an 8-foot tall statue honoring the man and including a garland of toilet paper rolls around his neck.

He is the first of several statues honoring the men who built the dam.

Steven Ligouri, the Las Vegas sculptor who made the statue, said: "He was a simple sanitation engineer whose job was so bad-- even when temperatures hit 120 degrees, he climbed inside those tin latrine (predecessors of port-a-potties).  Mow he's the unofficial greeter to the entire town."

Not the Type of Statue You's Expect.  --Cooter

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Gaffes-- Part 6

9.  OOPS, WRONG END ZONE:  Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall picked up a loose ball during an Oct. 1964 game and scampered 66 yards for a TD, only to find he ran the wrong way and scored a safety for the appreciative SF 49ers.

The same thing happened in the 1929 Rose Bowl when the University of California's Roy Riegels ran a fumble nearly 70 yards before teammates stooped him before going into the end zone.  Georgia Tech tackled him on the one yard line and got a safety the next play.

Riegels learned to live with it and in 1964, wrote a letter to Marshall saying, "Welcome to the Club."

10.  NOT REALLY:  Al Gore committed a major gaffe by claiming that he invented the INTERNET, or so everyone thinks.  In a 1999 interview, Gore said: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."  Actually he didn't say he invented it.  He took the initiative for its invention.

Two Internet pioneers, Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, wrote: "Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development."

Thanks, Al.  --DaCoot

Ten Things You might Not Know About Gaffes-- Part 5

7.  Former IRS honcho LOIS LERNER, under fire for accusations that her agency had targeted conservative groups, made a strange statement:  "I'm not good at math."  But, she knew enough about arithmetic to take the Fifth before Congress.

8.  One of the most infamous mistakes was apparently only in hindsight.  The "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln for President George W. Bush's May 1, 2003, speech declaring an end of major military operations in Iraq, is now considered a blatant gaffe  Newspapers at the time barely even mentioned it.

However, the Iraq insurgency continued on for years afterwards (even now).


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ten Things You Didn't Know About Gaffes-- Part 4

5.  MOVIE PROMOTION  often come up with gaffes.  Take for instance the new Indian (India) film "Bang Bang!" which is set to be released Oct. 2nd.  It is violent and to be released on Gandhi Jayanti, a holiday celebrated in India every year to mark the birth of Mohandas Gandhi, a champion of nonviolence.

Paramount Australia recently advertised the new "Teenage Mutant Turtles" film by tweeting a poster of the turtles flying out of an exploding skyscraper, with the release date of September 11th.

6.  And speaking of SEPTEMBER 11TH gaffes, accidentally ran a headline reading "Making Your Morning Commute More Stylish" next to a photo of a man falling out of one of the Twin Towers.  The Tumbledown Golf Course in Wisconsin apologized for their special $9.11 golf rate to "commemorate" Sept. 11.

But perhaps the worst came within hours of the attack when British bureaucrat Jo Moore realized that the events in America were so distracting that any bad news at home might be overlooked.  "It is now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury," she said in an e-mail. After it got out, she said she was very sorry.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ten Things You Didn't Know About Gaffes-- Part 3

3.  During the 2012 presidential campaign, MITT ROMNEY committed numerous gaffes that put his extreme wealth in an unfavorable light, including his comment that 47 percent of Americans are "dependent upon government" and his offer of a $10,000 bet with a debate opponent.

Less publicized  was a 2011 statement in which he actually misstated his own name.  At the start of a 2011 debate, CNN's Wolf Blitzer said: "I'm Wold Blitzer, and yes, that's my real name."  Romney then said : "I'm Mitt Romney--and yes, Wolf, that's also my first name."  But Romney's first name isn't Mitt, that's his middle name.  His first name is Willard.

Just trying to be a smart-aleck I guess.

4.  And then there's the man who beat Romney, President Barack Obama, who has visited all "57 states" and suggesting that Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga.,, and Jacksonville, Fla. are on the Gulf Coast.

But perhaps his most painful gaffe came in a 2011 speech to the troops when he referred to Medal of Honor recipient killed in Afghanistan as if he were still alive.  He later called the family to apologize.


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

1.  He's not one of the key political figures of the 20th century, but a billboard in India intending to honor South Africa's Nelson Mandela after his death in 2013 mistakenly used actor MORGAN FREEMAN's photograph.  At least it wasn't the one when he played "Driving Miss Daisy."

2.  On October 31, 2000, German Chancellor GERHARD SCHROEDER, paying his respects at the Vad Vashern Holocaust memorial in Israel with that country's Prime Minister  Ehud Barak, unfortunately turned a handle the wrong way and accidentally extinguished the eternal flame, which stands in the Hall of Remembrance for the six million Jews killed by the Nazis.

Barak tried to relight it, but failed.  A memorial employee finally relighted it with a cigarette lighter.


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

From the August 10, 2014, Chicago Tribune by those intrepid and mighty thorough researchers Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer.  I always look forward to these mighty interesting articles that appear every so often in the Sunday Tribune.

Gaffe:  Open mouth, insert foot.

"Monday marks the 30th anniversary of a major presidential gaffes when Ronald Reagan was joking during a microphone test:  'My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever.  We begin bombing in five minutes.'

"The remark was not broadcast, but it became public, infuriating the Russians.

And the gaffes continue.  Last month, Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Fla. was addressing two U.S. officials who are of Indian descent as if they were officials of the government of India and said: "I am familiar with your country.  I love your country."  He might have added, "I loved 'Slumdog Millionaire."

Of course, I make it a regular habit of saying stupid stuff.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

NIU Rebuilding Myanmar's Universities-- Part 3: "They Need Everything"

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Burma had one of the highest literacy rates in Asia and was posed to become a rapidly developing country in the region.

But a military coup in 1962 caused a government intent on an isolationist policy that singled out students and universities as enemies of the junta.

In 1988, there was a violent crackdown and all universities were closed, but reopened in 1990 with a government-controlled curriculum. In 1996, schools were closed for three years.  Things got better in 2010, when elections in the country caused a "quasi-civilian" government to come to power.  But even then, there is still over a half century of isolation that must be overcome.

A Long Way to Go.  --Cooter

Monday, August 25, 2014

Rebuilding Myanmar's Universities at NIU-- Part 2

Richard Cooler visited Burma in the early 1970s and then joined the Burma Studies Group, described as a "fragmented but serious association of scholars."  Over the years, they published papers about the country, acquired rare books and art work and in the 1980s decided they needed a central office and NIU's bid, written by Cooler beat those offered by the University of Michigan, Wisconsin and Smithsonian, among others.

The Burma center is now attached to the building that serves as NIU's Center for Southeastern Asian studies.  Its collection is housed in several campus buildings and includes publications, rare books, ancient and modern maps, art, manuscripts and music about Myanmar.

Professor Cooler, 71, was the center's director until he retired in 2002, but he remains active in it..

Next, why it is so important to have this center.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Rebuilding Myanmar's Universities at NIU-- Part 1

From the August 10, 2014, Chicago Tribune "Rebuilding Myanmar's universities" by Ted Gregory.

  All the uncertain evolution to a democracy in Myanmar, the former country of Burma, has had a very negative effect on its university system.  A building on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, about 8,000 miles from Yangoon, houses the only Center for Burma Studies in the United States.

NIU is leading in the rehabilitation of Myanmar's (Burma) universities.  Over the last 18 months, eight faculty members from NIU have made trips to Myanmar to get their educational system going again.

NIU's path to becoming a leading institution in the Burmese culture began in 1963, when the university started training Peace Corps volunteers for service in Malaysis.  This effort led to the creation of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at NIU in the same year.

The Center for Burma Studies came into existence in 1986 through the efforts of professor Richard Cooler who came to NIU in 1970.

Proud of My Alma Mater.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Deaths: Robin Williams

From Wikipedia.

July 21, 1951-August 11, 2014.    Born in Chicago.  I was born in May 1951 and about two months older than him.  One really funny guy.  I was a big fan of "Happy Days" on TV and remember his appearance on it as the alien Mork and liked him, but didn't watch his "Mork and Mondy" show from '78-'82.

I did see him in many movies and always liked his characters:

The World According to Garp 1982
Club Paradise 1986  (All that great reggae music)
Good Morning Vietnam 1987
Good Will Hunting
Dead Poets Society 1989
Mrs. Doubtfire 1993
Jumanji 1995
Night at the Museum 2006
Night at the Smithsonian

On "Good Morning Vietnam" he played the disc jockey and improvised all his lines.

And, who could forget that great video he did with Bobby McFerrin on "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

We'll Miss Him.

O.K.  Now Quit Saying "Good Morning Vietnam!!!"

USS Texas

The July 24, 1914, Shorpy picture site "Don't Mess With Texas" 1900 "USS Texas discharging amminuition."  Nicknamed "Old HooDoo."  Photo of some of the crew standing behind some really big shells.

Comments:  these shells were capped, armor-piercing shells.  Rated as a second-class battleship and sister ship of the famous USS Maine.  Mounted two 12-inch guns.  Seem to be practice rounds in photo.  Fought at the Battle of Santiago in Spanish-American War.

From Wikipedia.

A pre-dreadnaught battleship and "Near-sister ship" of the USS Maine.  Commissioned 1895-1911, fought in the Spanish-American War.  Name changed after the war to San Marcos so the Texas name could be given to Battleship-35, now a museum in Texas.

Used as target ship and sunk in Chesapeake Bay in 1912 and  continually used as target even through World War II.  After the war, was completely destroyed as navigation hazard.

--Old "HooDoo" Cooter

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Topsail island Swing Bridge to Be Replaced

From the July 30, 2014, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Meeting draws crowd" by Bill Walsh.

DOT gives details about $57 million bridge proposed to replace old swing bridge.

If you've ever driven to Topsail Island near Wilmington, N.C., along the state's coast, you most likely know this old swing bridge for maddening traffic backups, especially during the summer high season.   A meeting was held at the Moose Lodge in Holly Ridge to explain what the N.C. DOT had in mind for the $57 million (80% federal funds, 20% state) high level (65-feet) fixed span bridge.

This new bridge will replace the old swing bridge which is classified as functionally obsolete that has been in use for over half a century.

Other plans were looked at before Alternative 17 was chosen.  The new bridge will be located about 900 feet south of the swing bridge. with two travel lanes, two bicycle lanes and a ten-foot multi-use lane.

In the mainland, DOT is planning a roundabout (I wonder why roundabouts have gotten so popular among planners as they are very dangerous).

The vast majority of the people at the presentation were happy with the new plans.

A Bridge to the Beach.  --Cooter

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dyess, Arkansas, Depression-Era Farmer Colony

From Wikipedia.

It was founded in 1934 and in 2000 had a population of 515.

It was a planned community, part of FDR's New Deal program with streets laid out in a wheel pattern, but it was actually more of a colony named after W.R. Dyess, the first Works Progress Administration administrator in Arkansas.

Its purpose was to give poor families the chance to start over again with land they could work toward owning.  Originally, there were 500 individually-owned and operated farms, each between 20 and 40 acres.

The town is best-known as the boyhood home of country singer Johnny Cash who grew up at 4791 West County Road 924.  The house is now owned by Arkansas State University.

Dyess was also the boyhood homes of singers Gene Williams, Tommy Cash and Buddy Jewell.

"Hello, My name is...  --Cooter

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Depression-era Colony Cashing In On Johnny Cash's fame-- Part 2

Before he was the Man in Black, he was J.R. Cash, a son of Kingsland, Arkansas, farmers who successfully applied to take part in a 1930s Works Progress Administration experiment.  The government brought in 487 families, gave them land and a mule.

"This was a practice in socialism," said Roscoe Phillips, who was born at Dyess 77 years ago.  "They took people who had nothing and gave us something.  It wouldn't happen today."

Under the selection criteria--  the application ran on for eight pages-- families were rewarded for their rugged independence but on arrival had to share their excess with the community.  Their contributions qualified them for "doodlum," a paper currency not unlike the script issued at company towns.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Depression-era Colony Cashing in On Johnny Cash's Fame--Part 1

from the August 16, 2014, Northwest Herald (Illinois) Buzz.

Dyess, Arkansas.

Money and memorabilia from Johnny Cash's family and friends have helped preservationists restore a large part of the Historic Dyess Colony, a government collective built during the Great Depression to help agricultural families out of poverty.  Johnny Cash's family lived here while he was growing up and his boyhood home and the colony's former headquarters opened Saturday.

The colony and town is in northeastern Arkansas and was on once sunken land.

Ruth Hawkins, executive director of the heritage Sites Program at Arkansas State University said, "Restoring the Dyess Colony Administration Building, and even saving at least one of the typical colony houses, would have been a worthwhile project, even without the Johnny Cash connection.

"But the project would not have gotten anywhere near the public support that it has, and it would not be a major tourism draw.

I am aware of a lot of the projects developed to help get the country out of the Great Depression, but hadn't heard of this one.

"Because You're Mine, i walk the ___."  --Dacoot in Black

Presidential Movies-- Part 4: Action, Conspiracies, On the Trail

Some more movies about presidents.


AIR FORCE ONE: (1997)  Harrison Ford

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN:  (2013)  Aaron Eckhart

WHITE HOUSE DOWN: (2013)  Jamie Foxx  These last two made the White House Seem to be a very dangerous place to live.


ABSOLUTE POWER:  (1997)  Gene Hackman

SEVEN DAYS IN MAY:  (1964) Frederic March

FAIL-SAFE:  (1964)  Henry Fonda

MURDER AT 1600:  Ronny Cox



THE BEST MAN:  (1964)  Henry Fonda

PRIMARY COLORS:  (1998)  John Travolta  (Vinny Barbarino, the president?)

BULWORTH:  (1998)  Warren Beatty

Use Your Presidential Coins to Pay for the DVD.  --Cooter

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Presidential Movies-- Part 3: Comdies, Romance and Science Fiction

DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)--  Peter Sellers

MY FELLOW AMERICANS (1996)--  Dan Aykroyd, Jack Lemmon and James Garner

KISSES FOR MY PRESIDENT--  (1964)--  Polly Bergen (first woman president)

FIRST FAMILY (1980)--  Bob Newhart


DAVE (1993)--  Kevin Kline

THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT (1995)--  Michael Douglas


 MARS ATTACKS (1996)-- Jack Nicholson

DEEP IMPACT (1998)--  Morgan Freeman

INDEPENDENCE DAY (1996)--  Bill Pullman

Some More Coming.  --Cooter

Friday, August 15, 2014

This Date in History

From Bob Dearborn's Olde Disc Jockey Site.

1812:  202 years ago, it was Illinois' biggest War of 1812 battle at Fort Dearborn (present-day Chicago).  Sometimes also referred to as the Fort Dearborn Massacre.

1914:  An American ship becomes the first one through the new Panama Canal, going fro  the Atlantic to the Pacific.

1916: The first self-propelled tank was used at the Battle of the Somme during World War I.  Nicknamed "Big Willie."

1935:  Humorist Will Rogers and aviator Wiley Post die in a plane crash.

1947:  India gains its independence after 200 years as a British colony.

1948:  The first network nightly newscast on CBS.


Deaths: Sgt. Cavaiani Locates Remains of Sgt. Jones-- Part 3

In an interesting follow up to the death of Jon Cavaiani, in 2011,  Jon Cavaiani returned to Vietnam to help Defense Department officials locate the remains of Sgt. John Jones, the sergeant who had stayed behind with him and whose body had never been recovered.

This was four decades after the battle on Hickory Hill.

Mr. Cavaiani remembered and precisely identified the bunker where he and Jones had taken refuge.  Larry Page, a former Special Forces radio operator returned to the site with Cavaiani.  He was one of the ones the sergeant's efforts had enabled to be rescued.  Mr. Page said, "I attribute my life to him."

Jones' remains were found, and, in 2012, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

I imagine this trip brought back vivid memories for both men and I sure would have liked to have been with them.

An Interesting Story in Itself.

Deaths: Vietnam War Medal of Honor Recipient, Jon Cavaiani-- Part 2

By midday, the onslaught had grown overwhelmingly.  Cavaiani directed the helicopter evacuation of most of his command, but he remained behind.  The North Vietnamese continued their attack and Cavaiani continued to fight back, finally telling  the remaining men to escape.

Badly wounded, he took cover in a bunker along with Sgt. John Jones.  they killed the first two North Vietnamese soldiers to enter.  A grenade was tossed in and Jones exited and was mortally shot.  Cavaiani played dead and survived a fire in the bunker before being captured.  he was interned in a North Vietnamese prison until his release in 1973.

The following year, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Gerald Ford

He was a war baby of World War II, being born as Jon Robert Lemmons on August 2, 1943, in England, the son of an American father and English mother.  He came to California as a boy and took his stepfather's name.

Hero With an Interesting Background.

Deaths: Vietnam War Medal of Honor Recipient, Jon Cavaiani-- Part 1

From the August 6, 2014, Chicago Tribune "Medal of Honor recipient, POW in Vietnam War" by Emily Langer, Washington Post.

JON CAVAIANI (1943-2014)

Jon Cavaiani, an Army sergeant major and Special Forces veteran, who received the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for valor, for leading his outnumbered unit in defense of a strategically critical outpost died July 29, 2014 at age 70.

In 1971, as a staff sergeant, he was in charge of a platoon protecting a remote hilltop in the northwestern part of what was then South Vietnam.  This area also happened to be controlled by the North Vietnamese.  His unit had highly advanced and top secret equipment to intercept enemy communications and monitor movement on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and was on a site referred to as Hickory Hill.

On June 4 and 5, the enemy attacked the camp and Caviani led the defense after his captain was wounded and evacuated.  Mr. Cavaiani "acted with complete disregard for his personal safety as he repeatedly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire in order to move about the camp's perimeter directing the platoon's fire and rallying the platoon in a desperate fight for survival," his medal citation reads.

A Real Hero.

"Sinker Wood" Attracting Treasure Hunters-- Part 3

The two men cut the recovered logs into long slabs which expose the grain, which is what people want.

Despite the value of the logs, few people in South Carolina go through the cost and effort to recover them.  It is very dangerous and time-consuming.  There are only seven people doing it in South Carolina., but there are also some in North Carolina and Florida.

An annual South Carolina recovery permit costs $500 for in-state and $1,000 for out-of-state residents.

But to legally recover 'sinker wood", the person must also pay $8,000 to $10,000 got a "submerged cultural resource survey"  to inspect and map a mile of river bottom artifacts such as shipwrecks and fossils along with the wood.

Cypress trees were harvested for boat hulls and decking.  Long leaf pines were in demand for their long, straight trunks.  During the Colonial era they were called the "King's Trees" and reserved for making masts.

The pines were also tapped for rosin and turpentine.

The standard log cut back then was 14 1/2 feet long.  Emerson says, however, that the biggest log he has recovered was a 30-foot-long cypress.  Some of the cypress were well over a century old when felled.

I have read about "sinker wood" being recovered in the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.

Hard Work If You can Find It.  --Cooter

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Woodstock's Orson Welles Connection

From the Spring 2014 McHenry County Living Magazine "Woodstock Celebrates 80 Years of Orson Welles" by Peter Gill.

Orson Welles came to Woodstock, Illinois, as an eleven-year-old boy in 1926 and lived at the Todd School for Boys, a boarding school founded in 1847.  he left the town in 1934, embarking on an incredible radio/theater/film career which included the "Big Scare" of his 1938 "War of the Worlds" to what some consider the greatest film of all time "Citizen Kane" in 1941.

But, it was in Woodstock where he made his professional director debut at the Woodstock Opera House (still standing on the famous Square).

Welles was born in nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1915.  His parents divorced and his mother died when he was just eight.  Three years later, his father enrolled him at the exclusive and rich Todd School.  This is where he met his teacher and mentor, Headmaster Roger Hill.  This man, more than anyone else, was the reason for Welles' success.

He graduated from Todd School in 1931 at age 16 and traveled abroad where he made his debut as an actor in Ireland.  He returned to Woodstock and began his career in earnest.

This year and next (Welles' 100th birthday), there will be many Orson Welles events in town to celebrate his life.

Stuff You Didn't Know.  --DaCoot

Filming in Wilmington, North Carolina

From the Jukly 30, 2014, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Film".

Some folks don't know it, but Wilmington is and has been a major center for filming of both movies and TV shows in  the country.  Part of this is due to some very nice monetary incentives offered by the state.

In 2013, the film industry spent $244 million in North Carolina with more than 30 qualifying productions receiving just over $61 million from the incentive program.  The year before the numbers were $334 million and $83 million in tax credits.

This year, the new budget calls for just $10 million tax credit for the first six months of 2015 because of budgetary problems.

I found this list of interest showing some productions filmed around the Wilmington area in recent years, how much they spent (first) and how much in tax credits (second) they received:


Iron Man 3: $81 million/ $20 million
We're the Millers:  $21 million/ 5.2 million
The Conjuring:  $16 million/ $4.2 million
Tammy:  $14 million/  $3.6 million


Sleepy Hollow (pilot episode):  $7 million/  $1.8 million
Under the Dome (season one):  $33 million/  $8.3 million
Eastbound and Down (final season):  $20 million/  $5.2 million
Revolution:  (season one):  $57 million/  $14.2 million

Keep the Film Rolling.  --Cooter

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Sinker Wood" Attracting Treasure Hunters-- Part 2

Across the coast of the southeastern U.S., pine and cypress were harvested into the late 1800s.  Most of the logs were lashed together with metal "spike dogs" and floated or towed downstream to mills.

Along the way, many of these timbers would break loose and become embedded in the river bottoms. Rivers such as the Edisto are known as "black water" rivers because of the tannins and humic acid released from rotting vegetation.  This preserves the wood as oxygen is depleted that would normally cause decay.   They are now perfectly preserved and highly valued for milling into tables, mantles, flooring and bar surfaces.

For the past three years, Hewitt Emerson, 28, has been out looking for these logs, known as "sinker wood."

This particular piece of wood is a beauty, nearly 20 feet long and 15 inches in diameter.  It is known as "heart pine" and "hard pine."  Likely value of it is a couple thousand dollars.

Hard Work If You Can Get It.  --Cooter

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Sinker Wood" Attracting Treasure Hunters-- Part 1

From the July 27, 2014, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "'Sinker wood' draws rare breed of treasure hunter" by David Zucchino, L.A. Times.

Hewitt Emerson is diving from a barge into the murky black waters of the Edisto River in South Carolina and swimming down to the mucky river bottom, more than a dozen feet below.  On deck, his buddy Justin Gerrington keeps careful watch for alligators and water moccasins with his pistol close at hand.

These two men are searching for sunken treasure, but not the metallic kind.  Their treasure is hand-cut, century old logs dating back to the 1800s South Carolina milling industry  Emerson was trying to locate the butt end of a long-leaf pine log he'd spotted and these logs can command thousands of dollars for their intricately beautiful grains and long, straight cuts.

Not Just Any Old Piece of Wood.  --Cooter.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

WKRP Is Back, But Not in Cincinnati

From the July 28, 2014, Raleigh (NC) News & Observers "New station snags WKRP call" by Sarah Barr.

Sorry Cincinnati, the new station is in northeastern Raleigh and should be operational by early 2015.

Oak Dale media, the non-profit behind the low-power FM (LPFM) station known as 101.9 WKRP hopes to provide its listeners with a huge mic of entertainment.  Of course, the new call letters, WKRP will remind listeners of that great late 70s, early 80s TV sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati,: my all-time favorite show.

Of course, I would like to hear Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap.

Mrs. Carlson Would Be So Happy.  --DaCoot

Congratulations to Frank Thomas and Tony La Russa, Baseball's HoF

From the July 28, 2014, Raleigh (NC) News & Observer "Tears, apologies and enshrinement" by John Kekis, AP.

"Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy.

Also inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown were pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and managers Bobby Cox.

Being a Chicago (especially White Sox) fan, I was extra happy for Thomas, probably the all-time greatest Sox player.  And, Tony La Russa cut his managerial teeth as White Sox skipper in the 80s, taking them to the playoffs in 1983.  And, Greg Maddux was originally a Cub.

Congrats, Guys.  --Cooter

Friday, August 8, 2014

Chicago's Eastland Disaster-- Part 4: A Titanic Comparison

And then, there is probably the best-known maritime disaster, the wreck of the RMS Titanic in 1912 (which had its own impact on the wreck of the SS Eastland just three years later.

When the number of crew members who died in the two are taken away, on the Titanic the number becomes 829.  On the Eastland, the number is 842.

The overall number of the Titanic victims, however, is almost double at 1523 when crew is included.  That is 694 crew deaths.  Quite amazing is that just two crew members died on the Eastland.  Especially considering that so many would have been below deck at the time of the sinking.

Chicago's Eastland Disaster-- Part 3: Comparing the Disasters

It was July 15, 1915, and the time for the fifth annual employee picnic for the workers at Chicago's huge Western Electric plant.

Five ships had been hired to take the people to Michigan City.    One of the five was the ship heralded as the "Speed Queen of the Great Lakes," the SS Eastland.

Twenty-two entire families died in the tragedy.

And now, that tragedy has been largely forgotten.  Not all tragedies in Chicago have been though.  Most everyone knows about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, you know, the one supposedly started by Mrs. O'Leary's cow.  Somewhere between 300-400 died in it.

Then there was the Chicago Iroquois Theater fire in 1903, which killed 606.  People remember that.

Another disaster most people know is the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, especially thanks to Gordon Lightfoot's song about it.  Twenty-nine died in that one.

Somewhat forgotten, though, is the wreck of the ship Lady Elgin in Lake Michigan in which 279 perished.

Chicago's Eastland Disaster-- Part 2

Of 2,500+ passengers on the SS Eastland that July 15, 1915, morning, 844 died.  Some 7,000 Western Electric workers, their families and friends had purchased tickets for what was planned to be a great day of fun and activities, including a round trip boat trip to Michigan City, for a picnic and activities.  Everyone of these mostly 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants was primed for fun.

One of the people planning to go was a young man named George Hallas, who later became known as one of the founders of the NFL and, of course, Da Bears.

Barb Kohler's grandmother was one who survived what the Chicago Tribune called in bold headlines the next day the "Most Appalling Cathedral in the History of Inland Navigation."

Sadly, the Eastland tragedy has been lost in history.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Chicago's Eastland Disaster-- Part 1 "Wasn't No One Rich or Famous On That Boat"

Yesterday, I went to the Fox Lake, Illinois, Library, to see a presentation by the Eastland Disaster Historical Society.

They started with this quote:

"Wasn't no one rich or famous on that boat when it went down.
Only dusty men with dusty books know or care who drowned."

This pretty well sums up the story of the Eastland.  Even many Chicagoans know little or nothing about the fated vessel called the Eastland.

Three members of the society mad the presentation.  Two of them were descendants of one of the survivors, their grandmother.  Had she perished that horrific day, almost 100 years ago, they would not have been in the library last night.

Ted Wattles was the other presenter.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Eastland Disaster Talk Tonight

The Eastland Disaster Historical Disaster Society will give a talk on one of Chicago's greatest tragedies tonight at the Fox Lake, Illinois, library through photos, video and first-person narratives.  The presentation will be given by descendants of the survivors.

I was there and will write about it beginning tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

U.S. Warships Named Mississippi-- Part 2

88  The second USS Mississippi was an undersized battleship commissioned in 1908.  It served briefly as a base for sea planes before being sold to Greece in 1914 and renamed the Kilkis.

It was sunk by a German dive bomber in 1941 while being used as a floating gun battery.  The ship's figurehead is displayed in Jackson at the grounds of the state Capitol.

**  The third USS Mississippi was a battleship commissioned in 1917 and saw action in the Pacific Ocean during World War II..  It served for ten more years after the war as an auxiliary ship.

It was decommissioned in 1956 and scrapped.  It's bell is at the Rosalie Mansion in Natchez.

**  The 4th USS Mississippi was a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser commissioned in 1978.  It fired missiles at Iraq in the First Gulf War and was decommissioned in 1997.

Its main mast is displayed at the Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ocean Springs.


Monday, August 4, 2014

U.S. Warships Named Mississippi-- Part 1

Fromthe May 31, 2012, WJTV Jackson, Mississippi, "A glance at previous warships named Mississippi" by AP.

This article came about because of the commissioning of the USS Mississippi, SSN-782, a Virginia-class submarine commissioned in 2012.

***  First USS Mississippi was a steam-powered paddle wheeler launched in 1841, one of the Navy's earliest steamships.  Fought in the Mexican War and carried Commodore Matthew Perry on his famous 1853 opening of Japan cruise.

It helped capture New Orleans in 1862 during the Civil War and ram aground near Port Hudson, Louisiana and was destroyed by its crew to prevent capture.  The future hero of the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War, George Dewey, was on board.


10 Great U.S. Marines-- Part 2

5.  Corporal Ira Hamilton Hayes--  Iwo Jima flag-raiser.

4.  Gunnery Sergeant Ronald Lee Ermey--  (1944-present).  Vietnam and star of TV show "Mail Call."

3.  Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone--  (1916-1945)--  Guadalcanal

2.  Lt. General John Archer Lejeune  (1867-1942)--  NC's Camp Lejeune named after him.  Known as the "Greatest of All Leathernecks" and the "Marine's Marine."  Spanish-American War, World War I.

1.  Lt. General Lewis Burwell Puller (1898-1971).  Most decorated-ever Marine.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

10 Great U.S. Marines-- Part 1

From the February 11, 2011, Listverse.  Always more information and pictures at the site.

10.  Captain Brian Michael Stann.  Born in 1980.  Received the Silver Star in May 2005 in Iraq.

9.  Private First Class Robert Leckie (1920-2001)  Fought in the Pacific Theater World War II.  Wrote the book "Helmet for My Pillow."

8.  Corporal Eugene Bondurant Sledge (19923-2001)  Fought in the Pacific Theater and wrote two books.

7.  Colonel John Herschel Glenn, Jr.  (1921- present).  Astronaut, U.S. senator.

6.  Sgt. Major Daniel Joseph Daly (1973-1937).  Boxer War and World War I.  Coined the phrase "Do you want to live forever."

Armour , Dole & Company of Chicago

From the Encyclopedia of Chicago.

At the end of June, I wrote about attending a New Odyssey concert in Crystal Lake, Illinois, on the grounds of the Dole Mansion which was built by successful Chicago businessman Charles S. Dole.

I'd never heard of him before and then I came across the name Armour, a famous one in Chicago.  I decided to find out some more about Dole's company that made him so rich, the Armour, Dole & Co..

The company was formed by George Armour, Charles Dole and Wesley Munges and owned a grain elevator at the depot of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad in Chicago with a capacity to hold 850,000 bushels.

After the Civil War, the Armour, Dole & Co. remained one of Chicago's leading grain warehouses.  Their elevators eventually had a combine capacity for 2.1 million bushels by 1871.  By the early 1880s, they could store 6.8 million bushels.

I am not sure whether George Armour was any relation to Philip Danfour Armour, who founded the famous Armour & Company.