Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ernie Banks' Early Baseball Career: A Route 66 Connectin

From the Jan. 25, 2015, Chicago Tribune "The Greatest Cub."  Part of a two-page front section spread.

"'When I started to play baseball, I just had the natural quick hands,' Banks said.  'That was my extra advantage, my slight edge over everybody else.  ...I could wait until the last minute minute and hit the ball.'

"Banks' patented stance, that hypnotic wriggling of his fingers on the handle of his bat, one day would be emulated by legions of kids.  Those quick hands made Banks stand out among his peers, and at age of 17, with the help of former Negro leagues pitcher Bill Blair, he became part of a touring team based in Amarillo, Texas.  (Of course, Amarillo is on Route 66 and, playing in the National League his whole career, he would have played many games in St. Louis and Los Angeles, also on 66.)

"By 1950 Banks was playing professionally, albeit for $300 per month, for the Kansas City Monarchs, a Negro League team managed by Buck O'Neil.  After a couple of years in the Army, he returned to the Monarchs in 1953 and began making a name for himself.

Snapping That Bat.  --Cooter

Friday, January 30, 2015

Ernie Banks: Ever the Optimist

Here is a partial list of all of Ernie's predictions for the Cubs.  I sure wish I'd find a a complete list of those predictions.

"The Cubs are due in '62."

"The Cubs will come alive in '65."

"The Cubs will be heavenly in '67-ly."

"The Cubs will shine in '69."

"The Cubs will glow in '7-0."

"The Cubs will be illuminated in '88.  That's a little weak.  I'll have to do better."  (Referring to the lights installed at Wrigley Field.)

We'll Miss That Smile.  --Cooter

"Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks, Speaks-- Part 3

AFTER HITTING HIS 500TH HOME RUN:  "The riches of the game are in the thrills, not the money."

AFTER RETIRING:  "I've never worked a day in my life."

AS A COACH IN 1976:  "I like my players to be married and in debt.  That's the way you motivate them."

IN 1977:  "Happiness is going eyeball-to-eyeball with those Cub fans.  That's really what I appreciated most about playing in Wrigley Field."

IN 2003:  "Sometimes when I'd hit a home run into the bleachers, I'd imagine the ball being caught by a kid and making his day.  Then, I'd think, 'Someday, I might have to ask that kid for a job.'  I can't imagine any of today's players needing to ask anybody for a job after baseball."

Wearing My Cubs Hat.  --Cooter

"Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks, Speaks-- Part 2

The Cubs resurgence in the late 60s led to his most memorable saying: "The Cubs will shine in '69."  And, they indeed did shine until September when that horrible thing happened which surely broke a lot of hearts.  (Not mine, though, as the Sox had done that to me with their fold in the final five games in '67.)


ERNIE BANKS' SIGNATURE QUOTE (though there are two variations):  "What a beautiful day!  Let's play two!"

IN 1955:  "I'm different from those that swing hard.  Can't follow the pitch if I try to slug.  I whip the bat with my wrists, with a snap.  This way I can wait longer to swing."

IN 1969, WHEN BANKS WAS NAMED TO THE CTA BOARD (Chicago Transportation Agency):  "For one thing, I want to make sure that the elevated always stops at Wrigley Field."

Da Man!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ernie Banks, the Greatest Cub: Ernie Speaks-- Part 1

From the Jan. 25, 2015, Chicago Tribune.

Aside from his home runs, Banks was a perennial optimist known for his annual slogans assuring Cub fans their high hopes would be rewarded.

"The Cubs will come alive in '65," he proclaimed before the team ended  with a dismal 90 losses and an eighth place finish.

Then in 1966, with new manager Leo Durocher, Banks announced "The Cubs will shoot from the hip with 'Leo the Lip,".  That was the year the Cubs finished last, in 10th place with 103 losses.

Then in 1966, he had some rhyming problems, but came out with "The Cubs will be heavenly in '67."  And, the Cubs did improve to third place and 84 wins.


The Magic of the Sunday Comics-- Part 3: Little Orphan Annie"

"Little Orphan Annie" debuted Nov. 2, 1924, and never aged a day in the nine decades since.  "She never grew up, or gave up, for all that life and her creator Harold Gray put her through.  Which is not to say that tragedy was unknown in the script.

"An archconservative like his employer, Tribune publisher Robert McCormick, Gray detested the New Deal-- making his point by killing off Annie's sometime benefactor, Daddy Warbucks, as a victim of a misguided social revolution that made capitalists obsolete.

"After President Franklin Roosevelt's death, Daddy Warbucks was resurrected, the seeming miracle explained as a missed diagnosis: Warbucks hadn't died, he was just in a coma."

But, Ralphie, in "A Christmas Story" sure was excited about his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring until he deciphered it to find it was just to get him to drink his Ovaltine.

Not One of My favorite Comic Strips.  --Cooter

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Magic of Sunday Comics-- Part 2

Continued from last week.

There was a time when syndicate salesmen (who sold the comic strips) would be met at trains by competing editors in their quest for new comics and features.

The Chicago Tribune occasionally published a page of gag cartoons in 1895, but it wasn't until December 1901 that it printed its first Sunday "comics supplement," with multipanel color strips and characters who appeared weekly, including "Animal Land" and "Mr. Boggs."

On Nov. 24, 1918 "Gasoline Alley."  This was a strip populated by guys working on their automobiles, but it was decided that it needed something to appeal to female readers.  The main character, Walt Wallet was unmarried, but problem solved when an abandoned baby was left on his doorstep.

He was named Skeezix, who grew up on the strip and fought in World War II, became a grandfather and had a mid-life crisis in the 1960s.  (I used to read this strip everyday in the Tribune, but it is no longer carried.)


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ernie Banks Hitting Those Homers

Taken from his 1970 Topps Baseball Card.

  Later in 1970, he hit home run #500, making him only the 9th player in MLB history to that time to hit 500+ homers.

Starting with his first year with the Cubs when he played ten games in 1953:

1953--  2, 19, 44, 28,

1957--  43, 47, 45

1960--  41, 29, 37, 18, 23

1965--  28, 15, 23, 32, 23

Total to end of 1969 was 497.

Not bad for a guy who started out as a shortstop.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Out of the Mouth of Ernie Banks

I just listened to Lin Braemer's "Lin's Bin" which today was on Ernie Banks.  I sure teared up.  Lin, one of the biggest Cubs fans ever, said he had a hard time putting it together and it still got to him this morning.  It will repeat again in the 6 p.m. CST hour on WXRT which streams.

Anyway, Ernie Banks was famous for his quotes and I especially liked his annual predictions, and, of course, "Let's play two!"

Here are some quotes:

"It's a great day for a ball game; let's play two!"

"The Cubs are due in '62."

"The Cubs are gonna shine in '69."

"The only way to prove you're a good sport is to lose."

"The virtues of the game are in the thrills, not the money."

"Work? I never worked a day in my life.  I always loved what I was doing, had a passion for it."

We'll Miss Him.

Ernie Banks' 1958 Topps All-Star Selection Card-- Part 2

The card had a breakdown of how Ernie Banks played against each of the other seven National League teams in 1957.

He played his best against the Brooklyn Dodgers where in 83 at bats he scored 15 runs on 25 hits including 5 doubles and 11 HOME RUNS for a .301 batting average and 26 rbi and the Pittsburgh Pirates with 93 at bats, 33 hits and 8 HOME RUNS for a .355 batting average and 15 rbis.

His overall stats for 1957: 156 games, 594 abs, 113 runs, 169 hits, 34 doubles, 6 triples, 43 home runs, 103 rbis and .285 batting average.

Not bad for a shortstop, however, when I started watching the Cubs in 1964, he was always the first baseman.

A Great Has Left Us.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ernie Banks' '58 All Star Selection Topps Card-- Part 1

After yesterday's sad news, I got out my Cubs baseball card display book and started looking at the Ernie Banks cards.  Unfortunately, they only go back to this card as the others were way too expensive when I was collecting them back in the 60s and then again in the late 70s-80s.

His cards go back to 1953, I imagine, since that was his rookie year with the Cubs where he played ten games and hit his first two of more than 500 home runs in his career.

The back of his '58 card reads:
Ernie Banks
Chicago Cubs
Sport Magazine '58 All-Star Selection

The text "Ernie has inscribed his name in the record books bu clouting more homers than any other shortstop in history.  And when he comes to bat with the sacks loaded, pitchers shudder.  He blasted 5 out of the park with 3 men on in '56 for another all-time mark.  This year he hit 18 homers in the first seven weeks of the season.

Not bad for a shortstop.  --Cooter

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Talking Pumpkins-- Part 2

**  Pumpkin juice was a favorite drink of the students at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter novels.

**  The famous American writer Henry David Thoreau said, "I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowned on a velvet cushion."

**  Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater locked his wife in a pumpkin shell.

**  In his poem "The Pumpkin," the famous poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, "What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye, what calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?"

And then, there is that great pumpkin beers and pumpkin spice cappachino.  And, anything made of pumpkin in the fall.

--Cooter Cooter Pumpkin Drinker

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Talking Pumpkins-- Part 1

From the Oct. 8, 2014, Chicago Tribune "Pumpkins: 90% water, 10% magic" by Christopher De Vinck.

Starts with Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" cartoon strips and, of course, Linus' fascination with the Great Pumpkin rising from the pumpkin patch every Halloween.  Of course, Oct. 8th is leading up to that great pumpkin festival in the patch and everywhere at the end of the month.

"Consider the following magical pumpkin delights:

**  The word pumpkin comes from the Greek word pepon, meaning large melon.

**  Massaging ground pumpkin paste onto the face was once believed to remove freckles.

**  Morton, Illinois, has earned the title of Pumpkin Capital of the World as 85% of the world's canned pumpkins are produced there.

**  Cinderella's fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a beautiful carriage.

And, then There Are Those Pumpkin Shakes!  --CooterPumpkin-Eater

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Magic of the Sunday Comics-- Part 1

From the Dec. 21, 2014, Chicago Tribune by Ron Grossman.

Graffiti cartoons date back to ancient Rome, but the modern comic strip is an offspring of the American newspaper at the turn of the 20th century.  Newspapers were vying for readers by cutting the cost of their papers to a penny or two (not like now, when they are going up fast.  The Tribune is $1.50 and USA Today $2 daily).

They began broadening their appeal with screaming headlines, celebrity gossip and lurid crime stories.  Then came the crosswords.

In 1895, Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World started a front page cartoon feature, "The Yellow Kid."  It was so successful that other papers soon were scrambling for comic strips.

They were printed every weekday, but soon expanded to Sundays where they really became a hit.  Whole sections devoted to the sheer enjoyment and serialized offerings spread all over.

I know with me that no Sunday was complete until I got a hold of all that color and read most every comic strip therein.  After Dad had read them, of course.  I still read that comic section in the Tribune last every Sunday.  That is my dessert after all that news and advertising sections.

And, I know that i will soon be missing this section as it will be digital and brought up on pads and tablets.  That's o.k., but just not the same.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Father of Modern-Day Baseball Cards-- Part 3

Kids, especially boys, would put the cards in their bicycle spokes to make that clacking noise (but, of course, ruining the card.  And then there was all the trading of cards "I'll give you two Mickey Mantles for your Willie Mays."  Most boys quit collecting and eventually their moms through them out or sold them at garage sales (as in my case).

Scarcity of the earlier cards as such led to the cards being looked to as investments, especially in the 1980s.  For example, the T206 Honus Wagner and 1952 Mickey Mantle cards became extremely valuable.  Last week. a 1952 Mickey Mantle sold at auction for $268,664!!  Wonder how many were thrown into the Atlantic.

Other companies like Fleer, Donrus and Bowman got into the game.  By the 1980s, baseball cards were so popular that the gum was dropped.

A word about that gum.  My experience was always that you needed a hammer to break it, then could cut gashes in your mouth while trying to soften it up to chew.  Them, in addition, it was sickenly sweet.

I didn't like the gum, but had paid for it so went ahead and chomped down.

Father of Modern-Day Baseball Cards Dies-- Part 2: Sy Berger Dumping the '52s

Sy Berger joined Topps in 1952 and produced their first set of baseball cards which he designed at his kitchen table using cardboard and scissors.  Packs of this edition came with six cards and piece of gum and sold for 5 cents.

One of those cards was a Mickey Mantle rookie card, but even with that, it didn't sell well at all.  The set was overproduced, especially the second part of it.  There were a whole lot that did not sell and Berger tried to unload them by going around to carnivals and selling them for a penny each and eventually, in desperation, ten for a penny.

By 1960, he still had a huge number of the 1952 set so he eventually commissioned a barge to carry three garbage truck loads of the '52s out to the Atlantic Ocean where they were dumped.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Father of Modern-Day Baseball Cards Dies-- Part 1: Sy Berger

SY BERGER, 91, DIED DEC. 14, 2014.

Sy Berger devised the practice of signing Major League Baseball players year after year to use their names and images on cards which were published in annual sets.

For 30+ years, Topps had been paying players $75 a year for that privilege, and usually that amount was applied toward buying stuff from their catalog.  Berger knew players personally which made it easier for him to get them to sign.  However, it took him six years to get St. Louis slugger Stan Musial to ink a contract.  Mr. Berger was often seen by the side of close personal friend Willie Mays.

Topps was formed in 1938 as a chewing gum company.  As gum competition grew, they unveiled their Bazooka Bubble Gum which also included a short comic strip as a way to increase sales.  And that led to putting gum into packs of baseball cards.

More to Come.

DeKalb County in 1939, 75 Years Ago: Those Sinful Rural Taverns

DECEMBER 20, 1939

Destruction of the newly placed signs on blacktop roads has begun.  Fred O. Larson, the county superintendent of highways, says that when discovered the culprit will face serious charges.

"The state Grange condemns rural taverns as a distinct menace to morals and asks for legislation to limit the licensing of taverns and saloons to incorporated villages and cities."

"Burglars and robbers were perniciously active in Sycamore and vicinity over the weekend."

The county will have 5 trucks to push snow plows.  Three are in DeKalb, one in Shabbona and one in Sandwich.

It wasn't me Destroying Those Signs.  --Cooter

Friday, January 16, 2015

DeKalb County in 1914, 100 Years Ago-- Part 2: "Muzzle Their Exhausts"

December 1914, 100  years ago.

There is a new 8-inch crack in the Kirkland School bell.

"A lot of people are coughing, blowing their noses and sneezing these days, and people at public gatherings feel like suggesting the afflicted "muzzle their exhausts."

A cold wave hit Monday.  Suddenly, in 24 hours, the moderate weather went from 38 degrees to 9 below zero.  Last winter's cold did not hit until February.


A Look Back at History from DeKalb County, Illinois-- Part 1: Killing Dogs for Hoof and Mouth

From the Dec. 16, 2014, The Mid Week, Sycamore, Illinois.

1889, 125 years ago.

A large number of Swedish-Americans and their families have left DeKalb for Rockford to work in furniture factories and have purchased enough stock to have controlling interests.

1914, Dec. 16th

"The stern hand of the law has again been laid on the shoulders of Moses Brown.

Farmers in DeKalb County are worried about the hoof and mouth disease.

George Nichols' wagon was struck by a Caledonia passenger train on Monday.

Smallpox is prevalent and hoof and mouth disease rampant.  Dogs are especially dangerous.  The mayor of Harvard has given the city marshal orders to give each dog owner notice to kill the animal.


McHenry Vietnam Veterans Memorial

McHenry, Illinois.

The memorial is sponsored by the McHenry High School Class of '64.  Three of the four McHenry graduates killed in Vietnam were from the Class of 1964.

Carter Freund, Class of '64
James Ambrose III, Class of '64
Glenn Davis, Class of '64
John Granath, Class of '67

The groundbreaking for the memorial was held in October 2014 and formal dedication on Veterans Day 2014.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fort Fisher Finally Became a N.C. State Historic Site

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the fall of Fort Fisher in 1865.

After the war, the fort was abandoned by the U.S. Army and allowed to fall into ruins, so much that after awhile it appeared to be nothing more than a group of sand dunes.

Veterans of the battle on both sides worked to have the Federal government make it a U.S. historic site like the Battle of Gettysburg, but nothing was ever accomplished.  Finally, in the late 1950s, through the efforts of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the fort was made a N.C. State Historic Site.

Serious preservation began at this time, though by then much of the fort was now under the Atlantic Ocean.

But, At Least We Still Have What Remains.

No More Ellie May Clampett

DONNA DOUGLAS (1932-Jan. 1, 2015)

I am wondering how all her critters will get along now that she's gone.  

Best-known for her role as Jed Clampett's daughter on CBS' "The Beverly Hillbillies" (1962-1971).  She later became a real estate agent and Gospel singer.

She was born in Louisiana and selected from some 500 actresses for her famous role.

And, an object of affection for many a boy, including myself.  I wonder how many animals made appearances on that show.

"Come and Listen to My Story About a Man Named Jed, a Poor Mountaineer, Barely Kept...."  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Boomer's History of the 1964 World's Fair-- Part 2

**  Top grossing commercial pavilion was reportedly "Bourbon Street," with go-go dancer Candy Johnson headlining at the Gay New Orleans Nightclub.

**  Little-known exhibit was a scale model of the World Trade Center towers being planned for lower Manhattan.

**  The fair's Unisphere icon, a 12-story stainless-steel model of the Earth, was "destroyed" in the 1997 film "Men in Black."

**  Walt Disney's "audio-animatronic" Abraham Lincoln had more than 250,000 combinations of facial expressions, gestures and other actions.

Giant Bugs and "Four Score and ...."  --DaCoot

A Boomer's History of the 1964 World's Fair-- Part 1

From the April 1964 AARP Bulletin.

The 1964 New York World's Fair opened in April and was a sprawling showcase of midcentury American culture and technology.  Some 52 million attended, but it was a financial flop, returning just 19 cents on the dollar invested.

Some trivia about it:

**  The star attraction of the Vatican Pavilion was Michelangelo's Pieta statue.

**  Most popular exhibit was GM's Futurama, which mesmerized nearly 26 million visitors with 3-D scenes of the "World of Tomorrow."

**  In their fifth season on TV in 1965, the Flintstones visited the fair using a time machine.  (Foor-powered?)

Putting the Cat Out for the Night.  --Cooter

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Veterans Memorial Planned for CLC-- Part 2

Wayne Maczko come from a highly-decorated military family and served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1972.

According to the college, there is a total of 597 veterans at the college and 12 adult education military students.  There are also another 30 noncredit military students.

To donate or purchase a brick, visit

The college has a long history of support for veterans.

Veteran Memorial Planned for Lake County's CLC-- Part 1

From the Dec. 11, 2014, Lake County (Il.) Suburban Life "$5,000 donation puts CLC closer to veteran memorial completion" by Stephanie Kohl.

A recent $5,000 donation from the Military Order of the World Wars has put the College of Lake County (CLC) closer to completion of its Veterans Memorial.

The effort for a memorial began back in 2006 with Wayne Maczko, a stationary engineer at the Grayslake campus of the college and U.S. Army veteran.  He was inspired by a photo from Arlington National Cemetery  of a man in a squatting position about to place a flag in front of a marker.

The Veterans Memorial is on the west side of campus, Willow Lake veterans Memorial Park is just missing its soldier.  Roughly $60,000 needs to be raised to complete the bronze statue which will be about 1 1/3 the size of a person.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Last-Known Eastland Disaster Survivor Dies-- Part 4

Marion Eichholz's oldest niece, Kathleen Kremholz, said her aunt often talked about was that she had new shoes on when the Eastland turned over.  Marion Eichholz was very low key about the incident and never sought the spotlight, even when she became the last known survivor.

She never married or had children and taught Sunday School for more than 50 years at Cicero Bible Church and spent a lot of time with her family.

Kathleen Kremholz says she remembers her grandmother, Anna Eichholz, Marion's mother talking about that day and especially seeing all the babies who had drowned below the water in their baby buggies.  Anna died at age 91 in the 1970s.

Today, there is a memorial marker at LaSalle and West Wacker Drive overlooking where the ship sank  The historical group hosts annual ceremonies and this year will be a big one as it is the centennial anniversary of the sinking.

More information can be found at

Last-Known Eastland Disaster Survivor Dies-- Part 3

At 7:30 a.m., while tied to the wharf, the ship rolled onto its side and sank in the Chicago River between LaSalle and Clark streets.  Unable to get out of the ship or get to shore safely, scores died, including 22 families.Marion Eichholz's story of that day is at Eastland Disaster Historical Society's website.

It reads in part:

"My mom... and my dad ... were seated on the upper deck, and I was standing by Mom's chair.  Suddenly the boat listed and I fell against the railing.  Mom pulled me back to her side.

"People began to panic, and women were running and screaming.  Dad picked me up in his arms, stood on the railing, and jumped into the river."

Her mother was thrown a rope after going down into the water while still seated on the boat.

"I remember Dad swimming with me in one arm.  I was crying, and my strap slippers were dangling from my ankles.  We were picked up by a tugboat and brought to shore.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Last Known Survivor of Eastland Disaster Dies-- Part 2

Thousands of Western Electric Co., the manufacturing arm of Bell Telephone Co, gathered in downtown Chicago, anxiously awaiting departure for a much anticipated day of good times family picnic day to Michigan City, Indiana.

A Lake Michigan excursion ship, the SS Eastland, and others had been chartered to take the families from downtown along Lake Michigan's southern shore to the Indiana shore.

There were about 7,000 employees and their families expecting to sail on five ships and the Eastland was supposed to depart first.

According to Ted Wachholz, "Tghis was the showcase event (of) the year for all these people.  In a heartbeat it went from being the most anticipated day to the worst of all possible scenarios."

Last Known Survivor of 1915 Eastland Sinking Dies-- Part 1

From the Dec. 14, 2014, Chicago Tribune "Last known survivor of deadly Eastland sinking horror dies at 102" by Michelle Manchir.

"Marion Eichholz was only 3 in 1915 when her dad took her into his arms and jumped into the Chicago River to escape a sinking ship, according to her recollection published online.

"That ship, the Eastland, claimed 844 lives July 24, 1915, the deadliest day in Chicago history.

"Eichholz and her parents survived.  The vessel's last known survivor, Eichholz, 102, died Nov. 24, the Eastland Disaster Historical Society said Friday."

"It's the last voice of the Eastland disaster.  There is no more firsthand testimony to be heard except whatever's documented in writing," said the groups director, Ted Wachholz.

An Event Most people Don't Even Know About, Unfortunately.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Just a Regular Guy's Ten Best Movies of 2014

10. Get On Up

9.  Bird Man

8.  Interstellar

7.  Boyhood

6.  Guardians of the Galaxy

5.  Life Itself

4.  The Grand Budapest Hotel

3.  Chef

2.  The Lego Movie

1.  Whiplash

I saw 10, 8 and 6.   I never heard of 9, 5 4, 3 and 1.

About Par for the Course.  --DaCoot

Just a Regular Guy's Worst 2014 Movies

From WXRT 93.1 FM, Chicago radio station.  His movie picks can be heard Tuesdays and Thursdays at around 7:45 a.m. and in the afternoon.  He also has podcasts at


5.  I, Frankenstein

4.  Horrible Bosses 2

3.  Let's Be Cops

2.  A Million Ways to Die in the West

1.  Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Give the podcast a listen as he has really funny comments.

I saw all five and enjoyed them, though.  But, I must admit I'm easily entertained at the movies and like most all I see.

Totally Awesome, said the Ten-Year-Old Boy.  --Cooter

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Six Signs That the Great Recession May Be Ending-- Part 2

BEAUTY SALONS--  Sales grew 5.4% in the last two years.  During downturns, Americans do away with the fancy hair stuff.  This puts us back to pre-recession levels.  I have my own hair cutting set so never go to the barbershop.

EATING OUT--  Annual sit-down restaurant sales up 8.7% in January over the same month in 2011.  But wow, the price of meals keeps going up.  Just try to get a breakfast with coffee and tip for under $10 anymore.

MOBILE HOMES--  In December, 3,800 units shipped, up 30% from the month before.  Strong trailer-park sales may signal strong home sales.

BUT, Some Bad News for the Kids:

THE TOOTH FAIRY--  Per-tooth payouts dropped 17% for last year.  This downturn does not bode well for kids.  I'd like to know how they figure these numbers?


Six Surprising Signs That the Great Recession Is Over

From the April 9, 2012, Time Magazine.  "Recovery for Real?" by Josh Sanburn.

Well, as we all know, the Great Recession id over for the GRBs, but not the rest of us, but there are things other than job losses and stock performance that might point to its end.

Kind of an interesting list:

UNDERWEAR--  Yearly sales jumped 6.6% in 2011.  Evidently time to replace those extra well-worn shorts.

PAY TV--  Cable and satellite subscribers were up .2% in 2011.    Means Americans are getting some discretionary money.

GOLF--  Rounds played increased 21.4% in January over the same month in 2011.  Maybe it's not just the rich GRBs who can afford the sport.

When Are We Going to get a Break on Those Worthless CDs?  Hey, Government, Time to Take Care of the Vast Unanoited in Give Us a Cut of the GRB Dough.  --Cooter

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sitcom Survivors-- Part 5: The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy


Only one of the four main people from the short-lived show survives: Joyce Randolph, who played Trixie Norton).  Jackie Gleason (Ralph Kramden) Audrey Meadows (his wife, Alice) and Art Carney (Trixie's husband Ed) have passed.

I LOVE LUCY ( 1951-1957)

Series stars Lucille Ball (Lucy Ricardo), Desi Arnaz (her husband Ricky), Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz) and William Frawley (her husband Fred) have been gone for some time, at least one somewhat regular on the show is still alive-- Keith Thibodeaux, credited as Richard Keith when he played Little Ricky in teh show's final season.  Coincidentally, Keith later appeared on another show on this list, as Opie Taylor's friend Johnny Paul Jason on "The Andy Griffith Show,"


Sitcom Survivors-- Part 4: Gilligan's Island

GILLIGAN'S ISLAND ( 1964-1967)

Four of the seven stars are no longer with us: Bob Denver (Gilligan), Alan Hale (The Skipper), Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III) and Natalie Schafer (his wife, Lovey).  Russell Johnson (The Professor) died in 2014).

Tina Louise (movie star Ginger  Grant) and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann Summers) still survive.

In case you're wondering, the Skipper, Professor and Lovey Howell had full names as well: Jonas Gumby, Roy Hunkley and Eunice Wentworth Howell.  Gilligan was just Gilligan.  No first or last name.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sitcom Survivors-- Part 3: The Andy Griffith Show


Series namesake Andy Griffith died earlier this month, July 2012, and George Lindsey, who played Goober Pyle, passed away in May.  Also gone are Don Knotts (Barney Fife), Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee), Howard McNear (barber Floyd Lawson), Aneta Corsault (Sheriff Andy Taylor's girlfriend Helen Crump), Jack Dodson (County Clerk Howard Sprague and Hal Smith (town drunk Otis Campbell).

Of course, Ron Howard (Andy's son Opie) is now directing movies, while Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle) and Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) are still alive.


Sitcom Survivors-- Part 2: Diff'rent Strokes

DIFF'RENT STROKES ( 1978-1986)  Not one of my favorites and rarely watched by me.

Gary Coleman and Dana Plato (siblings Arnold and Kimberly) are gone, as is Dixie Carter (the first actor to play their stepmother Maggie McKinney Drummond) and Nedra Voiz (the second of the family's three housekeepers, Adelaide Brubaker).

The fatherly Conrad Bain (Philip Drummond), Todd Bridges (his adopted son Willis), Charlotte Rae and Mary Jo Catlett (the family's first and third housekeepers Edna Garrett and Pearl Gallagher), Mary Ann Mobley (Carter's successor as Mrs. Drummond) and Danny Cooksey (her son Sam McKinney) are still alive.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Sitcom Survivors-- Part 1: The Jeffersons

From the July 27, 2012, Chicago Tribune by Rob Marker.

A Look at Who's Still  Around from These Classic Comedies: Jeffersons, Diff'rent Strokes, The Andy Griffith Show, Gilligan's Island, The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy.

THE JEFFERSONS (1975-1985)

The death of Sherman Hemsley (George Jefferson) this week leaves just Chicago native Marla Gibbs (Florence the maid) as the sole remaining major cast member.

The actors who played George Jefferson's wife, Louise or "Weezie," (Isabel Sanford, mother Olivia, (Xara Cully), neighbors Tom and Helen Willis (Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker) and Harry Bentley (Paul Benedict) have all passed as has one of the two actors to play the Jefferson's son Lionel (Mike Evans).

The other Lionel, the unrelated Damon Evans, is still alive, as are the actors who played Lionel's wife and Willises' daughter Jenny (Berlinda Tolbert) and Ralph the doorman (Ned Wertimer).

Next: Diff'rent Strokes.  --DaCoot

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Apologies-- Part 5: Barefoot in the Snow

8.   Holy Roman Emperor HENRY IV, who was excommunicated after calling for Pope Gregory VII's resignation and appointing his own bishops, stood barefoot in the snow for three days in January 1077 to apologize in hope that the Holy Father would lift the excommunication.

Gregory did so, but Henry was back at it a few years later and was excommunicated again.

9.  After MADONNA received a bouquet of hydrangeas from a fan in 2011, she sniffed, "I absolutely loathe hydrangeas."  The negative reaction from the remark inspired her to produce a short video in which she pretended to apologize to the bouquet but then stomped on it and said she liked roses better.

10.  Apologies are generally seen as gracious, but GEORGE STEINBRENNER's was an exception to the rule.  The Yankees owner issued a written apology to New York fans after his team lost the 1981 World Series.  This not only angered his players, but also seemed to disparage the team they played, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As the Soup Nazi Would Say, "No Hydrangeas for YOU!!  --Cooter

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Time to Put the New Calendars Up

I have monthly calendars in three places around the house.

Out with the 2014s which had Currier & Ives prints from my bank and the Boys Town "Treasured Days" featuring art by noted print maker Sam Timm and two Beatles ones (Hey,1964, fifty years ago, was the quite the year for these guys)..

Up go the 2015s, which will include one featuring Saturday Evening Post covers by artists other than Norman Rockwell from my bank and a calendar of Norman Rockwell from the Paralyzed Veterans of America.  A great glimpse at American life in the 30s and 40s.

There are also one featuring Military Posters from the Smithsonian and another featuring the Civil War art of Mort Kunstler.

Lots of history in these four calendars.

Now I Know What Day It Is.  --DaCoot

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Apologies-- Part 4: No Apology From Johnny

Continued from December 24, 2014, entry.

6.  After the Associated Press' Edward Kennedy and other reporters witnessed the Nazis FORMAL SURRENDER on May 7. 1945, Allied censors ordered them to keep it secret for 36 hours so the Soviets could stage another ceremony.  But Kennedy heard the news broadcast over German radio and decided to go ahead with the story right away, in one of the biggest scoops in history.

His reward?  The AP fired him, but finally apologized 67 years later, but too late for Kennedy, who had died in an auto accident in 1963.

7.  After an amphetamine-pumped JOHNNY CASH started a wildfire in Los Padres National Forest in California in 1965, the blaze devastated the endangered condor population: 49 of the region's 53 birds were killed.

At a deposition later, Cash was asked if he started the fire and responded, "No, my truck did, and it's dead, so you can't question it."  He was then asked if he felt bad about what he had caused to happen to the birds.  he unapologetically said, "I don't give a damn about your yellow buzzards.  Why should I care?"

Way to Go Boy named Sue.  --Cooter

Hail and Farewell to Those We Lost in 2014-- Part 5

JOE COCKER--  That was one interesting show he put on at Woodstock.

PHIL EVERLY--   One of the Everly Brothers.  What harmonies.

GERRY GOFFIN--  Wrote some mighty good songs.

JACK BRUCE--  Hey, Cream.  What a group that was.

PAUL REVERE--  Of Paul Revere & the Raiders.  Some of the greatest Garage Rock ever.

JOHNNY WINTER--  About as white as you can get but blistered the old guitar.

TOMMY RAMONE--  Of the Ramones, a group I overlooked until Little Steven got me hooked on them.

CASEY KASEM--   The greatest Survey Guy who set the stage for those shows, sorry Ryan.

FUMIKO HAYASHIDA--  Japanese internment camp person.  Sorry about that, but considering the circumstances in 1942, understandable.

THEODORE "DUTCH" VANKIRK--  Last surviving member of the Enola Gay crew.  Again, a necessary move.

ALICIA RUETT--  Was on the famous movie "Gone With the Wind."

Some Mighty Interesting People.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Hail and Farewell to Those We Lost in 2014-- Part 4

ARIEL SHARON--  Israeli war hero and leader.  Moved for better Palestinian relations.

MARIA VON TRAPP--  Last member of the family from the "Sound of Music."

CHESTER NEZ--  One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers.  One of those who probably shouldn't have helped the United States due to what the country had done to his people.

LOUIS ZAMPERINI--  An Olympian who survived a World War II plane crash, many days floating in the Pacific, capture and torture by Japanese and for whom the movie "Unbroken" was made.  After watching the Parade of Roses yesterday and finding out more about his story, I think a part 2 should be made.

JEREMIAH DENTON--  POW in North Vietnam who blinked the words "torture" when paraded before the cameras.

TOMAS YOUNG--  Soldier paralyzed in Iraq.

PETE SEEGER--  Singer and activist.  He is the reason I always get the name Seger.Seeger mixed up with when doing Bob Seger.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Battle of Britain Timeline

From the October 23, 2012, BBC News London.

**  By the summer of 1940, the German war machine had conquered much of Europe and had Britain in its sights.

**  On 18 June 1940, Churchill gave a speech announcing "...the Battle of France is over.  The Battle of Britain is about to begin."

**  Despite being outnumbered by the Luftwaffe, the RAF showed resilience and determination when the attacks began in Mid-July.

**  By October 1940, Hitler abandoned his plans for the invasion of Britain.

**  An estimated 1,023 RAF and 1,887 Luftwaffe aircraft were lost between 10 July and the end of October 1940.


Hail and Farewell to Those We Lost in 2014-- Part 4

JERRIE MOCK--  First woman to fly solo around the world.

ALICE COACHMAN--  First black woman to win Olympic Gold in 1948.

GEORGE SHUBA--  Welcomed Jackie Robinson as he ran into home base his first day with the Montreal farm club of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

DON ZIMMER--  Baseball player and manager.  Even managed Da Cubs.

SID CAESAR--  Real funny guy.

JOAN RIVERS--  Real funny gal.

DON PARDO--  That was his voice you heard introducing folks on Saturday Night Live.

HAROLD RAMIS--  Made many of the best, and my favorite, movies ever.  A real Chicago guy.

AL FELDSTEIN--  Mad Magazine.  My monthly reading material in junior high.