Monday, July 31, 2017

Those "Wild West Shows"-- Part 1: Buffalo Bill, Annie and Wild Bill

From the July 18, 2017, Hi-Liter "Wild West had local flair" by Sandra Landen Machaj.

In the late 1800s, people in the United States and Europe started showing a distinct interest in the American frontier and as a result, there were Wild West Shows which were popular and well-attended.  They'd move from town to town and were essentially circuses, with performers and animals.

Among the first ones established was the one of William Frederick Cody, also known as Buffalo Bill.  He had his first show in 1883 and continued until 1913  His shows were huge and carefully choreographed with up to 120 performers including animals like horses, buffaloes and even Texas Longhorns.

Popular names of the day could be found among his starts like Will Rogers, Tom Mix and Wild Bill Hickok.  Wild Bill earned his reputation as a gunfighter and marshal out West and was popular in 10-cent novels of the day.

And, there were a few women in the shows, including Annie Oakley, considered to be the first female sharpshooter.  She was also featured in those dime novels.


Friday, July 28, 2017

A Ducky Traffic Jam in DeKalb, Illinois, in 1967 and a New Art Building for NIU

From the July 5, 2017, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1967, 50 Years Ago.

"East and westbound traffic near the lake (Lagoon) at Northern Illinois University was tied up in both directions this morning for a few minutes.  The reason for this was not the usual heavy traffic on the Lincoln Highway.  This time it was  "the call of the wild," four ducks taking their morning constitutional."

**  "Final plans for a $3,715, 465 art building on the east campus of Northern Illinois University were approved by the Board of Governors of State Colleges and Universities meeting at the NIU campus."

Of Ducks and Art.  --Cooter

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Elva Women Doing Their Part in World War I Effort in 1917

From the July 5, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1917, 100 Years Ago

"The larger clubs of Elva, that is, the Homemakers, the Woman's Club and Woman's Christian Temperance Union, have discontinued their meets for an indefinite period, turning their interest toward Red Cross work."

The war is on.

Elva is located five miles south and southwest of DeKalb, Illinois, and was developed by Joseph Glidden, the inventor of barbed wire, and named for his daughter.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Problem With Finns in 1917: Fighting It Out

From the July 5, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back.

1917, 100 Years Ago

"A gang of Finns up in the northeast part of DeKalb got into a melee yesterday and riving the fracas one man was the victim with with two others the guilty ones.  The victim's shirt was torn and he suffered a fracture of a thumb.

The police were called to the scene and with the aid of the public safety wagon, the offenders were bought to town, and it is probably they will be assessed a stiff fine for their fun of besting up the other guy."


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

World War I Preparations in Plattsburgh, NY, Lead to "Metallic Relics of Ancient Days"

From the July 24, 2017, Plattsburgh (NY) Press-Republican  "Look-back:  Week of July 24 to July 31."

1917, 100 Years Ago.

"The erection of wooden bunkhouses at Plattsburgh Barracks has resulted in bringing to light a number of metallic relics of ancient days -- relics innocently trodden underfoot by the splendid young men eagerly studying the arts of  modern warfare.

"Among those are a pewter button that no doubt dates to the War of 1812 because similar ones have been found upon the site of battlefields in Canada.

"Also found was the exceedingly rusty remains of an iron tomahawk."

An Archaeology Thing.  --Cooter

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ruth Ann Steinhagen

From Find-a-Grave.

Born December 23, 1929, in Cicero, Illinois.     Died December 29, 2012, in Chicago.

Lived in obscurity after she shot Eddie Waitkus.

Burial Unknown

From Wikipedia.

Died of a subdural hematoma suffered in an accidental fall in her home.

Her death was unreported for three months.  A Chicago Tribune researcher was looking into another death when he came across her death.

There were no immediate survivors.


Friday, July 21, 2017

JUly 21... Events On This Date

From the Chicago Tribune.

1862--  See my Civil War blog.

1925--  The so-called Monkey Trial ended in Dayton, Tennessee with John Scopes convicted of violating the state's law about teaching Darwin's Theory of Evolution.  It was later overturned.

1949--  The U.S. Senate ratified the North Atlantic Treaty.

1954--  The Geneva Accords divided Vietnam into northern and southern countries.  And, we all know how this turned out.

1969--  Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buss" Aldrin blasted off from the moon aboard the lunar module.  And that sure was scary.  Would they be able to get off the moon?


July 20.... Events On This Date

Quite a few things happened of not on July 20.  here are some:

1862--  See my Civil war blog.

1881--  Sioux Indian leader Sitting Bull, a fugitive since the Battle of Little Big Horn, surrendered to federal troops.

1917--  The World War I draft lottery began.

1919--  Mountain climber and Antarctic explorer Edwin Hillary, the first man (with Tibetan mountaineer Tenzig Norgay) to climb Mt. Everest, was born in Auckland, New Zealand.

1923--  Mexican revolutionary and guerrilla leader was assassinated at age 45.

1937--  Inventor and physicist Guglielmo Marconi, winner of the Nobel Prize for his work in developing wireless telegraphy, died in Rome at age 63.

1944--  See my World War II blog.

1969--  Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon as they stepped out of their lunar module.

I sure remember that as I was glued to the TV with friends.  There is a story about the "Moon Dust" out now.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Eddie Stephen "Eddie" Waitkus

From Find-A-Grave.

Mr. Waitkus was an Major League All-Star three times, twice with the Cubs and once with the Phillies.

"While the Phillies were in Chicago to play the Cubs in 1949, he was shot by a deranged female fan who was obsessed with him.  He was severely injured and missed the rest of the 1949 season, but recovered to play in all of the 1950 Phillies' pennant winning games the next season.

"The incident was the real-life inspiration for Bernard Malamud's baseball novel "The Natural" which was made into a movie of the same name starring Robert Redford."

He is buried in Cambridge Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Plot WWII Lot, Tier 22, Grave 39.



Death of Ruth Ann Steinhagen in 2012-- Part 4: Her Original Plans

She used to go to all of the Chicago Cubs home games while Eddie Waitkus was with them.  But, when he was traded to the Phillies, she didn't get to see him as much.  This led to a mental breakdown.

She moved into a small apartment and turned it into a shrine to Eddie Waitkus.

Her original plan for after killing him was to commit suicide.

Eddie Waitkus fought in the Pacific Theater during World War II and saw especially heavy action in the Philippines.  For three years he braved Japanese bullets without a scratch.  he then came home and was almost killed by Ruth Ann's bullet as a civilian.


Death of Ruth Ann Steinhagen-- Part 3: Became a Recluse Afterwards

In 1970, she moved into a small house in Chicago and lived with her parents and sister and became a recluse.  She died December 29, 2012, at the age of 83.  Her death was not noted despite of her notoriety.  It wasn't until a reporter for the Chicago Tribune was researching another death that her death was discovered by the newspapers on March 15, 20143.

She was born in Chicago on December 23, 1929 and had a penchant for falling in love with unattainable men.  She had crushes on actor Alan Ladd


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Death of Ruth Ann Steinhagen in 2012-- Part 2: "Now You're Going to Die"

Ruth Ann Steinhagen was a 19-year-old typist for an insurance agency.  She had planned to stab Eddie Waitkus, but he came in quickly and sat down.  She went to the closet and got a .22 rifle.

She told him, "I have a surprise for you."  She trained the gun on him and told him to stand up and move to the window.  "For two years you've been bothering me, and now you're going to die."

Then she shot him.

She was arrested and charged with assault with intent to murder.

Less than three weeks afterwards, a judge declared her insane and committed her to a psychiatric hospital where she spend three years and was released.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Death of Eddie Waitkus' Shooter, Ruth Ann Steinhagen-- Part 1: Planning the Trap

From the March 23, 2013, New York  Times  "Ruth Ann Steinhagen Is Dead at 83; Shot a Ballplayer" by Bruce Weber.

On June 14, 1949, a huge tip back then of $5 was given to a bellhop at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago to deliver a note to another guest.  Even though the two people had never met, the note said that she needed to see him right away.  She called herself Ruth Anne Burus.

She then ordered two whiskey sours and a daiquiri from room service and sipped them while waiting for the guest to arrive.  Eddie Waitkus received the note and knocked on her door at 11 p.m..  She told him that she had already gone to bed and needed to dress and asked if he'd come back in a half hour.

Only, her name was Ruth Ann Steinhagen and she was planning on killing Eddie Waitkus.

And They Had Never Met.  --DaCoot

So, How'd the Eddie WaitkusTrade Go for the Cubs?

From Baseball Almanac.

One thing about the Chicago Cubs and that on occasion, they  have made some bad trades.  I got to wondering whether the Eddie Waitkus and Hank Borowy trade to the Phillies for Monk Dubiel and Dutch Leonard was a good one or not.

All players were with the teams they were traded to for at least two years, so here are the stats.

The other three players were pitchers.

Eddie Waitkus   1949--  .306  // 1950--   .284
Hank Borowy   1949--  12-12  Record,  .4.19 ERA  //  1950--  0-0 record,  5.68 ERA.  Traded to Pittsburgh Pirates.

From the Phillies to the Cubs

Monk Dubiel  1949  6-9 record, 4.14 ERA  //   1950--  6-10,   4.16 ERA
Dutch Leonard:   1949--  7-16 record, 4.15 ERA   //   1950--  5-1 record,  3.77  ERA

I'd have to say, because of Waitkus, the Phillies got the better trade.

However, As Far As Nicknames Are Concerned, I'd Say the Cubs Did Better.  --Cooter

Monday, July 17, 2017

Eddie Waitkus' Major League Stats

Born September 4, 1919 in Massachusetts.  Died September 16, 1972.

Lifetime .285 Batting Average and 24 home runs, so not likely to hit one to blow up those lights like in "The Natural."

His rookie year was in 1941 with the Chicago Cubs when he played in 12 games at the end of the season.

From 1942-1945, he was in military service in World War II.

In 1946 he played in 113 games with 441 at bats, 55 RBIs, 4 Home runs and batted .304.  The next two years with the Cubs, he batted .292 and .295.  In 1949, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.  In his time there he hit .306 (the year he was shot), .284, .257, .289 and .291.

And You Thought You Would Have to Worry About A Beanball.  --CootNat

Friday, July 14, 2017

MLB's Eddie Waitkus, Shot By His Stalker in 1949-- Part 3: Was Basis of the Book "The Natural"

Eddie Waitkus returned to the baseball diamond that same year, on August 19, 1949, and finished the season with a .306 batting average.  He was the leadoff hitter for the Phillies' "Whiz Kids" that won the 1950  National league Pennant.  He led the team with 102 runs scored.

Author Bernard Malamud was not a big baseball fan, but he used basic elements of Waitkus' story and other baseball legends (notably Chicago White Sox's Shoeless Joe Jackson for his 1952 book "The Natural."  In 1984, it was made into a movie starring Robert Redford and Glenn Close.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Eddie Waitkus, Philadelphia Phillies, Shot in 1949-- Shot At Chicago's Edgewater Beach Hotel

Eddie Waitkus quickly became a popular media figure.  He was well-educated and could speak fluently in Lithuanian, Polish, German and French.

The ladies especially loved him.  One of them, Ruth Ann Steinhagen, became an obsessed fan who shot him at Chicago's Edgewater Beach Hotel on June 14, 1949, in what became one of the earliest recognized cases of criminal stalking.

She had been infatuated with him while he was with the Cubs, but got to see him during all home games.  But now that he was with the Phillies, that was a rare instance.  So, while he was in town, she checked into the Edgewater under the name of one of Eddie Waitkus' former classmates.  She sent word to him that they needed to meet.

When he arrived at the room, she shot him with a .22 caliber rifle, just missing his heart.  She immediately called the front desk to tell them there had been a shooting.  When help arrived, they found her cradling his head in her lap.

Eddie Waitkus nearly died several times on the operating table before the bullet was removed.

Steinhagen was never tried but was in a mental institution for a short time.


Eddie Waitkus, Former Cubs Player Shot in 1949-- Part 1: "The Natural"

From Wikipedia.

In the last post, I mentioned that along with Billy Jurges being shot by a jilted lover in 1932, another former Cub by the name of Eddie Waitkus, was shot by a woman in 1949 while playing for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Born September 4, 1919 in Massachusetts.  Died September 16, 1972 in Massachusetts.

Played first base for eleven years:  Cubs and Phillies in the National League and the Orioles in the American League.  He was a member of the National League All Star team in 1948 and 1949.

As a rookie, he was known as "The Natural" for his baseball abilities.  (Sound familiar?)  He played a few games with the Cubs at the end of the 1941 season, but then served in the military during World War II, taking part in the battles in the Philippines.  During that time he was awarded four Bronze Stars.

Returning to baseball in 1946, he quickly became a star for the Chicago Cubs.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Billy Jurges, Played With a Great Cubs Infield

Born May 9, 1908.  Died March 3, 1997 in Clearwater, Florida.

Known as a light hitter and good fielder.  Right handed.  In 1932 anchored an infield of Stan Hack (3rd), Billy Herman (2nd) and Charlie Grimm and Phil Cavarretta (1st).  Recovered from wound in 1932 and helped the Cubs win the National league pennant.

Played with the New York Giants but missed 80 games in 1940 after being hit in the head by a pitched ball.

Later coached under Charlie Grimm and then held managerial jobs with several minor league teams.

I also found out another Chicago Cub player named Eddie Waitkus was shot i n 1949 (but playing with the Philadelphia Phillies at the time).


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Billy Jurges' Stats

Since I'd never heard of Billy Jurges before, I decided to find out something about him.

From Baseball Almanac.

In 1932, the year he was shot, these are Jurges' stats:

It was his second year in the pros and second with the Cubs.

115 games, 396 ABs, 40 runs, 100 hits, 24 doubles, 3 triples, 2 home runs.52 RBIs and batted .253.

He was with the Cibs from 1921-1938, the New York Giants 1939-1945, and finished his career back with the Cubs 1946-1947.

Had a career .258 batting average, 721 runs, 43 home runs and 656 RBIs..  His best year was 1937 with the Cubs when he batted .298 with 114 hits.

And, He Led the League in Getting Shot in 1932.  --DaDuckNextTime

Monday, July 10, 2017

Cubs Shortstop Billly Jurges Shot 85 Years Ago-- Part 3: Girlfriend Also Dated Leo Durocher and Al Lopez

The story of Billy's shooting became national headlines.  Newspaper photographers and reporters burst into Violet Popovich Valli's hospital room and daily reports of "the chestnut-haired divorcee" and the dark-haired chorus girl" filled the papers.

But nothing ever happened with her case.  Jurgess refused to press charges.

He rejoined the Cubs less than a month later and the '32 Cubs went on to the World Series where they got swept by the Yankees.

Popovich later dated Leo Durocher and Al Lopez, who went on to become managers of the Cubs and White Sox respectively.  She later married former boxer Charley "The Duluth Dynamiter" Retzlaff in 1947.

If I were Durocher or Lopez, I would have been very, very careful.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cubs Shortstop Billy Jurges Shot 85 Years Ago-- Part 2" More Than a Lover's Spat

According to the Chicago Herald and Examiner article related, according to Jack Bales:  "Violet received a telegram on July 6, that intimated Jurges had been out with other women.  And a resident of the hotel overheard Violet telling a friend, 'If he denies this I'll forgive him, otherwise, I'll give him the works.':

She pounded on Jurges' door and confronted him with a .25 caliber gun.  As they were wrestling for the weapon, one shot ricocheted off Jurges' rib, another struck a finger on his left hand and the third traveled through Popovich's arm.

Was It Worth It?  --DaCootShot

Cubs Shortstop Billy Jurges Shot 85 Years Ago-- Part 1: Shot By His Lover

From the July 6, 2007, Chicago Tribune 'Shooting of Cub Billy Jurges' marks anniversary" by Phil Thompson.

Cubs history can be a bit bizarre, but July 6, 1932, it got just a bit stranger when Cubs shortstop  Billy Jurges was shot in his hotel room by a spurned lover.

Violet Popvich Valli shot him and the whole affair is the subject of an article by Jack Bales in "The Show Girl and the Shortstop:  The Strange Saga of Violet Popovich and Her Shooting of Cub Billy Jurges."

Most accounts say the problems started in New York when she pressed Jurges about their future.  During homestands, Jurges lived at the Hotel Carlos in Chicago, now an apartment complex on Sheffield Avenue.    Popovich stayed there on occasions.

--And, the Plot Thickens.  --CootCub

Thursday, July 6, 2017

DeKalb's Population at 9,482 in 1917

From the January 18, 2017, MidWeek "Looking Back."

1917, 100 Years Ago.

"According to the estimates of the Washington census bureau which are just out there were 9,482 persons in DeKalb on the first day of July of last year.

"The census estimates is supposed to be pretty accurate as we feel that DeKalb is well along to the 10,000 class.  If we could fond some way to increase our population to get into the five figure class we would be a real metropolis."

DeKalb's 2010 population was 43,862, so guess they made the 10,000 with room to spare.


About a DeKalb Local Armory in 1917

From the May 31, 2017, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1917, 100 Years Ago.

"Although the local DeKalb (Illinois) men who have been pushing the project have not given up, present indications are that the matter of the purchase of the armory building by the state of Illinois for the use of the local militia contingent will have to go over for  the present session of legislature."

Remember, we were on the eve of World War I for our country in May 1917.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Program for the Dead of Past Wars in 1917

From the May 31, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back.:

1917, 100 Years Ago.

"A Program will be given by Hattie Chesbro's eighth grade of the Haisch school at 9:30 o'clock at the Lucinda Avenue bridge over the Kishwaukee to commemorate the memory of the many dead in the past wars.  (DeKalb, Illinois)

"The program is always very appropriate and the public is invited to attend.  While a reading is given by Lola Maxwell, flowers will be scattered on the water and a salute to the flag given."

This, of course, would be Memorial Day/Decoration Day.

And, the United States was just weeks away from declaring war and entering World War I.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

History of the Fourth of July

From History site.

Also known as Independence Day or July 4th.  It has been a federal holiday since 1941, but its traditions go back to the 18th century and the American Revolution.

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence and two days later delegates from thirteen colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

From 1776 to the present, July 4 has been celebrated as the birthday of American independence with festivals, fireworks, parades, coverts, family gatherings and barbecues.

Happy B-D, U.S.A.!!  --Cootstarsandstripes

DeKalb Woman's Club Deeds Annie's Woods to the City in 1917

From the May 3, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1917, 100 Years Ago.

"This is an epochal day for the DeKalb Woman's Club.  After about five years of hard work and planning the big project of the club whereby its members bought and paid for the Annie's Woods, one of the prettiest places in DeKalb vicinity and a favorite recreation spot.

"This afternoon the board of the Woman's Club met with mayor P.N. Joslyn and Judge McEwen to deed over the woods to the city."

And, Annie's Woods is still there, right by the Kishwaukee River and the eastern edge of Northern Illinois University.

Thank You Ladies!!  We're Still Enjoying It!!  --DaCoot

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

From their site.

The museum is in Kansas City, Missouri and was formed in 1990.  They have photographs and artifacts from the late 1800s through the 1960s.

Its permanent 10,000 square foot facility opened in 1997, sharing the new 18th and Vine museum complex with the American Jazz Museum.


Monday, July 3, 2017

French Leader Invites Trump to Bastille Day Event to Honor WWI Troops

From the June 28, 2017, Chicago Tribune.

French President Emmanuel Macron invited President Donald Trump to a Bastille Day celebration next month to celebrate the arrival 100 years ago of the American troops who fought alongside the French during World War I.

An official of the presidential Elysee Palace said the invitation to Trump and first Lady Melania Trump was extended Tuesday during a telephone conversation to prepare the two leaders' meeting during the G-20 summit in Germany on July 7-8.

France celebrates Bastille Day with a military parade down the Champs-Elysees every July 14.  The official says the White House is examing the feasibilty of a Paris visit.

Here's hoping the president goes.  This was payback for the American Revolution.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Chronology of World War I, June 1917


In the Pacific, the German commerce raider Wolff captures and sinks the American bark Beluya.  Fourteen people, including two women, are taken prisoner.



(Dr.) Louis J. Genelba is wounded in action by a shell splinter while serving with the British Medical Corps at Arras, France.


Armed American oil tanker Montano is torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Ireland:  16 crew members and eight Navy gunners drown.


Some More On the Negro League's Leland Giants and Homestead Grays Negro Leagues Teams

From Wikipedia.


Originally were the Chicago Union Giants and played 1901-1910.  The Leland Giants name came from their owner and manager Frank Leland.

In 1911, they were renamed the Chicago American Giants.


Formed in 1912 and operated for 38 years.

They were originally based in Homestead, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh, but soon relocated and played all their games in Pittsburgh.

From 1940-1942, they played half their home games in Washington, D.C. and half in Pittsburgh.  By 1943, more than 2/3 of their home games were played in Washington, D.C..


Negro League Throwback Uniforms: Leland Giants vs. Homestead Grays

Earlier I wrote about the uniforms the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates were wearing on June 9 of this year. They definitely weren't the usual Cubs or Pirates ones.

From the June 10, 2017, Chicago Tribune.

The teams wearing the jerseys was part of the Pittsburgh Pirates annual Negro Leagues Heritage Game at PNC Park.

The Cubs were wearing the jerseys of the Leland Giants, one of the top Negro leagues teams in the Midwest in the early 1900s.

The Pirates were wearing the uniforms of the Homestead Grays who were from Pittsburgh.

The Pirates definitely had the better looking uniforms.  But I was pulling for the Cubs anyway.

Go Leland!!  --Cooter