Sun City Anthem

History & Holidays (Archives--Page Three)

Did Ya Know ?

Midway between Las Vegas and Laughlin located on US 95 and State Route 164 is a town named "Searchlight"...

...which happens to be the hometown of Senator Harry Reid.
Many of us have passed by this town on the way to the lights of Laughlin...
Did ya know...
...How the town of "Searchlight" got its name?

According to the 2010 census the population of Searchlight is was 576 in 2000 !
Looking for a place to see some beautiful scenery?
Stop by Searchlight (for a few minutes) and check out the beautiful Cottonwood Cove on Lake Mohave...

...a breathtaking clear lake in the middle of the desert....where a sunset is an "experience"...

It's a quaint town that is picturesque and serene with no hustle and bustle in the streets...
...because there aren't many streets !
..and if you're "into" big horn sheep, coyotes, desert tortoises, roadrunners, deer, wild burros, and jack rabbits surrounded by the beauty of desert flowers through the scenic trails and mountain passes...
...this place deserves a visit !
Though there are conflicting stories about how "Searchlight" got its name, Senator Reid has written extensively about his hometown and believes the city received its name when a man named George Frederick Colton was looking for gold in the area in 1897.
Colton said it would probably take a searchlight to find gold ore there !
Other stories as to the name include one where Colton was lighting a "Searchlight" brand match when he discovered gold, but Senator Reid dismisses that due to that brand of matches not being available until 1898.
Another story says Colton thought the area would be a good location to find gold, and because his mine was located on a hill, it required a searchlight to find.
Yet another tale has the town being named after a man named Lloyd Searchlight...but no historical record of this man exists....other than that of the "Lloyd-Searchlight Mining Co."
No matter what the belief, it appears that Searchlight was first discovered by George Frederick Colton when on May 6, 1897, while searching to find the legendary "Lost Dutchman" gold mine, he discovered gold in his Duplex Mine....naming his company "The Searchlight Mining Company".

George Frederick Colton
Today, this marker stands at the site of Colton's Duplex Mine.

Shortly after gold was discovered, a "boom era" commenced and at one time, the population of Searchlight was larger than that of Las Vegas.
Between 1907 and 1910 the gold mines produced $ 7 million of gold and other precious minerals, and the town's population grew to 1,500.
When the "boom" ended, so did much of the population of Searchlight; however, the building of Hoover Dam would revitalize the town and allow it to survive to this day.
The last Searchlight gold mine closed in 1953.
Some interesting people made Searchlight their home other than Senator Reid over the years...
...most notably Edith Head, of Hollywood designer fame; William Nellis, a heroic aviator in World War II for whom Nellis Air Force Base is named; and silent firm stars, Clara Bow ("The It Girl); and her husband, cowboy star Rex Bell,  who would subsequently serve as Nevada's Lt. Governor from 1954 to his death while in office in 1962.
The music world would also remember Searchlight when composer Scott Joplin wrote "The Searchlight Rag".

The old Colton home still stands today; but believe it or not...the Colton family has no record of George Frederick Colton's passing.
Searchlight...a small town down the road with a long and enduring history...located in the state which we now call "home".
Dick Arendt

We at Anthem Opinions  ask all of you to proudly display your flag this day... honor the bravest who ever lived and died on this date...
June 6, 1944
To those 24,000 men from...

Great Britain

The United States
...who landed on the shores of Normandy, we salute these nations for the victory that would become the turning point of the European front during World War II...
Utah Beach
4th Infantry Division
197 Casualties
Omaha Beach
1st and 29th Infantry Division
741st Tank Battalion
2,000 Casualties
Gold Beach
British Troops
1,000 Casualties
Juno Beach
9th Canadian Infantry Brigade
961 Casualties
Sword Beach
British King's Shropshire Light Infantry
1,000 Casualties
May we never forget the cost of freedom...and the ultimate price these brave souls paid to preserve it for future generations  !
They were...

 The Greatest Generation

The First 

Dedications to those Americans who lost their lives in service to their country can be traced back as early as June 3, 1861 when a Confederate Civil War soldier's grave was "decorated" in Warrenville, Virginia.

On July 4, 1864, a ceremony was held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to honor the 51,112 men who died in that tragic Civil War battle.

But...were either of those dedications the first Memorial Day?

Actually, the first widely publicized observance of what has become Memorial Day took place on May 1, the southern city of Charleston, South Carolina...

...for Union a black formerly enslaved part of their original African heritage.

African Americans have fought and died for America from its earliest days, from frontier skirmishes to the French and Indian Wars to the death of Crispus Attucks at the Boston Massacre, immortalized as “the first to die for American freedom”.

Crispus Attucks

...though most official histories of Memorial Day credit its founding by a white former Union Army major general, John A. Logan...

... who on May 5, 1868, as Commander and Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic,  called for a "Decoration Day"....

General John A. Logan

...actual events indicate that not to be the case.

Those recently freed slaves...with a tribute to the fallen dead and to the gift of freedom...may indeed be the first Americans to honor those who fought and died in the Civil War.

The city of Charleston was, like many places in the South, physically devastated by the conflict between the Union and the Confederacy, which began in its harbor with the attack upon Fort Sumter in 1861, but Charleston was more than just the place where the war of brother against brother began...

... it was also the entry point for a quarter of all enslaved Africans in the colonial period, accounting for more than any other port.

As the international slave trade faced its inevitable abolition, traders delivered more than 90,000 humans into enslavement through the port between 1803 and the (official) end of the American slave trade in 1808.

Charleston was a center for the trading of enslaved people across the Deep South and the exit point for the valuable crops of rice, indigo, and Sea Island cotton produced completely by enslaved labor – crops which made millions for the South’s wealthiest and most concentrated planter elite.

The enslaved Africans who formed the majority of the local population were some of the most un-assimilated blacks in North America at that time.

They were the Gullah people descendants of those sold into slavery from the rice-growing regions of West Africa and the Kongo-Angola region of Central Africa.

The plantations of the low country and the seedy streets of antebellum Charleston were horrific places for the Gullah people:

...malaria, yellow fever, cholera, malnutrition, physical violence, sexual exploitation, and the constant threat of separation from the family abounded in the lives of the enslaved.

Tropical diseases forced plantations into isolation and the Gullah developed their own language, a unique religion blending African and Christian elements, preserving names, stories, traditions and customs from across the African continent.

One of the most important rituals that they preserved and passed on was the honoring of the ancestral dead and giving proper due to those transitioning out of this world.

When the Civil War came, the response of the Gullah people was to use their knowledge to further the cause of freedom.

They were a uniquely cultured and empowered people who perhaps most enthusiastically embraced both resistance to the planter regime while yearning for the American dream.

On May 1, 1865, they performed an act of gratitude to the country that had first enslaved and finally freed them, firmly based both in their African and American heritage that became part of what we now celebrate as Memorial Day.

As the  Civil War ended, behind the Italianate grandstand at Charleston’s Washington Race course – which, in the pre-war years had been the playground of the rice and cotton planter elite...

...there was a mass grave holding over 200 Union soldiers.   

That track of land served as an outdoor prison during the last year of the war resulting in many prisoners dying of disease and exposure.

At the war’s end, after the city was surrendered to African American troops and largely abandoned by whites...

... the Gullah people were ready to begin facing a new reality of emancipation...

... but first they chose to pay homage to those who had died.

In the West African tradition from which Charleston’s Gullah people came, honorable warriors deserved sacred burial, and the dead were seen as part of a cycle of souls entering and leaving the world.

To disrespect those dead was to ensure a negative energy in the future, so 28 Gullah men dug up the 200 men in that mass grave behind the grandstand and gave them proper burial – horrific work under the best of circumstances.

On May 1st, “in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers”, 3,000 black children bearing roses led women bearing wreaths and men, marching together in a circle to honor the newly-buried war dead.

Black troops were present at the commemoration...

...including some of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (who were later memorialized in the movie "Glory").

That the Gullah people performed a march and parade in a circle was no accident !

Movement in a circle... The Ring Shout... was the most sacred rite brought by the enslaved to North America.

In a mixture of African and American custom, the Gullah put to rest the Union soldiers, who in part, lost their lives to ensure the freedom of those who later marched for them.

The Ring Shout...The First Memorial Day
May 1, 1865

Black people and white marched together, and the site was dedicated as a memorial burial ground.

As the children sang “The Star Spangled Banner”, the men and women wept and prayed as they expressed gratitude that the long nightmare of slavery was over.

Three years later...

...just days before Major General John A. Logan declared that May 30, 1868 should be declared a "Decoration Day" to commemorate the war dead...

...many of the people who participated in the 1865 ceremony returned to decorate the graves of those that they had interred.

America takes time each year to celebrate the sacrifices of our war dead on the last Monday of May.

This year, we should take a moment to honor those who, despite facing hardships of their own, chose to commemorate the lives that had been lost partly in the service of securing their freedom from enslavement.

A wise man once said...

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Let's never forget....that includes all men.

Dick Arendt


Did  Ya Know ?

(part 4)

Millions of tourists around the world and travelers between Nevada and Arizona cross this massive structure each year...the gateway to what some have referred to as another modern wonder of the world.

Did ya know....

...How Hoover Dam got its name?

As the Southwest began its development, a resource necessary for expansion became the land's most precious natural commodity....water.

...and the Colorado River was the answer our pioneer forefathers eventually believed would solve the problem.

But...what we know today as Hoover Dam was not the original solution to the problem.

In the 1890s a man named William Beatty conceived an idea to divert water from The Colorado River in the southern territory of Arizona near the Mexican border by building the "Alamo Canal".

Arizona did not join the union as a state until 1912.

Beatty's idea was to have the water dip into Mexico before it would be brought up through a desolate area of Arizona he named "The Imperial Valley".

Though the Alamo Canal greatly assisted populating the area, the location of the Canal proved expensive to maintain...

...and in 1905 a catastrophic breach in the project resulting from The California Development Company's desire to increase irrigation...

Alamo Canal...1905

...caused the Colorado River to overflow for two years, filling the dry "Salton Basin", accidentally creating the "Salton Sea" in California.

Salton Sea Flood...1905

The Salton Sea is located on the San Andreas Fault in the Imperial and Coachella valleys and a result, became the largest sea in California.

From 1906 to 1907 the Southern Pacific Railroad spent over $ 3 million to stabilize the waterway; and though it succeeded in that respect, it proved unsatisfactory largely due to landowner disputes on the Mexican side of the border.

So...other irrigation methods had to be explored !

As the technology of hydroelectric power increased over the years, a number of ideas were discussed to solve the water necessities of the Southwest including sites in lower Colorado, but after research indicated those sites inadequate....The Bureau of Reclamation eventually found the "ideal" location...

Realizing that a railroad was a necessity in building such a project,  they investigated the Black Canyon...

The Black Canyon
(the future site of the dam)

...and found that a railway could be built between a sleepy little town in Nevada located near the top of the proposed dam site, and the dam itself.
The name of that sleepy little town ?

"Las Vegas"

...and that massive endeavor would be referred to as "The Boulder Canyon Project".

The answer was not as easy as it first appeared. 

As a result of concerns of years of litigation between a number of states, a Colorado attorney brought up an interstate compromise.

The representatives of seven states (California, Arizona, Utah, New Mexicao, Colorado, Wyoming...and Nevada) would meet with then Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, which initially produced no result...
but... as a result of that meeting....the Supreme Court in "Wyoming vs Colorado" would undermine a number of various state claims.

The result.... idea that would be known as "The Colorado River Compact" being signed on November 22, 1922.

Still...the project would remain in limbo, but two events would cause a change in sentiment in favor of building a dam...

...a destructive 1927 Mississippi flood; and in 1928,  the failure of the St. Francis Dam in Los Angeles that killed up to 600 people...

...causing Congress to authorize a review of dam plans by a number of noted engineers.

Finally, as a result of that study, on December 21, 1928, President Calvin Coolidge signed a bill authorizing construction of the dam in addition to completely replacing the original Beatty Canal project built in the 1890s...on the US side of the border.

The bill also permitted the "Colorado River Compact" to go into effect when at least six of the original states approved it.

That occurred on March 6, 1928 with Utah's ratification (Arizona finally approved it un 1944).

Originally the city of Las Vegas lobbied to be the headquarters of the dam construction...even closing many of its "speakeasies" when the decision maker, Secretary of the Interior, Ray L. Wilbur, visited the town; but instead, in early 1930, Wilbur announced that a new city would be constructed instead...and be named "Boulder City" in Nevada.

Ray L. Wilbur
Secretary of the Interior

Las Vegas did get the rail line joining the dam, and construction began in 1930.

When Secretary Wilbur spoke at the beginning of the building the railway on September 17, 1930, he named the dam "Hoover Dam", citing a tradition of naming dams after presidents, justifying his choice on the grounds that then Secretary of Commerce and current President, Herbert Hoover, was "the great engineer whose vision and persistence...has done so much to make the dam possible".

President Herbert Hoover

But...the country being in the midst of The Great Depression and holding subsequent President Herbert Hoover responsible for creating it...

...on September 30, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt, the first president to visit Las Vegas,  in 102 degree heat and 20,000 people in attendance, dedicated the dam...referring to it as "Boulder Dam",  which it was referred to until 1947. 

President Franklin Roosevelt
(dedication of "Boulder" Dam)

It was a deliberate attempt to undermine former President Hoover and keep his name associated with the Depression, rather than attach it to the monumental project that had commenced during his administration.
True to Hoover's modest and reserved nature, he never complained...but those who knew the former president believed it had hurt him deeply.

Controversy arose over the years as to which name would be used, and for years "Boulder Dam" and "Hoover Dam" names were used interchangeably by most Americans.

Memories of the Great Depression faded, and President Hoover went on to enjoy a rebirth of popularity as a result of his good works during and after World War II, and on April 30, 1947 President Harry Truman...
..despite the objections of Herbert Hoover....

Presidents Truman and Hoover

...signed the official congressional resolution forever referring to our historical "wonder"...
Hoover Dam

Dick Arendt

Did  Ya Know ?

(part 3)

On the northwestern side of Las Vegas, there is a section of town referred to as "Summerlin".

Did Ya Know.... that section of Las Vegas got its name? 

It was in 1950 that a wealthy entrepreneur named Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. decided to purchase 25,000 acres of land in southern Nevada near Las Vegas.

He planned to move his "Hughes Aircraft Company" from Los Angeles to Las Vegas...and create a planned community for the company's employees.
That never happened.

The stories of the reclusive aviation billionaire are unending, and eventually he would come to enjoy the Las Vegas area, taking up residence in the penthouse suite at the Desert Inn Hotel on Thanksgiving Day in 1966.

While there, the 8th floor of the Desert Inn would become the "brain center" of his growing empire...

...but the owners of the hotel believed he was a distraction to those who came to enjoy the "fun" of "Sin City" and eventually they asked him to  leave.

Howard Hughes, not being the type of individual anyone said "no" to, then decided in his "Howard Hughes manner" to solve the problem by simply buying the hotel !

His passion for Las Vegas would continue as the next few years passed; purchasing the Castaways, the New Frontier,  Landmark, and Sands hotels.
One the best "Howard" stories took place while residing at the Desert Inn.  It seems that the lights from a small casino next to the hotel kept him up at night....

...his answer to the problem...simply purchasing The Silver Slipper and repositioning the hotel's trademark neon silver slipper sign !

Over the years, the indelible mark Howard Hughes would leave on Las Vegas would change the image of our town forever.

He envisioned Las Vegas becoming more glamorous, writing this memo as aid:

"I think of Las Vegas in terms of a well-dressed man in a dinner jacket and a beautifully furred female getting out of an expensive car".

How do you change an image? 

You do it through the media; and as a result, Mr. Hughes would purchase several local television stations (including KLAS-TV), our present Channel 8.
And as the saying goes...
"The rest is history"

After Hughes died in 1976, the Summa Corporation was organized to oversee the vast Hughes empire and land holdings...including a large parcel of land in the western part of Las Vegas....the parcel originally purchased in the mid-50s.

In 1988 the Summa Corporation exchanged some 5,000 acres of land adjoining the beautiful Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area....

...for 3,000 acres of land to be used as a buffer zone to protect the beauty of Red Rock Canyon from future development.

Construction began in 1990 on 900 acres for set aside for residential use.  
Another 1000 acres was set aside as a nature preserve, which includes environmentally sensitive lands with 150 miles of trails. 

That 900 acre area would become known as the "beginning" of ...


...and was named in honor of Howard Hughes' grandmother...

Jean Amelia Summerlin

Felix Turner Hughes
Jean Amelia Summerlin Hughes

"Summerlin" was his grandmother's maiden name.

Jean Amelia Summerlin was the daughter of Thomas Summerlin and Bathsheba Robards.

She married Felix Turner Hughes, President of the Keokuk & Western Railroad, on August 1, 1865 in Memphis, Missouri. They settled in Keokuk, Iowa in 1879, where Felix Hughes was an attorney.

He was later elected a judge and mayor of Keokuk.

The children attended First Ward School and were educated in the arts, history and science.

Her children were Greta Hughes (an opera singer who went by the stage name "Jean Greta", Howard Robard Hughes Sr. (inventor and father of Howard Hughes Jr.)   (1869-1924), Rupert Raleigh Hughes (screen writer and novelist) (1872-1956),  and Reginald Hughes (who died at the age of 5).
Three other children died in infancy: Felix Jr. (1874), Jean (1880), Baby (1880).

Jean Summerlin Hughes had a phobia of germs.

When her son Robard offered to build her a house in Grand Avenue in Keokuk, Iowa, she asked the house be built without closets.
She felt diseases grew in the darkness within them.

This phobia was inherited by her grandson Howard Hughes Jr.

She died on 4 November 1928 at age 86 in Los Angeles, California. 
Today, the area of "Summerlin" (which lies partially in the city of Las Vegas and partially in an unincorporated area of Clark County), has a population of 100,000 people living in more than 100 villages with various romantic names.

It is among the most desirable areas of Las Vegas to live, and it's residents include several film and music stars, having more than 150 miles completed of the Summerlin Trail System, nine golf courses, more than a dozen places of worship, medical and cultural facilities, business parks, 26 public and private schools, and the recently completed Summerlin Shopping District.

...and only 19 of the 31 planned communities have been completed.
The area is accessed by the Summerlin Parkway and there is also a fine medical center named Summerlin Hospital in the area, both named after Jean Amelia Summerlin Hughes, who would never know the extent of the tribute given to her.

As an interesting sidelight....the late film actor Jason Robards...

Jason Robards

...was a direct descendant of Jean Summerlin Hughes' mother Bathsheba Robards.

Summerin...a tribute to a one of the most amazing individuals in American history...

..The "reclusive"....but brilliant...

 Howard Hughes

Dick Arendt


Did  Ya Know ?
(Part Two)

As we continue our march through Nevada history, today we'll look at anther aspect of its past....the mining !
Did ya know... the small town of "Beatty" got its name?

Beatty is a small town in Nye County, located approximately 125 miles northwest of Las Vegas, very close to Death Valley.
...and its past tells the story of a time past, better known as The Old West.

Historians generally consider the year 1890 as the close of the American frontier. By then, most of the western United States had been settled, ranches and farms developed, communities established, and roads and railroads constructed. 

The mining boom towns, based on the lure of the overnight riches from newly developed lodes, were but a memory.

Although Nevada was granted statehood in 1864, it remained largely unsettled and unmapped. 

In 1890 most of south central Nevada remained very much a frontier, and it continued to be so for at least another twenty years.

The great mining booms at Tonopah (1900), Goldfield (1902), and Rhyolite/Beatty (1904) now represent the last major thoughts of the American frontier.

The town of Beatty began as a small "suburb" of the glamorous Rhyolite, a town that faded as quickly as it originally rose, and histroians now refer to Rhyolite as "Death Valley's Ghost City of Golden Dreams".

Although Rhyolite experienced growth from 1904 to about 1907, the boom faded almost as quickly as it had appeared. 

The ore deposits, apparently lacking size and depth, simply could not long support a boom town. 

Of all the towns spawned from the Rhyolite boom—BullfrogGold CenterCarrarraLeadfield, LeeRose's WellAmargosaTransvaal
SpringdalePioneer, and many more—Beatty is the only one to survive.

The discovery of large deposits of silver in 1859 resulted in the migration of 60,000 people into the Nevada Territory; and as a result of the rapid rise in population, Nevada achieved statehood in 1864.

By 1880, the majority of these discoveries had followed a boom-and-bust pattern, and most of the mining camps ..and towns...vanished.

The result: 

The state of Nevada fell on hard times.

When Its population shrank to 40,000; there was concern that Nevada might not survive as a state and might have to revert to territorial status.

A man named Jim Butler would then discover a fabulous deposit of silver in Tonopah in 1900 that reversed the economic decline.

Two years later, Frank "Shorty" Harris and Ernest "Ed" Cross would discover gold while prospecting in the hills west of Oasis Valley in southern Nye County. 

Their discovery led immediately to the founding of the towns of Rhyolite and Beatty.

Today, of  all the towns spawned by the Rhyolite boom, the community of Beatty, Nevada, is the only one that survived. 

The others have vanished, leaving only a few roads, rough building foundations, an occasional stone facade of a bank or hotel, and scattered solitary mine dumps.

The town of Beatty is named after an early Oasis Valley resident...
 Montillus (Montillion) Murray "Old Man" Beatty

Beatty, a former Amargosa borax worker, was a native of Iowa and served with the Union during the Civil War.

He was discharged because of disability and came West after its conclusion.

By 1890 "Old Man" Beatty had settled in Oasis Valley.

In the spring of 1896, Beatty moved into a previously occupied ranch just north of the present town site and remained in the area until his death in December, 1908.

He was Beatty's first postmaster when the post office opened on January 19, 1905, though he could neither read nor write...except for his name !

Beatty, who said he had crossed Death Vally every month of the year, was married to a full-blodded Paiute woman from the Death Valley area and the couple had several children.

Eugene Lander, a prospector from San Bernadino, is however, usually credited with being the first settler in the Beatty area.

Lander was known to be a hard working and industrious man...but...never lucky !

At least twice he was fairly close to the "big Bonanza", but he never managed to strike it rich.

At the age of 73, "Old Man" Beatty died of a fall from a wagon while hauling wood from Bare Mountain.

Dick Arendt


Did  Ya Know ?  
(Part One)

Many of us are "replants" from other parts of the country and have little, if any knowledge of the state we now call home.

The Las Vegas Review Journal recently published a quiz about our adopted state that we felt you, as a Nevadan, might find interesting.

Rather than merely telling you the results, we thought we would expand on the facts brought out by that article.


Over the next few weeks we'll make you a bit more aware of what being a Nevadan is...and the contributions of those whose efforts have brought us to the present day.

Today we'll cover two facts about Nevada and how we have evolved over the decades.

Did Ya Know.... Mt. Charleston got its name?

According to Clark County Museum System Administrator,
Mark Hall-Patton, Mt. Charleston was named by The US Army Corps of Engineers group surveying the area in 1869, and is named for a member's hometown, Charleston, South Carolina.

Ever watch Pawn Stars? 

Mark Hall-Patton is the "history expert" often called into the shop to verify the worth of historical memorabilia.

How about this one?

Did Ya Know...

...who Fremont Street is named for?

What we now refer to as the main street "downtown", Fremont Street is named for John C. Fremont (1813-1890)...
John C. Fremont
"The Pathfinder" army officer, politician, and explorer, who typically ignored the orders of his superiors in Washington, DC, and literally traveled where he wanted to go, or where his father-in-law, Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, known to be an "expansionist",  told him to go !

He was not supposed to be traipsing around an unknown land called "Nevada".

His first expedition took him through what was then known as the "South Pass", a path across the Continental Divide though what is now known as Wyoming, hiring a man named Kit Carson to lead his 25 man expedition. 

Kit Carson

Fremont's subsequent expeditions...utilizing the services of Kit Carson...would take him to The Great Salt Lake, down the Snake to the Columbia River into Oregon.

His travels would take him into California, eventually proving a route in which "the 49ers" would use on their way to the California Gold Rush.

Kit Carson & John C. Fremont
He would fight in the Mexican-American War, and was briefly named the Military Governor of California.

When that state was admitted to the union in 1850, he was elected the first Senator from California; however he as defeated for reelection as a result of his anti-slavery stance.

For that belief, he would become the first man nominated by the newly formed Republican Party in 1856, losing to James Buchanan, placing 2nd in a three way race.

John C. Fremont & William L. Dayton
The First Republican Presidential Ticket

Four years later, a man named Abraham Lincoln would be nominated...and the rest is history as to the Republican Party.

He would fight in the Civil War and was an early (1861) staunch supporter of another general who had a reputation as a "drunkard" and "drifter" member of the Old Army....

Ulysees S. Grant

In the future, we'll have a detailed story of the history of this man's contributions to our state...and country.

See you next time....with..."Did Ya Know"

Dick Arendt

The Chinese New Year

The Year of the Goat

We all know that it comes once a year and that there is normally an animal zodiac symbol that represents each year. 

...but...other than that, just what does it entail and what is the significance of this celebration? 

How better to do that than look at its history ! 

The Chinese calendar is "lunisolar", meaning its a calendar whose dates indicate both the moon phase and the time of the solar year...
...and the Chinese New Year (also referred to as the Lunar New Year) normally falls between January 21st and February 20th each year of the Gregorian calendar. 

In 2015, it begins on February 19th. 

In China, it is also known as the "Spring Festival", the literal translation of the modern Chinese name.

Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year's Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the "Lantern Festival" on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar. 

Traditionally, the festival is considered a major holiday and a time to honor deities as well as ancestors... 

...and is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, MacauTaiwanSingapore, Thailand, IndonesiaMalaysiaMauritius, Philippines, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. 

Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. 

It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. 

Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity." 

Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes. 

Although the Chinese calendar traditionally does not use continuously numbered years, outside China its years are often numbered from the reign of the 3rd millennium BC Yellow Emperor. 

But at least three different years numbered 1 are now used by various scholars. 

As a result.... 

AD 2015 is either the "Chinese Year" 4713, 4712, or 4652.

New Year's Day itself was traditionally named " Yuandan"
which in English meant "the First Sunrise" until in 1913
the Republic of China adopted the Gregorian calendar
and the Chinese New Year thereafter was referred to as
the "Spring Festival".

Now, "Yuandan" refers to the first day of one year
according to solar calendar and it is the same day with
western New Year's Day in spite of the time difference.

In the Chinese calendarwinter solstice must occur in the 11th month, which means that Chinese New Year usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice.

Each New Year is welcomed with a different animal zodiac symbol...and they include: the zodiac we are accustomed to...these
symbols also have characteristics associated with them !

2015 is the "Year of the Goat"

...but...if you look at the above won't see a "Goat". 


 Because the "Goat" is also referred to as a "Sheep" or "Ram" !

 Want to know what is characteristic of... 

 "The Year of The Goat"

The goat (sheep or ram), is among the animals that people like the most !  It is gentle and calm. 

Since ancient times, people have learned to use its fleece to make writing brushes and skin to keep warm. 

The white cute creature often reminds people of BEAUTIFUL things.

Lucky Numbers: 1,  3, 6, 7, 8, and 10
Lucky Colors:  yellowgreen and red
Lucky Flowers:  Carnation, Primrose, & Alice Flower
Lucky Directions:  East, Southeast, and South

Unlucky Numbers:  4 and 9
Unlucky Colors:   black and white
Unlucky Directions:  West and North

To all our friends in and outside the Chinese Community....

We wish you a wonderful ...
"Happy New Year"
Dick Arendt

Ash Wednesday...The Beginning of Lent

February 18, 2015 is the beginning of "Lent"...

...a season known by Christians, as a period of religious observance that begins a 40 day period culminating on April 5, 2015, a day that defines the Christian faith....


...the day Christians around the world believe the Son of God arose from a worldly death to bring about a New Testament...

...a belief in a rebirth of the principles set forth in an Old Testament... a simple man, merely 33 years of age, born in a stable;  who,  alongside 12 devoted followers, roamed areas of the middle east, preaching PEACE....

...looking at man not in the light of "an eye for an eye", but instead, "loving those who call you enemy".

During "Lent" many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up some types of luxuries as a form of penitence.

In many parts of the world, the day before this "Lenten" season begins, a grand festival is held known as Mardi Gras, and this celebration ends on the Tuesday before Lent begins.

It even has a name...."Fat Tuesday".

But on the next day, "Ash Wednesday", the celebrations stop and a 40 day period of penance begins for Christians.

And like Easter, "Ash Wednesday" is kind of a moving target from year to year, with its date decided by the JULIAN CALENDAR...usually between February 4th and March 10th.

Why 40 days?

According to the Christian gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus Christ spent 40 days in the desert before he began his public ministry at the age of 30. 

It is ironic that most Western Christian denominations such as the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Western Right Orthodox churches, have maintained a 40 day period...

....yet the Roman Catholic Church, as a result of the Second Vatican Council convened by Pope John XXIII from 1962-1965, the "Lenten" season was redefined to last only 38 days, from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday (but excluding Sundays).

Holy Thursday is the day before Good Friday, the day Christ was crucified.

Those holy scriptures bring out the continual temptations of Satan during that period where it is believed he was offered great riches and worldly favor if he would bow to the desires of evil.

Despite personal agony...he resisted evil, and emerged from the desert to fulfill the destiny Christians believe his heavenly father commissioned him to do, while on earth in the form of an ordinary man... ordinary man who would have emotions, experience scorn and belittlement by those of his own people and  faith, and eventually be beaten and executed in a manner similar to common thieves.

In the 20th century, certain "Lenten" customs, practices, and traditions derived from Roman Catholicism prior to the Reformation which began in 1517 when Martin Luther published his "36 Theses" on the door of a Wittenberg, Germany church, also became part of the Protestant, Evangelicals, and Baptist traditions...

...most notably of which....was using ASHES.

What is the significance of ASHES ?

On Ash Wednesday a priest places a "cross of ashes" on a worshipper's forehead as a reminder of human mortality and also to prepare that individual for Holy Week and the Easter celebration.

These ashes are from burned and bless Palms from the previous Palm Sunday a year ago.

Where does the word "LENT" come from ?

In the late Middle Ages, as church sermons became more common in the vernacular, rather than traditional Latin, the English word "lent" was adopted.

It initially meant "spring" and is derived from the Germanic word for "long" because... the spring, the days lengthen !

Was it actually 40 days?

No one knows for certain, but there are many who believe "40" has many biblical references....and that is why the number "40" is used.

For example...

...Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai.

...Elijah spent 40 days walking to Mt. Horeb.

...God sent 40 days and nights of rain to Noah.

...The Hebrews spent 40 years wandering in the desert for "the promised land".

...the 40 days Jonah gave in his prophecy to the city of Nineveh in which to repent or be destroyed.

and in Christian belief...

...the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness where he fasted for 40 days, being tempted by Satan. is traditional belief that Jesus lay in his tomb for 40 hours before his resurrection.

As time passed, the traditional 40 days of Lent were marked by fasting...from both foods and from festivities; and three traditional practices which became common over the centuries during that 40 day period.....

...prayer to God  (signifying justice toward God)

...fasting  (signifying justice toward self)

...almsgiving  (signifying justice toward your neighbor)    
So...Lent is a 40 day season of grief...ending in a great celebration of....

EASTER conclude this article, there are a number of aspects of Lent you may see, but may not be familiar...

Some Churches still veil all of their statues during this season of penance, though this practice is losing popularity, and when used is often only during the last two weeks of the Lenten season.

Catholic priests wear purple vestments during lent to signify a period of penance.

Fasting and abstinence haves radically changed over the years. 

From the Middle Ages where eggs and dairy products were generally forbidden, to today's world where the Roman Catholic church, requires members to "eat less than is customary for the day, with NO MEAT, eating only one full meal and two small meals" on both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday ONLY", the Lenten season continually has evolved in its definitions of "fasting" and "abstinence".

The fourth Lenten Sunday is called "Mothering Sunday" and in the United Kingdom is also called "Mother's Day".

The fifth Lenten Sunday is known as "Passion Sunday" and is more commonly referred to as "Palm Sunday" the beginning of "Holy Week"...

... where the Wednesday of Holy Week is known by some as "Spy Wednesday", commemorating the day Judas conspired to betray and sell him to the Romans.

...where Thursday of Holy Week is known as "Holy Thursday", commemorated by Christians as the day of Christ's Last Supper with his disciples.

...where Friday of Holy Week is known as "Good Friday" when Jesus Christ was crucified and buried.

...where Saturday of Holy Week is known as "Holy Saturday" when Christ laid in a donated tomb while his devoted Mary Magdelene, mourned him day and night.

...until Sunday...Easter...when Christianity took on a new meaning for the entire western world, as the belief of his rising from the dead fulfilled the prophecies of the scriptures that man would again be given yet another opportunity to repent for his sins....and be rewarded by doing Christ's words...

 "in a kingdom not of this world".

And now you know all about "Ash Wednesday" and "Lent" !

Dick Arendt

Goodbye "Mr. Cub"
That Flag in Left Field will Forever Grace Wrigley Field in Your Memory

One of the dearest moments of my childhood came to mind on Friday, January 23rd, when I learned of the death of the greatest baseball player I ever had the chance to meet.....Hall of Famer....Ernie Banks.

He was age 83 at the time of his death....a week before his 84th birthday.

Growing up approximately 6 blocks from Wrigley Field in Chicago made me a Cub fan for life.....and nothing....NOTHING....even waiting 106 years for a Cub World Series, can compare to the sadness in my heart at losing a man whose integrity and love of the game was an inspiration to whoever had the privilege of meeting this GOOD and DECENT MAN.

It all started back in 1955....60 years the age of 8 when I turned on WGN-TV to watch my first professional baseball game (in black and white with rabbit ears on our  10 inch screen) listening to a show called "The Lead Off Man" with Vince Lloyd, while in the background a man named Pat Pieper could be heard saying:

"Attention...Attention please...have your pencils and scorecards ready, and I'll give you today's line-up for today's ballgame".

I later found out the Pat Pieper has originally been a popcorn vendor for the Cubs at "West Side Park" since 1904, and when the team moved to Weeghman Park in 1916 (eventually renamed Wrigley Field in 1927) he was named the first "field" announcer, originally running up and down the left and right field lines to announce the line-ups using a 14 pound megaphone....until the Cubs would eventually buy a public address system in 1932 !  

To the day he died in 1974, he swore Babe Ruth called the center field home run "shot" during the 1932 World Series as he sat in the Cubs dugout with the Cub players during the game !

One by one, each name was called...until the name Ernie Banks was announced as the starting shortstop....and for some reason....the crowd of about 800....yes, 800, not 8,000, began to cheer wildly.

...and then the game would start with Hall of Fame Broadcaster, Jack Brickhouse, in the TV booth... 

...talking about this "kid" who hit home runs with the strangest batting stance anyone had ever seen....using "wrist action".

This had to be explored by an eight year old kid in person...who would begin each summer day in the Mt. Carmel parking lot at daybreak to join the other kids in a softball game that began somewhere around 9:30am, broke for lunch (that mom made), and return for another 4-5 hours before the dinner bell sounded and dad got home, only to return afterwards until it got too dark to play any longer !

The only exception to that summer occasional treat....going to a real game in person....when the Cubs were home....

...and spending the 60 cents for a grandstand seat....with the money we earned from our Kool-Aid stands in front of our houses !  (75 cents for a bleacher seat was beyond our affordability).

And...our parents let us go by ourselves too....there was never a concern as to safety !

You see, those were the days when baseball at Wrigley Field was only played in the DAYTIME....there were no lights in Wrigley Field until 1988 because the owner's son, after purchasing them,  donated them to the war effort before they were scheduled to be installed in 1942....

...and it was a joy....a wonderful watch baseball in the warm summer sun during each and every home game.

Wrigley Field was (and is) in a residential neighborhood where people actually live in apartment buildings within 50-100 feet of the park...

...and living less than a mile from the ballpark allowed us kids from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel grade school to WALK there....because we simply wanted to save the 25 cents bus fare,  and buy TWO HOT DOGS at 10 cents each at the Waveland Bowl on Clark Street on the way to the park.

The games might have actually started at 1:20pm...but a kid on a mission, had to get there for batting practice at about 10:00am for two reasons...

...first, to make sure you got your 60 cents worth...

...but more importantly, to get to that special location across from the fire station on Waveland Avenue....where the players parked their cars !

And that is where I met Ernie Banks for the first time !

While so many of the players would hurry into the park to get ready for the game....

...not siree....

Ernie would NEVER refuse an autograph and ALWAYS showed his appreciation for the fans and his love of the game he knew he was blessed to be able to play professionally !

No matter what you had with you...a scorecard, a piece of notebook paper...even an old Popsicle wrapper.....Ernie would always sign it.  He just LOVED KIDS.

But it wouldn't stop BEFORE the game...

If you were a real "penniless fan" like I was....

...when the game ended, you had to beat the other kids in the park in gathering up and turning in 15 of the rented seat cushions in order to receive free admission to a future game....

...and then get back to the players parking lot to "attack" them for more autographs AFTER the game as well !

Ernie Banks grew up in Dallas, Texas; was a star football, basketball, and track and field athlete, in addition to, baseball, and got to the "bigs" in a way so many black players did in the early 50s... way of the Negro Leagues...riding the buses to and from games....

...until another Negro League sports legend, Cool Papa Bell...

...would be responsible for signing him to a professional contract with the Kansas City Monarchs

Bell would also eventually be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 as one of the greatest players in Negro League history.

The immortal Hall of Famer,  Satchel Paige....

...once said of "Cool Papa" as to his blazing speed...

“One time he hit a line drive right past my ear. I turned around and saw the ball hit him sliding into second.” 

Ernie would serve his nation in the Army, and after being honorably discharged, returned to the Monarchs for one season, when a man named P.K. Wrigley came calling in 1953 with an offer to play for the Chicago Cubs....where he would remain "a Cub" for the next 19 years until he retired in 1971.

It was in that 19 year span from my young age of 8, through high school, college, and eventually into the working world, that I would learn to love and appreciate this man for his abilities ON and OFF the field.

He was the most beloved player to ever play for the Chicago Cubs....for so many reasons !

Of course in addition to his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977...his first year of eligibility.... there were his 512 home runs which places him #22 on the all-time home run list (he was #8 when he retired...well before the era of performance enhancing drugs); the only player to receive 2 consecutive back-to-back MVP awards in 1958 and 1959; was named to 11 All-Star teams; won a golden glove award in 1960 for his play at shortstop before moving to first base in 1962; and appeared in 1,259 games....

...culminating with every Cub fan having May 12, 1970 etched in their memory !

All this....playing for a team that rarely finished above the .500 mark, and NEVER in a World Series during the 19 years.

Did that ever change the  attitude of Ernie Banks?

Never.....that's why he will always be affectionately known as ...

After receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2013.....Ernie's humility continued...

But my "Ernie" story doesn't end with his playing days. 

The best...and most memorable of them all....was in 1972.  

He was retired and I had been in my third year in the insurance business working for Aetna Life in downtown Chicago.

Next door  to the Aetna office was a doctor's  office, Dr. Alex Conway, who did insurance physicals for a living....and between both of the offices...was the men's room.

I "had to go" and at the same time, Ernie was completing an insurance exam taking a "specimen"....standing IMMEDIATELY TO MY LEFT at the urinal !

For you guys out there, have you ever had that uncomfortable feeling that you recognize the guy "going" next to you....and don't want to make it obvious that you're looking at him...for various reasons ?

Well...I couldn't resist !  I looked at him and asked if he was Ernie Banks and sure as can be...he was, and as our eyes locked.... he looked at me and said.....

"I'd shake your hand but it's busy right now!"

We talked for a few moments...asking me my name and what I did and where I worked...he seemed to really CARE about a matter what their age.

That was Ernie Banks...

....but that IS NOT THE END OF THE STORY !

Ernie went back to complete his exam, and I went back to my awe...realizing no one would ever believe me !

15 minutes later, our receptionist called me to come to the front counter of the office....that I had a visitor who wished to see me.

I dashed away from my desk to the front of the office and low and was ERNIE BANKS !

He had told the receptionist that he was in the neighborhood, and wanted to say HI TO HIS PAL, DICK ARENDT !

What I will never forget about that day was that office of over 100 people....all running up to the counter....with the phones ringing and ringing...and no one answering them !

Everyone wanted to meet Ernie Banks !

He came back to my office, and gave me a wink...

....we talked for a few moments, and as he left, I looked at him, and told him that was the greatest act of kindness any one could have ever shown a matter how old the "kid" was at the time....

...that from the moment I first witnessed the great game of baseball, he was not only a hero to an 8 year old kid....but to a 25 year old one as well !

The office staff never looked at me in the same manner after that....after all....ERNIE BANKS CAME TO SAY HI TO...ME !

Ernie Banks was voted the most beloved Cub player in Chicago Cubs history...and for good reason....not just for his play, but for his annual words of wisdom...

"The Cubs are due in sixty-two."

"The Cubs are gonna shine in sixty-nine."

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

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

But the most memorable of all....

"Let's Play Two"

...and the song every Cub fan has learned to love while thinking of old number "14" in his Cubby blue...

Thank you Ernie....thank you for allowing me to relive moments of my life that YOU were a part of....

...those innocent moments I will always cherish.

You may be in Baseball's Hall of Fame....

...but you'll forever be in mine for reasons well beyond the diamond !

Dick Arendt
Anthem Opinions

Saying Goodbye to Those We Lost in 2014
(July through December)


Louis Zamperini
July 2nd...Age 97
(Olympic distance runner who, during World War II, survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific after his bomber crashed, then endured two years in Japanese prison camps.....subject of the book and recently released movie "Unbroken")

Alice Coachman-Davis
July 14th...Age 90
(the first black woman to win an Olympic Gold 1948)

 Elaine Stritch
July 17th...Age 89
(Actress....Broadway & Movies "Cacoon")

James Garner
July 19th...Age 86
(Actor...Brett Maverick in "Maverick" and Jim Rockford in "Rockford Files" Television Shows in addition to numerous films)

James Brady
August 4th...Age 73
(Press Secretary to President Ronald Reagan who was shot during Reagan assassination attempt in 1981...was responsible for The Brady Bill)

Ed Nelson
August 9th...Age 85
(American Character know for roles in "Peyton Place" and "Murder She Wrote")
Robin Williams
August 11th...Age 63
(Actor / Comedian.....Mork in "Mork & Mindy" and numerous films, nominated for the Best Actor Oscar in "The Fisher King","Good Morning Viet Nam", and  "Dead Poets Society"...won Oscar for Best Actor in "Good Will Hunting")

Lauren Bacall
August 12th...Age 89
(Actress....married to Humphrey Bogart and co-starred with Bogart in "To Have and Have Not", "Dark Passage", and "Key Largo")

 Don Pardo
August 18th...Age 96
(Voice of "Saturday Night Life" and numerous Television Shows)

  Richard Attenborough
August 24th...Age 81
(Actor / Director.....starred in "Jurassic Park")

Joan Rivers
September 4th...Age 81

Richard Kiel
September 10th...Age 74
(Actor..."Jaws" in two James Bond films)

 Bob Crewe
September 11th...Age 82
(American Songwriter writing numerous hits for various artists....including "Big Girls Don"t Cry" and "Ragdoll"  with Bob Gaudio for the Four Seasons)

Polly Bergen
September 20th...Age 84
(Actress...starred in films "Cape Fear" and "Kisses for My President....and TV's "Desperate Housewives")

 Paul Revere
October 4th...Age 76
(Band leader of Rock Group "Paul Revere & the Raiders")

Jan Hooks
October 9th...Age 57
(Comedienne....Star of Great '90s Saturday Night Live" cast)

Oscar de la Renta
October 20th...Age 82
(worldly gentleman designer who shaped the wardrobe of socialites, first ladies, and Hollywood stars for more than four decades)

 Ben Bradlee
October 21st...Age 93
(Editor of The Washington Post...played by Jason Robards in the Watergate movie, "All the President's Men" in 1976)

 Marcia Strassman
October 24th...Age 66
(Actress...Julie Kotter in TV's "Welcome Back Kotter" and starred in film, "Honey I Shrunk the Kids")

Acker Bilk
November 2nd...Age 85
(Musician...whose clarinet will long be remembered for his hit "Strangers on the Shore"...originally titled "Jennie" for his young daughter)

Tom Magliozzi
November 3rd...Age 77
(the car guy in  TV's "Car Talk")

Richard Schaal
November 4th...Age 86
(Actor....roles in "Phyllis" and "Mary Tyler Moore" TV show)

 Carol Ann Susi
November 11th...Age 62
(Actress....voice of Howard Wolowitz's mother on TV's "Big Bang Theory")

Alvin Dark
November 13th...Age 92
(Major League Baseball Player who, in 1969, was voted by the San Francisco Giants, as their greatest shortstop of all time)

Jane Byrne
November 14th...Age 81
(Former Mayor of Chicago...elected following the "Great Snow Storm of 1979")

Jimmy Ruffin
November 14th...Age 81
(American Motown known for hit "What Becomes of the Broken Heart)

Mike Nichols
November 20th...Age 82
(Grammy and Oscar Winner for Direction...most notable works include films "The Graduate", "Working Girl", and "Primary Colors" and Broadway's "Spamalot"...was the former comic partner of Elaine May....married for the past 26 years to News Anchor, Diane Sawyer)

Mary Ann Mobley

December 9th...Age 75

(Actress...Miss America 1959....married to Gary Collins who passed away in of the "Elvis" girls in the firm"Girl Happy")

 Ernie Terrell
December 16th...Age 75)
(Former WBA Heavyweight Boxing Champion losing his title to Muhammed Ali in 1967)

Joe Cocker
December 22nd...Age 70
(British Rock Star....most famous for his hit, "You Are So Beautiful")

Dick Dale
December 26th...Age 88
(Lawrence Welk Show...singer and saxophonist)
Luise Rainer
December 30th...Age 104
(American Actress...first woman to win back to back Academy Awards for Best Actress...."The Great Ziegfeld" in 1936 & "The Good Earth" in 1937)

Saying Goodbye to Those We Lost in 2014
(January through June)


Phil Everly
January 3rd---Age 74
(Singer...The Everly Brothers)

 Alicia Rhett
January 3rd...Age 93
(Actress...India Wilkes in "Gone with the Wind")

 Jerry Coleman
January 5th...Age 89
(New York Yankee baseball player...and inducted into the Baseball Broadcasters Hall of Fame after 40 years covering games for the San Diego Padres)

Ariel Sharon
January 11th....Age 85
(Israeli general and prime minister who was admired and hated for his battlefield exploits and ambitions to reshape the Middle East)

 Russell Johnson
January 16th...Age 89
(Actor...The Professor on Gilligan's Island)

Dave Madden
January 16th...Age 80
(Actor...Reuben Kincaid on "The Partridge Family")

Hiroo Onoda
January 16th...Age 91
(The Last Japanese Soldier to Surrender in World War II)

 Pete Seeger
January 27th...Age 94
(American Folk Singer & Songwriter)

Maximillian Schell
February 1st...Age 84
(Actor... Oscar winner "Judgment at Nuremberg")

Philip Seymour Hoffman
February 2nd...Age 46
(Actor...Oscar winner "Capote")

Ralph Kiner
February 6th....Age 91
(Major League Baseball Hall of Famer , the first National League player to hit 50+ home runs in two seasons....spending most of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates....eventually becoming the New York Mets broadcaster for over 50 years)

Shirley Temple Black
February 10th...Age 85
(Actress & US Ambassador...America's Sweetheart)

Sid Caesar
February 12th...Age 91
(Television Pioneer....."Your Show of Shows")
Mary Grace Canfield
February 15th...Age 89
(Actress.....Ralph the Plumber on "Green Acres")

 Jim Fregosi
February 16th...Age 71
(Major League Baseball player who also managed four teams, winning more than 1,000 games)
 Garrick Utley
February 20th...Age 74
(News Anchor...NBC Nightly News)

 Harold Ramis
February 24th...Age 69
(Actor/Director....starred in "Ghostbusters")
Jim Lange
February 25th...Age 80
(Host of "The Dating Game")

Sheila MacRae
March 6th...Age 93
(Actress...2nd Alice Kramden on "The Honeymooners")
March 15th...Age 78
(Stand Up Comedian)
March 21st...Age 65
(Character Actor in Numerous Productions)

Mary Anderson
April 6th...Age 96
(Actress....Marybell Merriweather in "Gone With the Wind")
April 6th...Age 93
(Icon Actor...."Andy Hardy" Movies)
April 20th...Age 76
(Heavyweight boxer, who spent 22 years in prison for a murder conviction...portrayed by actor, Denzel Washington in the 1999 film, "The Hurricane")
April 23rd...Age 102
(The Oldest Surviving Major League Baseball player...dying 2 days prior to his 103rd birthday)
April 29th...Age 87
(Actor....Cop Eddie Valiant in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit")

 Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
May 2nd...Age 95
(Actor...Inspector Lewis Erskine on "The FBI" Television Series)
May 8th...Age 79
(Actress...Many TV Shows.."The Fugitive", "Twilight Zone", "Bonanza", "Dr. Kildare)
May 11th...Age 79
(Watergate conspirator-turned minister who claimed in later years to have heard President Richard Nixon order the infamous Watergate break-in)
May 18th...Age 83
(American Singer for Decades)
May 19th...Age 88
(Three time Formula One Champion who famously pushed his car to the finish line to claim his first season title)
May 28th...Age 86
(Poet....First Clinton Inauguration)

Anne B. Davis
June 1st...Age 88
(Schultzy on "The Bob Cummings Show" and Alice on "The Brady Bunch")
June 4th...Age 83
(Loveable Manager of several Major League Baseball teams...most notable for charging the pitcher's mound at the age of 73 and tackling pitcher, Pedro Martinez, in 2003)
June 9th...Age 57
(Major League Baseball 1990 Cy Young Winner...Los Angeles Dodgers)
June 11th...Age 91
(Actress...."A Raisin in the Sun"... married to actor Ozzie Davis for over 50 years)
June 13th...Age 82
(Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach...winner of 4 Super Bowls)
June 15th...Age 82
(National Radio DJ..."America's Top 40")
June 16th...Age 54
(San Diego Padres Baseball Hall of of the greatest hitters in baseball history)
June 19th...Age 75
( "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Up on the Roof" with former wife, Carole King...subsequently wrote Monkees hit, "Pleasant Valley Sunday")
June 22nd...Age 86
(straight man of famous duo "Allen & Rossi")
 Eli Wallach
June 24th...Age 98
(Character Actor..."The Magnificent Seven " and "The Good The Bad & The Ugly")
Howard Baker
June 26th...Age 88
(Former Republican Senator from Tennessee who made headlines during The Watergate Hearings)
June 28th...Age 67
(Actor...."Designing Women" TV show)
June 30th...Age 89
(Actor...Lt. Carpenter on "McHale's Navy" TV show)


The Fesitval of Lights
 A Celebration for both Jews & Christians

Beginning at sun down on Tuesday, December 16th, those of Jewish faith begin the eight day celebration of Hannukah.

As many of us who live in our community know, we have a diverse cultural mix that includes a number of religions...and tonight...those of the Jewish faith will begin their annual celebration.

...and luckier than most  who live here !

Why ?  Because I get the best of both worlds !

Being a Roman Catholic who is married to a lovely lady of the Jewish faith,  I get 8 days of lights....and then...follow that up with 12 days of Christmas !

...and being of the Christian faith, having been educated in Catholic grammar and high schools, I was fortunate to learn much of the Hebrew traditions...because.....

...well...according to what I was taught all those years ago....

Christianity would never have existed had it not been for Judaism.

Surprisingly, so many people believe the two religions are separate and distinct, when in fact....both actually celebrate a number of holidays common to both. of which is Hannukah !

Why do I say that?

...because Hannukah is mentioned in the books of Maccabees in the Old Testament....the "first half" of the us Christians !

And so...since both Jews and Christians celebrate it...I believe all of us should know about it !

To find out what Hanukkah commemorates, we have to look back at a specific time in history...a 400-year period between the closing of the Hebrew Scriptures and the writing of the New Testament.

Biblical scholars sometimes call this a “silent period,” and since the events of Hanukkah took place during this time,  we must turn to extra-biblical sources to learn about them.

What we know about the history of Hanukkah can be gleaned primarily from I & II Maccabbees, two  non-canonical books, and also from the Talmud, a collection of the oral lore of Jewish sages and rabbis.

During that 400 year period, there was no king in Israel.

The Jewish people had returned from exile in Babylon under the leadership of Nehemiah, but they were ruled over by a succession of foreign empires.

Israel was ruled by the Persian empire, which was conquered by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C.

When Alexander died in 323 B.C., his empire was carved up by his four top generals.

Israel lay in between the kingdoms of Egypt (ruled by the Ptolemic dynasty) and Syria (ruled by the Seleucid dynasty), and was ruled by both at different times.

The Greek, or Hellenistic, culture of Alexander was continued by both of these empires.

In 198 B.C., Israel was under the rule of the Syrian empire.

These Syrio-Greeks had forced their own Hellenistic culture upon the Jewish people.

In 175 B.C. Antiochus IV ascended the throne of this empire, and took upon himself the name "Antiochus Epiphanes", meaning “the visible god.”

Antiochus truly believed that he was a god.

His contemporaries may not have shared this view, since he is often referred to in writings of the day as “the madman.”

Antiochus forbad the Jewish people to keep the Sabbath, to read or study the Torah, or to circumcise their sons.

He commanded that the temple in Jerusalem should become a temple dedicated to worshipping the Greek god Zeus, and even erected a statue of Zeus at the Temple – a statue bearing a resemblance to Antiochus himself!

The final insult to the Jewish people came when Antiochus entered into the Temple and slaughtered a pig on the altar, then splattered its blood....a complete desecration of the Temple ! 

I Maccabees tells us that living near to Jerusalem was a priest named Mattathias who, full of righteous anger at the abomination that had taken place, killed the priest who had slaughtered the pig.

Mattathias then pulled down the altar before fleeing to the surrounding hills of Judea, along with his sons.

As he fled, Mattathias cried out, “Whoever is zealous for the Law and maintains the Covenant, follow me!”

With his sons, Mattathias formed a band of guerilla fighters who made frequent sorties against the Syrio-Greek enemy.

When the priest died, leadership passed to his son Judah, who soon began being called Yudah haMakkabi, or “Judah the Hammer,” because it was said that he was the hammer of God, sent to smash the enemies of Israel.

Judah’s followers were referred to as Maccabbeans.

The Maccabeans grew in numbers, and after 3 years of fighting, miraculously defeated the far superior Syrio-Greek army.

After routing their enemies, the Maccabbeans marched into Jerusalem to rescue, restore, and rededicate the Temple.

The Talmud records that the rededication took place on the 25th day of "Kislev"  in the Hebrew calendar, exactly 3 years to the day after it had been defiled by Antiochus.

Hanukkah means, “dedication” in Hebrew, so the holiday is known as the "Feast of Dedication" to commemorate the miracle of the rescue, restoration, and rededication of the Temple by the Maccabbeans.

It’s a celebration of the faith that Judah Maccabee and his followers had that God would keep His promises to preserve the Jewish people, a faith that was amply repaid in the defeat of their Syrio-Greek oppressors.

However, today when most Jews think of Hanukkah, they do not think of the miracle of the Maccabees defeating a much larger, better equipped army.

They associate a very different miracle with the holiday, one which is mentioned only briefly in the Talmud.

According to the Talmud, once the Syrio-Greeks had been driven away, Judah Maccabee ordered that the Temple be cleansed and rededicated.

As they cleaned out the rubble, built a new altar, and crafted new holy vessels for the Temple, a terrible discovery was made.

There was only a single container of consecrated ritual olive oil, which was required in order to keep the menorah (the seven-branched candelabra) in the Temple burning through the night.

This lamp was known as the "Ner Tamid", or the "Eternal Light", and God had commanded it should never burn out.

To allow that to happen would be like another desecration.

The problem was that it would take eight days for more oil to be pressed, prepared, and consecrated.

With a sense of helplessness, the Maccabees and the priests offered their prayers and pleas for forgiveness up to God as they lit the oil they had.

Miraculously, this one container of oil, enough only to last one night, burned for all eight days!

Jewish sages hence instituted an eight-day holiday commemorating this miracle, customarily celebrated by lighting candles for eight days.

This is the miracle that most Jews think of as they celebrate Hanukkah, and the reason that it is referred to as the "Festival of Lights".

...hence.... significance of the Jewish tradition of lighting candles in the menorah for eight nights !

A candle is added each night, symbolizing each of the eight nights the oil burned in the temple.

As each candle is added to the menorah, the blessings increase; and by the final night, the room is completely filled with light, a symbol of the glory and presence of God.

And this eight days of celebration commences this Tuesday evening....

...Anthem Opinions wishes all of our Jewish and Christian readers...a joyous celebration of this event for one reason....

We are all part of the brotherhood of man !

Dick Arendt


Do you know the facts about..................

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God

How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?

21 steps

It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

How long does the guard hesitate after his/her about face to begin his return walk and why?

21 seconds

...for the same reason ...the 21 gun salute...the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary. 

The guards gloves are wet.  Why?

His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

Does the guard carry his/her rifle on the same shoulder all the time and, if not, why not?

The guard carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.

After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

How often are the guards changed?

Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

 What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?

For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5' 10' and 6' 2' tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30.

And...women are also included in this honor.

What are the requirements for the guard's uniforms?

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet.

There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.

There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform.

Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniform ready for guard duty.

What other commitments must a guard make to protect the tomb?

They must commit to the following conditions...

...2 years of life to guard the tomb in a barracks under the tomb

...cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives

....cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives

...cannot disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way

The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone nor watch TV.

All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery . A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.

After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn.

The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

How dedicated are these individuals to guard the tomb?

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm.

On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment.

They respectfully declined the offer, "No way, Sir!"

Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person.

The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

Most importantly...

The Tomb and its guards are the symbol of dedication to all who live in this great nation.

Dick Arendt

(Part Three of Three)

Helen J. Stewart

The First Lady of Las Vegas

Her husband having been murdered, she suddenly became a widow with four children and pregnant with a fifth.  Her husband died without a will, and she felt it necessary to sell the ranch in Las Vegas in order to provide for her children.

But...there were no buyers for two years.

Suddenly, land speculation fever struck the Las Vegas valley in 1889, and rather than sell....she decided to buy !

She enticed her father and brother-in-law to buy land along the Muddy River, by giving them a loan of 100 cattle.

Still...Helen Stewart had one problem that needed solving....her dedication to educating her children. day, the dilemma was solved.

An elderly man, James Ross Megamgle, who had been in Lincoln County for over 20 years, arrived in her life. 

A graduate of Oxford, Megamgle was a teacher by profession, but was also a writer, poet, orator, and could play a "passable" fiddle. 

Helen's passion for education had been solved !

They became dear friends; he became her soft hearted mentor; and Megamgle agreed to tutor the Stewart children...

..becoming the first teacher in the Las Vegas School District for Lincoln County. (Las Vegas was part of Lincoln County until 1909 when it became part of the newly established Clark County.)

Helen's daughters were amenable to learning but sons, Will and Hiram, had by then become "seasoned ranchers" and saw "book learning" as a waste of time.

James Ross Megamgle would take up permanent residence at the Stewart ranch and regularly taught the Stewart children and others until contracting influenza in 1894, when he sadly died.  He had become so close to the Stewart family that he was buried alongside Archie Stewart, Helen's murdered husband.

So convinced that education was imperative for her children, she subsequently sent her daughters and youngest son, Archibald, off to boarding school in California.

Two years later, another man would enter Helen's life.  In 1886 a man named Frank Roger Stewart (no relation to Archie) arrived from Sandy Valley, where he and a partner had operated a store and post office.

Frank Roger Stewart

He needed work....Helen hired him, and he became a valuable ranch hand...

...often entertaining travelers with his wit as they passed through the area (supposedly spending a great deal of time in the wine cellar with them).

Helen and Frank eventually married in 1903.

Because of the Stewart ranch location, over time it became a message center for the region with travelers routinely leaving messages for those behind them.

As a June, 1893, Helen Stewart was named postmaster of the "Los Vegas"  (not misspelled) post office.  Authorities insisted on the incorrect spelling to avoid confusing it with the territorial post office in Las Vegas, New Mexico. 

As the years passed, talk of a railroad through the valley fueled further speculation in Las Vegas land.. but railroad magnates became concerned about the inflated land prices.

As a result, early negotiations between local landowners....including Helen Stewart....and the Oregon Short Line Railroad began in 1901..

...but due to the fear of inflated prices...they failed to exercise the option to build...and lost it !

That decision would be a costly one !

In 1902 Montana Senator William A. Clark made a trip to Las Vegas with an idea that he  believed would change the small dusty town of Las Vegas...into a city.

Montana US Senator William A. Clark

Clark, the man for whom our Clark County is named,  had a rather "checkered" past.

Years ago, US Senators were not elected...they were appointed by state legislators...

...and  when it was revealed in 1899 that Clark had bribed members of the Montana legislature to obtain the senatorial position, the US Senate refused to seat him.

In responding to criticism of his Montana bribery, his comment was...

 "I never bought a man who wasn't for sale".

A later Senate campaign would be successful, and he served as Montana's US Senator for ONE TERM from 1901 to 1907.

It was during that senatorial term that he met Helen Stewart in 1902...essentially making her "an offer she couldn't refuse" !

Clark came to Las Vegas with the idea of building a railroad that would connect Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, a frequently traveled route...and Las Vegas was a half-way point for the train route.

All he needed was a reliable source of water.

And...Helen Stewart was the answer !

Helen wanted to sell her ranch, and the Las Vegas Creek ran through the ranch !

Stewart Ranch...Las Vegas Creek

And in 1902, Helen Stewart, signed a contract that essentially became ...
...the de facto birth certificate for the City of Las Vegas !

The contract, between the Stewart Ranch and the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad....

...for the sum of $55,000....

...sold most of the Stewart ranch and the water rights.

Helen Stewart and her children would keep only the land where the family cemetery was located and a small part of the Las Vegas Creek. 1902...The Stewarts were out of the ranching business....

...but...knowing of the railroad's plans for her ranch....Helen thought wisely....and...

..snatched up another 924 acres of land where she lived adjacent to the "Four Acres" cemetery for the rest of her life.

in 1905 the railroad auctioned off 1,200 lots, creating the downtown core of Las Vegas, which of course,  included "Stewart Street"

Senator William A. Clark in Las Vegas...1905

Helen Stewart would write:

"Following the trail of the trapper and of the trail blazer, and the pioneer, came the iron horse, that great annihilator of time and distance, bringing all the modern ideas of advanced civilization in our midst, and we awoke as if in a dream, and found all the comforts of an advanced civilization with us.  The hardships are no more."

When Jeanne Elizabeth Weir, founder of The Nevada Historical Society, came to Nevada in 1908....
Jeanne Elizabeth Weir
Founder of The Nevada Historical Society

...she sought out Helen Stewart, and promptly named her the president of the Southern Nevada branch.  Helen would become a frequent speaker as one of the foremost authorities on the history of Southern Nevada.

In 1911 the federal government decided to establish a Native American reservation in or around Las Vegas.

It was Helen Stewart who provided the site for today's Las Vegas Paiute Indian Colony on North Main Street.

In 1915, she became the first woman elected to the Clark County School Board.

In 1916, she became the first Nevada woman to sit on a jury.

In 1922 she donated land for the Las Vegas Grammar School which was built in 1923.  It was the first public school attended by Native American students from the southern Paiute Indian Colony....the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Helen Stewart would also become an expert at making Indian baskets, so much so, that in 1925, Nevada Governor James Scrugham...

Nevada Governor James Scrugham

....asked her to display them at the 1926 State Exposition in Reno.
Sadly that was not to be...

On March 6, 1926, just three weeks shy of her 72nd birthday, Helen Stewart left us.

Her funeral was one of the largest the city had ever seen.

Mourners from all over the state paid homage to the lady who conquered tragedy, making her name a legend in Nevada history.

She was interred in a special vault hammered out of caliche on her "Four Acres" and in the 1970s the burial plot was purchased by Bunker Brothers Mortuary, which owned the adjacent land.

The remains of Archie and Helen Stewart, as well as sons Hiram and Will, are now in Bunker's Eden Vale Mausoleum...a short distance form the old Stewart home, at 1216 Las Vegas Blvd. North in Las Vegas.

If any woman ever tackled the world herself, that woman was Helen J. Stewart.


The above statue is located in the historic Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort, at 500 W. Washington Ave. in Las Vegas.

Dick Arendt

(Part Two of Three)

Helen J. Stewart
The First Lady of Las Vegas


In Part Two of our story about this fascinating Las Vegas pioneer, we'll meet Helen J. Stewart, learn of her background, her marriage and children, and how she and her husband, Archie, would eventually settle in this desert town of Las Vegas...on her journey to become...

The First Lady of Las Vegas

She was born Helen Jane Wiser, on April 16, 1854 in Springfield, Illinois; and at the age of nine, migrated "west" with her parents and four siblings, originally settling in Sacramento, California.....stopping for a short time in the Carson Valley of northwestern Nevada.

The Carson Valley was originally a strip of meadow along the banks of the river where the "49ers" followed the California branch of their travels to the gold fields.

When the Comstock Lode was discovered in 1858, the uncovering of massive amounts of silver (the reason Nevada would come to be known as "The Silver State") ......

Virginia City, NV Comstock Lode Miners

Comstock Lode Historical Marker, Virginia City, NV

...settlers like Helen's parents began to migrate in order to extend the natural meadows of the valley to provide hay, meat, and butter to the miners in Virginia City and neighboring towns.  To this very day, the Carson Valley is one of Nevada's finest agricultural areas. 

Helen's parents became quite successful, and she attended public schools AND Woodland College in Yolo County.

At age 18she married 38 year old Archibald Stewart, and the newlyweds were off to Lincoln County where Archie had been running a freight business since 1868.

Archie had become quite successful, and also owned a ranch near Pioche, California, where he raised cattle and grew vegetables.

He had wisely combined his ranching and freighting operations; so when the inevitable "boom and bust" cycles rolled through the Pioche mines, he was able to prosper by hauling his goods as far north as Eureka and as far south as Eldorado Canyon.

Within four years of their marriage, by 1876, the Stewarts, now with sons William James, and Hiram Richard, had moved to Pioche, much to the delight of Helen Stewart....who yearned for a "social life".
But...Archie was a "mover and shaker" and in 1879 Archie purchased another local ranch...

...and he also made a loan which changed the course of Nevada history !

A man named Octavius Decatur Gass  (Gass Avenue) had developed a marginally successful ranching and farming operation around the "Mormon Fort" which had been abandoned in 1855 near what is today the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd. North and Washington Ave. 

Octavius Decatur Gass 

(see the previous article published in our "Entertainment Bargains for Sun City Anthem Residents" Information scrolling down the various posts to "The Mormon Fort....Birthplace of Las Vegas Nevada")

The Mojave Desert was unpredictable; some years producing phenomenal crops, in other years, nothing.

Gass, who was really more interested in mining than ranching, had been sliding into debt and in August, 1879, he persuaded Archie Stewart to loan him $5,000 in gold at 2.5 % interest PER MONTH payable in one year.

Gass had been trying to sell the place since 1868, and may have had no intention of paying back the debt.

He had become quite angry at the State of Nevada for taking his "part of the world" away from Arizona Territory and making it a part of Nevada !

As a result, Gass lost the prestige of being an Arizona Territorial legislator  (Arizona was not admitted as a state until 1912), and to add insult to injury, had received a HUGE TAX BILL from Nevada's Lincoln County.

Gass may have simply decided he would sign Archie Stewart's promissory note....take the money...and run !

...which is how, in 1880...Archie Stewart acquired the 960 acre Gass ranch, and set about doing what Gass never could...

Make It Profitable !

And...when Archie informed his wife, Helen, that he intended to MOVE Las Vegas...

...Helen was horrified !

She had loved California's social life and now was going to live in a desolated desert town !

In addition, she was pregnant, and frightened at the prospect of having the child "without another woman in attendance", and was quite concerned about the lack of educational opportunities for her sons.....remember, Helen was an educated woman.

Archie soothed her...promising it was only a TEMPORARY move.

The Stewart's trip in 1882 took nearly a week, and as expected, there was plenty to do when they arrived.

Helen gave birth to her second daughter, Evaline La Vega, who derived her middle name from her place of birth...Las Vegas.

Evaline LaVega Stewart

Helen Stewart's fears seemed to lessen as she acclimated herself to her new home, mostly because of the nonstop flow of travelers. 

Often, the Stewarts would awake to find dozens of travelers camped on their property.

(In Helen Stewart's biography, published in the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly", it was noted...."When the arriving group contained women, Helen Stewart was especially happy, as she hungered for feminine companionship")

This new home, with its cool creek and huge shady cottonwood trees, was a "resort" for heat weary miners from Eldorado Canyon. 

In a good year, the ranch's vineyards could produce as much as 600 gallons of serviceable wine....and the Stewarts sold it...CHEAP !

A writer in 1883 reported many of the prospectors in Eldorado Canyon had "all quit work for some time and are rusticating up at the Vegas Ranch, having a jolly time drinking wine. Whenever any of them get drunk, they are placed in the works of the roots of a tree and made to sit there until sobered".

In Part One of this series, we noted that due to an argument, Archie Stewart as murdered in 1884, and Helen's life would take many turns, one of which was the fact that ARCHIE DID NOT LEAVE A WILL.

In 1885 the probate was finalized, and Helen Stewart ended up owning only ONE-HALF of the ranch.

The other half was divided equally among the five children: WillHiramTizaEvaline, and the baby, Archie.

As administrator of her children's affairs, she sought and was granted permission, to sell the ranch, arguing that if the children were forced to grow up there, they would be deprived of a proper education.

Prospective buyers were few, and after two years, Helen was still unable to sell the property...thank goodness !

In 1889 land speculation fever struck the Las Vegas Valley region as word began to circulate that plans were in the works....

...for a railroad !

And that too would impact on how this widow with five children would eventually become the "rock" on which our town, Las Vegas, would be built and flourish over the next 125 years.

In our concluding Part Three, we'll discuss how fate, determination (and luck), would change the life of Helen Stewart...

...and how a man named James Ross Megamgle entered her life to solve a never ending desire she had for education...

... a thirst that was never allowed to develop...until she met him.

This...and meeting another "Stewart" would change her life and allow her to bloom in the Las Vegas community a the "First Lady of Las Vegas".

Dick Arendt


(Part One of Three)

Helen J. Stewart

The First Lady of Las Vegas


Hot, sore and covered in dust, Archie Stewart pulled the freight wagon into the shade of the cottonwood trees on that blistering July day in 1884

Archie Stewart

He had been away from the Las Vegas Ranch for several days, delivering produce and livestock to hungry miners in Eldorado Canyon. A couple of his hired men approached and began to unhitch the tired team. 

Stewart jumped down, slapping the dust off his pants legs, wiping his face and neck with his bandana, walking to the house. 

 His wife, Helen, was inside, still trying to decide how to tell her husband about the unsettling incident that had occurred a few days earlier. 

A ranch hand, Schyler Henry, had abruptly announced he was quitting. 

He went to Helen Stewart demanding his wages. She refused, explaining that she did not know how much he was owed, and that he would have to wait until Archie Stewart returned. 

Henry threatened and insulted Helen Stewart, but she held firm. Henry then left the ranch without his wages.

 It is unknown exactly what Schyler Henry said to Helen Stewart. 

She never repeated it, except to remark that the ranch hand owned a "black-hearted slanderer's tongue." 

But it was sufficiently insulting that Archie Stewart, after a short rest and a meal at home, saddled a horse, put his rifle in its scabbard and rode off for the Kiel Ranchnear the present location of Carey Avenue and Losee Road in North Las Vegas, where he believed Schyler Henry had headed

Kiel Ranch

The spread was operated by Conrad Kiel and his son, Edwin,and had a well-deserved reputation as a haven and hangout for various badmen, outlaws and scoundrels, men like....

...Hank Parrish and Jack Longstreet

Longstreet was a character who, for the most part, was a loner; but years before he arrived in Nevada, at the age of 14,  was part of a group of cattle rustlers who were caught....and paid the ultimate "western" price.  

Because of his young age, he was spared the "rope" but was taught a lesson by having one of his ears conveniently removed.

Andrew Jackson "Jack" Longstreet

He arrived in Nevada in 1882 with his long barreled Colt .44...with several notches in it...

Long Barreled Colt .44

....and always seemed to be one step ahead of the law, raising cattle with "questionable" ownership. 

These were the "neighbors" that Archie, Helen, and the children were forced to deal with when they arrived in Nevada.

But back to Archie Stewart and saving his wife's reputation.....

On July 13, 1884, when Archie Stewart arrived at the ranch, he tied his horse to a tree behind a growth of grapevines, and walked slowly to the back of the house. 

All the doors and windows of the house were open, and Archie Stewart was spotted. 

He evidently fired the first shot, and missed

A short firefight ensued, and when it was over, Stewart was dead with wounds to the chest and head

Schyler Henry received two flesh wounds. 

At first, the killing was credited solely to Hank Parrish, who promptly disappeared.

Conrad Kiel and Schyler Henry were hauled before a grand jury in Pioche. 

The Jury declined to indict.

The case remains unsolved to this day.  
As for Parrish, he was later tried and hanged in Ely for the last in a long line of murders

At his hanging, his last request was to make a speech to the 50 in attendance.  His last words were:

"I've been accused of killing 8-20 men, but I only killed 3 of them...and they deserved killing".

Hank Parrish...his gallows

As for the Kiels, in 1900Edwin and his brother, William....

Edwin and William Kiel

...were found shot to death at the Kiel ranch...with a shot gun !

That crime also has never been solved; however, rumor persists that it was Hiram Stewart, Archie's son, who committed the act as revenge for his father's demise.

Helen believed for the rest of her life that the KielsHenry, and Parrish, all had a part in her husband's death, and that the whole drama between her and Henry had been a ruse concocted to lure her husband to the ranch and kill him.

Helen Stewart believed that the conspiracy was hatched by Parrish.

Why would she think that ?

A year before he was killed, somebody stole two of Archie Stewart's horses.

He followed and recovered the horses, but the thief escaped.

Stewart also found some stolen cattle belonging to an acquaintance in Pahranagat Valley. 

Parrishthe supposed thiefsent word to Stewart that he would kill him

No sooner had the smoke cleared from the shootout than Conrad Kiel dispatched a rider with a rude note for Helen Stewart. 

"Mrs Sturd, send a team and take Mr. Sturd away. He is deadC. Kiel." 

(note that he spelled Stewart... "Sturd"... to further show his disdain)

Helen Stewart went to the ranch herself and helped to load her husband's body.

Archibald Stewart was buried the next day, the first of seven people who would be interred in a four-acre family plot. 

She was now, on her own. She had four minor children, another on the way, a crop of peaches that needed to be picked, and travelers arriving each day in need of food, water, and the rest.  

She would shortly face major legal problems because Archie had failed to leave a will.

Helen Stewart had always despised the isolated ranch life, and had only agreed to move to the Las Vegas Ranch when her husband promised her it would be only a temporary stop.

Helen Stewart's Ranch....1905

Instead, she would spend the next 20 years running the place, improving it, constructing what would become the nucleus of a great Western city. 

In Part Two, we'll learn more about Helen J, Stewart; her beginnings, her marriage, and how she would come to Las Vegas to begin that life.

Dick Arendt

The History of Halloween 

The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows' Evening also known as Hallowe'en or All Hallows' Eve.

Of course, we are all familiar with the traditional activities  that include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting haunted houses" and carving jack-o-lanterns.

Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century.

Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as of Australia and New Zealand.

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced "sah-win").

The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture.


Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter.

The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.

The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween.

Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.

The "trick" part of "trick or treat" is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given.

The history of Halloween has evolved.

The activity is popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and due to increased American cultural influence in recent years, imported through exposure to US television and other media, trick-or-treating has started to occur among children in many parts of Europe, and in the Saudi Aramco camps of Dhahran, Akaria compounds and Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia.

The most significant growth and resistance is in the United Kingdom, where the police have threatened to prosecute parents who allow their children to carry out the "trick" element.

 In continental Europe, where the commerce-driven importation of Halloween is seen with more skepticism, numerous destructive or illegal "tricks" and police warnings have further raised suspicion about this game and Halloween in general.

In Ohio, Iowa, and Massachusetts, the night designated for Trick-or-treating is often referred to as Beggars Night.

Part of the history of Halloween is Halloween costumes.

The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages.

Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of "souling," when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2).


 It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy.

Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" (1593), when Speed accuses his master of "puling [whimpering, whining], like a beggar at Hallowmas."

Yet there is no evidence that souling was ever practiced in America, and trick-or-treating may have developed in America independent of any Irish or British antecedent.

There is little primary Halloween history documentation of masking or costuming on Halloween in Ireland, the UK, or America before 1900.

The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in English speaking North America occurs in 1911, when a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario, near the border of upstate New York, reported that it was normal for the smaller children to go street "guising" on Halloween between 6 and 7 p.m., visiting shops and neighbors to be rewarded with nuts and candies for their rhymes and songs.

Another isolated reference appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920.

The thousands of Halloween postcards produced between the turn of the 20th century and the 1920s commonly show children but do not depict trick-or-treating.

Ruth Edna Kelley, in her 1919 history of the holiday, The Book of Hallowe'en, makes no mention of such a custom in the chapter "Hallowe'en in America."

Ruth Edna Kelley

It does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the earliest known uses in print of the term "trick or treat" appearing in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939.

Thus, although a quarter million Scots-Irish immigrated to America between 1717 and 1770, the Irish Potato Famine brought almost a million immigrants in 1845-1849, and British and Irish immigration to America peaked in the 1880s...

... ritualized begging on Halloween was virtually unknown in America until generations later.

Trick-or-treating spread from the western United States eastward, stalled by sugar rationing that began in April 1942 during World War II and did not end until June 1947.

Early national attention to trick-or-treating was given in    October 1947 issues of the children's magazines Jack and Jill and Children's Activities, and by Halloween episodes of the network radio programs The Baby Snooks Show in 1946 and The Jack Benny Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1948.

The custom had become firmly established in popular culture by 1952, when Walt Disney portrayed it in the cartoon "Trick or Treat", Ozzie and Harriet were besieged by trick-or-treaters on an episode of their television show, and UNICEF first conducted a national campaign for children to raise funds for the charity while trick-or-treating.

Now that you know all about Halloween...get out there and ask your neighbor for some candy...or else !


A True Las Vegas Amenity

Did you know we have an orchard in Las Vegas where you can pick your own apples, vegetables, fruits, and now..until the end of October...

Coming from the Chicago area, it was a tradition to begin the fall season with a hop in the car to a favorite place in the northern suburbs....Bell's Apple Orchard.

Sadly, over time it became unprofitable and like all good succumbed to the ravages of the economy...

...and...GREED prevailed !

A great tradition closed...God's own work and creations were replaced... homes and condominiums.

Watching those fruit-filled glorious apple trees being destroyed......realizing that the ability to pick your own fruit was now a mere memory....had to be one of the saddest experiences of "progress"...

...that had brought so much joy to so many families as they so often "made a day of it" while they carefully filled a bushel basket and climbed any tree that caught their get that PERFECT apple...

...and then one was suddenly GONE!

I thought those days and the memories attached to them were only in my aging brain....

...until I saw an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal a week ago.

An orchard ?   An orchard here in Las Vegas ?

Yes indeed...we have an orchard in Las Vegas that has a history of almost 90 years !

And it's called.....Gilcrease Orchards !

And before "progress" takes root here as it did where I came from....

...IT'S A MUST....that you experience it !

Gilcrease Orchards goes back to the 1920s when a young family, Elda and Leonard Gilcrease, along with their two sons, John Theodore and William Orr Gilcrease, migrated to Las Vegas from California.

Leonard Gilgrease

Elda and Leonard had met each other at the University of Nevada in Reno where both earned bachelor's degrees....Leonard, in mechanical engineering; and Elda, in music.

Leonard had been raised on a farm in Lemoore, California...and despite his educational expertise, yearned for a life back on a farm.

When Elda received an inheritance, they purchased 900 acres of land in the Las Vegas valley that included natural artisan springs, known as the Lower Tule Springs, with the intention to raise crops and livestock.

...and off the family went to build a new 1929...

...and the Great Depression that shortly followed.

It was "too much" for Leonard, and he left his wife and two sons, returning to California.

But....Elda was not to be deprived....after all, it was her inheritance that purchased the land, and following their divorce in 1930, Elda and the two boys had to survive....

...and survive they did, enduring hardship with dedication and build a business that still survives today....90 years later...the only remaining farm in the Las Vegas valley.

Today, the Gilcrease Orchard is a non-profit organization.

It was son, "Ted" who founded it in 1996 to teach the importance of a town where it has all but disappeared.  

He ran it for years until he passed away in 2003. 

Today, brother, Bill, now in his late 90s, is still there to share a helping hand.

Bill Gilcrease

The orchard produces not only apples and pumpkins, but also pears, peaches, plums, apricots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes.

You have to try their "signature" apple's so good, they even made a video !

They also have tours available for school kids.

But you better get there soon...because they close on November 1st for the season.

You can visit Gilcrease Orchard any Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday from 7:00am to 2:00pm from now until the end of October.'s not that far either...only about 33 miles from the Anthem Center.

From Sun City Anthem:  

Take "Volunteer Road" to "I-15" NORTH. 
Stay on "I-15" to Exit 42A, merging into US 95 toward Reno.  
Stay on US 95 to Exit 91 toward State Route 215. 

Keep LEFT and watch for sign "Buffalo Drive/Clark County 215 E" and continue for about one mile, turning RIGHT at "Elkhorn Road" for about .5 of a mile, and turn LEFT on to "Tenaya Way" for about .8 of a mile. 

Turn RIGHT onto "Whispering Sands Drive" for entrance into orchard.
For those with GPS devices:

Gilcrease Orchard
7810 N, Tenaya Way
Las Vegas, NV 89131
(702) 409-0655

Here's their website for additional information:

Still curious?

Watch these short videos:

Most importantly....

GET OUT OF SUN CITY ANTHEM and experience something NEW !

It keeps you YOUNG !

Dick Arendt 

It was 50 Years Ago
The World Realized the Impact
The Pogroms

The Pogroms...What were they, and how did their history translate into one of the most successful Broadway plays?

On September 22, 1964, 50 years ago, the world became fully aware of these acts when a Broadway play opened at the Imperial Theatre in Manhattan.

It would run for three years at the Imperial Theatre, transferring to the Majestic Theatre in 1967, and moving to the Broadway Theatre in 1970...

...running for a total of 3,242 performances, the 16th longest running play in Broadway history.

The play became a film in 1971, and has since become a classic.

Based on a book written in 1894 by author, Solomon Naumovich  Rabinovich, under the pen name of  Sholem Aleichem.....

 Sholem Aleichem

....the book was originally entitled "Tevye the Dairyman"

Aleichem's works were known for the naturalness of his characters speech and the accuracy of his descriptions of "shtetl" life.....which describes the traditional way of life of Eastern European Jews, portrayed as pious communities following Orthodox Judaism, socially stable and unchanging, despite outside influence or attacks.

...and he received critical acclaim for his work, once being compared to the European version of America's Mark Twain.

When Mark Twain became aware of Aleichem being referred to the "Jewish Mark Twain", Twain replied...

"Please tell him I am the American Sholem Aleichem"

Just what were the pogroms?

For those of you unfamiliar with the word "pogrom", a pogrom is a violent riot aimed at massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group....and came to describe the 19th and early 20th century attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire...

...mostly within an area called the "Pale of Settlement" which is located in present day, Ukraine and Belarus.

Tsarist Russia was known for deep anti-Semitism, and in 1821 the Odessa pogroms began what was to be a continuing persecution of the Jewish population.
They peaked between 1881-1884 when in excess of 200 anti-Jewish events occurred in the Russian Empire.

Alecheim's "Tevye the Dairyman" would bring out these atrocities and how they affected Jewish orthodox lifestyles...

....atrocities and persecution that would continue well beyond his published work in 1894, culminating with the 1917 Russian revolution, and spreading into Europe, particularly in Poland as the German Nazi regime would murder and encamp Jews during the Second World War.

Though based on Alecheim's book, it receive little worldwide notice until it would be immortalized on Broadway in a musical play with music by Jerry Bock...

Jerry Bock

...lyrics by Sheldon Harnick...

Sheldon Harnick

...and enhanced by a book written by Joseph Stein...

Joseph Stein

... set in Imperial Russia in 1905. 

Stein would also write the 1971 screen play as well.

Its plot?

How and why could a man brought up in a "shtetl" cope with so many changes in his world?

It was easily answered in one word....


While clinging to centuries of cherished religious beliefs,  he would be forced to watch the "traditions" of his entire life disappear before his eyes...

...traditions that would affect him, his wife, his daughters, and those who lived alongside him in his community.

His wife, Golda....

His daughter, Tzeitel...

His daughter, Hodel...

His daughter, Chava...

And realizing that persecution meant having to leave Anatevka...the only home he'd ever known....

It was a marvelous story...a story of life as it once was...

...a story kept alive that can best be described as:
"Traditions, Traditions

Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a...

Dick Arendt


Clarion Hotel Closed

Holds Massive Liquidation Sale

 Everything must go!  
That's the sentiment from the owners of the Clarion Hotel and Casino.

The latest hotel to say bye-bye to the Las Vegas strip is having a huge liquidation sale.
The establishment on Convention Center Drive closed its doors to business in early September, but it opened a few days ago for what will amount to a big month-long garage sale.

Just name it, and any shopper can find just what they're looking for.  
There are beds, irons, clocks, chairs, TVs and even towels.

The most unique items for sale include a set of doors and door handles that were actually purchased by Debbie Reynolds during the liquidation of the Dunes back in March of 1993.  

She liked it because they not only stood for the Dunes, but for Debbie.  
Those doors were quickly sold for $1,100.  

The Clarion was never as big, or as legendary, as its neighbors on the strip...but its past was nevertheless, a part of Las Vegas history. 
The hotel opened in 1970 as a Royal Inn...

 ...and was transformed to the Paddlewheel back in the Paddlewheel it was more kid-friendly.  

However, the arcades didn't last long because Hollywood legend, Debbie Reynolds transformed the property to the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel 21 years ago in 1993.

The resort was her dream come true, a tribute to the golden era of Hollywood.  
There were even slot machines that featured the legend.

 Three Debbie's on the slots meant you hit a jackpot!  

Many of us will long remember the Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Hollywood Museum that was on the property.....the wonderful costumes purchased and stored by Ms. Reynolds in the early 70s when MGM Studies decided to clean out their storage facilities.

Singin' In the Rain

But by 1997, the hotel's financial difficulties forced it into bankruptcy, with Debbie Reynolds auctioning much of her treasured collection in 2011.
It then became The Greek Isles; however, bankruptcy closed that hotel in 2009.

..before becoming The Clarion.

And now that The Clarion has closed its doors...

....yet another cherished memory of "old Vegas" has sadly disappeared.


Labor Day...How Did It Begin ?

Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions of the strength, prosperity, and well-being achievements of American workers.

Labor Day also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events. was precipitated by working conditions that are now foreign to the American worker, one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters.

In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States...

... the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to achieve a basic standard of living.

Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories, and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.

People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities, and breaks.

As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal.

They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.

Labor Day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City.  

On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed.
Harmarket Riot in Chicago

After the Haymarket Massacre, which occurred just west of downtown Chicago on May 4, 1886, U.S. President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. 
Haymarket Square Statue in Chicago

Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.

Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887.

On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.

On June 26, the American Railroad Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide.
Eugene V. Debs

To break the strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers.

In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike......
...the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve rush legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday; President Grover Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it.

Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a huge moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view.

Many credit Peter J. McGuire, co-founder of  the American Federation of Labor...... while others have suggested that Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union...
Peter J. McGuire and Matthew Maguire

... first proposed the holiday. you fire-up that barbeque grill....

...remember those who sacrificed their lives allowing you to enjoy that burger !

        Dick Arendt               


A Spoonful of Sugar
As Sweet Today as it was 50 Years Ago

If you never saw the 2013 film "Saving Mr. Banks", you missed a story about the making of one of the most wonderful films in cinema history..."Mary Poppins"... a movie released exactly 50 years ago today, on August 27, 1964.

Why is it that some films never seem to "get old" and last a lifetime?
In this was simply....



.....make a wholesome movie that appeals to all age groups, tell a story which "makes you feel good", add some Walt Disney "fantasy", cast actors whose past performances define the roles, and include a musical score that everyone will join in to sing along, and's a timeless classic.

"Saving Mr. Banks" told the story of Walt Disney's attempt at convincing a lady named Pamela (P.L.) Travers to sell him the film rights to the children stories she authored that included a character named Mary Poppins. 

During the Second World War, while working for the British Ministry of Information, she traveled to New York where Roy Disney first contacted her about selling the "Mary Poppins" character to the Disney studio.

P.L. Travers was a pen name, originally born Helen Lyndon Gott, on August 23, 1899.

P.L. Travers

Originally an unsuccessful poet, she wrote her first children's story about a lady named "Mary Poppins" in 1934....and over her lifetime, continued to write a total of eight "Mary Poppins" books, the last being "Mary Poppins and the House Next Door" in 1988.

Travers, fiercely protective of the "Mary Poppins" character she created, refused all of Disney's offers until 1961....when Walt Disney himself took the matter in hand and convinced her to allow the world to enjoy the wonders of the character by way of film.

The movie actually is based on the original story written in 1934 while including segments of the 1935 sequel, "Mary Poppins Comes Back".

...and Travers constantly bickered with Disney about what the final product should exclude.....namely, animation... and !

As a matter of fact, her dislike for the music was so the day she died in 1993, she refused to allow any further adaptations of the Mary Poppins novels.

She and Disney argued so often she WAS NOT EVEN INVITED to the premiere of the movie in 1964.  She had to ask to attend, which Disney  eventually allowed.

Did "Saving Mr. Banks" dramatize certain aspects of history?

It sure did.  If you saw the movie there was a scene where Travers was in tears while at the movie premiere... portrayed as weeping in appreciation of Mr. Disney's movie.

Nope...just the opposite !

Oh...she was indeed weepy, but those were tears of frustration and betrayal, not gratitude.

Why...because the character of Mary Poppins was not exactly a "jolly holiday"... fact, Mary was not very nice !

The original title character was no pushover.  In the original novel, Travers writes...

 "Mary Poppins never wasted time in being nice." 

Three paragraphs down on the same page, these words appear:

"Trouble trouble, and it will trouble you !, retorted Mary  Poppins crossly in her usual voice."

Throughout the book, she is described as "stern", "ferocious", and other not so flattering adjectives...none of which have anything to do with light-hearted connotations. 

As a matter of fact, she is often characterized by "nose in the air" disapproval.

Of course once Disney had Traver's name on the dotted line, all of that changed....and I might add....thank goodness...the Disney touch prevailed....and continues to prevail today after 50 years. 

And no matter what Travers wrote....

In my mind it will always be.....

"A Jolly Holiday with Mary"

When she was in her 90s, she was approached about making "Mary Poppins" a stage musical....

...and so fervent was her dislike of the Disney movie that she demanded that Richard and Robert Sherman, brothers who wrote the original music score for the film....NOT BE ALLOWED to write any additional songs.

Did both the movies "work"?

Yes indeed, "Saving Mr. Banks" got Emma Thompson nominated for a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress despite not being the first choice for the role (Meryl Streep was the first choice and unavailable), and ironically, despite P.L. Travers disdain for music in her stories, the firm was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Score.

The 1964 Disney production of "Mary Poppins" was monumental.
It was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, winning 5, one of which was the Best Actress Award going to Julie Andrews.

The film took the honors at the Oscars for the Best Song with the memorable

"Chim Chim Cher-ee" you know the story of the making of "Mary  Poppins"....written by a woman...
....with the personality of vinegar...

...enhanced by  Walt Disney....


" A Spoonful of Sugar"

Dick Arendt


They Had It All...


Lauren Bacall


September 14, 2014 would have been Betty Jean  Perske's 90th birthday.

Let's face it...if you were looking for a "cool broad"...she was the one....and a guy named Humphrey Bogart knew it !

They met on the set of "To Have and Have Not" and it was all over for this tough guy !

There he was....this "macho dude" telling this kid not to bother him....and then it happened...

...and she knew what she wanted....


How many of you "senior stud muffins" out there could have resisted that "10" ?

Try as you may....ain't no way....

... when a woman 25 years younger looks at you and does this.....

...and so the legend of Bogart and Bacall began when this 20 year old beauty married that 45 year old guy....

...two "cool" people....who were even "cooler"..

together !

Would a 25 year difference in age matter?

Obviously not...they remained married for 12 years until Bogie's death in 1957.

Born of Jewish parentage, young Betty Jean would dream of becoming a dancer, only to become enthralled with acting when she attended the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York after graduating from high school.

After her parents divorced when she was just five years old, she changed her name....taking her mother's maiden name of "Bacall".

To "pay the bills" she began a modeling career when one day, the wife of famed director, Howard Hawks, noticed her picture on the cover of "Harper's Bazaar".

Off she went to Hollywood for a screen test...and before she would "whistle", she was cast in the role of Marie the movie "To Have and Have Not" opposite bad guy....Humphrey Bogart.

Bogart was "the man", having had success in such movies as "The Maltese Falcon" and  "Casablanca", and this film was just intended to be "another movie"....until he met Lauren Bacall.

...and the greatest Hollywood love story in history would change his life forever.

They would go on to make three other films together...

"The Big Sleep", "Dark Passage", and "Key Largo"...each one dramatizing the independent....alluring woman she was !

From "The Big Sleep" to rate a man !

During their marriage, their careers soared with Lauren starring opposite Kirk Douglas in "Young Man with a Horn" (1950), while husband Bogie would make the memorable "Treasure of Sierra Madre" (1948), and win an Oscar for Best Actor in "The African Queen" (1951). 

In 1953, she starred opposite Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe in the comedy, "How to Marry a Millionaire".

When Bogie died in 1957, Lauren didn't.....

She would go on to marry (and divorce) actor Jason Robards while continuing her acting career...both on the silver screen and on Broadway.

On Broadway she appeared in the comedy "Goodbye Charlie" (1959-60), in "Cactus Flower" (1965-68), and "Applause" (1970-72) for which she earned a Tony Award.

In 1996 she appeared as the meddling mother to Barbra Streisand in "The Mirror Has Two Faces" in which she received her ONLY Academy Award nomination.

In 1996,  "The Mirror

               Faces," a role for which she received her only d nomination as supporting actress.

In September 2006, she was awarded the first Katharine Hepburn Medal, which recognizes "women whose lives, work and contributions embody the intelligence, drive and independence of the four-time-Oscar-winning actress". 

She and Bogart were forever memorialized in 1981 by the song "Key Largo" by Bertie Higgins....a song which looked at the Bacall / Bogart marriage as the  perfect role for happiness in any relationship. we say good bye to this "cool broad" who could

capture the heart of even the roughest and toughest guy...let's do it by looking back at the.... 

 "Best of Lauren Bacall" 

Dick Arendt


You Ain't Never Had a Friend Like Me

 Robin Williams


The funniest man to ever live....was evidently one of the saddest, when it was reported that Robin Williams left us.

Sadly the initial reports are that he took his own life.

How sad it is that a man could bring the world such happiness, yet have so little for himself?

Robin Williams....his very name puts a smile on any face when one remembers his contributions to the entertainment world.

He entered our television lives on "Happy Days" through the genius of Garry Marshall, and within a short time...a spin off series called " Mork and Mindy" became a part of American life from 1978 to 1982.

Each week he would call "Orson" and give him a weekly report of his life on earth.
"Na Nu..Na Nu"

...receiving a Golden Globe Award in 1978 as Best Actor in a Comedy Series.

Robin would leave television and embark on one of the most successful film careers...ranging from comedy to serious acting.       
Hollywood would continue to bring him accolade after accolade.

He received a second Golden Globe award for Best Actor in 1987 for his portrayal of a DJ on Armed Forces Radio in "Good Morning VietNam".

These words have since become legendary....
In 1991 he again won the Golden Globe Best Actor for his role in "The Fisher King".

Two years later, he won his 4th Golden Globe for Best Actor in the hilarious, "Mrs. Doubtfire".

In 1992 his voice portrayal of the genie in Disney's "Aladdin" won the Globe for Special Achievement.

"You Ain't Never Had a Friend Like Me" 1997, the Oscar that had alluded him for years was finally his....winning the Best Supporting Actor in the film, "Good Will Hunting".

In 2005, The Golden Globes awarded him the esteemed "Cecil B. DeMille Award" for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.

There were a number of other films that were memorable in his career that never won an award, but in my opinion were just as deserving....

Popeye, Dead Poet's Society, Jakob the Liar, The Birdcage, NIght at the MuseumAwakenings, Patch Adams

Robin Williams as Jakob the Liar

If you never saw "Patch Adams" you missed a TRUE warm story of a man who redefined medicine by giving joy to those he cared for day in and day out.

But...despite these many successes, Robin Williams somehow must have felt that he could no longer make contributions to his life's work.

How wrong he was !

He was the greatest....but perhaps this clip from the movie "Jack" best describes the pain and his life as he recognized that his end was near.

For those of you who have never seen "Jack", it is the heartwarming story of a young boy named Jack Powell, who is afflicted with a disease called Werner Syndrome....where the body ages at four times the rate of the normal aging process.

It's "Jack" at his high school graduation...saying good bye.

Good Bye Robin....Thanks for a lifetime of memories.

" Na Nu...Na Nu"

Dick Arendt

We All Thought It Was About a Little Girl
and a

Who knew?

Just a few months ago at the 2014 Oscars, they celebrated the 75th anniversary of the release of the "Wizard of Oz" by having Pink sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", with highlights from the film in the background.

Let's look back to the memorable evening of March 2, the 86th annual Academy Awards....


But what few people realized, while listening to that incredible performer singing that unforgettable song, is that the music is deeply embedded in the Jewish experience.

It is no accident, for example, that the greatest Christmas songs of all time were written by Jews.

For example, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was written by Johnny Marks....

Johnny Marks...and...Rudolph

 and "White Christmas" was penned by a Jewish liturgical singer's (cantor) son, Irving Berlin.

Irving Berlin

But perhaps the most poignant song...

.... emerging out of the mass exodus from Europe...


 "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

The lyrics were written by Yip Harburg.

He was the youngest of four children born to Russian Jewish immigrants. His real name was Isidore Hochberg and he grew up in a Yiddish speaking, Orthodox Jewish home in New York.

The music was written by Harold Arlen, a cantor's son. His real name was Hyman Arluck and his parents were from Lithuania.

Together, Harburg and Arlen wrote "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", which was voted the 20th century's number one song by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

In writing it, the two men reached deep into their immigrant Jewish consciousness - framed by the pogroms of the past and the Holocaust about to happen - and wrote an unforgettable melody set to near prophetic words.

Read the lyrics in their Jewish context and suddenly the words are no longer about wizards and Oz, but about...
...Jewish survival...

"Somewhere over the rainbow Way up high, There's a land that I heard of Once in a lullaby. Somewhere over the rainbow Skies are blue, And the dreams that you dare to dream Really do come true. Someday I'll wish upon a star And wake up where the clouds are far Behind me. Where troubles melt like lemon drops Away above the chimney tops That's where you'll find me. Somewhere over the rainbow Bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow. Why then, oh why can't I? If happy little bluebirds fly Beyond the rainbow Why, oh why can't I?"

The Jews of Europe could not fly. They could not escape beyond the rainbow.

It was as if Harburg had foresight when he talked about wanting to fly like a bluebird away from the "chimney tops".

In the post-Auschwitz era, chimney tops have taken on a whole different meaning than the one they had at the beginning of 1939.

Pink's mom is Judith Kugel
She's Jewish of Lithuanian background.

As Pink was mesmerizing the audience with the Harburg/Arlen song from the stage at the Academy Awards, most people are unaware that the original thoughts of the authors had little to do with a magical kingdom called "Oz", but Europe's lost Jews and their immigration to America.

How ironic it was that for two thousand years the land that the Jews heard of "once in a lullaby" was not America, but Israel.

The remarkable thing would be that less than ten years after "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was first published....

.... the exile was over...

...and the State of Israel was born.

 Perhaps the...

 "dreams that you dare to dream really do come true".

President Harry Truman...and...Prime MInister David Ben-Gurion

Now listen to the song again...

Only this time....think of...

Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen

Dick Arendt

"Maverick Was His Name"

James Garner
(April 7, 1928--July 19, 2014)

Who was the "coolest" cowboy in the west ?
James Garner as Bret Maverick

Way back when, from 1957 through 1962, before VCRs or DVR's were invented, this comical and sarcastic cowboy would travel the west by way of our black and white television sets each Sunday night....and often beat "The Ed Sullivan Show" in the ratings.

A lovable anti-hero was the best way to describe this new type of cowpoke; who, unlike John Wayne, couldn't shoot very well, and often ran from a fight by using his charm to settle an argument.

As far as I know, he never had a job other than being a professional card player, but somehow, no woman was ever able to resist that striking smirk, the wavy black mane, and of course that handsome face attached to it !

And the country learned to expect the unexpected when Bret Maverick would show up in town for a poker game.

Who didn't watch "Maverick"?  

If you're under 60, you may not have,  but who didn't love James Garner?

James Garner was 86 years old when he passed away from natural causes.  

James Scott Bumgarner was the youngest of three children born and bred in Norman, Oklahoma. Following the tragic death of  his partly Cherokee mother when he was just five years old, he and his brothers were sent to live with relatives until his father remarried in 1934.

What all three boys had in common with their step-mother was her cruelty toward them; so much so that at one time,  young Jim was humiliated by being forced to wear a dress in public.

Violence toward the three boys was so common that at one point, Jim had to defend himself while she attempted to kill him !  That ended the marriage.

Jim's father subsequently relocated to Los Angeles, but the three boys remained in Norman, Oklahoma with Jim going through a number of jobs he disliked until at the age of 16, near the end of World War II, he joined the merchant marine.

That too didn't work out well, as his chronic sea sickness got him discharged a year later.

At age 17, he joined his father in Los Angeles and attended Hollywood High School, being voted the most popular student in his class.

Unfortunately, he was a terrible student, and never finished high school with his class.  Instead his gym teacher got him a job modeling Jantzen swimsuits at $25 per hour, but that too didn't make Jim a happy camper.

He went back to Norman and his old high school where he played football, basketball, golf, and track for his Norman High team.

And...again, as in Los Angeles, Jim quit school and then decided to join the National Guard. 

This time, Jim was sent to Korea, where he was assigned to a combat unit and during his 14 month tour, was wounded twice; the first time in both his face and hand from shrapnel from a mortar round; the second, from friendly fire.....being hit in the buttocks !

He received two purple hearts for the injuries he sustained.

He did complete his high school GED while in the Army.

Once he was discharged, Jim again moved back to Los Angeles where a friend talked him into accepting his first acting job....a non-speaking role in a Broadway play, during which he became fascinated with the show's star....Henry Fonda.

And from that point, he caught the bug...the acting bug, that would remain a part of his entire life.

He did a few commercials, then a few minor television roles; and in 1956, following his marriage to the love of his life, Lois Clarke, to whom he was married for 58 years and had two daughters...

... he changed his last name to "Garner" as a result of the studio accidentally making a mistake from "Bumgarner".

And so...James Garner, the real actor, would be born.

A year later in 1957, his career would soar with the role of Bret Maverick, alongside Jack Kelly, who played his brother, Bart.
Bret and Bart Maverick
(Jim Garner and Jack Kelly)

Jim played the role for 4 seasons, until he decided to leave the show.

When Charlton Heston turned down the lead role in a film called "Darby's Rangers", Jim got his first starring role. 

That would be followed up with numerous hits with some of the most beautiful leading ladies in Hollywood, some of which included Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine in "The Children's Hour"...

... Kim Novak in "Boys Night Out" (1962)...

Doris Day in "Move Over Darling" and "My Favorite Wife" (1963)...

 and "The Americanization of Emily" with Julie Andrews (1964).

In 1963 he also made the iconic film "The Great Escape" with superstar, Steve McQueen.

In the 1970s, the creator of "Maverick", Roy Huggins, thought of an idea to remake "Maverick"....only this time, as a sarcastic private detective....named Jim Rockford !

...and on September 13, 1974, Huggins and Steven Cannell, recreated "Maverick" as...
The Rockford Files

(Each show opened with a message of something relatively new in the world of electronics at the time...

The Answering Machine !

Jim Rockford, after serving 5 years in prison for a wrongful conviction, was pardoned...only to become a private detective that could barely make a living, while living in a mobile home that also was his office. 

One only had to see Jim Rockford drive his classic Pontiac Firebird Espirit, and every cool guy had to have one....including me !

And the best part of the show had to have been the supporting cast....

Angel....his trusted confidant
(Stuart Margolin)


His dad....Rocky
(Noah Berry)

The show ran for 6 seasons until January 10, 1980, and in 2002 was named #39 on the list of the "TV Guides Greatest 50 TV Shows of All Time".....and runs continuously in syndication to this day.

As the years passed, he continued his career in a number of movie roles, one of which was, "Murphy's Romance" with Sally Field in 1985, in which he was nominated for an Oscar as "Best Actor in a Leading Role".

...the story of an aging man helping and falling in love with a younger woman.

In 2000, he starred alongside Clint EastwoodTommy Lee Jones, and Donald Sutherland in "Space Cowboys", the story of 4 aging retired astronauts who had a "second shot" at glory.

And in 2004, he made what was perhaps his most poignant film, "The Notebook", as an aging nursing home patient reading a love story to a fellow patient, Gena Rowlands, from a notebook....a story of how the two originally met in the 40s.

In 2005 he was awarded a "Lifetime Achievement Award" by the Screen Actors Guild.

Remember the beginning of the "James Garner"story...the part about his being a poor student ?

He may have never received an "A" back in Norman, Oklahoma, but he did get an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1995, as a long-time supporter of that institution. 

James Garner, a "cool" guy, who was loved by many on and off the screen, will be missed for the memories he gave us over the past 50 years of television and silver screen entertainment.

Thanks "Rockfish"

Dick Arendt

No comments:

Post a Comment