The "Brainiest Guy in Baseball"
And Now....The Rest of the Moe Berg Story !
In Part I of our story we discussed Moe Berg's high intelligence, education, and his desire to play professional baseball.
Today, we'll continue the story of this unique individual...and how vital he was to the war effort in World War II.
In 1934 he joined other baseball greats Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Earl Averill, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmy Foxx, and Lefty Gomez to tour Japan playing exhibitions against a Japanese All-Star team.
How and why does a mediocre injury-plagued catcher join such an illustrious group to represent the United States?
It was to become the real meaning of the Moe Berg story !
You see, Moe Berg, was on a mission. He took a 16--mm Bell and Howell camera with him that was given to him by MovietoneNews, a newsreel company, to film the sights of Japan.
When the Americans arrived in Japan, it was Moe Berg who addressed the Japanese legislature in a welcome thank you speech.....in Japanese !
Remember, Moe spoke 15 languages !
On November 29, 1934, while the rest of the team was playing an exhibition game, Berg traveled to Tsukiji to supposedly visit the daughter of the American Ambassador, Joseph Grew, who was in the hospital.
It was a ruse....
Berg never saw or intended to see the daughter; instead he went to the roof of the hospital, one of the tallest buildings in Toyko with his 16--mm Bell and Howell camera and filmed the city and harbor...for MovietoneNews....a film that was eventually used by the US Government !
During the trip, the Cleveland Indians gave him his unconditional release....but he continued....with his camera... to the Philippines, Korea, and Moscow !
When he returned to the United States, he was picked up by the Boston Red Sox for the final five years of his baseball career.
Berg retired from baseball in 1939 and would go on to appear on "Information Please", a radio quiz show, on which he excelled and baffled people with his knowledge.
On one of his appearances, baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis would say to Moe...
" Berg, in just thirty minutes you did more for baseball than I've done the entire time I've been commissioner".
And for you baseball historians....it was Judge Landis, as commissioner of baseball, who banned the Chicago White Sox players for life following the 1919 "Black Sox Scandal".
Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis
Prominent sportswriter John Kieran would also say that...
"Moe was the most scholarly professional athlete I ever knew".
Moe went back to baseball from 1939 to 1941 as a coach for the Boston Red Sox....and then IT happened in the off season....
December 7, 1941---the Japanese Bombed Pearl Harbor
...and the incredible Moe Berg would be there for his country.
Spying for the U.S. Government
To do his part for the war effort, Berg went to work for Nelson Rockefeller in the Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs on January 5, 1942.
During the summer of '42, Berg took the Japanese film he shot in 1934 to US Military intelligence. It was invaluable...and was said to have...
...greatly assisted Colonel Jimmy Doolittle in his famous Doolittle Raid over Japan early in the war !
Working on assignment in the Caribbean and South America, he was assigned to monitor health and physical fitness for troops stationed in that region from August, 1942 until February, 1943, leaving shortly thereafter because he believed "he could be put to better use".
In August, 1943, he accepted a position with the "Office of Strategic Services" and in September of that year, was assigned to the 'Secret Intelligence Branch" of the OSS, stationed in the Balkans.
There he parachuted into occupied Yugoslavia to study and evaluate various NAZI resistance groups, having personal contact with Marshall Tito ! He was age 41 at that time !
Later that same year, we was assigned to another OSS operation, "Project Larson", where the objective was to kidnap Italian rocket and missile specialists and bring them to the United States.
He would continue working with the Office of Strategic Services until mid-December, 1944 interviewing physicists and making attempts to convince them to leave Europe.
In short...he was a War Hero !
Moe Berg, baseball player and American Spy, returned to the United States on April 25, 1945, resigning from the Strategic Services Unit, the successor to the OSS in August, 1945, following the Japanese defeat.
He was awarded...AND REFUSED TO ACCEPT....the Medal of Freedom on October 10, 1945.
Baseball came calling again in 1946 from his old White Sox teammate, Ted Lyons, then the manager of the White Sox, offering Moe a job as a coach.
Red Sox owner, Tom Yawkey, also offered him a coaching position.
Moe declined both offers.
In his mind, he was a SPY !
In 1951 Berg approached the CIA to send him to Israel.
In Moe's notebook, he wrote...
"A Jew must do this"
The CIA refused his request.
Yet, despite that refusal, in 1952 he was hired by the CIA to use his old World War II contacts to gather information about the Soviet atomic program. This time the CIA was unable to obtain any useful information and in 1954, Moe Berg's contract with the CIA was not renewed.
For the next 20 years he had no real job, living off the kindness of relatives. A lifelong bachelor, he would live with his brother, Samuel, until his moodiness caused him to be evicted; living with his sister, Ethel, for the remainder of his life.
He never taught, nor did he ever practice law.
As an epilogue...
Moe Berg's baseball card is the only baseball card on display at the national headquarters of the CIA.
In 1996 he was named to the "National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame".
Despite only receiving a few votes to Baseball's Hall of Fame, Moe's love the game never waned.
He never "officially" made it to the Hall on a plaque....
A part of Moe did !
His sister, Ethel, finally accepted his "Medal of Freedom" on his behalf....
...and that medal made the Hall....and is proudly displayed in Coopertown as a tribute to a War Hero who loved the National Pastime.
Moe Berg's Medal of Freedom in Cooperstown
Moe Berg died on May 29, 1972, at the age of 70 following a fall in his sister's home.
His final words....."How did the Mets do today?"
They won that day, Moe, and we are a better country because of you and everything you did to make it a better place for all Americans.
You proved to the world, you really were....
"The Brainest Man in Baseball"
And my final comment....
Where are you Hollywood ?
You need to tell his story on the wide screen !
The "Brainiest Guy in Baseball"
The Brainiest Guy in Baseball?
Remember the great Casey Stengel? Casey would refer to this man as "the strangest man ever to play baseball", and when you consider how "strange" Casey was as the manager of the Yankees and Mets in the 50s and 60s....
...when the "King of Strange" calls someone else strange....that can only mean one thing...
...this guy was really strange !
But....this "strange" guy would eventually have his name etched in history...in Cooperstown, New York....in...
The Baseball Hall of Fame !
...not on a baseball plaque....but for what he did off the field.
You see, Moe Berg combined a baseball career with serving his country !
Morris "Moe" Berg was born March 2, 1902 and he loved baseball...so much that he was determined to make it a career.
But...Moe had two things going against him in the 1920s:
He wasn't very good at certain aspects of the game, and he was Jewish.
He was....smart !
He started school at the age of 3.
His father, Bernard, was a pharmacist, and moved the family from Harlem to the Roseville section of Newark in 1910 for three reasons: good schools, middle class residents, and....very few Jews !
Bernard believed that his family would better adapt and be accepted in American society if they worked and associated with those not of his faith.
As a result, his son Morris (Moe) would grow up in a non-Jewish environment and in addition to his being "smart", he began playing baseball for the Roseville Methodist Episcopal Church team....under a different name....Runt Wolfe.
In 1918 Moe graduated from Barringer High School at the age of 16 and was selected by the "Newark Star-Eagle" newspaper as part of a nine man "dream team" for being he best third baseman in the city's public school system.
Barringer High School was the first in a series of institutions Moe joined where his religion made him "different" from others.
He loved baseball....but remember...he was "smart".
After spending two semesters at New York University, he transferred to Princeton and graduated magna cum laude in modern languages... studying seven languages ..Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Sanskirt...
...at the same time being a star third baseman for the Princeton team for three years.
During further studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, he also learned the Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Arabic, Portuguese and Hungarian languages.
.....in all....15 languages...plus regional dialects !
So...what does Moe Berg do after graduating magna cum laude from a prestigious university?
He tells his father...he wants to be a professional baseball player !
From 1923 to 1925 Moe would go back and forth with various professional baseball teams because he had developed a reputation for good defense with poor hitting....not good if you want to make it a career.
But...he wouldn't give up and finally got to the "bigs" with the Chicago White Sox in 1926.
Moe, however, wasn't like other baseball players.
Remember....he was "smart"....and he "informed" the White Sox that he would miss spring training and the first two months of the season....because he wanted to finish his first year of LAW SCHOOL at Columbia University.
Amazingly, Charles Comiskey, the owner of the White Sox, allowed him to do it....coming back to the White Sox at the end of May.....only to hit .221 after playing in 41 games.
Owner of the Chicago White Sox
Moe returned to Columbia after the 1926 season to continue working on his law degree...taking extra classes at Columbia and in 1927, he did it again....he told the White Sox owner that he would be reporting late for the start of the season !
This time Comiskey was not at all pleased...and Moe would ride the bench for the first three months of the 1927 baseball season...until fate would have it that injuries to two other team catchers would leave the team without one....until Moe said "I'll do it".
In his first major league game behind the plate, he would not only have to worry about catching the team's star pitcher, Ted Lyons, knuckleball, but face what history would later refer to as the Yankee's "Murderer's Row" that included Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth !
And Moe came through....The White Sox beat the Yankees that day 6-3 with Moe making a sensational play at home plate tagging out the sliding Joe Dugan.
Result....Moe was now a catcher...a catcher going to law school...who spoke 15 languages !
This time Moe decided that without a baseball paycheck, his legal education might not have materialized, and as a result, he went to a lumberjack camp to "toughen up" for the 1928 season...becoming the first string catcher for the team.
Back at law school, the time spent "beefing up" for baseball took a toll....he failed a course in "Evidence" and as a result, was not allowed to graduate as part of the Columbia Class of '29.
Did that stop Moe Berg ?
Not at all....he ended up passing the New York bar exam...in 1929....and THEN....went back to Columbia in 1930 to repeat the "Evidence" course, to be member of the Class of 1930 !
Yes..he was SMART !
As the 1930 baseball season began, during an exhibition game, he tore a knee ligament and the year ended with the White Sox placing him on waivers.
He was then picked up by the Cleveland Indians. The injuries sustained would be too much and in 1932 the Indians gave Moe his unconditional release.
Still...Moe could not admit his career was over and the Washington Senators invited him to spring training in 1932....and he made the team...after the first string catcher's injury.
It was actually during the year 1932 that Moe Berg would begin his road to Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame.
He, along with a number of fellow players, made a trip to Japan to conduct baseball seminars....the Japanese loved baseball then...as much as they do today.
Berg loved Japan, and after the completion of the seminars, went back to play the season with the Washington Senators, only to once again, be unconditionally released in July, 1933.
The Cleveland Indians came calling again...as a result of an injury to their catcher, and Moe played for the Indians through 1934.
But it was 1934 when the REAL STORY OF MOE BERG began to take shape !
And...that's in Part II of our Story...
"The Brainest Guy in Baseball"
Stay tuned !
Commercial Air Travel in the 1940s
In todays world airline tickets are purchased online on what I call an "al a carte" basis.
Other than having to be at an airport two hours prior to a flight, having to go through security before you board the plane, everything seems to be an "extra" nowadays.
You pay extra for a larger seat and if you want a window, middle, or aisle location (it used to be just "first class" or "coach"); you might pay extra if you want to board before others; you might pay extra for each bag you check; you might pay extra for head phones; and of course, you also pay extra for food...and even a COKE !
But....it wasn't always that way and I managed to do a bit of homework as to what it was like to take a commercial airliner in the 1940s...on an overseas flight !
Of course, there was no such thing as a "jetliner" or "777"; nope you had to fly on a propeller craft ("prop") and one of the most popular was the Boeing Model 314.
Boeing 314...nicknamed "The Clipper"
This "state of the art" airplane was built by The Boeing Company from 1938 to 1941 and Pan American World Airways made history by commissioning Boeing to build 12 of these "luxury" liners.
...and what a craft it was !
For you pilots out there, it included a sophisticated instrument panel in the plane's cockpit...
And...navigating a plane across an ocean was a bit different as well....
It was perfect to cross that Atlantic and Pacific oceans, because it was capable of flying 3,500 miles without refueling...
...carrying 4,296 gallons of gasoline...
carried an amazing 74 passengers !
But...once you got across that ocean, "The Clipper" landed not on a runway, but on water !
Cruising at an amazing speed of 188 m.p.h., it only took 19 hours to get from San Francisco to Honolulu...
...with a "modest" cost of $760 one way, and a "bargain" price of only $1,368 if you flew round trip !
...but they did allow up to 77 pounds of baggage FREE OF CHARGE !
Though it can't be compared to today's aircrafts, it somehow seemed to offer a "romantic experience" for what Robin Leach refers to as "The Rich and Famous".
This "beauty" could also convert the seats into 36 bunks for overnight flights.
But the crew needed to take a nap as well for the long flights, so Boeing treated them "well" too !
To travel 19 hours, even the best of us had to make a "pit stop" (look closely at the photo...a urinal was in the lavatory).
The ladies...they also had a special lounge...of course... they needed a place to "do their hair"...
While the passengers in general needed a place to sit, relax, discuss the world, or read a newspaper...
But most importantly, you couldn't possibly travel that long a distance over 19 hours without a meal.
A meal in your seat? Nonsense ! It had to be eaten properly....amongst others !
The Boeing Model 314 "Clipper" made its last Pan Am flight in 1946 and logged in excess of 1,000,000 miles over its history.
Three of the original 12 were lost to accidents and only one Model 314 had fatalities.
On February 22, 1943, a flight landing in Lisbon, Portugal, severely injured actress Jane Froman who was a passenger...while 24 passengers and crew lost their lives.
Air travel certainly has changed over time to what has now evolved into what most people consider "chaos"...
... but when "The Clipper" flew its "friendly skies" in the 40s, it was 100% elegance !
Losing 2 Greats
who made history
in the fall of
If you love the National Pastime, and by some chance you are either a baseball "purist" or from the Chicago or San Diego area....these last two weeks have been the toughest...and saddest...in years.
I'm a Chicagoan...proud to have had my younger roots in the Midwest, and the thoughts of my afternoons at Wrigley Field are forever etched in my memory. It was my playground from the age of 6 until the day I left in 2005 at the age of 58.
October 2, 1984....it had finally happened.
Since 1945 the Chicago Cubs had waited... and... waited...and waited.
..and the time had finally come !
...would win the National League Eastern Division Title with a record of 96-65 beating their dreaded rivals from New York...the Mets....by 6.5 games.
The National League Divisional Series would begin against the young upstarts from California....
The San Diego Padres...
...who were winners of the National League Western Division with a record of 92-70 (the only team in that division who would win more games than they had lost).
This was taking candy from a baby as far as Cub fans were concerned....and...they showed it...for a while !
In those days there were only 2 divisions, and the winner of the best of a 5 game series would go on the The World Series.
The Cubs won the first 2 games ( 13-0 and 4-2)...and they were off to San Diego to finish off the Padres. After all, they merely had to win only 1 of the final 3 games...and they were in !
And so....the history of the Cubs as the "loveable losers" would continue, losing all three games.
The Cub fans would however, get their revenge when the Padres would lose to the mighty Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
But...other than the ultimate depression that every Cub fan in the world had in '84, we had two key men in that series, two ICONS of baseball, each on opposite sides of the diamond, who passed way in the last 2 weeks that should never be forgotten in the annals of that great game.
Our Cub third base coach that year, "Popeye" as he was called, was a feisty little pudgy guy who would spend 66 years of his life in professional baseball as a player, coach, and eventually become the Cubs manager a few years later, in addition to his distinguished career with a number of other teams, specifically, the New York Yankees.
One of "Zim's" most memorable moments was during the 2010 Divisional series between the Yankees and Red Sox....when, at the age of 72, he decided to charge the mound and take on Pedro Martinez, a man in his 20s, and eventually get tossed to the ground by Pedro....
...only to show up the next day, looking like this !
My fondest memory of Don Zimmer ?
...when he was the Cubs manager in 1989, the year the Cubs would once again win a division title....and lose again...this time to the San Francisco Giants in the divisional playoffs.
As a Cub season ticket holder, that year was just plain fun...until the end....
...so much fun, that in the spirit of that "fun", I was paging through a magazine one day and saw a picture of a bulldog...
...it reminded me of "Zim", and I asked my wife (who is a talented artist), if she could somehow, put him in a Cub uniform.
...it reminded me of "Zim", and I asked my wife (who is a talented artist), if she could somehow, put him in a Cub uniform.
She did...this was what she drew...and if you look carefully....
I had the chance to present it to "Zim", who, in laughter....
AUTOGRAPHED IT !
What a guy...what an ICON...what a wonderful man. What a pleasure to have met him, and what he represented to the sport....his dedication, the passion, and yes, the fun.
Don Zimmer passed away on June 4, 2014...
...at the age of 83; and on that day, my memories of him were rekindled as to the joy he brought to so many people.
No one who ever knew him could ever stop smiling at the thought of his name...after all....
...he was "Zim"....loveable "Zim" !
During that same year, a young kid who had reached the major leagues in 1982, began to make waves in the baseball world....and in 1984, he would begin a terror of national league pitchers that would last year after year, until his retirement in 2001.
...and worst of all....
...he was a San Diego Padre !
I dreaded this man coming to bat in that 1984 series with the Padres, and I was right to do so.
During 1984, he would have a batting average of .351, and in that 5 game series with my Cubs would bat .316 with 12 hits.
Over his entire career, he would become the 2nd greatest hitter in my lifetime, with a career batting average of .338, seventeenth on the all-time major league list, a mere .060 behind the immortal, Ted Williams.
And in that amazing career, I may never have liked him as a Cub fan, but the sheer terror he invoked whenever this great man came to bat over his entire career, no matter what team he ever competed against, allowed me to have the greatest respect ever possible for him.
He was a first ballot hall-of-famer in 2007, ALWAYS seemed to smile, NEVER used performance enhancing drugs, and amazingly, had the most hits against another first ballot hall-of-fame pitcher, who will be induced next month, a local Las Vegan named Greg Maddux.
He would go on to win 8 batting titles, was a National League All-Star for 15 years, and finish his distinguished career with a total of 3,141 hits.
But on June 16, 2014...
...just 12 days after losing "Zim"...
...would sadly lose a battle against cancer of the salivary gland at the young age of 54 years.
To both of these men....thank you for being the greatest at what you did.....
...for allowing so many of us fans across the United States to enjoy your feats over the years.
And "Zim"....let's hope the "Hall" comes a callin' soon. You were unique in every aspect of your baseball life, and that hallowed building in Cooperstown would never be complete without your smile on an engraved plaque bearing the name of "Donald William Zimmer" !
And to the memories these men gave us on the "Field of Dreams" we call a baseball diamond...
You will be sorely missed !
Reflections of 1964
June is the month of graduations. You'll see kids in caps and gowns celebrating while their parents and grandparents stand tall with pride...a special day in the course one's life.
This morning, while watching TV, a piece was run on the "Class of 2014"....their joy...their optimism...their looking forward to the future just as all of us did years ago, when we experienced that day.
...and I had both a smile and frown on my face as I couldn't help but reflect on my own high school graduation, that special day in June, when I became a member of....the "Class of 1964".
A few months ago I received a letter from my high school inviting me to my 50th high school reunion....
...a notification that I instead interpreted as a reminder of my "mortality" !
The high school I attended closed its doors in 1969...
...but to this day, an annual banquet is held for all alumni at the same location on the same day at which those celebrating their 25th and 50th reunions are specifically honored.
When I attended my 25th class reunion in 1989, I can still remember seeing those celebrating their 50th....
They looked OLD !
...and my guess is that few, if any of those celebrating their 50th are still around to recall that day...because they would be in their 90's now.
Could it really be 50 years? A quick glance in the mirror left little doubt ....
I was now...THEM....
...and so I grabbed the old '64 yearbook and took a trip down memory lane...not just looking at the pictures, but remembering the entire year...
....the life changing year of...
In June, 1964, the Graduating Class of St. George High School in Evanston, Illinois "unofficially" entered adulthood; and like all who preceded us, we too felt the optimism of a bright future.
We all know that the body ages; but in my case, the mind hasn't...thank goodness....I think...yet !
...and that's how God has allowed many of us to treasure the past....
...with memories and visions of days in our lives that are frozen in time.
It still seems like yesterday when that virile group of guys who were about to take on the world, marched down an aisle in caps and gowns receiving diplomas stating to the world....
WE WERE MEN !
Gone were the sock hops, and cruising in my dad's '64 Chevy Impala (the one that I removed the "V-6" emblem and replaced it with one that said "409"...to entice the babes) !
My dad never forgave me when, a week after I changed to the "409" emblem, the car was stolen from a parking lot in broad daylight.
My dad never forgave me when, a week after I changed to the "409" emblem, the car was stolen from a parking lot in broad daylight.
Some of us went on to college, but coming from a blue collar community, many entered the working world ...
...and a number of those who entered the "non-college" world did so without something called a "2-S deferment", eventually receiving a letter from the President that began with the word, "Greeting".
...and to my knowledge, a number of them never made it back home after 13 months in a foreign country named South Vietnam; one of which was my pal, Charlie Dietrich, who was on the swimming team with me for three years...
...and every time I grab that '64 yearbook, I look at Charlie's picture with a deep sense of "what might have been".
I receive quarterly reminders of my graduating class; and sadly, the section I first examine is the "In Memoriam" part.....hoping not to see a name from the past who I remembered cruising the halls of my high school on my way to class or to a swim meet.
I suppose I am the lucky one...I have survived...so far !
But as I paged through that '64 yearbook, "The Dragon", my mind wandered at the historic memories of that year in which I entered adulthood...a year that an author named Jon Margolis, wrote a book entitled...
"The Last Innocent Year: America in 1964"
Just what were some of those thoughts and memories and how they have transitioned into the present day?
I saw men's hair styles go from crew cuts to "Beatle 'dos"; and as the years passed, saw baldness becoming "cool".
I saw women's dresses go from well below the knee... to well above it !
I saw men wearing earrings and women sporting tattoos.
Yes indeed, life certainly has evolved since '64"!
But it was...
A VERY SPECIAL YEAR !
... the Beatles came to America...
....a young boxer named Cassius Clay, became "Muhammed Ali" the day after he defeated an "unbeatable" champion named Sonny Liston, further startling the world when announced he had become a Muslim.
...three civil rights workers were killed in Mississippi, when 300 students and civil rights activists launched a "Freedom Summer" nonviolent challenge to that state's voter registration laws.
...the Republican Party challenged the liberalism of the Johnson administration with a conservative revolution lead by an Arizona senator, Barry Goldwater, concluding with Lyndon Johnson being overwhelmingly elected to the presidency in his own right following the death of John Kennedy.
Years later, I learned that a few miles from Evanston, a junior in high school, who lived in Park Ridge, Illinois, was a "Goldwater Girl".
I wonder whatever happened to her?
Lyndon Johnson gave his first State of the Union address demanding an end to racial injustice and promising an "unconditional war on poverty"; and in June, at the University of Michigan graduation commencement, he asked America to create a "Great Society" with the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
In the spring of '64 the Ford Mustang made its debut at the New York World's Fair.
Women became "people" when one named Betty Friedan published a book entitled "The Feminine Mystique", and within a short time, females quickly began to reject their conventional roles in society, embracing new identities and new values, sparking a feminine movement that would transform American culture.
One day in Berkley, California hundreds of college students demonstrated against racial discrimination and the "Free Speech Movement" was born. Their NONVIOLENT protests would become the model of student unrest throughout the remainder of the 60s.
But one can't conclude 1964 without looking at some of the...
Best moments in sports
In the baseball world, the Philadelphia Phillies were in first place, leading the national league by 6 games, with only 12 left to play in the season....
...eventually losing to the St. Louis Cardinals, who had never been in 1st place the entire season....until the last week.
The Cardinals would go on to end the New York Yankees dynasty by capturing the World Series in 7 games.
It was also the year the Chicago Cubs dealt a young upstart named Lou Brock to the Cardinals (I had to throw that in for the Cub fans out there).
In the National Football League, the Cleveland Browns....yes...the Cleveland Browns....would win the NFL championship.
In the National Basketball Association, the Boston Celtics would win their 6th consecutive NBA championship.
The Detroit Red Wings would win the NHL Stanley Cup.
In the world of thoroughbred racing, Northern Dancer would win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, losing to Quadrangle in the Belmont Stakes.
Can't forget the music hits of '64 !
There was more than the Beatles ! Their music was all so innocent in that year.
How many of you knew the REAL words to...
I know I learned this Roger Miller hit once I got to the University of Illinois in the fall of '64 !
I said goodbye to Patty Finland that summer on my way to college...singing this song to her....promising I'd be there for her all of eternity...
...until I met Janet a few months later !
1964...the Year I "matured"...
The Last Innocent Year in America
The year I will never forget...
St George Dragon
May 20, 1964
The Beatles had made their splash across the world a few months earlier, but on this day, the image of our town would change forever !
No longer would Las Vegas be the town "controlled by the mob"(so we thought)....no siree....it would be the newest playground in America that everyone had to visit.
It was on that day, 50 years ago, when a movie was released changing the image of Las Vegas forever....and made one man and his lady love, the subsequent heirs apparent of The Rat Pack....
...lasting to this very day.
Ann-Margret and Elvis Presley
50 years ago ! Hard to believe most of us were in our teens or early 20s when this movie was released.
Can you remember the story line?
Probably not, it started as a typical "Elvis" movie which many have criticized over the years....but millions still seem to watch it every time it's shown on TCM !
OK...the storyline involved a guy who wins "big" at a crap table (after all, his name is Lucky Jackson), yet manages to lose everything by accidentally dropping his stash in a swimming pool on his way to prepare his car for a Las Vegas sports event...
...having to get a job as a pool attendant hustling drinks while he also "hustles"...and of course wins... the hand of the sexiest, but naturally sweetest,"girl next door" woman in town, after "the big race".
Colonel Parker's typical formula for moolah !
But this wasn't just a movie.....this was about the chemistry of a town with a man and a woman...the perfect couple....the couple every man and woman in America wanted to be !
The first encounter between the two !
Just what guy in this world wouldn't have loved to have
been able to sing a song to Ann-Margret....and be pushed into a swimming pool knowing it was her hand doing the pushing ????
Remember this scene?
By the way, that was the pool at the Flamingo Hotel 50 years ago....and through the magic of cinema, it wasn't really Elvis who fell into the pool.....it was a "sacrificial lamb" by the name of Lance LeGault who took the spill in a suit with guitar in hand !
Here are a few other tidbits about the movie for your next trivia contest regarding The King !
There's a scene where Elvis takes off with "Rusty"...of course Elvis can do anything including fly a helicopter on a pool drink server's income...which was supposed to have taken off from McCarran Airport, but if you look carefully, it's not McCarran; it's New York's Kennedy Airport.
One of my favorites....Elvis on water skis on Lake Mead.
Here's what you saw in the movie.
Here's the real story.
But despite "Hollywood", there remain aspects of that movie which will live forever in the minds of all of us "senior" teenagers....who now call Las Vegas our home...
The Dance Scene...actually filmed at what was once the gymnasium of UNLV...is now the UNLV Barrick Museum.
The date at Railroad Pass, Nevada visiting an old wild west town...
Elvis and Ann (Lucky and Rusty) got married at "The Little Church of the West" (since relocated to 4617 Las Vegas Blvd South)
There was a song cut from the movie too.
"You're the Boss"
A couple of unknowns at the time also played a role in the production.
A young "Teri Garr" was a dancer in a scene at Jubilee, and one of the guitar players on the original soundtrack managed to have a successful career as well.....Glen Campbell.
Scenes of an old '64 Las Vegas will forever be alive in this movie as cameras pan the old hotels that no longer exist; namely the Landmark, Sahara, Frontier, Sands, Thunderbird, and the Stardust.
An uncovered Fremont Street watching race cars zoom through the downtown area, and parts of Mt. Charleston are also evident that have long been improved over time, also keep the memories of years past alive.
'Viva Las Vegas" was the Number One gross box office movie in the career of Elvis Presley, garnering over $5.1 million in receipts.
And...rumor has it Ann-Margret was the "love" of Elvis Presley's short 42 year old life...never failing to send a bouquet of flowers to Ann-Margret on an opening night performance during her singing career.
It's now 50 years later, and though time has erased many of the physical objects associated with that movie, what does remain more than ever, is a song played numerous times each day during the succeeding decades while fountains, tourists, and even us locals, never tire of dancing to it's lyrics.
Of course, the National Anthem of Las Vegas...
Yes..."Viva Las Vegas"....the lasting symbol dramatizing the heartbeat of the amazing city that welcomes millions from around the globe each year to the "Entertainment Capital of the World"...
...that same town...
...we all call...
The Battle of China
A film made by the US Government to stimulate the morale of the American people during World War II
F.D.R. AND AL CAPONE !
F.D.R. AND AL CAPONE !
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Hours after Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Secret Service found themselves in a bind.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt was to give his "Day of Infamy" speech to Congress on Tuesday, and although the trip from the White House to Capitol Hill was short,
agents were not sure how to transport him safely.
agents were not sure how to transport him safely.
At the time, Federal Law prohibited buying any cars that cost more than $750, so they would have to get clearance from Congress to do so, and nobody had time to obtain the approval during that time of crisis.
And so...history was made while the government protected the president on his way to the Capitol building.
One of the president's Secret Service detail discovered that the US Treasury had seized the bulletproof car that mobster Al Capone owned when he was sent to jail in 1931.
They cleaned it, made sure it was in tip top condition, purring like a kitten, and had it ready for the President the day after.
Al Capone's 1928 Cadillac 341a Town Sedan....
...was now the President's Limo, as of December 7, 1941.
And run properly it did.
Capone's car was a sight to behold.
It had been painted black and green so as to look identical to Chicago's police cars at the time.
It also had a specially installed siren and flashing lights hidden behind the grille, along with a police scanner radio.
To top it off, the gangsters 1928 Cadillac 341A Town Sedan had 3,000 pounds of armor and inch-thick bulletproof windows.
Mechanics are said to have cleaned and checked each feature of the Caddy well into the night of December 7th to make sure that it would run properly the next day for the Commander-in-Chief.
And so, on December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, got into the back seat of the same car once occupied by a man who was then in prison for income tax evasion and had been the reputed King of the Underworld in the Windy City !
Living Color Brings History Alive
When you view photographs of the mid-1800s, one sees the past in a sterile black and white aspect that looks at history as a time.... long, long ago.
A reader recently sent me a link that has the ability to colorize moments of the past, and after viewing it, I felt as if the moments of the past suddenly came alive and became the present.
For example, here is a colorized photo of Abraham Lincoln originally taken in February, 1865....and then brought to life as if the photo was taken yesterday through color.
If you'd like to take a journey back in time....and make it appear that the journey began today, click on this link.
It's fascinating for one reason....
It brings the past ALIVE !
Anthem Opinions Salutes the United States Armed Forces looking at Aircraft that Fought a War
"Keeping the Spirit of '45 Alive"
To an effort that brought us the freedoms we enjoy today, let us never forget those who bravely fought to save a nation.
Amazing World War II Aircraft Facts.
On average 6600 American service men died per MONTH during World War II (about 220 a day).
People who were not around during World War II have no understanding of the magnitude.This gives some insight.276,000 aircraft manufactured in the US.
43,000 planes lost overseas, including 23,000 in combat.
14,000 lost in the continental U.S.
The staggering cost of aircraft in 1945 dollars
B-17 $204,370. P-40 $44,892.
B-24 $215,516. P-47 $85,578.
B-25 $142,194. P-51 $51,572.
B-26 $192,426. C-47 $88,574.
B-29 $605,360. PT-17 $15,052.
P-38 $97,147. AT-6 $22,952.
From Germany's invasion of Poland, Sept.1, 1939until Japan's surrender
Sept. 2, 19452,433 days
America lost an average of 170 planes a day.
Facts About Them....
9.7 billion gallons of gasoline consumed.
108 million hours flown.
460 thousand million rounds of aircraft ammo fired overseas.
7.9 million bombs dropped overseas.
2.3 million combat flights.
299,230 aircraft used.
808,471 aircraft engines used.
Russian Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik 36,183 built
Yakolev Yak-1,-3,-7, -9 31,000 Built
Messerschmitt BF-109 30,480 Built
Focke-Wulf Fw190 29,001 Built
Supermarine Spitfire 20,351 Built
Convair B-4 /PB4YLiberator/Privateer 18,482 Built
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt 15,686 Built
North American P-51 Mustang 15,875 Built
Junkers Ju-88 15,000 Built
Hawker Hurricane 14,533 Built
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk 13,738 Built
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress 12,731 Built
Vought F4U Corsair 12,571 Built
Mitsubishi A6M Zero 10,449 Built
North American B-25 Mitchell 9,984 Built
Lavochkin LaGG-5 9,920 Built
Grumman TBM Avenger 9,837 Built
Bell P-39 Airacobra 9,584 Built
Messerschmitt Bf-110 6,150 Built
Lavochkin LaGG-7 5,753 Built
Boeing B-29 Superfortress 3,970 Built
Short Stirling 2,383 Built
The US lost 14,903 pilots, aircrew and support personnel plus
13,873 airplanes -
--inside the continental United States.
There were 52,651 aircraft accidents (6,039 involving fatalities) in 45 months.
Average 1,170 aircraft accidents per month---- nearly 40 a day.
It gets worse.....
Almost 1,000 planes disappeared en route from the US to foreign climates.
43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 in Europe) and 20,633 due to non-combat causes overseas.
In a single 376 plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate.
In 1942-43, it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete the intended 25-mission tour in Europe.
Pacific theatre losses were far less (4,530 in combat) owing to smaller forces committed.
The B-29 mission against Tokyo on May 25, 1945, cost 26 Superfortresses, 5.6 percent of the 464 dispatched from the Marianas.
Over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat and another 18,000 wounded.
Some 12,000 missing men were declared dead, including those "liberated" by the Soviets but never returned.
More than 41,000 were captured. Half of the 5,400 held by the Japanese died in captivity, compared with one-tenth in German hands.
Total combat casualties were 121,867.
The US forces peak strength was in 1944 with 2,372,000 personnel, nearly twice the previous year's figure.
Losses were huge---but so were production totals.
From 1941 through 1945, American industry delivered more than 276,000 military aircraft.
That was not only for US Army, Navy and Marine Corps, but also for allies as diverse as Britain, Australia, China and Russia.
Our enemies took massive losses.
Through much of 1944, the Luftwaffe sustained hemorrhaging of 25% of aircrews and 40 planes a month.
Uncle Sam sent many men to war with minimum training. Some fighter pilots entered combat in 1942 with less than 1 hour in their assigned aircraft..
The 357th Fighter Group (The Yoxford Boys) went to England in late 1943 having trained on P-39s, then flew Mustangs. They never saw a Mustang until the first combat mission.
With the arrival of new aircraft, many units transitioned in combat.
The attitude was, "They all have a stick and a throttle. Go fly`em."
When the famed 4th Fighter Group converted from P-47s to P-51s in Feb 44, there was no time to stand down for an orderly transition. The Group commander, Col. Donald Blakeslee, said, "You can learn to fly 51s on the way to the target".
A future P-47 ace said, "I was sent to England to die."
Many bomber crews were still learning their trade.
Of Jimmy Doolittle's 15 pilots on the April 1942 Tokyo raid, only five had won their wings before 1941. All but one of the 16 co-pilots were less than a year out of flight school.
In World War II, safety took a back seat to combat.
The AAF's worst accident rate was recorded by the A-36 Invader version of the P-51: a staggering 274 accidents per 100,000 flying hours. Next worst were the P-39 at 245, the P-40 at 188, and the P-38 at 139. All were Allison powered.
Bomber wrecks were fewer but more expensive. The B-17 and B-24 averaged 30 and 35 accidents per 100,000
flight hours respectively-- a horrific figure considering that from 1980 to 2000 the Air Force's major mishap rate
was less than 2.
The B-29 was even worse at 40 per 100,000 hours; the world's most sophisticated, most capable and most expensive bomber was too urgently needed to be able to stand down for mere safety reasons.
(Compare: when a $2.1 billion B-2 crashed in 2008, the Air Force declared a two-month "safety pause").
The B-29 was no better for maintenance. Although the R3350 was known as a complicated, troublesome power-plant, only half the mechanics had previous experience with it.
Perhaps the greatest success story concerned Navigators. The Army graduated some 50,000 during World War II.
Many had never flown out of sight of land before leaving "Uncle Sam" for a war zone.
Yet they found their way across oceans and continents without getting lost or running out of fuel - a tribute to the AAF's training.At its height in mid-1944, the USAAF had 2.6 million people and nearly 80,000 aircraft of all types.
Today the US Air Force employs 327,000 active personnel (plus 170,000 civilians) with 5,500+manned and perhaps 200 unmanned aircraft.
That's about 12% of the manpower and 7% of the airplanes of the World War II peak.
Another war like that of 1939-45 is doubtful, as fighters and bombers have given way to helicopters and remotely-controlled drones, eg. over Afghanistan and Iraq. But within our living memory, men left the earth in 1,000-plane formations and fought major battles five miles high, leaving a legacy that remains timeless.
The World’s Wartime Debt to China
By RANA MITTER
Published: October 17, 2013
At the same time that China has stated its desire for peace in Asia, the country has been making assertive claims over waters in the East and South China Seas.
The confrontational rhetoric suggests, to many observers (and to China’s uneasy neighbors in the Pacific region), a sense of pent-up entitlement, stemming from Beijing’s growing importance in the world.
But another, little-remembered factor is also at play:
China’s lingering resentment that its contributions to the Allies’ victory against Japan in World War II were never fully recognized and have yet to translate into political capital in the region.
China’s resistance to Japan is one of the great untold stories of World War II.
Though China was the first Allied power to fight the Axis, it has received far less credit for its role in the Pacific theater than the United States, Britain or even the Soviet Union, which only joined the war in Asia in August 1945.
The Chinese contribution was pushed aside soon after the conflict, as an inconvenient story in the neat ideological narrative of the Cold War.
In the early 20th century China’s growing desire for national sovereignty rubbed up against Japan’s rising imperialism on the Asian mainland.
War broke out in earnest in July 1937, and during the eight years that it lasted, both the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek and, to a lesser extent, the Communist fighters answering to Mao engaged in extraordinary feats of resistance.
Though far weaker and poorer than the mighty United States or the British Empire, China played a major role in the war. Some 40,000 Chinese soldiers fought in Burma alongside American and British troops in 1944, helping to secure the Stilwell Road linking Lashio to Assam in India. In China itself, they held down some 800,000 Japanese soldiers.
The costs were great. At least 14 million Chinese were killed and some 80 million became refugees over the course of the war.
The atrocities were many: the Rape of Nanking, in 1937, is the most notorious, but there were other, equally searing but less well-known, massacres...
... the bloody capture in 1938 of Xuzhou in the east, which threatened Chiang’s ability to control central China...
... the 1939 carpet bombing of Chongqing, the temporary capital, which killed more than 4,000 people in two days of air raids that a survivor described as “a sea of fire”...
... and the “three alls” campaign (“Burn all, loot all, kill all”) of 1941, which devastated the Communist-held areas in the north.
These strains placed immense pressure on what by then was a weak and isolated country. But some of the Chiang government’s policies made matters worse.
A decision to seize the peasants’ grain to feed the army exacerbated the 1942 famine in Henan Province.
“You could exchange a child for a few steamed rolls,” one government inspector recalled in his memoir.
Such missteps made the Nationalist (Kuomintang) government seem corrupt and inefficient, and an embarrassing ally for the United States — even though the Nationalists did the vast majority of the fighting against Japan, far more than the Communists.
When the Allies won in 1945, China’s contribution to the victory was rewarded with a permanent seat on the Security Council of the new United Nations, but little more.
After a civil war, the Chiang regime fell to the Communists in 1949, and Mao had little reason to recognize its contributions to the defeat of Japan.
China’s wartime allies also did little to remind their own people of its role in their victory:
The Nationalist regime — which fled to exile in Taiwan — was an embarrassing relic...
... and the new Communist regime was a frightening unknown.
For the West, China had gone from wartime ally to threatening Communist giant in just a few years.
One major consequence that remains of great relevance today is that the old enemies of Asia never struck a multilateral settlement of the sort that took place in the North Atlantic after 1945, with the formation of NATO and what has become the European Union.
The United States’ decision to put China on the sidelines of the postwar world order it dominated has meant that China and Japan never signed a proper peace treaty. And it has meant that for many years Western historians treated China’s role in World War II as a sideshow.
But recently a new political openness within China itself has allowed a different picture of the war years to emerge.
Chiang and Mao are long dead, and the Chinese government has been trying to claim a greater international role by reminding the world of the benefits of its past cooperation with the West.
Eager to eventually reunify the mainland with Taiwan, Beijing has also adopted a more favorable attitude toward Chiang’s legacy.
Chinese filmmakers and academics now have license to talk more freely about the Nationalists’ wartime contribution, whether in television dramas or scholarly articles.
A lengthy and sympathetic biography of Chiang by Yang Tianshi, a historian at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has been a big seller on the mainland.
Chiang’s old wartime villa outside Chongqing has even been restored as a shrine of sorts, with pictures and captions describing him as a patriot who stood firm against the Japanese — a rehabilitation of Chiang’s reputation that would have been unimaginable under Mao.
This revision of history has significant consequences for East Asia and Southeast Asia today.
If America’s leadership in defeating Japan in 1945 continues to justify a U.S. presence around the Pacific today, Chinese leaders feel, why shouldn’t China’s contribution to the same goal earn it some clout in the region?
Beijing is trying to cash in today a geopolitical check Chiang Kai-shek wrote nearly seven decades ago.
Rana Mitter, professor of the history and politics of modern China at Oxford University, is the author of “Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II.”
The Italian American Club
It's Back...and...In Full Glory
Sheriff Ralph Lamb
Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal
In 1988, Cassaro for the first time became president of a club so badly managed it was near insolvency.
Hiroo Onoda....There has to be a place in History for this Man
If there was ever a "soldier's soldier"...this was the guy !
Some called him a hero, some called him an enemy, and some called him crazy...
...but no matter how you look at him, he existed, and he was a part of history.
Hiroo Onoda was only 20 years old when he enlisted in the Imperial Japanese army in 1944.
He trained as an intelligence officer, and on December 26, 1944, Lt. Onoda was sent to Lubang Island in the Phillipines as part of the Japanese war effort.
...to do all he could to hamper enemy attacks on the island, including destroying the airstrip and the pier at the harbor...
...as part of his orders...
...under no circumstances was he to surrender or take his own life.
When he arrived on Lubang Island, he joined other Japanese soldiers, among them officers who outranked Onoda...who prevented him from carrying out his orders.
On February 28, 1945 the United States and Philippine Commonwealth forces landed, and before long, General Douglas MacArthur's pledge, "I shall return" rang loudly to the Filipino people.
Almost all of Onoda's group were killed within a short time of the landing; the remainder surrendering to the U.S. and Filipino forces...except Onoda and three others.
And so began the legendary story of Lt. Hiroo Onoda.
He would not surrender and as a Japanese holdout, lived amongst the mountains with the other three soldiers who joined him.
They would continue guerilla attacks, kill some 30 Filipino inhabitants, and engage in numerous confrontations with local police.
Two atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan would end Japanese involvement, and on August 15, 1945, V-J Day finally arrived.
The war was over...expect for Lt. Onoda and his three loyal followers.
In October, 1945 leaflets were dropped over the suspected area where Onoda and his band were hiding, but because they had been fired upon a few days prior, they mistrusted them...and believed they were propaganda lies...
...and so, they fought on !
In September,1949 one of the four, Pvt. Yuchi Akatsu, had enough...he left the group and in 1950, finally, after being on his own for six months, surrendered to Filipino forces.
Still....the leaflets would continue to be dropped saying the war had ended, and still...the remaining three refused to believe them.
In June, 1953, one of the three, Corporal Shoichi Shirmada, was shot in the leg by local fisherman, but Lt. Onoda, true to his military convictions, nursed him back to health to fight on !
On May 7, 1954 Corporal Shirmada was killed by a shot fired from a search party looking for the men.
Now there were two...and fight on they did !
On October 18, 1972, Private First Class Kinshichi Kozuka, was shot and killed by local police while he and Onoda were burning rice collected by local farmers.
Now there was only one....Lt. Hiroo Onoda...to continue the Japanese war campaign...
...true to his orders given him in 1944...
...he did !
Though he had been officially declared dead in December, 1959, this "rice raid" in 1972 suggested he was still alive, and search parties again were organized to find him.
On February 20, 1974, Lt. Onoda met a Japanese man named Norio Suzuki, a traveling man, who according to his own words, was...
...looking for "Lt. Onoda, a panda, and the Abominable Snowman in that order".
Onoda and Suzuki became friends, but when it came to surrendering, Onoda would continue to refuse, saying...
"He was waiting for orders from a superior officer".
Convinced that he could not get Onoda to surrender, Suzuki traveled back to Japan with photos of himself and Onoda as proof of their meeting, and managed to locate Lt. Onoda's commanding officer, Major Yoshini Taniguchi, who had since become a dealer in books.
Major Taniguchi flew back to Lubang Island where on March 4, 1974, he finally met Onoda to fulfill a promise he made to his troops in 1944...
"Whatever happens, we'll be back for you"...
...by issuing the following orders:
1. In accordance with the Imperial command, the Fourteenth Area Army has ceased all combat activity.
2. In accordance with military Headquarters Command No. A-2003, the Special Squadron of the Staff's Headquarters is relieved of all military duties.
3. Units and individuals under the command of Special Squadron are to cease military activities and operations immediately and place themselves under the command of the nearest superior officer. When no officer can be found, they are to communicate with the American or Philippine forces and follow their directives.
...and in accordance with those orders.....
On December 18, 1974, Lt. Hiroo Onoda, surrendered...
...turning in his sword, his functioning Ariska Type 99 rifle, 500 rounds of ammunition, and several hand grenades, as well as, the dagger given to him by his mother for protection in 1944.
It was over...finally...for Lt. Hiroo Onoda...after 30 years of loyally fighting for his country... never believing World War II had ended until that day in 1974.
So what became of Lt. Hiroo Onoda ?
He was pardoned by President Ferdinand Marcos because his actions were part of a war in which he fought for his country.
He returned to Japan and became a local hero amongst the Japanese people.
Onoda would later refer to Norio Suzuki, the man who found him in 1974, as "This hippie boy Suzuki came to the island to listen to the feelings of a Japanese soldier."
He would later release a ghostwritten autobiography entitled "No Surrender...My Thirty Year War".
In April, 1975 he left Japan to raise cattle in Brazil; and in 1976 married, and assumed a leading role in the Japanese community of Terenos, Mato Grosso do Sul.
After reading about the murder of his parents, he returned to Japan in 1984, establishing a camp for young people.
Lt. Onoda revisited Lubang Island in 1996 donating $10,000 for the local school.
On December 6, 2004 he was awarded the Merit Medal of Santos-Dumont by the Brazilian air force.
In 2006 his wife, Machie Onoda, became the head of the conservative Japan Women's Association.
...and on January 16, 2014, just two months prior to his 92nd birthday, he passed away in Tokyo, Japan.
So...was he a hero, an enemy, or crazy?
That's for you to decide, but one thing no one can ever dispute...
He was indeed, a part of history.
January 14, 1942...The Day the Statue
Presidential Proclamation 2537...something most Americans are unfamiliar with....but to those who suffered its consequences, a dictum that perhaps sparked one the greatest injustices in American history.
Just what was Proclamation 2537 ?
It was an order issued by President Franklin Roosevelt six weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor that required aliens from World War II enemy countries----Italy, Germany, andJapan---to register with the United States Department of Justice, and then received a "Certificate of Identification for Aliens of Enemy Nationality".
These aliens were required to report any change of address, employment, or name to the FBI and were not allowed to enter certain restricted areas such as ports, water treatment plants, or even areas prone to brush fires, otherwise it would subject them to "arrest, detention, and internment for the duration of the war".
...and its ultimate result...
A month later, on February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed the War Department's blanket Executive Order 9066, which authorized the physical placement of all Japanese Americans into internment camps.
And so...one of the darkest moments of American history began....
...interning American citizens strictly on the basis of their ethnicity.
Having declared war against Japan following the December 7, 1941 attack, American military experts feared further sabotage on west coast agricultural and defense establishments; and as a result of political pressure from those factions, President Roosevelt signed the order that would eventually intern 110,000 people of Japanese descent residing on the west coast.
Ironically, of the 150,000 Japanese living in Hawaii which composed over one third of their population, only between 1,200 and 1,800 were interned.
Executive Order 9066 allowed local military commanders to designate "military areas" as "exclusion zones", and declared that all people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire Pacific coast including all of California, and substantial areas in Oregon, Washington, and Arizona...except for those in internment camps.
These "internment camps" eventually were scattered over a good portion of the United States.
There were three types of camps: Civilian Assembly Centers (often converted warehouses and racetrack stables) used for temporary internment, Relocation Centers (permanent housing following Civilian Assembly Center evaluation), and Detention Camps, facilities for those who were considered "problems" or "difficult").
Detention Camps also included "problem" or "difficult" German-American and Italian-Americans as well !
What was it like living in one of these camps?
Research indicates the answer to that question was determined by which government entity controlled the camp. Some were subject to American law, and others, to International law.
A 1943 relocation report stated that internees were housed in "tar paper covered shacks of simple frame construction" WITHOUT plumbing or cooking facilities of any kind. They met international law, and were built based on designs for military barracks, creating a cramped existence for those with families.
Many facilities were surrounded with barbed wire and patrolled by armed guards. Reports indicate those attempting to leave the camps without authorization were shot.
Internees were provided cots for beds, and had unpartitioned toilet facilities.
Because most people were given such short notice before they were evacuated, many literally left with little other than the clothes on their backs, with those from the southern warmer climates being relocated to Wyoming where the winter temperatures reached between 0 and -18 degrees.
30,000 of those interned WERE CHILDREN. Education was provided, but rarely were supplies adequate and space was overcrowded in just about every case.
What were the typical reactions of these people?
They proved their worthiness to be called Americans in just about every way.
33,000 Japanese Americans served in the armed forces during World War II.
PFC Sadao Munemori, of Company A of the 199th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a part of the 92nd Infantry Division, WHOSE PARENTS WERE PLACED IN AN INTERNMENT CAMP...
...was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life to save his fellow soldiers at Seravezz, Italy on April 5, 1945... a month before the war ended in Europe on May 8, 1945.
And of course, Lt. Daniel Inouye, the second longest serving U.S. Senator in history from Hawaii, another member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. who on April 21, 1945, being wounded a second time, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor....in addition to his previously being awared the Bronze Star.
Senator Inouye wasted little time enlisting in the army to prove the patriotism of Japanese Americans.
On December 18, 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down two historical decisions: one, that the exclusion process under Order 9066 was constitutional; and second, loyal citizens of the United States, regardless of cultural descent, could not be detained without cause.
Finally, on January 2, 1945, the exclusionary order was rescinded completely...with each detainee given $25 and a train ticket to their former homes.
As Japanese-Americans returned to their homes, few would have any possessions they had prior to internment. Many became victims of theft and improper government storage, and due to having to leave their homes on such short notice, financial losses resulted from forced sales of their land.
California laws passed in the 1910s prohibited most non-citizens from owning property, and as a result, even those who were tenant farmers would also lose the rights to those farm lands.
On July 2, 1948 Congress did make a feeble attempt to make reparation for these wrongs, but the IRS in many cases had destroyed many original records, thereby making it difficult to prove a loss.
A total of 26,568 claims totaling $148 million were made, but only $37 million were approved and dispersed.
As a side note, ONLY ONE elected official, Governor Ralph Carr of Colorado, denounced the internment of these citizens...an action that eventually gained him the praise of Japanese-American...but LOST RE-ELECTION AS A RESULT.
Yes...it was sad time in our history when man was indeed judged by ethnicity....a time that all Americans should remember...and reflect on...as time passes.
This chapter of world history also deserves much the same as some others and should always be honored in a similar legacy....
NEVER FORGET !
They're are a couple of sayings that ring as loud today as they did then...
"Your fair share of the market...is all of it".
"The only thing certain in life is death and taxes".
And those two sayings were put to the test 240 years ago in the American colony of Massachusetts.
The colonies were British, and as such, were under the control of parliament and King George III; and in the true spirit of "colonialism", Great Britain looked at its areas of control in the same manner as other nations....to be used to enrich Great Britain.
There's another saying that is quite appropriate to this discussion...
"the straw that broke the camel's back"...and that camel's back was broken on December 16, 1773.
But before we get to the "camel" and the "straw"...a little background.
It all began in the 1600s when The British took a like to a beverage that was brought from China....TEA.
Rival companies were formed in order to import this product from China; the most influential...and most profitable...The East India Company.
And this company became SO POWERFUL, that the British government in 1698 granted The East India Company a MONOPOLY to be the only firm allowed to import tea to their country.
As tea became ever more popular, the British government, realizing its popularity...and profitability...went a step further in 1721...
Having developed a similar "taste for tea" in the American colonies, they passed a law stating that the only tea they could purchase, had to come from England.
THEY HAD TO BUY IT FROM "THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN"
....the "East India Company".
...but British law, not wishing to be "cut out of the pie", passed another law....
The East India Company could not sell it directly to the colonies; it had to be sold to British merchants first at auction; who in turn, would export it to the colonies.
..and once it was imported to England...The East India Company would be TAXED by Britain, before it got to the merchants, who would get it to America...
...to the tune of 25% !
With high taxes, this obviously affected the price of the tea in the product's exportation to the Americas...
...and good "business" required "expedient" action in order to compete.
...and the Brits began to "skip the middleman", the East India Company, becoming the original "bootleggers"...not with liquor, but with tea...
...illegally obtaining it from Holland where imported tea was NOT TAXED.
Needless to say, the "illegal" tea without the tax allowed it to be more profitable...to the bootleggers....and when Britain realized that its "take" was being greatly affected...
...they at first tried to lower taxes imposed on the East India Company in order to allow them to more favorably compete...
They had to make up for the greatest bulk of the lost revenue.
...and so, the British government decided to "pass on the losses" to the American colonies in what were called...the Townscend Acts in 1767.
This "special American colony tax" did not sit well with those in the Americas. British law allowed only Parliament to levy taxes, and this action forced the colonies to endure the tax without proper representation...a saying that only a few years later would ring out as "taxation without representation is tyranny"!
The irony of the hated Townscend Acts was that the money collected DID NOT GO TO ENGLAND...it was kept in the American colonies to pay the salaries of colonial governors and judges...a clever move by the British to make the colonies more dependent on England. Prior to the acts, these salary expenses had been borne directly by the assemblies of each respective colony.
This mattered little to the American colonists. They had previously been subject to a "Stamp Tax" that eventually was repealed in 1765, but this "America only" tax, continued to raise the ire of the colonists.
They were still being taxed... without a say in the matter !
The British parliament finally did relent, and repealed a number of the special taxes levied on the colonies...except one...on TEA.
In an effort to compromise...with the East India Company... parliament, in order to reduce the "legal" stockpiles of East India tea in Britain, began to allow the East India Company to trade directly with the colonies rather than through a British merchant.
...but the British "Tea Act" passed on May 10, 1773, retained the
" Townscend" tax on tea.
And to the American colonists in Boston...
...to be taxed ANY AMOUNT...without any form of representation, was still....UNACCEPTABLE.
In September and October, 1773, it was learned that a number of ships were bound for Boston Harbor carrying 2,000 chests with 600,000 pounds of tea.
As the protests mounted throughout the American colonies, a number of tea consignees either resigned or were forced to resign...with a number of ships returning to England...
...but one stood his ground and demanded the law be strictly adhered to....
...and when the ship, the Dartsmouth", on November 29, 1773, arrived in Boston Harbor, the Massachusetts governor, Thomas Hutchinson, demanded the "Dartsmouth" pay the tax despite protesters not allowing the ship to unload the cargo.
Meanwhile, two other ships, the "Eleanor" and the "Beaver" had also arrived in Boston harbor with tea aboard.
The law required the tax to be paid by a certain deadline...DECEMBER 16, 1773...and when Governor Hutchinson refused to allow all three of the ships to leave....
...between 30 and 130 individuals dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded the three vessels during the night and dumped all 342 chests filled with tea into the water !
This act of defiance was later described by Samuel Adams, not as an act against a tax, but as an act of refusing to accept a tax without having had any representation in its enactment.
For years the incident was referred to as "the destruction of the tea", but finally, in 1834, a journalist referred to it in an article as...
THE BOSTON TEA PARTY
So...as this article began, the two sayings in unison brought about the beginning of the American Revolution.
..a country saying "their fair share of the market was all of it"....
"the only things certain in life are death...and taxes"
And in closing this article, I'd also like to add yet another saying from The Farmers Almanac...
"If Patrick Henry thought that taxation without representation was bad, he should see how bad it is...with representation" !
It Was Stated on December 2, 1823...and...It Worked for 190 Years until November 19, 2013
The 1700's brought people to a "new world" as the colonies in the Americas were formed to enhance the wealth and power of a number of European nations.
Spain, Portugal, Holland, France, and Great Britain saw opportunities across the Atlantic, and as decades passed, each nation sought riches from this "new" land that also incorporated the Caribbean islands and South America.
Russia too had also made overtures in the Alaskan and Oregon territories, and once the United States declared independence in 1776, it found itself in a position of having to co-exist with these nations.
It was the War of 1812 that caused America to look at this continent as vulnerable to foreign invasion and trade interference.
The British had invaded the United States.
Napoleon had been defeated in Europe; and in 1815, Prussia, Austria, and Russia had formed a "Holy Alliance" to defend monarchism.
In defeat, France had agreed to restore the Spanish monarchy in exchange for Cuba.
This "Holy Alliance" further authorized military intervention in France to re-establish Bourbon rule over Spain and its American colonies, a number of which had slowly been establishing independence over the preceding decades.
...and a return to a monarchy system of government, a system for which the American revolution had been fought to eliminate, with the burning of the White House in 1814 following a foreign invasion by the British...
...was now considered in further jeopardy by the edicts of that "Holy Alliance".
And so...during his seventh "State of the Union" address to the Congress, on December 2, 1823, 190 years ago, today, President James Monroe delivered a message not just to Americans, but to the world, stating that any further attempt by any European nation to colonize or otherwise interfere with states in North or South America, would be viewed by the United States as acts of aggression, requiring U.S. intervention.
"The occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers."
"We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments of who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as to the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States."
In return, he also stated that the United States would neither interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of those nations who were responsible for establishing those colonies.
...and that bold statement, would subsequently be seen as the moment in American history, the foreign policy of our country was defined....
THE MONROE DOCTRINE
But...though the words were spoken by James Monroe, history has managed to neglect the true architect behind that speech.
...in fact, the author of The Monroe Doctrine was actually,,,,
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS...
...Monroe's Secretary of State....and eventual successor to the presidency.
It was JOHN QUINCY ADAMS (the son of our second president) who forcefully pushed for the doctrine to be openly declared.
Why Adams ?
It's not a one sentence explanation.
Secretary of State Adams had been negotiating with Spain at the time to obtain Florida as part of an original treaty signed in 1819 (Adams Onis Treaty) which was to extend land acquired by the Louisiana Purchase.
It was during that negotiation in 1823 that France invaded Spain to prop up the current Spanish crown that France would also assist Spain in retaking its colonies in South America.
Britain, concerned that France and Spain would team up to regain that control, tried to convince the American ambassador that the United States would best be served by joining Britain in opposing any such action.
President Monroe, unsure of the correct action, further discussed the matter with former presidents Madison and Jefferson, and both agreed that joining the British would best serve the matter.
Adams, on the other hand, a skilled negotiator, thought differently. He believed that siding with any particular faction, would alienate the other.
According to public record, Adams, at a cabinet meeting on November 7, 1823, stated:
"It would be more candid, as well as more dignified, to avow our principles explicitly to Great Britain and France, than to come to a cock boat in the wake of the British man-of-war."
...and Adams prevailed....stating his case unilaterally without naming any particular nation.
As the years passed, a number of American presidents would eventually echo the words of the "Monroe Doctrine".
In 1842, President John Tyler advised Britain not to interfere with the annexation of Hawaii as part of the Monroe Doctrine.
President James Polk in 1845 would call on the Monroe Doctrine as America expanded west in what he referred to as "Manifest Destiny".
In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln quoted the Monroe Doctrine as France invaded and conquered Mexico, installing an Austrian as dictator, Maximilian.
In 1895 Venezuela cited the Monroe Doctrine in a dispute with Great Britain; with President Grover Cleveland threatening Britain, insisting on the Venezuelan right.
...but perhaps the strongest argument of the Monroe Doctrine came in 1962 from President John Kennedy when Soviet missile installations were discovered in Cuba.
And so, this belief prevailed for 190 years...until November 19, 2013...
...when President Barack Obama's Secretary of State, John Kerry, made the following speech:
Secretary of State John Kerry
"When people speak of the Western Hemisphere, they often talk about transformations that have taken place, but the truth is one of the biggest transformations has happened right here in the United States of America. In the early days of our republic, the United States made a choice about its relationship with Latin America. President James Monroe, who was also a former Secretary of State, declared that the United States would unilaterally, and as a matter of fact, act as the protector of the region. The doctrine that bears his name asserted our authority to step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America. And throughout our nation’s history, successive presidents have reinforced that doctrine and made a similar choice.
"Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over. The relationship – that’s worth applauding. That’s not a bad thing. The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states. It’s about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues, and adhering not to doctrine, but to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and the interests that we share."
And the obvious question to all of you...
Is this how you feel ?
Spoken 150 Years Ago...It Still Defines the American Spirit
Our nation was at a crossroad, brother was murdering brother, and then on November 19, 1863, following the deadliest battle of the American Civil War....a two minute speech...has since become legendary for 150 years.
Let's look back to November 19, 1863 and what precipitated that day.
Approximately 4 months prior to that day, from July 1st-July 3rd, the Army of the Republic and the Confederate forces met at a small town in Pennsylvania.
Union forces led by Major General George Meade met Confederate forces led by General Robert E. Lee. Lee's forces had won a series of convincing victories, and this confrontation was to open a complete invasion of southern troops to the northern states.
It was crucial to both sides, and has often been considered the "turning point" of the American Civil War.
...and when it ended, the official records state that there were a total of...
...7,863 deaths, of which 3,155 were Union, and 4,708, Confederate...
...27,224 wounded, of which 14,531 were Union, and 12,693, Confederate...
...and 11,199 captured or missing, 5,369 of which were Union, and 5,830, Confederate.
It was...and to this day...is..the bloodiest battle in American history.
Over the following months the concept of a national cemetery to honor those who had perished gathered support and a committee was formed to consecrate this battle scene in a formal ceremony that was scheduled for November 19, 1863.
After the pomp and circumstance, a man named Edward Everett, came to the podium to give the official "ovation".
Everett was a known orator. He was a former member of the House of Representatives, US Senate, US Secretary of State, Governor of Massachusetts, and minister to Great Britain, in addition to teaching at Harvard University.
And a true orator he was....giving a 13,607 word speech that lasted over two hours in the November cold.
...but the guest speaker was the President of United States, who despite illness, and according to John Hay, the President's private secretary...
...noted that during the speech, the president's face had "a ghastly color" and that he was "sad, mournful, and almost haggard"...
...that after the President addressed the crowd, when boarding a 6:30pm train back to Washington, he was feverish, weak, and had a severe headache...symptoms of small pox.
But despite illness, the President approached the podium and in a mere two minutes, spoke words that today, many of us have committed to memory...
The Gettysburg Address
I would reprint those words that most of us are familiar, but rather than do that...to recapture the moment...the time...the emotion...
Let us honor these words by Abraham Lincoln, spoken 150 years ago today, in this manner....
...a short history and with the help of
Hollywood..bringing you back to that day...
...and those immortal words...
...words that 150 years later, have even greater significance as the history of our great nation marches on.
November 6, 1923...When A Man's Face Was Offered a Choice
If you've read my articles with any regularity, by now you must be aware of my passion for history...and looking at moments in time and the people who inhabited it, to show you how they changed the world.
Today...is one of those days...90 years ago !
I have to start with something every man who has ever lived, has always hated...SHAVING.
Yup...as a kid growing up, I looked forward to experiencing it for the first time. It determined MANHOOD for a boy who was just about 14 years old. (Ok, I'm Catholic, and soon realized "manhood" meant something else shortly thereafter).
Sure it was peach fuzz, but it needed to come off...because that's what dad did every day...and I was now in his "league".
You see, "shaving" was a learned art in the Arendt house, and it was carefully passed down through the generations starting with my grandfather who came to the United States in 1906.
I have to digress about the "art of shaving" a bit, because that art was carefully crafted by gramps through a series of life experiences.
Gramps came over "on the boat" as a German immigrant with his wife and growing family back then. He was a musician and from what I was told, played a "nasty" trumpet, in addition to the violin and piano...so good, that he ended up paying for his boat ride over the Atlantic by playing in "steerage" for the rest of the immigrants and "passing the hat".
Not speaking English, he got a job selling musical instruments...I guess the language of music must be universal, but eventually got fired due to his never showing up to give the lessons he promised.
Plan B....playing in polka bands...not bad, but not steady income.
Plan C...it's now 1918 and the U.S. decides to pass a law outlawing booze...and to a German, life without beer is unbearable...especially in Chicago, where the "competition" involved men named O'Banion and Capone.
Result... make your own...alongside other "beverages" in the bath tub, and sell it by way of delivering it in my dad's little red wagon.
...until a Chicago cop patted him on the head and asked him what was in the wagon !
Result...Gramps is arrested as a bootlegger, pays a fine, and is now looking for steady work.
Plan D...the love of music gets him hired in a Speakeasy, until one day Grandma decides to pay him a visit when he comes home a little later each night. Turned out Grandpa was doing a bit of "flapping" with the "flappers"; and so, that career ended as well !
Plan E...now we're getting to the crux of the article...He becomes a barber.
...and until he retired in his 70s, had his shop open 6 days a week.
Now..with gramps being a barber for over 50 years...that means the only way of shaving is with a STRAIGHT RAZOR.
Do any of you men remember the first time you shaved...
...with a razor?
Your face was ON FIRE, BLOOD DRIPPED from your cheek, your mouth, and your lips; the scars remained for life; and the rash afterward accentuated the zits you were trying to hide !!!!
But...this article isn't about my zits or rash after the shave, it's to honor the man who solved man's razor burns...
Before Schick came up with his invention, man had to suffer while removing those whiskers.
Ancient cave drawings show prehistoric males removing beards by shaving with a clam shell or sharpened flint. OUCH ! They didn't do it very often (toilet paper hadn't been invented to paste on the cuts to stop the blood flow), and some of the clean shaven cavemen drawings in those caves were alongside females...
...I guess...to put Mrs. Cavewoman in the mood to make little cavemen !
Then along came the Romans who discovered that a wet beard was easier to shave than a dry one, and shaving became a whole lot less painful as a result.
In 1600s steel blades became popular in Europe; so popular, that they were passed down through generations because they were expensive. Unfortunately, the metal began to chip over time as well.
Then in 1771, a Frenchman named Jean-Jacques Pettet came along and actually wrote a book about shaving, showing a novel invention of encasing the blade in a wooden handle for safety. There's a chapter in his book that even explained how to sharpen the blade ! Nonetheless, the "invention" didn't succeed.
In 1903, an American by the name of King Champ GILLETTE came along, concluding that money could be made if the blades were disposable. Gillette wasn't the handiest guy in the world; he was a salesman, and to develop this idea, hired another man named William Nickerson.
..and it took off like a rocket, with men shaving at home rather than going to the local barber shop.
Unfortunately, when men did it themselves rather than at the barber, they would often cut themselves; and because of those small cuts, William Nickerson's invention brought a new word to the English language when that took place...and to this very day, it's called...
.. a "nick".
The American system of capitalism, as great as it was...needed yet another change, and that's where retired Colonel Jacob Schick comes into the picture.
...and on November 6, 1923...
Jacob Schick patented the first ELECTRIC SHAVER !
Just a little bit about Jake Schick before we conclude this tribute...
He was a veteran of the Spanish American War, enlisting in the 14th US Infantry in 1898, and when health became a problem, he went to Ft. Gibbon in Alaska to join the 22nd Infantry. As his health improved, he became instrumental in laying out military telegraph lines stretching over 1,000 miles of frozen Alaskan interior.
Finding it difficult to shave in -40 degree weather, he came up with an idea of a shaver with a shaving head driven by a flexible cable and powered by an exterior motor.
He tried unsuccessfully to market his new idea for nine years until in 1919, after leaving the Army, he was determined to develop his dry shaver.
He tried unsuccessfully to market his new idea for nine years until in 1919, after leaving the Army, he was determined to develop his dry shaver.
By 1927 he had perfected his invention enough to making it a marketable product; and in 1929, the dry shaver went on the market.
His company was incorporated in 1930 as "Schick Dry Razor, Inc."
His company was incorporated in 1930 as "Schick Dry Razor, Inc."
Jacob Schick died in 1937 at the young age of 60.
Today, Norelco owns and operates the company.
For men (and women) ...the battle between the blade and electric, will march on as long as man has a beard or women shave their legs, underarms, and the latest we can't mention...
but Jake Schick allowed us a choice...a choice... my face has used for the past 53 years !
October 31, 1926...the Day... Ehrich Weisz...Died
October 31st may be Halloween to most people, but to those who believe in the occult....it was the day a man named Ehrich Weisz died....and to this day, some believe he WILL return.
Ehrich was born on March 24, 1874 to a Jewish rabbi in Budapest, Hungary, and within two years, he and his family made the journey to the United States "for a better life", and like most immigrants, the family changed its name to "Weiss".
Eventually ending up in Milwaukee,Wisconsin, Ehrich, like most young children, shined shoes and sold newspapers to support the family, but he had a dream....
He wanted to be on stage in front of people, and at the age of nine, made his first public appearance in a trapeze act, as "Ehrich the Prince of the Air".
At age 12, he decided to run away from home, hopped a freight train to New York, making a decision that "magic" would be the way he'd make his fortune.
His nickname " Ehrie" became "Americanized" to "Harry"; and because he idolized a French magician named Robert Houdin...he merely improved it by adding an "i" to become...
Harry Houdini.....at the age of seventeen.
And so the immortal "Houdini" would begin a career that would awe audiences over the next 35 years of his life.
What began in beer halls, platforms with snake charmers, fire eaters, and other "freak" shows, led him from New York to the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago where he and his brother, Theo, would dazzle those who walked the fair's midway.
This lead Harry to the Welsh Brothers Circus where he developed an illusion he referred to as "Metamorphosis" where an assistant, and later his wife, Bess, would be placed into a locked box, and then within seconds switched places after a curtain was raised.
About the same time, Harry developed a fascination with "handcuffs", discovering that almost all of them would open with a single key or a piece of bent metal.
This lead Harry to once again reinvent himself as "The Handcuff King" , traveling from town to town escaping from police handcuffs and any other devices his crowds would challenge him to remove.
..But that was just the beginning for Harry Houdini.
From handcuffs, he transitioned to a straight jacket escape, where he was buckled in tightly, carried to a cabinet, and then placed behind curtains.
Learning to control every muscle in his body, he eventually forced one sleeve, then the other over his head, and made the "miraculous" escape.
..and fame spread across the country...with Harry traveling to Europe to fascinate the crowds there as well, before returning to the United States as a premier celebrity.
But what next ?
He was now "The Great Houdini" and in 1908, he took his escapes to yet another level, the "Chinese Water Torture" trick, where he would escape from a padlocked water can.
Escapes would continue over the years, and in 1918 Houdini introduced the "biggest illusion" ever staged at the New York Hippodrome, calling it the "Vanishing Elephant".
Next it was off "to Hollywood" for Harry, and in 1918, he starred in a series called "The Master Mystery" , portraying a character named "Quentin LOCKE", an undercover agent for the Justice Department, who would use his escapes to solve crimes.
His prowess in that series included escapes from being buried alive, tied to the bottom of an elevator shaft, suspended over boiling acid, and strapped to an electric chair.
..but Harry looked at Hollywood as a hobby, stating that "profits are meager" . Years later, he even received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 31, 1975.
Houdini had one other passion...the occult...and spent years debunking mediums as "fakes" and "frauds" as a result of his extraordinarily close relationship to his mother, who had died in 1913.
For years after her death he attempted to "reach" her, and after experiencing one fraud after another, was determined to expose them at every opportunity.
In 1923 he even took time off from his career to tour the country giving lectures against mediums, even authoring a book entitled "A Magician Amongst the Spirits" which was published in 1924.
In the fall of 1925, Houdini would return to the stage with yet another "attack" on mediums...offering $10,000 to any medium who he could not mirror. The shows completely sold out each performance which continued into 1926.
...and then....life changed for Houdini !
In 1926, strange things began to happen..
His wife, Bess, contracted ptomaine poisoning; then a chain slipped from his famous "Chinese Water Torture Cell" trick, and Harry broke his ankle.
But the worst was to take place on October 22, 1926.
Houdini, as he was waiting in his dressing room for a performance at the Princess Theatre in Montreal, received a visitor by the name of J. Gordon Whitehead, a student at McGill University, asking if it was really true if he could take ANY PUNCH to the abdomen.
Houdini, sitting on the couch half-listening to the student, mumbled "yes".
As he stood up, Whitehead sent 3 punches into his stomach before Houdini was able to prepare for the blow.
That evening and the next he continued his performances with much discomfort, but then still made the 1000 mile train ride to Detroit for his next engagement.
The pain failed to subside, so he wired ahead for his manager to have a doctor waiting at the theater to examine him.
At the same time he, the entertainer, maintained "the show must go on", and in 104 degree heat, performed in pain.
When the curtain fell, he
He was rushed to the nearby Grace Hospital, and diagnosed with a ruptured appendix. An operation was performed, but peritonitis set in. He had one more operation, but again failed to respond.
His last words were, "I am weaker.
I guess I have lost the fight."
And on Sunday, October 31, 1926, Halloween, at 1:26pm in the afternoon, the "Great Houdini" drew his last breath. He was only 52 years old.
But even death would not stop the "The Great Houdini" from giving his final performance.
His body was taken to a funeral home where NO ONE WAS PERMITTED TO VIEW THE BODY...and placed in a large coffin he had built just 4 weeks earlier for a stage production trick.
...a large dull bronze coffin with a full glass top, lined with silk on the last day of his Detroit performance. He had previously stated that desired to eventually be buried in this particular prop...but the "bad luck" continued as the coffin was accidentally shipped to New York along with his other paraphernalia.
He was buried in Machpalah Cemetery, just inside the front gate, next to his mother who had died in 1913.
But despite Houdini's disdain for mediums, he still promised his wife, Bess, that if there was any possible way to return after his death, he would; and for the next 10 years, on Halloween, she would hold a seance for his arrival.
It failed !
On the 50th anniversary of Houdini's death, believers again tried to reach him...in the same room of his death.
That too...failed !
But Houdini still lives...in so many ways.
There is the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania...
There is the movie, "Houdini" which starred our late Sun City Anthem resident, Tony Curtis.
(I'll never forget the day a number of years ago, when I met the cordial Tony Curtis, at Freedom Hall looking at him and saying "Mr. Curtis, it's not often you get a chance to meet Albert DeSalvo, The Great Leslie, Ferdinand Demara, and Houdini in one fell swoop", referring to his roles in "The Boston Stangler", "The Great Race", "The Great Imposter", and course, "Houdini".
He smiled at me, said, "you really are a fan...call me Tony".)
And of course the magicians we all know in today's world look at him as their "mentor", spending thousands of dollars accumulating the many props he utilized during his years of "making magic".
Yes...Houdini lives..in death...each and every October 31st...
..a day in which his life is celebrated with the "tricks" he gave us, while he "treated" his audiences, during his brief life.
The Day Judgment was Served
September 30, 1946....a day when the world looked at 7 years of hell, and said....
Justice Must Prevail.
It all began on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland and would rapidly make attempt after attempt to dominate Europe with a philosophy of hatred, destruction, and worst of all....a war against mankind.
Years prior to that day, in 1933 a man who had once been imprisoned, suddenly became of the leader of Germany, and over the next six years, reminded his nation that the destruction of his country has been the result of forces that economically strangled his people.
The Treaty of Versailles ending the First World War had left Germany is despair; inflation ran rampant; currency would become worthless; and a population would become angry and in search of a leader who would allow it to rise from the degradation from that treaty....
...they had been forced to relinquish lands, pay massive war damages, and not allowed any form of self defense by the elimination of armed forces and an air force.
...and when a people suffer such humiliation...they need something to build up its self respect and image....
...and sadly, it became vulnerable to forces and ideas that would seek revenge to solve those problems.
But it needed a leader to tell them how...and from a prison cell and a book entitled "Mein Kampf", a man named Adolf Hitler, wrote extensively about the treatment suffered by the German people...
...stressing his country suffered by both an influence of communism and one people....
"Mein Kampf" stated that there was a "conspiracy" by communists and Jews to dominate the earth; that both required elimination, in order to prosper and regain the stature it once had.
Hitler rose to esteem for one reason...he told his people something they wanted to hear...that they could again regain the power and influence they once had....
...but in order to accomplish that goal, those forces had to be minimized...if not eliminated.
When Hitler came to power as Germany's Chancellor in 1933, "Mein Kampf" would become "required reading" in many cases, All newlyweds were given copies, and when war broke out, all those who served in military operations were given the book to "learn" and "understand" the meaning for the actions that "had to be taken" in order to achieve the goals of regaining prominence.
And so...the World went to war to achieve that goal; but that war was not only fought against foreign nations, but toward "people"....not just Jews, but against Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, those born with hereditary "defects", and those who "The Fuhrer" considered "social misfits", in addition to members of political and religious groups in opposition to the NAZI beliefs.
,,,and that "war" became a war against man himself, which has come to be known as "The Holocaust".
It is well known that millions of innocent people lost their lives as a result of these atrocities, but when the war concluded, something had to be done...
...that those who were responsible for them...be tried in a world court for those crimes against man.
After World War I, many of the war crimes went unpunished, but following World War II, this was not to be the case.
The world demanded accountability and representatives of the warring nations met in a city called Nuremberg, near Munich, in Germany, for what would become known as the "Nuremberg Trials".
Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels had committed suicide prior to the trial that commenced on November 20, 1945.
On that date, 24 individuals were accused of "war crimes" and the world, over the next 10 months would be told of the horrors that these men committed as part of the NAZI party's control over Germany.
And following that trial...on this day....67 years ago...
September 30, 1946
...the verdicts were handed down.
19 were found guilty.
Let history never forget these men for what has become known over the decades as "man's inhumanity against man".
10 YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Baron Konstantin von Neurath
15 YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Baldur von Schirach
20 YEARS IMPRISONMENT
20 YEARS IMPRISONMENT
The death sentences were carried out on November 16, 1946.
Hermann Göring committed suicide the night before the execution and Martin Bormann was not present when convicted (he had, unbeknownst to the Allies, most likely been killed trying to escape from Berlin in May 1945).
The remaining 10 defendants sentenced to death were hanged.
We must NEVER forget.
Remembering an American Armageddon
There are no words that can describe September 11, 2001...only a timeline that no American will ever forget....
All eastern times:
8:46 am....American Airlines Flight #11...at a speed of 466 m.p.h. crashes into the North Tower of The World Trade Center.
9:03 am...United Airlines Flight #175...at a speed of 590 m.p.h. crashes into the South Tower of The World Trade Center.
9:05 am...President Bush, while in a grammar school reading a children's book, is informed America is under attack.
9:37 am...American Airlines Flight #77...at a speed of 530 m.p.h. crashes into the Pentagon.
9:58 am...The South Tower of The World Trade Centers collapses.
10:03 am...United Airlines Flight #93...at a speed of 583 m.p.h. crashes in a field near Johnstown PA...believed to have been on it's way to The US Capitol or The White House. "Let's Roll" would forever become a part of the American vocabulary.
10:28 am...The North Tower of The World Trade Center collapses.
5:20 pm...7 World Trade Center...a 47 story building, collapses.
The Human Cost:
2,996 immediate deaths
246 perished on board the four planes
125 lost their lives at The Pentagon
372 foreign nationals were victims (excluding the 19 hijackers).
And of the 2,606 in New York City who died, 292 people were killed at street level by burning debris and falling bodies of those who had jumped from the World Trade Center windows.
All..were civilians...with the exception of 55 military personnel killed at the Pentagon.
May they rest in peace...
As this...and other nations....mourn the day...when America was again, as it had been on December 9, 1941...
"suddenly and deliberately attacked"...
...and yet again would rise above the agony of national tragedy...to heal...
God bless this great land.
__________________________A Man's Tribulations...and how the Integrity of a Nation Proved...No Man was Above the Law
Many of us have lived through the most tumultuous times in the history of our nation, but there was one day, August 9, 1974, when our nation experienced a moment in time that differentiated our great land, from any other on this earth...
...a transition of power ...without a shot being fired, or a revolution taking place.
When we look at our present world, seeing crowds in cities across the earth deposing its leaders through military takeovers, watching leaders murdering citizens to maintain power, and mass demonstrations of unrest culminating in such violence. we Americans should look back over our shoulders, and say....God Bless this Great Land.
This nation has made its mistakes, but unlike so many others, we, as a CIVILIZED NATION, demonstrated on August 9, 1974, that our system...worked.
...that peace could prevail under the most strained of circumstances...
...when the conscience of its elected body, recognized that the integrity of a nation was at stake, and through peaceful discussion, rather than violent revolution...proved to the entire world, that we were not merely a nation of laws; but that no one person, whoever that person may be, would ever be above them....
...and concluded after years of peaceful dialogue and the freedom of the American press, realized that it was in the best interests of our country, that an elected leader, step away from an office he had been overwhelmingly reelected to, less than two years previously...
...and though initially making every attempt possible to remain....left in a PEACEFUL manner, after apologizing to a nation for what he had done.
This leader of course was Richard Nixon.
Life had dealt this man more ups and downs than any man in our history.
After being elected to the US House of Representatives in 1946, he was assigned to the House on Un-American Activities Committee, where he received national prominence in pursuing the conviction of a man named Alger Hiss, who he believed was a Soviet spy. Hiss would later be convicted of perjury.
In 1950 he was elected to the US Senate, continuing his crusade against communism, becoming a prominent figure once again in the McCarthy hearings.
When Dwight Eisenhower received the Presidential nomination by the Republican Party in 1952, he was selected to be his Vice Presidential running mate. Unlike today, when a nominee chooses his vice president, a "smoke filled room" made him the choice of his party.
...but controversy would darken that candidacy when he was accused of maintaining a political fund established by his backers as a reimbursement for his political expenses.
...yet, he triumphed when we won the hearts of the American people in a televised speech to 60 million Americans saying he was a man of modest means...that his wife never had a mink coat...an historical moment referred to as "The Checkers Speech".
He would go on to be elected to that office twice; but unlike many of his predecessors, he became a "working" vice president, often being sent to foreign nations, notably the Soviet Union, in 1959 where he met with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
In 1960 we would be nominated by the Republican Party for the Presidency, only to lose in one of the closest elections in American history to John Kennedy...an election that could have been contested due to alleged voting irregularities in Chicago. He would not, due to his belief it would not serve the best interests of the American people.
Many would say poor make-up during the first series of televised presidential debates in American history...now a commonplace in American politics, might also have contributed to his "luck" as well.
We all know the "power of the press", and there was little doubt, he was never a "darling" amongst the media; and over his life, newspapers and television reporters continued to haunt his every political move.
That belief became even more evident when he unsuccessfully ran for the governorship of California in 1962. His distrust of the media became even more apparent; and history will never forget his response to the defeat....
"You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference".
Fate would change all of that during a period of American history where many believed our country was losing the "innocence" of the American dream; that the dream was becoming a nightmare marred in violence not seen since the civil war...a period of time when we Americans questioned if we really were the best examples of civilization that inhabited our earth.
It was over the next five years...Richard Nixon...like every American...watched a series of events that allowed him to be "reborn" in politics.
....the man who had defeated him in 1960 was murdered in 1963...
...civil unrest became routine in southern states as America watched peaceful demonstrations turn to bloody racial confrontations...
...an unpopular war became even more unpopular...
...Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were both killed...
...an announcement by Lyndon Johnson that he would "not seek, nor would he accept, the nomination" of his party for another term as our president
...the emergence of a southern governor, George Wallace, as a third party presidential candidate....
...he would rise from the ashes of defeat after defeat...
...through those moments in time...
...to be elected as our nation"s 37th president in 1968.
The 60's would end with a man landing on the moon, an attempt at achieving an "honorable peace" in Paris during the early 70s, and an historic trip to China to reopen that part of the world to American interests.
...and a second term was certain, defeating his Democratic opponent, George McGovern, capturing 49 of the 50 states.
...but then...it all would become "undone".
On June 17, 1972 a burglary took place as the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC...and some were caught....
...some having ties to the "Committee to Re-elect the President".....
...and two reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, would, over time, meet secretly with someone who would only refer to himself as "Deep Throat".
"Deep Throat" would provide information allowing the two reporters to dig deeper and deeper into the "Watergate Break-In"; and eventually, one after another of "The President's Men" would resign, be indicted, and eventually be convicted of criminal activity.
During the investigation, yet another problem was occurring during the Nixon administration.
Vice President Spiro Agnew, on October 10, 1973, resigned his office, after being convicted on charges of bribery, tax evasion and money laundering during his tenure as Governor of Maryland, and was subsequently replaced by Gerald Ford, as part of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, adopted only six years prior to that date on February 23, 1967.
As the months passed, and the world began to collapse for Richard Nixon; the country watched as hearings were held, and more and more information was being disclosed...until something was discovered in July, 1973...
There were tapes...
...tapes made by the president....of literally every conversation that took place in the Oval Office, according to a White House aide Alexander Butterfield.
...and a special prosecutor named Archibald Cox, demanded the president release them to Congress.
Cox was not only refused by the Nixon White House on the basis of "executive privilege"...but was fired by the President as the investigation deepened.
In November, 1973, the president's attorneys made a startling admission....
...that an audio tape of conversations, held in the White House on June 20, 1972, featured an 18½ minute gap.
Rose Mary Woods, the President's personal secretary, claimed responsibility for the gap, alleging that she had accidentally wiped the section while transcribing the tape.
Finally, the president, November 17, 1973, during a televised question and answer session with the press...made this now famous statement.
"People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got."
The American people would still not be satisfied, and a darkness and suspicion surrounded our nation as each day passed.
...There was MORE...and in April, 1974, the president released 1,200 pages of TRANSCRIPTS of conversations that had taken place between he and his aides.
..but when he continued to refuse releasing ALL of the tapes, the House Judiciary Committee, on May 9, 1974, opened impeachment hearings until on July 27, 1974, the House Committee, by a vote of 27-11, recommended impeachment on the grounds of "obstruction of justice" while just three days prior to that day, the Supreme Court determined ALL OF THE TAPES must be provided.
One of the new tapes released however, recorded soon after the break-in, demonstrated that Nixon had been told of the White House connection to the Watergate burglaries soon after they took place, and had approved plans to thwart the investigation.
He at first, claimed a loss of memory, but was soon told by congressional leaders that he would surely be convicted in the Senate, and removed from office.
It was over...and on the evening of August 8, 1974, a nation watched a nightmare end in a nationally televised address to the American people:
And at noon on August 9, 1974, 39 years ago...
Our 37th President, Richard Nixon, once again entered the history books, as the only chief executive to ever resign that office...
... an act that also resulted in yet another historical moment of our past....
...the ascending of a man, Gerald Ford, to the Presidency...
...the only man NEVER to have been elected to hold that office.
August 9, 1974...the day our system..WORKED.
A Law that Changed the Life of Every Senior Citizen
Living in a 55+ community has its challenges, and as that "final day" gets closer as each day passes, the most concerning element of seniors, other than retirement income, is their health care.
Our nation has huge obstacles to overcome before the full effects of Obamacare will be known, but well before this legislation, another "medical crisis" occurred years ago that through years of consideration, legal entanglements, and political pressure, a massive law was passed that affects just about every person who is age 65 and over....
It was on this day, July 30, 1965, 48 years ago, that President Lyndon Johnson, sitting alongside former president, Harry Truman, signed Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, which created this program that citizens age 65 and over (as well as younger individuals who had disabilities and certain health conditions), would forever come to look at, as providing peace of mind in their concerns as to the affordability of medical expenses as they aged...regardless of income or medical history.
Before Medicare, only half of older adults had health insurance for essentially two reasons; first, past medical history often made it impossible to obtain; and secondly, the cost was prohibitive.
Senior citizens who did have medical coverage paid premiums approximately three times the amount that younger individuals paid; yet their incomes were approximately half of their youthful constituents.
There was yet another need for medicare...the ugly reality of racial discrimination. Poverty levels in the United States amongst minorities were staggering; and as a result, these groups were even greater victims of medical catastrophes. They would often be the last to be seen in hospital waiting rooms, and physicians would make these people their lowest priority due to their inability to pay.
...and Medicare made a strong attempt at solving that problem, by making payments to health care providers CONDITIONAL on desegregation.
But why was President Johnson sitting alongside President Truman, in Independence, Missouri, on that day Medicare was signed into law?
...because as President Johnson so aptly stated on that July morning, "he was the real daddy of Medicare"....and issued the very first Medicare Card to the 81 year old former president.
It was at the close of World War II in 1945, when President Truman first called for a national health insurance program...a plea that was initially ignored by both houses of Congress.
He asked Congress to consider it again in 1947 and yet again in 1948, but in both cases, the bill quickly died as a result of little support.
The idea remained dormant during the Eisenhower administration, but upon the election of John Kennedy; one of his first acts in 1961, was to commission a task force to create a national health insurance program for those over age 65.
President Kennedy followed up that task force with a nationally televised speech in 1962 stressing the need for such a program.
As the program lingered in Congress, we all know that President Kennedy was tragically killed in Texas in 1963; and Vice President Johnson, upon ascending to the office of President, revitalized the idea.
...and in 1964...called upon Congress to create the Medicare program.
President Johnson, prior to his becoming Vice President under Kennedy, had been the Senate Majority Leader from Texas. He knew Congress...he knew how Washington worked...and became a master at convincing Congressional leaders to "see it his way" on more than one occasion.
Shortly thereafter, in 1965, the medicare bill passed the Senate by a vote of 70-24 and the House, 307-116.
The program officially commenced on July 1, 1966, and on that date, 10 million Americans enrolled in that program.
Over the succeeding generations, numerous changes have taken place, and currently approximately 50 million people are enrolled in that program....
....15% of the total population of the United States.
With the "boomers" reaching the magic age of 65, and life expectancies increasing, that number is expected to double by the year, 2030.
Will it survive? Will it be altered?
We will see...
...but it all began on July 30, 1965, by a president, socially committed to the American people in his drive to make the Truman dream a reality.
Yet...how ironic...less than 3 years later....despite the many "Great Society" achievements in social legislation over his 6+years of being our president...
...on March 31, 1968...felt compelled to leave the presidency...
...due to the most unpopular war in American history...Vietnam.
From A Cartoonist's Dream...to...The Happiest Place on Earth
It was originally referred to as "Black Sunday" by its company's executives, because anything that could have gone wrong, did !
It had been planned for years, and was a dream of a man who often took his daughters, Sharon and Diane, to a park watching them ride a merry-go-round.
He was a good family man, and as such, believed the children of his employees needed a location close to their jobs that they too, could spend time with their families.
And so...a dream was born.
It was originally intended to be built on a lot across the street from his studio, but this man wanted something special, and as the concept began to blossom in his mind, so did the passion for making his dream a reality.
While discussing the financing for this project with a man named Herb Ryman, the individual who approached the Bank of America with an aerial drawing of his dream, he told Ryman, " Herbie, I just want it to look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train.".
As a kid, he loved trains, and as his fortune grew, he enjoyed entertaining his kids and those of his employees while riding a model train in his yard behind his home.
And four years later, on July 17, 1955, he stood at it's opening and proudly proclaimed these words.
"To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past .... and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America ... with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world."
Of course, we've been talking about the amazing vision of Walt Disney, and the day Disneyland opened.
But...it wasn't all that easy for Walt in the beginning. His idea was expensive, and nothing like it had ever been built, but that didn't deter him from "the dream."
How to get the money?
Difficulties in obtaining funding prompted Disney to investigate new methods of fundraising, deciding to create a show named "Disneyland" and was broadcast on then-fledgling ABC.
In return...ABC agreed to help finance the park.
And perhaps the most popular of shows aired by ABC, was a trilogy about a frontiersman named, Davy Crockett.
How many of us bought "Coon-skinned Caps"...
while we sang this song... and to this day can still remember the words...
Disney also rented out many of the shops on Main Street, U.S.A. to outside companies as well.
But on the day it opened, only the joy of the day would overshadow the actual event.
On that first day of operation it was only open to invited guests and the media. Although 28,000 people attended the event, only about half of those were actual invitees, the rest having purchased counterfeit tickets.
The following day, it opened to the public, featuring twenty attractions.
The Special Sunday events, including the dedication, were televised nationwide and anchored by three of Walt Disney's friends from Hollywood: Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings, and of course, future president, Ronald Reagan. ABC broadcast the event live, though many guests tripped over the camera cables.
In Frontierland, a camera caught Bob Cummings kissing a dancer.
When Disney himself started to read the plaque for Tomorrowland, he got through it partially, when he suddenly stopped, after a technician off-camera said something to him... but after realizing he was still on the air, said, "I thought I got a signal"... and began the dedication from the beginning, rather than continuing it from the point he had previously stopped.
At one point, while in Fantasyland, Art Linkletter tried to give coverage to Bob Cummings, who was on the pirate ship. He wasn't ready, and tried to give the coverage back to Art Linkletter...who had lost his microphone. Cummings then did a "play-by-play" of Linkletter trying to find it in front of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
Traffic was delayed on the two-lane Harbor Boulevard in front of the park.
Celebrities who were scheduled to show up every two hours, showed up all at once.
The temperature was an unusually high at 101 degrees.
Because of a local plumbers' strike, Disney was given a choice of having working drinking fountains or running toilets. He chose the latter, leaving many drinking fountains dry.
Since Pepsi sponsored the park's opening, many guests believed the inoperable fountains were a cynical way to sell soda, while other vendors ran out of food.
The asphalt that had been poured that morning was soft enough to let ladies' high-heeled shoes sink into it.
A gas leak in Fantasyland resulted in Adventureland, Frontierland, and Fantasyland, closing for the afternoon.
But somehow....some way...over 650,000,000 people have since managed to endure that problematic start....
...a great deal of them who once were young kids and are now senior citizens, took their kids, and their kids have since taken their kids...
...some 58 years later, still wearing "Coon-Skinned Caps" and "Mickey Mouse" ears, while visiting "The Happiest Place on Earth" in fulfillment of Walt Disney's dream....
June 25, 1876...the Day "Audie" Marched into History
He was last in his graduating class, but he was also the youngest man to ever be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General at the age of 23...only 2 years after graduating...from West Point.
He was not only the poorest of students, but at one time was close to being expelled from that prestigious organization on three different occasions for excessive demerits resulting from pulling too many pranks on his fellow classmates...as well as going AWOL from a guard post.
He was conceited. He hated following orders. He was a gambler. He loved to drink, but when it came to bravery....he hadn't an equal.
...and that bravery, coupled with his leadership abilities at such a young age, so impressed his superior, General Ulysses S. Grant, that when Robert E, Lee surrendered his southern army at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, he was asked by General Grant to be present and witness the actual signing of the surrender.
...but history will not remember this young brash upstart for his Civil War conduct; it will instead remember him for yet another reason...
...his death...at young age of 36...
...on June 25, 1876...
...only 9 days from the celebration of our nation's 100th birthday celebration...137 years ago today!
He was the middle child amongst four brothers and a sister, and rather than being referred to by his real first name, George, for some reason his siblings, unable to pronounce his middle name "Armstrong", stumbled through its pronunciation and instead referred to him as "Audie".
He was anything but a "rich" kid, even paying for his own schooling and room and board carrying coal.
...and amazingly, despite his eventual poor scholastic record at West Point, actually taught school, before he was accepted into the United States Military Academy.
As previously stated, he was not the best of students, but fate would intervene on what could (or should) have been his expulsion from West Point....
...the firing on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.
Though he was to have been a graduate of the Class of 1862 at West Point and his record questioned if he would get to that point; in April, 1861, the United States was suddenly at war...with itself, as the nation divided between North & South.
The Union needed officers, and was forced to graduate a number of cadets earlier than they were scheduled as a result.
And..."Audie", would subsequently become a cavalry officer, commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd US Cavalry, and almost immediately was part of the first Battle of Bull Run, where he became an integral member of General Winfield Scott's command.
He later became a staff officer to Major General George B. McClelland, and was promoted to the rank of "temporary" Captain, as a result of an episode chasing Confederate General, Joseph Johnson, across a river which his commander questioned as to its safety in crossing.
"Audie" was fearless, and when he overheard his commander say, ""I wish I knew how deep it is." ....
...he, without a moment's thought... rode forward on his horse out into the middle of the river and turned to the astonished officers of the staff shouting triumphantly, "That's how deep it is, General!"
That act of heroism so impressed his commander, that he was allowed to lead an attack with four companies of the 4th Michigan infantry....the state from which he hailed.
From the battlefield, "Audie" would lead his men with these famous words that have since gone down in history...
"On You Wolverines"
...and would rally the troops to victory that day.
The successful encounter resulted in the capture of 50 Confederates and the seizing of the first Confederate battle flag of the war.
...and from that day forward, "Audie's" fame would forever be a part of his life.
...but it wasn't very smooth as the years marched on.
General McClelland was subsequently relieved of his command by President Lincoln, and "Audie", at the same time, reverted back to being a 1st Lieutenant.
As luck would have it, he was subsequently assigned to Major General Alfred Pleasonton, who was commanding a cavalry unit division.
General Pleasanton was a rather "flashy" dresser, and "Audie", impressed by the dapper General Pleasanton, and enjoying the fame he had received previously, came to the belief that ...
..." if you were for real", you had to "look the part".
And so, he too, would become famous for his fancy uniforms as the war proceeded.
At first, his men weren't impressed by this pompous look, but eventually, seeing him for the hero he was, they began to emulate him as a sign of respect, and a red neckerchief became the unofficial badge of honor to serve under Lt. "Audie".
As the Civil War proceeded, the battle of Gettysburg approached, and with the deepest respect for this brash and brave leader of men, General Pleasanton promoted "Audie" from Captain to Brigadier General. He was only 23 years old.
Though some looked at him as foolhardy and reckless, the inner genius of this man was anything but that characterization.
He was a master at planning military attacks, meticulously scouting every battlefield, gauging the enemy's weak points and strengths, and ascertaining the best line of offense.
... and after he was satisfied with his detailed analysis, he surprised each enemy and routed them on each engagement.
Success continued for this Brigadier General, and eventually, he, under the command of General Phillip Sheridan, completed his military service during the Civil War by blocking Robert E. Lee's retreat, and receiving the first flag of truce from the Confederate force.
While present at the surrender at Appomattox Court House, he received both the Lee white flag of surrender from General Grant; and the table upon which the surrender was signed, was presented to him as a gift for his wife by General Sheridan, that included a note praising his gallantry.
After the conflict, this great man of war tried desperately to became a man of peace.
He strongly supported moderation toward the defeated South, and joined President Andrew Johnson on a journey by train known as the "Swing Around the Circle" to build up public support for Johnson's policies that had been advocated by President Lincoln prior to his assassination.
As the years passed, it was obvious that this man would never be a civilian...that his calling involved the military...
...and in 1867, at the request of old friend, General Phillip Sheridan, was given the rank of Lt. Colonel, deployed to a small fort in Riley, Kansas, and given command of the new famous...
U.S. 7th Cavalry.
That element of "Audie's" life had some sad moments, one of which included a court marshal and suspension for one year, due to going AWOL....out of loneliness, he went to visit his beloved (and beautiful) wife, Libby.
...but "Audie" would rise from the ashes AGAIN, and in 1874 he led an expedition into South Dakota's Black Hills, announcing the discovery of gold...triggering a rush for gold in an area believed to be "sacred" by the Sioux and Cheyenne nations.
Miners died, and Americans had to be protected....and the chaos continued until it was determined that on April 6, 1876, he would lead an expedition against the warring tribes.
...but...on March 15th..."Audie" was suddenly summoned to appear before a congressional committee to provide information regarding the scandals that would later rock the Grant administration, the result of which was the indictment of Secretary of War, William Belknap, and.....President Grant's own brother, Orville.
After testifying, he was to have returned to Ft. Lincoln, but "Audie" being "Audie", instead traveled to Philadelphia and New York to consult with his "publishers" about a book he was authoring.
Orders never meant much to "Audie", unless of course he was the one giving them !
He finally got back to Washington on April 21st, but upon arrival, he was accused of perjury and disparagement of brother officers.
President Grant was so furious, that even he refused to allow "Audie" to return to his unit....
...but....along came an old friend, General Phillip Sheridan, who convinced the President, that American lives would be lost, unless this competent and proven leader was restored to his command.
Grant conceded, and "Audie" left Washington to rejoin his unit...but...this time, though Grant conceded to Sherman's request, he also made an attempt to ensure his "loose cannon" officer would be under the direct supervision of Brigadier General Alfred Terry.
...but that wasn't the manner in which "Audie" he could live...even if it was the President of United States giving the order.
The 7th Cavalry departed from Fort Lincoln on May 17, 1876, part of a larger army force planning to round up remaining free Indians.
Meanwhile, in the spring and summer of 1876, the Lakota holy man, Sitting Bull, had called together the largest ever gathering of Plains Indians at Ash Creek, Montana, and then again to a place called The Little Big Horn, to discuss what to do about the white invaders.
...and on June 25, 1876...they met.
A few hundred American soldiers...and between 1,800 and 3,000 Indian warriors.
...and on that fateful day...
...five of the 7th Cavalry's companies were annihilated; and "Audie", his two brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law, would be killed.
...The man called "Audie" by his brothers and sister...
...The man known to every American as....
GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER
...would be forever burned into the pages of American history.
...and the date of June 25, 1876...has been forever inscribed in history books known as...
Custer's Last Stand.
June 5, 1947....When America Saved Europe
How sad it is that over the years the United States has been criticized and attacked by numerous nations who believe we have harmed them in one way or another.
...but...in spite of how we may now be viewed, there was a day, 66 years ago, that without the American Spirit and it's commitment to bringing peace to the world, Europe would have failed....
...and would have incurred even more catastrophic destruction.... than had already been experienced after years of war against the Axis Powers during World War II.
A terrible war had ended with the German surrender on May 7, 1945, but instead of merely bringing our troops back to American shores, we saw that an even greater threat existed to Europe, which required help....
..THE REBUILDING OF A CONTINENT whose population suffered every conceivable loss imaginable.
We could not return their loved ones they had lost, but we could make an attempt to create a lifestyle that existed in that part of the world prior to German ambitions of conquest.
And that goal was achieved through a congressional act whose official name was The European Recovery Program.
History better remembers it as The Marshall Plan.
When war concluded, it became quite obvious that an ally, the U.S.S.R. had other ideas as to the future of Europe. Rather than returning it to its former prosperity, their dedication to the spread of communism, was their concept of how the world should evolve.
...and that concerned America.
While we would leave, the Soviet Union would stay; and in doing so, replaced numerous pre-war governments with Soviet "puppets".
The world was changing again...and nothing could better dramatize this than the words of Winston Churchill.
On March 5, 1946, the British Prime Minister spoke these prophetic words in Fulton, Missouri, that now live in history:
"It is my duty, however, to place before you certain facts about the present position in Europe. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow."
The United States realized it MUST ACT to save what it had spent the past four years preserving, and that required a strong financial commitment.
...and the great nation we are...answered that call...establishing The Marshall Plan on June 5, 1947.....authorizing massive economic support to help rebuild European economies in order to prevent the spread of Soviet Communism.
The plan was named for then Secretary of State, George Marshall...
... a man who had answered his nation's call during World War I
as a member of General John J. Pershing's staff...
... US Army Chief of Staff and military advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II (being instrumental in naming such distinguished individuals that included Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton, Mark Clark, and Omar Bradley)...
...and upon retirement from the Army served as Secretary of Defense in addition to the Secretary of State post.
Surprisingly, The Marshall Plan also included offering aid to the Soviet Union and its allies, but they chose not to accept it, fearing American control over communist controlled nations.
The plan became operational in 1948, and during the four years that it was in place, our great nation contributed $13 billion in economic and technical assistance to help the recovery of the European countries...
...a massive amount of money, which in today's dollars would amount to almost...
So, as we look at June 5th, let all Americans stand and salute themselves for their dedication to this world....on and off...any battle field.
A Man, A Machine...and a War
The cotton gin is a mechanical device that removes the seeds from cotton, a process that had previously been extremely labor intensive, that now cleaned 55 lbs of cotton in a single day, a wooden drum stuck with hooks that pulled the cotton fibers through a mesh, the seeds falling outside since they could not fit through the mesh.
...an invention inspired by observing a cat attempting to pull a chicken through a fence, and only getting the feathers !
George, Frank, Joe, Matt, & Al
As we approach Memorial Day, my thoughts were to write an article about those who, in my opinion, sacrificed far and above any others for our country...in order to honor them, and what they represent to all of us.
After deep thought, I believe I have found those distinguished honorees.
There were five of them, all brothers, from Waterloo, Iowa; along with two sisters, Jenny and Theresa. Add parents, Tom and Alletta, and they were the stereotype of the large Irish Catholic family...until World War II broke out in the Pacific.
Frank and George had previously been in the Navy and honorably discharged in May, 1941 after each serving for four years.
But then...we went to war on December 7, 1941, and they, along with their three other brothers, had to answer their nation's need once again..
...and to further stimulate that need, Jenny's boyfriend had been killed at Pearl Harbor.
The brothers saw no other alternative....
...and all five enlisted in the US Navy.
...But they made one stipulation before they enlisted.... they insisted on serving together...that's what brothers who love each other do !
All five were assigned to the USS Juneau, a light cruiser, that saw duty in the Pacific.
And less than a year after all five had enlisted, on November 13, 1942, shortly after leaving the Solomon Islands to join the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, a Japanese torpedo struck the ship, forcing it to return to the Solomons.
Sadly, another Japanese destroyer lie in wait after the first attack and torpedoed the ship again; this time the Juneau exploding in the Pacific waters.
It was subsequently reported that initially, approximately 100 sailors survived the attack; however, American planes were ordered not to break radio silence in reporting it; and sadly, the 100 remained in the water for eight days until they were finally rescued.
By that time, only 10 had survived the elements, hunger, thirst, and repeated shark attacks.
Not amongst that small group, were George, Frank, Joe, Matt, and Al.
All five were gone.
It was the morning of January 12, 1943, when their dad, Thomas, getting ready for work, was greeted at his front door by three men in uniform. Thomas knew the news would not be good; he had heard of other fathers being greeted in the same manner....
...and after they told him they had news about his sons, his first words in response, were...."Which One ???"
...and after they told him they had news about his sons, his first words in response, were...."Which One ???"
And perhaps the saddest words that a parent could ever hear came forth.
"Sorry, all five"
All five...every son...gone.
Can there ever have been a more "supreme sacrifice" than losing all five of your sons...at the same time ?
I can't think of one.
Of course, this family from Iowa were the Sullivans...The Fighting Sullivans.
If the story stopped there, it would have been more than complete, but each story has an epilogue, this not being an exception.
Thomas and Alletta Sullivan toured the country throughout the war promoting war bonds.
Jenny, the daughter, served in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service).
The War Department adopted the "Sole Survivor Policy" in order that no family could lose every member at the same time.
The US Navy, in dedication, named two subsequent destroyers. "The Sullivans", the first American warships to be named for more than one person.
In 1944, their story was told by Hollywood in "The Fighting Sullivans", a movie, if you've never seen, will tug at your heart strings as the boys grow up in a loving home, eventually leaving for naval duty....and the news of their death. The closing scene as Thomas goes to work looking at a tower, visualizing the boys waving at him as they did in their childhood, will make even the strongest, shed a tear.
Al Sullivan's son, James, the only Sullivan brother to have had a son, subsequently served on the first "USS Sullivans" that was christened by his grandmother, Al's mother.
...and the second "USS Sullivans" was christened by Al's granddaughter, Kelly Ann Sullivan.
And, finally, in 2008, the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum was established.
And so...I ask all of you to join me on this Memorial Day, in looking back at a family whose dedication to our nation, has never been equaled.
And so...I ask all of you to join me on this Memorial Day, in looking back at a family whose dedication to our nation, has never been equaled.
They were....The Sullivan brothers...The Fighting Sullivans.
A Man, A Machine...and a War
He lived only 59 years, but what he invented and patented on March 14, 1794, some 219 years ago, changed the American economic system, and to some historians, was the primary cause of the Civil War.
Born the son of a wealthy farmer in Westborough, Massachusetts in 1765, he lost his mother at the age of eleven when his father remarried; and unlike his real mother, his stepmother strongly opposed his obtaining a college education.
As a result, he worked for his dad in a nail manufacturing workshop as its main operator at the age of 14, in addition to being a farm laborer and school teacher, to save money to achieve his educational dream.
Refusing to accept his stepmothers advice to avoid college, this young man perhaps was the inspiration for the saying, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste"...
... and as such, he saved his earnings religiously year after year, until eventually, at the age of 24, in 1789 was admitted to Yale University, where he eventually graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1792.
His original intent upon graduation was to study law, but again, finances entered the equation, and instead, accepted an offer to become a private tutor in South Carolina.
...but before he got there, he decided to visit Georgia.
In the early 18th century, Georgia was "the land of milk & honey" for many New Englanders, and he had to satisfy his curiosity and drive for "a piece of the action".
It's often been said, "timing is everything" and during his sailing to South Carolina, he met the widow of Revolutionary War hero, General Nathaniel Greene.
Enchanted by this young man, and intrigued by an idea he shared with her, she invited him to visit her Georgia plantation to meet her fiance, Phineas Miller, another New England migrant...who also was currently attending Yale at the time, eventually graduating in 1795.
The two men hit it off, and soon they were partners, developing the idea he had originally shared on the ship with Mrs. Greene.
It was simple, but it was effective, and the original intent was not to sell it; but instead, assess farmers a fee to USE their machine, charging two-fifths of the value, paid for, not in cash, but in the material the farmers brought them for processing.
And...on March 14, 1794, this young man decided to obtain a patent for this contraption he called, THE COTTON GIN !
And this man's name of course, was ELI WHITNEY.
The cotton gin is a mechanical device that removes the seeds from cotton, a process that had previously been extremely labor intensive, that now cleaned 55 lbs of cotton in a single day, a wooden drum stuck with hooks that pulled the cotton fibers through a mesh, the seeds falling outside since they could not fit through the mesh.
Both Whitney & Miller believed they had accomplished the impossible, what today, we call "wholesaling" by using others materials, running it through a patented machine, then reselling two fifths of what was processed...to others !
The farmers on the other hand, believed Eli & Phineas wanted a bit too much of the pie...
And...like all good things that seem to be true...it was !
Resentment from others and the simplicity of the device, made it fairly easy to duplicate, and this taking place during an era of early patent law, infringement became inevitable...and costly.
Their response..."let's build them, and sell them to the farmers."
Unfortunately, that too, didn't work out very well.
They received so many orders, they couldn't fill them, and the result...
They received so many orders, they couldn't fill them, and the result...
...the company went out of business in 1797.
But the significance of this article is not just the invention of the cotton gin, but the affect it had on our country.
Many people are not aware that prior to its invention, SLAVERY was on the decline in the American colonies; that many slave owners had actually given away their slaves, due to the market for rice, tobacco, indigo, and cotton becoming unprofitable.
Slaves no longer represented cheap labor; but instead, added to the cost of producing an unprofitable crop.
The cotton gin changed all of that; and as a result, slave labor became paramount in harvesting it, and eventually the Southern Colonies became dependent on it for economic survival, becoming their chief source of wealth.
The American colonies exported 500,000 pounds of cotton in 1793, and by 1810, its exports exceeded 93 million pounds. It became the U.S's chief export representing over one half the value of U.S. exports from 1820 to 1860.
Cotton ws indeed, KING of the southern economy, an economy so heavily dependent on slave labor, that without the means to harvest it, would spell ruin for them.
...and when ruin faces any civilization...they...in defiance and self-preservation...REBEL.
And so, from 1861 to 1865, our land became embroiled in controversy that cost an estimated 620,000 lives, as a result of....PROGRESS.
...progress fueled by a simple invention by a man named Eli Whitney, patented this
day, March 14th, in 1794.
March 3, 1931...The Day It Became Official
It was a tune like any other one, and to many at the time, it was an eighteenth century version of "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall".
Way back when...some time in the mid-1760s, a man named John Stafford Smith, a teenager at the time, from jolly old England, was a member of a popular "Gentleman's Club" called the Anacreontic Society, whose supposed intention was "officially" founded to promote an interest in music...
...when in reality, it was an excuse to enjoy a bit of "wine, women & song" as
a guys night on the town...kind of like a 21st century version of "Crazy Horse Two".
They made every effort to "legitimize" the club in British society, even hiring noted composer Joseph Haydn as a special guest as one of their performers at a concert in 1791...
...but "society" really knew what the club was all about, and so it survived for years amongst the partygoers of the time.
Pub songs were quite popular, and in an attempt to be accepted in the Anacreontic Society, this young teenager John Stafford Smith, put pen to hand, and composed a tune he called "The Anacreontic Song" which became better known as "Anacreon in Heaven".
Well now, the piano played it, the guys drank to it, and then, the president of the Anacreontic Society, a man named Ralph Tomlinson, decided to write lyrics for it.
...finally getting it published 1778.
...and the band...and the boys...played on !
As things would have it, the tune became popular, and like a good song that makes today's Top 40 chart, it made its way "across the pond" to a recently new country at the time called The United States of America, where they too, had some fun with it.
The problem with the tune however, was the difficulty in singing it due to having a range of one and a half octaves, but when you've "had a few", it didn't matter !
And if you'd like to sing along, here is that bar song !
Hmmm...the melody sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it ?
The song lasted well in the early 1800s when a young 35 year old attorney named Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy during the War of 1812, was so awestruck at what he had seen, wrote a poem called "Defence of Fort McHenry" in 1814.
Francis Scott Key
Defence of Ft. McHenry
American society, so taken by the patriotic words of this poem, eventually set his poem to music....music from the John Stafford Smith tune,"The Anacreontic Song"...
...and renamed it....
The Star Spangled Banner.
In 1889, the US Navy adopted it as their "official" song, and by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916...
...but on March 3, 1931, 82 years ago, President Herbert Hoover signed into law a congressional resolution, making it the Official National Anthem of the United States of America.
So, in the spirit of John Stafford Smith, Francis Scott Key, and the Congress and President of the United States....
Let's stand up, raise a glass...
And sing along....
...and say "Happy Birthday" to the National Anthem of our country.
February 20, 1962....."God Speed, John Glenn"
On July 18th, he'll be 92 years old, but on February 20, 1962, at the age of 41, he thrilled America by becoming the first American to orbit the earth.
On a journey that lasted less than five hours, we watched, waited, hoped, and prayed, as John Glenn began those few moments in time that will remain in the hearts of all Americans for eternity.
The United States had been in a cold war...and the space race had become more than a rocket into outer space...
...It took on the meaning of SUPERIORITY.....who was the dominant force in the world !
The Soviet Union had managed to claim "space" superiority with the launch of the first satellite into space, Sputnik, on October 4, 1957, a tiny, shiny metal sphere less than two feet in diameter, with four external radio antennae to broadcast radio pulses.
In 1959, the Soviet space program took another step forward with the launch of Luna 2, the first space probe to hit the moon.
While what America experienced over and over again....was failure after failure.
...and then....a Russian cosmonaut named Yuri Gagarin, became the first man to orbit the earth on April 12, 1961.
We were being defeated and embarrassed...and the public knew it.
Two weeks later on May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard, became the first American astronaut to enter space, but nonetheless....we were SECOND to the Russians.
...and that...was UNACCEPTABLE.
On May 25, 1961, a young new President, John Kennedy, addressed the Congress of the United States....
Following that speech, Congress appropriated the funds, and the United States began a determined quest to be the world leader in space exploration.
And with that commitment, came the morning of February 20, 1962, when John Glenn made history as he entered a small capsule named "Friendship 7" that would be launched into space on a Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, carrying him into American history...
along with these famous words:
...and with those words, the journey began....
In many minds, the true commitment to the Space Program began with the flight of this man, who later would become a distinguished Senator from Ohio from 1974 to 1999.
Was this the conclusion of John Glenn's space adventures?
On October 29, 1998...he made history once again.
At the age of 77, he became the oldest person to ever travel into space, when he boarded the space shuttle "Discovery".
What a fascinating life for a man who dropped out of college to enlist as a Naval aviation cadet after Pearl Harbor, making his first solo flight in 1943, being reassigned to the US Marine Corps, flying 59 combat missions in the South Pacific, as well as, serving during the Korean War, adding an additional 27 combat missions...
...and whose expertise, lead him to become a test pilot, with eventually being chosen as one of the "elite" to become a member of our first astronaut program.
Thank you, John Glenn, for being an example to all Americans, and in addition to the immortal words, "God Speed" as you bravely entered that small space capsule on that February day, on behalf of all Americans, we also say....
Three Magical Days in February 1964
Yeah....or should I say, "Yeah, Yeah Yeah...Yeah".
Three days when the United States news was dominated by four young men.
It was a time when our country needed SOMETHING to lift our spirits.
It had been just two and half months since we had lost an American president to an assassin's bullet, and somehow the thoughts of "John-John" saluting his dad as the casket passed, were still fresh in our minds.
Thanksgiving was somber in 1963, and Christmas just didn't seem as joyous as it should have been that year; and as 1964 commenced, the innocence of our youth began to take on an entirely different attitude.
We just weren't a very "happy" country for that first month of 1964.
For me...it was the middle of my senior year in high school, and the thoughts of the "hi club-dances" and who was going to be my girlfriend "that week" were beginning to turn to more serious issues, namely, where was I going to go to college...
...and when, as per my dad, the words, "What Are You Going To Do When You Grow Up"? started to take on a new meaning.
But...in the midst of all that seriousness, we did have one last burst of youth....
...from February 7th to February 9th, 1964 !
We were "invaded" !!!
According to history, a few months prior to those three days, a song called "I Want to Hold Your Hand" somehow got into the hands of various US radio stations without formally being introduced for sale to the public.
And it swept the nation...becoming an instant hit...so much so, that America couldn't get enough of them, and the DJ's began playing the flip side of the record.
Can you remember the flip side (or what used to be called the "B" side) of that 45?
Capitol Records tried in vain to stop it from being prematurely released in the United States, and on December 26, 1963, finally gave up, and dropped formal legal action.
Within the first THREE DAYS, 250,000 copies had been sold, and by January 10, 1964, it had sold it's ONE MILLIONth copy.
Not bad for four young guys from a poor section of England, the city of Liverpool, who had been struggling since 1960 playing in small clubs throughout Europe.
After perfecting their act over the next few years, their music began to dominate the British charts, and an album called "Please Please Me" became so popular, that a new word appeared in the local press...
...and when a man named Ed Sullivan, while he and his wife were visiting London in late, 1963, saw a bunch of youngsters at Heathrow Airport, screaming at the top of their lungs as this group arrived from a tour in Sweden....he began asking questions as to what the commotion was all about !
And so...with Ed Sullivan and Beatle's manager, Brian Epstein, with the help of the sale of a million copies of "I Want to Hold Your Hand"and a total paycheck for the entire group of merely $10,000.....
...they came...or as the press would eventually deem it...
...the British Invasion !
And they arrived in New York on February 7, 1964 to....mayhem....
They held a press conference, and the personalities of these four young men ...with LONG HAIR....brought back a smile to our country we hadn't seen in months.
We seemed HAPPY again as we watched TV that night, and eagerly awaited the BIG NIGHT....
February 9, 1964 !!!!
Even my folks sat in front of that rabbit-eared television set that Sunday evening; confused, yet watching something that they too had once experienced a number of years prior to that night, watching two others, Elvis Presley, and Frank Sinatra.
I can remember their smiles, the shaking of their heads, and...the "here we go again" looks on their faces....looks that took a short time later for my dad to grow his hair a bit longer while the sideburns grew a bit lower !
What a time !
Three Days in February....1964....when America began what is now a 49 year love affair with the " Fab Four".
The Day Rock 'n Roll Cried
February 3, 1959, fifty-four years ago, three men, on a rock 'n roll tour, entered the history books while on a musical a tour referred to as the
Winter Dance Party.
They were to cover 24 mid-western cities in a three week period, and they were concerned about the Midwest winter weather, driving on icy treacherous roads.
It had been a good tour, but one filled with sickness. The flu bug had "bitten" members of their bands, and the drummer even had contracted a case of frostbite.
...and the roads between Iowa and their next concert in Moorhead, Minnesota were a concern.
Charles, the leader of the band, had recently married a lady named Maria Elena; and soon after, learned that they would be expecting their first child.
...and life was beginning to be a huge success for Charles as he was launching a new career after parting with his original band members.
New members of the band included Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup and Carl Bunch.
This tour was going to be a huge success, and money was a bit more plentiful as a result; and with that, the lead singer decided to charter a small Cessna 180 to fly them to Moorhead, Minnesota for their next concert.
Four of them were scheduled to take that flight; Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup, a young upstart named Dion DiMucci, and Charles.
...but as the flight time approached, various problems began amongst the four, as a result, three of them were left behind, while the fourth, Dion DiMucci, decided he couldn't afford the $36 for his share of the flight.
One of the other performers who was battling the flu managed to convince
Waylon Jennings to give up his seat; and as a result of a coin toss, Tommy Allsup lost his as well.
And so...the remaining three left Clear Lake, Iowa for what amounted to less than a 6 mile journey that ended in their being enshrined in the history of rock 'n roll.
...and from that day, February 3rd, it has forever been referred to as
"the day the music died."
Of course, Charles was better known as Buddy Holly; Waylon Jennings gave up his seat to J.P. Richardson, and Tommy Allsup lost the coin toss to a young kid named Ritchie Valens.
So let's take a moment to remember these 'legends".
A day has never passed in the last 54 years without somewhere in the world that their music is still heard by those who were there to remember it, and those who are hearing it for the first time.
J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper)
Buddy, Ritchie & The Bopper live !
It all started with James W. Marshall---165 Years Ago
There he was, minding his own business, on January 24, 1848, when, while working as a foreman at a lumber mill owned by a man named John A Sutter, owner of a business at a place called Sutter's Mill, he looked down, and noticed something that was shiny, "could be beaten into a different shape, but not broken".
And of course, what was it?
...AND like all good news...the word spread.
On on this day 165 years ago, the California Gold Rush began.
The result... like the Michael Douglas saying in the movie "Wall Street" stressed....it brought thousands to California with an 1848 version of...
Greed is Good !
All told, between the years 1848-1855, it is estimated that it brought approximately 300,000 people to California from across the entire world, over 90,000 in 1849 alone.
It "rushed" progress so rapidly, that the city of San Francisco grew from a population of 200 in 1848, to 36,000 by 1852, to over 150,000 by 1870.
These so-called migrants from across the globe, "49ers" as they were called, caused a chain of historical events unmatched in American history.
Merely nine days after Marshall discovered the gold, the United States, on February 2, 1848, signed the "Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo" ending the Mexican-American War; and part of the terms of the treaty included ceding the "Alta California" Territory to the United States.
It had still belonged to Mexico when the gold was discovered !
Would the Mexican government have requested "more favorable terms" if they had known " there was gold in them thar hills"?
Timing is everything, isn't it?
It took less than a year following the discovery of gold, when, in 1849 a state constitution was held; and a year later, on September 9, 1850, California was admitted as our nation's 31st state.
These "49er" pioneers didn't exactly have an easy time getting to California either.
There were only three choices available to them.
They could travel across the western plains through the Rocky Mountains by wagon train; they could sail 18,000 nautical miles around the tip of South America up to California from the east coast, or they could sail to some place called the Isthmus of Panama, get off the boat, and take canoes and mules for a week "venture" through the jungles of Central America, followed by another voyage up to California after waiting for a ship to arrive once they got to the Pacific side.
Those who chose the first route often encountered bands of hostile Native Americans; the second; the fear of shipwreck; and the third, deadly typhoid fever and cholera.
Not exactly great ways of travel !
And we had those from other nations who made the journey as well, notably the Chinese.
Several hundred arrived in 1850; and by 1852, more than 20,000 Chinese immigrants with their distinctive clothing and appearance, were panning for gold...and years later, many of these same individuals would be highly responsible for their work ethic in the construction of the Continental Railroad bringing rail travel from the east coast to the west.
There were many women as well, which included single entrepreneurs, married women, both poor and wealthy, and yes....perhaps some of the wealthiest... the prostitutes !
In the beginning is was all just "theirs for the taking", but as time passed, that too, changed.
What started as a "free for all"...there was no such thing as private property, taxes, or licensing fees; the early miners adopted a Mexican system of ownership referred to as "staking a claim", a system that was supposedly "legal" as long as the "claim was being worked".
Needless to say, that wording was a matter of interpretation, and man in his greedy ways, then began "claim jumping" to garner personal wealth.
But...without a doubt, the worst abuse came to those who seem to have been lost through the pages of history.....
... those dependent on the land, soon faced starvation, as gravel, silt, and toxic materials from mining operations killed fish and agriculture and poisoned streams killing wildlife. These same people faced the "white man" diseases of smallpox, influenza, and measles, losing as much as up to 80% of their population from smallpox alone.
The "Act for the Government and Protection of Indians" passed on April 22, 1850 by the California legislature actually allowed settlers to CONTINUE the practice of capturing and using Native American labor, as bonded workers. Many, especially women and children, were SOLD; the remaining men murdered in genocidal attacks.
According to the state of California OFFICIAL RECORDS, 4,500 Native Americans were victims of violent deaths between 1849 and 1870.
It is estimated that Native Americans totaled 150,000 in 1845, and dropped to less than 30,000 by 1870.
Racism continued toward other ethnic groups as well, specifically against those not originally from North America....especially against Chinese and Latin American immigrants.
So much so....that one out of twelve of these immigrant "49ers" perished due to the high crime rates against them.
But who made the money?
Not so much the miners who panned for the gold...
...but the merchant, the most wealthy of which was a man named Samuel Brannan, a tireless promoter, shopkeeper, and newspaper publisher, who sold supplies to the men who did the actual mining.
And a name with whom all of us are familiar....
Levi Strauss...seller of a strong denim overall; that, to this very day, we all casually refer to as "levi's".
Only about half of the miners ever made much of a profit, and after expenses were deducted, most of them who arrived late in the "Gold Rush" often lost money...their entire life savings.
But what about the original players, James W. Marshall AND John A. Sutter ?
Sadly, like so many who are the "originals", they didn't fare very well.
Marshall, after discovering the gold, turned out, in my opinion, to be the original reason for the saying years later made famous by baseball great, Leo Durocher.
"Nice Guys Finish Last"
After sharing the news with his crew at the mill, the mill employees quickly decided that they too, would seek out the wealth discovered by Marshall; and as a result, they left the mill in search of their own fortunes, panning for gold.
Marshall, sadly, was more concerned about running Sutter's Mill.
After all he was the foreman. So, being the good foreman he was, decided to take John Sutter and the gold samples he had found to be analyzed, only to learn that what had been discovered was not just gold, but 96% pure gold.
Within four days most of the able bodied men were GONE...
And..Sutter's Mill failed.
He tried business after business, but eventually died penniless in a small cabin.
John Sutter also had quite a life.
Though some considered him an enterprising figure in Mexican California, there were those who also considered him a liar, cheat, smuggler, slaver, and alcoholic.
After a hasty departure from his native Switzerland to avoid trial and certain jail time for bad debts in 1834, he abandoned his wife and children, he traveled with a French passport through various countries until in 1839, he reached San Francisco.
Being what we would call today, "a great BSer" he first, became a Mexican citizen, and began identifying himself as "Captain Sutter of the Swiss Guard"; and in doing so, convinced the Mexican governor to grant him 48,427 acres of land in 1840.
When the Mexican-American War ended...
....again...after days of discovering gold at his mill...
...the miners began to pour into American California, and eventually, he lost his mine.
After 15 years of petitioning the US Congress to allow him certain California land grants originally given to him by the Mexican government, all he would ever receive was a pension of $250 p/month for past taxes paid on his once owned California properties.
Though Sutter never did make his fortune; his son, John Sutter Jr. did accomplish something that has lasted to this day....
...Sutter Jr. founded the city of Sacramento.
The California Gold Rush left other indelible marks on our modern world as well...particularly in the State of California.
The state motto is "The Golden State".
On the California state seal, the word, "Eureka" is taken from the language used by the 49ers.
California highways, have a distinguished shape....they are fashioned in the manner of a "miners's spade shovel".
And of course, the NFL has the San Francisco "49ers".
And all of it began on January 24, 1848....165 years ago !
Boys with Bikes
What a Way to End a Year !
The year was 1903, and according to the history books, it was a fairly eventful year.
The year was 1903, and according to the history books, it was a fairly eventful year.
Ford Motor Company sold its first Model A...
The Boston Pilgrims beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5 games to 3 in the first World Series...
Teddy Roosevelt was President...a "fiery" character, who started the year by closing a post office in Mississippi because it refused to accept its first black postmaster (a woman), in addition to engineering a Central American revolution after Columbia refused to negotiate a deal for the Panama Canal, backing successful Panamanian revolutionists, and even establishing a military base in Cuba called Guantanamo.
Madame Curie shared the first Nobel Peace Prize...
And in the entertainment world, the Edison Company released its first western called "The Great Train Robbery", while an opera singer named Enrico Caruso opened at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, an author named Jack London published a novel entitled "The Call of the Wild," but the year ended with a tragic fire in Chicago where 605 people lost their lives at the Iroquois Theater while vaudeville actor, Eddie Foy, the headliner, desperately tried in vain to save the many who filled the audience.
Some interesting people were born that year as well, which included Bob Hope, Dr, Benjamin Spock, Baseball great Lou Gehrig, and "1984" author, George Orwell.
But when you add it all up....
There was one event that in my opinion, topped all the others.
And it happened at 10:35am in a chilly North Carolina town, called Kitty Hawk, where two brothers changed the history of the world.
The "bike" guys named Orville & Wilbur Wright, made history that morning when each brother made two solo flights in their flying machine from ground level into a freezing headwind gusting to 27 miles per hour.
Orville was a high school drop-out, and Wilbur never attended a single day of college.
Wilbur's father often criticized him for his "lack of ambition."
The brothers always appeared to be close, and began their business careers in the newspaper business after Orville designed and built a printing press with Wilbur's assistance; and what began as a weekly publication, quickly developed into a daily edition.
Unfortunately, after only 4 months, it failed; but the knowledge of the printing business allowed them a successful career in commercial printing endeavors.
As the "gay 90's" marched on, they capitalized on a bicycle craze that was sweeping the nation; and once again, joined forces, establishing the "Wright Cycle Company."
Their success even lead to manufacturing their own brand in 1896.
Their success even lead to manufacturing their own brand in 1896.
But the Wrights had other ambitions and used the profits to fund what they really passioned, FLIGHT.
And so, they entered a competitive world where others had entered primarily with gliders, often succumbing in their efforts.
But there was one element that made the Wrights a bit different from the others....
Wilbur, on the basis of observation, noticed that birds changed the angle of the end of their wings to make their bodies roll to the right and to the left....and thought that a flying machine should encompass the same mechanics...by banking or leaning into a turn...similar to riding a BICYCLE.
This also corrected another major problem.....the wind, enabling recovery when the wind would tilt the flying machine in a certain direction, thus enabling the operator to balance the craft.
But how to accomplish this?
Leave it up to Wilbur. One day, he twisted a long inner-tub box at the bicycle shop, and without realizing it, discovered something we refer to today as "wing-warping," subsequently patented by the Wright Brothers, consisting of pulleys and cables to twist the trailing edges of the wings in opposite directions.
And so, it was time to test it out.
Orville was first up, and traveled all of 120 feet in 12 seconds at a speed of 6.8 miles per hour, and was subsequently immortalized in this photo.
Orville was first up, and traveled all of 120 feet in 12 seconds at a speed of 6.8 miles per hour, and was subsequently immortalized in this photo.
Wilbur and Orville totaled 4 flights that day, and got as far as 200 feet, traveling about 10 feet above the ground.
And so the age of FLIGHT was born, 102 years ago today, on...
December 17, 1903.
The Hannukah lights were burning and the Christmas season had just begun. A depression was lingering and a president had almost completed the first year of his third term.
Europe had been at war since 1939 and the Japanese were setting its sights on Asian domination.
The United States watched and hoped that it would not have to be part of these affairs....and then it happened.
December 7, 1941
At approximately 6:05 am on that morning, six Japanese carriers launched a first wave of 183 aircraft in search of the American Pacific Naval fleet, which was "securely" located at Pearl Harbor in the city of Honolulu in the Hawaiian Islands.
...and at 7:51 am, they reached their destination; the chaos began. and 39 minutes later, a second wave of 130 Japanese "torpedo" bombers arrived to complete their mission.
Tora Tora Tora which actually means "tiger tiger tiger" was the Japanese code for the attack.
Did the American fleet feel they were safe in that location?
Yes, they did.
At that time "torpedo" bombings were believed to be effective at depths of 75 feet or more, and the depth of Pearl Harbor waters is merely 40 feet.
Unfortunately, that assumption was in error, as on that day the overall death toll reached 2,402 of which 1,177 were military personnel aboard the ill-fated Battleship Arizona. In addition, 1,282 others were wounded which included 68 civilians among the casualties.
The Arizona was one of eight US battleships located there, and following the attack, five were sunk (The Arizona. The Oklahoma, The California, The West Virginia. and The Utah), the remaining three were severely damaged.
In total the United States had nine ships sunk, twenty-one were heavily damaged, and three of them were irreparable.
War had commenced, and in the prophetic words of the Japanese Commander in Chief, Admiral Yamamoto, regarding the attacks, it did indeed...
"awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
The following day, President Roosevelt addressed the Congress in what has become one of the most famous speeches in our history.
It all began on December 7, 1941, when an American generation...
...the greatest generation...
...would leave the comfort of their homes, and 131,000 of them would never return to their families...
The Punch Bowl in Honolulu
...in order that we, today, may have what they so nobly fought to preserve...
To the brave souls who lost their lives on that day...
We honor you, we salute you....and we will never forget you.
God bless this Great Land we call our home.
WHY TURKEY on THANKSGIVING ???
This Thursday, our nation will be sitting down with family to celebrate the American tradition of Thanksgiving.
We've all seen the portraits of the Pilgrims and the Indians coming together one day to celebrate a joint feast, but there is one question that few can answer.
Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving?
Actually, it's rather "basic, Watson," as Sherlock Holmes would often say.
It was cheap !
It goes back to the late 19th century. You see, going to a butcher to get a beef brisket wasn't readily available and people looked at cows as being more valuable alive than dead. Bessie could graze and provide milk for the family every day, but be steak only once.
So, how about chicken? Way back when, they felt the same about the chicken as they did the cow. A live chicken can lay an egg, but a dead one, well, can't ! Besides roosters weren't too tasty and their purpose was to strut the barnyard, looking for objects of their affection...to make more chickens.
Geese were considered, but they were more expensive than chicken to raise, and if you looked closely, not much available for "leftovers."
Venison was considered as a option, but not many people were into hunting for their dinners in Manhattan or in downtown Chicago.
Then here is pork or ham, "the other white meat." Years ago pork wasn't considered fit for human consumption, and besides, the Jewish population wasn't too cool on choosing that option either.
So...one fine day, this big fat bird that can't fly came "a walkin" past one of those farmer's homes. There he was; no one had to feed it, and it was easy to kill because it made a big target for those rifles.
These creatures would spend about seven months eating insects and worms on the farm to keep themselves alive, and yet would grow upwards of 10 pounds or more.
So...by simple deduction, this became the choice of the American dinner table for the Thanksgiving holiday.
In 1863, while pondering the fate of the Union, President Lincoln, needing something to raise the spirit of the country during the Civil War. looked out the window of the White House one afternoon, and saw this bird walk by his door, strutting its feathers for all to see.
He recalled the early history of the Republic when Benjamin Franklin first suggested that the TURKEY be the national bird, was joyful that another bird was chosen for the honor, and so, because he could never remember having a crave for an eagle sandwich, he came to the conclusion that Benjamin Franklin's original suggestion would better serve the nation in it's stomach, rather than on the back of a coin.
And so (with the help of some imagination), that is why we eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day.
Happiest of holidays to all of you.