Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Birhday Baby........

Today's birthday of note:

One of North Carolina's FINEST contributions to the civilized world, Ms. Ava Garner was born on this date in 1922. Another classy lady with a core of steel.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Paint It Black.............

Now THIS is an eclectic historical date to observe.

On this day in 1888 the artist Vincent van Gogh while suffering the effects of some type of mental illness, took a straight razor and cut off a part of his left ear lobe. He then wrapped it in a piece of newspaper and gave it to a prostitute named Rachel with the warning, "Keep this object carefully"

Even today, no one is sure what type of mental illness van Gogh suffered from. There have been over thirty theories as to what was the cause, running from lead poisoning to bi-polar disease. The only thing for sure is that out of his "madness" van Gogh created some of the most visually stunning pieces of artwork ever created.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Out Damn Standing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I normally don't have a lot of use for Hollywood types, most seem to be self-centered narcissistic dweebs. There are a few exceptions such as Gary Sinise and others but not a heck of a lot of them. That's why it delights me to discover another actor that does and believes in the right thing. David Spade is a stand up guy.

Mr. Spade this morning walked into the Phoenix AZ. Police Department and gave them a check for $100000.00 to buy semi-automatic rifles. He had heard that the officers in the Phoenix P.D. were running into more and more perps who were armed with long guns and were feeling more than just a bit under gunned. The Officers were requesting for permission to get rifles to carry in their patrol cars even if the officers had to come out of their own pocket to pay for the weapons. He did this without any fanfare or a heck of a lot of press coverage.

This isn't the first time that Mr. Spade stood up and did the right thing. In the past year he gave $25000.00 to the family of a Phoenix Officer killed in the line of duty.

Well done Mr. Spade!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hoorah For The Bonnie Blue Flag That Bears A Single Star...

I am currently in the middle of my traditional Christmas cookathon but thought that I would stop to observe two significant historical events that happened on this date.

In 1803 the Federal Government did something RIGHT for once with taxpayer money. Paying around $20.00 a square acre to Napoleon Bonaparte for 1 MILLION square miles of territory. The Louisiana Purchase gave the young United States the Mississippi River as well as a path to the Spanish West. The beginnings of Manifest Destiny started on this date.

In 1860, the sovereign state of South Carolina believing what was written in the Declaration of Independence, declared that the "ties that bound them together" with the Federal government were severed. By this act of secession, events were started that plunged this nation into a four year long Civil War, the effects of which are to a degree are still felt today.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Couldn't Make This Stuff Up.......

On this date in 1996 the school board in Oakland, California after much deliberation, designated "Ebonics" as a language.

I just wonder if they provide interpreters to help the students who have difficulty communicating?

Know Ye Jehovah, Our God Is.......

On this date in 1620 102 "pilgrims" on the ship Mayflower landed at what is now modern day Plymouth, Mass.

If you have never been to the recreated Plimouth Plantation I recommend it highly. It is one of the premiere living history sites in the U.S. They use the "first person" method of interpretation and when you speak to anyone in the recreated village you will be talking to someone from the 1620s.

I was up there on opening day a few years back. In was in March and the weather was damp, overcast and windy. I remember stopping at the entrance to the settlement and looking at the the gray sky and gray ocean with the wind cutting through me like a knife, and thought "Man it would have been tough living here" I could put myself in the place of one of those settlers and imagine what they thought about being so far away from their former comfortable lives and homes. With no guarantees of being able return to England or even survive if things went south. To risk everything, to leave everything they knew, just to make a new home in the wilderness. If it had been me, I KNOW I would have thought,"Damn, I screwed up coming here"

I suspect that the STRONG religious beliefs that the Pilgrims had, was a major part of what kept the colony alive and growing. While I am not a particularly religious person, I have to admire a person who has that kind of faith. It is said that faith can move mountains. In this case, I think faith helped to build a settlement that helped to build a nation.

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself.........

Today's birthday of note:

Mr. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

Great guitar player, but a careful study of 'ol Keith will either make you believe in life after death, or that the term "Better living through chemistry" just didn't work out in his case too well. -grin-

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'll Fly Away........

Not one but two historic things of note for today. Both of which may interest Ms. Brigid over at the Home on the Range blog.

The first, 105 years ago Orville and Wilbur Wright after considerable time and effort managed to get the first self powered, heavier than air machine, off the ground at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The first flight lasted only 12 seconds at an altitude of 10 feet and only covered 120 feet, but no one ever looked back after that.

The second, in 1969 The U.S. Air Force ended Project Blue Book. This was the program of investigating reported sightings of U.F.O.s

Coincidence? I wonder..........-grin-

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


On this date in 1944, the German army having been pushed across most of Europe by victorious allied armies almost to the borders of Germany, showed that you should never underestimate a enemy.

The Germans unleashed a vicious counter attack which they code named "Watch on the Rhine" The Allies called it the Ardennes battle, but most commonly it was called The Battle of the Bulge. This battle officially lasted from December 16th 1944 until January 25th 1945. It was the bloodiest battle that the American Army engaged in during World War II The battle cost the American Army 84,323 casualties, 19,276 K.I.A., 41,493 W.I.A., 23,554 captured or missing.

It is said that in the entire war, American tenacity and fighting spirit never shown as brightly as it did in the snow covered forest of the Ardennes.

One of my favorite stories that came out this battle came from a retreating tank commander who was coming back from a fight with a German armored column. He was out of ammunition and almost out of fuel and was looking for the American forces. He spotted a American G.I. digging a foxhole beside the road. The G.I., who according to the Tank Commander looked like he belonged in a Willie and Joe cartoon, looked up and asked the Tank Commander if he was looking for a safe place. When the Tank Commander said "Hell yeah" The G.I. spit and motioned behind the foxhole and said "Well, pull up behind me. I'm the 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as the bastards are going!"

POSTSCRIPT: A friend of mine stationed down at Ft. Bragg with the modern 82nd dropped me a short e mail and gave me some further details about the above post. The paratrooper mentioned above was a P.F.C. Martin of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment. Both the 82nd and 101st Airborne regiments were used by the allied commanders as living "speed bumps" to slow down the German advance until other heavier forces could be marshaled and thrown into the battle. Both divisions proved faithful to the trust placed in them.

Whole Lotta Shaking Going On.........

On this date in 1811 near New Madrid Mo. a earthquake measuring 8.0 or greater on the Richter scale struck. The earthquake was so powerful that the Mississippi River ran backwards and changed it's course in several places, over 150,000 acres of forest were destroyed and multiple lakes were created, including Reelfoot Lake which measures around ten square miles in size. Church bells rang in Charleston S.C. and Boston Mass. and chimneys fell in Cincinnati, Ohio. The death toll was remarkably light since the areas affected were lightly populated.

Today however, that would not be the case. Located in the New Madrid fault area are the modern cities of St.Louis MO. and Memphis TN. Scientist have estimated that the odds of a 6.0 or greater earthquake happening in this area withing the next 50 years is 9 in 10. A earthquake of the magnitude that struck New Madrid in 1811 would result in untold numbers of lives lost as well as millions upon millions of dollars lost in damages.

Tea For Two, And Two For Tea.........

On this date in 1773, a number of citizens of Boston Mass., disguise as Mohawk Indians went aboard three ships in Boston Harbor and dumped 300 chest of East India Company tea overboard.

This was seen as a protest against a proposed tax that England was attempting to levy on the colonies. As with other historical events with a little digging, further details come to light. John Hancock, a leader of the Sons of Liberty who where known to be heavily involved in this incident was reputed to be one of the biggest smugglers in Boston. He had been for some time smuggling in Dutch tea without paying tax on it. The East Indian Co. tea even with the tax imposed on it, would have been considerably cheaper than that which Hancock was attempting to sell. I am not saying that's why the Sons of Liberty acted as they did, but it does make you wonder.

Believe it or not, this is my 100th post. Who would have thunk it? -grin-

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Spirit

Getting in the Christmas spirit here at Casa W., I have been listening to a new favorite carol, It's almost as good as "Merry Christmas from the Family"

Check it out:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My, My, My,

O.K. I just gotta say this. (I hope I can, without sounding like a sexist pig) I just checked out the latest issue of G.Q. with Jennifer Aniston in it, and there is absolutely NO doubt in my mind that Brad Pitt is a PUNK......No make that a stone cold punk.....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Doctor, Doctor, Tell Me The News..........

As some of you are`aware, as part of my reenacting hobby, I portray a Doctor/Surgeon of the colonial period. I do this by going to various historic site and displaying and demonstrating both reproduction as well as original medical equipment from the period. I also share various stories of the doctors and their patients. Checking the calender this morning, I discovered that I was about to miss commemorating a very important date in medical history I would like to share with you.

On this date in 1809 Mrs. Jane Crawford arrived at the home of Dr. Ephraim McDowell in Danville, Kentucky to receive medical treatment. What made this so historic was that Dr. McDowell had a few weeks earlier been to see Mrs. Crawford at her home over in Green county Kentucky. Mrs. Crawford thought that she`was pregnant with twins but when Dr. McDowell examined her he discovered that Crawford wasn't pregnant, but was suffering from a tumor. After consulting with Mrs. Crawford, McDowell told her that if she would come to his home in Danville, he would undertake to remove the tumor. Mrs. Crawford agreed to do so and followed Dr. McDowell to his home making a horseback ride of 60 miles. After this exertion she rested for a few days, then underwent the operation on Christmas Day 1809. Dr. McDowell cut a 22 1/2 pound tumor from Mrs. Crawford's ovary. The surgery took 25 minutes.

This was a time before blood transfusions, antiseptics or anesthesia. During the operation, Mrs. Crawford being wide awake, sang hymns during the operation and Mrs. Crawford's husband and several of both his and Mrs. Crawford's relatives surrounded McDowell's house threatening to kill the doctor if the operation failed. Mrs. Crawford survived the operation and was up only a few days later, with sutures still in place, trying to do light housework to repay the doctor for his services. 25 days later, she again took the 60 mile trip on horseback to her home where she ended up living another 32 years after the surgery.

I had the privilege of reading copies of Dr. McDowell's notes from the operation and after I finished them, I looked at my goodwife and observed that "They made WOMEN in those days" My goodwife sorta sniffed and replied "Yeah, and they had MEN to match them" At that point I just shut up and went back to reading. -grin-

Birthday of Note

On this date, in 1887 Alvin C. York was born in the Valley of the Three Forks of the Wolf near Pall Mall TN.

During the Meuse-Argonne offensive, in the space of 3 hours and 15 minutes, on October 8th 1918 the then Corp. York was responsible for the capture of 132 German soldiers as well as 20 heavy Maxim machine guns and was said to have killed 30 other German soldiers. For this heroism he was promoted to the rank of Sgt. and awarded the following decorations:

Congressional Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
French Croix de Guerre
French Legion of Honor
The Croce di Guerra of Italy
War Medal of Montenegro

Sgt. York remained a humble man even with the fame that he garnered from his heroism. He kept his religious faith intact and used whatever rewards that he received to help others. He died in 1964 almost forgotten by the American public.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Today's Birthday of Note

Today would have been the 90th birthday of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I consider him as one of my non-school teachers since his writings opened my eyes to the true evils of communism and the Soviet Union. I read his novella "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" in Junior High School. This was based on the experiences he had after being arrested for "anti-soviet" agitation. In 1945 as a officer in the Russian Army, he wrote a in a personal letter to a friend, a comment considered derogatory to Stalin. For that comment, he was arrested and sentenced to 8 years in prison. After finishing his 8 years, he was given internal exile in Siberia for life. In exile he began work on his massive work, "The Gulag Archipelago" a history of the Russian labor/prisoner camps for criminals and political prisoners.

If you have never read "One Day" you owe it to yourself to get a copy. That way, you can truly understand why Ronald Reagan called the Soviets "A Evil Empire"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mike's EXCELLENT Adventure In Margaritaville

Over the weekend, the Goodwife and I took a short, real fast sea cruise as sort of a early Christmas present to ourselves. We only had two ports of calls, Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. Well, as anyone who knows me can tell you, nothing EVER goes as planned when I am involved, so this is the story of the trip.

We flew out of our local airport and got to Miami where we caught a shuttle to Port Everglades where we caught our ship. We set sail at around 5 P.M. After steaming all night we were to dock at Key West at 8 AM the next day. We had a good meal, a few drinks and a comfortable bed, so all was right with the world. However, at 2 AM when I got up to respond to the call of nature, came the first clue that this trip like so many others, would be twisted by my presence…..

Cutting on the light I discovered that the bathroom floor was covered by various “things” I couldn’t, (or wouldn’t) venture a guess as to what they might have been, but they didn’t belong on the floor. I thought that the toilet had overflowed, but on further investigation I discovered that the drain in the floor had backed up. I figured at 2 AM that whatever the problem was, it wasn’t going to be fixable until later in the day, so I warned the good wife, tossed down towels in the floor to limit our exposure to whatever and went back to bed. At 8AM the ship docked, the ship cleanup crew arrived to work on the bathroom and I went ashore. (Goodwife stayed on board) I did a few interesting sites, had a few drinks at the local watering holes, then headed back to the ship since we were told we would be sailing at 2PM for Cozumel. Two came and went, and then Three, then Four and we haven’t moved. At 4:30 the captain announced that the ship was broke and would not be sailing until it was fixed. He announced that we would be spending the night in Key West and that passengers would be allowed to go ashore until 2 AM. So back ashore I went too.

The next day the ship still isn’t fixed, so again I go ashore and spend the day meandering about. They fix the ship that afternoon, and since they couldn’t make it to Cozumel in the time they had left so they decided to sail for Nassau, Bahamas. This didn’t upset me at all since Cozumel isn’t very well known for it’s rum production. Plus the ship provided a shipboard credit to all aboard to make up for the problems.

With all the “problems”, I still had a VERY good time, since I don’t let stuff like that get me all tight. Plus Key West is a very cool place. It has enough historic stuff to keep me interested and it is one of the very best places in the world for people watching. Key West is also the world capital of “whatever” Anything happens, no matter what, everyone just says “whatever” and keeps on keeping on. I captured a bunch of “moments” while meandering and people watching that I would like to share with you if I may……….

The Chickens of Key West.
There are chickens everywhere. The locals tell you that they are the descendants of the fighting cocks brought over by the Cubans that worked in the cigar trade. When cock fighting became illegal, rather than having a gigantic Cuban version of K.F.C. or Chicken and Dumplings, they let them free. Of course, chicken mixed with the other chickens and were fruitful and multiplied so there are chickens all over the place. They do serve a function in that they control the insect population so all is not bad. Key West is also a bird sanctuary and all the chickens, chicks and eggs are protected, so all the tourist are warned not to molest or bother them. As a local put it, “The chickens live here, ya’ll are just visiting” Of course, with all the warnings, there had to be someone who didn’t listen. You just KNEW it had to happen. I will tell you, there is NOTHING quite as funny as watching a Birkenstock wearing “limousine liberal” female running like hell down Duval St. being chased by a highly pissed off hen who did not want anyone messing with one of her chicks.

The Museums of Key West.
There are some pretty good museums in Key West. Pirate Soul is absolutely fantastic with a lot of QUALITY artifacts on display. They had to spend a few bucks on windex after I left, since I had my nose pressed against the glass display cases to eyeball all the goodies on display. You would think that it would be a bit cheesy since it does deal with pirates and it does have a small bit of that kind of thing, but on the whole it is well done and well worth the price of admission. Mel Fisher’s museum is also real good, with it’s display of the salvaged goods from the Nuestra Senora De Atocha, a Spanish treasure galleon that sank in 1622. The treasure trove consisted of silver and gold coins, Bars of the same, jewels and all sorts of odds and ends. They even have it configured in one of the exhibits that you can reach into a case and heft up a gold bar. Just the thing for all us Walter Mitty types out there. A more sobering exhibit is the items brought up from the wreck of the Hennretta Marie. She was a slave ship that went down after striking a reef in the Gulf of Mexico. There are dozens of sets of manacles used on the captives including very small ones used on children.

The Hemingway House and Museum, is good, I haven’t made up my mind about Hemingway as a writer, or as a person, but I enjoyed his restored home and I am very much a cat person. The museum has 60 cats in residence which are descendants of “Papa’s” original cats. They are somewhat inbred and a large number of them have 6 toes on their front paws. The little devils look like they are wearing catcher’s mitts on their front paws and look like they are living the life of Riley. Trust me, they are.

Monuments and Graveyards
There is a monument in a small garden right in front of Mel Fisher’s museum. It is dedicated to the memory of the Union Sailors and Marines who died while stationed on Key West in the Civil War. It is surrounded by a fence which has a small plaque attached to it stating that the monument was erected by a confederate veteran. That should give you the flavor of the types of things you will see. In the old graveyard, it has the graves of sailors from the U.S.S. Maine, Cuban rebels, it even has a tombstone for a local lady carved with the words, “I told you I was sick..” Key West has always been a important naval base, so you can find a bunch of military graves and monuments as well as above ground tombs just like New Orleans since according to the locals the ground is full and you can’t dig a hole without digging a previous occupant up.

Bars and Nightlife
As Fred White said in the movie Tombstone “Ah, that’s the real motherload here” Every one comes to Key West to have a drink in Sloppy Joe’s bar (Hemingway’s favorite) There is also the Green Parrot, The Hog’s Breath, and multiple others. After the first drink, they just HAVE to buy the t-shirts, ball caps, and bumperstickers and so on. Call me crazy, but I can’t see paying anywhere from 15 to 20 bucks so I can wear a advertisement for a bar. Heck, pay me $20.00 to wear the hat; I will keep that sucker on until it rots off. ….I will admit, I did buy a T-shirt and hat from Pirate Soul, but museums are NOT bars….-grin-

Of course, I guess that’s part of the fun, tossing down a few like “Papa” in a place he spent time in. I enjoyed watching the people come and go, the little old ladies and men going into the “adult only” store after having a drink or two, and coming out with packages clasped tightly under their arms, glancing around to see if anyone saw them go in.

If you have never been there before, Key West changes remarkably when the sun sets. It’s as if the day people go home and the night people come out to play. And friend what a freak show it is. –grin- At the most southern point, they have a carnival to entertain the folks there to watch the sun set. One fellow had a bunch of trained house cats that he had jumping through flaming hoops which I thought was cool as all get out. (But I had drank two or three rum drinks before that) It reminded me of the old Ed Sullivan T.V. show. Most of the cruise ships are long gone by the time the sun sets, but since our ship was broke down, I got to see people who maybe came from East Hog’s Knuckle, North Carolina spending time down town and coming back on board the ship with eyes as wide as dinner plates. I suspect they hadn’t seen stuff like that before. –Grin-

After that, Nassau sorta paled in comparison. I got off the ship to get a few bottles of rum to add to my collection, but was ready to head back home.

All in all a good time was had by all

Monday, December 8, 2008

Just To Lighten Things Up A Bit...........

Today, in 1956 Alfred E. Newman made his first appearance on the cover of MAD magazine.

What ME Worry????????


We Knew We Would Be Next On The List...........

Today, 67 years ago Franklin Roosevelt went before Congress asked for and received a declaration of war against the Japanese Empire.

Roosevelt knew that the country had been sucker punched and needed to be brought around quickly to focus on a war that needed to be won. He used his command of language and his ability to speak to bring the American people together into a united group able to rebuild it's military forces and defeat a powerful enemy.

Take a few moments to read the text of the speech he gave..........

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State of form reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack. It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government had deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace. The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu. Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya. Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night the Japanese attacked Midway Island. Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our Nation. As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again. Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces -- with the unbounded determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God. I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

The vote to declare war was almost unanimous, the only person to vote against the resolution was Jeannette Rankin, member of Congress from Montana. Ms. Rankin who was a life long pacifist, stayed true to her beliefs and voted no to the war.

No matter what I think about pacifism or Ms. Rankin's personal beliefs, I must admit I admire the fact she stood in the door for what she thought. It was a very brave act that took a great deal of guts.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

December The 7th, We Heard About Pearl..............

As an amateur student of history, I try to understand all I can about the whys and hows of each historic event I study. Sometimes I can reach a better understanding of these events; sometimes I just find that I develop more questions. Sometimes I even put a human face on these events and their impact on ordinary people. This is a story of one of those times.

Back when I was a young pup, in my first year of High School, I fell in love (or lust, I don’t think I could tell the difference back then) with a young lady I went to school with. I started spending a lot of time around her house trying to impress her with my charm, wit and good looks. I wasn’t that successful, but I didn’t get run off either, so I figured I had at least a fighting chance of doing myself some good with her. I got to know her folks fairly well; her mom was an invalid with some kind of breathing problem, her dad was a retired Navy man, who was a maintenance supervisor of a couple of apartment complexes. The dad, who’s name was Dallas, was also known as “Shack” short for Shackman. He dearly loved to pull a cork as we say in North Carolina. Now this wasn’t too big a deal to me since I came from a family where both my father and grandfather were alcoholics (As well as a bunch of kin folk on my mother’s side of the family) and I considered it as being somewhat normal to be around people drinking. Shack was for the most part a happy drunk, he didn’t try to fight anyone or act the fool, and he would sing, tell jokes and try to be the life of the party.

There were a few quirks about ol’ Shack however. He never liked to grill out and didn’t even have a grill out in the yard. (Something almost unheard of here in Carolina) If any thing ever got burned in the kitchen he would leave the house. He would also get sick to his stomach if he ever ate or smelled pineapple. He also would get very quiet and really start drinking around the last part of November, first part of December. There were quite a few times around that time of year when I would have to help get him in the house and put him to bed to keep him freezing to death while passed out in the yard. He didn’t like to watch a lot of historical shows on TV and also would not ride in or ever buy a Japanese car. Like I said, just little quirks.

Late one night, Shack and I got to talking. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and I asked him why he had gone into the Navy. He told me that he had joined up at 16, lying about his age to get in because he came from a poor family and the Navy offered him basically “three hots and a cot, which was a lot better that what he had at home with his folks. He told me that he thought he was in tall cotton with a big bowl of pinto beans and some corn bread on the table at home, but the Navy was feeding him meat, white bread, and almost everything else he could ever want. He also told me that he got to see the world, places that he would have never seen if he hadn’t gone in. Shack had been drinking when we started talking and continued drinking as the night got longer. Shack told me that he had served on submarines, the Silent Service as he called it. He said that he was based at Pearl Harbor and was there on December 7th 1941.

Shack said that the sub was having some engine work done, some kind of over haul he thought so they were just hanging about, with nothing to do. Most of the crew was off base since it was the weekend. He remembered that the weather was gorgeous as it was most of the time in Hawaii, One for the tourist as the sailors would say back then. Shack said that he though he had died and gone to heaven while he was in Hawaii. He said he would get a orange maybe once a year at Christmas if he was lucky, but they were eating fresh pineapples and other fresh fruit every day in the navy mess halls.

Shack said he didn’t notice the explosions right away, he said that they were always doing construction all over the harbor and island and had to blast the coral and lava to build stuff. He didn’t also didn’t notice the aircraft either, since they always had some flying over, but soon it dawned on him that the number of airplanes and explosions were out of the norm. That’s when he got scared. (Or as he put it to me, his asshole started puckering) For some reason, the Japanese didn’t take much interest in the area where the subs were based. But Shack had a ring side seat to the interest that the Japanese had in everything else in the harbor.

The sub he was serving on had all its weapons secured so they couldn’t do anything to fight back so they just sat there and watched. He said that several times aircraft flew so low over where he was that he could clearly see (in his words) “the little yellow bastards” flying them. He said he even saw one of the pilots grinning as he flew by, as if the pilot was having the time of his life. Shack told me that he wasn’t sure he would have shot at them even if they had the weapons available since a sub sitting on the surface isn’t one of the best platforms for fighting against what looked to him like every airplane in the entire Japanese Navy flying overhead. He may have said that to me, but I got the strong feeling that he felt really guilty that he didn’t do anything to fight back. After the attack was over, they detached some of the crews of the various ships that were not damaged to serve as fire and rescue parties. They took Shack and a bunch of the other sailors not needed to get the sub up and running to help up with the clean up.

Shack said that they spent most of their time picking up a lot of dead bodies out of the harbor. By the time they got out on the water to do the rescue work, most of the wounded had been picked up, or had made it in on their own. So they couldn’t even say that they were looking for wounded to make themselves feel better, only collecting the dead. They were floating in a thick, heavy layer of bunker oil that was on the surface of the water. Most of them so badly burned that when you would try to pick them up, that the skin would come off in your hands. Like a well cooked chicken according to Shack. He said that his hands were totally covered at times with a slick, slimy coating of cooked meat. There were some so bad that they needed to put a canvas stretcher into the water to place under the body so they could lift it up in one piece. They also tied bodies together to tow them into shallow water so they could recover them. As our talk continued I noticed that he had gotten a far off look in his eyes and was starting to tear up a bit. The level of the bourbon in the bottle he was drinking from was also going down faster and faster. He told me about going near the hulk of the Arizona and the heat from the fires being so bad that they had to take wet cloths and place over their heads so as not to be burned. In a short time he said that the cloths started putting off steam, it was that hot. The small rescue boats they were on had their paint blistered and some of the sailors in the recovery parties looked like they were sunburned from the heat. The uniform he was wearing was so stained with the oil, and so permeated with the smell of burnt flesh that Shack just tossed it in the trash rather than try to get it clean when they were done. Shack told me that he made it a point not to look at any of the faces of any of the bodies that he recovered, since he didn’t want to know if any of them were buddies of his.

Three days later, they sent Shack’s sub out with a full load of torpedoes on its first war patrol with orders to sink anything Japanese they saw. He said that they weren’t sure that the engine would hold together for the entire patrol, but they sent them out anyway so they could maybe get a little pay back. He told me that it was a cold feeling to know that you were going out on a mission like that, but the thought of being considered a coward and having your shipmates look down on you, was a bigger fear than not coming back. He also said that not too many people know today that the torpedoes that Americans used in the early part of the war were bad, and were more dangerous to the Americans than the Japanese, but that would be a story for another time he told me with a little smile.

By that time, Shack was pretty tore back, and couldn’t stand by himself, so I helped him get up from the table and got him to bed. We never talked about his memories or war experiences again. At least at that point I understood his little quirks. The aversion to the smell of burnt flesh, the heavy drinking around Pearl Harbor day, it all made sense then. Unfortunately, this was a time before the knowledge of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, survivor’s guilt and other issues were recognized. Real men didn’t talk about such things, and were considered weak or punks if they did. So Shack, no doubt tried to self medicate himself and tried to “suck it up”. I often wonder how I would have reacted if when I was 16, I had gone through the same thing. Looking back at it now after so many years, I am surprised that I was smart enough to figure all this out and to want to help ol’ Shack, but I didn’t know how, and I too, was caught up in the John Wayne “get over it” mentality. So I never asked him about it again. So that was the story of a man who faced personal demons each and every day, and in the end was finally wore down by them. No heroic tales of valor or glory, just a scared man who tried to do the best he could in the situation he was placed in. I am just a little sad that the only person that he could share his story with was a kid like me, who couldn’t help him with dealing with it. I still wonder today why he confided in me on that long cold winter night so long ago.

Shack ended up drinking himself to death a few years later. I sometime wonder if you couldn’t consider him as just one more casualty of that attack on that beautiful December morning.

Since he had honorably retired, and was a survivor of the attack, by his request, he was cremated and his ashes were sprinkled over the water at Pearl Harbor.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Meagher Is Leading The Irish Brigade.......

It’s been a bit since I have done anything pertaining to firearms so I thought I would write a bit about my latest big project.

In my quest to start in another time period (American Civil War) I obtained two reproduction weapons, a 1861 Springfield rifled musket in .58 cal and a 1842 smoothbore Springfield musket in .69 cal. There are a percentage of reenactors that have never fired their weapons with live rounds, only with blank charges at reenactments. I feel that you can not interpret the weapon effectively to the public unless you HAVE fired it live and have a good understanding of what it will do, as well as what it will not do.

Of the two weapons, I seem to be more interested in the 1842 musket. I don’t know why other than this weapon has a bit more history behind it than the 1861.

In 1861 at the beginning of the American Civil War, the rifled musket was the gold standard on the battlefield. The U.S. Army had started issuing rifled muskets to troops as early as 1855. Rifling of muskets and the use of the Minnie ball had improved both the range and accuracy of the average soldier making it possible to hit a man sized target at distances two to three times farther that possible with a smoothbore musket. However, when the war broke out, the numbers of rifled musket that were available was not sufficient to arm all the troops that were enlisted both North and South. This set off a shopping frenzy in Europe to buy anything that would put a piece of lead down range. There were also seizures of weapons stored in federal arsenals in the south by the southern states. Most of the weapons that were seized were considered obsolete and were smoothbore muskets, models 1822 and 1842. Since there was a shortage of all weapons, soldiers were forced to carry these weapons until 1863. While the soldiers who were issued the smoothbore muskets for the most part were not very happy to have them, sometimes deriding them as “punkin’slingers” there were others who thought that they were just the thing the soldiers needed.

Thomas Francis Meagher commander of the famous “Irish Brigade” was one of these. When he was organizing the brigade, since he was fairly well politically connected he was offered the latest rifled muskets. He turned them down, asking rather for the older 1842 model. His thinking was the fighting that he envisioned for the brigade would be up close and personal. A smoothbore musket at close range would be as effective as a rifle, at closer ranges perhaps even more effective with the recommended load of “buck and ball” The weapons of this time were loaded with a paper cartridge. This consisted of a paper tube containing a pre-measured charge of powder and a single bullet. A buck and ball load on the other hand had three oo buckshot on top of a .650 lead round ball. At close range it would turn a target into a long division problem. At long range, you had a better chance to hit the target. I ran across a mention of soldiers who using these types of weapons and ammunition at the battle of Gettysburg. A Federal officer, Col. William E. Potter of the 12th N.J. which was one of the regiments waiting on Cemetery Ridge for the Pickett-Pettigrew advance on July 3rd wrote:

” The regiment was armed with the Springfield smoothbore musket, calibre .69----A terrible weapon at close range. The usual cartridge carried a large ball and three buckshot, but many of the men, while awaiting the enemy’s advance, had opened their (cartridge) boxes and prepared special cartridges with ten to twenty-five buckshot alone”

I have started gathering all the stuff together to replicate the paper cartridges with both Minnie balls as well as the buck and ball load. After the holidays, I hope to be able to learn what these weapons and this ammunition will do to a charging bad guy target at various ranges. I will share my finding with you folks too.

Something else you might find interesting. When I was down loafing at the local gun shop I found a box of Centurion Law Enforcement 12 gauge shot shells. This ammunition is loaded with (wait for it) 1 .650 lead round ball and 6 #1 buckshot pellets. This is just a modern version of the old Buck and Ball ammunition. I figured I would test them at the same time I test the muskets to see what this ammunition will do.

Once again, history repeats it’s self.

Happy Birthday!

Miss Bette Davis Midler...........

I LIKE a slightly trashy, classy broad.

She sings pretty good too. -grin-

She Stood Up By Sitting Down..........

On this date in 1955 Miss Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. By this simple, quiet act, she put in motion a movement which changed the face of our country. Sometimes, the simple act of one brave individual CAN indeed change the world.........

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Birthday!!!!!!

Today's birthdays of notes:

Two of the greatest wordsmiths in history, (and personal heroes of mine)were born today.

Samual L. Clemends, also known as Mark Twain


Sir Winston S. Churchill

And to the Scots among us, Happy St. Andrew's Day!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Taste of History

Some time back I ordered some spices from Pensey's spice company and I told you that I would share my recipe for a mustard from the 17th Century with you. Well, here it is, with a wee bit of background.

I had some friends that worked at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, and they were kind enough to share this with me. Mustard was one of the most commonly used spices/condiments in the 17th century. With the diet of either salted preserved meat or fresh meat which was quickly going bad due to lack of refrigeration or preservatives, mustard was a valued condiment to improve the taste, as well as cover up any trace of decay in the food of the time.

Here is the recipe from the 1600's rewritten for the modern kitchen. I suspect that it would be good on beef, pork, fowl as well as wild game.

Make some up and eat as the pilgrims did. -grin-

Mustard sauce
1 cup yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons honey
11⁄2 teaspoons salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 cups red wine vinegar or cider vinegar

Grind the mustard seed in a spice grinder, blender or mortar and pestle. It should be about the texture of coarse cornmeal. Place the mustard in a medium bowl and add the spices. Pour in the vinegar and stir well to combine. Let the mustard stand two hours (or more) and stir again. If it is too thick, you can add water or additional vinegar, white wine or even dry sherry. The mustard can be eaten at this point — however, it will be very sharp. The mustard mellows very nicely over time and is truly at its best at least a week or two after it is made.

Put the mustard in a sterile quart jar. Cover the jar with a lid and allow the mustard to mellow unrefrigerated. Add more liquid as needed. When you are ready to serve the mustard, taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Any unused mustard can be stored indefinitely. It will continue to mellow as it ages.

Makes 2 cups.

Happy Birthday!

Today's birthday of note:

Randy Newman

He has a tendency to shoot his mouth off about politics a bit too much, but I absolutely love his early music, such as the Good Old Boys and Little Criminals album.

La Marseillaise

I picked this up over at Peter's The Bayou Renaissance Man blog. I never thought that I would say anything nice about the French but I might just change my mind.........

>>>A French soldier on US troops in Afghanistan

A tip o' the hat to Jean-Marc Liotier at Serendipitous Altruism (certainly one of the more intriguing blog titles I've come across!) for translating observations by a French soldier, serving with an Operational Mentoring Liaison Team, or OLMT, concerning the US soldiers with whom he's based.

We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing “ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events”. Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.

They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by lack of privacy and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that: the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled Banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location: books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions: the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.

And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seems to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

And combat? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks: they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting: they just charge! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.

We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America’s army’s deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owed this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers.

Outstanding! It's great to hear such glowing tribute paid to our service personnel. I hope and trust that you, dear readers, will forward this praise to all your friends, and make sure that our whole country gets the word. Such acclaim is seldom given to our Armed Forces by our own politicians and media.

Grateful thanks to Jean-Marc Liotier for translating the original French article, and posting it. I'll be checking his blog from time to time to see what further interesting tidbits he dishes up.>>>>

Like I said, I never thought I would say something nice about the French, but if this guy was serious, well what CAN you say other than, Merci beaucoup, mes amis........

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Walk Softly But Carry A Big Stick

I have been following the current events in India as well as the the previous antics of the "pirates" in the waters around Africa. I can only repeat what President Theodore Roosevelt ( A personal hero of mine) said so long ago when our country was threatened by both anarchist and radical labor bomb throwers.

"There is but one answer to the dynamite bomb, and that is the Winchester rifle"

Thanksgiving 2008

I just got back from cooking a turkey for a local church that was having a dinner for all their members who either didn't have any family to eat with, or couldn't afford to have a good dinner this year. I resisted temptation and didn't snack any there, preferring to go over to my folks and dine with the entire W. clan. Hopefully I should be suffering from acute turkey and dressing toxicity in a very short time. -grin- Oh yeah, to include the deadly green bean casserole also. -wide grin-

I am very, very, VERY grateful for all the blessings I have received this year. Sure I have had a few problems with this and that, primarily my accursed knees giving me fits as they normally do.

But all in all I have been one lucky fellow and don't have any room to complain. I have a good wife who is mostly bemused by my antics, I have enough money to pretty much do what I want and I got more good friends and buddies than I can shake a stick at. I can't think of a single thing that I need or want, I don't have any friends or loved ones who are currently in "harm's way" (other than a few law enforcement officer friends who do their thing day in and day out, may the Almighty protect and bless 'em all!) so life is pretty good.

My only hope is that all my friends and family are as lucky as I have been in the past year and that they receive all the blessings and good fortune that they so richly deserve.

Love you guys!

Kung-Fu Fighting Meets Purple Haze

Today's Birthdays.............

Bruce Lee


Jimi Hendrix

Now THAT'S a mix.....-grin-

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Proud Mary...................

Today's Birthdays of note:

Miss Tina Turner.............

and my long suffering goodwife, Beverly.

School's Out, Part II

I did my second day in the local junior high yesterday. This one didn't go quite a smooth as the day before. I guess part of it was because everyone started their Thanksgiving break yesterday afternoon and also, I didn't seem to find my groove to drop into.

I did manage to bring them around with a new approach I was sorta proud to come up with and would like to share with you.

I asked the teacher to step out of the room for a few minutes and asked the class to be honest and tell me how many really LIKED the class. Only a few raised their hands. I then asked how many DIDN'T and most held up their hands. I asked them them why and was told "It was boring" "It didn't have any relevance" "It was too hard" and "They had to cover too much in a short period of time" I listen to their comments a few moments then asked them if they ever watched any of the CSI programs on TV. Almost every hand shot up. I then asked the kids why they liked to watch those programs. I was told that they were "Interesting", "exciting" and so on.

To sum it up, I told them that they were somewhat handicapped because the school system was forced to try to teach them almost 350 years of history in less than 8 months. That this was neither good or bad, but just the way it is. Teachers could only "skim the surface" of the past when they were teaching. With all the limitations of time and course content, they were lucky to get what they had gotten so far. I said that history if you allowed it to be could be as interesting, if not more so, than a CSI program. But that they would have to do a little work to discover the true story. Read a book, look something up on the web, question everything you know or have heard.

Before the day was done, I think I made at least one or two kids think just a little about history, education and how important it is to know what your history is. I also hope that I have pointed them in the right direction and given them the "fire in their belly" to make the extra effort to learn more. At least I can hope so......

Monday, November 24, 2008

School's Out.............

Today, I spent all day talking to 8th graders in a local junior high school. Part of what I do as a living historian is to educate the public, so I get to go into schools and talk to the kids, taking my surgical equipment along and hopefully getting them interested in their country's history. Ever since I started the hobby of living history, I made it a point to offer my services to local schools, since I know that schools are short on money and teachers don't have very many resources that they can use. Not to mention, it's a great deal of fun for me. I find that kids will ask questions that challenge me. They are not afraid to ask "stupid" questions. (I don't believe there is such a thing as a stupid question, other than the question you are afraid to ask.)

I had a pretty good time and the kids were bright and asked quite a few good questions so all in all it was a good day. Tomorrow I will go back to the same school for another day of questions and answers with a different bunch, I am looking forward to it.

Happy Birthday...........

Two birthdays of note..........

1853 William Barclay "Bat" Masterson, Buffalo Hunter, Gambler, Saloon Owner, Lawman, Gunfighter and Sports Writer was born in Canada today.

1871 The National Rifle Association was organized.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We Are Coming, Father Abr'am, Three Hundred Thousand More,

As many of you know, I am in love with words both written and spoken. In fact, that is part of the reason I blog, to give me a chance to be something of a word smith and to share my love of words and history with others.

On this day, in 1863 in a small crossroad town in Pennsylvania, a man who had been asked to say a few appropriate words at the dedication of a cemetery stood and spoke for two to three minutes. His speech only had 252 words in it. This was the time of great oratory, when speeches would last for hours so it was considered by some to be a poor effort, even a failure. But in those 252 words, so carefully crafted, this man, created a speech that would live forever. A previous speaker that day said ""I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."

The man was Abraham Lincoln, The speech, The Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Scarecrow! Scarecrow! The Soldiers of the King Feared His Name. Scarecrow! On the Southern Coast Of England, There's A Legend People Tell,

O.K. boys and girls, I was a little bummed out so I reverted back in my mind to the days of my childhood. (I know, a lot of folks including my good wife will be saying "and this is different somehow?")

Walt Disney recently released the DVD of Dr Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. I think that I will pick up a copy and see if it still holds up. I watched it when I was a young pup on the "Wonderful World of Disney" and it scared the bejesus out of me with the costumes of the Scarecrow and his crew as well as the laugh on the theme song. But with all that I still enjoyed watching it. As a matter of fact, it is one of the very few TV programs that I do remember fairly clearly.

I hope it is as good as I remember. A bunch of TV programs that I watched when I was younger when I watch them today I think "What the HELL was I thinking?" -grin-

Maybe the Scarecrow was the reason I am into the Revolutionary War so much. Who knows?

Bang, Bang, She Shot Me Down............

Last week was a very busy time for me. I spent most of it at the North Carolina Justice Academy in Salemburg at a firearms instructor conference. Once a year, the state host this conference so that instructors can catch up on the latest policies and laws and regulations on training, use of force and what the powers that be in Raleigh are up to. It also gives instructors a chance to network, pick up some extra training or just get away from the P.D. or Sheriff’s office for a while. Normally they will have various types of training such as armorer’s courses for various types of weapons, developing proper mindset for combat, various shooting drill that the instructor can take back to his department and other stuff like that. Since they didn’t have any armorer’s courses that I was interested in I stuck with mostly range stuff. (Which with me being on crutches, made for a very interesting time) I did pick up enough ideas to add to my training program to have made it worth my while to have gone, but standing there in the rain and wind, I wondered at the time, just what the HELL I was doing out there. –grin-

To be honest, I felt just a little like a dinosaur out there. I only saw two or three people that I knew. I learned that of the 20 people I had gone to instructor school with (back in the dawn of recorded history) I was the last still instructing. The next to the last one, dropped dead from a heart attack seven months ago. Things have changed so much since those days. I didn’t see a single revolver being used all week on the firing line. Back when I started, Semi-autos were the exception. Now the firing line is populated with young’uns dressed all in black with all kinds of high speed / low drag equipment. Semi-autos with all the bells and whistles, lasers and all other kinds of toys. Now mind you, I am not totally opposed to toys, I even took the opportunity to shoot a Glock model 18 which was a blast in more ways than one. That sucker puts out 1300 rounds per minute, which was pretty cool until I figured out how much it cost to feed that beast. (50 rounds at $10.03 was the cheapest I could find, not counting shipping. Do the math yourself) It sure doesn’t take long to empty a 33 round magazine.

I got to talking to a fellow I met out there on the firing line, older guy, like me. We were comparing notes on issues that we had run into and we both agreed that the youngsters that we are getting out of rookie school are missing a little something that most old cops have. You see, most of today's rookies have never been in a honest to goodness fight in their lives. So when they hit the street, they are like lost sheep. They have been trained by society that all violence is wrong, so they hesitate to take action to defend themselves or others until it’s too late. This fellow told me that he was thinking that there would be a sharp rise in Law Enforcement officers being killed and injured in the next few years, since the bad guys (and girls) are not taught the same thing. I had to agree, since I have trained officers who told me to my face that they would me much happier if they didn’t have to carry a weapon on duty. Now that, believe it or not, that was a uniform wearing police officer who told me that. I don’t know what the answer is, if there even is one but to be honest, I am very worried about the future…..

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns on the western front fell silent after the 4 years of blood letting that was the first World War. There are estimates that there were as many as 40 million casualties military and civilian worldwide as the result of this war. The horror and unprecedented destruction that took place in these four years should never be forgotten since they molded the modern world in ways that are still being felt to this day. It was only in 1956 that the U.S. turned it into Veteran's Day, a day to commemorate it as a day that all veterans of all of America's wars should be remembered on.

This poem is dedicated to the men of 1914-1918

In Flanders Fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

And to show how interesting history is, I discovered that on this day 90 years ago, when the rest of the world was putting down their weapons, a detachment of the American 339th Infantry Regiment (supported by soldiers of the British Royal Scots regiment as well as Canadian Artillery) was engaged with multiple units of Red Guards and irregular Bolshevik partisans near the village of Toulgas in Northern Russia. At the end of the battle, it was estimated that the Bolsheviks had lost over 300 dead and unknown numbers wounded. The Americans and their allies suffered 28 killed and 70 wounded. The Americans were in Russia to protect war supplies that had been sold to the Imperial Russian Government and to keep them from falling into the hands of the communist. This turned into a 6 month intervention to try to support the white forces in the Civil War.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Marines!!!!!!

On November 10th 1775 the Continental Congress resolved that two battalions of Marines be raised. From that date to this day, 233 years later, the United States Marine Corps has served the American people with honor and distinction. I have taken the liberty of attaching a few quotes from and about this organization of warriors:

The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!

Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, 1945

Gone to Florida to fight the Indians. Will be back when the war is over.
Colonel Commandant Archibald Henderson, USMC
in a note pinned to his office door, 1836

Hell, these are Marines. Men like them held Guadalcanal and took Iwo Jima. Bagdad ain't sh*t.
Marine Major General John F. Kelly

I come in peace, I didn't bring artillery. But I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes: If you f*ck with me, I'll kill you all.
Marine General James Mattis, to Iraqi tribal leaders

Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share.
Ned Dolan

The United States Marine Corps, with its fiercely proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth.
Thomas E. Ricks; Making the Corps, 1997

Friday, November 7, 2008

All For Me Grog..........

O.K. by special request, more recipes for strong drink.

Apple Pie-

One gallon Apple cider (it's much better if is is unfiltered)
3 or 4 Cinnamon sticks
1 cup of Everclear (grain alcohol)

Take out one cup of cider, replace it with the Everclear, toss in the Cinnamon sticks and let it sit for a day or so. Be WARNED, this stuff will bite you......

Navy Grog-

1 1/5 bottle of dark rum
4 oz. lemon juice (fresh)
4 oz. lime juice (fresh)
1 cup of dark brown sugar

Mix all of the above ingredients vigorously. Then add water, using the empty rum bottle as a measure, three bottles should be enough. Then taste test. Add additional amounts of the above ingredients to suit your taste.


Rum, water and sugar with a dusting of Nutmeg. (Again, use fresh, not the stuff in a can or bottle)

This was a favorite of seamen in the Caribbean.

You can also take a small quantity of Rum, mix it with about two cups of lime juice and a handful of slightly crushed Jamaican Allspice berries to baste pork with while roasting it. (reserve some for a dip also)

I just had to toss in a food recipe just so folks don't think I am a juice head. -grin-

Roll On Colombia, Roll on.......

Today in History, (Sounded just a little like Walter Cronkite there didn't I? ) -grin-

In 1805 the Lewis and Clark expedition reached the Pacific Ocean after a journey across the North American continent lasting about 6 months.

And no, even if they were in the Pacific North West, they didn't find a Starbucks and have a double latte when they arrived. They built a fort on the south side of the Colombia river, to winter over until they could head back to the east which they did in March of 1806.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Remember, Remember the 5th of November.............

With all the excitement I almost forgot that today is Guy Fawkes day in England. On November 5th 1605 Fawkes was apprehended while fixing a timer to 1800 pounds of gunpowder placed in the cellars of the British Parliament building. Fawkes was the trigger man in a Catholic plot to assassinate James I and assorted members of the houses of Parliament.

The Holiday is still celebrated in Great Britain and the Commonwealth by fireworks, bonfires and the burning of "the Guy" as well as the chanting of the rhyme:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I can think of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

And the Leaves That Are Green Turn To Brown, And They Wither With the Wind, And They Crumble in Your Hand

I had been thinking about the content of this post for some time, just mulling various things over in my mind. Every now and then it's fun to think back to the day of youth, the taste, smells and experiences that mold and shape you. Fall seems to bring this out of me most of all. A young lady named Brigid who's blog I follow seems to be thinking much the same thing, she writes one heck of a lot better than I do, so check it out:

I LOVE fall more than any other season, because it affects my senses so much. There are certain smells (and taste) that you can never replicate any other time than in the fall. The smell of a pile of leaves, just take one up, grind it up between your hands and smell it. The odor of burning leaves, (global warming be damned) the mixture of candle wax and charred pumpkin from the Jack o' lantern on the porch, candy corn and those funky wax lips, fangs and orange whistles that you could get for a nickle at the candy counter only around Halloween. The spices in mulled cider and later when I got older, the spices in a vicious drink called Apple Pie. -Grin- The traditional kettle of Brunswick stew cooked over a open fire in the back yard, (once again, global warming be damned) with hush puppies or a pone of corn bread with plenty of chopped onions in the batter.

The smell and comfort of a old worn sweater first pulled out of the cedar chest when the weather cools off. The sights, sounds and smells you experience while sitting out on the front porch early in the morning with that first cup of coffee. I mean real coffee, not something that should be served up by Don Ho on the big island, or sold at some place by a guy with a nose ring at 5 bucks a cup. With, (dare I say it?) a touch of evaporated milk. (or canned moo, as my grandmother called it)

Fall has a bunch more of things like that to remember, and to cherish. (at least to me) The other seasons don't seem to be as notable, although I don't think that well water has ever tasted quite so sweet as it did on a hot and humid August afternoon here in Carolina, when it was drank out of a beat up rusty tin dipper shared among three very dirty, sweaty, cousins.

I guess I am lucky since most folks feel the memory is a lot better than the reality. I have been told that things that are never quite as good as they remember them but with a very few exceptions, I don't find that to be true.

Thank goodness.

I'd Like to See How Farming's Done, How Business Is And How it's Run, How Votes Are Cast And Office Won, A Hundred Years From Now..........

Well it's over.

Mr. Obama is now our president elect.

I can't say that I am happy with the results, but the people have spoken, so there it is. I only hope that Conservatives don't cut loose with the amount of whining and bitching that the liberals did when they lost. We just need to "man up" and start working toward 2010 and 2012.

I personally don't see how Obama will deliver on all that he has promised and figure that there will be a heck of a lot of people in his party that will be very upset with him in a very short period of time but that's neither here nor there.

No matter what happens, this nation will continue on. We have survived much, much, worse.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Domo Arigato !!!!!!!!!

This is a short note to be followed later by a longer post, but I just couldn't let this historic date pass without mention.

On this date, in 1954 the movie Godzilla premiered in Tokyo. Which of course started a whole gigantic monster movie franchise which still continues to this day. Add to that today is also celebrated as Culture Day in Japan, well, the Sake is on me! -grin-

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Off We Go, Into The Wild Blue Yonder......

The never ending saga of my knees continues.

Yesterday while going to other doctor's appointments my left knee decided that it had enough of this foolishness and sorta "seized" up. I can't remember anything else that EVER hurt quite so much as my knee did at that moment. Once I got my wits back about me, I went home and did the typical ice bags and tens unit for a few hours.

Today, I went to my ortho doc and had them checked out. It was a good news/ bad news kind of thing. He told me that my left knee all in all looked "O.K." but my right knee looked to be bone on bone, so it looks like I might be having replacement surgery. He wants to try a type of "lubricant" on it first. He needs to check and see if my insurance will cover the cost first. According to him, the treatment will be around $1200.

But in the meantime, he figured that we should try to do something for my pain, so he wrote me another prescription and got out the steroids.

For those of you who have never had steroid shots in the knees, what a delight it is! The medico takes a needle that would not be out of place in the ass of a rhino after being put there by Marlin Perkins, fills it with a thick white fluid and plunges it into a area that you would swear that it wouldn't fit. NOT the most fun that I have ever had with my pants off, I must say.

It did reduce the pain from sharp stab to dull ache so I guess it helped.

So there I was, after all these fun and games, sitting in the Wal-mart parking lot waiting for the good wife to do some shopping. Today here in North Carolina it was a gorgeous day, brilliantly blue sky, with the occasional fluffy cotton candy like clouds. I had the windows down in the car to catch the breeze and was listening to my favorite rock station when I heard a sorta "growling roar" up in the sky. Now I had heard that noise before but couldn't place it. I looked up and saw a beautifully restored P-51 Mustang flying over. The noise was the sound of the Mustang's engine which I had heard on multiple documentaries of WWII. I will tell you this, the recordings don't do justice to the real thing. There is no mistaking that sound. The pilot circled around then headed north-west. I can see why they named it the Mustang. It seemed to be moving around effortlessly in the sky, but it also seemed that it was patiently waiting to cut loose, like a guard dog leaning on it's chain hoping a link would break. You could say that it was like a thoroughbred horse. That seeing it, you just knew that it would win the race. Just looking at it, it transported me in my mind up into the cockpit with that lucky pilot, handling the controls, scanning the sky feeling the power that he controlled. The sun glinting off of the polished metal that went into it's construction. It was as the Japanese would say, a poem in motion. I thought "Now, THAT is a nice way to take my mind off my troubles" The P-51 flew off and left me alone with my thoughts.

Later, as we were heading home, that same P-51 flew over the interstate on it's way to making a landing at our local airport. When I got home and skimmed the newspaper, I saw that both the Mustang and a restored B-17 bomber were at the airport for a small show in tribute to the vets of WWII.

Maybe I can head over there tomorrow and check it out.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Safe And Sound At Home Again, Let the Waters Roar, Jack....

I got back late last night from a two day trip to New Bern NC where I did 1812 sailor with my shipmates from the Carolina Living History Guild. This should be my last event for a bit, so I can focus on getting my knees squared away, repair and refit on my medical kit, and at least 100 other things that I have been putting off. I must admit I am looking forward to not being on the road so much, it does take it out of you and begins to be a job, not a pleasure. I will do a recap on the events I have been at in a bit, but first, here's today in history....

On this day in,

1881 The gun fight at the O.K. Corral took place. Final score Earps 3, McLaureys/Clantons 0

1967 John McCain was shot down on a bombing mission over North Vietnam leading to 5 1/2 years in a prison camp.

1978 The UN's World Health Organization declared the eradication of Smallpox worldwide. (The last naturally occurring case was in Somalia that year.)

O.K. then, to my events. I started out with a small French and Indian War event at Ft. Dobbs State historic site in Statesville NC. on October 4th and 5th. Ft. Dobbs is a very small site but one that has a great deal of potential. It is the only F&I site in North Carolina and I didn't mind supporting their effort. There is a great deal of talk about the state rebuilding the fort's buildings so this would be a big deal for the state and area. I spoke to a good number of people and had a pretty good time. The one thing I did discover is that sun block expires. I had no earthly idea that stuff like that went bad. Well, I discovered that it did after sitting out in the sun all weekend and having my nose almost fall off due to a nasty sunburn.

The following weekend, October 11th and 12th The Detached Hospital spent the weekend at Williamsburg taking part in the Prelude to Victory program. We did our normal show and every one seemed to have a good time.

The next event was the Battle of the Hook in Gloucester VA. Staged on the weekend of October 18th and 19th. This was a reenactment type event and had according to the event bean counters close to 1000 participants.

Then this past Friday and Saturday, I was in New Bern NC. This event was a bit out of the norm for me. It was more like community theater than historical interpretation. I portrayed a 1812 privateer in a skit for a Halloween ghost walk. I wouldn't normally do something like this, but it was in a good cause, since this program is the only fund raiser for the local historical society. Plus it was helping out my messmates in the Guild. After spending two days with Chris, Andrew, Ken and his lovely wife Pam, eating the great food Ken cooked for us, I promoted them all to my mess mates. You may have seen me referring to these folks as shipmates, well mess mates are even closer. As the old saying went,

A mess mate before a ship mate,
A ship mate before a stranger,
A stranger before a dog,
A dog before a soldier........

I am both very proud of and very pleased with all the folks that I associate with in living history. I don't think I could find a finer bunch of folks in all the world to hang around with and call my friends. I am already looking forward to the coming year and campaign season. But in the mean time, my focus is going to be fix me and all my stuff...........

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Street Fighting Man........,

Thanks to some of the other blogs I follow, I was reminded that on this day in 1956 the people of Hungary stood up and said that they were free men and women and would not be slaves to the communist and the Soviet Union any longer. With home made bombs, stolen rifles, rocks, and their bare hands they managed to take control of various parts of their country and caused the Russians to retreat. Even the Hungarian military and police forces who would have profited from following the party line, for the most part took up arms to defend their fellow countrymen against their communist masters.

Of course, the rebellion couldn't last or survive long. The west could not or would not support the rebels and the Soviet Union couldn't have a puppet nation show any independence, so within a few weeks they sent in overwhelming forces and crushed the rebellion. Jailing and executing the leaders.

I am sure that everyone that took part in the fight knew that it wouldn't be pretty if they lost, but they still stood up and said "enough" and fought for the freedom that had been taken away from them.

I hope that will serve as the epitaph of all mankind. That when liberty and freedom are threatened, no matter the odds, someone will stand up with as little as a rock in their hand and say "No" to the powers that try to enslave them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Heart of Oak Are Our Ships...........

I got in from VA late yesterday, a little road worn and tired, but not too tired to toss down a wee bit of rum to commemorate the 203rd anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson. As was noted on one of list that I belong to, Nelson was:

"He may have been a weaselly little hypochondriac adulterer with one arm and
virtually one eye who ruthlessly promoted himself, was permanently seasick at
sea, and was lucky to get away with self-serving insubordination, but he was an
incomparable leader of men and the finest example of a fighting admiral in the
great age of sail."

Perhaps the fact that he died at the moment of his greatest triumph made him seem more glorious than he deserved, but with all his faults it appears that he was graced with that touch of genius that made him the greatest admiral of the age of fighting sail.

May he rest in peace....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hey Ridley, Ya got any Beeman's?

Man, it's been busy. The weekend before last went to Statesville NC for a French and Indian War event, this past weekend Colonial Williamsburg for a Rev War event. This week, qualification on the pistol range with my old department and this coming weekend the Battle of the Hook near Yorktown Va. Sorta reminds me of the lyrics to a old Charlie Daniels song,

"I had them all out there steppin and fetchin
Like their heads was on fire and their asses was catchin"

I will catch up on all that has been going on later, but I did want to take a moment to mark a date in history. Today, October 14th 1947, Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager while flying the X-1 rocket plane broke the sound barrier. If you didn't see it, the movie "The Right Stuff" covers the event. I don't know how historically accurate the film is, but it SHOULD have happened like this. -GRIN-

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hooray for Hollywood........

If you are bored, take this quiz........

Hard to believe, but I came back as John Wayne. Of course it didn't hurt my feeling either. -grin-

Thursday, October 2, 2008

We're In The Money.....

The Senate passed the bail out bill last night.

I guess Will Rogers said it best:

"American is the only country in the world where we will ride to the poorhouse in a Cadillac."


"The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Since Cromwell Pushed us Westward, To Live Our Lowly Lives

Day two on the pistol range has come and gone. Every one seems to be doing well. More bullets in the targets than out of them so things are good so far. When I got home this afternoon, I poured myself a drink and flipped on the tube and check out the latest gnashing of teeth and rending of hair from Washington.

Folks, I have seen much more organization, leadership and sense of purpose in a shit fight in the monkey cage at the zoo than I have seen coming out of the Senate and Congress in the past little little bit.

What we need is someone to speak with the words of Oliver Cromwell to the nabobs in Washington.

Here's today's very short, Reader's Digest history lesson, boys and girls.

In the early 1640's Charles I, King of England and the English Parliament were at loggerheads over money and power. The King believed in absolute authority of the monarch since in his belief the King was appointed by God to rule over the nation. The King could do no wrong since each decision was ordained by the almighty. Parliament however didn't see life as being that simple. They wanted a control over the King as the elected representatives of the people of England. Of course, the two side never could see eye to eye and a long and bloody civil war resulted. There were of course other issues such as religion, personality and ego involved. The war resulted in the King being beheaded and Parliament wining absolute authority.

In the course of the war one man, burst forth like a meteor in a cloudy sky. Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell, a leader of a Parliamentary cavalry unit, showed aptitude in the leading as well as training of men for war. As the war progressed Cromwell continued to take on more responsibilities for the war effort until he because the unofficial commander of Parliament's army. When the war was over, Parliament took the reins of the government. They tried to disband the army as it was the only force that could contest with them for power. Basically they wanted to sit in Parliament for life. Cromwell heard that this war going on and that the members had refused to write a new constitution for England so he headed to London from Ireland where he had been bloodily putting down a rebellion among the Irish Catholics. After going to Parliament and listening to a few speeches Cromwell called in some troops and closed Parliament after allegedly giving this speech.

"It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!"

Could you imagine someone going to Washington and cutting loose with that? I would pay good money to see that. And with the bunch up there, it wouldn't be too far out of line.

However, no matter how cool the speech was, I don't think I would have liked Cromwell in person. After shutting down Parliament, Cromwell called himself the "Lord Protector" of England and ruled as a military dictator. He was a religious bigot and could be considered a war criminal for his killing of prisoners of war. He crushed freedom of the press and there was freedom of religion as long as he agreed with the religion. Not some things that would go over too well in this country. I know I wouldn't be able to deal with the lack of freedom the Lord Protector would bring.

But you know something? I wouldn't be surprised if the way things are going, that there aren't people out there who think that someone like Cromwell wouldn't come in handy today. After all Germany in 1933 was looking for a savior, wasn't it? We know how THAT turned out don't we?

I just hope that we as a people are not led down that path through our fear or anger.

Monday, September 29, 2008

But All I Got Is A Photograph..................


My glacial creep into the technology of the 21st century continues. I now have a digital camera and hopefully will be getting some photos of whatever I am talking about or working on and place them on this blog.

Now, if I can just figure out how to do it.

It might not be pretty to watch folks. -grin-

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Little Runaway..........

I just recently saw in the newspaper that a employee at Home Depot was recently fired for chasing a shoplifter out of his store. Not more than a week later one of our local police agencies instituted a "no chase" policy for it's officers.

Now I know no one asked me, but I think that is a piss poor policy to have.

I know the logic, that by chasing the bad guys it may cause them to do stupid things to get away and endanger the public. That's why the no chase policy came up in the first place, a woman shoplifted from a store got into her car and ran from the police and hit another car killing two people. I have the greatest sympathy for the folks that got killed and the feelings of their loved ones, but somehow it got turned into the police officer's fault because he chased the crook. The letters to the editor in the local paper were full of that kind of thing. Folks, If the woman hadn't first shoplifted then tried to get away, well then NONE of this would have happened.

All I can see happening with policy like this is that folks WILL try to run because they know that once they hit a certain speed, then the police will give up and let them go. Just like with Home Depot putting it out that they will not try to stop you if you shoplift. I bet you a fat man (and here he sits) that they have a fairly significant rise in thefts.

Back when I was a young pup and limber I would run bad guys until I would drop. If I caught 'em fine and good, if not, well there was always next time. I never had a boss that would make the call for me. He trusted my judgement. Have we gotten to the point where we are so scared of law suits and taking responsibility for our actions that we can't do the right thing anymore? Lord I hope not.

Speaking of which, I figured I would share a war story with you. I was patrolling at one time when I was much younger and saw a fellow that just looked like he was up to something. I went over to talk to him and he took off running. Of course I gave pursuit and caught up to him and found some controlled substances as well as a concealed weapon on his person as a result of a "terry frisk" Well, sometime later, while testifying in court, this gentleman's P.D. started giving me grief about chasing his client when he took off running. It seems that he didn't think I had a good reason to chase him. Well, again I was young and full o' beans, so I told the P.D. that I was somewhat religious and when the defendant took off running, a voice told me Proverbs 28:1 "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion." That ended the session and I was dismissed from the stand. After the case was over, the D.A. called me over and told me that while it WAS funny, if I ever pulled a stunt like that again in his court, bowing to my religious beliefs that he would crucify me.

I behaved myself in court after that.