3 days ago
Monday, April 29, 2013
In March 1975 the CIA and Army Intelligence(?) published a report stating the Army of South Vietnam could most likely last into 1976. The final North Vietnamese offensive began March 10, 1975. By March 25 the defenders were routed, Hua was captured. Da Nang fell 3 days later. And the attackers set their sights on Saigon. The rapidity of the collapse of the country caught both sides off guard.
On April 3 President Ford ordered the start of Operation Babylift , it's aim to airlift 2000 orphans out of the crumbling country. Days later, Operation New Life hastily transported 110,000 refugees from Vietnam.
The first rocket barrage hit Saigon April 27, the attack on Saigon's military airport the morning of the 29th effectively closed the airport stopping large scale airlifts. After brief consultation with Washington, a bit of prior planning and a lot of quick thinking, the largest helicopter airlift in history began evacuating US military forces and South Vietnamese refugees from the US Embassy compound. By the morning of the 30th the military orders were given, evacuate American's only. South Vietnam ceased to exist. It feels like yesterday.
Thirty years earlier:
On April 29, 1945 members of the 1st Company, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry, under the command of Lt. Col. Felix L. Sparks, entered Dachau. When they discovered a train of 36 boxcars bearing the corpses of prisoners who had been transferred to Dachau in the last weeks of the war, they rounded up any remaining SS camp guards. Around 60 were executed. Others were beaten. Afterwards a military investigation submitted a report to General George Patton, commander of the 3rd Army, who chose not to take any action. The report was declassified in 1991.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Today is the birthday of former President US Grant. Like most presidential birthdays it hardly remembered but since there is a Mayberry connection I felt he deserved a nod.
Grant's West Point roommate was a St. Louis boy named Frederick Dent. During their off hours Dent would regale Grant with stories of his family and home in St. Louis, he called it the land of plenty. Grant was more interested in stories of Dent's sisters. Grant's first military posting (1843) was to Jefferson Barracks,a cavalry outpost overlooking the Mississippi River in St. Louis, less than a 10 mile ride by horseback to Dent's home, Whitehaven Plantation.
Grant visited the Dent's often when stationed in Missouri, especially after meeting Frederick's sister Julia. In 1844 U asked for her hand, they married in 1848, after his time in the Mexican War. They moved into the cabin shown above, which was on the Dent plantation.
The Dent farm has been divided over time by suburbanization and by Anheuser Busch which has long owned the property Grant's once lived on. Known now as Grant's Farm it was the longtime home of the Busch family, as well as a AB tourist attraction. Over my lifetime the attractions have improved and now include a large zoo, the Busch family carriage collection and stables for some of the Clydesdale draft horses.
The Dent Farm is mostly suburban neighborhoods now. Whitehaven House, the Dent and Grant family home and an acre or two of land is now a national park while Anheuser Busch stables and trains Clydesdales on what was Julia Dent's back yard.
If you find yourself in town, its a fun stop, free too (except for parking) and they even include a couple of glasses of beer.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Ever ready for new adventures, we have become neighbors with a fox, and naturally opinions are mixed as to what to do about it. Your thoughts are naturally welcome.
We noticed our visitor over the winter. He tends to keep regular business hours; you can set your watch by his 9:30 AM visits and again an hour before sunset. Our fox's it drives the Lion Dogs crazy. I perfectly well understand that a hungry animal will eat anything, and on several occasions, especially in the evening he'll prove that as he passes by with dinner in his mouth. Shih Tzu's would be no match. However, we sometimes forget it's fox time while the dogs are outside. The dogs give chase, the fox keeps out of reach. If the fox gets too far ahead he'll slow down so the dogs can catch up. It looks like the fox and dogs are playing.
Mrs. T suggest the fox is wearing the dogs out making them easier to catch. I'm going with the their are having fun theory. Happy Confederate Memorial Day!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
My bride and I have been spending a lot of time lately with our 3 little buddies, almost 2 yo Moe, 4 year old Larry, and 5 year old Curly. Our kids are no longer kids and most of our grandkids (M L&C are cousins of one of our grandkids) live out of town so we are enjoying a second youth with these guys. Since we are not the kids parents nor their grandparents we have the opportunity to spoil them rotten, wear them out and ship 'em home.
One of the great surprises to new parents is learning that children do not come with instruction manuals. During our outings I am often astounded at how clueless dads are. That children survive in the care of the dads is one of God's greatest miracles.
Mrs. T was a teacher so whenever she is with the kids she is constantly asking the boys questions, drill, drill, drill followed by songs, songs and more drill. Left alone I'd let them watch television, anything to stop the noise. I'm learning but I haven't overcome my genetic deficiencies
Often we'll find somewhere fun for the kids to go for the day, then Playland at the golden arches to totally tire the boys, followed by dinner at home. I'm an inveterate people watcher and Playland is near perfect for observing. The dads most likely have sent the kinds into the play area alone, while dad stays inside nose stuck in something electrictronic while his kids fend for themselves. Moms are much more interactive, involved, mending bumps and bruises and making certain the littlest ones aren't left out.
When younger, I used to believe that most women were if not crazed, well on their way to crazy. I've now come to understand that its men and dealing with children 24/7 that drives them over the edge. Mom's are woefully underappreciated.
However late, I've come to recognize that fact, and will use my bully pulpit to atone. MOM'S WE LOVE YOU!
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
1. I began writing this blog anticipating writing to the ether with hopes my 3 children might occasionally stop by. That others visit amazes me daily, and for which I'll be forever grateful. I need to go old school on this as the first 2 items are directed to my sons.
Junior High was a difficult time at our house, and soon Mrs. T's grandson will graduate from the same middle school my boys attended. Last night my bride and I attended a school ceremony held to honor those students who received a 3.5 GPA (out of 4) each semester during 6-7th and 8th grades.
59% of the graduating class was awarded the Golden N in honor of their achievements......153 students. Mrs. T and I looked at each other and said huh? One hell of a bell curve.
2. Parents of adult children always need to perform some mental gymnastics to remember that whatever their children's ages, accomplishments, family responsibilities and limitations that they are no longer children. This was brought home to roost last week when a high school classmate of my youngest son was named basketball coach at their old school. BB coaches were always really old, now...
3. There is an old saw about clothing, that perhaps I made up but I hope not, that in effect says if you find something you like, buy it. Because you love it, it will go with anything.
I want each of you to know that old saw, whatever its source, is a lie. I apologize to those I may have shared this lack of wisdom with. Over the winter I picked up a pair of greenish and tan seersucker trousers. I do love them and will enjoy them but for maximum effect they will require a deep tan the likes of which my fair Irish skin has never produced and a shirt color that has not yet been invented. Won't stop me from trying though.
4. Patch Mad: I have not yet conferred with my personal enabler to learn whether or not patch mad will be worn this season. Whatever his ruling, I will be. Years ago I gave away a much adored patch mad jacket, purchased on line in haste that did not and I felt would not ever fit. It was a joy just to look at it. Luckily, it went to a great home and I know it's happy. I still dream of that jacket.
Several years ago, egged on by my muse I acquired, again via EBAY, the patch mad jacket shown above. The stated size be damned, it too did not fit, yet I kept it gathering dust in the back of my closet. Finally, it fits, (and the one I gave away) and if spring or summer ever come to Mayberry this year I will wear it until it falls off me.
5. Is tweed appropriate for Derby Day?
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Since ugly events in Boston have filled the world's newspapers and airwaves for the past week, it is time for some happy Boston news. Today is the 378th birthday of Boston's Latin School, the first public school in the United States and the longest existing school.
To put its age in perspective (378 yo is very old in America) BLS was founded one year before Harvard College and 2 years after Galileo's trial during the Inquisition. The Inca Empire fell to the Spanish only 100 years before BLS was founded.
Whether you grew up in or around Boston or elsewhere, Boston Latin School is a national treasure.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Job candidates were often hit with the dreaded "Who living or dead would you like to invite to dinner?" question. A nonsensical approach to see how well the candidate could dance.
High on my list of people I'd enjoy sharing dinner and a cocktail with is today's birthday boy, the pride of Baltimore, John Waters. While certainly not to everyone's taste, John represents many of the values that any civilized society hold dear, honesty, tolerance, conversation, support for the underdog, intelligence, a love of books, art and music. His approach, to attract with the salacious, then turn jokey rendering what was once scandalous non threateningly comical, is a formula that has worked for over 40 years.
If his films are too much for you (Too much Rickii Lake?) try his most recent book, Role Models.
Happy Birthday, John and many more.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
One this date in 2009 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization launched the World Digital Library an internet repository of original culturally significant items from around the world. Operated by UNESCO and the US Library of Congress the site's searchable database includes art, photographs, music, manuscripts, maps and more.
The book list alone is worth bookmarking the site.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
As much as I am looking forward to the upcoming The Great Gatsby movie, in my heart of hearts I anticipate a stinker. Worse than the several hours of my life I'll never get back watching the movie is the damage it will do to my summer clothes closet.
Have you seen the Brooks Brothers Gatsby collection? White suits, correspondents, and skimmers will all be off limits for the next year or two while the dedicated followers of fashion get their 1930's fix on.
If you are so inclined god bless you, but remember that in the US no man, not yet old enough to collect social security, may wear a boater in public. On younger men the hat wears you, there is no getting around it.
Chickens may select their own headgear.
Which leads to today's dilemma. I wish to upgrade my summer play shoe wardrobe. All my life I've spent the summers in Topsiders or Jack Purcells, and frankly I'm tiring of them. I'm looking for something a bit more.... I found the top photo by Googling tasselled plimsolls, a bit of research later I found several great styles and affordable prices. However, all the shoes I found were readily available in the UK, and no so much on this side. So I'm seeking your advice.
Anyone have any recommendations for something similar, a favored purveyor, or more importantly warn me off if I'm heading down a bad path. Many thanks.
Anyone have any recommendations for something similar, a favored purveyor, or more importantly warn me off if I'm heading down a bad path. Many thanks.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
With less than 3 weeks remaining until Derby Day (May 4) gentlemen tired of traditional seersucker yet seeking to leave their sartorial mark on the festivities could do worse than visit J Peterman.
Each spring and summer Peterman's catalog includes an entry "The man in the linen suit". Generally, I prefer my clothing without a backstory, but J's write ups are clever and more importantly the story makes you spend more time reading the catalog than you would otherwise. The man in the linen suit has been a Peterman catalog staple for years however for this year they've changed the color, this season it's Ivory.
Ivory linen is the perfect for Derby Day accompanied by mint juleps, pretty girls and fast horses, or...
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
In amateur baseball there is often a 10 run "mercy rule". Simply stated, if one team is ahead by 10 or more runs after 5 innings the game is over and the team with the most runs wins. Sometimes 5 innings are too many.
Licking Heights High School in Pataskala, Ohio met their rivals Harvest Prep April 5th. Licking Heights scored 16 runs in the first, 18 in the second and 31 and in the third. Although Licking Heights had 48 hits they also drew 13 walks and had 11 hit batters. Their league does have a 10 run mercy rule after 5 innings, but this was called for darkness after 3 with the score Licking Heights 65, Harvest Prep 0.
According to LH coach Jeff Boyer his team did not run on passed balls, didn't stretch hits, didn't steal. "It was the most awkward I've ever felt in 34 years of coaching." Harvest, comprised mostly of freshmen and sophomores has been mercy ruled for all of their games this season. The two teams meet again next Tuesday.
Monday, April 15, 2013
At the end of a war that took the lives of almost 750,000 American's it is hard to say that one death mattered more than another. However, the death of Abraham Lincoln, on this day in 1865, may have had greater impact than that of any of the combatants. Lincoln alive and healthy meant no reconstruction. Lincoln dead brought devastation to the south.
Remember the Rock Hudson 1963 classic A Gathering of Eagles? The film was a cold war propaganda piece about the role of the U.S. Air Force's Strategic Air Command in warding off the red menace. Rock was a B-52 Wing Commander sent to make certain his wing passed their operational readiness inspection. Close your eyes tightly and you visualize the film, even if you never saw it.
I saw that film on a hot night in the back of the family station wagon at a drive in near Kansas City, and knew from immediately I someday wanted to join the Air Force just to be around B-52s. As close as I got was watching them land at nearby Kelly AFB while fighting the battle of Lackland AFB.
Military jets weren't introduced until the end of WWII, and saw limited service. The XB-52 Stratofortress's first flight was April 15, 1952, a mere 3 weeks after my birth, and officially joined the Air Force fleet 3 years later. Sixty one years on, extensively modified and updated the B-52 continues to be the backbone of the US bomber fleet. Current plans anticipate the B-52's retirement in 2040.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Yesterday, forgotten amongst my piles of tax and other ephemera, was the anniversary of the birth of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Happy Birthday Mr. President ( 1 day late)
“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
Never spend your money before you have it.
Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
We never repent of having eaten too little.
Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
Take things always by their smooth handle.
When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred."
TJ was more of a do as I say kind of guy.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
General Lee had been waiting for Gen. Grant. The room was at the left of the doorway of the house, which was reached by a high stoop, with benches on each side of the doorway. When Grant arrived and met Lee Grant introduced his officers to Lee and Lee's aide.
Gen Grant took a seat at the table in the center of the room; Gen Lee sat near the front window. Grant took out a manifold book, placed in 3 carbons and begun to write. Most people think the surrender was written on one piece of paper and signed by Lee; it consisted of two letters, one written by Grant and the other-accepting the terms- was written by Lee. After Grant had written the terms, he stepped over and handed them to Lee, who put on his spectacles and after reading the terms, handed them back to Grant, saying they were satisfactory.
After Lee had handed his acceptance to Grant, he said "General Grant, I would like to ask a favor-if our positions were reversed- I would do it for you. My men are starving, will you give them rations?" "How many are there?" asked Grant "Twenty thousand" replied Lee. Grant commanded his aide to prepare an order for 30,000.
-General Ely Samuel Parker, USA
Monday, April 8, 2013
In 1865 a young Mark Twain wrote a little known short storybook Advice to Little Girls. As only Twain could do, the story encourages little girls to think independently rather than to blindly follow society's norms. His advice includes such classics as:
"Good little girls ought not to make mouths at their teachers for every trifling offense. This retaliation should only be resorted to under peculiarly aggravated circumstances."
"If at any time you find it necessary to correct your brother, do not correct him with mud — never, on any account, throw mud at him, because it will spoil his clothes. It is better to scald him a little, for then you obtain desirable results. You secure his immediate attention to the lessons you are inculcating, and at the same time your hot water will have a tendency to move impurities from his person, and possibly the skin, in spots."
Twain's classic has been rediscovered and republished by Maria Popova and Claudia Zoe Bedrick and is available on Amazon.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Today we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the 1933 repeal of the portion of the great American Experiment, which forbade the sale of beer. Repealing the 18th Amendment, state by state, was going to be a long and arduous process, so the "wet" Democratic Congress elected on FDR's coattails, revised the Volstead Act's legal definition of intoxicant to allow 3.2 beer to be sold.
On December 3, 1933 Utah became the 36th state to adopt the 21st amendment, which repealed the 18th., and allowed "hard' liquor to be sold, across the US, subject to state law.
II. Widespread Panic
I don't know from the band Widespread Panic, and couldn't help a stranger locate a local radio station who played their music, without first knowing more than I do now. My Denver daughter and her husband could though. She and her husband have followed Panic across the continent, to sultry Caribbean islands and into deep southern Mexican resorts.
Last week I saw a local newspaper ad for the band's 2 night Mayberry appearance this week and phoned my daughter. "You are in trouble" I began. Why? came her meek reply. You can travel to Mexico to hear a band but you can't come home to sleep in your old bed to hear them!!!! Oh the stories and excuses I heard.
I would love to believe parental guilt had something more to do with this more than band love, but she called last night asking us to leave a light on for her. Works every time.
III. Do you sleep with your pet?
We do. Our Lion Dogs, Charley and Pooh, sleep in our bed. While they completely ignore my bride, every night the 2 dogs and I tussle over who is sleeping where. I have my spot. I have dibs and the dogs know that they may find a place after I've gotten comfortable. One (never the same) sleeps tucked in tightly into the small of my back, the other is tight against the back of my knees ( I sleep on my side). I haven't been able to roll over at night in years.
Last night, they were in bed waiting for me when I got there, and greeted me with tooth baring growls, which had never ever happened in our house, and is rather funny from such small dogs. I grabbed each by the scruff of the neck and set them on the floor. They were back in bed before I and more growley. In unison they tried pushing me onto the floor, all the while barking and growling at ME. Then Mrs. T screamed, mostly in surprise. Those who know her would never believe it, but she may have uttered an oath as well.
The girls, on their outside trip before bed, caught something and had buried it, still semi-alive, under the covers. It was a long night.
Enjoy your Sunday,
Friday, April 5, 2013
According to legend, today is the anniversary of St. Patrick's return to Ireland and the beginning of his ministry to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.
The story has been passed the down over the centuries that Paddy was the son a wealthy Brit, who as a child had been kidnapped and brought to County Mayo, Ireland by a raiding party. He was held captive for 6 years before a "voice" encouraged Pat to make his escape and return to England. Once home, another "voice" encourage Patrick to return to Ireland and convert the heathens to Christianity.
It took 15 years but Paddy returned, supposedly on April 5, 456. Or so the Irish say.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
The end of the Confederacy is near.
While sitting in his usual pew in St. Paul's Episcopal Church, the sexton handed President Davis a telegram the war Department had received from General Lee. "... lines broken. There was no hope of repairing the damage. He must retreat at once to save the army. Richmond must be evacuated tonight."
The fall of Richmond, orders to destroy war material, cotton and tobacco stored in the city and the surrounding chaos is a particularly fascinating tale, well told by Nelson Lankford in Richmond Burning: the last days of the Confederate Capital. Check your library.
Monday, April 1, 2013
Remember the cool early '90's "What's on your Powerbook" ads? Most of us were flipping disks in and out of our PC's while the creative, the cool guys were schlepping their laptops wherever they went.
The question, What's on your Powerbook was answered usually by someone you'd heard of doing things that weren't on your computer. Movie scripts, list of all the books or CD's in their collection, important phone numbers. Remember this pre-AOL, pre-Internet.
Too many of we working stiffs used our PC solely for 1-2-3, or Wordstar. It was unimaginable that we would waste disk space on letters!
Two results of the "What's on your Powerbook" advertising campaign were that Apple proved that computers, and computer companies could be cool to real folk not just geeks, and
that computers weren't just business machines. Brilliant.
Today is Apple Computer's birthday. Founded April 1, 1976 by 2 young guys working out of their garage. Dreams can come true.