Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Submarine History Story...!

This is actually a good piece for one of our Monday Mysteries, but I wanted to present it today.

This is a record (of sorts ) of the very first successful submarine attack. However, there are a lot of questions still to be answered about the sub itself...and the crew aboard. Here is the story from the folks over at KnowledgeNuts.

The Mystery Of The First Successful Submarine Attack
By Debra Kelly on Monday, April 27, 2015

On a February night in 1864, military history was made with the first sinking of a ship by a submarine. The submarine was the Hunley, and after signaling to shore that the mission was successful and they were on their way back, they never returned. The wreck of the submarine was only recently found and recovered, and divers were greeted by the eerie sight of the long-dead crew still at their posts. Still, the Hunley hasn’t given up its secrets as to what happened to it.

Note: The above image is a 1902 drawing based on a photograph of the submarine, although the drawing is clearly not to scale.

Even today, the murky waters of the world are one of our truly final, uncharted frontiers. Long after we’ve perfected (or nearly perfected) travel by ship, there’s still something darkly terrifying about the idea of traveling by submarine. Traveling in the world’s first submarines must have been a bit mind-numbing.

On February 17, 1864, a submarine crew made the first ever successful attack on a ship. The ship was the USS Housatonic, and it was sunk off the coast of South Carolina.

The submarine that sank it was the HL Hunley, and strangely, for such a monumental moment in military history, there’s a lot we don’t know about the Hunley.

The wreck site was only discovered in 1995 (P.T. Barnum once offered a $100,000 reward for it), and even though the remains of the submarine have been recovered, secured, and preserved, there’s still an amazing amount we don’t know about what went on beneath the waters that February night.

The hull has been severely compromised by decades of ocean water and abuse from its not-quite-final resting place. That’s made it next to impossible to tell what really sank the sub; guesses include that it was perhaps a lucky shot from a soldier that punctured the hull, or that one of the problematic hatches opened and flooded the compartment.

After the submarine had successfully attacked the Housatonic, it had surfaced briefly and signaled the shoreline crew. All was well at the time, they gave the signal that they were on their way back after successfully completing their mission . . . but they never made it.

Adding to the mystery was the state of the crew. They were eerily preserved, still at their stations, when the submarine was discovered.

And what about the crew? There’s not much we know about them, either, in spite of the efforts of a team of researchers. Only one of the ill-fated crew members had children, and descendants have little to no information on the crew or its mission. Four of the eight were European-born immigrants, meaning that there’s even less information on them.

There is, however, the pretty incredible story of an urban legend given new life. According to a popular story about Hunley crew member George Dixon, before he left for the war, his beloved gave him a token that she claimed would keep him safe. A small gold coin, the token was said to have saved Dixon’s life earlier. Shot at point blank range at the Battle of Shiloh, the coin supposedly deflected the bullet and saved his life.

And the coin would later be found on the remains of the Hunley, in the possession of one of the dead crew members, George Dixon. Inscribed with the words: “Shiloh, April 6, 1862, My life Preserver, G.E.D.,” it seems as though the discovery of the coin onboard the sunken submarine gives new life to the old story.

But other remains are more elusive; facial reconstruction software has given us a look at just what the crew members’ faces looked like, but the stories behind them, and just what caused the Hunley to sink so quickly that the men never even left their posts, is still up for debate.

For those that might want to learn a bit more, you can visit these other historical sites here and here. Plenty of information about the history of the Hunley can be found around the web.

Coffee out on the patio today. 83 or 84 is predicted.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cathay Williams In Western Wednesday...!

Sometimes we overlook just how tough some of the women in the old west really were. Ms. Williams is a good example of this.

No job in the military, especially back then, was easy. To stay in the service as long as she did was amazing! From Listverse, here is her story.

Cathay Williams

Photo credit: Chr. Barthelmess

Cathay Williams got a taste of the military life early when she joined Major General Phillip H. Sheridan during the Shenandoah Valley raids. Cathay, a recently freed slave, was the cook and laundress for General Sheridan, but she had her mind set on the front lines of the battlefield.

After the Civil War ended, Cathay was dismissed from her position and had to find another way to make ends meet. When Congress officially established the first African-American regiments in 1866, Cathay decided to enlist as a “buffalo solider.” The only problem was that women weren’t allowed in the military. At 175 centimeters (5’9″), Cathay disguised herself as a man and called herself William Cathay. After a quick and clearly hasty physical, an army surgeon deemed her fit for duty. Cathay became the first African-American woman to be enlisted in the army. Even though Cathay was hospitalized five times during her two years of service fighting in the 38th Infantry, her secret was never discovered. She was eventually given a disability discharge.

Just imagine...when many men in the military were trying to figure a way out, this woman was struggling to stay in undetected. Pretty strong gal, I'd say!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Cold front came through, so it's in the high 60's...OK?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Government And George Orwell...!

Sometimes what we find out about folks we thought we knew is a shock. That's the case with Orwell!

Who would have guessed that the person responsible for the book 1984 could willingly work for the government? Certainly not me! Here is the story from none other than Listverse.

George Orwell Was A Government Informer

Although he was officially a socialist, most people probably associate Orwell with antiauthoritarianism. His most famous novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, are dire warnings about state intrusion in our lives, and his terrifying Thought Police satirized government informers in the creepiest way possible. Yet outside his fiction, Orwell wasn’t totally opposed to state interference. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, he even helped the British government spy on its own citizens.
In 1949, a frail Orwell volunteered to draw up a list of suspected communists and Russia-sympathizers for the UK’s Foreign Office. Included among the 135 names on Orwell’s list were left-wing government figures, playwrights, poets, the mayor of New York, and Charlie Chaplin. Alongside each one, Orwell scrawled personal information, ranging from comments like “v. stupid” to assumptions about their political leanings and racial background. The annotations were so specific that journalist Alexander Cockburn later claimed they showed a deep mistrust of Jews, black people, and homosexuals.
Although there’s no evidence Orwell’s list was ever used to persecute anyone, it still caused many commentators to question why a man so dedicated to ideas of personal liberty would deliberately spy on his political bedfellows.

Wonder just what Orwell's thinking was on this action. Hard for me to figure it out, I'll tell ya!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Weather is acting all crazy and stuff.

Monday, April 27, 2015

B. Traven For Monday Mystery...!

Now here is a good mystery for all the researchers out there. Who was this man really?

This is another one of those mysterious men that show up once in a while, yet remain almost completely unknown to most people. Talk about protecting your privacy! You may not know him, but I'll bet you are familiar with some of his work.

B. Traven

Photo credit: British Authorities

It’s not uncommon for writers to publish works of literature under a pseudonym, but few of them went to greater lengths to conceal their identity than a mysterious author named “B. Traven.” Over the course of two decades, B. Traven published 12 novels and several short stories under this pseudonym. His most famous novel is probably The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, a 1927 adventure story that was eventually adapted into an acclaimed, Academy Award–winning film starring Humphrey Bogart. Yet in spite of writing such an iconic piece of work, Traven managed to take the secret of his true identity to his grave. When he died in 1969, he left behind a will claiming his real name was “Traven Torsvan Croves” and that he was born in Chicago in 1890. However, there is no evidence that anyone named Traven Torsvan Croves actually existed.

It is believed that B. Traven spent the early part of his life living in Europe, as many of his works were written in German before they were translated into English. Traven wrote most of his novels while living in Mexico and worked hard to maintain his privacy. He limited his interactions with other people, and very few photographs of him exist.

There are many theories about who Traven might be, but the best candidate is Ret Marut, a German actor who disappeared after fleeing Europe in 1924. Shortly afterward, B. Traven started publishing his novels in Mexico. Marut was also known for being very protective about his identity, and it is speculated that he previously lived under a different name before he became an actor. Were Ret Marut and Traven Torsvan Croves the same person? Whatever the real truth, the identity of B. Traven continues to remain a mystery.

It always amazes me at how many true mysteries you can find over at Listverse, where I got this one. They really do a good job.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Plenty of sunshine, I hope!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Already Sunday Again...?

Yep! Guess it is! Seems like it was Sunday only a few days ago, doesn't it?

Well, at least we are here to welcome yet another Silly Sunday... and that is a good thing, I reckon.

And one more just for good measure! ya think the older 'toons are better in black and white, or should they all be in color? Just wonderingt!

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday Morning Theme Songs...!

Remember all the great shows that came on television Saturday mornings? Good theme songs on some of those old shows, that's for sure!

I figured I would dig up a few of them and post them here. See if any take you back a few years.

Of course we watched some other shows besides westerns. I know you may have watched this one as well!

You know, it's hard to find a stopping point when you start something like this! There were swo many frun shows back then and the music seemed to kinda stay with you, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Hoping for a good day today.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Death Valley Runner For Freaky Friday...!

I have to ask myself why anyone would want to do this. My answer...because they could!

The freaky part comes from the idea that someone, reportedly of sound mind, wanted to run across Death costume! To me that's just plain freaky!

The Darth Valley Run

In 2010, a 42-year-old man named Jonathan Rice decided for no particular reason that he wanted to run a mile through Death Valley on the hottest day of the year wearing a Darth Vader outfit. So that’s exactly what he did, managing an impressive time of 6 minutes and 13 seconds.

The following year, again for no particular reason, Rice decided to do it once more. Then again in 2013, making a slightly slower time of 6 minutes 31 seconds due to an ankle injury. What initially started out as some guy doing something just for the hell of it exploded when the international media caught wind of the fact that, in 2013, Jon may just have run the fastest and hottest mile ever recorded—dressed as Darth Vader! But that’s not all. Soon after he ran his mile in 2013, it came to light that he’d run the distance while enduring 54 degrees Celsius (129.2 °F) of heat, a temperature that was only 2 degrees off of the supposed hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth.

So, the next time you don’t feel like exercising, just remember that a 40-year-old man ran a mile in just over six-and-a-half minutes on literally one of the hottest days ever recorded—dressed in a Darth Vader costume. Then, you should have all of the motivation you need to go for that jog

Now don't get me wrong. I admire the guy for following his dreams, but it certainly wouldn't be a dream of mine. they say, to each his own! Thanks to Listverse for this article.

Coffee out on the patio today. Let's have some cinnamon toast!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

2 Ingredient Biscuits For Thursday...!

I know this sounds ridiculous, but not only are these the easiest biscuits I've ever made...but the taste id outstanding! Tasty and easy really go together, ya know?

I made these biscuits last night and was very pleased with how they turned out. Mom liked them as well, so that's a good thing.

One thing I might mention. It calls for self rising flour, and I found out that using any other kind just won't get the job done. Same with buttermilk. Be sure to use whipping cream and self rising flour for the best results! Trus me on this one!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Biscuits and honey sound OK?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Myth Of Violence In The Wild West...!

Living in Houston, I'm always amazed at the actual number of violent acts committed here yearly. I think most large cities have a similar problem.

What I was really surprised at was the actual figures of crime in the old west towns. Ruins my mental picture of how bad the Wild West actually was. See what you think!


Shootouts, bank robberies, highly-choreographed bar brawls—if we know anything about the frontier, it’s that it was one hell of a violent place.Or was it?

Turns out the popular image of the Old West as a place where manly men solved their differences by shooting those differences in the face simply isn’t true. People were more likely to cooperate than fight—in a harsh and lawless world, it was better to side with your neighbor for mutual benefit than start shooting. Bank robberies, too, were virtually unheard of. One estimate places the number at about a dozen for the entire frontier period.

Then you have the low-homicide rates. The highest annual body count Tombstone ever experienced? Five. From 1870 to 1885, Dodge City and Wichita had murder rates of 0.6 per year. However you cut it, daily cowboy life was nowhere near as violent as we think.

Do I wish we had less violence here? Certainly! Do I want to go back to the Wild West days? Not on your like...except maybe for a short visit! Very short, know what I mean?

Coffee out on the patio again today! I'm thinking lemon cake for all, OK?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The First Space Detectives...!

Talk about finding a niche and filling it, that's exactly what these guys did!

I would imagine that they don't have a lot of competition, either! That's always a good thing in any business. I think this is a wonderful idea...and probably very useful to some folks!

The First Detectives Of The Final Frontier
By Nolan Moore on Friday, April 17, 2015

Raymond Harris and Raymond Purdy aren’t just ordinary Earth-bound detectives. They’re space detectives. These guys catch crooks and expose crimes using satellite images and the occasional drone. And while they aren’t chasing down extraterrestrial thugs, they can definitely solve thefts, frauds, and environmental crimes.

We live in pretty exciting times, especially in regards to outer space. People are talking about colonizing Mars, robots are crawling all over the Red Planet, and “space tourism” is actually a thing that exists outside of sci-fi novels.

Of course, it isn’t just NASA and billionaires like Elon Musk hoping to tame the final frontier. Lawyers want in on the action, too. As if there weren’t enough attorneys already just focused on Earth, the University of Nebraska and University of Mississippi recently announced they were offering degrees in space law. That’s right. Now you can become a space lawyer.

Students will study everything from “determining liability in commercial space accidents to who can legally take resources from a planet or moon.” Expect plenty of lawsuits when Martians start crashing into space tourists.

In addition to lawyers getting a piece of the interplanetary pie, we now live in a world where there’s an actual space detective agency. It doesn’t get much cooler than that. Founded by geography professor/satellite imaging specialist Raymond Harris and attorney Raymond Purdy, the Air & Space Evidence Ltd of London promises to crack cases that need a bird’s-eye view of the world . . . or an alien’s-eye view.

So let’s say you suspect a company is dumping chemical waste in the woods, or perhaps you think someone is vandalizing their own home to collect the insurance money. Maybe someone is digging for oil in a protected habitat, perhaps someone is committing war crimes in a third-world country, or maybe your irritating neighbor says your fence is on his property. Well, if you take your case to court, you can call the space detectives, and they’ll back you up with satellite imagery that’s bound to impress any judge or jury.

Now you’re probably wondering, “Why can’t I just find the info myself?” Well, it’s actually a bit more complicated than digging for images on Google Earth. If you want to find just the right photo, you’d have to hunt through gigantic databases of data, and that takes quite a bit of time. And if a satellite wasn’t working on a particular day, well, you wasted your day and your case falls to pieces.

Perhaps more importantly, it’s really easy to doctor photos, and you need to be able to prove when it was taken, where you found it, and how you got it. And that’s where Harris and Purdy come in. They’ve been studying satellite images for quite some time, and they know how to back up their claims and maneuver around the courtroom.

Now, sometimes you need super crystal clear images, and that’s where the drones come in. When a satellite simply won’t do, Harris and Purdy plan to use these fantastic flying machines to capture images with higher resolution. So if you think your two-timing spouse is parked in somebody else’s driveway, these guys could fly a drone over the house and snap a photo of the license plate number.

Of course, the space detectives can’t solve every crime. Murders and hit-and-runs are pretty difficult because they happen so quickly, and satellites probably aren’t going to capture those lighting-fast crimes. However, if the offense takes place over several hours or—even better—a week or two, Purdy and Harris can catch those crooks red-handed, whether they’re violating human rights, committing fraud, or destroying the environment.

I wondr if these guys are planning to open a branch off planet in the near future. Can't ever tell, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. How about a slice of coconut chess pie?

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Silent Zone For Monday Mystery...!

Here's one for your perusal. Just a little different than our usual mystery, but that's OK, right?

Ya know, I've read about other places here in the states that are very similar to this. Sorta makes you wonder!

Mapimi Silent Zone

There is a patch of desert in Bolson de Mapimi, Mexico that has been the site of very strange radio wave phenomenon. In July 1970, it’s said that a US military base in Utah launched a test missile that went way off course and crashed in the desert. A team was sent out to find the wreckage, and a road was built to transport it back. The missile is said to have contained radioactive elements that contaminated the topsoil.

It has been said that no radio, TV, short wave, microwave, or satellite signals can get into the zone. Strange orbs, lights, and UFOs have been spotted in the zone as well as reports of three blond, humanoid creatures. Several people claim that they request water and nothing else, and when asked where they are from they reply “from above”. While all of these claims are starting to seem a little far-fetched, there has been scientific evidence that an odd level of magnetite resides in the soil. Scientists don’t know whether this has given the area magnetic properties or if the abnormally large amount of meteors the area is struck by have caused it. Either way, there’s something off about this place.

I can thank the folks over at Listverse once again for this article. I can almost accept most of it, right up to where they start talking about the blonde humanoids asking for water. Everyone knows better than to drink the water in Mexico, right?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Might rain, might not...who knows?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Rainy Sunday 'Toons...!

What better to fill in a rainy day than watching some vintage 'toons, then reading a good book!

Man, after last night I can almost feel that storm.

Guess I'm not the only one that wants to leave the city.

See? I told ya these were classics!

The older 'toons seemed to always have a message in them, ya know? Now, not so much!

Coffee outside this morning. Hot biscuits OK?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Need A Laugh This Morning? Maybe This Will Help...!

I can remember when computers were just becoming popular. Long time ago, right?

Just imagine what would happen if your grand kids had never sen a typewriter! Want to see what their reaction would be? This videa might give you an idea. Enjoy!

We laugh now, but imagine what their young minds are going through trying to figure this thing out! Makes me snicker a bit, I'll tell ya!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. To heck with the weather man!

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Sleep Experiment For Freaky Friday...!

As you know, I use YouTube for a lot of my post. Today, instead of writing about something freaky, I want to show you a video of freaky at it's best!

There are many more mysteries like this out there, and many of them can be viewed at YouTube. Hope you find this fascinating!

I think this story certainly fits the freaky Friday guidelines, don't you? Enough said!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Raining again!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Runaway Bus Driver...!

Sometimes we all have days where the walls seem to be closing in, if you know what I mean.

Those are the days where we start to crack under the pressure of being seemingly stuck in a rut with no way out! This is a story of one such guy. This could have been one of us, ya know?

William Cimillo, The Runaway Bus Driver
By Nolan Moore on Tuesday, April 14, 2015

William Cimillo was a New York City bus driver back in the 1940s. He was a hard-working guy, never complained, and was even recognized for his exemplary work ethic. But eventually, the daily grind was just a little too much for Mr. Cimillo, and in 1947, he left his route and drove south, heading straight for Florida in his bus.

It was 1947, and William Cimillo had been picking up passengers in the Bronx for 17 years. Cimillo was a family man who worked for the NYC Surface Transportation System, and every day was the same. “Up and down, every day,” he once told a TV interviewer, “the same people, the same stops, nickels, dimes, transfers, and—well, this morning, I thought I’d try something different.”

Tired of the same old routine, fed up with New York traffic, and probably feeling pressure to pay off some gambling debts, Cimillo decided he’d had enough. Instead of sticking with his daily routine, he headed his bus south, going nowhere in particular. He stopped in New Jersey for a bite to eat, and parked in front of the White House and took a look around D.C. He even picked up a hitchhiking sailor along the way.

Three days later, he was in Hollywood, Florida, where he stopped for a nighttime swim. Cimillo was totally free . . . and strapped for cash. Hoping to make a few bucks, he wandered into a nearby racetrack, but when that didn’t pan out, he telegrammed his boss in New York, asking for $50. And that’s when the cops showed up. William Cimillo was under arrest for stealing a bus.

Two New York detectives and a mechanic were sent to fetch the runaway driver and his bright red bus (similar to the one pictured above), but according to Cimillo, the mechanic couldn’t really drive the darn thing. Worried they’d end up in a ditch, the officers decided Cimillo should drive them back to New York. And when they arrived, William Cimillo discovered he’d become a legend. People across the country sent him fan mail, newspapers portrayed him as a working-class hero, and his bus-driving buddies raised enough cash to cover his legal expenses.

Realizing they were the bad guys here, the Surface Transportation System decided not to prosecute. In fact, they gave Cimillo his job back, and when he showed up for work, everybody in the Bronx wanted to ride his route. On one occasion, over 300 high school girls mobbed his bus, demanding an autograph. And Hollywood almost turned his story into a movie, starring Elizabeth Taylor as a totally fictional beauty queen who joined Cimillo on his wacky roadtrip. For some reason, the movie was never made.

For the rest of his life, Cimillo was something of a superstar, but he never pulled any more wild stunts. Instead, he kept on driving that bus for 16 more years before finally passing away in 1975. Those three crazy days in 1947 were more than enough adventure for William Cimillo.

I borrowed this story from the folks over at KnowledgeNuts. They always have some good information there!

Coffee out on the patio, but be ready to move to the kitchen if it starts raining again, OK?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Great Horse Race For Western Wednesday...!

How many times do we have a practical joke backfire on us? At least once, right?

Bet that none of ours went as wrong as this one. It probably will go down in history as the biggest failure practical joke ever! Did make for the birth of a wonderful horse race!

How A Bad Joke Triggered History’s Greatest Horse Race
By Alex Hanton on Saturday, October 25, 2014

In 1893, cowboys in Chadron, Nebraska decided to plant a joke story in an eastern newspaper claiming that they were planning America’s longest horse race. Unfortunately, the fake story went viral and captured the imagination of the world. In order to avoid national humiliation, the people of Chadron realized they were actually going to have to stage the greatest race the world had ever seen.

In the late 19th century, there wasn’t much to do in Chadron, Nebraska. The town had only come into existence in 1884, in anticipation of a railroad being built in the area. When the railroad was actually built a few miles away, the townsfolk simply packed up and moved to meet it—taking the buildings with them. By 1893, a couple of local cowboys had taken to amusing their buddies by planting wildly exaggerated stories of life on the range in various tenderfoot eastern newspapers. One of their hilarious hoaxes claimed that 300 cowboys were planning an epic 1,600-kilometer (1,000 mi) race from Chadron to the World’s Fair in Chicago. The distance was ludicrous and the article spiced things up by declaring the mild-mannered town fire chief “the deadliest shot in Nebraska” and a local 11-year-old “a daring rider” who was sure to win. Other entrants included such hardened cowpokes as “Cockeyed Bill” and “Dynamite Dick.”

The whole town thought it was hilarious—until thousands of letters started arriving. The jokers had accidentally captured the imagination of the country, and the townsfolk of Chadron faced national humiliation if they backed down. They soon realized that they had no choice but to keep up the bluff and actually go through with the race.

Helped by a generous purse put up by Buffalo Bill Cody, a genuine field of rough riders was soon assembled. The early favorite was Doc Middleton, the infamous gunfighter and leader of the Pony Boys gang, said to have stolen over 2,000 horses in a two-year period. His main rival was Joe Berry, famous as a mail rider during the Indian Wars, who had to borrow a horse to enter. Other contenders included Rattlesnake Jim Stephens (so-named for the rattlesnake rattles that lined his hatband) and an enormously fat cowboy called Joe Gillespie.

Doc Middleton, the Snidely Whiplash of our story, immediately started playing dirty, demanding that Berry be disqualified since he had helped to stake out the route. The judges agreed, but an outraged Berry announced that he was going to ride in the race anyway. Even if he couldn’t win the prize money, he could still prove he was the best.

Thousands of eager spectators gathered for the start, only to be disappointed when the riders all sensibly set off at a walk. Thirteen days and 16 hours later, Berry, too exhausted to even hold his head up, arrived in Chicago in first place. In second was Emmet Albright, who was set to get the prize until it was revealed he had shipped his horses part of the way by train. Third to arrive was the fat man, Joe Gillespie, who might even have beaten Berry if he hadn’t paused halfway to take part in a parade. After attempting numerous cunning tricks (and allegedly trying to poison the other horses) Doc Middleton finished last.

Thanks to the folks over at KnowledgeNuts, we can all read about this "bigger than life" race! I'll bet it had folks talking for years to come!

Coffee in the kitchen again, thanks to the continuing rain.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Radiation In Quaker Oats For Children...!

Who would have ever thought that the name of Quaker Oats could end up being partnered with such a deplorable experiment as this!

While it's hard for most of us to believe, it seems that things like this go on all the time in the world of big business. Food and medicine seem to be the main targets for experimenting, I imagine due to the fact that these are two things needed by a large part of the population. Still, it's quite disturbing when a story such as this one from KnowledgeNuts comes to light.

When Radiation, Child Abuse, Eugenics And Quaker Oats Collided
By Debra Kelly on Monday, April 13, 2015

In the 1990s, the Fernald Developmental Center came under scrutiny for practices and experiments that it had carried out under rules put in place by its pro-eugenics third superintendent, Walter Fernald. In a joint experiment between the institution, MIT and Quaker Oats, students throughout the 1940s and 1950s were given breakfasts that were heavier on the radiation than they were on the nutrition. That was all in addition to the horrific accounts of abuse and neglect that had long gone on through the school’s history. When investigations concluded in the 1990s, MIT and Quaker Oats agreed to pay a $1.85 million settlement to those who had been test subjects. As a final footnote, MIT issued a statement that more or less said everyone was overreacting about the whole thing, and it wasn’t really that much radiation.

Every so often, a story comes to light that just has so many layers of horrific to it that you, as a human being, like to think that it’s complete fiction, and that other human beings couldn’t possibly be capable of things so incredibly terrible.

They’re capable of it.

In 2014, the Fernald Developmental Center officially, finally, closed. It was originally built and opened in 1848, when it was called the Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded, and at the time, it was a state-of-the-art and incredibly forward-thinking institution. On paper, it might even look that way. It was one of the first schools of its kind, designed to provide a home, education, and care for what were then called “idiots and the feeble-minded.”

The “Fernald” part of the name came later, from Walter Fernald. The third superintendent of the school, Fernald was a hugely outspoken proponent of eugenics. The idea of selective breeding and sterilization to help guide the country into what he and his colleagues thought was the right direction was a strangely popular one that Hitler would eventually grow to admire.

If it seems like a supporter of eugenics might not be the best person to be running a school for the disabled, that’s absolutely right.

The school started into a downward spiral of cruelty and abuse. In addition to children with disabilities, it also became a home for orphans, children who had been abandoned by their parents, and the children of unmarried women. Fernald was striving to limit the growth and development of children that he felt shouldn’t be reproducing, and he was doing so by keeping them in deplorable conditions that were only exposed through a series of investigations and lawsuits in the 1970s. Reports of beatings and abuse were common, but if there was one thing that the residents there couldn’t complain about, it was that they were well fed and would even get second helpings if they asked for them. Or they could complain about that, too, as they were given food laced with radiation. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the residents were unwittingly a part of an experiment that was a pretty horrific joint effort between some pretty big names. The institution partnered with MIT and Quaker Oats in a project that would look at the effects of radiation on children. Investigations in the 1990s showed that around 54 children were used in radiation testing.

As if that isn’t bad enough, the reactions of MIT representatives to the lawsuits was a little mind-boggling. In 1998, MIT and Quaker Oats settled on a $1.85 million payment to the people that had been subjected to the testing. And rather than being apologetic about what had happened in their school’s past, they were little more than blase.

According to the Vice President for Research and Dean for Graduate Education, he’s looking at the payment for what it is—about the tuition costs for 20 students. He also issued a statement saying that MIT was going to continue to stand by its position that the radiation wasn’t actually enough to actually, really, honestly hurt any of the students, or cause any long-lasting damage. The amount of radiation they were exposed to, he said, was found to be about on par with the amount of radiation a person would be exposed to just by living in Denver for a year.

So clearly, feeding radioactive Quaker Oats to students wasn’t all that bad, and the only thing that he does admit is that they probably should have gone to more of an effort to get consent from the families of those who were involved. Yikes.

I just wonder how many more big companies have gotten away with experiments like this and as of yet, have never been taken to task. That is a very scary thought! For those wanting to know more about this, you can find out additional information right here!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. No Quakers Oats, I promise!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bell-Beaker Folk For Monday Mystery...!

There are many things about our past we don't understand or really know anything about. This story from listverse is about one of them.

It seems to me that the more I study and research the past searching for answers, the more questions I end up having, ya know? Ever happen to you?

The Origins Of The Bell-Beaker Folk

Photo credit: Thomas Ihle

Although they sound like something to do with the Muppets, the Bell-Beaker folk were one of the most important cultures in ancient Europe. Wherever they turned up, copper weapons, bronze jewelry, advanced archery equipment, and their iconic drinking vessels would appear not long afterward. They were harbingers of the Bronze Age. In ancient Britain, they even redesigned Stonehenge. Yet we have no idea where they came from.

It’s like they just appeared out of thin air. Although we can trace aspects of their culture back through the ages, they tend to crop up in places where it doesn’t make any sense for them to be. This has led many to speculate that they were less a single culture than a cross-cultural phenomenon—kind of like if people in the future dig up iPhones in China and conclude US invaders brought them.

But that doesn’t explain why Beaker folk buried in Germany all have DNA similar to modern Spaniards and Portuguese. Where did they come from, and why did they suddenly decide to spread across Europe? We’ll probably never know

I'll never understand how an entire civilization can just show up and no amount of research can define where they came from. Almost makes you believe in alien visitors, doesn't it?

Coffee in the kitchen again this morning. Rain is here once more!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cartoons On The Sunday Menu...!

Cartoons are always on the Sunday morning menu, so it seems. Well, at least to me!

Toda we'll do a few Goofy 'toons. OK? OK!

Well, 4 in a row and not a single commercial in the bunch! Where else you gonna get service like that?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. We'll take a chance on the rain, OK?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

How About Those Cows...?

I have to admit that cows have always been a bit of a mystery to me. I don't know why, tough.

I never had a cow or even been around them much, but I like 'em OK. It seems to me that they are, for the most part, always calm and peaceful. Watching them graze always made me feel a little more at peace with the world. Still, there seems to be an air of mystery around them, as this article from Listverse shows.

Cows Always Face North Or South While Eating

Most people don’t give much thought to grazing cows, but when a team of scientists went through thousands of Google Earth’s satellite images of cows, they stumbled upon a detail that we have missed for millennia: Cows will stand along the Earth’s magnetic poles—facing north and south—whenever they’re grazing or resting. The pattern remained consistent regardless of wind or other factors, and nobody’s quite sure why.

While some animals are known to contain an internal compass, this is the first time it’s been found in a large mammal. Another weird thing is that the nearer they are to the poles, the less accurate they get with the orientation. Scientists don’t know if the phenomenon is related to navigation or some miscalculated attempt at warding off predators, though it appears that it may have a purpose because of the consistency with which it was observed among cows across six continents. The phenomenon may have an effect on agricultural production, as cows made to stay in an east-west orientation must be affected in some way, though nobody can say how.

Like I said, I like cows but I really don't know much about them. We really don't have a lot of cows around least, not in the city limits!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Rain is expected again today.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Gotta Love The Creative Old Folks...!

At an age when most of us sort of depend on someone else, this guy decided to really help himself. It almost worked, too!

All things are possible, I reckon, if you work hard enough at it. He even managed to get some sympathy from the government folks! Now that is really something...

The Old Man Who Drew His Own Dollars

Though we’ve already covered Boggs and his incredibly intricate artistic interpretations of money, we also wanted to mention about Edward Mueller. Unlike Boggs, who created his money out of curiosity, Mueller created his out of necessity. We’d also make the argument that Mueller’s story is far more adorable.

Whereas this list is full of people who spent hours painstakingly recreating notes with perfect precision, Mueller’s notes were described as “laughably fake” by the Secret Service—to the point that he may as well have drawn them in crayon. Regardless, he remains the forger with the longest active career in American history, from 1938–1948. So yeah, swivel on that, everyone else on this list.

Because Mueller only copied singles, and only spent them one at a time during busy hours, tracing him proved next to impossible. Also, since his copies were drawn on regular old paper anyone could buy, tracking him down through his suppliers was also out of the question. This allowed Mueller to pass off one or two of his fake notes when times got particularly rough, without being caught.

Over the years, the 62-year-old Mueller’s notes become noticeably poorer in quality, as his equipment became damaged. Eventually, a botched attempt at repairing it resulted in notes spelling Washington as “Wahsington” (d’awww). Even more hilariously, when the government eventually bothered to track down this elusive criminal, hundreds of people coming across his notes actively chose to keep them as souvenirs, rather than handing them in. Which no doubt allowed him to keep on living his quiet, harmless life a few years longer.

However, all good things must come to an end, and Mueller was eventually caught when his home burnt down and his equipment was discovered by some children. His punishment? A year and a day in jail, and amusingly considering his crime, a $1 fine. But his story doesn’t end there—after 20th Century Fox heard Mueller’s story, they immediately bought the rights to it, paying Mueller a sum large enough for him to live on for the rest of his life.

There, don’t you feel better knowing that happened?

The list referred to in this article can be seen over at Listverse, right here.

Coffee out on the patio once again. Never gets old, does it?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Whole Nest Of Hermits...!

Usually when you think of hermits, you think of a single individual, right? What about a family of 6?

While I can understand wanting to break away from society, I think I would prefer to do it alone. Well, maybe with a dog or cat for companionship, ya know? This next story takes the whole living apart thing to a new and disturbing level!

With No Contact

In 1978, a team of geologists in Siberia were stunned to discover a family of six living on a mountainside, miles from the nearest civilization. The Lykov family fled religious persecution in 1936 and lived in the wild for the next 40 years. The two youngest children had never seen a human being that wasn’t a member of their own family, but they were aware of their existence. Their language was distorted due to the isolation, and they had never seen bread.

In a single room, the family survived on a diet of potatoes, ground rye, and hemp seeds and hadn’t eaten meat until the late ’50s when the younger boy taught himself to trap. Their shoes were made of bark, and their only reading materials were prayer books and a family Bible. In 1961, cold weather destroyed the family’s crops, reducing them to eating bark and shoe leather. Their mother died of starvation during this time, making sure her children had enough to eat. After their discovery, the Lykovs remained in their remote home, accepting only a few useful items.

Three years later, three of the Lykov children died within days of each other. Their father died in 1988, leaving Agafia (the only remaining child) alone on the mountain, where she has chosen to stay for another 25 years.

While the original plan is understandable, the end result feels a little sad to me. Still, these folks stood by their vision. That says a lot about their character, I think.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The West Before The Cowboys...!

There was an earlier revolt in America than we thought. Yes, it was in the West, but it was fought by the Native Americans!

Turns out the Indians managed to work together and wage a revolt against the Spaniards. This is a part of early history many of us never knew, at least I didn't. Here is the story from the fine folks over at KnowledgeNuts.

The Pueblo Revolt Was The First American Revolution
By Heather Ramsey on Sunday, April 5, 2015

During the 1500s, Spanish explorers enslaved the Pueblo people in the American Southwest and tried to destroy their religious practices. In 1680, the Pueblos organized the first revolution against a foreign colonial power on American soil. Under the leadership of medicine man Po’Pay, they successfully drove the Spaniards out of Pueblo territory in a surprise attack. However, Po’Pay soon began to act like a dictator himself and the Pueblo alliance fractured without the peace and prosperity the tribes had sought.

“Pueblo” means “town” in Spanish. When Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado saw the adobe homes of the Native American tribes in the territory that would later become New Mexico, he decided to call both the homes and their residents “Pueblos.” In the 1500s, the Pueblos were actually a group of tribes that included the Acoma, Hopi, Taos, and Zuni.

They were peaceful tribes, quite advanced and artistic. Their religions included a number of gods having to do with nature or the skies. However, there were some variations between the tribes in religion, traditions, and spoken languages.

During the 1500s, Spanish explorers enslaved the Pueblos and tried to destroy their religious practices. The Spanish conquistadors were mainly interested in finding minerals like gold and silver to make them wealthy while the Franciscan missionaries who accompanied them were intent on converting the Pueblos to Christianity.

In a battle between the Acoma and the Spaniards in 1599, Spanish conquistador Juan de Onate lost 12 men while killing hundreds of the Acoma. To further retaliate, Onate ordered his soldiers to mutilate every Acoma man over 24 years old by cutting off one of their feet. Boys and younger men were also punished with 20 years of hard labor.

The Spanish government eventually disciplined Onate for his atrocities, but the Spaniards continued to abuse the Pueblos. They were required to give crops and other supplies to the Spanish and work for free in Spanish homes. But the biggest source of contention was religion. The Pueblos were forced to either convert to Christianity and build missions or flee and live as refugees. The Spaniards obliterated all symbols of tribal worship, including kivas, the underground rooms that Pueblos used for religious rituals. To suppress their religion was considered to be a threat to the Pueblos’ livelihood.

Tensions were compounded by drought, famine, and epidemics introduced into the Native American communities by the Europeans. In 1675, the tipping point came when 47 medicine men were arrested for witchcraft and publicly whipped by the Spaniards. Four of the medicine men were hanged.

That inspired one of the survivors, Po’Pay, to lead a rebellion. Little is known about Po’Pay before 1675. He was a Tewa from the San Juan Pueblo who became a medicine man, the wisest man in his tribe. He was also successful at uniting the different tribes against the Spaniards. That wasn’t an easy task because the tribes spoke different languages and were scattered across a 650-kilometer (400 mi) stretch of land. The Spaniards denied the Pueblos horses and guns, so the natives ran the distance they needed to cover.

Each runner went to a different pueblo with a strip of deerskin tied in knots. The Pueblos were to untie one knot each morning. When the last knot was untied, the revolution would begin. It was the first revolution against a foreign colonial power on American soil. However, some warned the Spaniards of the coming revolt.

To keep the element of surprise, the Pueblos launched their attacks a day early on August 10, 1680. They successfully drove the Spaniards out of their territory. Po’Pay took over as governor of the Pueblos, but he soon began to act like a dictator himself. Combined with the continuing drought and famine, the Pueblo alliance fractured without the peace and prosperity the tribes had sought. In 1692, four years after Po’Pay died, Spaniard Diego de Vargas and his men conquered Santa Fe once again.

Just imagine how different history would be if the tribes had managed to remain united. Strange how things work out sometimes, don't you think?

Coffee out on the patio today. Another beautiful Spring day is on the horizon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Solitary Confinement For Posting On Facebook...!

We all know that at times the penal system seems broken here in the United States. In some states it seems to be more broken than in others.

I have to wonder why prisoners even have access to the Internet in the first place. After reading this article on KnowledgeNuts, I was shocked at how out of control some of the punishments seemed to be. Read this and see if you agree.

Where Posting On Facebook Is Punished As Harshly As Murder
By Heather Ramsey on Thursday, April 2, 2015

In 2014, a researcher for the Electronic Frontier Foundation discovered that the South Carolina Department of Corrections was punishing inmates for using social media as harshly as if they had murdered, raped, or taken someone hostage. In one of the most draconian cases, Tyheem Henry received a sentence of almost 38 years in solitary confinement for posting on Facebook for 38 days. Inmates are often prohibited from using social media to ensure that they don’t engage in witness intimidation, contraband drops, or other illegal activity. However, even in South Carolina, the misuse of solitary confinement for these infractions may be changing.

In 2014, a researcher for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) discovered that the South Carolina Department of Corrections was punishing inmates for using social media as harshly as if they had murdered, raped, or taken someone hostage. Almost 400 inmates in the last three years have received punishments ranging from loss of visitation rights and telephone access to solitary confinement. Research has shown that solitary confinement for more than a very short time can cause mental problems or make existing mental illness worse. In some cases, prisoners are more likely to commit other crimes, especially violent ones.

Sometimes, inmates are simply trying to keep in touch with their families or stay on top of current events. But inmates are often prohibited from using social media to ensure that they don’t engage in witness intimidation, contraband drops, or other illegal activity. If prison officials find that an inmate has visited a social media site, they believe the inmate has been using a contraband cell phone. Otherwise, he or she probably wouldn’t have direct access to the Internet.

“Any hole in the system—and social media is a hole into the system—is a way for them to continue their criminal ways,” said South Carolina Department Director Bryan P. Stirling. “There needs to be a punishment that’s worse than, ‘No candy for you today,’ or, ‘You won’t see your mother.’ There has to be something more severe than that.”

In some cases, South Carolina prisoners have received solitary confinement sentences that are longer than the sentences they received for the crimes that sent them to prison. For example, Tyheem Henry received a sentence of almost 38 years in solitary confinement for posting on Facebook for 38 days. He also lost 74 years of visitation rights and telephone access. However, Mr. Henry won’t have to serve 38 years in solitary because he was sent to prison for only 5–10 years. On average, though, South Carolina gives inmates 512 days in solitary confinement if they’re caught on social media websites.

According to the EFF, that’s harsh even by prison standards, although South Carolina isn’t the only state that has allegedly misused solitary confinement. California has been sued for imposing solitary confinement sentences for as long as 10–28 years. New Mexico spent $15.5 million to settle the case of a man accused of drunk driving who was thrown into solitary for 22 months while awaiting trial. His case was never prosecuted.

In the South Carolina cases of inmates posting on social media, the punishments are especially harsh because they’re considered to be Level 1 offenses, which are the most violent transgressions of the prison code of conduct. That makes posting on social media similar to murdering, raping, or taking someone hostage. Inmates receive a separate Level 1 violation for each day they access social media. So inmates who post one update on Facebook for each of 10 days receive 10 Level 1 violations, but inmates who post 50 updates all in one day receive just one Level 1 violation.

The EFF uses this example to demonstrate the severity of this policy: “if a South Carolina inmate caused a riot, took three hostages, murdered them, stole their clothes, and then escaped, he could still wind up with fewer Level 1 offenses than an inmate who updated Facebook every day for two weeks.”

In some states, inmates may be punished if someone else, even a family member, accesses social media on their behalf. Depending on the state, the go-between may also be prosecuted.

However, even in South Carolina, the misuse of solitary confinement may be changing. Recently, Mr. Stirling revised South Carolina’s disciplinary policy to reduce the maximum amount of time spent in solitary confinement to 60 day for each infraction or related group of infractions.

What I want to know is how can someone that kills another person get less time than a person posting on a social media site? Something very wrong there!

Coffee out on the patio again this morning!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Trees For Monday Mysteries...!

Now these trees are not your typical tree that you might find in the forest, but their shapes were made deliberately.

The man that made them kept the process a secret , even to his death. There-in lies the mystery.

Axel Erlandson
1884 – 1964

Erlandson started as an alfalfa farmer and started grafting and shaping tree trunks as a hobby. He would later over a period of decades train trees to grow into shapes of his own design. He experimented with birch, ash, elm and weeping willows, making loops, hearts, chairs, spiral staircases, zigzags, rings, birdcages, towers, picture frames and ladders. Erlandson found his trees to be a popular amusement and decided to create his “Tree Circus”. Erlandson would not tell anyone the secrets of his techniques and would carryout his graftings behind screens to protect against spies. Erlandson died in 1964 along with his amazing secret procedure used to propagate his trees.

Interesting Fact: In 1985, after the Tree Circus went out of business the trees were bought by millionaire Michael Bonfante and were transplanted in his amusement park Gilroy Gardens in Gilroy, California.

One can only imagine how long it took to train and nurture all these trees in order to get the shape he was after. Quite an undertaking, I'd say!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Back to the 80s today.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Some Easter Cartoons...!

Since it is Easter, I found some cute little cartoons the kids might enjoy.

This in no way is meant to disrespect the true meaning of Easter, but to add a bit to the joy of the day! OK? Don't want anyone getting mad at me!

We always managed to have a little fun at Easter when we were kids. My folks were great about stuff like that!

I remember that there was always music around our house to celebrate Easter and, of course, all other holidays!

That's enough for now. I hope everyone gets the chance to celebrate Easter with the family in whatever fashion you wish.

Coffee out on the patio today. Happy Easter to all!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Story Of Old Tom...!

Some stories show up from time to time that show how different species, like humans and whales, can co-operate for mutual benefit. This is one such story!

Old Tom The Whaling Killer

Twofold Bay, near Eden, Australia, is the third deepest natural harbor in the southern hemisphere and a known gathering point for whales; it is an ideal spot for whaling. During the 1860s, the Davidson family had a long-running and established whaling station on its shores.

Each year, as winter moved in so did a pod of orcas. Initially, the Davidsons feared that they would interfere and take whales for themselves, but something else happened. The pod, led by a male who would become known as Old Tom, would drive baleen whales into Twofold Bay and trap them there. Next, Old Tom would swim to the whaling station and jump and slap the water with his tail to get the whalers’ attention.

The whalers would then go out in their boats to catch the trapped whales. Some say the orcas even protected the men by driving away sharks. When a whale had been caught and killed, its body would be left tethered in the water overnight. Old Tom and his pod would eat the lips and tongues of the whales, leaving the more valuable parts to the Davidsons. This arrangement became known as the Law of the Tongue.

The Davidsons and Old Tom’s pod maintained their working relationship for three generations of the family. Old Tom died in 1930, and his skeleton is on display at the Eden Killer Whale Museum. Soon after Old Tom’s death, his pod disappeared and was not seen again. No orcas have cooperated with whalers in such a way since.

You can read more about Old Tom right here! Pretty interesting stuff, if you ask me!

Funny how we can get along with so many different kinds of animals, yet can't seem to do the same with our fellow humans. Wonder why that is?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. They say rain, but I don't believe it.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Jack Daniel On Freaky Friday...!

What makes today's tale so freaky is the fact that it was caused by a silly act of temper.

Most folks have heard that having a bad temper will eventually come to hurt you, and this is certainly an example of that!

Jack Daniel

We don’t have to tell you what legendary master distiller Jack Daniel is known for; statistically speaking, at least one of you is probably smashed on what he is known for right now. We’ve talked ( before about some of the interesting details of his life, but the incident that brought about the end of that life was unfortunately pretty ridiculous.

Jack arrived early to work at his office one morning in 1906, before anyone else. This was unusual, and Jack was having a hell of a time remembering the combo to the company safe, as he was almost never the one to open it. Growing frustrated, he gave the safe a good hard kick—and probably busted something in his foot, as he immediately began limping, and the limp never went away.

The safe had its revenge over time. The limp grew worse, blood poisoning was suspected, the foot grew gangrenous, then had to be amputated. Daniel died of gangrene five years after the safe-kicking, which we suppose goes to show that if your whole life revolves around whiskey, trying to show up for work early is probably a bad idea. Right?

I'm sure that this isn't the only case of someone doing something silly and stupid that ended in tragedy Seems a shame, though. Wouldn't you say?

Coffee on the patio this morning. Cooler weather is on the way again, so they say!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Great Escape In America...!

Sometimes we forget that some of the German P.O.W.s were super smart. Not good!

Here is the story of their version of the "Great Escape" from the Arizona desert.

The ‘Great Escape’ That Happened On US Soil
By Nolan Moore on Sunday, March 22, 2015

In 1944, a group of POWs planned a daring prison break. They’d tunnel under the fences, hike through the wilderness, and make their way to . . . Mexico. As it turns out, these particular prisoners were Nazis in the Arizona desert, and their escape involved volleyball, a canoe, and an evening at the local bowling alley.

Papago Park was the perfect spot for a POW camp. It was smack-dab in the middle of the Arizona desert, surrounded by miles of barren wastelands. The days were hot, and the nights were freezing cold. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. But the Nazis in Security Unit No. 84 were going to try anyway.

It was 1944, and Papago Park was home to around 3,000 sailors and merchant marines, all waiting out the war beneath the overbearing Arizona sun. Well, that was the idea anyway. The Germans in Compound 1 had other ideas.

The Americans running Security Unit No. 84 had made the classic mistake. Hoping to keep a close eye on the troublemakers, they’d placed all their escapees and agitators in Compound 1. To quote The Great Escape, they’d put all their rotten eggs in one basket. As you’ve probably guessed, this was not a good idea.

The escape from Papago was organized by four U-boat captains who discussed their getaway plans while playing bridge. The plot was pretty simple, at least in theory anyway. They’d dig a 55-meter (178 ft) tunnel under two fences and out past a patrol road. They’d need to go 2.5 meters (8 ft) under and add an extra 4.25 meters (14 ft) to clear the fences. Once they made their escape, they’d run for the border and join up with Nazi sympathizers in Mexico. Then they hoped to find a boat ride home.

Digging started around September, and small groups of men scooped out the soil while another team distributed dirt around the compound. They hid it in flower beds, stored it around the barracks, and even flushed it down toilets. Then someone decided to build a volleyball court. Glad to see the Germans spending their time on sports, the Yanks passed out shovels and rakes which the prisoners used to spread their excavated soil over the volleyball field, leveling the ground and covering up the rocks.

Some Germans rigged up lights in the tunnel while others constructed a cart and tracks to speed up the dirt-removal process. Some worked on fake IDs and documents, and others were in charge of providing food. Their solution was to toast white bread, pound it into crumbs, and seal the croutons in the bags taken out of cereal boxes. Out on the road, the crumbs could be mixed with water or milk to make improvised oatmeal.

Perhaps the most rewarding job was duping the Americans into buying fake Nazi regalia. They fashioned Iron Crosses and other medals out of melted toothpaste tubes and shoe polish. After scuffing the merchandise up for a bit of realism, the inmates sold their paraphernalia to the gullible guards and stored the money away for their big breakout.

The Great Papago Escape finally got underway on December 23, 1944. That evening, the Germans threw a wild part to celebrate the Battle of the Bulge (possibly an omen for what was about to happen). They sang drinking songs at top volume while 12 officers and 13 enlisted men made the long crawl to freedom. The men split up in teams of two to three men and scurried into the desert, hoping to make it all the way to Mexico.

The next day at roll call, the Americans sounded the alarm. FBI agents, soldiers, local cops, and bounty hunters combed the desert, hunting for the runaways. Some Germans were picked up by Native American trackers while others turned themselves in, hungry and worn out. And then there were the “three mad boatmen.”

Their names were Captain Wilhelm Gunther, Lt. Wolfgang Clarus, and Lt. Friedrich Utzolino, and they weren’t keen on marching to Mexico. Instead, they were going to build a canoe, sail down the nearby Gila River, make their way to the Colorado, and paddle to Mexico. Only when they reached the Gila, they found the river was all dried up.

They were soon back in Papago Park.

The luckiest Germans were a trio of submariners led by Captain Jurgen Wattenberg. Instead of running to the border, Wattenberg and his friends, Walter Kozur and Johann Kremer, decided to hang around the Phoenix area. On one occasion, Kozur and Kremer went to a nearby bowling alley and had a few beers. Kremer even occasionally joined a work party from Security Unit No. 84 and spent his nights sleeping back in camp.

Eventually, the guards recognized Kremer, and the man was busted. Kozur was arrested shortly afterward, but Wattenberg outlasted all his pursuers. The U-boat captain stayed out in the Arizona desert for over a month until he finally ran out of food. That’s when cleaned himself off, sauntered into Phoenix, and turned himself in on January 28, 1945, the last of the runaway Germans.

I guess that the escape at least provided some entertainment for all involved. Probably served to tighten up the camp security just a tad, ya reckon?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. More rain is in the forecast, but the high should be around 84!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Noisy Day At Coffeyville...!

Even the best laid plans can go really wrong. For the bad guys in the Dalton gang, this was the case at Cofeyville.

You might say that they had their backside handed to them on this day. I believe it's safe to say they got a reception they didn't expect.

Coffeyville Bank Robbery

Photo credit: Coffeyville Historical Society

The Dalton Gang was one of the most notorious criminal operations active in the Old West. Led by big brother Gratton “Grat” Dalton, the gang also contained brothers Bob and Emmett as well as several other members. On October 5, 1892, the Daltons attempted their most ambitious heist yet by robbing two banks on the same day.

They went to banks on the opposite sides of the street in Coffeyville, Kansas. However, they were successfully stalled by an employee who convinced them that the safe was on a timer, so they needed to wait before opening it. During this delay, Coffeyville residents learned of the heists, armed themselves, and waited for the criminals to come outside. Three residents were shot in the ensuing shoot-out. The marshal was killed, as were four members of the gang, including Grat and Bob Dalton.

Even so, the weirdest turn of events was reserved for younger brother Emmett Dalton. He survived the shoot-out despite sustaining multiple gunshot wounds. He spent the next 14 years in prison, and afterward, he went Hollywood. Taking advantage of his notoriety, he wrote a novel in 1918 about the Daltons called Beyond the Law. That same year, the book was turned into a Western, and Emmett played himself in the movie, as well as his two brothers. Afterward, he settled into an average life, getting married and becoming a real estate agent.

Ya know, I always thought that fame and fortune was more enjoyable if you were around to enjoy it! Call me crazy!

Coffee on the patio this morning. No gun-play here...I think!