Saturday, December 27, 2014

100 Years Ago -- 1915

The new year of 2015 is upon us -- how did it get so late so soon??

The following events took place in 100 years ago -- in 1915:

Jan 9 -- Pancho Villa (Mexico) signed a treaty with the USA halting border conflicts.

Jan 12 -- The U.S. House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote.

Jan 13 -- Am earthquake in Italy killed nearly 30,000 people.

Jan 15 -- Japan claimed economic control of China.

Jan 18 -- A train crashed in Guadalajara, Mexico, killing 600 people.

Jan 19 -- The first neon tube sign was patented.

Jan 25 -- Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, inaugurated transcontinental USA telephone service by placing a ceremonial call from New York to his former colleague Thomas Watson in San Francisco. -- “Leave the beaten track behind occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do, you will be certain to find something you have never seen before.”

Jan 28 -- The U.S. Coast Guard was founded by an act of Congress to assist distressed vessels at sea and halt contraband trade.

Jan 31 -- During World War I, the Germans used poison (chlorine) gas for the first time against the Russians and German U-boats sank two British ships in the English Channel.

Feb 4 -- The Germans declared British waters to be part of the war zone whereby all ships would be sunk without warning.

Feb 8 -- The premier of "The Birth of a Nation" -- D. W. Griffith's silent movie about the U.S. Civil War.

Feb 10 -- The Germans captured 100,000 Russians in Lithuania. U.S. President Wilson denounced Britain for using U.S. flags on merchant ships to deceive the Germans.

Feb 12 -- Actor, Lorne Greene (Bonanza) was born in Ottawa, Canada.

Feb 12 -- The cornerstone for the Lincoln Memorial was laid in Washington, D.C.

Feb 20 -- President Wilson opened the Panama-Pacific Expo in San Francisco to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.

Feb 21 -- The 20th Russian Army Corps surrendered to Germany.

Feb 22 -- Germany began unrestricted submarine warfare.

Feb 23 -- Germany sank two U.S. ships and a Norwegian ship.

Feb 26 -- The Germans utilized the first flamethrowers in World War I.

Feb 28 -- Actor, Zero "Samuel" Mostel was born in Brooklyn.

Mar 2 -- A Jewish military force was organized to fight in Palestine.

Mar 13 -- The Brooklyn Dodger baseball manager, Wilbert Robinson, attempted to catch a baseball dropped from an airplane, but the pilot substituted a grapefruit.

Mar 14 -- The British Navy sank a German battleship.

Mar 16 -- The U.S. Federal Trade Commission was formed.

Mar 22 -- A German Zeppelin made a night raid on a railway station in Paris.

Mar 25 -- A U.S. submarine sank off the coast of Hawaii, killing 21 sailors.

Apr 4 -- American blues musician, McKinley Morganfield, a.k.a. Muddy Waters, was born. -- "I been in the blues all my life. I'm still delivering 'cause I got a long memory."

Apr 5 -- Jack Johnson, U.S. heavyweight boxing champion since 1908, lost the heavyweight title to Jess Willard in Cuba, in the 26th round. -- “You don't always have to hold your head higher than your heart.”

Apr 7 -- Jazz singer, Billie Holliday, was born. -- "If I'm going to sing like someone else, then I don't need to sing at all."

Apr 10 -- Actor, Harry Morgan, was born in Detroit, Michigan.

Apr 21 -- Actor, Anthony Quinn, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. -- "On stage, you have to find the truth, even if you have to lose the audience."

Apr 25 -- Australian and New Zealand troops landed in Turkey in a failed attempt to take the Ottoman Empire out of the war.

May 1 -- The luxury liner Lusitania sailed out of New York harbor on a voyage to Europe.

May 1 -- A German submarine sank a U.S. ship (Gulflight I).

May 5 -- Actress, Alice Faye, was born in New York City.

May 6 -- Actor and director, Orson Welles (Citizen Kane) was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. -- “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”

May 6 -- Writer and historian, Theodore H. White was born. -- “To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can have.”

May 6 -- Baseball player, Babe Ruth, made his pitching debut with the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees, losing 4 to 3 in 15 innings -- he also hit a home run. -- “It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

May 7 -- The ocean liner, Lusitania, was struck by a torpedo fired by a German U-boat and sank off the coast of Ireland, killing 1,959 people, including U.S. millionaire, Alfred G. Vanderbilt.

May 12 -- Mary Kay Ash of Mary Kay Cosmetics was born. -- “The greatest pollution problem we face today is negativity.”

May 12 -- Croatians attacked and plundered Armenia, killing 250 people.

May 15 -- In Germany, chemist Clara Immerwahr, wife of chemist Fritz Haber, shot herself in the heart with her husband's revolver in their garden -- her husband had personally supervised the use of chlorine poison gas by the Germans in the battlefield against the Russians.

May 20 -- Moshe Dayan, Israeli general and Minister of Defense, was born. -- "Freedom is the oxygen of the soul."

May 23 -- Italy declared war against Austria and Hungary.

May 24 -- Thomas Edison invented a devise called the telescribe to record telephone conversations. -- "I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

May 27 -- Author, Herman Wouk (The Caine Mutiny), was born. -- “When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.”

May 31 -- A German Zeppelin made an air raid on London.

Jun 8 -- Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, resigned in a dispute of the U.S. handling of the sinking of the ocean liner Lusitania.

Jun 10 -- The Girl Scouts of America was founded.

Jun 12 -- International banker, David Rockefeller, was born. -- "We are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States…. If that's the charge, I stand guilty and am proud of it."

Jun 14 -- An excursion steamer capsized at Chicago's Clark Street dock, killing more than 800 people.

Jul 10 -- Author, Saul Bellow (Pulitzer Prize & Nobel Prize) was born in Montreal, Canada. -- “I love solitude but I prize it most when company is available.”

Jul 24 -- An excursion ship capsized in Lake Michigan, killing 852 people.

Jul 28 -- By the authority of President Wilson, U.S. Marines landed at Port-au-Prince on the island of Haiti to safeguard the interests of U.S. corporations.

Jul 28 -- Some 10,000 blacks marched on 5th Avenue in New York City to protest lynchings.

Jul 30 -- A homemade bomb, made by a former Harvard professor who was upset by the private sales of munitions to the allies during World War I, exploded in the U.S. Senate Reception Room.

Aug 14 -- A German U-boat sank a British transport ship, killing some 1,000 people.

Aug 16 -- A hurricane hit Galveston, Texas, killing `12 people and causing an estimated $8 million in property damage.

Aug 17 -- In Cobb County, Georgia, a Jewish factory manager, Leo Frank, was lynched by a mob seeking justice for the killing of a 13-year-old girl who worked in his pencil factory. Although Leo Frank had been convicted of the crime, the governor of Georgia believed in his innocence and had commuted his death sentence in June.

Aug 19 -- A British ocean liner was sunk by German U-boats. Following this incident, Germany promised it would no longer torpedo merchant ships without warning because of fear the USA would be brought into the war. Some 16 months later, Germany once again announced it would "sink on sight" thereby bringing the USA into the war.

Aug 21 -- Italy declared war on Turkey.

Aug 27 -- Economist, Walter W. Heller, was born in Buffalo, NY. He would become the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors in 1961-1964 under President John F. Kennedy. Later, he was also a professor of Economics at the University of Minnesota where I was in one of his classes many moons ago.

Aug 29 -- Actress, Ingrid Bergman, was born in Stockman, Sweden. -- “I was the shyest human ever invented, but I had a lion inside me that wouldn't shut up.”

Sep 4 -- The U.S. military placed Haiti under martial law to quell a rebellion.

Sep 21 -- Stonehenge was sold at auction for 6,600 pounds sterling ($11,500) to a man who bought it as a present to his wife. Three years later, he presented it to the British nation.

Sep 30 -- Lester Garfield Maddox was born. He would become Democratic governor of Georgia in 1967 to 1971. As a rabid segregationist, he gain his popularity as a restaurant owner who passed out axe handles to his white customers in an effort to prevent black customers from entering his establishment. Incidentally, I lived in Atlanta in 1966 to 1968 when I was a draftee in the U.S. Army at Third Army Headquarters during the Vietnam Era and Maddox was in the local governor's mansion -- his strange antics were often great fodder for daily TV news. -- "That's part of American greatness, is discrimination."

Oct 8 -- During World War I, the Battle of Loos ended with virtually no gain on either side. Over 100,000 French, British and German men lost their lives in this encounter.

Oct 9 -- Woodrow Wilson became the first U.S. President to attend a World Series baseball game.

Oct 16 -- Great Britain declared war on Bulgaria.

Oct 17 -- Author, Arthur Miller (Pulitzer Prize) was born. He married actress Marilyn Monroe in 1956 and they were divorced in 1961 -- “Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.”

Oct 21 -- The first transatlantic radio-telephone message was transmitted from Arlington, Virginia, to Paris, France.

Oct 23 -- Tens of thousands of women marched in New York City, demanding the right to vote.

Oct 30 -- The U.S. Secret Service captured two former Oakland policemen in Utah and Ohio after a 12,500 mile chase, and charged them with counterfeiting $100,000 in bogus $5 gold pieces.

Dec 12 -- Singer and actor, Frank Sinatra, was born in Hoboken, New Jersey. -- "The big lesson in life is never be scared of anyone or anything -- I'm gonna live till I die.”

Dec 16 -- Albert Einstein published his General Theory of Relativity -- “When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.”

Dec 18 -- Widowed the previous year, President Woodrow Wilson married Edith Rolling Galt.

Dec 22 -- Yuan Shikai proclaimed the Empire of China and named himself the Emperor of China

Dec 31 -- The Germans torpedoes a British ocean liner without warning, killing 335 people.

World War One was originally called "The War to End all Wars" -- but once it became apparent that mankind was not exactly enlightened as a collective species, they began numbering future World Wars.

Life can be understood by examining the past, but it must be lived forward -- we are the products of our past, but we don't have to become prisoners of it.

Yesterday is just a memory -- tomorrow is never what it's supposed to be.

All we have is now.

Quote for the Day -- “If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” Woodrow Wilson

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a couple of dogs, where all the beautiful people live and time stands still.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Three-Man Army Reunion

In 1999, I tracked down a couple of guys I spent two years with in the Army back in the late 1960s. One (a former New York City slicker) lived in rural Georgia and the other (originally from Columbia, Missouri) lived in Austin, Texas.

Since my place was approximately an equal distance from the two guys, I invited them to northern Arkansas for a weekend visit. They’ve been coming here on occasion ever since to participate in our impromptu Army reunion.

For them, it’s an opportunity to get away from the wife and let off some steam. For me, it’s a reason to vacuum the rug and hide breakable objects.

The past couple of years, due to scheduling problems, they've been unable to venture this way for the gala event. It’s hard to imagine that you could have a scheduling problem with just three guys but we often do.

All three of us were drafted during the Vietnam Conflict. The government preferred not to call it a war. They didn’t want it to burden the American public with the knowledge that some of our military men and women were dying in swamps halfway across the world for reasons they couldn’t easily explain, but word got out anyway.

The three of us spent our two years at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia, in the Third Army Data Processing Company at Third Army Headquarters. Compared to what most had to endure during the Vietnam Era, it was easy duty, shuffling paperwork in an air-conditioned building near the golf course.

Now we meet on occasion and swap tales about our military exploits. Being three northerners in Georgia in the 1960s wasn’t exactly a picnic. Some of the locals were still upset about losing the Civil War and didn’t care to have a bunch of Yankee carpetbaggers residing in their southern midst.

The New Yorker who now lives in Georgia has three grown sons. The oldest and youngest boys have proven to be levelheaded enough to have found suitable employment and appear to be surviving in the real world. His middle son, Jeff, who seems equally sane, had opted for a 20-year career in the military.

Jeff enlisted in the Navy many moons ago and spent 20 years in the service as a welder in the Seabees. He was in the initial assault into Iraq. He has also seen duty in Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, Kuwait, San Diego, Seattle and Biloxi, Mississippi.

Life in the military isn’t for everyone. Once you’ve joined, you’re locked in for your enlistment period that is anywhere from three to six years depending on various factors. You can’t quit and walk away. You wear what they give you, live where they tell you and do whatever task you’ve been assigned to do. Nonconformity will be severely discouraged. You’re basically a small cog expected to function smoothly within a giant machine. And if you don’t function smoothly, you’ll be engineered and re-tooled until you do.

On the positive side, there are certain advantages to military life. The pay is reasonable and the job security is unrivaled. You’ll get free housing, meals, clothing, medical treatment and so forth. You’ll also have the opportunity to travel to foreign lands. And you can retire with full benefits after 20 years.

November 11 is Veteran’s Day. Everyone should take a few minutes that day to silently praise our military people for their valiant efforts. It’s fine to criticize the leaders who put our forces in harms way, but our troops deserve our support.

Stopping evil by force is a thankless task. Let our troops know we appreciate their sacrifice.

Quote for the Day -- "Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion." Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a couple of dogs and has a deep appreciation for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Year of the Goat -- 1955 & 2015

According to Chinese Astrology, 1955 was the Year of the Goat -- sixty years later, 2015 will also be the Year of the Goat.

Those born in the Year of the Goat are serene, mild-mannered and shy -- most likely because they like spending much time in their own thoughts. 1955 was the year Steve Jobs (Apple Computer founder), Bill Gates (Microsoft founder), Mark David Chapman (killed John Lennon) and John Hinckley (attempted to assassinate President Reagan) were born.

We all come into this world with a clean slate -- some choose to make things better and others choose to tear it all down. 

Sixty years ago, in 1955, at age 11, I began to notice that girls were different than boys. Actually, I had noticed it much earlier but paid little attention to it.

In 1955, life was a roller-coaster ride of joy and sorrow, much like today. The following events took place that year.

January 3: MR. SANDMAN by the Chordettes was the number one song.

January 15: In Sudan, Muslims attacked Christians and Animists; the killings continued until 1996.

January 28: Congress passed a bill to mobilize the military if China invaded Taiwan.

February 9: American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (ALF-CIO) was formed.

February 12: President Eisenhower sent U.S. military "advisors" to South Vietnam to aid the government.

February 17: Britain announced its capability to make hydrogen bombs.

February 24: Under political pressure, Eisenhower resisted committing American troops to Vietnam.

March 1: Israel conducted a raid on Gaza killing 48 Palestinians.

March 3: Elvis Presley first appeared on TV on a show called "Louisiana Hayride."

March 4: The first facsimile transmission (fax) was sent across the continent.

March 18: The University of San Francisco, led by Bill Russell, won the NCAA basketball championship.

April 5: Winston Churchill resigned as British Prime Minister.

April 12: Salk vaccine shots for polio were given to the first American school children.

April 18: Albert Einstein, physicist, died.

April 22: Congress ordered the motto "In God We Trust" to be included on all U. S. coins.

May 2: Tennessee Williams won a Pulitzer Prize for his play CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF.

May 5: West Germany became a sovereign state and promptly joined NATO.

May 11: Israel attacked Palestinians in Gaza once again.

May 13: Mickey Mantle hit three consecutive home runs.

May 31: The U.S. Supreme Court ordered states to end racial segregation.

June 29: The USSR sent tanks into Poland to put down an anti-communist uprising.

June 30: THE JOHNNY CARSON SHOW made its TV debut on CBS.

July 2: THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW made its TV debut on ABC.

August 3: Hurricane Connie devastated the U.S. for 11 days.

August 4: Funding for CIA headquarters was approved.

August 8: Fidel Castro formed his movement to rid Cuba of a dictator.

August 12: The minimum wage was raised from $0.75 to $1.00 per hour.

August 17: Hurricane Diane caused massive flooding along the east coast, killing 200 people.

August 20: An anti-French uprising by Muslims in Morocco and Algeria resulted in hundreds of deaths.

September 22: Hurricane Janet hit Grenada, killing 500 people.

September 30: Actor James Dean died in a two-car, high-speed collision in California.

December 1: Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Ala., for sitting in a seat on a bus reserved for whites.

December 9: Sugar Ray Robinson won the middle-weight boxing crown for the third time.

* * *

Sixty years later, hurricanes are still battering the continent, Israel is still conducting raids into Gaza, Muslims are still attacking non-Muslims and I'm still noticing women are different than men.

May the Year of the Goat bring peace and happiness to this troubled world.

Life goes on.

Quote for the Day -- “From sunrise to sunset, I was in the forest, sometimes far from the house, with my goat who watched me as a mother does a child. All the animals in the forest became my friends, even dangerous and poisonous ones. Thanks to my goat-mother and my Indian nurse, I have always enjoyed the trust of animals.” Diego Rivers

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a couple of dogs and where all the animals in the forest are his friends.