…Poetry in Motion

Double click for a larger version
Double click for a larger version

There was a song from way back in the day sung by Johnny Tillotson (among others) that reached #1 in the UK.  The writers of the song said that it was inspired by a group of young ladies who walked by their place of work every day on their way home from school.  I don’t know about that, but I do remember the song.  Bobby Vee recorded the song here in the States…and that’s the version I’m most familiar with.

I have to say, though, that watching my next-to-youngest grand daughter when she runs is like watching poetry in motion.  She’s only six, but she can certainly run!  I was fortunate enough to watch her run on the beach when she was just four and I fired away with my camera and got some great shots of her.  Her running form, even then, was perfect.  Her arm motion was impeccable as she propelled herself forward.

Today’s picture is even more poetic in my judgment because of the Easter dress she was wearing when she was running around the yard looking for Easter eggs.  See how it flows behind her?  And her hair flying behind her suggests the freedom and joy of the day.  Her left hand looks completely relaxed as if her forward motion is effortless.  In short, she is an image of grace moving…sorta like poetry in motion.

Oh, can you tell?  Her Pop-pop loves her!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1913, thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan was found molested and murdered in the basement of the Atlanta, Georgia, pencil factory where she worked. Her murder later led to one of the most disgraceful episodes of bigotry, injustice, and mob violence in American history.

Next to Phagan’s body were two small notes that purported to pin the crime on Newt Lee, the night watchman at the factory. Lee was arrested, but it quickly became evident that the notes were a crude attempt by the barely literate Jim Conley to cover up his own involvement. Conley was the factory’s janitor, a black man, and a well-known drunk.

Conley then decided to shift the blame toward Leo Frank, the Jewish owner of the factory. Despite the absurdity of Conley’s claims, they nevertheless took hold. The case’s prosecutor was Hugh Dorsey, a notorious bigot and friend of Georgia’s populist leader, Tom Watson. Reportedly, Watson told Dorsey, “Hell, we can lynch a n——- anytime in Georgia, but when do we get the chance to hang a Yankee Jew?”

Frank was tried by Judge Leonard Roan, who allowed the blatantly unfair trial to go forward even after he was privately informed by Conley’s attorney that Conley had admitted to Frank’s innocence on more than one occasion. The trial was packed with Watson’s followers and readers of his racist newspaper, Jeffersonian. The jury was terrorized into a conviction despite the complete lack of evidence against Frank.

Georgia governor John Slaton initiated his own investigation and quickly concluded that Frank was completely innocent. Three weeks before his term ended, Slaton commuted Frank’s death sentence in the hope that he would eventually be freed when the publicity died down. However, Watson had other plans: He mobilized his supporters to form the Knights of Mary Phagan. Thousands of Jewish residents in Atlanta were forced to flee the city because police refused to stop the lynch mob.

The Knights of Mary Phagan then made their way to the prison farm where Frank was incarcerated. They handcuffed the warden and the guards and abducted Frank, bringing him to Marietta, Phagan’s hometown. There he was hanged to death from a giant oak tree. Thousands of spectators came to watch and have their picture taken in front of his lifeless body. The police did nothing to stop the spectacle.

Although most of the country was outraged and horrified by the lynching, Watson remained very popular in Georgia. In fact, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1920.

Frank did not receive a posthumous pardon until 1986, on the grounds that his lynching deprived him of his right to appeal his conviction.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The federal form 1040 was introduced in 1913 and was required of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents with a net income of $3,000 or more for the taxable year. It consisted of just three pages.

…Painted Faces

Double click to see a larger version...
Double click to see a larger version…

Have you ever really thought about painted faces?  I mean, we all know that kids love to get their faces painted at circuses or other events.  Somehow, having a painted face transports them into an alternate reality: into butterflies, bunnies, elves or mermaids.  And, boy, don’t they know that they’re cute when their faces are painted?!?!

I shot today’s picture some time ago now when I went to take a photography class at a photography studio where they were teaching how to work with different kinds of light set-ups.  I don’t have that kind of equipment myself (I almost always just shoot with natural light) so it was a lot of fun for me to get to shoot with light boxes and various lighting angles and sources.  I was able to borrow a PocketWizard from the studio that would automatically trigger the lighting systems…what fun!

Anyway, they brought in different models that we could photograph in the different light settings and the one in today’s picture had some face painting.  I thought her eyes in conjunction with the face painting was cool, so I took this close up with her permission.

Have you thought about why women “paint” their faces with make-up, eye shadow, eye liner, lipstick and the like?  Do you think it could be a carry-over from the days when we were kids?  Nah, me neither…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1918 In the skies over Vauz sur Somme, France, Manfred von Richthofen, the notorious German flying ace known as “The Red Baron,” was killed by Allied fire.

Richthofen, the son of a Prussian nobleman, switched from the German army to the Imperial Air Service in 1915. By 1916, he was terrorizing the skies over the western front in an Albatross biplane, downing 15 enemy planes by the end of the year, including one piloted by British flying ace Major Lanoe Hawker. In 1917, Richthofen surpassed all flying ace records on both sides of the western front and began using a Fokker triplane, painted entirely red in tribute to his old cavalry regiment. Although only used during the last eight months of his career, it is this aircraft that Richthofen was most commonly associated with and it led to an enduring English nickname for the German pilot–the Red Baron.

On April 21, 1918, with 80 victories under his belt, Richthofen penetrated deep into Allied territory in pursuit of a British aircraft. The Red Baron was flying too near the ground–an Australian gunner shot him through his chest, and his plane crashed into a field alongside the road from Corbie to Bray. Another account has Captain A. Roy Brown, a Canadian in the Royal Air Force, shooting him down. British troops recovered his body, and he was buried with full military honors. He was 25 years old. In a time of wooden and fabric aircraft, when 20 air victories ensured a pilot legendary status, Manfred von Richthofen downed 80 enemy aircraft.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The Chinese were using the decimal system as early as the fourteenth century B.C., nearly 2,300 years before the first known use of the system in European mathematics. The Chinese were also the first to use a place for zero.

…the Easter Bunny

Double click for a larger version
Double click for a larger version

This is not a happy day for our extended family.  As I write this, one of my son’s father-in-laws is in acute liver failure.  It saddens me to say that.  I’m sad for his wife of so many years.  I’d sad for his two daughters and sons-in-law.  I’m sad for his grandchildren who will not really have a chance to know and remember this man.  It is, as I said, a sad day.

Today after church we went to our youngest son’s house to watch his two girls and his sister-in-law’s oldest son while they went to the hospital.  It was such a small thing, but it was all we could do.  In the face of such things we find ourselves powerless, don’t we?

I took today’s photo just a couple of weeks ago on Easter Sunday as the grand kids were searching all over the yard for the Easter eggs that the “Easter bunny” had hidden.  They had such delight on their faces and joy!  They ran and laughed, squatted down, leaned over, peering here and there for a glimpse of a colored egg to put in their baskets.  They had fun!  And I treasured every minute of it in my heart and tried to capture as much of it as I could with my images.

You see, I want to have the simple hope of a child again…the hope that says there are fun and harmlewss creatures like the Easter bunny and the Tooth Fairy, that Santa’s reindeer really can fly and they and his sleigh really do land on the roof so the jolly old fellow in red can deliver presents to children all over the world, that there is a Tinkerbell who sprinkles pixie dust so we can fly.  I have my faith which gives me a solid hope…but I also am old enough to have discouragements from time to time when things make no sense to me.  Oh, for the simple vision of a child again…that looks under bushes for gifts left by a floppy-eared fuzzy, hopping creature!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1967 over North Vietnam, Air Force Maj. Leo K. Thorsness, from the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron, and his electronic warfare officer, Capt. Harold E. Johnson, destroy two enemy surface-to-air missile sites, and then shoot down a MiG-17 before escorting search-and-rescue helicopters to a downed aircrew. Although his F-105 fighter-bomber was very low on fuel, Major Thorsness attacked four more MiG-17s in an effort to draw the enemy aircraft away from the downed aircrew. Awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous action this day, Major Thorsness did not receive his medal until 1973–on April 30, 1967, he was shot down over North Vietnam and spent the next six years as a prisoner of war.  The man was a genuine American hero.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Strange laws: A woman in Memphis, Tennessee, is not allowed to drive a car unless a man is in front of the car waving a red flag to warn people and other cars.

…Blessed Reminders

Double click for a larger image...
Double click for a larger image…

I will admit it.  I have a tendency to be a “glass half-empty” type of person.  I am quick to see problems.  And I get emotionally involved when people or animals are hurting – physically, spiritually, emotionally – it doesn’t matter.  It disturbs and troubles me.

I read or listen to the news – and there’s not much that is good or edifying on the news these days.  Stories about terrorism at work in parts of the world where men, women and children are being slaughtered remorselessly and ruthlessly – heads hacked off, shot and brutalized.  I don’t get it.  But it gets me…and it makes me very sad and somewhat despondent at times.

So, it is important for me to be reminded every so often that there are beautiful things in this world.  Flowers, mountains, sunsets, puppies and bunnies, sunrises, a full moon glittering on the water, a warm and gentle breeze, the touch of a hand, fall leaves, snow on pines – these all are beautiful things and give me joy.

That which gives me the greatest joy and are the very best reminders that there is wonder and beauty all around, though, is my family…and now in my sunset years, especially the faces of my grand children!!!  Oh, how I love them so!!!  Every single one is so incredibly precious to me!  And when you see a face like the one in today’s photo of my two youngest grand daughters (even with missing teeth!) – who have some of my blood flowing in their veins – I am reminded that life is worth living and fighting for…because there is beauty in this world that is undeniable.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1943 in Basel, Switzerland, Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist working at the Sandoz pharmaceutical research laboratory, accidentally consumes LSD-25, a synthetic drug he had created in 1938 as part of his research into the medicinal value of lysergic acid compounds. After taking the drug, formally known as lysergic acid diethylamide, Dr. Hoffman was disturbed by unusual sensations and hallucinations. In his notes, he related the experience:

“Last Friday, April 16, 1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant, intoxicated-like condition characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.”

After intentionally taking the drug again to confirm that it had caused this strange physical and mental state, Dr. Hoffman published a report announcing his discovery, and so LSD made its entry into the world as a hallucinogenic drug. Widespread use of the so-called “mind-expanding” drug did not begin until the 1960s, when counterculture figures such as Albert M. Hubbard, Timothy Leary, and Ken Kesey publicly expounded on the benefits of using LSD as a recreational drug. The manufacture, sale, possession, and use of LSD, known to cause negative reactions in some of those who take it, were made illegal in the United States in 1965.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  During WWI, the Germans released about 68,000 tons of gas, and the British and French released 51,000 tons. In total, 1,200,000 soldiers on both sides were gassed, of which 91,198 died horrible deaths.

…Locked Up

Double click for a larger version
Double click for a larger version

We tend to lock away the things that are of greatest value.  We have safe deposit boxes for gold and jewels (at least some do!)  We put our money in banks.  We try to protect our children until they are old enough to make wise choices.  We lock our houses and cars so no one can take them or things from them.

Sadly, many people lock away their hearts and emotions.  Perhaps it is because of the pain they’ve suffered at the hands of others.  For some it may be that they are afraid of being hurt…and I can understand.  My body has been decorated with scars from many injuries and surgeries over the years but the pain that has always cut the deepest are the wounds of the heart.

Yet, if we lock ourselves away, we also never know the joy of love or being loved.  And as someone sagely said, “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”

This lock and chain reminded me of how we try to protect ourselves…and how that can be a poor decision.  I hope you love, and are loved, in return.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1918, with the Germans, in the throes of a major spring offensive on the Western Front, hammering their positions in Flanders, France, British forces evacuated Passchendaele Ridge, won by the Allies at such a terrible cost just five months earlier.

Under the command of Erich von Ludendorff, the German army launched “Operation Georgette,” the second phase of their first major offensive on the Western Front for more than a year, on April 9, 1918, near the River Lys in Flanders. In the first days of the attack, the Germans regained the momentum they had lost at the end of March, when the Allies halted the first phase of the attacks at Moreuil Wood and around Amiens, France. Storming ahead against the British and Portuguese divisions at the Lys (one Portuguese division was so overwhelmed it refused to go forward into the trenches after the initial bombardment), German forces advanced quickly as panic swept down the Allied lines of command.

On April 15, less than a week after Georgette began, the British were forced to evacuate Passchendaele Ridge, an area that had seen heavy bloodshed the previous fall, during the Third Battle of Ypres. That battle had ended in the Allied capture of Passchendaele on November 6, 1917, but only at the cost of 310,000 British casualties, compared with 260,000 on the German side. In addition to Passchendaele, the Germans gained control of Messines Ridge, the scene of another important Allied victory in June 1917, before the Allied defenses hardened and Ludendorff shut down the Georgette operation on April 29, 1918.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Darker shades of wine (the deepest, blackest reds and the most golden whites) usually come from warm climates and are rich and ripe. Lighter colors, especially in white wines, come from cooler climates and are lighter and less lush.

…Lens Hood Crown

Double click for a larger version
Double click for a larger version

It doesn’t take much for a child to apply their imaginations to the things they find.  For example, a stick can become a horse to ride.  A bench becomes a boat.  A box becomes a house.  A bathtub becomes an ocean full of fish, boats and amphibious airplanes.  The wonder of a child’s imagination is invigorating and inspiring.  It is a great sadness that we lose that part of us as we get older.

On the day before Easter, we were watching our two youngest grand daughters.  To start off the day, we had them coloring Easter eggs inside.  Then, before heading out to a giant Easter egg hunt, games and a petting zoo, I put the lens hood to my camera on the table.  My youngest grand daughter saw it, and with her colored-egg stained hands, she picked it up, put it on her head and declared that it was a crown!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1944, the cargo ship Fort Stikine exploded in a berth in the docks of Bombay, India, killing 1,300 people and injuring another 3,000. As it occurred during World War II, some initially claimed that the massive explosion was caused by Japanese sabotage; in fact, it was a tragic accident.

The Fort Stikine was a Canadian-built steamship weighing 8,000 tons. It left Birkenhead, England, on February 24 and stopped in Karachi, Pakistan, before docking at Bombay. The ship was carrying hundreds of cotton bales, gold bullion and, most notably, 300 tons of trinitrotoluene, better known as TNT or dynamite. Inexplicably, the cotton was stored one level below the dynamite, despite the well-known fact that cotton bales were prone to combustion.

In the middle of loading, smoke was seen coming from the cotton bales and firefighters were sent to investigate. However, emergency measures, such as flooding that part of the ship, were not taken. Instead, about 60 firefighters tried to put out the fire with hoses throughout the afternoon. Unfortunately, the TNT was not unloaded during the firefighting efforts.

Eventually, the firefighters were ordered off the ship but kept dousing the fire from the docks. Their efforts were in vain; the TNT was ignited, and at 4:07 p.m., the resulting explosion rocked the bay area. The force of the blast actually lifted a nearby 4,000-ton ship from the bay onto land. Windows a mile away were shattered. A 28-pound gold bar from the Fort Stikine, worth many thousands of dollars, was found a mile away. Everyone in close vicinity of the ship was killed.

Twelve other ships at the docks were destroyed and many more were seriously damaged. Fires broke out all over the port, causing further explosions. Military troops were brought in to fight the raging fires and some buildings were demolished to stop it from spreading. The main business center of Bombay was not safe for three days after the explosion.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The sun contains 99.85% of the mass in the solar system.

…Popcorn Monsters!!!!

Double click for a larger image
Double click for a larger image

There are things in this world which takes us by surprise…and then there are things that take us by surprise but which are truly terrifying!

I had heard of them before, but I’d never seen them.  Imagine my surprise when I saw two of them at the same time!  I’m talking about popcorn monsters, of course!  Popcorn monsters don’t care about playing on fire engines or playing children’s games.  All they care about is stuffing their mouths with popcorn as fast and as furiously as they can.  It is a sight to behold!  Imagine my surprise when my two youngest grand daughters turned out to be popcorn monsters!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1990, the Soviet government officially accepted blame for the Katyn Massacre of World War II, when nearly 5,000 Polish military officers were murdered and buried in mass graves in the Katyn Forest. The admission was part of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s promise to be more forthcoming and candid concerning Soviet history.

In 1939, Poland had been invaded from the west by Nazi forces and from the east by Soviet troops. Sometime in the spring of 1940, thousands of Polish military officers were rounded up by Soviet secret police forces, taken to the Katyn Forest outside of Smolensk, massacred, and buried in a mass grave. In 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union and pushed into the Polish territory once held by the Russians. In 1943, with the war against Russia going badly, the Germans announced that they had unearthed thousands of corpses in the Katyn Forest. Representatives from the Polish government-in-exile (situated in London) visited the site and decided that the Soviets, not the Nazis, were responsible for the killings. These representatives, however, were pressured by U.S. and British officials to keep their report secret for the time being, since they did not want to risk a diplomatic rupture with the Soviets. As World War II came to an end, German propaganda lashed out at the Soviets, using the Katyn Massacre as an example of Russian atrocities. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin flatly denied the charges and claimed that the Nazis were responsible for the slaughter. The matter was not revisited for 40 years.

By 1990, however, two factors pushed the Soviets to admit their culpability. First was Gorbachev’s much publicized policy of “openness” in Soviet politics. This included a more candid appraisal of Soviet history, particularly concerning the Stalin period. Second was the state of Polish-Soviet relations in 1990. The Soviet Union was losing much of its power to hold onto its satellites in Eastern Europe, but the Russians hoped to retain as much influence as possible. In Poland, Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement was steadily eroding the power of the communist regime. The Katyn Massacre issue had been a sore spot in relations with Poland for over four decades, and it is possible that Soviet officials believed that a frank admission and apology would help ease the increasing diplomatic tensions. The Soviet government issued the following statement: “The Soviet side expresses deep regret over the tragedy, and assesses it as one of the worst Stalinist outrages.”

Whether the Soviet admission had any impact is difficult to ascertain. The communist regime in Poland crumbled by the end of 1990, and Lech Walesa was elected president of Poland in December of that year. Gorbachev resigned in December 1991, which brought an effective end to the Soviet Union.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Snickers is the most popular candy bar in America, due in part to advertising that highlighted its healthful aspects. In the UK, Snickers was initially named Marathon Bar because “snickers” rhymes with “knickers,” a British colloquialism for someone’s underwear.

…King of the Hill

Double click for a larger version
Double click for a larger version

As a child, did you ever play King of the Hill?  There is something in us that is competitive and we all want to be the king or queen in our sphere of influence.  So, we play games – some are just for fun, like King of the Hill – and others are much more serious: political games, power struggles at work at the expense of the weak.  It can be brutal.

And that’s why I love baby animals.  Baby animals play just for the pure joy of it.  Today’s photo was taken this past Saturday when we took our two youngest grand daughters to an Easter egg hunt and petting pen at a church near where they lived.  The petting pen was the first thing they did – and the little animals included a pig, lots of bunnies, chickens, lambs (that were the cleanest and whitest lambs I’d ever seen!), ducks…and miniature goats.  The baby goats were the cutest of all (except for our grand daughters!)

I thought that this was a cute scene – this little goat climbed on top of a small hay bale and was playing king of the mountain, and the person supervising the pen was standing there and for some reason she was pointing downward with one finger as if to say: “Get down off of there!  Who told you that you were the king of the mountain?”  And the baby goat?  He couldn’t have cared less!  For him, it was all about fun!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1990, one of the quirkiest shows ever to appear on television debuted.  “Who killed Laura Palmer?” was the question on everyone’s mind on the night of April 8, 1990, when David Lynch’s surreal television drama Twin Peaks premiered. The naked body of the beautiful blonde homecoming queen was found washed up on a riverbank wrapped in plastic in the show’s opening episode, throwing the residents of the small Pacific Northwestern town of Twin Peaks into a tailspin and kicking off the central plotline of the series.

Shot in and around the logging town of Snoqualmie, Washington, Twin Peaks starred Kyle MacLachlan as the relentlessly quirky Agent Dale Cooper, an FBI agent who arrives in Twin Peaks to help the local police (led by Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Harry S. Truman) unravel the mystery of Palmer’s murder. He soon discovers that she was not the golden girl she seemed, but in fact had hidden vices such as drug abuse and promiscuity. As the story unfolds, Laura’s boyfriend Bobby (Dana Ashcroft), secret lover James (James Marshall), good-girl best friend Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle), grieving father Leland (Ray Wise) and look-alike cousin Maddy (Sheryl Lee, who also played Palmer in flashbacks) become some of the pivotal supporting characters in a large ensemble cast.

Before developing Twin Peaks with his partner, Mark Frost, Lynch gained notice for films such as The Elephant Man (1980) and Blue Velvet (1986), which also starred MacLachlan. ABC brass commissioned Lynch and Frost to create Twin Peaks as part of a larger strategy to turn the network’s reputation and profit margin around by putting new and original shows on TV. A soap opera mixed with a police investigation, plus a healthy dash of Lynchian weirdness, Twin Peaks was hyped even before its debut for its movie-quality directing, including cinematic pacing, complex themes and character development and eccentric humor.

Preceded by an avalanche of publicity, the two-hour Twin Peaks pilot aired on April 8, 1990, and was seen by 33 percent of the television audience, a season high for a TV movie. When the show began airing as a regular one-hour drama on Thursday nights, it earned the network’s highest ratings in several years and was able to cut into the huge audience of NBC’s long-running hit Cheers. Though ratings soon began dropping, the buzz surrounding the series remained strong, as critics called it the best new show in years. The show received eight Emmy nominations for its first season, more than any other series, but won only two awards.

Lynch retained tight control over the show for the eight-episode run of its first season, handpicking directors that he had worked with before or knew through other colleagues. During the second season, the myriad cryptic plot twists had audiences tuning out in droves, however, and the quality of the show was generally believed to have deteriorated. When ABC pulled the plug on the show in mid-1991, Lynch was forced to reveal the identity of Palmer’s killer, a mystery he had wanted to spin out over a number of years, according to an interview he later gave Entertainment Weekly. After the show ended its run in June 1991, Lynch directed a poorly received big-screen prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me(1992).

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The first woman to run for U.S. president was Victoria Woodhull, who campaigned for the office in 1872 under the National Woman’s Suffrage Association. While women would not be granted the right to vote by a constitutional amendment for nearly 50 years, there were no laws prohibiting a woman from running for the chief executive position.

…on Honesty

Double click for a larger
Double click for a larger version

I realize that not everyone grew up in a home where moral values were stressed.  One of the values that was stressed greatly was that of being honest and telling the truth.  I was always impressed with the need to tell the truth, though I can’t say that I always practiced it – not then, and probably, if truth be told, not today.  There are just some things which call for wisdom.  For example, if telling the truth were to lead to the death of an innocent person, what would be the right thing to do?  Such are the questions that theologians and moralists wrestle with.

But there was a saying in the days of my childhood that I don’t hear much any more, and it goes like this: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”  That stuck with me all these years.  And when I saw these vines growing up the side of an old barn, I was reminded of that saying.  It would be hard to untangle these vines and free the barn…and it is difficult to untangle a web of deceit to get to the truth.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1862, the Civil War exploded in the west as the armies of Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston collided at Shiloh, near Pittsburgh Landing in Tennessee. The Battle of Shiloh became one of the bloodiest engagements of the war, and the level of violence shocked North and South alike.

For six months, Yankee troops had been working their way up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Kentucky was firmly in Union hands, and now the Federals controlled much of Tennessee, including the capital at Nashville. Grant scored major victories at Forts Henry and Donelson in February, forcing Johnston to gather the scattered Rebel forces at Corinth in northern Mississippi. Grant brought his army, 42,000 strong, to rendezvous with General Don Carlos Buell and his 20,000 troops. Grant’s objective was Corinth, a vital rail center that if captured would give the Union total control of the region. Twenty miles away, Johnston lurked at Corinth with 45,000 soldiers.

Johnston did not wait for Grant and Buell to combine their forces. He advanced on April 3, delayed by rains and muddy roads that also slowed Buell. In the early dawn of April 6, a Yankee patrol found the Confederates poised for battle just a mile from the main Union army. Johnston attacked, driving the surprised bluecoats back near a small church called Shiloh, meaning “place of peace.” Throughout the day, the Confederates battered the Union army, driving it back towards Pittsburgh Landing and threatening to trap it against the Tennessee River. Many troops on both sides had no experience in battle. The chances for a complete Confederate victory diminished as troops from Buell’s army began arriving, and Grant’s command on the battlefield shored up the sagging Union line. In the middle of the afternoon, Johnston rode forward to direct the Confederate attack and was struck in the leg by a bullet, severing an artery and causing him to quickly bleed to death. He became the highest ranking general on either side killed during the war. General Pierre G. T. Beauregard assumed control, and he halted the advance at nightfall. The Union army was driven back two miles, but it did not break.

The arrival of additional troops from Buell’s army provided Grant with reinforcements, while the Confederates were worn out from their march. The next day, Grant pushed the Confederates back to Corinth for a major Union victory.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Artillery barrage and mines created immense noise. In 1917, explosives blowing up beneath the German lines on Messines Ridge at Ypres in Belgium could be heard in London 140 miles (220 km) away.

…a Real Blockhead

Double click to see a larger image
Double click to see a larger image

I’m sure that this has never happened to you, has it?  Have you ever done something so incredibly stupid that you think to yourself, “I’m such a blockhead!”  Nah, didn’t think it had.  It’s never happened to me, either!  (Yeah, right….!)

What does it mean that someone (not me!) is a blockhead?  Well, I find a couple references to it when I Google it.  One idea is that it comes from the 1600’s when a wooden head-shaped block was used to hold and shape wigs or hats.  Another suggestion is that it came from the block and tackle of wooden ships.  I don’t really know, but I do believe I’ve known a few blockheads in my life, and I’ve been a blockhead at times (yeah, the secret’s out now….)  I do think this though: people who don’t have hair look more like blockheads than those who do, don’t you think?  (Have I offended someone now…I hope not!!!  I don’t mean, too, but think about it: a wooden block in the shape of a human head doesn’t have hair…sorta like a bald person.)

OK, I better quite before I get even further behind here.  I’ve been a real blockhead to even write about this!  Today’s photo of a bunch of cement blocks is the real culprit here.  If it had been a bunch of flowers, I wouldn’t have gotten myself into so much trouble!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1976, Howard Robard Hughes, one of the richest men to emerge from the American West during the 20th century, died while flying from Acapulco to Houston.

Born in Houston, Texas, in 1905, Hughes inherited an estate of nearly a million dollars when his father died in 1923. Hughes’ father also left him the business that had created this fortune, the Hughes Tool Company, which controlled the rights to a new oil drill technology that was in high demand. The young Hughes quickly began to expand his business empire into new fields. In 1926, he moved to Hollywood, where he became involved in the rapidly growing movie industry. He produced several popular films, including Hell’s Angels, Scarface, and The Outlaw.

Fascinated with the new technology of airplanes, Hughes also invested heavily in the burgeoning West Coast aviation industry. With some training in engineering from the California Institute of Technology and the Rice Institute of Technology, Hughes designed his own aircraft and then had his Hughes Aircraft Company build it. In 1935, he piloted one of his airplanes to a new world-speed record of 352.46 mph. His reputation as an aircraft designer and builder suffered after an ill-fated WWII government-sponsored project to build an immense plane that Hughes claimed would be able to transport 750 passengers. Nicknamed the Spruce Goose, Hughes’ monstrosity flew only once: a one-mile hop on November 2, 1947.

Hughes became increasingly reclusive after 1950. Operating through managers who rarely saw him in person, he bought up vast tracts of real estate in California, Arizona, and Nevada that skyrocketed in value. In 1967, he became involved in the Nevada gambling industry when he purchased the famous Desert Inn Hotel on the Las Vegas strip. Nevada gaming authorities welcomed Hughes’ involvement because it counteracted the popular image that the Mafia dominated the gambling industry. By the early 1970s, Hughes had become the largest single landholder in Nevada, and with around 8,000 Nevada residents on his payroll, Hughes was also the state’s largest employer.

Although the rumors of Hughes’ bizarre behavior have been exaggerated–in his final years the billionaire became obsessed with privacy. He continually moved between his residences in Las Vegas, the Bahamas, Nicaragua, Canada, England, and Mexico. Other than a few male aides, almost nobody saw Hughes, and he sometimes worked for days at a stretch in a black-curtained room without sleeping.

Emaciated and deranged from too little food and too many drugs, Hughes finally became so ill that his aides decided that he needed medical treatment. He died in his airplane en route from Acapulco to Houston at the age of 70.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Most Roman aqueducts were over 55 feet high. Their great height not only controlled the flow of water but also made it more difficult for someone to steal water and for enemies to put poison in it. The Roman Aqueduct of Segovia was built of stones with no mortar and is still used to carry water today.

Pictures and Thoughts from a Day in Galen Dalrymple's Life


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,033 other followers

%d bloggers like this: