The View from a Tub


First of all, let me say that I’m not a fan of taking baths. Showers, yes. Baths, not especially. However, sometimes if I am really sore and achy, a good soak in a hot tub or jacuzzi can really be helpful!

Alas, that’s not what today’s photo is about. I took this shot yesterday morning looking out the window right by our bathtub. I think the view is relaxing enough that I might just have to crawl in the tub one of these days, soak in the warm water and gaze out the window. I love the woods!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1944, two liquid gas tanks exploded in Cleveland, Ohio, killing 130 people. It took all of the city’s firefighters to bring the resulting industrial fire under control.

At 2:30 p.m., laboratory workers at the East Ohio Gas Company spotted white vapor leaking from the large natural gas tank at the company plant near Lake Erie. The circular tank had a diameter of 57 feet and could hold 90 million cubic feet of the highly flammable gas. Ten minutes later, a massive and violent explosion rocked the entire area. Flames went as high as 2,500 feet in the air. Everything in a half-mile vicinity of the explosion was completely destroyed.

Shortly afterwards, a smaller tank also exploded. The resulting out-of-control fire necessitated the evacuation of 10,000 people from the surrounding area. Every firefighting unit in Cleveland converged on the East Ohio Gas site. It still took nearly an entire day to bring the fire under control. When the flames went out, rescue workers found that 130 people had been killed by the blast and nearly half of the bodies were so badly burned that they could not be identified. Two hundred and fifteen people were injured and required hospitalization.

The explosion had destroyed two entire factories, 79 homes in the surrounding area and more than 200 vehicles. The total bill for damages exceeded $10 million. The cause of the blast had to do with the contraction of the metal tanks: The gas was stored at temperatures below negative 250 degrees and the resulting contraction of the metal had caused a steel plate to rupture.

Newer and safer techniques for storing gas and building tanks were developed in the wake of this disaster.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Experts estimate that in a lifetime, a human brain may retain one quadrillion separate bits of information.

A Majestic Old Lady


Hotel del Coronado (also known as The Del and Hotel Del) is a historic beachfront hotel in the city of Coronado, CA, just across the San Diego bay from San Diego. It is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort. It is the second largest wooden structure in the United States (after the Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, OR) and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and a California Historical Landmark in 1970. In 1904, Hotel del Coronado introduced the world’s first electrically lit, outdoor living Christmas tree.

Notable guests have included Edison, Charlie Chaplin, Vincent Price, Babe Ruth, Jimmy Steward, Bette David, Katherin Hepburn, Kevin Costner, Whoopi Goldberg, Gene Hackman, George Harrison, Brad Pitt, Madonna, Barbara Streisand and Oprah Winfrey. The following presidents have also stayed there: Harrison, McKinley, Taft, Wilson, FDR, Eisenhower, JFK, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama. 

Another famous resident of the hotel is the purported ghost of Kate Morgan. On November 24, 1892, she checked into room 304 (then 3318, now 3327). She told staff she was awaiting the arrival of her brother who was a doctor. She said he was going to treat her stomach cancer, but he never arrived. She was found dead on the steps leading to the beach three days later. The case was declared a suicide; she had shot herself. Another tragedy took place on the beach at the hotel in 1904 when actress Isadore Rush drowned.

When it opened in 1888, it was the largest resort hotel in the world. It has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities through the years. The hotel has been featured in numerous movies and books.

I was fortunate enough to go there on a recent work trip to San Diego. It is magnificent – huge, stately, well maintained and elegant. I took today’s photo with my cell phone inside the lobby area. I would love to go back and stay sometime. It is just a short walk across the grass to a beautiful sandy beach…and of course, the weather in San Diego is matchless!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1991 (when we lived in the Bay Area), a fire began in the hills of Oakland, CA. It went on to burn thousands of homes and kill 25 people. Despite the fact that fires had ravaged the same area three times earlier in the century, people continued to build homes there.

Fires had previously raged through the hills in 1923, 1970 and 1980. Each time, the fires occurred during autumn in a year with relatively little precipitation, and, each time, the residents rebuilt and moved back in as soon as possible. The deadly 1991 fire can be traced to a small fire at 7151 Buckingham Boulevard on October 19. Firefighters responded quickly and thought they had brought the blaze under control. However, heat from the fire had caused pine needles to fall from the trees and cover the ground.

When highly flammable debris, also known as “duff,” accumulates on the ground, fires can smolder unseen. At 10:45 a.m. on October 19, strong winds blew one of these unseen fires up a hillside; changing wind patterns then caused it to spread in different directions.

The winds were so intense and the area was so dry that within an hour close to 800 buildings were on fire. The wind then blew southwest, pushing the fire toward San Francisco Bay. In some places, the temperature reached 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making it virtually impossible to fight the fire effectively. Homeowners attempted to hose down their roofs, but were often thwarted when water pipes burst from the fire. Also, many homes had wooden shingle roofs that were particularly susceptible to fire—it took only 10 minutes in some cases for a house to be brought down by the flames.

Firefighting efforts were constrained by the fact that the affected homes were located on steep hills with very narrow streets. This made it difficult to maintain radio communications and to move large fire engines close to the flames. The fire spread so rapidly that firefighters were unable to establish a perimeter. When the fire was finally contained the following day, 25 people had lost their lives, 150 people were injured and 3,000 homes and 1,500 acres had been consumed. The total tally of damages was $1.5 billion.

In the aftermath, authorities attempted to reduce the likelihood of a similar fire breaking out the in the future. Laws were changed regarding the maximum height of trees permitted and the type of vegetation that was allowable in the area. In addition, most homes that have been rebuilt do not have wooden roofs.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The Talmud is very strict about banning extramarital sex—but also about encouraging marital sex. The Talmud even lays out a timetable for how often husbands should “rejoice” their wives. For men of independent means, every day; for laborers, twice a week; for donkey drivers, once a week; for camel-drivers, once in 30 days; and for sailors, once in six months.

The Bird of Paradise


I have two kinds of flowers that I really love: tulips and the bird-of-paradise. Unfortunately, I don’t see many of either around where we live.

So, it was an extra special treat for me to go to San Diego recently and see some bird-of-paradise flowers at a hotel we went to see (more about that in another post). This one just happened to beg me to take its picture!  I didn’t have my Canon with me, so I just had to shoot with my Galaxy Note 5 (those don’t burn up and catch fire – it’s a great phone, by the way!)

I can see, based on the way this particular flower looks, why they call it a bird-of-paradise. Doesn’t it look like a bird (almost like a hummingbird) with its wings swept back and its red, feathery head toward the bottom right of the picture?  Unfortunately, we were in a hurry so I couldn’t really stop and frame this properly, but I still love the flower.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1864, Confederate General James Longstreet assumed command of his corps in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia in May of that year, Longstreet missed the campaign for Richmond, Virginia,and spent five months recovering before retuning to his command.

Longstreet was one of the most effective corps commanders in the war. He became a brigadier general before the First Battle of Bull Run, Virginia,in 1861, and quickly rose through the ranks of the Army of Northern Virginia. He became a divisional commander, and his leadership during the Seven Days Battles and the Second Battle of Bull Run earned him the respect of the Confederate army’s commander, General Robert E. Lee, who gave him command of a corps just before the Battle of Antietam in Maryland in September 1862.

His leadership at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg sealed his reputation as a brilliant corps leader, but Longstreet was less successful when given an independent command. In spring 1863, he led a force in northern North Carolina and southern Virginia, and he made an expedition to relieve Confederate forces in Tennessee in fall 1863. He enjoyed little success in either situation.

The Union Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River in early May 1864 for another attempt at capturing the Confederate capital at Richmond. On May 6, during the Battle of the Wilderness, Longstreet was shot by his own troops while scouting the lines during the battle. Ironically, it was just a few miles from the spot where Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson had been mortally wounded by his men one year earlier. Longstreet was hit in the neck and shoulder, and nearly died. He was incapacitated for the rest of the campaign and did not rejoin his corps until it was mired in the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, in October 1864.

After the war, Longstreet worked at a variety of government posts, including U.S. minister to Turkey. He broke with his fellow Confederates by joining the Republican Party, and dared to criticize some of Lee’s tactical decisions. Though he was reviled by many of his fellow generals for this later behavior, he outlived most of his detractors.Longstreet died in Gainesville, Georgia, at the age of 82 in 1904.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Christmas stockings allegedly evolved from three sisters who were too poor to afford a marriage dowry and were, therefore, doomed to a life of prostitution. They were saved, however, when the wealthy Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna (the precursor to Santa Claus) crept down their chimney and generously filled their stockings with gold coins.

20,000 Leagues Under the Airport


Yes, my friends, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it? So much has been going on in our lives that I’ve barely had time to breathe, let alone slow down and post something. Hopefully, in about 3 more weeks, life will resume a more normal pace. Yesterday, 10/15, marked the seventh straight week that I’ve either been engaged in moving into a house we bought (1 weekend) or traveling (6 weekends). And I still have 3 more weeks before it will fully come to an end until January. I’m ready to sit still!

On Saturday, I was flying back to Atlanta from Syracuse, NY. Syracuse is a fairly small airport, so I had to catch a regional jet from Syracuse to Detroit, then get on a bigger plane to fly to Atlanta. Our flight arrived in terminal C in Detroit, and my connecting flight left from terminal A, so I had to get from terminal C to terminal A. Part of that trek included passing through an  underground tunnel. There were long banks of lighted panels that ran along both sides of the tunnel and they would sometime change colors and patterns. I thought it was pretty so I snapped this shot with my cell phone. I felt like I was traversing through a long tube under the sea.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1991, George Jo Hennard drove his truck through a window in Luby’s Cafeteria in Kileen, Texas, and then opened fire on a lunch crowd of over 100 people, killing 23 and injuring 20 more. Hennard then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. The incident was one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history.

The rampage at the Central Texas restaurant began at approximately 12:45 p.m. and lasted about 15 minutes. Witnesses reported that the 35-year-old gunman moved methodically through the large crowd, shooting people randomly and reloading his weapon several times. Hennard, of nearby Belton, Texas, was shot several times by police before he committed suicide. No clear motive for his actions was ever determined.

In the aftermath of the Luby’s massacre, Killeen residents urged officials at Luby’s corporate headquarters to let the restaurant re-open so people wouldn’t lose their jobs. Five months after the shootings, the cafeteria was back in business and stayed open for nine more years before permanently shutting its doors in September 2000. Another outcome of the Luby’s massacre was that in 1995 the Texas legislature passed a law allowing residents with gun permits to carry concealed weapons. Suzanna Gratia Hupp, who was at Luby’s with her parents on the day of the massacre and watched as they were murdered, was instrumental in getting the law passed.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Due to jobs, kids, TV, the Internet, hobbies, and home and family responsibilities, the average married couple spends just four minutes a day alone together.

Church in Bethany (Israel)


I shot this picture this past January when we were in Israel on a tour. This church is located in what used to be Bethany.  If you grew up in Sunday school, you may remember the story of Lazarus. He and his two sisters, Mary and Martha, lived in Bethany and Jesus was a friend of theirs – in fact, he probably spent more time at their home than perhaps anywhere else when he was in the Jerusalem area.

This picture was taken inside the church that is close by the supposed tomb of Lazarus. It was beautiful inside, and the acoustics were incredible. What made it even better was our tour leader was a Christian musician named Michael Card – we’ve been fans of his music for decades. Sometimes when we went into churches, he’d bring his guitar and play and sing. It was awesome.

The Latin says, “I am the resurrection and the life” – a quote from Jesus recorded in John 11 in the New Testament. Lazarus, as the record in John states, had died and Jesus raised him from the dead.  The statement, “I am the resurrection and the life” is something he said to Lazarus’ sister, Martha, when Jesus arrived after Lazarus’ death.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1835, the first in a series of six articles announcing the supposed discovery of life on the moon appeared in the New York Sun newspaper.

Known collectively as “The Great Moon Hoax,” the articles were supposedly reprinted from the Edinburgh Journal of Science. The byline was Dr. Andrew Grant, described as a colleague of Sir John Herschel, a famous astronomer of the day. Herschel had in fact traveled to Capetown, South Africa, in January 1834 to set up an observatory with a powerful new telescope. As Grant described it, Herschel had found evidence of life forms on the moon, including such fantastic animals as unicorns, two-legged beavers and furry, winged humanoids resembling bats. The articles also offered vivid description of the moon’s geography, complete with massive craters, enormous amethyst crystals, rushing rivers and lush vegetation.

The New York Sun, founded in 1833, was one of the new “penny press” papers that appealed to a wider audience with a cheaper price and a more narrative style of journalism. From the day the first moon hoax article was released, sales of the paper shot up considerably. It was exciting stuff, and readers lapped it up. The only problem was that none of it was true. The Edinburgh Journal of Science had stopped publication years earlier, and Grant was a fictional character. The articles were most likely written by Richard Adams Locke, a Sun reporter educated at Cambridge University. Intended as satire, they were designed to poke fun at earlier, serious speculations about extraterrestrial life, particularly those of Reverend Thomas Dick, a popular science writer who claimed in his bestselling books that the moon alone had 4.2 billion inhabitants.

Readers were completely taken in by the story, however, and failed to recognize it as satire. The craze over Herschel’s supposed discoveries even fooled a committee of Yale University scientists, who traveled to New York in search of the Edinburgh Journal articles. After Sun employees sent them back and forth between the printing and editorial offices, hoping to discourage them, the scientists returned to New Haven without realizing they had been tricked.

On September 16, 1835, the Sun admitted the articles had been a hoax. People were generally amused by the whole thing, and sales of the paper didn’t suffer. The Sun continued operation until 1950, when it merged with the New York World-Telegram. The merger folded in 1967. A new New York Sun newspaper was founded in 2002, but it has no relation to the original.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The largest crater in the solar system is found on the moon. Called the South Pole-Aitken, this giant crater is on the far side of the moon and is 1,550 miles (2,500 km) in diameter. The largest crater visible to Earth (on the near side of the moon) is the Bailly Crater, with a 183-mile diameter.




I am fond of color. I love it. I can’t get enough of it. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be color blind, but I would imagine the world would be much less exciting without color. I’m thankful that I can see color. It’s something we rather take for granted, don’t you think?  I  mean, when is the last time you really stopped and thought about being able to see color and gave thanks for it?

We took a vacation to the Pacific northwest in early July and as we were out walking one day with our eldest son and his family, we came across this house. I suppose that there are probably some in the neighborhood that don’t appreciate the color scheme of this house, but I loved it! I only wish more houses were brightly and creatively painted rather than another white or brownish house. This house is obviously loved…it took a lot of detailed work to paint it and they did a really neat job of it, too.

I think that just as people are different and unique, it would be great if houses were all painted uniquely. Go to your paint store folks…and get with it!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1572, King Charles IX of France, under the sway of his mother, Catherine de Medici, ordered the assassination of Huguenot Protestant leaders in Paris, setting off an orgy of killing that results in the massacre of tens of thousands of Huguenots all across France.

Two days earlier, Catherine had ordered the murder of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, a Huguenot leader whom she felt was leading her son into war with Spain. However, Coligny was only wounded, and Charles promised to investigate the assassination in order to placate the angry Huguenots. Catherine then convinced the young king that the Huguenots were on the brink of rebellion, and he authorized the murder of their leaders by the Catholic authorities. Most of these Huguenots were in Paris at the time, celebrating the marriage of their leader, Henry of Navarre, to the king’s sister, Margaret.

A list of those to be killed was drawn up, headed by Coligny, who was brutally beaten and thrown out of his bedroom window just before dawn on August 24. Once the killing started, mobs of Catholic Parisians, apparently overcome with bloodlust, began a general massacre of Huguenots. Charles issued a royal order on August 25 to halt the killing, but his pleas went unheeded as the massacres spread. Mass slaughters continued into October, reaching the provinces of Rouen, Lyon, Bourges, Bourdeaux, and Orleans. An estimated 3,000 French Protestants were killed in Paris, and as many as 70,000 in all of France. The massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Day marked the resumption of religious civil war in France.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The sun contains 99.85% of the mass in the solar system. (Or, as Elvis would put it, it’s a hunka-hunka burning love!)

Buzz Flower


I shot today’s photo with my cell phone. This particular flower was captured in Portland, OR in July of 2016. I liked the color of the flower and the bee that was gathering pollen. No, I didn’t get stung, but I also didn’t introduce myself to the bee, either!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1877, Texas Ranger John Armstrong arrested John Wesley Hardin in a Florida rail car, returning the outlaw to Texas to stand trial for murder.

Three years earlier, Hardin had killed Deputy Sheriff Charles Webb in a small town near Austin, Texas. Webb’s murder was one in a long series of killings committed by the famous outlaw-the 39th by Hardin’s own count. Killing a lawman, however, was an especially serious offense. The famous Texas Rangers were determined to bring Hardin to justice.

For three years, Hardin was able to elude the Rangers. Moving between Florida and Alabama, he adopted an alias and kept a low profile. Nonetheless, the Rangers eventually unmasked his secret identity and dispatched John Armstrong to track him down in Florida.

On this day in 1877, Armstrong, acting on a tip, spotted Hardin in the smoking car of a train stopped at the Pensacola station. Armstrong stationed local deputies at both ends of the car, and the men burst in with guns drawn. Caught by surprise, Hardin nonetheless reacted quickly and reached for the gun holstered under his jacket. The pistol caught in Hardin’s fancy suspenders, giving the lawmen the crucial few seconds they needed and probably saving Hardin’s life–instead of shooting him, Armstrong clubbed Hardin with his long-barreled .45 pistol.

Technically, the Texas Rangers had no authority in Florida, so they spirited Hardin back to Texas on the next train. Tried in Austin, a jury found Hardin guilty of killing Sheriff Webb and sentenced him to life in the Texas state prison at Huntsville. He served 15 years before the governor pardoned him. Released in 1894, an El Paso policeman killed him the following year.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Approximately 71 million pounds of chocolate candy is sold during the week leading up to Easter. Only 48 million pounds of chocolate is sold during Valentine’s week. In contrast, over 90 million pounds of chocolate candy is sold in the last week of October leading up to Halloween.

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer


In 1963, the immortal Nat King Cole released an album titled “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer.” Though the album only rose to #14 on the Billboard’s LP chart, I recall that song perfectly well, even though I was just a kid in those days. There was a certain lift to the song…it lifted spirits and captured the innocent days of summer that were such a fond part of my life. The lyrics:

CHORUS: Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer

Just fill your basket full of sandwiches and weenies
Then lock the house up, now you’re set
And on the beach you’ll see the girls in their bikinis
As cute as ever but they never get ’em wet

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You’ll wish that summer could always be here

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer

Don’t hafta tell a girl and fella about a drive-in
Or some romantic movie scene
Right from the moment that those lovers start arrivin’
You’ll see more kissin’ in the cars than on the screen

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You’ll wish that summer could always be here
You’ll wish that summer could always be here
You’ll wish that summer could always be here!

Well, I was too young to know about drive-in’s and kissin’ girls and such stuff, but the chorus has never left my memory!

It is August 21. We have had a hot summer in the state of Georgia. Right now, our oldest son, who lives in Oregon, has been having triple-digit temperatures while we’ve been cooler than that here. And today, oh wonderful!, it is cooler here. There’s been a breeze blowing about all day and as I type this, the thunder is rolling through the treetops and the rain has begin to fall. The forecast for the next 15 days shows cooler weather than we’ve had nearly all summer…and that begins to hint to me that the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer may soon be starting to fade into the crispness of fall. I certainly hope so.

But there is something to be said for those summer days where children, like my two granddaughters in the photo I took, play away the days without a care in the world. Playing by the lakeside, eating bar-be-cue, laughing and goofing around…these are the kinds of days and things that I hope they will remember all the days of their lives – just as I recall the lyrics to this song!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1863 a ruthless band of guerillas attacked the town of Lawrence, Kansas, killing every man and boy in sight. The town was an abolitionist, pro-Union stronghold, and the guerillas, led by William Quantrill and William “Bloody Bill” Anderson,were said to have carried out the brutal attack on behalf of the Confederacy. Included in their group was Jesse James’ brother Frank and Cole Younger, who would later also play a large role in the James gang.

Bloody Bill Anderson got his name for his love of shooting unarmed and defenseless people. Reportedly, he carried multiple handguns, in addition to a saber and a hatchet. His horse was also outfitted with several rifles and backup pistols. Although he claimed to have political motives for his terrorism, Anderson more likely used the Civil War as an opportunity to kill without repercussion.

Jesse James, only 17 at the time, teamed up with Bloody Bill after he split from Quantrill’s band of killers. On September 27, 1864, their small splinter group terrorized and destroyed most of the town of Centralia, Missouri, and killed 22 Union solders.Later that day,they ambushed and killed 150 more Union men. A month later, Anderson paid for his crimes: He was caught by a full contingent of Union army troops in Missouri and killed in the ensuing battle. Jesse James was never brought to justice by the North for his war crimes and went on to become the 19th century’s most infamous criminal.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: why is it that we seldom seem to learn that the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence?  Over 75% of people who marry partners from an affair eventually divorce.

Portland Street Scene


You can see street performers in nearly any large American city. Near Pier 39 in San Francisco you can see musicians and mimes and also performers acting like metallic robots. They are fun to watch and often quite talented.

I don’t know where people get the nerve and courage to perform like that in public. My first non-sports related attempt was back in my high school days. There was an experimental class that emphasized the arts off all sorts and I took it as an elective. It was fun…and actually very interesting. I wrote some music (and discovered that being a composer was not my gift), dabbled in some stage stuff (I participated in numerous plays/dramas/musicals) and really enjoyed myself. But my first attempt at performing in public on my own was when I sang, “Sunrise, Sunset” on stage. Thankfully, it wasn’t recorded for posterity!

The young lady in this image was on the sidewalk down by the river in Portland, Oregon. She was quite gifted and was playing guitar (I don’t recall her singing, though), but she played more by hammering the strings with her fingers than strumming or “picking” the notes. I wish I could have stayed and observed her talent longer, but we were off to another destination.

People like this have my admiration and appreciation. I think the only talent that I have which I can demonstrate in public is to appreciate those who are gifted and encourage them!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY (from in 1831, John X. Beidler, one of the best known of the notoriously secretive Montana vigilantes, was born in Pennsylvania.

Beidler, who preferred to be called simply “X,” had little formal education and tried his hand at a variety of trades. Initially a shoemaker, he also worked briefly as a brick maker and then traveled to Kansas where he took up farming. A supporter of John Brown’s radical abolitionist movement, he left Kansas for Texas after Brown was captured and executed for his abortive raid on the Harper’s Ferry armory in Virginia. From Texas, Beidler wandered northward, eventually joining the Gold Rush to Montana Territory in 1863.

When Beidler arrived in Virginia City, the area was plagued by marauding bandits who roamed the isolated roads of the region robbing and killing. The bandits were led by a charming psychopath named Henry Plummer who had managed to con the citizens into electing him sheriff of the nearby town of Bannock. Frustrated by the ineffectiveness of the local law enforcement, the citizens of Virginia City and Bannock formed a highly secretive vigilance committee and began systematically hunting down and hanging the road agents, including Sheriff Plummer.

Not long after arriving in Virginia City, Beidler joined the vigilantes and became one of the group’s most active members. Unlike most of the members, who took pains to conceal their identities, Beidler welcomed attention. Numerous legends arose around the so-called “Vigilante X,” and Beidler did little to discourage exaggerations—in fact, much of the Beidler lore was true. He was the principal hangman for at least five of the vigilante’s victims, and he survived several narrow escapes in his relentless pursuit of dangerous men.

After helping rid Montana of crime, Beidler became a stagecoach guard and deputy U.S. Marshall. He appears to have been highly effective in these roles, though he was criticized for sometimes overstepping the bounds of his authority. Apparently, the former vigilante still liked to take the law into his own hands.

As an old man, he fell on hard times and became dependent on the charity of Montanans who remembered his previous service. When he died in Helena, Montana, in 1890, his death certificate listed his occupation as “Public Benefactor.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: back in 1967, the band Procol Harum released a song titled A Whiter Shade of Pale, that included a reference to “vestal virgins”.  You may not know what that was referring to, but here’s a snippet: the Vestal Virgins of Rome were women priests who tended the sacred fire of Vesta, goddess of the hearth fire. If they lost their virginity, even as a result of rape, they were buried alive in an unmarked grave. In the 1,000-year history of the temple, only 18 Vestals received this punishment.

In an Oregon Marsh


Somewhere in a marsh in Oregon, I shot this photo of a “flower”.  I don’t know for sure what kind of plant this is/was, but because it was purple, I liked it!  My first reaction was that it might be related to the Canadian thistle that I grew to despise when I was a kid in Iowa, but then I am pretty sure this plant wasn’t related at all. But in Iowa, those Canadian thistles were everywhere…and when they grew in a field of crops, they – and other unwanted weeds – needed to be removed from the field or they’d tend to take over.

So, since that was before the time of selective poisons that would just target certain types of plants while leaving others “unharmed”, every Iowa farm kid knew what it meant to “walk beans” or “walk corn”.

Usually in the early morning, a group of folk (mostly kids who wanted work and needed money) would line up at one end of a field with a how or machete in hand. You started walking down between two rows of soybeans or corn and when you encountered a weed, you’ll cut it down with the machete or hoe. It was hot, dirty work.  You’d walk from one end of the field to the other, then position yourself between two more rows and walk back the other way until the entire field had been “walked”.

By mid-day it would be very hot and humid. You’d sweat profusely. And the dust from black Iowan soil that had settled on the leaves of the plants clung to your arms and your soaked-through shirt. Not a pretty sight.

Looking back on it now, it has a certain nostalgic charm to it, but at the time we hated it.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1945, the  second atom bomb ever used in history was dropped on Japan by the United States, at Nagasaki, resulting finally in Japan’s unconditional surrender.

The devastation wrought at Hiroshima a few days earlier was not sufficient to convince the Japanese War Council to accept the Potsdam Conference’s demand for unconditional surrender. The United States had already planned to drop their second atom bomb, nicknamed “Fat Man,” on August 11 in the event of such recalcitrance, but bad weather expected for that day pushed the date up to August 9th. So at 1:56 a.m., a specially adapted B-29 bomber, called “Bock’s Car,” after its usual commander, Frederick Bock, took off from Tinian Island under the command of Maj. Charles W. Sweeney. Nagasaki was a shipbuilding center, the very industry intended for destruction. The bomb was dropped at 11:02 a.m., 1,650 feet above the city. The explosion unleashed the equivalent force of 22,000 tons of TNT. The hills that surrounded the city did a better job of containing the destructive force, but the number killed is estimated at anywhere between 60,000 and 80,000 (exact figures are impossible, the blast having obliterated bodies and disintegrated records).

General Leslie R. Groves, the man responsible for organizing the Manhattan Project, which solved the problem of producing and delivering the nuclear explosion, estimated that another atom bomb would be ready to use against Japan by August 17 or 18—but it was not necessary. Even though the War Council still remained divided (“It is far too early to say that the war is lost,” opined the Minister of War), Emperor Hirohito, by request of two War Council members eager to end the war, met with the Council and declared that “continuing the war can only result in the annihilation of the Japanese people…” The Emperor of Japan gave his permission for unconditional surrender.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, there are more than 73,000 Americans still unaccounted for.

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

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