Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Simply put, the NBA as we know it today wouldn’t exist without the ABA, or the American Basketball Association.

Formed in 1967 and lasting until 1976, the ABA played a flashy, distinct brand of basketball, one far different from what the NBA was playing at the same time. It had an awesome red, white and blue ball and 3-point shots (gasp!). And oh, by the way, it also featured the first slam dunk contest in 1976. The league only lasted a few seasons, but its impact on the game continues to this day. Four ABA franchises that merged into the NBA (the Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs) remain today. And those innovations like the three-point shot have continued to help the NBA evolve over time.

The league consisted mostly of players not quite good enough for the NBA, although they did swipe a few from the older league. Some great players that chose to play with the league were Julius “Dr. J” Erving, George “The Iceman” Gervin, Spencer Haywood, Dan Issel, Louie Dampier, and Rick Barry (who they signed away from the NBA). They also signed players that had been banned from the NBA for various reasons, great players like Doug Moe and the legendary Connie “The Hawk” Hawkins. Both were banned for alleged gambling violations that were never proven.

Although only four teams eventually merged into the NBA, the original ABA featured some really cool names and logos. Some still exist today. Check ’em out:

 

Here are some random photos from the American Basketball Association. Like I said, they played the game up-tempo and wide open, much like the NBA game is played today. At the time the NBA was a walk it up, pound the ball inside league. And man, that ball. The way it spun was almost magical. Ah, the memories.

Finally, for an in-depth look at the ABA I beseech you, dare I say implore you, to check out this video. Amazing stuff.

I’ve always been fascinated by abandoned places, whether they be houses, cars, or anything really. For instance, there’s something about looking at an old abandoned house and knowing that it was once someone’s dream, a place where maybe kids were running around, a home that somebody took great pride in but now it just sits there, overtaken by nature. Why did they leave? What happened? To me that’s very intriguing.

With that in mind, here are 12 photos of abandoned places that I particularly like. I hope you like them too.

[click on a photo to begin scrolling]

Big word guy here. Everyone knows that. I’ve written several blogs about words, including the classics William Shakespeare, Rad Bro of Avon and Inventor of Words, 7 Redundancies We Need To Eliminate, Moving Forward, Allow Me To Reiterate, A Message To Social Media Users, 11 Examples of Why We Should Let Kids Name Stuff, Mispronounced Words: My Top 10, My 15 Favorite Palindromes, Here Are Some Words That Need To Make A Comeback, Word Up! Snorkel, Curds and Uranus and the legendary Cool Beans! Words and Phrases That Need to Make a Comeback.

So yeah, a lot.

And I once had a kid claim that “dude” was a word that only young folk should use, so of course I had to point out to him that it’s been around for at least 150-years, and that it was even used with regularity back in the stone age when I was in high school. And yes, I wrote about that too, in the blog The Etymology of Dude. 

Which brings me to today’s little piece about words that are older than you think. Let us proceed . . .

HIPSTER

Seriously. “Hipster” shows up in the 1941 Dictionary of Hash House Lingo (yes there was such a thing) and it meant “a know-it-all.” The words hip and hep had been around since the early 1900s, meaning being up on the latest and knowing what’s what. And by the way, I’m old enough to remember beatniks being called hep cats. God I’m old.

UNFRIEND

Think “unfriend” is a word brought upon us by Facebook? Naw. It’s been around a long time. It shows up in this example from 1659: “I Hope, Sir, that we are not mutually Un-friended by this Difference which hath happened betwixt us.” Cool. On a related note, if you don’t think I’m going to use the word “betwixt” henceforth you’re out of your gourd.

HANG OUT

Hang out has been used as a verb for passing the time since at least the 1830s. In the Pickwick Papers Charles Dickens wrote: “I say, old boy, where do you hang out?” True story.

PUKE

Puke has been around since the 16th century, man. The word, not actual puke. That’s been around forever. Anyway, while it is often claimed that Shakespeare invented the term, puke has been found in earlier sources. It meant then what it means now, to vomit. To hurl. Barf. Heave. Spew. Upchuck. You get the picture. But it also used to be a causative verb, meaning to make someone vomit with a tonic or potion. Your doctor might have you purged, bled, and puked for your own good. That’s disgusting, but I get it. Sometimes puking does make you feel better.

FUNKY

Funky was used as a term describing music back in the 1930s, but the “strong smell” meaning has been around long before that. Since the 1600s funk was slang for the stale smell of tobacco smoke, and by extension, anything that stank. Cheeses, rooms, hobos, and especially ship’s quarters could be described as “funky.” And oh by the way, I saw Wild Cherry perform “Play That Funky Music (White Boy)” on High Street in Columbus, Ohio 6-months before they hit it big. Boom.

FRIGGING

Wait, what you say? I kid you not. Frigging has been around since the late 1500s and has served as the more family-friendly substitute for that other F-word. Check out this 1943 quote, man:  “This shunting frigging new arrangement has got every flaming thing foxed up.” People used to talk way cooler than they do now, amirite?

LEGIT

Legit as a shortening of legitimate has been around since the 1890s. It started as theater slang for things associated with legitimate (as opposed to vaudeville or burlesque) theater. From the 1920s on, it referred to underworld or shady occupations or places. If you were “on the legit” you were being honest. Kewl.

So there ya go. Words that are older than you thought they were. I hope you learned something today, kids.

 

 

 

I can’t tell you how fascinated I am by these photos I randomly came across on the worldwide interweb. These are real, folks. In one Abe’s hair is a complete mess, in the other he’s sporting a do that would be appropriate for 2019. Abraham Lincoln, man. Dude was ahead of his time.

Click and scroll for the insanity.

One of the most iconic music videos in history, The Beatles singing “Hey Jude” on the David Frost Show in 1968. It was their first live performance in over 2-years. I love at the beginning when the lads are messing with Frost. Great stuff.

The album “Let It Be” by The Beatles was supposed to be a trip back to their roots – pared down, simple, no orchestration or strings, no overdubs, and no overwhelming production. They wanted the album to have an almost “live” feel. This from a band that had recorded albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in which the studio work and production were groundbreaking in their complexity. Bottom line, The Beatles wanted to get back to their roots.

Here’s the album track list:

Side 1

  1. Two of Us
  2. Dig a Pony
  3. Across the Universe
  4. I Me Mine
  5. Dig It
  6. Let It Be
  7. Maggie May

Side 2

  1. I’ve Got a Feeling
  2. One After 909
  3. The Long and Winding Road
  4. For You Blue
  5. Get Back

The songs range from the silly (“Dig It”, “Dig a Pony” and Maggie May”) to the rockin’ (“Get Back”) to the almost country sounding (“One After 909”) to the beautifully legendary (“Let It Be”, “Across the Universe” and “The Long and Winding Road”). It was a truly a wonderful album in spite of the cracks that were beginning to show, fissures that would eventually tear the group apart.

Quick note – although “Let It Be” was the last album released by The Beatles, it was actually recorded before Abbey Road.

As I mentioned before, during the recording of “Let It Be” the relationships between all four Beatles was strained severely, almost to its breaking point. It was so strained, in fact, that the guys became so tired of the in-fighting they allowed manager Allen Klein (who Paul hated but John liked) to take over the finishing touches on the album. Klein ended up handing the project over to legendary “Wall of Sound” producer Phil Spector, who proceeded to completely defeat the original purpose of the album by adding orchestras and female background singers (which The Beatles had never used before) to songs like “The Long and Winding Road” and “Let It Be.” Paul McCartney has stated publicly many times that when he first heard the final product he was aghast at the results.

Years later, in 2003, the album was re-released by McCartney as “Let It Be . . . Naked” in an attempt to rectify the mistake and let the public listen to the album as it was originally intended. The result was a beautiful album of simple songs in which the voices and musicianship stand magnificently on their own.

Here’s a comparison of the original release of “The Long and Winding Road” with strings and background vocals, followed by the originally intended pared down, simple version:

Long and Winding Road (with added vocals and orchestration)

Long and Winding Road (original “naked” version)

Big difference. Sure, the first version is beautiful, but I much prefer the second one, especially since Paul wanted it to be heard that way originally. Again, all the added fluff went against the spirit of the album, which was to “get back” to the roots of The Beatles.

Here are some videos from the movie “Let It Be” which was basically a documentary regarding the making of the album. It includes the legendary surprise “rooftop concert”. Great stuff:

Let It Be

The Long and Winding Road

Get Back

Let It Be Factoids:

  • Piano legend Billy Preston played keyboard on the album.
  • During the recording sessions, tensions between George Harrison and Paul McCartney, grew so heated that Harrison left the studio.
  • Although recorded in 1969 and released on “Let it Be” a year later, the song “One After 909” was one of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s first collaborations, dating back to 1959.
  • In the United States, advance orders for the album were the largest in the industry up to that point – over 3.7 million units.
  • Legend has it that when McCartney sang “Get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged” he was looking directly at Yoko Ono, who was in studio during the recording.

 

 

Yep. Not photoshopped.

You all know about my man Teddy Roosevelt. After all, I wrote about him in the acclaimed and cleverly titled blog “11 Examples That Show Teddy Roosevelt Was Either A Badass Or Batshit Crazy“. Click on that link to read about all that was Teddy.

Finished? Good.

What follows are 7 of the most savage, vicious lines that our boy Teddy laid upon some poor folks that got in his way. Dude makes Trump’s put downs sound like they came from an 11-year old. Read on . . .

I shall start with a personal favorite. Teddy once said of William Jennings Bryan, then Secretary of State to Woodrow Wilson, “He’s a professional yodeler, a human trombone.”

Boom. Roasted.

Once a Supreme Court justice dared to cross our man. Teddy proceeded to call him a “an amiable old fuzzy-wuzzy with sweetbread brains.”

Ouch. That’s cold, man.

Here’s what he said about William Alfred Peffer, a senator from Kansas who was hairy, tall, and lean – “He’s a pin-headed, anarchistic crank, of hirsute and slab-sided aspect.

Uh, OK?

Novelist Henry James once called Roosevelt “dangerous.” Teddy responded by calling James “a little emasculated mass of inanity.”

Burn.

Teddy once said of some government official named Charlie Lyman, “he’s the most intolerably slow of all men who ever adored red tape.” 

He saved some of his best zingers for William Howard Taft, calling him things like a “puzzlewit” and a “fathead.” He also said he had “brains less than a guinea pig.”

No love lost between those two, man.

Even family members weren’t immune to his barbs. He said of his brother Elliott, “He is evidently a maniac, morally no less than mentally.”

So you see, the Mad Tweeter that currently sits in the White House isn’t the first president to lower himself to insults about his enemies. Sure, Teddy delivered his lines with considerably more intelligence, but that’s no shocker.

Anyway, Teddy Roosevelt? You didn’t want to get on his bad side.

 

 

 

I don’t think I missed an episode of Soul Train or Midnight Special. Watch these dancers groove to Love Train by my buddies the O’ Jays. On a related note, Don Cornelius was the coolest cat around back then.

Since today is April 20th, I thought I’d post this article from Time magazine explaining the significance of the date to those of you who might be unaware. Interesting stuff.

TIME- Both marijuana smokers and non-smokers recognize April 20 or 4/20 as a national holiday for cannabis culture, but few actually know how the date got chosen.

Some say “420” is code among police officers for “marijuana smoking in progress.” Some note 4/20 is also Adolf Hitler’s birthday. And some go as far as to cite Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” because 12 multiplied by 35 equals 420.

But, to put it bluntly, those rumors of the history behind how April 20, and 4/20, got associated with marijuana are false.

The most credible story traces 4/20 to Marin County, Calif. In 1971, five students at San Rafael High School would meet at 4:20 p.m. by the campus’ statue of chemist Louis Pasteur to partake. They chose that specific time because extracurricular activities had usually ended by then. This group — Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich — became known as the “Waldos” because they met at a wall. They would say “420” to each other as code for marijuana.

As Reddix told TIME in 2017, “We got tired of the Friday-night football scene with all of the jocks. We were the guys sitting under the stands smoking a doobie, wondering what we were doing there.”

The shenanigans continued long after 4:20 p.m., too. The group challenged each other to find ever-more-interesting things to do under the influence, calling their adventures “safaris.”

Later, Reddix’s brother helped him get work with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh as a roadie, so the band is said to have helped popularize the term “420.” On Dec. 28, 1990, a group of Deadheads in Oakland handed out flyers that invited people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. One ended up with Steve Bloom, a former reporter for High Times magazine, an authority on cannabis culture. The magazine printed the flyer in 1991 and continued to reference the number. Soon, it became known worldwide as code for marijuana. In 1998, the outlet acknowledged that the “Waldos” were the “inventors” of 420.

Mirror: The Beatles Abbey Road album cover is one of the most famous in the world. The album’s sleeve shows the four members — Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr — walking across the street outside Abbey Road Studios in North London.

However, if you look closely at the photo of the Fab Four, you’ll notice a suited gent standing on the pavement. For years fans have been trying to track the mystery man down, and it is an American tourist called Paul Cole. He was tracked down and said he was included in the snap purely by chance. Paul said he was standing by the side of the road waiting for his wife, who had been looking around a museum.

“I just happened to look up, and I saw those guys walking across the street like a line of ducks. ‘A bunch of kooks,’ I called them, because they were rather radical looking at that time.”  

He said: “I saw the album and I recognized myself right away. I had a new sports jacket on and I’d just bought new shell-rimmed glasses.
I said to my children, ‘Get a magnifying glass out and you’ll see’.”

Paul Cole died in 2008 at the age of 98.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve looked at that cover and wondered who the dude was standing on the street in the background. I just figured it was somebody who worked in the area and was used to seeing the boys around. Turns it was Paul Cole, an American who was tired of touristing with the wifey and had gone out for a quiet moment and some fresh air. Little did he know he’d end up being on one of the most iconic rock and roll album covers in the history of mankind. That’s wild stuff, man. Anyway, Paul Freakin’ Cole. Check him out:

It’s called “The Incident at Dyatlov Pass.” Here’s what went down . . .

On January 28th, 1959, 10-students and graduates of the Ural State Technical University embarked on a hike into Russia’s Ural Mountains. They were all experienced mountaineers, and they expected to reach their destination by February 12th.

One of the hikers, Yury Yudin, got sick early in the trip and had to stay behind. Turns out he was the group’s only survivor as well as one lucky flu victim.

So the group of 9-hikers heads into the woods and never came out. It’s sad, but it’s also one of the risks of wandering in the wilderness, right? The thing is, when they didn’t arrive at the expected time, the search-and-rescue team that was dispatched to find them discovered a terrifying and unexplainable scene that remains a mystery to this day.

First of all, the tent that the nine had shared had apparently been cut open from the inside and was full of the party’s food, warm clothing, and other essentials. The team then discovered five of the missing hikers about a mile from their tent. Two were discovered beside the remains of a campfire, and their hands were severely burned. The other three were discovered fairly close together of about 100-feet away, apparently attempting to return to their destroyed tent.

And get this – all five were found in various states of undress. Some were barefoot, others were wearing only their socks. One of the men, Rustem Slobodin, had a small fracture in his skull, but it was ruled that he had died from exposure, not injury.

The remaining four hikers were found approximately 3-months later. But instead of clarifying the situation, their bodies only made the story weirder. Some of the hikers were wearing clothes that belonged to hikers left at the campfire, indicating that they had scavenged those bodies in order to stay warm in the -30° weather, but all four apparently tumbled into a ravine and died there. These hikers had all suffered chest injuries that doctors compared to a car crash, and another was found to be missing her tongue.

Weird, right? But it gets weirder.

The hikers’ clothing was all strongly radioactive, and other than their severe injuries, there were no obvious signs of struggle or the presence of any other living thing in the area. One of the hikers, Semyon Zolotaryov, had apparently taken the time to grab his camera before fleeing the tent but left his clothing behind. What the hell had he hoped to photograph? And speaking of cameras, another member of the party, Yuri Krivonischenko, had taken a blurry picture of something weird and glowing before the incident.

Oh, and one more thing – the place they all died translates to “Mountain of the Dead.”

Gulp.

So, what could have killed the hikers? In short, nobody knows. There are a few theories that keep coming up, though. One is that they were attacked by someone or something in the woods, but there’s just one problem – the search teams found nine sets of footprints in the snow, one for each of the victims but no others. None made by humans, animals, Yetis, aliens, or otherwise.

So maybe it wasn’t an outsider? Maybe something happened between the hikers that caused them to turn on each other, or caused one to become extremely violent. Except there’s not really any great evidence of that, either. The diaries of the hikers found back in the tent didn’t indicate any kind of rising tension, nor did anyone who knew these nine believe they would have allowed their emotions to interfere in a survival situation. Some nearby residents reported seeing orange lights in the sky, leading some people to theorize UFOs had to be involved, and other slightly more rational minds suggested that they had been the accidental victims of some sort of Soviet weapons test. At least that would explain the radiation I guess? It would also explain why the official Russian investigation into the incident closed almost as quickly as it opened – investigators were satisfied to list “a compelling natural force” as the cause of death, and the region around the area where the incident occurred was closed for 3-years afterwards.

By the way, what exactly is “a compelling natural force”?

Oh, and about that aforementioned Yeti/Sasquatch/Bigfoot, you say? On one of the dead hikers cameras they found a mysterious photo of a man (or something). In any case it has a surreal look to it. Check it out:

Yikes. Fu-reaky.

It’s known as Photo 17, and it was the last photo taken on Nikolai Thibeaux-Brignolle’s camera. Is it human, or something else? Could it be a member of the group coming back from somewhere? Maybe somebody else with sinister intentions? Nobody knows, but damn that’s a weird looking photograph.

So, the questions remain:

  • What frightened the hikers so much that they raced barefoot and half-naked into freezing windy temperatures?
  • What caused the traumatic injuries that doctors compared to those gotten from a car crash?
  • What caused the traces of radiation on the hiker’s clothing?

Anyway, it’s an enduring mystery and one that fascinates the bejesus out of me. Sure, you can find people on the worldwide interweb that claim to explain everything, but they an all go straight to hell because that’s no fun. Bottom line, they ultimately explain nothing.

PS- If you’re as interested in this as I am here’s a bonus, and also chilling, video for y’all. It includes some of the theories I talked about above, as well as some others.

 

I actually attempted two websites before this one and neither really caught on. The first was called Rock Hard Times and was all about music. The second was called The Inside Handshake and stuck exclusively to sports. Then one day it hit me – why limit myself to one subject? Hell, I have opinions and observations on other stuff as well. Why not open it up to everything? Music, sports, politics, science, entertainment, nature, the list was endless. Thus was born Shoe: Untied, a play on my name along with the idea of sort of letting loose (actually a friend of mine came up with the title and I liked it). Anyway, as you know the site turned out to be a pretty eclectic one, and that’s the way my crack staff and I like it.

One thing I discovered early is that you can never, ever predict what people will like. Sometimes I write something I think is great and get very little response. Other times I write something that I feel is sort of trivial and it just blows up (see drunk pig blog below). Like the title says, it defies explanation.

With that said, here is our annual year-end report and Top 25 Most Popular Blogs for 2018. We’ll start with #1 and work our way down. Just click on the title if you want to take a gander.

Australian Pig Steals 18-Beers From Campers, Gets Drunk, Fights Cow

Yes ladies and gentlemen, a short little article I posted along with my observations back in 2014 got over 500,000 views this past year. For you non-mathematicians, that’s over half a million people. Seriously man, it was about a drunk pig. See, a radio station out in Seattle happened upon my site, liked the post, and put a link to that story on its website. Then the Aussies got hold of it and the rest is history.

UPDATE: Drunk Australian Pig That Started Fight With Cow Killed In Car Accident

Aaaand of course the throngs of people who loved the drunken swine story were interested in the tragic update. On a related note, Australians and I have the same exact sense of humor.

My Side of the Story

Nearly 400,000 people from all over the world heard my side of the story, and I’m glad they did.

Sis

I thought losing a basketball job was a tragic experience. I soon learned that, on life’s grand scale, it wasn’t.

My Dad and I

My memories of my father, who we lost just 53-days after my sister.

“Things Most White People Say” List Is Hilarious, Also 100% Correct

Basically just a repost of some funny tweets I’d run across. Good stuff and people liked it.

Incredible Photo of the Day: Gator Catch!

This was another post that the Australians inexplicably enjoyed. A large percentage of its views came from the Land Down Under.

So How Many People Did The Rifleman Actually Kill?

I love the old TV show The Rifleman, so one day I decided to research just how many people Lucas McCain actually killed. The answer? 120. Ol’ Luke murdered 120 people. But hey, they all deserved it so it’s cool.

Scioto Valley Conference Boys Basketball Preview & Predictions

A preview I wrote regarding our local basketball conference. I must say it’s turning out the way I predicted. So far.

The 2017 Ugly Dog Contest Was An Absolute Joke

My critique of the Ugly Dog Contest and its beautiful winner, Martha.

Cool Beans! Words and Phrases That Need To Make A Comeback

Another story I published a couple years that seems to never go away. Just a simple blog about words.

An American Hero: Ruby Bridges

My story about Ruby Bridges, the little 6-year old African-American who integrated an all-white elementary school in New Orleans on November 14, 1960.

Map of the Day: World Rat Distribution

The most fascinating aspect of this map is that Alberta, Canada is rat free, and it’s not by accident.

Regarding Beach Midgets

Just an offbeat, original little story that people seemed to find hilarious.

15 Reasons I Hate LeBron James (Or Used To)

I wrote this after LeBron left Cleveland with his ridiculous television show, “The Decision”. I really did hate the guy for a few years, but he won me back with his letter admitting he’d made a mistake with the way he left, then returning to Cleveland and ultimately bringing them a championship.

Celebrity Mugshots: My Top 10

Another old post that saw a resurgence of sorts in 2018. I’ve no idea why.

Meet Australian Cow Knickers, the Biggest Damn Cow You’ll Ever See

Again, Australians, man.

If You Haven’t heard of August Landmesser It’s a Damn Shame

I’m truly glad people liked this one, and I’m glad I got to spread the word about August Landmesser.

Paint Valley Basketball Records

This is a page I maintain that’s linked to Shoe: Untied. It gets a lot of hits.

Brad Kerns and Parenting the Way It Should Be

A telling story about one of my basketball parents and also one of the best friends I ever had.

The Many Worlds Theory is Wildly Fascinating

A pretty good example of what an eclectic website Shoe: Untied really is.

Map of the Day: USA IQ Test Scores by State

I had a lot I wanted to say here politically bit I couldn’t pull the trigger.

Man Killed Trying to Bring Christianity to Remote Island Tribe

A recent story that was quite controversial. Seems not everyone agreed with my views.

Another Drunk Animal Causes Havoc, and This Time It’s a Sozzled Squirrel.

Who knew drunk animal stories would be so wildly popular? Not I.

Don’t Think Animals Are Scary Smart? Read On.

There’s a certain segment of people who visit my site that can’t get enough of the animal stuff. They just eat it up. Animals, man.

So there ya go. All in all it was the biggest year ever for Shoe: Untied, and I thank the people who visit because you’re obviously as nuts as I am.

Happy New Year everyone.

 

Flashbulb Memory

Noun

  1. the clear recollections that a person may have of the circumstances associated with a dramatic event.

Flashbulb Memories. We all have them. Oh, you may not have known they had a name until right now, but I guarantee you’re thinking of a couple right now. Like the definition says, they’re those moments in your life that were so shocking, so mind-numbing that the moment they happened is burned into your brain forever. Obviously the older you are the more of these memories you’ll have, and what follows are my flashbulb memories. Yep, all 19 of them. And by the way, I excluded the deaths of close friends and relatives. That’s way too close to home, man. What I’ll do is this – I’ll tell you where I was, how I heard the news, and any other information that I feel may be pertinent.

Note: As much as I tried to come up with an even 20 I couldn’t do it. Sorry folks.

The John. F. Kennedy Assassination (November 22nd, 1963)

I can vividly recall that Friday in November, 1963 when a knock came on the door of my classroom in Twin Elementary in Bourneville, Ohio. I was in row 2, seat 2. My teacher, Mrs. Hughes, walked to the door and listened for a few seconds. For some reason, the classroom became completely quiet. Somehow we sensed something in the air. I distinctly remember Mrs. Hughes sort of toppling a bit and leaning against the door jamb upon receiving the news. Then she turned, deathly white, and walked to the front of the room . . .

“Kids, I have terrible news. Our president has been assassinated.”

I recall my friend Jeff, who was sitting in front of me, turning around and asking me what that meant. I have no idea how I knew for sure, but I told him that somebody had killed John F. Kennedy, our president. Our president was dead. I don’t remember the rest of the school day, but I do remember going home after school and being surprised that my dad was home, sitting on the couch watching the television. I also remember that for the first time in my life, I saw tears in my father’s eyes.

The Truth About Santa (December 22nd, 1963)

How do I know the exact date, you ask? Because I remember it was the Sunday before Christmas and a few weeks after the Kennedy assassination. My family had gone to my grandparent’s house east of Chillicothe, at a farm just off Route 35. All was well until the ride home. It was on that fateful trip back to Bourneville when we were all discussing Christmas and my older cousin Mike, who was riding with us, leaned over and delivered the earth-shattering news:

“Santa Claus isn’t real. Our parents buy the presents.”

Mind. Blown.

The Beatles on Ed Sullivan (February 9th, 1964)

My sister Karen had played “Introducing the Beatles” for me a few weeks prior (it was released on January 10th) so I was already all-in on this new band from Liverpool. Still, when Ed Sullivan yelled, “Here they are! THE BEATLES!” and I actually saw and heard the boys playing, I knew my world would never be the same again.

Note: I know the video below seems simple and not at all earth-shattering for younger people, but trust me when I say it was like watching four aliens sing a strange new sound at the time.

The Moon Landing (July 21st, 1969)

1968 had been a terrible year for the Unites States, with the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and then Robert F. Kennedy, rocking our nation. Coming from a politically involved family I was dialed into the political and civil rights scenes more than most 12-year olds, so those two murders rocked me almost as much as the John F. Kennedy assassination. So, when the U.S.A. fulfilled a promise made by JFK and beat Russia to the moon in the summer of 1969 the entire world was watching, including my family. I recall watching the event on television, listening to Ohio native Neil Armstrong say the famous words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, and then Dad and I going outside and staring up at the moon in disbelief. It was simply unimaginable at the time that a man was standing on it.

The Death of Jim Croce (September 20th, 1973)

This one probably isn’t on most people’s lists, but I remember vividly when I heard about it. I was in my Dad’s Catalina Brougham, sitting at our mailbox reaching in to get our mail. It was in the morning and it was a Friday. I had the radio on, listening to the news, when I heard the report that one of my favorite singers had died in a plane crash the night before after performing at a concert in Louisiana. I couldn’t believe the guy who sang “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”, and “Time in a Bottle” was dead.

President Richard Nixon Resigns (August 8th, 1974)

Again, because of my family’s involvement in politics I was tuned into the whole Watergate scandal from Day 1. I even made a bet with my History teacher that Nixon wouldn’t make it through the summer, that he’d be forced to resign. Needless to say, I won that one. I watched the resignation my sister Karen’s house, along with her husband Jigger.

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Plane Crash (October 20th, 1977)

I was living just off The Ohio State University campus at the time, 178 West 8th Avenue, Apartment C to be precise, at the time. I’d purchased tickets for the Skynyrd show on Friday, October 28th, but when I awoke the morning of Friday, October 21st, I had the following conversation with my roommate Jed just as he was walking out the door:

Jed: “Hey, don’t you have tickets to see Lynyrd Skynyrd next week?”

Me: “Yep.”

Jed: “Uh, pretty sure it’ll be cancelled. Their plane crashed last night. Six people were killed including Ronnie Van Zant.”

I just stood there speechless as he walked out the door.

The Who Tragedy (December 3rd, 1979)

Yep, my buddies Tom, Andy and I had tickets to Riverfront Coliseum the night of the tragedy where 11-people were crushed to death, and we were actually on the way to the concert. Fortunately, since it was my birthday we thought a party in Chillicothe would be more fun, and it might have saved our lives. And yes, I know about a million people claim to have had tickets to that show. We actually did. We went to the party, and we found out what happened when we returned to Andy’s house around 2:30 in the morning and found his wife sitting on the floor in front of the TV, crying. She thought we’d gone to the concert, and when she saw us walk in she leaped up, hugged us all, and told us the news. Chilling stuff.

USA Hockey Upsets The Russians (February 22nd, 1980)

Unless you were actually there you didn’t see this game live because it was played at 5:00pm and shown on tape delay at 8:00pm. This being 1980 and before the internet, nobody I knew had heard that the biggest upset in sports history had happened. Nobody, and I mean nobody, aside from American Coach Herb Brooks thought a bunch of collegiate hockey players could beat mighty Russia, who was essentially a professional team and undoubtedly the best hockey team in the world. Hell, the USA had been beaten by the Russians 10-0 just days before. So, when the US was winning 4-3, clock winding down to 0:00, and announcer Al Michaels screamed “DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?” I leaped up and accidentally knocked my coffee table over in the process. Unbelievable night.

John Lennon Assassination (December 8th, 1980)

Lennon signing his assassin’s album the night he was shot.

I was home by myself that night. It was around 11:30 pm and I was relaxing on my couch, headphones on, listening to “Double Fantasy”, the new album by John Lennon that had been released a couple of weeks prior. Lennon hadn’t recorded in 5-years so the album was a big deal. A Monday Night Football game was on but I wasn’t really watching, I was just lounging with my eyes closed, listening to the music. The TV was actually across the room, sort of behind me, and I was facing the fireplace.

At some point I opened my eyes and glanced into the glass doors of the fireplace. There I saw the reflection of the TV, and for some reason John Lennon’s face was on it. I took the headphones off and turned to the television, and they were talking about Lennon being a former Beatle who had just released an album, just giving a brief bio of his life.

Uh-oh. This wasn’t good.

I soon learned that John Lennon had been murdered outside his New York City apartment. I was stunned. A few minutes later my phone started ringing as people were calling to share the news and talk about this unspeakable thing that had happened. Soon my friend Tom showed up and we spent the night just talking about it in disbelief.

John Lennon had been such an influential part of my life. For me, music would never be the same.

The Space Shuttle Explosion (January 28th, 1986)

I was in my second year teaching at Greenfield McClain and I was in the teacher’s lounge. It must have been the 4th period or thereabouts because it happened at 11:38am – the Space Shuttle exploded. This was close to my heart because for the first time a civilian was aboard and I had applied for the spot. Don’t get me wrong, over 11,000 teachers sent in applications so it wasn’t like I had a chance to go. Still, we all knew teacher Christa McAuliffe, a teacher from New Hampshire, was aboard. My principal at the time, John Miller, walked into the lounge and said simply to the 3-4 of us there, “The space shuttle just exploded. They’re all gone.” At the time? Inconceivable.

The Day My Son Was Born (June 3rd, 1988)

My wife and I had applied for an international adoption in 1985. We desperately wanted a child, had gone through an intensive interview process, and had been approved. In early June I was at Coach Billy Hahn’s Ohio University Basketball Camp, at a pay phone outside Grover Center where I’d just called home, when I was given the news – our baby had been born in Korea. Soon thereafter we were sent a photo, and in the fall we finally got to meet the baby that would come me be known as Kip Min-Soo Shoemaker. To this day, deciding to adopt was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Buster Douglas Upsets Mike Tyson (February 11th, 1990)

I was coaching at Paint Valley. It was my first year coaching varsity basketball. We were at a post-game victory party at an assistant coach’s house when we heard the news from ESPN – Columbus, Ohio’s own Buster Douglas had done the unthinkable. He’d knocked out the unbeatable “Iron” Mike Tyson. We were ecstatic and shocked. Unforgettable moment.

Magic Johnson’s Announcement That He Is HIV Positive (November 7th, 1991)

It was the Fall of 1991 and I was getting ready to coach a team that didn’t have a senior on the roster. That team ended up winning 14 games that year and 18 the next along with a league title, but on this evening none of that had happened yet. We were getting ready for an early season practice when junior Josh Anderson walked into the gym . . .

“Have you guys heard? Magic Johnson has AIDS.”

What? It turns out he didn’t have AIDS, but was instead HIV positive. Still, at the time that meant a death sentence. Since Magic was an NBA legend, the idea of watching him waste away like actor Rock Hudson was shocking. Like I said, at the time being HIV positive meant you were going to die a slow and agonizing death, and it was absolutely distressing to contemplate.

The OJ Car Chase (June 17th, 1994)

I was living in Bourneville (where I’m back living now) and my in-laws were in from Niles, Ohio for a visit. Of course everyone had heard about the murders, and there was a news bulletin and we found out that OJ had been scheduled to turn himself in at 11:00am but never showed up. Then, at 1:50pm LAPD Commander. David Gascon announced that Simpson has not surrendered for arraignment as scheduled and was a fugitive from the law. It was stunning. For you youngsters out there OJ Simpson was one of the most famous athletes in the world back in the 70s. He also starred in those Naked Gun movies. This led to a televised slow-speed car chase with most of the country glued to their screens. That evening I kept switching from the OJ coverage to the NBA Finals game between Houston and New York. Wild stuff.

The OJ Acquittal (October 3rd, 1995)

Fast forward to a little over year later, and I was sitting in my classroom at Paint Valley watching TV with my class. The jury had made a decision and the world was awaiting the verdict. When OJ was found innocent verdict we were stunned.

The Death of Lady Diana (August 31st, 1997)

I was sitting at the bar of a restaurant in German Village in Columbus, Ohio, waiting to be called for dinner. It was around 7:00pm. I was with my wife Marianne, my sister Karen and her husband Army. There was a TV above the bar with the sound off, and my sister suddenly said, “Oh my God.” We all looked up and the news was right there on the screen- Princess Di was dead. We soon learned she’d been killed in a car wreck in Paris, which due to the time difference was 6-hours ahead of us. The accident had happened at approximately 12:23am Paris time. I recall the bar got eerily quiet as everyone whispered to each other about the news.

The WTC/Pentagon Attacks (September 11th, 2001)

I was at good friend of mine’s house that morning. He’d been in an accident the evening before and had passed away earlier that day. I was with his wife, son and a couple other members of their family. Around 9:00am I left to get everyone breakfast and turned on the radio, where I learned that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. At that time I assumed that it was a small plane that had gotten lost in the clouds or something. I then went and got breakfast and returned to the house. At about 10:45am I went into the living room, where the TV was on with the sound muted. I immediately saw all the smoke and dust where the WTC buildings had been and was absolutely dumbfounded as to what happened. I soon learned though. Tough, tough day that I’ll never forget.

The Block (June 19th, 2016)

I was in my house in Bourneville. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors. Series tied 3-3, game tied with 1:20 left. Cleveland had never won an NBA title. I was on my knees, perhaps 5-feet from my TV screen. The Warriors were on a fast break for a seemingly easy score when LeBron James made The Block. It was at this exact moment when I realized: “He’s not going to let them lose.”

Like I said, there are closer, more personal stories I could tell but they’re way to fresh in my mind, too raw, to recent and too fresh. Maybe one day.

But enough about me. What are you’re Flashbulb Memories?

 

The events of November 22nd, 1963 have been well documented, and theories as to what actually happened the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated have been vast and varied since the day it all went down. I’ve read them all because I’ve been fascinated by the assassination since it happened. I also came to the conclusion years ago that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Was he prodded by somebody, some group working in the shadows? Possibly. Still, I think he was the man who pulled the trigger that fateful day.

However, there’s something regarding that day in Dallas that has always intrigued me, and that is this – who was the Babushka Lady?

You see, after the assassination a film surfaced, one taken by a man named Abraham Zapruder. His film would come to be known as simply “The Zapruder Film”, and it captured the assassination in all its unimaginable horror. You can view it by clicking here, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

Anyway, there was one person that showed up repeatedly in the Zapruder Film and other photographs taken that day. This person was the Babushka Lady, named for her Russian scarf, called a babushka. She appeared to be filming the president, and her actions after the assassination were unusual to say the least.

There are several remarkable things about the Babushka Lady, the most amazing being that since that day she has never been found. With all the power of the United States government looking for her, as well as hundreds if not thousands of private investigators, she has never been located. Nobody knows who she was. There have been a few women claiming to be her, but all were proven to be frauds.

How in the hell is that possible?

Secondly, after witnessing the President of the United States getting his head blown off probably 30-feet in front of her, she basically showed no reaction at all. While everyone else was diving for cover, the Babushka Lady remained amazingly calm. Below are photos of her during the assassination, followed by a short video about her. Incredible, fascinating stuff. To this day we wonder . . .

Who was the Babushka Lady?

[click and scroll for photos and captions]

No, a Blizzard Cone is not a delicious item on the Dairy Queen or Tastee Freez menu.  This baby was designed to keep those strong winter ice storms out yo face. Sadly it never caught on, because that would have been super. The Blizzard Cone was a contraption that was invented in 1939 in Montréal, because you know, Canadiens.

PS- This reminded me of how much I loved Tastee Freez back in the day. There was one where the Giovanni’s stands today in Chillicothe. Turns out there are only 23 locations left, the closest being in Churchville, Virginia, 321-miles way. Man that’s depressing.

All the cool kids had them.

Yep. Whiskey vending machine. That is all.

This speech was given just 2-months after Ronald Reagan was shot on March 30th, 1981. Listen, I was never a big Reagan guy at all (although he looks pretty damn good in retrospect) but this is a stone cold move. After hearing a loud balloon pop he doesn’t flinch, just casually says “missed me” to the masses. Reagan, man.

PS- Again, this was just 2-months after he was shot. Hell, the Orange Tweeter couldn’t go out in the rain to honor our veterans.

bbbbbbbbbb

Well, maybe not everything, but a hell of a lot.

Let us review the facts and fiction of Thanksgiving:

FACT: The Mayflower did bring the Pilgrims to North America from Plymouth, England, in 1620, and they disembarked at what is now Plymouth, Mass., where they set up a colony. In 1621, they celebrated a successful harvest with a 3-day gathering that was attended by members of the Wampanoag tribe. It’s from this that we derive Thanksgiving as we know it. However . . .

FICTION: The feast wasn’t actually the first Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until the 1830s that this event was even called the first Thanksgiving by New Englanders who looked back and thought it would be a good idea. Heck, the holiday wasn’t made official until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared it as a kind of thank you for the Civil War victories in Vicksburg and Gettysburg.

In any event, claiming it was the “first Thanksgiving” isn’t quite right as both Native American and European societies had been holding festivals to celebrate successful harvests for centuries. Maybe first for the English in the New World, but that’s about it.

FICTION: The town of Plymouth was created by pilgrims clearing land and starting a village from scratch. Plymouth was already a village with clear fields and a spring when the Pilgrims found it. Why was it available? Because every single native person who had been living there had been wiped out by a plague, namely smallpox.

FICTION: The pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom. The Pilgrims already had religious freedom in Holland, where they first arrived in the early 17th century. Like those who settled Jamestown, Va., in 1607, the Pilgrims came to North America to make money. Shocking but not really.

FICTION: Pilgrims called themselves pilgrims. False. They called themselves Separatists. In fact, the term Pilgrims didn’t surface until around 1880.

FICTION: Everyone dined at a long table with a white tablecloth. The partiers most likely sat in small groups around fires, eating geese or duck. Also, it seems weird but forks hadn’t been invented yet. Folks ate with their fingers.

FICTION: The Puritan Pilgrims didn’t drink alcohol. Pilgrims loved a good beer. No doubt ale was plentiful thanks to a recently harvested barley crop.

FICTION: The Indians thought highly of Pilgrim intelligence since the English citizens brought with them advanced technology. Nope. The Pilgrims may have had durable shoes, woven clothes and powerful muskets, but their lack of survival skills earned them little respect among the Native Americans. Massasoit considered the Pilgrims “as a little child.”

FICTION: The first Thanksgiving took place in November. The exact date isn’t known, but the feast we celebrate on the fourth Thursday in November likely occurred in late September or early October, shortly after the harvest of such fall crops as corn, beans, squash and barley.

FACT: It is true that the celebration was an exceptional and unusual cross-cultural moment, with food, games and prayer. Native Americans had been growing food for the colony nearby for awhile, so they more than likely ambled over for some chow. In fact, they probably outnumbered the English 2-1.

FACT: Squanto did in fact help the English. His people, the Patuxet, had lived on the site where the Pilgrims settled. When they arrived, he became a translator for them with other native people and showed them the most effective method for planting corn and the best locations to fish.

FICTION: Squanto’s story is a happy one. In fact, he was captured by the English in 1614 and sold into slavery in Spain. He spent several years in England, where he learned English. He returned to New England in 1619, only to find his entire Patuxet tribe dead from smallpox. He met the Pilgrims in March 1621.

FICTION: Turkey and pie was served at the “First Thanksgiving.” The truth is that there was no mention of turkey being there, and there was no pie either. Settlers lacked butter and wheat flour for a crust, and they had no oven for baking. What is known is that the Pilgrims harvested crops and that the Wampanoag brought five deer. There were plenty of turkey around, but settlers preferred duck or goose.

Oh, and there’s one more truth that was ignored for hundreds of years, and that is the fact that entire races of Native Americans were wiped out by Europeans due to disease and outright murder.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

My Mom is 92-years old and is the coolest person I’ve ever known. She’s also a badass who grew up on a farm with two brothers. I’ve told many a story about my mother, from the time she gave me a Right Cross With Love to the time she was my teacher and paddled me the third week of school. One of my favorites occurred a few years ago when Mom was doing some mowing on her property. At one point she hopped off the mower to raise the mower blades. Keep in mind she was like 88 at the time. As she did, she heard a pop and thought the mower had backfired. Turns out she’d broken her back. The doctors said she be down for months, and of course she was back a few weeks later.

That’s Mom.

Another time Mom got a call from some ladies (aged 70ish) that wanted her to join their Garden Club. Mom has always had a green thumb, so it seemed like a reasonable idea. However, Mom declined and told me the reason she did was that “she didn’t want to sit around with a bunch of old people.

Mom was 83 at the time.

Even though Mom recently lost her oldest daughter, followed by her husband of 70-years, she’s hanging in there because that’s how she rolls.

Anyway, I’ve read that it’s good to ask questions about the past when dealing with older folks, because it helps to keep their mind sharp. I do this a lot, and every once in awhile she’ll drop a tidbit that is absolutely fascinating. For instance, last night we were talking and she mentioned that during her first year of substitute teaching she made $9 per day. She also once mentioned that her and Dad bought a new car for $1,400.00 around 1950 and that a loaf of bread cost 9¢. Of course money went a lot farther back then but you get the idea.

So this got me to thinking, what else has my Mom lived through? After a little research, here’s what I found. Believe me, it really puts things into perspective.

  • Mom was born on Sunday, January 23rd, 1927. In 1927 Charles Lindbergh flew The Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic nonstop and solo, direct from New York City to Paris, in the first solo transatlantic flight. Mom was 5-months old when Lindbergh did this.
  • When Mom was 8-months old, work began on Mt. Rushmore.
  • The year Mom was born saw the first transatlantic telephone call – New York City to London.
  • In 1927, the Ford Motor Company began selling the Model A. The price? $460.00.
  • In the year Mom was born, color television and the pop-up toaster were invented.
  • The #1 song in the year Mom was born was “Stardust” by Hoagy Carmichael. Click here for a listen. Good stuff. The top movie? The Jazz Singer.
  • When Mom was 1-year old, a famous character made his first appearance – Mickey Mouse. Yes, my mother is older than Mickey Mouse.
  • When Mom was 2-years old, the Stock Market crashed, signaling the beginning of the Great Depression.
  • In 1929, the first public phone booths appeared in London. Mom was 2.
  • When Mom was 3-years old Pluto was discovered. Not the cartoon dog, the planet.
  • When Mom was 4-years old, “The Star Spangled Banner” became our National Anthem.
  • When my mother was 6-years old, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.
  • In 1937 Amelia Earhart was lost somewhere over the Pacific Ocean in her attempt to fly round the world. Mom was 10-years old. Yep, she remembers hearing about it on the radio.
  • When Mom was 12-years old, Gone With the Wind, King Kong, and The Wizard of Oz were all released into theaters.
  • When Mom was 13, Hitler invaded Norway.
  • When Mom was 14-years old the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, plunging the USA into WWII.
  • In 1942 Bing Crosby released “White Christmas” which has gone on the sell over 25-million copies. Mom was 15-years old.
  • In 1944 my Mom was 17-years old. That was the year she was introduced to 18-year old Ralph Shoemaker by her brothers Walt and Joe Immell. Thus began a relationship that would last 74-years, up until my father passed away on August 13th, 2018.
  • Mom was 18-years old in 1945 when WWII ended and Hitler committed suicide.
  • In 1946, when Mom was 19, televisions began being mass produced.
  • On October 4th, 1948, my 21-year old mother gave birth to my sister. They named her Karen Elizabeth.
  • In 1951, when Mom was 24, color television was introduced to the USA. I believe we finally got one in the mid-60s.
  • In 1952, on September 27th, Mom and Dad brought my sister, Sara Dailey, into the world. Mom was 25.
  • In 1953 Mom was 26. That year Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal were the first men to reach top of Mt. Everest.
  • On December 1st, 1955, Mom was 28. On that day Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • 2-days after Rosa Parks took a stand by not getting up in Montgomery, I was born. Mom and Dad named me Ralph David.
  • On September 9th, 1956 Elvis Presley made his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Mom was 29.
  • In 1961, when Mom was 34-years old, John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States.
  • On November 22nd, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Mom was 36. I remember that weekend pretty clearly and wrote about it in a blog called November 22nd, 1963.
  • On February 9th, 1964, I sat with my 37-year old mother and sisters and watch a new band perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. That band was The Beatles. I was mesmerized, Dad not so much. I think he watched about 2-minutes, snorted, and went off to make a sandwich.
  • In 1968 Mom was 41. That was the year Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated.
  • On July 20th, 1969 Mom, Dad and I sat in our basement and watched Ohioan Neil Armstrong become the first human to set foot on the moon. Mom was 42, Dad was 43 and I was 14. Afterwards Dad and I went out to the front yard and looked up at the moon, amazed that a two men were standing on it as we watched.
  • From August 15th-17th, 1969 the Woodstock Festival was held in upstate New York. Mom, 42, and Dad were not fans of Hendrix, The Who, Joplin and CCR and the rest. They were still into Dean Martin I believe.
  • On December 11th, 1969 Mom’s father Walter Immell passed away at 66-years of age. I recall being called out of my 8th grade class at Twin Elementary and given the news. Mom was 42.
  • On May 4th, 1970 Mom was 43. It was the day four students were killed by National Guardsmen on Kent State campus. Although the students had been protesting the war in Vietnam and had even burned down the ROTC building, I distinctly remember my father watching the news a couple days prior and wondering aloud “why in the hell” Ohio Governor James Rhoads had sent the National Guard there.
  • On December 27th, 1971 Mom and Dad saw their first grandchild enter the world. Her name was Aimee Elizabeth. Mom was 44.
  • In 1976 the United States celebrated 200-years of existence with its Bicentennial on July 4th. Mom was 49.
  • On November 22nd, 1977 Mom’s mother Ethel passed away. She was 76. Mom was 50-years old.
  • On December 8th, 1980, John Lennon was murdered in New York City. I was living alone at the time and wrote about that night on this site in a story called December 8th, 1980. It was nearly midnight when the news broke, but of course Mom called me early the next morning to talk to me about it. She was 53.
  • On January 28th, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded. Mom was 59.
  • On August 11th, 1991 the internet was first made available to the public. Mom was 64-years old.
  • Mom was 67 when OJ Simpson murdered his wife Nicole and her friend in L.A. on June 18th, 1994.
  • On April 19th, 1995 Mom was 68. On that day the Oklahoma City Bombing happened at 9:02 am, killing 168 people.
  • On August 31st, 1997 Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris. Mom was 70-years old.
  • In the year 2001 the iPod was introduced. Mom was 72.
  • On the morning of September 11th, 2001, Mom was 73.
  • In 2008 my mother was 80-years of age and witnessed the first African American, Barrack Obama, to be sworn in as President of the United States.
  • In 2015 Mom was 87 and saw the US Supreme Court allow same-sex marriages.
  • On June 21st, 2018 my Mom lost her oldest daughter Karen. Sis was 69. Mom was 91.
  • On August 13th, 2018 my father passed away. Mom and Dad had first met in 1944, 74-years earlier.
Front: Mom and Dad Top: Sara, Karen, Me

So yeah, Mom has seen a lot. She has lived to see 16-pesidents and 5 major wars. She has heard Big Band music, the birth of Rock & Roll, and Hip-Hop. She’s witnessed changes in the world that nobody could have dreamed of in 1927. During her teaching career Mom was a positive, impactful influence on thousands of kids, and through it all she’s been a strong, independent role model and mother.

And the best part? During the course of her entire life, including these past few months, Mom hasn’t changed. She’s stayed the tough, honest, loving, supportive mother she’s always been, and those of us lucky enough to know her would expect nothing less.

In 1953 an Air Force radio squadron operator was the first American to receive word that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had died. The operator’s name? Johnny Cash.

Although children had been servants and apprentices throughout most of history, child labor reached new extremes during the Industrial Revolution. Children often worked long hours in dangerous factory conditions for very little money. Children were useful as laborers because their size allowed them to move in small spaces in factories or mines where adults couldn’t fit, children were easier to manage and control and perhaps most importantly, children could be paid less than adults. Appalling but true.

Not-So-Fun-Fact: In 1900, 18% of all American workers were under the age of 16.

In 1908 a true American hero named Lewis Hine picked up his camera and became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. For 10-years Lewis traveled across the country documenting child labor despite constant threats from factory owners. At the time the owners wanted to keep the immorality of child labor away from the public’s eye. However, Hine kept it up and never wavered. Sometimes he wore disguises (such as a fire inspector or a bible salesman) to snap pictures and interview the children working at factories or in the streets.  Lewis Hine used his camera as a tool for social commentary and reform, and it worked. Risking his own safety Hine snapped thousands of photographs with one goal – to end child labor. It took years, but in 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act set national minimum wage and maximum hour standards for workers in interstate commerce and also placed limitations on child labor. Bottom line, next time one of your kids complain about taking out the garbage or mowing the lawn show them these photos. Wild to look at today, but an important to know and remember.

[click and scroll for caption info]

What follows are the first few words of The Crisis, Thomas Paine’s first article in a series of articles called The American Crisis. These words helped galvanize our country in its battle for independence from Britain at a time when our situation was looking extremely bleak. These words still ring true today, nearly 242-years later . . .

December 23, 1776

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly . . .

Amazing, powerful words indeed. A couple days later, on the evening of December 25th and morning of the 26th, George Washington turned around after having been pursued by the British Army for weeks. He crossed the Delaware, attacked the dreaded Hessians, won a stunning victory, and ignited a fire of hope within the American cause. The rest, as they say, is history.

This has made the internet rounds the last couple years and is a legitimate photograph of a turn-of-the-century Texas playground. It can be viewed on the web page of the Dallas Public Library with a description noting that it captures “Children playing on iron pole playground equipment at Trinity Play Park.” 

Sometimes when you’re way behind, everything in your body is telling you to quit. Here are 5 people who didn’t.

“From the depths of hell!”

From 5th to 1st in the last lap.

Ohio University’s Dave Wottle wins Olympic Gold in the 800-meter run.

And finally, the legendary comeback by the USA’s Billy Mills. “Look Mills! Look at Mills! LOOM AT MILLS!”