Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Ted Landsmark was a young attorney in Boston back in 1976 when he came upon a group of young white protesters from South Boston. The group had just been riled up by an anti-busing speech by City Councilor Louise Day Hicks, who was opposed to court ordered busing that would require blacks and whites to attend school together. The result is an attempted stabbing with the symbol of freedom, the American flag.

During the Civil War, Robert E. Lee’s horse Traveller became so famous that his mane and tail became thin from people plucking the hair as souvenirs.


Man, it was difficult to narrow this list down. There were a thousand musicians who stepped up and made statements musically during the Civil Rights Movement. These just happen to be my favorite moments. Let us proceed. Oh, and click on the title to hear a song if it applies.


Yes, I said “touched.” Petula Clark was one of the most popular recording artists of the 1960s. She sang songs like “Downtown”, “Don’t Sleep in the Subway”, and “I know a Place”, good tunes all.

In early 1968, Clark was given the chance to host her own special on NBC. She had, as a guest star on the program, the popular singer and noted civil rights activist, Harry Belafonte.

Incredible as it may seem now, the show made waves when, during the performance of an anti-war song written by Clark, “On the Path of Glory”, Clark locked arms with Belafonte.

The program was sponsored by Chrysler, and a vice-president of the company, Doyle Lott, was present at the taping in early March of 1968. He took issue with the “interracial touching,” and asked them to use a different take of the song (they had filmed a number of different takes). Clark and her husband (co-producer of the special), Claude Wolff, objected.

To make sure that they could not be overruled, Wolff told the producer of the special, Steve Binder, to actually destroy all other takes of the song. Binder checked with NBC, who said that they’d defer to whatever he decided to do. He agreed with Wolff. Binder later recalled telling the editor to erase the other takes and the editor actually made him sign a document attesting that Binder was taking full responsibility for the erasure of the other takes.

The whole situation made major public waves, and attracted a lot of publicity for the show. Bottom line, good for everyone who fought the good fight that day.

The show aired on April 8th, 1968.


Rock n’ Roll played an immeasurable part in getting blacks and whites together in the 1950s. Rock music itself was the result of a blending of the blues and country, sounds that had been pretty seperate the previous couple of decades. The early face of this wild new genre was Chuck Berry, and his risqué lyrics and signature moves sent teenagers of all colors into a frenzy. A few years before Elvis’s pelvic thrusts would define a generation, Berry’s “Duckwalk” guitar solo created such demand from black and white audiences that clubs would hold integrated parties with velvet ropes running down the middle of the dance floor to keep the races separated. Soon, the velvet ropes would disappear. Rock can’t see color, kids.


The spring of 1968 was darkened by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the subsequent rioting that took place in cities across the country. Boston, Massachusetts, wasn’t spared, and on the night the news broke, kids took to the streets in Roxbury, Dorchester and the South End to express their rage. James Brown was scheduled to perform there the next day, and the city decided to broadcast the show on local TV to keep folks in their homes and off the block. During the concert, attendees ran on stage and the police began to swarm, but Brown halted them and addressed the kids directly. “Now I ask the police to step back, because I think I can get some respect from my own people.” The crowd obliged, and the concert went on without incident. The next day, he walked through the hoods of the Bean and personally asked the people not to riot, promising, “there’s another way.”


“Strange Fruit” was first performed by Billie Holiday in 1939, and it paints a portrait familiar to southerners in the first half of the 21st century. The song describes “a strange and bitter crop” with “bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,” an illustration of a then all-too-common sight – a lynching. The song is weird because it sounds sort of romantic and sensual. Only when you really listen to the lyrics does the real, more sinister meaning of the song become clear. Just a chilling song, really.


After Bell Auditorium announced that Ray Charles was going to do a show there in 1961, students told Charles the dance floor would be for whites only and the upper balcony would be sectioned off for blacks. Ray immediately took a stand and cancelled his appearance. The venue fined him for breach of contract, expecting him to back down. Instead, in one of civil rights history’s greatest boss moves, he paid the fine and didn’t play another show in Augusta, Georgia until it was desegregated. Ray, man.


Marvin Gaye needs no introduction: his name has become synonymous with the rich legacy of Motown and the soulful R&B that came to define Black music for decades to come. It should come as no surprise that the man released his (arguably) best single eleven albums into his career. “What’s Going On” is all at once a gripping protest song, a syrupy love song and a giddy party starter. When the track dropped in 1971, Gaye was struggling through the sudden loss of his frequent collaborator and close friend Tammi Terrell, a brother that had been shipped off to war, and a country that was still mired in the dregs of violence and racism. Although inspired by an act of police brutality, “What’s Going On” led to some of Gaye’s most bright-eyed work on the landmark album of the same name, and gave the movement one of its defining anthems.


I’ve always thought of this classic song by Dylan as more anti-Vietnam than pro-Civil Rights, but the lyrics can apply to both. “This was definitely a song with a purpose,” Dylan would later say. “The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close for a while and allied together at that time.” That same year saw the arrival of the Civil Rights Act, putting an end to racial segregation in the US. Songs like this one were the soundtrack to the movement.


After hearing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” Cooke wanted to write a song about race that had the same impact. He’d encountered racial turbulence in the year prior when he and his tourmates tried to book a “whites only” hotel and were arrested for disturbing the peace. That incident was the inspiration for “Change,” and the song became a massive success in the black community after its release in 1963.


In the early morning hours of September 15, 1963, four members of the Ku Klux Klan planted a box of dynamite under the steps of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The bomb was detonated a few hours later, murdering Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair, all under the age of 14. The incident became a lightning rod for the Civil Rights Movement, which was exactly what the KKK didn’t want. Another unintended consequence – it inspired jazz legend John Coltrane to write and record the stunning song “Alabama”. The song, without lyrics, is a mournful tribute and was patterned after Martin Luther King’s “Eulogy for the Martyred Children,” the speech he gave at the funeral for the four girls. That same year, Coltrane performed the song live on television’s Jazz Casual in front of a stunned, spellbound national audience.


Phil Ochs was never one to mince words, and this song was no exception. After visiting Mississippi and being outraged at what he saw, he wrote this blistering tune where he lays it all on the line. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Here’s to the State of Mississippi,
For underneath her borders, the devil draws no lines,
If you drag her muddy rivers, nameless bodies you will find.
Oh the fat trees of the forest have hid a thousand crimes,
The calender is lyin’ when it reads the present time.
Whoa here’s to the land you’ve torn out the heart of,
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of!


Like I said up top, I know there are many other songs and incidents that I could have listed, but these are the ones that stand out to me. If you have any suggestions feel free to comment.*

*See what I did there? Feel free? Civil Rights Movement? Never mind. 



The night George Washington crossed the Delaware and defeated the Hessians, Hessian Commander Johann Gottlieb Rall had been warned of the attack through a note sent by a local loyalist. He never read it. It was found in his pocket after his death that night.


Great site. Love everything about it. It teaches history with humor, something I an definitely relate to. This is just a sample. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Ever notice how our President’s age during their time in office? You can see it on President Trump already. Hair goes gray and they seem to age abnormally quickly. It’s the pressure, man. It’s more pressure than any human on earth faces. I mean, basically the fate of the entire world hinges on the decisions you make. That said, a few presidents have admitted their greatest presidential regrets. Read on to find out what they are . . .

George W. Bush – The War in Iraq

When asked in a 2008 interview about his biggest regret as president, George W. Bush surprisingly listed the Iraq War. While he did not regret everything that occurred in Iraq, the president seemed distraught over intelligence failures. He claimed this was the biggest regret of his presidency, stating, “I wish the intelligence had been different, and better, I guess.”

Bush denied accusations that his administration had intentionally misled Congress. He noted members of Congress read all the same reports his staff did and still decided to go forward with the invasion. He was disappointed things in Iraq did not go as planned, and that they didn’t find any “weapons of mass destruction.”

John Quincy Adams –  His Treatment Of Native Americans

When John Quincy Adams took office, the Indian Springs Treaty was waiting on his desk. The treaty forced the Creek Nation, living in what is now Georgia, to give up their land and move west. As Congress had already voted in favor of the treaty, Adams signed it as soon as he took office. It was an act he regretted almost immediately.

Leaders of the Creek Nation met with Adams, changing his views on the nation’s treatment of its Native American populations. Adams tried to annul the treaty, but his attempts were blocked by Congress and the state of Georgia threatened military action. While a new treaty was eventually drafted, the Creek Nation still had to cede two-thirds of their land to Georgia. A third treaty, passed a year later, forced the Creek Nation to give up all remaining land.

Adams both regretted the Indian Springs Treaty and the nation’s treatment of Native Americans overall. He would go on to write about this in his personal diary. “We have talked of benevolence and humanity, and preached them into civilization, but none of this benevolence is felt where the right of the Indian comes in collision with the interest of the white man.” Sadly, his time in the White House would forever be judged by his poor treatment of Native Americans.

George H.W. Bush – Not Taking Out Saddam Hussein

Had George H.W. Bush succeeded in getting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein out of power, perhaps the Second Iraq War could have been avoided. Bush regretted not continuing with action in Iraq until Hussein surrendered. He believed, had the Gulf War gone on longer, Hussein could have been removed from power.

Apparently an FBI agent told Bush that he was certain Hussein would have eventually surrendered had military action continued. While Bush still considers the ending of the Gulf War a military success, he regrets it did not have a better, more final conclusion. He feels that had he forced Hussein into surrendering, the later troubles his son faced in Iraq could have been avoided.

Barack Obama – His Handling Of Libya
In 2011, Obama helped remove Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi from power. While he knew intervening was the right decision, he regrets his lack of a follow-up plan. Libya was thrown into turmoil after Gaddafi’s removal, and the country is still recovering today.

Obama said in an interview that his failure to plan for the day after the intervention was his worst mistake as president.

Bill Clinton – Not Bringing Peace To The Middle East

Nope, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment threat was not Bill Clinton’s biggest regret as president. Clinton was actually more concerned with his handling of conflict in the Middle East. When asked about his biggest regret as president, he said he wished he had done more to smooth over tensions between Israel and Palestine.

My number one regret is that I was not able to persuade Yasser Arafat to accept the peace plan I offered at the end of my presidency,” Clinton said. Clinton believes, had Arafat accepted the terms of the agreement, he could have spent the coming years making progress towards peace in Israel.

Dwight Eisenhower – His Own Supreme Court Pick

When Dwight D. Eisenhower originally appointed Earl Warren as a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he was confident in his decision. He stated Warren had the kind of political, economic, and social thinking the country needed. However, after Warren led the court in a series of liberal decisions, the conservative Eisenhower’s feelings towards him soured. Eisenhower would go on to call the appointment the “biggest damned-fool mistake I ever made.

Jimmy Carter – His Handling Of The Iran Hostage Crisis

No shocker here. Most historians feel that, had Carter handled the Iran Hostage Crisis in a more timely fashion, he would have been elected for a second term. Carter apparently agrees. In an interview in 2015, Carter admitted he wished he had sent more helicopters in sooner to remove the 52 American diplomats and citizens that were held hostage in Iran for 444 days starting in November of 1979.

Carter said, “I wish I had one more helicopter to get the hostages, and had we rescued them I’d have been re-elected.”

Richard Nixon – Delaying The Vietnam Bombings
Watergate seems like it would be the biggest regret for Richard Nixon, but he apparently felt the scandal that cost him the presidency was not his worst fumble. In a Meet The Press interview, Nixon claimed that delaying the bombing of North Vietnam was his biggest regret as president. Nixon hit Vietnam with bombs in 1972, but wishes he had taken action as early as 1969.

“I talked to Henry Kissinger about it,” Nixon says, “But we were stuck with the bombing halt that we had inherited from the Johnson administration.

Nixon believes had the bombings occurred sooner, the Vietnam War would have wrapped up in 1969 rather than 1972. When asked about the Watergate Scandal, Nixon felt the matter was small in comparison to his mishandling of Vietnam.

George Washington – Owning Slaves

George Washington became a slave owner at the age of 11 and remained that way throughout the course of his presidency. During his era, many felt slavery was simply a way of life. As Washington aged, however, his view of slavery changed. Late in his life, he claimed slavery was “the only avoidable subject of regret” during the course of his lifetime.

So there ya go. Presidential regrets. Bet ya never thought you’d know this information when you woke up this morning, huh? Shoe: Untied is here for ya, kids.

So I ran across this nugget in a book I was reading the other day and found it quite fascinating. It seems that about 2,500 years ago some dude named Hanno the Navigator (cool name, man) became one of the first Europeans to see a band of gorillas. He had been sent off to explore Africa and had gotten used to bumping into strange and exotic tribes. Weird looking folks if you will.

So, when he found an island full of gorillas he figured that they were simply the weirdest, funniest-looking group of people yet. Hanno wrote that he’d found “savage people, whose bodies were hairy, and whom our interpreters called Gorillae.”

He and his men actually tried to introduce themselves to the gorillas, but the gorillas weren’t too communicative. That had to be an awesome attempt at conversation to witness though, amirite? Instead, the apes just threw rocks at the humans and ran away. Incredibly, Hanno’s men caught three of the gorillas and tried to talk them into going back to Carthage with them. Shockingly, it didn’t work. Hanno said the gorillas “could not be prevailed upon to accompany us.”

Eventually and unsurprisingly, when the gorillas got violent Hanno and his men do what humans do and killed them. Then Hanno went a little batshit crazy: “We flayed them,” he wrote, talking about what he thought were human beings, “and brought their skins with us to Carthage.

People were savage back in the old-timey days, man. Just brutal. Anyway, thought I’d share.

Actually, the term “New World” is a misnomer if there ever was one. It certainly wasn’t new, and how can you discover something that was inhabited by a lot of people? You can’t.

Anyway, when Columbus landed in the “New World” down in the Caribbean and what is now Central America back in 1492 it was inhabited by 500,000 people or more. A mere 50-years later, that number was zero.


Here are the numbers and how they dwindled:

  • 1492 – 500,000 (at least)
  • 1508 – 60,000
  • 1510 – 33, 523
  • 1514 – 26,334
  • 1518 – 18,000
  • 1519 – 1.000
  • 1542 – 0

The old history books liked to claim that the Spanish wiped out the Native Americans due to the Europeans and their use of guns, horses, and superior fighting skills. All that of course played a part, but by far the biggest reason was this – disease.

The problem was, the Native Americans had no resistance to the diseases Columbus and his boys brought over. While a pretty large percentage of Europeans could withstand diseases like typhus, dysentery, measles, mumps, yellow fever, malaria, chicken pox, typhoid, diphtheria, tuberculosis, whooping cough, and even the flu, the Indians could not.

While all those diseases took their toll, the worst by far was smallpox, which had a 90-95% death rate. It was also brutal. Check out this 1500’s description of the disease:

In the century before it was finally eradicated in the 1970’s, smallpox killed more than half a billion people. It usually starts like the flu, with headache, fever, and body aches, and then it breaks out as a sore throat and spreads into a body rash. As the disease develops over the next week, the victim usually experiences horrific hallucinatory dreams and is racked by a mysterious sensation of existential horror. The rash turns into spots that swell into papules, and then fluid-filled pustules that cover the entire body, including the soles of the feet. These pustules often merge, and the outer layer of skin becomes detached from the body. In the most deadly variety of smallpox the skin turns a deep purple, takes on a charred look, and comes off in sheets. The victim then bleeds out, blood pouring from every orifice in the body. The disease is extremely contagious, and can survive for months or even years outside the body in clothing, blankets, and hospital rooms.

Good times, huh? Thanks Europeans!

Another problem was the fact that because the Europeans were to a certain point immune, the Native Americans thought the diseases were sent by God to punish them exclusively. Just a bad deal all-around.

So, long story short? It wasn’t horses, guns, fighting skills, or especially God’s Will.

It was disease.

Dr. Ruth, whose real name is Ruth Westheimer, was trained as a sniper by the Israeli military. She was also a Holocaust survivor, but you probably know her as a world famous sex therapist. Hell of an interesting life right there.



From Invisible Paris: The world’s oldest surviving basketball court can be found in the basement of a building in Paris. But how did Paris come to be the earliest home of a sport invented in America? To find the answer, you need to push open the doors of a YMCA hostel on the Rue Trévise. The recent Heritage Days event gave us the opportunity to discover a little-known location – and a Paris claim to fame  that few people are aware of. Yes, the oldest surviving basketball court in the world really is in Paris, France.

WHAT? C’est absurde! What in the name of Naismith are they spewing at us? I call bullshit! Personal foul! You can’t tell me there’s not an older court in Indiana or Kansas or New York City or somewhere that’s not older. Hey, we invented the game, man, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a bunch of Frenchies lay claim to this. Damn it, Trump, get this straightened out so you can claim your first presidential victory. ‘Murica!

Poles, schmoles.

PS- Best thing France has ever given America?  Pepe Le Pew. Pepe Le Pew is awesome. Thank you and goodnight.

*Not really, but I knew a lot of people wouldn’t click on a link about bananas, and this blog is about bananas. It’s a banana blog. However, since you’re here you might as well stick around, right? After all, Shoe:Untied prides itself on its eclecticism. It also prides itself in using words like eclecticism. Full Disclosure: I originally typed eclecticness but spell check kept telling me I was dumb. But seriously, stick around. On to the bananas…

Bananas, man. Did you know they’re consistently the #1 selling item at Walmart superstores? True story. Bananas have been around the USA forever, true?


Americans were first introduced to bananas in 1873. Think about that, man. Abe Lincoln never had a banana. That’s wild.

Anywho, author Jules Verne introduced bananas to us in his novel Around the World in 80 Days, which was eventually turned into a movie starring Jose′ Greco but that’s neither here nor there. In the book, Verne described bananas as being “as healthy as bread and as succulent as cream.” Perhaps an overstatement but people were intrigued, man.

Fun Fact:  The scientific name for banana is musa sapientum, which means “fruit of the wise men.” Cool. Plus banana is way more fun to say.

Bananas were originally from Asia but were brought to Central America by the Spanish along with smallpox, measles, mumps, whooping cough, influenza, chicken pox, typhus, and oh yes, slavery. Good times.

Actually some people from our country had eaten bananas, but very, very few. Why, you ask? Because it took too long for them to get here and they would go bad. Of course that all changed later with steamships and airplanes and whatnot, and by then we could all enjoy the wonder that is the banana.

There was a downside, of course. The big banana companies used the governments of the countries where the bananas were grown for their own good, manipulating and bribing the politicians, organizing coups, and exploiting their workers. Basically, the companies stunted the country’s growth and cultivated a corrupt form of so-called capitalism. A lot of the problems in places like Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Honduras still continue today. Sad really. On a related note, that’s where we got the term  “Banana Republic” which is defined as ” A small country, especially one in Central America or the West Indies, that is dependent on a single export commodity (traditionally bananas) and that has a corrupt, dictatorial government.”

Random thought: Are Banana Republic stores still a thing? I haven’t seen one in awhile.

Before you go, take a look at this awesome banana trivia:

  • Rubbing the inside of a banana peel on a mosquito bite or on poison ivy will help keep it from itching and getting inflamed.
  • Rubbing the inside of a banana peel on a scrape or burn will help the pain go away, keep the swelling down, and keep the wound from getting infected.
  • Bananas don’t actually grow on trees—they grow on plants that are officially classified as an herb. They’re in the same family as lilies, orchids, and palms, and are actually berries.
  • The band Bananarama had a #1 hit song with “Venus” in 1986. Thought I’d throw that in there.

So now you know more about bananas than you did 5-minutes ago. Your life has been enriched ways you never have imagined when you awakened from your slumber this morning. You’re welcome.

PS- On a personal note, is it odd that I like to eat a banana but I hate anything banana flavored or anything with bananas in it? The world is a vast, complex and confusing place, man.

PPS- Next up, my Beet blog. Stay tuned.



Kool-Aid was originally marketed as “Fruit Smack.”

Or maybe you do. What the hell do I know? Anywho, my crack staff here at Shoe: Untied did some intensive research and came up with these fascinating true facts about Easter. Enjoy . . .

  1. Since time immemorial, the egg has been considered the symbol of rebirth. On a related note, that’s the first time I’ve ever used the word “immemorial” on this website.
  2. The first Easter baskets were designed to give them an appearance of bird’s nests. Seems obvious but I’m not sure it ever occurred to me.
  3. The custom of giving eggs at Easter time has been traced back from Egyptians, Gaul, Persians, Greeks and Romans, to whom the egg was a symbol of life. You know, rebirth and all that as I mentioned above.
  4. The Easter Egg originated like this – during medieval times, a festival of egg throwing was held in church during which the priest would throw a hard-boiled egg to one of the choirboys. It would then be tossed from one choirboy to the next and whoever held the egg when the clock struck 12:00 was the winner and would keep the egg. Hey, it doesn’t sound that fun but throwing eggs in church would be sort of cool.
  5. The first chocolate egg recipes were made in Europe in the nineteenth century.
  6. Each year nearly 90-million chocolate bunnies are made, but that pales in comparison to the 700-million peeps that are made. Yowza.
  7. When it comes to eating of chocolate bunnies, 76% of people eat the ears first, because of course they do.
  8. The Easter Bunny is thought to have started in Germany during the Middle Ages. For some reason this surprises me.
  9. 88% of American families celebrate Easter.
  10. Here’s a good one. Peep connoisseurs swear that by letting them breath for a few days out in the open air, it produces a crunchy outside and a chewy inside.
  11. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest Easter egg ever made was unveiled in Cortenuova, Italy in 2011 weighing in at 8,968 lbs. Holy Smokes that’s a big egg.
  12. Eggs contain nearly every nutrient known to be essential to humans. If you really think about what an egg is that makes perfect sense.
  13. After Halloween, Easter is the top-selling candy holiday. Arbor Day? Dead last.*

* I have no idea if that last one was true but it seems right.


Sometimes, it’s all in the marketing. And a shitty name always hurts as well. Here’s the story.

Kids, there once was a cookie brand called Hydrox, and it is the original “sandwich cookie.” Hydrox debuted in 1908 and a cookie you may have heard of, Oreos, began in 1912. Oreos have been the knock-off brand all along, man.

Be honest. Did you know that?

It’s a familiar story. A small, fledgling company comes up with a great new product, so great that a bigger, more powerful company copies the idea. The larger firm flexes its better distribution and promotional muscles, the smaller outfit watches helplessly as its business slips away, and suddenly it’s all over. Another case of the strong running roughshod over the weak. It’s the American Way really, when you think about it.

Hydrox cookies were originally the signature product of a small company called Sunshine Biscuits. The public loved them and they single-handedly ruled the sandwich cookie market for four years, until they looked around and saw a giant peeking through their window.

National Biscuit, the massive company that would later become Nabisco, took an interest in this strange new product and created their own ripoff version, using their vastly superior, already established distribution channels and massive advertising budgets to steamroll the good old USA with it. Sunshine was a cool little company and all, but they didn’t have a real good strategy to fight this other than saying, “Hey! We were first, man!” with ads like this:

Yeah, that’s pretty weaksauce. Sad really. Plus that kid is terrifying.

The problem is, after a few years Oreos had become so popular that Hydrox began being perceived as the imitation. It probably didn’t help that Hydrox sounds like something you’d buy to clean your toilet or to bleach your dirty linen, so there’s that as well. Branding, man. It’s important.

So anyhoo, Sunshine was eventually bought by other companies and their products discontinued, while that filthy imitation product known as “Oreo” went on to become a cultural icon, which I happen to adore.

I guess the lesson to be learned here is to always be looking over your shoulder, trust nobody, and never give a food you invented a name that sounds like a cleaning solvent.

You’re welcome.

Because he was a real person. And he was related to that other, more famous Hitler –  Adolf. You see, William “Willie” Patrick Hitler was Adolf Hitler’s nephew.

Want another mind-blowing fun fact? Hitler’s little nephew served in the United States Navy in World War II.

It’s true. Here’s the story . . .

William “Willie” Patrick Hitler was born to Adolf’s brother, Alois Hitler, Jr. and his wife in Liverpool, England, in 1911. Ironically, the family lived in a flat that was eventually destroyed in the last German air raid of the Liverpool Blitz in January of 1942. Anyway, Willie ended up moving to Germany in 1933 right after Uncle Adolf had risen to power. It seems young Willie was trying to use his uncle’s influence to get a better job. Adolf in fact helped Willie get several jobs, but none stuck.

Then Willie did something that, in retrospect, wasn’t too bright. He began writing to his Uncle Adolf with blackmail threats, saying that he would sell embarrassing stories about the family to the newspapers unless his “personal circumstances” improved. Among these stories was Willie’s allegation that Adolf’s paternal grandfather was a Jewish merchant.

Uh-oh. That didn’t go over well.

Incredibly though, soon after the threats Adolf asked William to relinquish his British citizenship in exchange for a high-ranking job. Willie wasn’t buying it for a second and expected a trap. He bolted Nazi Germany and skedaddled back to London.

As crazy as this sounds now, Willie then wrote an article for Look Magazine. It’s title? “Why I Hate My Uncle.” I’m dead serious right now.

Meanwhile, Uncle Adolf was beginning his quest for world domination in earnest.

As for Willie, he left Germany in early 1939 to visit the United States with his mother. Problem is, a little thing called World War II broke out and they were stranded here. Willie grew to like the place, moved to Queens, New York, and eventually joined the US Navy. He actually had to get special permission from President Franklin Roosevelt because his uncle was, you know, the freaking leader of the Third Reich.

But there’s more. Willie Hitler was wounded in action during the war and given the Purple Heart, awarded to those wounded or killed while serving with the US military. Amazing really.

Here are some other fascinating facts about Willie Hitler:

  • Willie had a brother named Heinz. Heinz, in contrast to William, became a committed Nazi and in 1942 died in Soviet captivity.
  • After being discharged from the Navy, William Hitler changed his surname to Stuart-Houston.
  • Willie married a woman named Phyllis and they had four sons, the first of which they named . . . wait for it . . . Alexander Adolf. Go figure.
So I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and the subject of time travel came up. This is not a surprise because it fascinates the hell out of me and I enjoy discussing it. You realize there is nothing in the laws of physics to prevent time travel, don’t you? It may be extremely difficult to put into practice, but it is not impossible. You know how jets can exceed the speed of sound? That “BOOM” you hear is the sound of the plane breaking the sound barrier. Then, when you look up the jet is way ahead of the sound, right? Now imagine a jet that could exceed the speed of light. I know, doesn’t sound plausible but neither did airplanes, the internet or Donald Trump back in 1850. Anyway, since the jet was faster than light you’d look up and see its image but the jet would actually be somewhere farther ahead. Still with me? Now imagine that same jet flying in a big circle. Soon the occupants would see themselves up ahead, but in an earlier time. And the bigger the circle the farther back in time the jet up ahead would be. Make sense? OK, sorry to ramble, but the conversation soon turned to what historical events we’d love to go back and witness, and eventually to this blog. Let us commence . . .


Sure, seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan live or maybe even being at Sun Studios the day the Million Dollar Quartet jammed would’ve been great. But my choice would be going to a show at The Cavern Club on 10 Matthew Street, Liverpool, in the early summer of 1963. The Beatles performed 292 times at the club in 1961, 1962 and 1963, culminating in a final appearance there on August 3rd, 1963—one month after the group recorded “She Loves You”, and 6-months before their first trip to the United States in February of ’64. The Cavern Club is where The Beatles partied, lived, and where they honed their craft. Being there just one night, just before they burst upon the world, would be amazing.

Note: There’s a wall sculpture that hangs on Mathew Street today with words that say simply, “Four Lads Who Shook the World.” Someday I hope to see it.


I’ve been lucky enough to have attended the Final 4, the World Series and the NBA All-Star Game. I also saw Hank Aaron tie Babe Ruth’s career home run record. On a embarrassing note, I had tickets to the NBA Dunk Contest the year Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins went at it but missed it due to circumstances I won’t go into here. Note: I went into it here. Still, if I had to pick it would have to be the college basketball championship game in which UCLA center Bill Walton was nearly perfect,  scoring 44 points on 21-of-22 shooting as his Bruins topped Memphis State. Walton was my favorite player, a team guy, and a joy to watch. Sorry, Magic and Wilt.


Would I have wanted to be there the day Joshua Chamberlain’s troops ran out of ammo at Gettysburg and he made the history changing decision that culminated with him yelling, “BAYONETS!” before leading his troops down Little Round Top? Hells to the yah I would. I’d also love to be there on November 22nd, 1963 so I could either stop John Kennedy’s assassination or at least find out what really happened. Still, if I had but one choice it would be to spend the evening of December 25th, 1776, with General George Washington, the night he made the decision to turn his bedraggled troops around, cross the Delaware, and attack the dreaded Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey. That battle turned around the Revolutionary War. That evening George had read this excerpt from Thomas Paine’s “The Crisis”, published 2-days prior:

“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.”

And then he attacked, turning the war in our favor. Without George Washington’s courageous decision that night, you may not be where you are right now and reading this blog. I’d have loved to be sitting around the campfire with him that night.

I know there will be many differing opinions, and I’d like to hear them. So, what say you?

In the Civil Rights movement, even children became public figures, such as a little 6-year old girl by the name of Ruby Bridges. Ruby integrated an all-white elementary school in New Orleans on November 14, 1960.

Ruby was born in Tylertown, Mississippi, to Abon and Lucille Bridges. When she was 4-years old her parents moved to New Orleans, hoping for a better life in a bigger city. Her father got a job as a gas station attendant and her mother took night jobs to help support their growing family.

Ruby Bridges was born the same year that the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. the Board of Education decision desegregated schools, and it was a notable coincidence in her early journey into civil rights activism. When Ruby was in kindergarten, she was one of many African-American students in New Orleans who were chosen to take a test determining whether or not she could attend a white school. The test was written to be especially difficult so that students would have a hard time passing. The idea was that if all the African-American children failed the test, New Orleans schools might be able to stay segregated for a while longer. Ruby lived a mere five blocks from an all-white school but attended kindergarten several miles away at an all-black segregated school. Incredibly, Ruby Bridges was one of only six black children in New Orleans to pass this test.

The faces of hatred.

On the morning of November 14, 1960, federal marshals drove Ruby and her mother five blocks to her new school. While in the car, one of the men explained that when they arrived at the school, two marshals would walk in front of Ruby and two would be behind her. The image of this small black girl being escorted to school by four large white men inspired Norman Rockwell to create the painting “The Problem We All Live With”, which graced the cover of Look magazine in 1964 (photo at bottom). As soon as Bridges entered the school, white parents pulled their own children out; all the teachers refused to teach while a black child was enrolled. Finally, one person agreed to teach Ruby  –  a courageous female teacher named Barbara Henry, from Boston. For over a year Miss Henry taught Ruby alone, “as if she were teaching a whole class.” Here’s a photo of the amazing Miss Henry with Ruby:

That first day, Bridges and her adult companions spent the entire day in the principal’s office; the chaos of the school prevented their moving to the classroom until the second day. On the second day, however, a white student broke the boycott and entered the school when a 34-year-old Methodist minister, Lloyd Anderson Foreman, walked his 5-year-old daughter Pam through the angry mob, saying, “I simply want the privilege of taking my child to school.” Another hero right there – Mr. Lloyd Anderson Foreman.

A few days later, other white parents began bringing their children, and the protests began to subside. Every morning as Bridges walked to school, one woman would threaten to poison her; because of this, the U.S. Marshals dispatched by President Eisenhower, who were overseeing her safety, allowed Ruby to eat only the food that she brought from home. So damn sad.

The Bridges family suffered for their decision to send her to William Frantz Elementary. Her father lost his job, the grocery store the family shopped at would no longer let them shop there, and her grandparents, who were sharecroppers in Mississippi, were turned off their land.

However, Ruby has since said that many others in the community, both black and white, showed support in a variety of ways. Some white families continued to send their children to Frantz despite the protests, a neighbor provided her father with a new job, and local people babysat, watched the house as protectors, and walked behind the federal marshals’ car on the trips to school.

Ruby graduated from a desegregated high school, became a travel agent, married, and eventually had four sons.

Ruby later wrote about her early experiences in two books. A lifelong activist for racial equality, Ruby established The Ruby Bridges Foundation in 1999 to promote tolerance and create change through education. In 2000, she was made an honorary deputy marshal in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Ruby Bridges, along with teacher Barbara Henry, parent Lloyd Anderson Foreman and many others, are true American heroes.

Gurkha soldiers.

Ever heard of the Gurkhas? No? Well, here at Shoe: Untied my crack staff is committed to educating our readers on literally everything, from sports to politics to history to asshat parkers. Hey, we’re here for y’all. Just broadening your world horizons if you will.

Here are four stories about Gurkha bravery and courage. Read on, loyal readers, and be amazed . . .

In 1815, the British Army tried to conquer Nepal. However, the Nepal’s Gurkha Warriors had something to say about that, and what they said was “No freaking way, British pansies.” They easily defeated the British. So the British officers decided that, if they couldn’t beat them, they’d get the Gurkhas to join them. A peace agreement ceased all British fighting in Nepal, and the Gurkhas agreed to be recruited into the Crown’s military. Since then, the Gurkhas have fought in several wars, including both world wars and the Falklands War. Known as some of the most skilled and fiercest warriors in the world, the Gurkhas have terrified the bejesus out of everyone around them. Want some examples of Gurkha badassness, you say? You got it, kids. What follows are some of the bravest soldiers and stories to ever come out of the Gurkha ranks.

In 2010 in Afghanistan, Sergeant Dipprasad Pun single-handedly fought off 30 Taliban soldiers. As Pun was keeping guard on the roof of a checkpoint, the attackers came at the complex from all sides with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s.

It took less than 60-minutes for Pun to kill them all.

He went through all of his ammo—400-rounds and 17-grenades, as well as a mine that he detonated—to defeat each attacker. A Taliban soldier climbed up to the roof, only to be clubbed over the head with a machine-gun tripod by Pun.

Bad. Ass.

In WWII, Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung was stationed in a trench with only two other men when attacked by over 200-Japanese soldiers. Gurung’s comrades were all severely wounded. As grenades flew in one after another, Gurung started throwing them back.

He was successful with the first two, but the third exploded in his right hand. His fingers were blown off and his face, body, and right arm and leg were badly wounded.

As the Japanese stormed the trench, Gurung used his left hand to wield his rifle, killing 31-soldiers and preventing the Japanese from advancing.

Gurung survived.

Have you heard the story of Mark Twain and Halley’s Comet? Oh, you have? halleyscometThen back away slowly and get the hell out of my website.

Still here? Good. I didn’t like those loser know-it-alls anyway. Let’s move on . . .

Halley’s Comet is famous for its easy visibility and predictability. It’s named after Edmond Halley, an astronomer who figured out that it was the same comet coming back again and again. See, after making a tight cut around the Sun and shooting as far off as Neptune, Halley’s Comet appears in the night sky with its distinctive bright tail every 75 or 76-years, once in a lifetime for most of us poor suckers. It last cruised by in 1986 and is due back in 2061, so I’ll be 105 when it returns. Gotta think positive. kids.

Mark Twain, however, was one of the chosen ones. Twain was lucky enough to have been on Earth for two of Halley’s orbits, but both times he was rather preoccupied. The first time it passed, in 1835, he was being born. Twain always felt a personal connection to the comet because of this, stating:

“I came in with Halley’s Comet. It is coming again, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’ “

Aside from Mark Twain referring to himself as an “unaccountable freak”, that’s pretty cool, because it happened.

Sure enough, as the comet made its way past again in April 1910, Mark Twain quietly passed from this planet with it.

That is both weird and awesome at the same time, amirite?

Mark Twain, man. He knew.

Ever heard of Nordlingen? It’s a round town in Germany. Yep, unlike the town of Circleville here in Ohio, which in fact is in no way a circle,* Nordlingen is round.

*Circleville was originally shaped in the form of a circle. Look it up.

Anyhoo, when viewed from above, Nordlingen appears to be perfectly round. It was one of the only towns in Germany to still have its complete city walls still standing, and the reason for its round shape goes back millions of years before its founding in the 9th century.

Wait. What? It was round before it was a city? Sure was, and here’s why.

You see, Nordlingen sits perfectly in a crater left by a meteor 14.5-million years ago. The crater is roughly 15.5 miles across and the medieval founders built the walls of the city on the rim where the 1/2 mile-long meteorite sat millions of years earlier. And get this – remnants of the rock can still be found within the walls of the city.

Pretty cool, huh?


Aerial view.


The wall around Nordlingen.


This photo shows the amazing scale of the incredible US D-Day invasion in France. It was taken three days after the initial landing, on June 9th, 1944. Pretty sure, at this point, Hitler knew we meant business.


Here we have some badass American WWII pilots posing for a casual photo. Wait. Is that a skull? Yes, a Japanese skull.  It was common practice for American soldiers to take body parts as “war souvenirs” and “war trophies”. Teeth and skulls were the most commonly taken, although other body parts were also collected. Yeah, you don’t wanna know. Anyway, look at the youthful, vibrant faces of the All-American boys. Juxtapose that with a dead man’s skull with a helmet on it and you have quite the stunning visual.



Posted to anger more Nazis. You’re welcome.

Perhaps it was the photo of Hitler with the clown nose I posted, I can’t be sure. For whatever reason yours truly now has an angry Nazi on his hands. But hey, it’s nothing a little hand sanitizer can’t cure, amirite?

Good Lord.

In the short, almost 5-year lifespan of my humble little website (myself and my crack staff here at Shoe: Untied started on April 12th, 2012) I’ve offended midgets (not really warranted), clowns (eh, maybe warranted), bowler mothers (totally unwarranted), racists (completely warranted), and fans of LeBron James (it was actually LeBron James).

Now? I’ve gone and pissed off some Nazis.

See, today I wrote a short blog entitled 7 Things You May Not Know About Adolf Hitler, a what-I-thought was an innocent little blog about the most evil human being of the 20th century. Sure, I threw in some humor because, hey, that’s what I do.

Turns out Der Fuhrer still has some fans out there.

I know this because I received a message this evening that, well, basically threatened me with bodily harm. It was a really long diatribe, so I’ll just give you the highlights followed by my responses.

“You stepped WAY over the line you stupid motherf*cker with the photo of Hitler with the clown nose and comments making fun of him Hitler will RISE again!!”

First of all, if I’m not mistaken that’s a poorly written, run-on sentence. You’re better than that, Nazi person. Or maybe not. And was that personal insult necessary? I think not. And I hate to break this to you, but Hitler will not rise again because he’s, well, dead. And he’s been dead for over 70-years. Pretty sure ain’t comin’ back.

But it gets better.

“How would you know that Adolf Hitler had a fatulance (seriously, he typed “fatulance”) problem? You don’t know and nobody knows.”

True, Nazi boy, I do not know for sure that your fearless leader farted uncontrollably. I’m just going by historical reports. What I do know is that Adolf Hitler initiated World War II and tried to eliminate an entire race of people, so there’s that.

“Hitler did a lot of good and his ideals can still be used today. People forget all the good he did.”

Hmmm, I wonder why would people forget any good he did? Maybe because he oversaw fascist policies that resulted in millions of deaths? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

“Watch your back Dave Shoemaker because we are watching you.”

O-o-o-o-h! The big kicker. That’s scary, man. I’m getting chills but not really. Little did this bozo know he was fodder for my latest blog. Woot! Thanks Nazi racist asshole!

To summarize, Nazis are still in existence and they are still ignorant, illiterate dumbasses. Thank you and goodnight.

Note: When people comment on my site it gives an IP address so I can tell what part of the world the message came from. This particular message came from . . . wait for it . . . Germany. I am both chilled and amused by this.

Yeah, you probably know a lot about the evil dictator and leader of the Third hitlerclownReich, but I bet you don’t know everything. However, once again I’m here for you. What follows are some facts about the man who tried to take over the world while exterminating an entire race of people in the process. History and Social Studies teachers, feel free to print this out and use in in the classroom. You’re welcome.

  1. Adolf Hitler was almost known as Adolf Schiklgruber. True story. Alois Schiklgruber made the decision to change his surname from  Schicklgruber to Hitler on January 7, 1877 . Somehow, “Heil Schilkgruber!” wouldn’t have had the same ring to it, man.
  2. I wrote about this the other day (which actually led to this blog) but the Nazi government headed by Hitler led the most powerful anti-smoking campaign in the world during the 1930’s and ’40s.  The German doctors were the first to establish the link between smoking and lung cancer. Hitler’s personal distaste for tobacco and his open criticism of tobacco consumption proved a strong motivating factor for the movement because, you know, Hitler could have you murdered and whatnot. It was around 30-years later when the rest of the world caught on.
  3. Medical reports show that Adolf Hitler used cocaine and injected himself  with the extracts of seminal vesicles and the testes of young bulls to bolster his libido. But really, who hasn’t? He also had an uncontrolled flatulence problem, which was probably an issue at meetings with his evil henchmen. Supposedly Hitler used the cocaine to clear his sinuses and soothe his nerves, even though I always thought cocaine wired you up. Hitler, man. What a nitwit.
  4. Hitler was a vegetarian during WWII. Yep, wouldn’t touch meat. And during movies, if there was a scene showing any type of cruelty to animals, he reportedly would cover his eyes and look away until someone said the scene was over.  Isn’t that sort of a funny visual? I mean really?Anyway, in 1937 Hitler stopped eating all meat except liver dumplings, which is just weird. His typical diet consisted of baked potatoes with cottage cheese, spaghetti, oatmeals, stewed fruits and vegetables, an egg, and a box of Fruit Loops. OK, I made up that Fruit Loops part.
  5. Hitler’s plan for Moscow was to exterminate all its inhabitants, level the city, and replace the it with a gigantic artificial lake which would submerge Moscow completely. The huge lake was to be created by opening the sluices of the Moscow-Volga canal. But hey, Hitler loved animals!
  6. Hitler had a collection of thousands of Jewish artifacts that he got from the people headed to concentration camps. He planned to build a museum of Jewish artifacts and call it “Museum of Extinct Race“. How’d that work out for you, Hitler? U-S-A! U-S-A! And Russia of course. They helped.
  7. Hitler’s famous autobiography “Mein Kampf” was originally titled, “My Struggle for Five Years Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice”. It was a little wordy and didn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so it was probably a good call. On a related note, I could write a book using that exact same title documenting my years working under a certain idiot superintendent. Boom. I said it.

So there ya go, 7 Things You May Not Know About Adolf Hitler. And really, name one other person who can write about Hitler and throw some humor in as well. You can’t.

PS- I wrote this whole story spelling his name Adolph instead of Adolf before I realized I’d misspelled it. Who does that? I’ve seen his name written a million times. Weird.




My crack staff here at Shoe: Untied recently came across the interesting story of my man Andras Toma, a Hungarian speaking bro who sat in a Russian nuthouse for 53-years because the medical staff there thought he was talking gibberish. True story, and I posted it in our “True Fact o’ the Day” series. Anyhoo, that whole sordid affair got me to thinking. Are there any other leftovers from World War II? With this is mind I put my best researcher, Hansi Rajapakse, on the case. Hansi is a young lass from Sri Lanka who knows her way around the internet like you would not dream. Hansi has a degree from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, which I happen to know is a real place because I looked it up. Anyway, Hansi Rajapakse? Good. But enough about that little tech geek.

On to her findings, which are actually quite fascinating. Let us proceed . . .


Wait. What? The soft drink? Yes, that one. This pop made by The Coca-Cola fanta_12Company originated in Nazi Germany in 1941.  When Germany could no longer import Coca-Cola syrup from the USA due to the wartime trade embargo, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland created a new product for the German market using only ingredients left over from German food production at the time.  Then, after the war, the Coca Cola Corporation regained control of the plant, formula and the trademarks to the new Fanta product. That’s wild, man.



german_anti-smoking_adCool factoid: German doctors were the first to identify the link between smoking and lung cancer, and it was Nazi Germany which led the first public anti-smoking campaign in modern history.  The Nazi regime conducted much research on the effects of smoking on health and introduced measures such as banning smoking on public transport, regulating it in public places, raising tobacco taxes, and imposing restrictions on tobacco advertising.  It also coined the term “passive smoking”. Germany’s anti-tobacco campaign was driven by Adolf Hitler’s personal distaste for tobacco.  He had been a heavy smoker in his early life (smoking 25-40 cigarettes daily) but gave up the habit. The German anti-smoking campaign collapsed along with the Third Reich in 1945 when American cigarette manufacturers quickly entered the German black market.  Later, as part of the Marshall Plan, the US sent tobacco to Germany free of charge.


uss-arizonaAt the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 the USS Arizona was fully loaded with nearly 1.5 million gallons of fuel in preparation for a scheduled trip from its base in Hawaii to the mainland.  It obviously never made the trip, being destroyed the next day in the surprise attack by bombers from the Japanese Navy.  Despite the fires fed by the oil that infamous day, around 500,000 gallons still lingers in the ship’s submerged wreckage. Over 70-years later it is still seeping out into the harbor at a rate of 9-quarts per day.  Despite environmental concerns, US government agencies are reluctant to perform extensive repairs to the Arizona due to it being classified as a war grave.  The oil that still coats the surface of the water surrounding the ship is referred to as the “Tears of the Arizona.” Sad, man.


In early 1945 the US government, anticipating a land invasion of Japan, heartordered a surge in the production of Purple Heart medals to cope with the mass casualties expected all the way through 1947.  Over 1.5 million were produced for the war effort during WWII.  The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the subsequent Japanese surrender meant that they weren’t needed by that generation of soldiers – they were issued instead to their sons, grandsons and great-grandsons in the wars which followed in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. That’s good I guess?


frida_lyngstad_3Here’s a good one. Musical group ABBA’s Frida Lyngstad was one of thousands of children who grew up in Scandinavia shunned and persecuted as  “German children”, because they were the offspring of Norwegian mothers and occupying German soldier fathers. Frida was born in a small village in northern Norway in November 1945, the result of a liaison between her mother, Synni, and a German named Alfred Haase.  Frida’s mother and grandmother were branded as traitors by their community and were forced to moved to Sweden in 1947, where Frida’s mother died of kidney failure a short time later. Frida was brought up by her grandmother in Sweden believing that her father had died during the war on his way back to Germany as his ship was reported to have sunk.  However, at the height of ABBA’s fame in 1977 a German teen magazine published Frida’s complete biography, where it was seen by her half-brother, Peter Haase, who asked his father if he had been in Frida’s village during the war.  A few months later, Frida met her father in Stockholm for the first time. Crazy story.


For a few weeks every year in autumn and spring, the leaves on a patch of forest-swastikaLarch trees within a pine forest in Brandenburg, northeastern Germany would change color.  The yellow larch leaves would contrast with the deep green of the pines and create the distinct shape of a swastika.  The “Forest Swastika” went largely unnoticed until 1992, when the reunified German government ordered aerial surveys of all state-owned land.  It is thought a forester may have invited local Hitler Youth members to plant the trees in commemoration of Adolf Hitler’s birthday.  Authorities, concerned that the site might become a place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis, eventually obscured the design in 2000 with the felling of a number of the Larch trees.

So there ya go. If you enjoyed this you can thank Hansi in the comments section.

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